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Understanding Air Force Smart Ops for the 21st Century

  • Published
  • By Maj Gen Frank Padilla
  • 10th Air Force Commander
As our UCI quickly approaches, it is imperative that Airman understand the Air Force Smart Ops for the 21st Century (AFSO21). This communal database will showcase best practices and problem-solve imperative issues felt throughout the Air Force. AFSO21 uses an eight-step problem-solving model to ensure the subject matter's validity prior to posting the solution on its website: Although the eight steps and various tools included in each step may seem a bit daunting, it truly is a simple process: answer the questions under each heading then identify the best tool to help you solve your dilemma.

To simplify AFSO21, a problem has been selected that we can all relate to. With only a few months to go until our UCI, many departments have already begun printing out forms and checklists to create continuity binders. Everyone loves paper: you can feel it, see it, and write on it but there are better methods to increase efficiency. What if each department completed their checklists electronically?

Clarify and Validate the Problem. Building 1700 has a limited amount of space and resources, validated by viewing the crowed work stations within each directive.

Break Down the Problem and Identify Performance Gaps. If every single office created a binder for the UCI, it would result in wasted resources to include paper, binders, toner, fax contracts, and man-hours. Metrics would show the exact number of man-hours and dollars spent on such efforts.

Set the Improvement Target. If every office completed their UCI checklist electronically and we made a conscience effort to reduce our paper supply by 25 percent, these actions would have a trickle-down effect on our overall budget and efficiency. This goal could be further defined by indicating the balance, specific (task), measure, action, relevant and time (B-SMART) measurements.

Determine the Root Cause. It may be a case of "we've always done it that way". Brainstorm with your colleagues to determine the root cause. In our efforts to prove compliance to the IG, we need tangible evidence.

Develop Countermeasures. If we save the checklists online, documentation is available and efficiency increased. An action plan stating documentation should be saved on a specific shared drive for easy access for the entire staff will help eliminate confusion.

See Countermeasures Through. Implement your actions in a timely manner. Quick Changeover (Just Do It) works for our simple example; in complex situations more advanced tools are recommended.

Confirm Results and Process. Set a time limit to measure your metrics and re-examine if necessary. Audits will determine savings.

Standardize Successful Processes. Indicate UCI checklists should be saved on the CoP, continuity binders and training should be saved on a shared drive, and printing will be limited. These "green" effects will eventually be shared in other areas (broad implementation).

Be sure to answer "Who, What, When, and Where" to define your problem prior to seeking assistance from the AFSO21 team (Lt. Col. Sherry Howard and Capt. Kelly Keller). AFSO21's eight-step model will determine the "Why". Review the AFSO21 pamphlet or contact the AFSO21 team for additional information. With practice AFSO21 will be a helpful resource in increasing efficiency while maintaining safe and reliable Air Force operations.