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USAFE's 1st AFSO 21 manager to 'Lean' up Spangdahlem

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- Spangdahlem Air Base is the first base in U.S. Air Forces in Europe to have a full-time program manager for Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century.

The overarching goals here are to implement a change in culture and the way people think and do their jobs, officials said. 

Base officials also strive to be self-sufficient in conducting and achieving AFSO 21 events independently.

"AFSO 21 needs to be more than just a buzz word," said Chief Master Sgt. Terry Norris, 52nd Fighter Wing AFSO 21 program manager. "We have been on the fast track with AFSO 21 since August, and our goal is to see our program become a benchmark for the rest of the Air Force."

In a letter to Airmen earlier this year, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said AFSO 21 is a dedicated effort to maximize value and minimize waste in our operations.

Chief Norris agreed and said the wing is looking to use Lean tools about 80 percent of the time, and Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints and Business Process Re-engineering tools the other 20 percent. Lean tools deal primarily with the identification and elimination of waste and non-value added activities. The other tools are used to eliminate defects, constraints and improve overall processes. These tools help managers find better ways of streamlining processes to create a more efficient work environment.

"One of my biggest challenges is to assist our leadership in educating the base populace," the chief said. "There are people here who are not really sure what AFSO 21 can do for them, and our goal is to give an AFSO 21 introductory briefing to all personnel assigned here. We want Airmen to bring their ideas forward."

People usually get the best ideas from those who have a personal vested interest in improving the way the "system" works because it will ultimately make their job easier to do or manage, said Maj. Timothy Hess, 52nd Maintenance Operations Squadron commander.

"It's important to know that we usually don't get it 100 percent right the first time," Major Hess said. "It is not uncommon to have to go through the same AFSO 21 event five or six times before the approved solution is realized. Even then, it's a continual process because external and internal factors are constantly changing."

Each AFSO 21 event needs to be re-addressed periodically to ensure the end result is still meeting the desired goal, and the wing's AFSO 21 program manager is available to help in that process.

"I am here to help conduct training, and be a resource for every commander on base to aid in the successful implementation of AFSO 21 in their unit," Chief Norris said. "We want to conduct at least five events with one at each group and one overall event selected by the wing, and through these events is where people will learn firsthand the limitless potential of what AFSO 21 can do for them and their unit.

"The long term goal of AFSO 21 is to change a culture. It is to arm every military and civilian Air Force member with the tools they need to recognize processes and to make them as efficient as possible," Chief Norris said. "It is a means that will help ensure that the U.S. Air Force remains the most powerful air force the world has ever known -- well into the 21st century." 

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