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Matrix Wings: Continuous Process Improvement an Operator Can Love

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Journal Article

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General Spencers call to managerial arms is certainly one that our Air Force has heard before, but it is more relevant than ever. The service took this advice to heart and attempted to institutionalize Total Quality Management TQM in the form of Quality Air Force QAF over two decades ago, only to see the program wither and die after extensive effort to make it work. Yet, the necessity to get the job done smarter and more efficiently is compelling, and there should be little argument that application of the concepts behind quality management and continuous improvement is necessary to find those smarter ways to conduct the mission and to do business. That need generated Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century AFSO21, the latest comprehensive effort at finding the right approach for implementing a continuous process improvement CPI model intended to span all of our environments-operational, support, and otherwise. This comprehensive methodology employs concepts from Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, and Business Process Reengineering, and its seven-year phased approach reminds one of the extensive phased preparation involved with QAF. This article is not a critique of the validity of any of those methodologies because all of them bring very relevant capability to improving processes. Rather, it is a critique of returning to that managerial mind-set that helped doom QAF. Operational units could use CPI and could employ the principles in AFSO21 but preferably by employing a version that does not take time away from mission preparationexecution and that is specifically tailored for their culture. Understanding those two critical dimensions of mission orientation and culture is imperative if any CPI program is to succeed in the operational world, and it is well worth reviewing them to set the foundation for the best way to institutionalize CPI at the wing level in the Air Force.

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  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Administration and Management

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