Next step in quality evolution of Air Force

  • Published
  • 826th Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Group
There is no denying the world we live in continues to move faster and faster with increasing demands placed on all of us as individuals. Funding constraints driven by a myriad of factors are necessitating urgent changes to the way we do business. The long anticipated turnover in our aging workforce has begun and the challenge of capturing and transferring years of valuable knowledge and experience is an everyday concern. Recapitalization of our aging weapons systems and the corresponding support infrastructure are the battle cry.

I am approaching the 20 year threshold working for the United States Air Force. All of those years have been spent here at Hill AFB. In the years I have been employed, I have watched us make significant improvements in the way we achieve our mission. I have participated, along with the rest of you, in reorganizing and reinventing many of our critical processes. I have also witnessed us come full circle on issues we thought we had improved upon only to find out later the original process was in fact the best way to do business. As I sit here now and look back, I believe we have collectively and constantly moved forward in a positive direction. I can say unequivocally that Hill AFB is a far better place to work than the place I started work at nearly 20 years ago. The quality improvement programs, that sometimes seem like just another trip around the proverbial mulberry bush, have in fact continued to place emphasis on the importance of human capital to the outcome of any and all efforts. Missions do not succeed without people. People are without a doubt our greatest asset. All of the improvement programs repetitively bring that to the forefront and whether we realize it or not our lives are continuously improved as a result. The periodic surveys that are sent out are a continuing effort to take the pulse of those efforts and adjust them accordingly.

After having worked through generations of Quality Circles, Total Quality Management, Enterprise Logistics for the 21st Century, Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, I have come to the conclusion these always changing initiatives are not just new programs that will be around for a time and then be replaced, rather they represent the next step in the quality evolution. As we work through each effort we gain a greater understanding of our people and our processes and we make a variety of changes as a result.

We have to decide why we get up every morning and head through one of these gates to make our living and support our families. If you were to ask 10 people why they come to work every morning you would likely get 10 different answers. That's a good thing! Some would say they are just interested in the paycheck, others like the security a government job seems to have over other places of employment, then there are those that have the more altruistic motivation that would say it is to support the warfighter and to make a difference to our nation's defense.

I would suggest that the Air Force face similar trials but for different reasons and different competitive pressures. Our competition is to keep our troops the most well equipped to accomplish their mission within an ever shrinking budget. As we try to overcome the challenges of supporting our aging systems and doing it at a reduced cost, we also compete with other branches within the DOD and either competition or opposition from foreign countries. To be successful in our efforts, we need to find the right motivation. We need to clearly understand that those of us performing the day to day tasks are the ones most qualified to find ways to do it better, faster and cheaper than before. We can choose to look at our continuous improvement activities as a burden to getting into a comfortable daily routine or we can look at them as way to ensure our jobs (the ones we sometimes take for granted) stay fresh, challenging, and secure. I am passionate about the importance of what we do here at the base and believe strongly in our responsibility to try to have fun doing it. 

After working in private industry and on many projects around the Air Force and the DOD I know the workforce here in Ogden is second to none. I would encourage each of us to search ourselves for the motivation we have to accomplish our jobs here at the base, and to look for ways to lend the considerable knowledge and expertise we have to doing our jobs better, faster and cheaper than anyone else. By doing that we will keep our warfighters armed with the best possible tools, we will assist in delivering new, more superior capabilities into our warfighters hands keeping them safer and more secure, and we will secure the air logistics center's critical role in the support of our future war fighting systems now and into the future.