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Leaders hold key to AFSO 21 success

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- A cornerstone of the secretary of the Air Force’s tenure is Air Force Smart Operations 21. He recently said that Air Force leaders hold the key to success for the initiative.

"I have told our leaders that we cannot allow AFSO 21 to escape the wing leadership, whether that is the wing commander, group or squadron commanders or command chief," said Michael W. Wynne. "(Ownership of AFSO21) has to stay in that cradle. This is the leverage that we need to make innovative Airmen to feel comfortable bringing forward ideas that make their job easier."

Secretary Wynne believes where a leader spends his time is where a leader is really committed.

"Our command sections have to think about how much time they are spending on Smart Operations," he said. "If those leaders spend a fair amount of time on it, learning it themselves and learning it on behalf of their people, it will become an institutionalized event.

For AFSO 21 to work, it is important that a good idea does not get stuck at the lower echelons. Every Airman should feel comfortable brining an improvement idea to the command section as long as there is a rationale on whether it is a good thing to change, keep or get rid of, Secretary Wynne said.

"Sometimes people feel bound and constrained by their immediate work environment," Secretary Wynne said. "It will take command leadership to expand (those people's thought process) to see that their environment impinges upon their suppliers and customers.

"This is all about making sure we get ideas from the people who are actually involved in a process to make the Air Force more efficient and effective," he said.

AFSO 21 is not something that comes and goes. It will be with the Air Force for a long time, he said.

"Some of our segments have been using AFSO 21 principles for a long time," Secretary Wynne said. "We are identifying different ways to do business by looking for continual process improvement. Cutting waste time is significant to improving processes."

He gave an example for cutting waste time by explaining the process for a staff summary sheet that must go from office to office or building to building.

"The waste time is in the fact that the paper sits in the inbox, not the fact that we had a diligent individual deliver it from office to office," he said. "There is no value added by rushing the paper from place to place if the paper just sits in the in box."

Finding process improvements takes time and not all things can be changed. Some processes have been put in place for good reasons like safety and continuity. But, the Air Force needs to reexamine some of its constraints to make sure they are still valid, he said.

"This means we also need to have a process to change (or rescind) Air Force instructions," Secretary Wynne said. "I know Air Force instructions are valid and I don’t want to see them go away unless they are an impediment to good performance or are irrelevant today."

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