BTOES Insights Official
November 24, 2020

BTOES From Home - SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT : Cultural Transformation to Build an Improvement and Innovation Ecosystem

Courtesy of United States Air Force's Brou Gautier, below is a transcript of his speaking session on 'Cultural Transformation to Build an Improvement and Innovation Ecosystem' to Build a Thriving Enterprise that took place at BTOES From Home.


Session Information:

Cultural Transformation to Build an Improvement and Innovation Ecosystem

The Air Force is building an ecosystem of improvement and innovation, which requires a culture change. The Air Force is focusing on a cultural transformation to inspire Airmen to think differently, veering from a culture of inherent compliance that accepts no questions, to an improvement and innovative culture that is data focused and outcome/performance driven. To build the ecosystem that improves the organization from the inside out we focused on Airman development, Airman innovation, and process management/modeling.

Session Transcript:

Hello everyone and welcome to the 2020 business transformation and operational excellence world summit BTOES From Home where great leaders and smart technologies meet key business processes people and culture my name is jose perez and i'm the ceo of business excellence and innovation and I'm honored to be your host for the summit to paraphrase john lennon.

we had plans but life happened 2020 has been filled with unique challenges but out of disruption new opportunities emerge and BTOES From Home is an amazing opportunity to learn and share how operational excellence innovation technology culture business and digital transformations are
reshaping the way we work and live but first let's cover some of the exciting things that are happening around this unique live event make sure to download and use the BTOES From Home desktop and mobile app to select and attend your sessions to connect and network with other participants and we also ask that you give us feedback by rating the speakers and their content in the event app.

Which is fantastic part of the event app you have the opportunity to visit the virtual booths and start scheduling meetings to win amazing giveaways if you schedule and attend five meetings with any five of the virtual booths using the super easy online appointment scheduling tool you'll get access to the recording of the Disney innovation and leadership full day workshop which is priced live at about a thousand us dollars also we have asked all virtual booths to offer their own giveaways and prizes for attendees that schedule and attend meetings in the virtual booths so here at the main stage.

We'll have three types of sessions keynote presentations by leading industry experts live panel sessions with a combination of cross industry leaders and experts and his special ceremonies and workshops will all take place here at the main stage but there is a whole lot more going on around this conference several tracks and special events that you must check out including a network.

Happy happy hour with breakouts at 3 45 p.m. eastern time today and the industry awards ceremony at 3 45 p.m. tomorrow followed by the limited attendance awards after party in the awards after party you're gonna get to hang out with all the award finalists and winners now each keynote presentation here on the main stage will last 35 minutes, followed by a 10 minute q a it's very important that you submit your questions during the presentations via the BTOES From Home app click the specific session on the app and you see a call out for chat questions and polls during each presentation I'll keep an eye on the questions being submitted and I'll relate them back to the speaker or panel during the live Q/A this is your opportunity to make this insights valuable to your own context so don't be shy and ask about what matters most to you now i want to make sure that you feel comfortable asking questions and understanding how the process works, so very quickly I ask you that you click on the session that we have right now and you will hover to the call out box that will give you options for chat questions and posts.

So do me a favor go into that area click on the questions icon in the in that area and submit a question is stating where are you coming from today, what city and country you're logging on today.

we have thousands of participants on a global scale and it's very exciting to have such diverse a diverse team of business transformation and operational excellence leaders logging in and creating this unique environment where great ideas and great people can connect so I already see laura martin zamala you win the prize laura for the first one to come through and uh very very cool uh and laura's actually asking a question and laura yes we will be recording the sessions for you then it's awesome that I can see that the connection with the audience
right now so let let me sample some of the people who are coming through here
I have kim from belgium hello kim great to have you here here sandra from framingham massachusetts massachusetts randy from miami florida.

We have anna martinez from connecticut in the united states we have sandra from mississauga ontario canada a lot we have don miller logging in from rally north carolina we have maria from boston massachusetts aaron from seattle and we have adam from lancaster pennsylvania uh we have a kill from Pune in India akil great to have you there logging in directly from Pune, we have kirsten from Chicago and we have a wonderful community.

