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SMART OPS FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW

Wing Commander, Col. Mark E. Bartman

Wing Commander, Col. Mark E. Bartman

July 2008 -- Hopefully by now you are all familiar with the term "Smart Ops," or at least have heard about Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. I'm sure you could talk with most of our Medical Group personnel to get more information on things like a Rapid Improvement Event, lean, six sigma, eight kinds of waste, etc. MDG recently went through a RIE to determine if we could reduce the time it takes for our PHA process, i.e. return you to your work center sooner to practice your primary AFSC skills. The results were spectacular, and will be implemented over the next few drills. 

Why Smart Ops? The answer to that is simple - given the current ends and assuming limited means...we must find new ways. Some of these new ways are simple and can be implemented by everyone. Others will be more difficult, require some investment in time to solve, and could require an initial outlay in resources. Reducing waste is what it's all about. The Commander of th Air Combat Command, General John D.W. Corley, has declared a "war on waste" throughout his command. We need to do the same. The Honorable Michael W. Wynne, SECAF, says it this way - "AFSO21 is a leadership program for commanders and supervisors at all levels, looking at each process from beginning to end. It doesn't look at how we can do each task better, but asks the tougher and more important question: Why are we doing it this way? Is each of the tasks relevant, productive and value added?" 

Maybe a simple example of the war on waste would be helpful. As the story goes, a senior executive at Toyota was scheduled to meet with the CEO and provide a briefing on a $500M program. The executive was told he would be allowed one sheet of 8.5"x11" paper to make his case and he couldn't use 8 point font. This is really the definition of reducing something to the bare minimum! Why make a big PowerPoint presentation with many colors and transitions when it can be done in black and white? Remember, it's not only the CEO's time that's precious, but yours and your co-workers time as well. It takes you a lot less time to produce a PPT brief with a standard template and simple black lettering. The "war on waste" starts with each and every one of you. 

I mentioned earlier that many of the ways we can reduce waste are simple. However, we also need to look at the big savers. Fuel costs have soared over $4 a gallon, The single largest item in the GWOT the Air Force spends money on is fuel. We must figure out ways to reduce our fuel consumption across the spectrum of oil, natural gas and
electric. I'm sure there are many other examples of waste in our dayto- day lives. 

In an effort to not take up any more of your time, I would like to close with a quote from Winston Churchill that he made to Parliament during WWII; "Gentleman, we are out of money; therefore we will have to think." I need you all to think! Provide feedback to me on
ways you think we can win the war on waste.

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