AFSO21 prepares warfighters for the joint fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Glen Robinson
  • 99th Air Base Wing
Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is transforming the Air Force through more innovative and streamlined process to ensure warfighters have the specific resources and skills required for the joint fight.

While some of the Air Force's internal processes have been in place since the 1970s, before computers, cell phones and flat-screen televisions, 21st-century warfighters are ready for and require more modern and efficient processes. That is where AFSO21 comes in--providing warfighters with what they need without wasting time, effort or money.

AFSO21 process improvements come in different forms. Some processes are quick and simple fixes; others are complex and may involve several organizations working improvement plans over a lengthy period of time. AFSO21's three main categories of process improvement actions are: "just do it," "rapid improvement events" and "high value initiatives."

"Just do it" actions typically do not involve formal process review teams or improvement events but are process improvements that can quickly be put into action and yield immediate results.

"Rapid improvement events" usually last a week and apply a series of problem-solving steps to determine root causes of problems, eliminate waste, set improvement targets and establish clear performance measures to reach desired effects. Successful RIEs usually have the following four components: strong leadership buy-in, knowledgeable and open-minded participants, a tightly focused event scope and an implementation plan, and metrics to track results.

"High value initiatives" produce significant returns against key Air Force challenges. These processes are more complex and involve cross-functional teams to ensure that identified improvements are incorporated into the day-to-day operations of an organization. HVIs typically require four to six months in order to successfully define and implement the required process changes.

Continuous process improvement will become the new norm for the Air Force -- daily looking for innovative ways to use materiel and personnel more efficiently. AFSO21 provides the tools to shed non-value-added work and to ensure every Airman's efforts contribute directly to accomplishing the Air Force mission -- to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.

Everything in the Air Force is a process that involves time and effort and AFSO21 will maximize value and minimize waste. This effort is built on a strong foundation to ensure there is a lasting impact. Leadership at every level, from the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, all the way down to wing leaders, is committed to supporting AFSO21 efforts. Years of history and lessons learned using AFSO21 principles will help ensure success.

AFSO21 is about results. Senior leaders have identified the major result areas that will be the primary focus called "Five North Stars." They are Productivity of our People, Equipment Availability, Agility, Safe and Reliable Operations, and Energy Efficiency. To this end, initiatives are already tackling some of the biggest challenges in training, space launch operations, aircraft fuel conservation and facility energy savings.

No process is immune from the critical reviews of AFSO21. Airmen are applying the principles of AFSO21 with positive results on the flightline, in maintenance shops, in customer service centers, in offices and on construction sites --everywhere.

An Airmen's time is valued and should not be wasted. The Air Force needs Airmen involvement to march unnecessary work out the door. Arimen are encouraged to seek out ways they can help. With the innovation and imagination of every Airman, at every level, Airmen can become better, more efficient warfighters.

For more information concerning AFSO21, visit the web site at https://wwwmil.nellis.af.mil/units/default.htm or contact Senior Master Sgt. Glen Robinson at 702-652-2902.