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NEWS | Aug. 1, 2006

AFSO21 set to make Team Charleston 'smarter'

By Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas 437 AW Public Affairs

Team Charleston has been involved in every major military operation since the base's creation. A new operation has begun and it has the potential to make all future operations smarter. 

Air Force Smart Operations 21 is an Air Force initiative that applies a mix of business strategies designed to streamline everyday processes across the Air Force. These plans will save money by optimizing processes and making them more effective and efficient. 

"AFSO21 is about removing waste," said Dick Barry, Charleston AFSO21 consultant. "We teach people what the waste looks like and how to get rid of it." 

AFSO21 signifies a shift in thinking. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne wrote in a Letter to Airmen that AFSO21 is centered on processes rather than tasks alone. This allows people to gain insights into the value, or lack of value, in each task they perform. 

Mr. Barry, who has 10 years of experience facilitating lean initiatives, will be working with Charleston squadrons, helping them look at their processes, eliminate waste and improve workflow. One of the first things Mr. Barry will be doing to get the AFSO21 program moving are cultural assessments. The assessments are 2.5 hour meetings with people who work at the same level. 

"We want everyone involved in the assessments to feel comfortable talking about their concerns," Mr. Barry said. 

Mr. Barry will lead the meetings and will be gathering information to identify waste and find areas where the base can improve. He also plans on training trainers and facilitators who can run the AFSO21 program when he's gone. By the time he leaves a year from now, a self-sustaining system will be in place to identify and remove waste. 

"I'm here to work myself out of a job," said Mr. Barry. 

This initiative enhances an Air Force mindset already geared toward innovation, said Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert III, director of the main AFSO21 office. 

"The Air Force has always fostered a culture of innovation," General Gilbert said. "We are trying to take that culture of innovation to the next level, where we look at all the processes involved in what we do. We look at not doing more with less, but at being smarter about the way we are doing business -- eliminating work that is unnecessary. We have tried to capture lessons learned from industry and government agencies involved in process improvement." 

Mr. Barry will be using those lessons learned from industry as he guides Team Charleston shops to be leaner and smarter. 

"I'm here to see really good, positive change happen. I want to see results," he said. 

Airmen who have ideas on how to make Charleston AFB leaner through the AFSO21 program can contact Lt. Col. George McDowell by phone at 963-5514 or e-mail at george.mcdowell-02@charleston.af.mil.