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USAFE-AFAFRICA “Innovation Madness” saves $28 million, 115,000 man-hours

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- With the presentation of the inaugural Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Innovation Madness trophy to the 86th Airlift Wing here, it marked the end of the Innovation Madness contest May 1.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, presented the trophy and a check for $250,000 to Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, the 86th Airlift Wing commander, as the command's most innovative wing.

The Innovation Madness contest was devised by the USAFE-AFAFRICA Innovation Transformation Office in partnership with the command's financial management office as a way to add energy and to inspire competition amongst the wings.

"The Air Force has a long history of going back to the people who actually do the work to figure out how to do it faster, better and cheaper," Gorenc said.

As part of the competition, all nine USAFE-AFAFRICA wings submitted their innovations and award packages to a panel of judges and produced videos about their innovation culture that were broadcasted on American Forces Network channels Europe-wide. The videos were also posted and viewed on social media almost 300,000 times. Likes on Facebook were counted as part of their overall score. The wings advanced through a head-to-head tournament style contest similar to the NCAA basketball tournament until the most innovative wing was left standing.

"The numbers are staggering," Gorenc said before noting that USAFE-AFAFRICA wings submitted approximately 500 innovations and saved at least $28 million and 115,000 man-hours.

According to Col. Dale Anderson, the Chief of the Innovation Transformation Office $250,000 was given “to get a validated return of $28 million and 115,000 man-hours in savings. That's the kind of deal we'll take every time."

Gorenc told the Airmen of the 86th AW that our Air Force and our country face a financial crisis with no relief from our Air Force missions. Innovation is a necessity, and USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen are making it a part of their everyday culture.

"Players win championships, but the organization makes the team," said Chief Master Sgt. James Davis, the USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief, evoking a quote from the iconic NBA-All Star, Michael Jordan. He thanked the wing as a whole for making innovation a normal way of doing business.

The command plans to make the Innovation Madness tournament an annual award in hopes of invigorating innovations year-round.

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