Around the united states and around the world who are logging on directly for for vetoes from home so very very excited to have you here so ah let me tell you that this questions uh connection is the way that you communicate with us uh when the sessions start as you come up with questions as the presenter yo  know is making his or her you know presentation um type your questions and uh there is a feature in this questions box that actually allows you to rank someone
else's question as well and the some of the higher ranked questions go to the top
but i'm going to be scanning through all of them through the presentation and I'm going to relaying several of these questions during the 10 minute live Q/A that we're gonna have at the very end. So take advantage of this feature it's really fantastic that you can ask questions that are uh important to your context and it
doesn't matter. if you're a novice or if you're very experienced business transformation operational excellence leader um all your questions matter and we're going to try to to get to as many questions as possible during the Q/A and even if we're not able to cover all questions during the Q/A uh we may be able to relate some of these questions to the speakers and a lot of our communication post event will certainly take into account the type of questions that you're asking throughout the event.

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Now imagine that we have sessions not only going on here at the main stage but we have all of the sessions happening in parallel and in the different tracks and this functionality is available for all of them um make sure that you reach out to the visual to the virtual booths and the and get your prizes and make those meetings with uh in the virtual booths uh make sure that you connect with each other because the ecosystem that's created by the app.

The bios of everyone you're connecting with you get to know where they're working where they work what they do what their career history looks like and these are very meaningful connections that i hope that you can take full advantage of by using the features that are available in this very unique app and really online ecosystem. Remember the best way to accelerate excellence and innovation is to create environments where great people and great ideas  can connect and this is what beat us from home is all about we may be socially distant but we are very much connected with a common purpose of accelerating business transformations operational excellence and creating value for organizations and communities.

That we work for and uh and live in now let's take a look at some of the other things that are happening today, um uh we're gonna start the day uh with Brou Gautier on a keynote on culture transformation to build an improvement and innovation ecosystem.

I'll introduce Brou Gautier at the top of the hour and it's a fantastic presentation about the transformation that's taking place in united states air force and uh and brew is a unique leader who is leading this incredible change in the way that the air force it operates in the way that it tackles some of the challenges and opportunities now after that here at the main stage, we will have a keynote panel on the future of work and we're going to have fantastic speakers for that uh we have a Anu george from morningstar financials, we have Yuval Devir from google and we have Dessalen wood from thought exchange, discussing the future of work and what is the impact of covid 19, in the development of the new normal um in our society.

Now after that session at eastern time all these times that I'm talking here are eastern time at noon eastern time we're gonna have a keynote directly from stockholm sweden and we're gonna have one of the best speakers when it comes to innovation and not from a theoretical standpoint but a very practical uh application of innovation in business and society and i'm very very glad to have Magnus Panker who is the ceo of innovation 360, from sweden to the world discussing about how we play bold and how to win the business game. by using creative destruction so fantastic session with magnus banker that you do not want to miss at 1 30 pm eastern time we'll have another keynote panel here at the main stage.

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We're going to discuss robotics process automation and intelligent automation and the impact of covid 19. and what the future holds for people and technology in this in this in this new um settings that we are living on some organizations have been had been prior to covid on a digital transformation journey for about five years and things had had moved very very slow um and then we had a pandemic and in about five days uh we did what we couldn't really accomplish in five years so technology clearly has accelerated during this time and that we're going to have awesome experts discussing the technology side the business side the social side of this of this uh technology acceleration so we have rajiv jain from h healer packard as one of our keynote panelists uh brandon knott who is the senior vice president uipath dedicated to robotics process automation. and market chimura who leads robotics process automation implementations at the morningstar financial so terrific panel as well you do not want to miss that now later on in the day we're going to have the closing remarks and uh and uh right soon after that one keynote panel and then we're gonna follow that up at 3 45 p.m again with the networking happy hour so by that time if you drink get a glass of wine sit in front of your computer and uh you know network with some of the best in the industry so we're gonna have breakout rooms where you can meet people say hello introduce yourself have a discussion about specific topics, that we're to launch during the networking happy hour. so that event is going to kick off at 3 45 p.m. now I want to say again explore the full functionality of the app you have a desktop version, you have a mobile version and both versions are fantastic connect, with people. Visit the virtual booths uh you have you you can get a 1000 prize giveaway by just having five meetings separate meetings with in the in the virtual booths and then of course uh the the virtual booth operators are going to be providing these special gifts that they're unique for for for their for uh for their presentations and their organizations. So this is a way for you not only to be eligible for the 1000 prize giveaway but also um very many special gifts and uh and giveaways that they're going to have as part of that so um this the beginning of a three-day journey here.

