How do we win?

  • Published
  • By Colonel Walt Lindsley
  • 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander
I'm the new guy, just arrived from school to take command of the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group. As I've been working over the past several weeks to understand the scope of my new found responsibilities, I've been asking myself this funny question over and over again: "How do we know when we win?" 

I love everything and anything about sports. I love the competition, the workout, the sportsmanship and the satisfaction of fighting and winning against a worthy opponent. I also love work and approach it like I do sports ... and I don't mean the office linebacker!

I think work ought to be fun. Like sports, it should include things like practicing and fielding your best team, keeping statistics on all the player's performances, and then putting all your practice to the test by competing with a worthy opponent. Then when the battlefield clears, you honor your most valuable players with the coveted award and begin readying yourself for the next contest.

Sounds like work, right? Well, sometimes it does.

You know what often happens at work? The coaches don't develop good game plans and then don't communicate them to the team. The team doesn't understand the game plan and their part in it so they are often out of position. The real opponent is elusive, which frustrates the coaches and the players. In the end, some coaches and players just give up and quit while others just struggle on achieving some victories but never feeling like they win the game.

So what can we do to get our team to perform at a higher level? It all starts with a good game plan ... at the root of Air Force Smart Operations 21, Lean and other transformational activities are solid strategic plans. As leaders at all levels, we owe it to our team to sit down each year and noodle through what our vision, mission, goals and objectives are for the coming year. 

Once the future is straight in the leadership's mind, it's time to assess the difference between where the team is and where it needs to go. Once that is done, roadmaps are developed to get the team on the road to success and measures developed to tell the entire team if they are hitting performance objectives. This is tough work that leaders must do for their team to perform at a world-class level.

Good strategic planning takes patience and practice. It requires one to think of what the end state is that one has in mind and then develop ways to get there. It requires one to set resources against the plans to ensure they happen. Frustrations, broken plays, players and coaches quitting, and teams not performing at their highest level can all be avoided if we plan the way we are going to play the game each year.

I'm mentioning this now because October is right around the corner and that starts fiscal year 2008. I've been working for the last three months to make sure all my coaches and I are on the same page of the game plan, and that our game plan is ready for next year.

Is your team ready? Do your players know the plan? Do you have performance measures? Is your team ready to win? Good luck this coming year -- I'll see you on the field of friendly strife!