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Leaders at all levels must be aware of AFSO 21 efforts

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AFPN) -- General officers gathered here Sept. 6 to present their plans for streamlining the processes that govern the Air Force.

As part of Air Force Smart Operations 21, or AFSO 21, the Air Force Smart Operations Process Council, made up of senior Air Force leaders, guides and integrates the transformation of the Air Force's core processes.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne told council members he expected this fourth meeting of the group would be more than discussion.

"We are going to try and narrow the options down, identify the overlaps, listen to the process owners, talk about the things they have run into that are blockades, and see if we can assist them as a council in resolving them," he said.

The Air Force Process Council and the AFSO 21 office have identified 10 main processes" that drive the Air Force. Those processes include planning and execution of initiatives; managing programs and processes; developing warfighters; developing and sustaining warfighting systems; deployment and distribution; conducting air, space and cyber operations; caring for people; providing information technology support; providing infrastructure; and managing financial resources.

Each of the 10 main processes has been assigned a senior leader process owner. The process owners are responsible to the council and will lead cross-functional teams to optimize improvements of the main process assigned to them.

Each main process has many sub-processes that reach all the way down to work centers at Air Force bases around the world. Eventually, these subprocesses also will be optimized. Secretary Wynne said that at the top levels of the Air Force, major process owners must be aware of what is happening at the lowest level, so that relevant work being done there not only is recognized, but also is absorbed and applied as part of AFSO 21.

"It is frustrating to people who are doing things at the subordinate level to find out their accomplishment did not contribute to the overall process goals of the organization," he said. "They feel a frustration because their particular thing was a sideline to the main event. As we move this process along, some of you will actually begin to recognize those things going on at base level, and at the wing level, that are actually positively contributing."

Secretary Wynne said it is the role of main process owners to ensure that base level work is included in the more macro level work being conducted at Headquarters Air Force level.

"Now we are talking about organizing the strategic part of the Air Force," he said. "And some of you are working in processes where you can clearly see what your line folks have been working on. Our job is really to bring these into alignment."

AFSO 21 is designed to fully embed continuous process improvement into the Air Force way of doing business. By using civilian industry methods such as Lean techniques, Six Sigma and theory of constraints methods, Air Force leaders believe they can save billions of dollars and allow the service to more efficiently deliver air, space and cyberspace power.

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