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AFSO21 Chief: Proactive process improves any organization

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Improvement opportunities and the need to reduce waste are all around us.

Every organization, no matter how efficient, can benefit from improvement efforts and Air  Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, said Nick Sooy, Chief, 45th Space Wing AFSO21.

Mr. Sooy emphasizes the importance of eliminating waste and improving efficiency by learning and following the AFSO21 8-Step Problem Solving Process.

"The 8-Step process can help in taking a proactive approach to these possible shortfalls," said Mr. Sooy.

Not only will it help to eliminate waste, but the 8-Step process can be used as a means  to improve efficiency and to foster an environment of continuous process improvement.

AFSO21 is an Air Force-unique model to implement continuous process improvement practices into our day-to-day operations. It uses portions of various process improvement approaches and blends them into a standard model that fits Air Force needs.

As Under Secretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton said in July, "You have day-to-day visibility into opportunities to eliminate non-value added activity and wasted resources. In these challenging fiscal times, every dollar counts and good idea matters."

The 8-Step Problem Solving Process through AFSO21 provides a concise and common  format for presentation of data, problem solving facts, and information. This eases benchmarking and sharing of best practices when similar problems arise. The common structure provides a common language which easily translates into a common understanding.

And, as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in announcing his 2011 Vector, "In the coming years, our nation and our Air Force will face a budget environment unlike  anything we have encountered in decades. As elected officials consider what to do about  the growing federal debt, pressure will mount to reduce defense spending."

The vision of AFSO21 is to establish a continuous environment whereby all Airmen are  actively eliminating waste and continuously improving processes.

"In these critical times of increased budgetary pressures and rising resource costs, we  must look to eliminate waste and implement improvement efforts," said Mr. Sooy.

An organized approach to problem solving and the elimination of waste is essential, he said.

"Take a look around your unit and ask yourself, 'Is this waste? Can we reduce it?'" said Mr. Sooy.

The answer is often yes, and AFSO21 may provide the solution.

"One of our past successes includes Honor Guard Manning, where out-of-cycle taskings were reduced by 80 percent while meeting 100 percent of mission requirements," said Mr. Sooy.

Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews, Honor Guard superintendent, said HG used AFSO21 to  improve upon its prior weekly rotations, and after working thru its steps, they came up with a monthly rotation: three flights serving one month on, one month standby and one month off.

"With units who supply members committing to a month at a time, we have more continuity," Sergeant Matthews said. "We do a lot more with less people."

Some of the 45 SW's ongoing AFSO21 efforts include the Space Allocation Process Improvement Event and the Collision Launch Avoidance (COLA) Value Stream Mapping Event.

The Space Allocation Process Improvement Event is aligning strategic and general  facilities planning and reducing request to approval time.

"The COLA event is a joint event with the 30th Space Wing to standardize COLA criteria while creating standard work and streamlining coordination and flow," said Mr. Sooy. "Our Real Property Licensing Event began Aug. 29. This event is being held to reduce processing approval time and to improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, we've been approached about a number of other improvement opportunities within the 45 SW."

For more information, contact Mr. Nick Sooy, Chief, 45 SW AFSO21 Office, (321) 494-8434.