Where we're going to connect with each other we're going to learn from tremendous experts from all over the world in in the best of organizations who are really creating the future today for all of us and we want to be part of that journey we want to know what it takes to create the future today and we want to engage intentionally in that journey with some of the best in the world and the best way to do that is to connect with each other is to connect with these thought leaders is to connect with the organizations and technology companies that are advancing uh the way we work and live and really truly reshaping the way we work and live now um tomorrow. I want to highlight again we have an incredible event with the industry awards finalists and winners so you do not want to miss
the industry awards tomorrow, because you're going to get to see the best of the best and this is uh despite all the troubles that have happened in 2020.

It's amazing to see what organizations are doing um around the world to accelerate excellence to accelerate innovation to accelerate culture business and digital transformations. That create social and financial value so this is uh very excited about about that event that's going to take place tomorrow.

Now without further ado let's welcome our first keynote speaker and very excited to bring uh a leader in the air force Mr. Brou Gautier, Mr. Brou Gautier, serves as the director of the air force's spark tank event and leads the continuous process improvement in innovation division at the department of the air force headquarters in Washington DC, as the air force's continuous process improvement in innovation lead brew is responsible for the development training and deployment of cpi and innovation concepts across the department in a way that fosters innovation solves performance issues and transforms the culture with a particular emphasis on end-to-end processes prior to his current role mr gautier was a commission officer and pilot in the us air force and a consultant and business director for a privately held lean six sigma company.

Brou it's always an honor to have you with us a tremendous depth of experience and practical insights thank you so much for sharing that wisdom with us today jose thank you uh for for having me uh headline up this morning's event to help kind of kick things off. It's incredible honor and I'm quite humbled to to be at the lead of a three-day, organizational event with worldwide impact potentially as we kind of share this knowledge and help all designed to help each other, in the struggle to get to this operational excellence. Goal right and I'm just uh honored that veto's team reached out and asked because I think we have a compelling story to share with you today and uh Jose I appreciate your kind words look forward to it okay thank you very much and I appreciate also being here on the stage with such great company.

You know the all the folks that you mentioned, it got me thinking about you know today's current mentors and how they're fresh in the space and how I actually lean back to a previous mentors that I've had don linseman ron ritter um mike smith paul dunbar lots of names that are were important to me in my journey and I know that you all have a host a great slate of them.

Who will be important to you and your journey today and again I'm honored to be able to to contribute to that this morning so should we get right into the slides perfect thank you very much. Just wanted to share you know the whenever we we present for the government or the department. We have to put this little this little disclaimer right here that while this presentation is a combination of my take on things of the reality of our deployment in the air force towards reaching operational excellence. It does represent some of my opinion in there as well and doesn't reflect an official position of the air force but what I wanted to share with you is essentially the observations that I've had coming from the kind of the hot seat.

If you will to kind of observe where our culture is today. Where it's been over the last. Decade or so and then shape help shape that for the future so um with that I intend to share with you. That our primary goal is you know how can we make the most of our set funding while lowering risk and cost and I think that's a shared goal amongst, all of us and and I know for especially taxpayers in the US.

