AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
Decreasing defense budgets have highlighted the critical need, in recent years, to maximize the efficiency of the processes that support and deliver effective combat capability to the warfighter. To address this critical issue, the Air Force AF is attempting a transformative effort to instill a Continuous Process Improvement CPI mindset into its culture. Known by its program name of AFSO21 and now AF CPI, this program seeks to train and certify an organic cadre of CPI practitioners to support the use of its standard problem solving process known as the AF Practical Problem Solving Method PPSM to solve mission critical process deficiencies. The PPSM leverages several industry proven CPI methodologies to address wasteful activities, constraints, and variation in processes in order to improve efficiency in terms of resource consumption in relation to process output. As a Major Command MAJCOM of the AF, the Air Force Reserve Command AFRC is attempting the same transformation in its unique Citizen Airmen culture with limited results. An assessment of the how effectively the AF CPI program is being implemented in terms of CPI practitioner training and certification, senior leader education, and CPI project effectiveness, suggests that leadership at all levels must take ownership of the program soon or any remaining momentum towards the ultimate goal of incorporating a CPI into the culture will be lost and the initiative will fail.