75th LRS finds success with change management

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Marc Bleha
  • 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Flightcommander
With operational changes, sequestration, realignment of Air Force and major command functions, the only constant factor for the workforce is change. Even if the process or asset is left alone, it will change either through erosion, complacency or other degradation. The 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Flight has experienced and embraced many changes in the last year and succeeded by winning a second consecutive AFMC American Petroleum Institute Award for the best Fuels Management operation and four major command individual annual awards. However, awards are by-products of successful teams, processes and leadership.

First, despite a deployment rate of up to 30 percent and a civilian vacancy rate of 20 percent, our team constantly used its combined experiences to improve processes while focusing on safety and environmental compliance. The 59 person team (military, civilian and contractor) disbursed across seven functional fuel areas were challenged with learning Lean and Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO21) concepts, identifying waste, and more efficient ways of assisting our customers. The team shared their lessons learned and efficiencies gained with Air Force Petroleum Agency (AFPA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). From an individual IDEA submission based on a locally developed invention to assist with aircraft defueling, to revamping customer response process with a net 60 percent decrease in response time, these teams stepped up to all of the challenges they faced. Our relationship and service efficiencies with the 388th Maintenance Group increased through effective communication, mission analysis and joint cooperation, resulting in eliminated overtime and increased efficient use of personnel. Whether our team tackled an in-house project or a joint mission, using effective communication, experience and concepts from Lean and AFSO21 increased the quality of customer service and created more efficient ways of doing business.

Creating the culture of "finding efficient ways of doing business" is not easy. The natural reaction to change is resistance. A shift of organizational focus occurred with the primary goal of better assisting our customers, whether they are external customers we deliver fuel to, or internal customers like AFMC and AFPA. Leadership at all levels engaged through attending seminars, researching data, watching the execution of processes, and completed causal analysis to mentoring and empowering those around them. With each spiral of improvement, other challenges surfaced. Leadership attacked these challenges and over time with employee and military personnel empowerment, the culture has shifted. We all have learned different ways to overcome resistance, educate each other, provide honest and candid feedback, implement the best plan possible and review and validate the change. Some change is not effective and some people do not want to change, but identifying where to focus your resources to create the largest gains is key.

Through these measures and more, Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants (POL) alleviated manpower constraints, reduced operating hours while providing more timely support, integrated our 419th Logistics Readiness Squadron Reserve partners. The team also advocated, and received funding for dormant facility projects, increased a variety of training prospects and increased the flight's partnership opportunities with DLA, AFMC, and AFPA counterparts. The men and women of the 75th LRS Fuels flight lead the way in innovation, attitude, and success.

Special recognition goes to Master Sgt. Carl Bortz and Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Sabo, AFMC Fuels Senior Noncommissioned Officer and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively, and Bob Johnson and Paul Parks, AFMC Fuels Civilian Supervisor and Technician of the Year for leading the way to success.