You really appreciate that notion uh and I would just say too that every one of the 685 000 airmen uh and space professionals that I come across absolutely have that in mind because we're taxpayers too and we know that while we've got a sacred. uh honor to offer up to the united states for defense of the nation our obligation is also to our taxpayers to make sure we do that without kind of breaking the bank. If you will so with that in mind we'll kind of keep going through and just say we're looking at performance excellence and thinking about all those kinds of things what does that, mean right what is performance excellence in terms of productivity and optimization.

All those key business buzzwords what does that really mean for folks at the end of the day yes we'll be eliminating waste yes we're trying to increase capacity yes we want to increase productivity. It's all tied to output but at the end of the day one of the things that's absolutely essential to learn is that it's about behaviors right at the end of the day. We're humans and we're we're doing a service we're performing a function and we have to absolutely be rock solid and our commitment to what we're doing for uh our job and in our case for the nation so I've got down there at the bottom. Something called our core values and I'll just say that I was given this little pamphlet back in 1997 this was January 1997, and and there were a couple of reasons.

Why this pamphlet came into existence but I'm going to focus on that last one there integrity first obviously service before self you know a little bit of patriotism embedded in in doing that that it's about the needs of the nation and the needs of the air force but that excellence in all we do is one that actually gets a little bit of folks in trouble people tend to think that you know you get wrapped up in this concept of perfection we're always. Reaching for perfection right but some people get frustrated with perfection's not attainable. So where do we go from there and I would just say that the actual definition of excellence in all we do is that it directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation and that will propel.

The air force into a long-term upward spiral of accomplishment and performance so 1997 uh these guys had i think they had it right um and and so the rest of this presentation will be about essentially that journey from 1997 for me and our observations for the air force and how we're reaching to try to get after that performance excellent standard.

So to set the stage a little bit uh beyond just where we're going with the briefing I want to talk a little bit about what most people think the air force is right you know, I think these pictures kind of summarize a capture a little bit about what you, perhaps believe the air force when somebody says united states air force what are you thinking about in many cases it's really really cool technology. It's airplanes it's flying it's rocketry. it's space it's awesomeness right um but in reality
i think it's far bigger than that right because if i want you to think for a second that those are actually our effects. That's the product that we and services that we deliver.

That's not necessarily all that it takes that the air force is composed of so I have to actually spend a lot of time reminding folks that you know this is about the organization. That produces those effects right and so let's dive into that just a little bit. So I've got a little picture of a globe here and i know most of you think uh globally you're we've got certainly jose introduced a number of folks who were all around the world dialing into the conference the symposium here and what's what's interesting for me is that you know we have this global organization for the air force.

We have a worldwide footprint uh and one of the things that I think that people fundamentally don't necessarily uh take i mean you can appreciate small and local and tangible but we have a global footprint so we have essentially 89 cities that is comprised of the active duty air force we have a number of reserve cities we have a number of air national guard cities and we have some expeditionary temporary cities all over the planet.

Some told about 200 different operating locations worldwide and our force is about 685,000 people strong that's both full-time and part-time employees. Those people have about 160 different skill sets and that's an amazing thing when you start thinking about it because ultimately i said we produce that service but we also maintain 200 cities around the world.

That have in them regional local regional national international airports and even
intergalactic space ports right so what happens is most of those 685 000 people they're about taking care of and building and the stewardship of the cities and the ports from which we launch our capabilities and that's an amazing requirement, because in that set of skills and that global footprint we have folks who do lots of different things we have firefighters we have medical technicians
and nurses we have journalists we have police. We have engineers electricians fitness coaches. We have cooks human resources specialists docs nurses maintainers you name it's across the 160 different specialties i've got a picture of a dog in the upper left corner and that's not contrary to popular speaking opinions because somebody said if you have a dog in your presentation everyone will really really like it.


That's actually because the air force is the department of defense and the federal government US federal government enterprise executive agent for working dogs
bomb detection dogs drug detection dogs. Security assistance dogs etc. So when you thought air force you didn't think veterinarians did you you didn't, think dog handlers you didn't think those kinds of things but in reality are enterprises that big that we have to care for and feed all of that and why is the air force the the federal government's executive agent for working dogs, because we're that good at it it made sense we're economical at it and we produce a great service for our folks. So when you start thinking about the air force you think about those effects. I want you to actually then start thinking about what's going on behind the scenes to enable all of those effects to occur and so when I we start talking about and thinking about those folks i have to have this message for them.

