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OII program helps with ORI, future of Buckley

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 1,400 self inspection program items helped the 460th Space Wing attain a satisfactory rating during the grueling 17-day Operation Readiness Inspection and Unit Compliance Inspection.

Three-hundred-and-twenty-nine of the initiatives were Operational Improvement Initiatives (OIIs).

The OII program came from Col. Clint Crosier, 460th Space Wing Commander, who first implemented the program during his time as an operations group commander before coming to Buckley. OIIs are designed to allow continuous process and mission improvement and never being satisfied with the status quo.

"It is amazing that across this wing, in approximately five months, we as a team found 329 ways to accomplish our individual missions more effectively," said Kevin Stocking, 460th Wing Plans chief. "It had an extremely positive impact on the ORI. What inspector could help but be impressed when you can show them you have not only met the 'requirement' but also identified a way to improve your offices execution of the unit mission? Can you imagine what the impact across the Air Force would be if everyone continuously looked for better ways to do business?"

Chief Master Sgt. Marilyn Savage, 460th Space Communications Squadron, said her initial reaction was concern about yet another ORI/UCI tasking. She said it was Col. Crosier's example of a personal OII he'd implemented by taking away his own trash can to reinforce the 100 percent shred policy, that showed her how useful and simple the process could be.

"Our focus for developing as many OIIs as we did had nothing to do with a competition but really identifying was to improve our processes," said Chief Savage. "The OII process truly made us look at how we are doing business. In some cases, we found new ways to get programs off the ground that didn't exist before and in others, we merely 'trimmed the fat' allowing us to save countless man-hours."
Improving processes is more than an inspection posture, said Mr. Stocking.

"This is an ongoing program. Keep in mind the goal is to develop a culture of 'CONTINUOUS' improvement across every level," he said. "Continuous improvement means that over time someone else will build on these current operational improvements and identify a way to make another improvement. It is kind of like the overall improvement to the airplane, it all started with the Wright Brothers plane, a tweak here, a suggestion there, a new idea to answer a given set of requirements, over time resulted in the; F22 fighter, the Orion Spacecraft (Space Shuttle replacement), and the new Boeing 787, all of which in a 100 years will be relics of a bye-gone age because further continuous improvements will have rendered these 'modern' pieces of equipment obsolete."

Senior Master Sgt. Dean Harris, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron, said the OII program gave his squadron the opportunity to show off a few initiatives that weren't in the directives.

"We have programs here at Buckley that we do better than anyone else and I can see them eventually being applied across the command," he said.
Lisa Iverson, 460th Medical group, said the OII process sends the right message to everyone on the base and around the Air Force. She said medics are always focused on and dedicated to providing quality medical care, but the OII process pushed them to greater heights.

"The OII program challenged us to document our improvements and created a 'snowball effect' environment as we fed off of each others' ideas and experienced the positive impact they were having on our mission." she said. "It empowers all of us to jump in and make a difference! Just because 'that is the way it has always been done,' doesn't mean we can't find a better way or improve the way we do business."

Sergeant Harris agreed with Mrs. Iverson's assessment of the program.

"The biggest success of the OII program was that we were able to validate the way we do business as better than what was expected by AF standards," he said. "It opened the door to empower individuals to be creative and think outside the box. This tells our Airmen that we are an organization committed to excellence in all we do!"

Mr. Stocking said we have all (active duty, guard, reserve, civilian, contractor, etc) been charged with being "GOOD" stewards of the public trust and have a duty to execute our missions as economically as possible in all facets of resource management. He pointed to the outdated, but too common old axiom of "Better, Faster, Cheaper; pick two" as a way of thought that the OIIs are designed to leave in our wake.

"Operational Improvement is about identifying ways to positively influence all three without sacrificing gains elsewhere," he said. "Furthermore, who wants to go through the trouble of getting ready for the next ORI. By always looking for operational improvements, dotting the i's and crossing the t's, and by never cutting corners we will 'ALWAYS' be ready for the IG team. We will be pushing programs to the IG to see not trying to hide programs that may have problems. Complacency is the enemy's best asset and we decide whether or not they get to benefit from it. If, 'good enough for government work' is your mantra, it is time to find a new employer."
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