Are you working harder or smarter?

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
As many of you know, our Air Force is undergoing a transformation to remain the world's best air, space and cyberspace force. Part of that transformation involves getting smaller, reducing our size by approximately 40,000 personnel. Here at Sheppard, our share of that reduction is over 500 positions! With these reductions, the only way we'll be able to continue our 82 TRW mission to "Deliver technically superior, highly motivated warrior Airmen" with less people is by figuring out ways to work smarter not harder. That's what Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, better known as AFS021, is all about.

In addition to this downsizing, the Global War on Terrorism, evolving mission requirements, manpower and resource constraints, and aging weapon systems all contribute to our need to improve the way we conduct business and to maximize our valuable resources. AFSO21 will help us create a culture of continuous process improvement by directing our efforts toward value-added activities.

Through your efforts, the AFSO21 process here at Sheppard is gaining momentum. On the 82 TRW side, Mr. Dave Toms is spearheading our efforts in concert with our AFSO21 working group. In our first process improvement event, we reengineered the military discharge process, resulting in a savings of over $300,000 in the first 6 months! This was achieved by removing wasteful steps and by working smarter; not by working our people longer, faster, or harder. This is what AFSO21 is all about...doing things smarter!

As we continue to move out on our AFSO21 journey, I'd like to let you know what my vision is to be successful in our transformation efforts.

First, everything is on the table! No process is so sacred that we refuse to take a look. I'm asking supervisors at all levels to remain open-minded and to listen to their folks. Don't assume a barrier is immoveable just because it will require a change to an AFI or an idea goes against the "way we have always done it" mentality.

Second, it is vital that we go to our "customers" and ask them what is of value to them. Each process at Sheppard has at least one customer and we can't assume we know what our customers want or need. We need to ask a lot of questions at the beginning of an AFSO21 event to determine how much your customers value a particular service or product.

Finally, each unit needs to build a support structure for AFSO21 implementation. "Smart operations" don't occur just by changing our mindset--we need to invest in the people and training necessary to facilitate process reengineering. This includes appointing and equipping individuals to manage unit projects, training at least one facilitator to run events and developing a sound training program to bring about the culture of change that is so relevant for success. Commanders should select individuals that have the right vision, work ethic and skill sets to run their AFSO21 programs.

AFSO21 is a journey that needs to permeate every level of our Air Force. Current transformational changes demand that we search for the best way to conduct operations, to create a culture of continuous improvement, and to support the war fighter the best way we can. We must maximize our efforts through creative thinking and openness to change. I'm confident Team Sheppard will harness this culture and continue to meet all challenges to be successful!

If you have any questions you can contact our AFSO21 Transformation Manager, Dave Toms, at 676-6676.