I want to achieve the maximum productivity from every taxpayer dollar and i want to minimize no value added burden and why do i talk about that ultimately that's uh because when i look at those 685,000 folks and i talk with them i'm listening for the things that are important to them and they have lots of concerns they have issues at home they have personal finance issues.

They've got planning issues they've got they want adventure they want to go see
the world they've got children that they need to take care of and so they all have a whole bunch of different concerns plus on top of that they loan some of our time to our air force to help make us even better and so that the key is how do I tap into those previous goals, that I mentioned and i start thinking about these folks and thinking about the what's in it for them and how do i get them to appreciate and adopt my concerns for resource productivity and minimizing waste towards something.

That's important for them and again I think that comes down to behaviors so some people you know really can kind of this is a very positive image and I love it, but some people when i hear you know and I say hey we're gonna let's talk about productivity they're like oh no. The cynical who have been a victims of and I say that word intentionally of total quality management and management by objectives and zero defects all of those programs in the past um believe that they have the right to be cynical about some of these things, because those programs were failed in their implementations right I think we've learned a lot from those days and in essence.

We're not trying to to do all of these things it's not simply about tools it's really about a holistic system of continuous improvement and innovation that helps people thrive where they are locally and then magnify for global effect right so that's the issue productivity of every asset at doing what you need it to do.

So one of the things when we talk about showing respect for people which is I think a lot different than in the past I want to pause for just a second and say back in total quality management one of my first experiences with the air force,

We had general officers who read the books and said airmen you are empowered to go do what's right and do this quality thing right and and so we we didn't catch the clues that they were like this quality thing um what we what we zeroed on was we were empowered to go make a difference and change and we got metrics and man we started over we measured everything we measured stuff that was irrelevant we started collecting data.

We collected scads of data we started setting up metrics and goals that had nothing to do with outcomes but everything to do with other stuff which was really weird and it confused people the other thing that happened is general officer said i want to hear from you and airmen started talking and what they found when airmen started talking was that generals didn't necessarily care back then why well because airmen are thinking about problems they think deeply about problems very filled with personal pride of authorship pride of ownership of the work they do and they're saying this doesn't work it's not right it doesn't do these things but they didn't know how to communicate that right so back then we're showing you know a general comes into the base and we're showing them all these issues and the general's having a real struggle.

He can appreciate that it's a very tactical knowledge but the general's thinking about 200 bases worldwide he's about producing global effects and he got brought down to the very very you know from the 50000 foot level down to the 100 foot level and said wait i'm having a real big difficulty with all this stuff in the middle.

So we couldn't communicate for each other and as a result unfortunately we found out that it seemed that the word seemed then kind of hollow about empowering airmen, and I bring this up the gallup's q12 because i love their take on this gallup organization the polling organization is basically if you looked up the q12 you'll find that there are 12 questions that are statistically relevant the most statistically relevant and determining whether employees are satisfied happy engaged in their job and i'm not going to repeat them all, here but i'll just say that all of them are about respect for people and it.

Really boils down to if you're if you're as a mid-level manager or senior manager and you're trying to assess how satisfied your workforce is how engaged they are it's worth reflecting on one double-edged question and that's do the employees believe that the work they do is a value to the organization and valued by the organization right so back to that tqm lesson we saw people who were doing work that was clearly valued by the organization or was it it wasn't necessarily perceived that way. so even though it was valuable work it wasn't perceived that way because there we had this fundamental communications disconnect and so the rest of this presentation. I want to start talking about the systems that we started building and putting in place towards helping overcome that communications gap. So excuse me just a second so one of the things that many of you are familiar with is pdca or demaiock or any of the the ooda loop that the air force used uh observe orient define act uh decide an act and if you look at that little graphic there you'll see that is air force improvement and innovation right plan do check act they're all in the little observance here and i'll explain what those quadrants are as we go through this presentation build but ultimately we wanted to establish a framework for thinking about problems and i will just say that right at the very start and this is a key and important thing this framework is relevant at the very tactical 100 foot level.

