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SMC leadership addresses AFSO21 practices and methods

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- Brig. Gen. Neil McCasland, vice commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, and SMC senior leaders, recently completed a first-ever enterprise value stream mapping and analysis facilitated by the Lean Aerospace Initiative Team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The exercise produced a look at SMC's enterprise, identifying the flow of activities and the value of each to the overall process of delivering value to our customers. SMC leadership will continue to evaluate and analyze these results with the goal of improving the processes through increasing value within the process. All of its stakeholders will be involved in including our industry partners. The analysis will depend on them to achieve our greatest efficiencies.

Business practices and methods of executing SMC's work have changed over the first 50 years of space acquisition and over the 60-year history of the Air Force. Some changes have been evolutionary, others have been revolutionary. Many of these changes were the results of technological advancement including development and evolution of the computer, while others were products of enlightened management and the deployment of techniques pioneered by management and process engineers such as Crosby, Taguchi and Deming.

In today's competitive business environment, the Air Force is looking to revolutionize its way of doing business by adopting an attitude and developing a culture of continuous process improvement, including supplying the tools to make it happen. SMC's leadership has embraced this effort and is actively looking at its mission and what is accomplished. They are examining how it is done, the role of its stakeholders and partners, and its relationship with its customers to identify the best way to deliver more value for the dollars and effort expended.

The Air Force name for this effort is Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, more commonly known as AFSO21. The AFSO21 effort aims to equip the force with a proven toolkit to analyze work and identify methods of increased efficiency and effectiveness, with emphasis on the "value added" in process flow and slashing wasted effort and time. AFSO21 will help bring about a culture of evaluating the way work is done. It has reduced the cycle time to get changes on the advanced extremely high frequency contract and proposed improvements in the performance report process, which will greatly reduce touch-and-cycle time in that process.

AFSO21 provides process owners with facilitators trained to use a variety of tools to aid in continuous process improvement. The facilitators will assist process owners in doing value stream mapping, process mapping and conducting improvement events. AFSO21 also includes a benchmarking element which identifies best practices to be applied to the processes and work accomplished at SMC.

During the EVSMA, the team identified a number of processes to further evaluate and develop improvement plans. These include elements of the contract process, workforce development, civilian hiring, developmental and requirements planning, and program planning and execution. SMC will begin on that journey shortly. There are additional processes that are more easily analyzed and improved. These efforts will get under way with the appointment of team leads in the very near future.
Volunteers of the best and brightest are needed to train as facilitators through the Lean Aerospace Initiative Consortium effort. Classes started this month with a followup group train in January.

A great opportunity lies ahead. The journey will recycle as the teams continuously review how SMC does business and incorporate the best-of-the-best philosophies that can help add value to its customers' deliverables, meeting their expectations for timely delivery of the capability needed.

Air Force leadership from Secretary Michael Wynne to the Air Force Space Command Commander, Gen. Kevin Chilton, and SMC's Commander, General Hamel, believe we must nurture and grow a culture of continuous improvement in the workplace. There is extraordinary and exciting opportunity to raise the level of our game as the next 50 years of national security space development kicks off right here in the all-new Schriever Space Complex.