Where airmen are actually doing the work or at the gimba as the toyota production system folks and lean students uh will appreciate but it's also really valid at the strategic level where you're thinking and managing a 685,000 person organization.

So the same thinking construct this is about problem solving right a lot of people
get confused and lost in the terms but i'm about continuous process improvement
or i'm about innovation and those are not the same thing and i'll say well let me just let me just take a different spin to that, I think they are the same thing because they're both about, problem solving or if you if some people. I found break lock on the word problem so i offer let's go solve the puzzles right and and let's let's build this investigative journalist type thing uh type of a belief set when we go into pro solving puzzles or problems and as we build this out.

You'll see kind of how we walk people through this and I'll come back to that outer ring here in just a little bit so the first thing and all of you probably know this already essentially is to clarify and validate the problem and i'm not going to dive into the tools for each one of these things but you know the tools that are that are essential at each of these steps and i will just i want to pause on this one really quickly to say that i can actually through my experience.

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Which is probably similar to many of yours can validate with 100 certainty that this one framing the right problem the right problem statement is one of the hardest things to do in this entire setup right i will tell you that we had a cultural issue. Where I had a team one time that i came across who said whose culture was they weren't allowed to use the word no or any derivation thereof it so instead of a simple problem statement like uh our maintenance processes cannot produce uh equipment availability at the rates that our our operators need to do the work to do just to be proficient and but that had too many knows or implications the word no in it.

So we spent three months going over that problem statement and ultimately it
came out to this unit appreciates the opportunity to improve upon its already robust capabilities for maintenance and making equipment operationally available to the operators and i'm like wow what an incredible lack of value it has
in that because there was this negative association this just this avoidance to um
allergy to the word no and i thought that was pretty insightful for me um so what it boils down to is clarity of communication is key right if you can't say the word no or you can't say we don't meet or we can't meet or we're unable those types of things. You're really going to confuse the communication to people because they won't necessarily understand what the issue is that we're trying to solve so i can't underscore a footstop enough that having a clear and validated problem statement is absolutely the most critical piece of the problem-solving model from my perspective.

So the next piece of this break down the problem identify the performance gaps one of the other things that we've had to overcome was another cultural failure where i believe uh you know i use the term data snooping i think that's incorrect but effectively people know intuitively what they think they want to go do and so what they tend to do is find the data that supports their preferred
uh path forward to an outcome and or to change and that one i actually uh kind of indict a little bit because um and it's not just me.

I've heard the former chief of former chief of staff of the air force say look when you come to me for a decision you tell me what the problem is and then you show me all the data not just the data that that supports your preferred position right. So, with that statement the lead general officer in the entire air force was saying don't do what you usually do because that leads us down the wrong path
right i want to understand all the data and why is that important. context because anything without context.

You can make a case for just about any action whether or not it's the right action or the right level of action or the right prioritization do I do this now or do I do it later that's all stripped away all of the key elements of that are stripped away. If you don't have the right context so uh bring in the problem pieces the next thing set your improve where are you trying to be what does tomorrow look like right so so now i can start understanding the gap between where i am today in capability and where i where i need to be or can be tomorrow and then that's pretty easy.

Let me back up just one to say if you look there in the middle I have the word be smart so i know many of you uh are familiar with the the techniques on the smart criteria the air force added the letter b in front of that for be smart a it's proactive but more importantly b stands for balanced right. So everybody's got the smart criteria goals but the air force uses this word balanced in there and I want to spend just a quick second to explain why that we felt that was necessary first we found there were many instances of business unit managers robbing peter to pay Paul if you will so they would take funds from a over sourced uh or healthy program and move them to an under sourced program and and just so that the problem didn't. Escalate so that they could manage it within but what happened was then by taking the one that was healthily sourced out of balance then it decayed a little bit too at the risk of not finding root cause they ended up bleeding out of the one account to the other count and then both accounts degraded.

So when we say balanced we need to make sure that we're thinking about it in a holistic way and i won't say that that's the wrong decision to make but there's more more to the story when you think about that big complex picture from a global output perspective balance has to be a part of the leader's decision-making set because it could be the right decision to do as long as we're not outpacing the capability that that one program was already providing so i offer that for your consideration.

The next piece is of course your cause analysis why is all why is the data the way it is why are the data that we are why because fundamentally and this is new in our new um electronic age data are
they exist whether we want them to or not and so our question as an investigative journalist and reporters is to figure out why they are that way right so we do our cause analysis and then we start developing a strategy and this is where I find that we've we kind of separate um the notion of improvement in innovations people start thinking well it's continuous process improvement you're
kind of in this incremental journey whereas innovation we're clean sheeting we're just we're throwing out the old and we're gonna go do something completely new and for that i just gotta say okay that's awesome there's nothing in this that limits your ability to think big.

I also want you to go back to step three and say what's your goal where are you trying to get because that goal was set in balance with the other stuff so to completely obliterate something just because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should and and i've got to tell you that's that's a that's a hard conversation for creative people and speaking of creative people you'll notice that there are some different character types around the edges of the screen and i'll get back to them in just a few minutes, so once you develop your plan you have that resourcing approval toll gate and
the boss says yeah go do that then you go do it and these things the implementation plans you know they range from just do it why are we still talking to maybe i need a rapid improvement event and i want to put it into place i want to see if it works i tested okay got it now, it's that's the new way of doing it uh some of them may be full-scale projects that may span weeks months years or i've actually even seen one span decades and and i know the project management guys, would go no no that's really really bad you need to break it down.

I got it but at the big picture 50000 foot level some of these things take a lot longer and to see the to get to the actual we're done and we we've we've delivered the effect we need so um so don't beat me up for that uh but let's just say that there's a range of of actions and implementation to get from uh where we want to do once we've got approval to do it and doing it then the next thing is we have to have to check to see whatever we did if it worked and if it didn't we have to kind of go back through there and figure out where we went wrong if it did then we're good to go on and we're going to standardize everything that was successful about it and will move forward in a healthy way that spiral of improvement and innovation so what am i talking about here with all of these guys right so i want to throw out a shout out to dr jeff degraff who's booked the innovation code um really is key to understanding what these uh characters in the corners mean so these characters in the corners uh there you'll see up in the upper right there's competitive and then lower right is creative lower um uh lower left is collaborative and upper right is um controlling so i want you to think about just for a second the types of people and personalities are out there you have some folks in your organization
that are super creative and they can look at anything go yeah I'm good. Let's go do we need to do this and that and the other thing and who keeps them in check it's the folks in the upper left of the screen the controlling people are like no no no we have regulation we have policy that says you can't do that right so they're trying to keep them down and what's important to realize according to dr degraff is that these folks are in dynamic tension with each other creative people and controlling people and then two other personalities that we kind of have to consider are competitive people and collaborative people competitive people.

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I got to get there now type a uber type a to an extreme we got to get there now we got to win we got to make profit at all costs collaborative people can we just slow down take a beat and let's listen to
everybody's opinion let's make sure that we're going and getting things to correct right so those folks are in dynamic tension with each other and it's the dynamic tension that each one of those personality types kind of brings a different skill you know kind of like the avengers dr degraff shows each avenger has its own special and unique skills but together they form a team and that team is a really powerful team. So I would say that you want to invest in your people enough to know kind of where the personality types are and i would say that you have to make sure that you get a good balance of these things and you proceed forward with improvement and innovation a very healthy way because look at the energy of this if you the reason we did this concentric circles design is because I wanted to show you plan do check act so if those eight steps around the outer circle. Planning is a significant portion right for the ooda loop that's observing orienting and then make getting ready to make the decision and for demaio that's defining measuring analyzing and then you actually go do something for the innovation toolset. I'm using ddrfsi discovery design relevance feasibility sustainability and impact right so those issues.

You'll see that that's a little slightly different process when you get the creative folks involved and if you have people who control and say no you must do it this way the creative folks will kind of break lock because they can appreciate those first four steps of the problem solving model in a different way, than the folks who are very strict and rigid in how they approach their methodologies.

So I just say we we found success is in embracing and allowing people to do all of it and coming up with teams that consist of all of these character types the the innovation code uh is uh I was was part of our was key to our unlocking this particular uh insight.

So let's talk a little bit more about innovation I'm blessed to run a program called airman powered by innovation and so we've got the buzzword in there and all that really means is that we have a way for airmen doing that ddrfsi or the pdca or the ootaloop or demanic. We have a way for them to register in a system with tracking ideas and we're trying to understand because our key issue is we have to understand its impact on a global organization so you can see right now and I just briefed this last month to leadership and we had only 58000 reg users so now just in one month's time we have another 7000 users and you can see that's a little short of 10 percent of our force is engaged in submitting ideas or voting on ideas reviewing what other people are thinking about we're trying to build that team we're trying to build that community where airmen can see.

What issues are out there and we're trying to understand how we can help build those communities
um so the the the next question that you start thinking about at this program level is i hear that those airmen are still thinking about the local things but are we thinking together like an enterprise
and so we have ability to break down. What they're thinking of and i would tell you that a lot of those really are local ideas but I've put in place a team our leadership has put a team in place to help us evaluate those for bigger bigger insights because at the end of the day the air force has always been about change right we were born out of change we were born out of thinking differently from the army back in 1947 um and we've got such a bias for action and doing. That we have this issue where we're thinking about let's just well we need a system let's go do that let's go do this and we've got a bias to getting to action and to yes well that type of of of ethic if you other business model is good and healthy except if you don't have the discipline to talk to each other right and so the reason i have this is just as just a snapshot for our business mission areas.

We have about 400 we have purchased over the last several decades 450 different systems that only produce 309 unique outcomes so we don't have a problem with our purchasing issue requirements we don't necessarily have a purpose a problem with our outcomes issues what we do have a problem with is talking with each other to understand.

Who's doing what in the exact same space so the the real issue for us is we have to overcome this mindset we've always done it this way that is a behavioral mindset and that's why i come back and at the beginning to what we said at the beginning which is this is really about getting down to changing behaviors so how do we do that behavioral thing well one of the first things we do is i've got this program it's about grassroots initiatives and i have an annual innovation showcase we call the air force spark tank and yeah it's modeled after tv shark tank um in fact we even had mark cuban as a celebrity guest judge a couple years ago um but in addition to celebrity guest judges we also have the secretary of the air force the chief of staff of the air force the chief master sergeant air force as judges for this program and you can see our levels of engagement there we have 57 active campaigns right now that help commanders at all those bases worldwide solve the things that they're most caring about and we have a couple of of air force wide or department-wide campaigns that we look at and you can see that there's been so far 8500 ideas i think i have a slide to get to this they're all over the world those ideas come from all over the world and let me let me go back to it um those campaign ideas come from all over the world age so of those 8 500 ideas there have
been 49 000 votes or excuse me 72000 votes cast on those 8 000 ideas meaning they're supportive of the idea uh there have been 18000 comments 18000 plus comments on each of those ideas or some many of the ideas and that indicates what the most of those comments are about.

Hey did you think about this or did you think about that so we're really bringing the communities together so that the folks from all over the world then are start can come in through our platform and say hey i'm working that same issue and then they can get together and collaborate to getting something that's a little more compelling for leadership to kind of think about and pay attention to so i've put together a lot of various tools we train people we've got foundational training we've got green belt training black belt master black belt etc.

We have put together a senior leader content program to teach leadership how to demand and draw and to use these programs to the best effect as they solve problems locally but yet think globally and understand how to communicate those and we can help facilitate that communication and then we also are looking at our cpi executive course where we we teach our general officers and senior
executive service members how to create demand at the system level to make sure that everything that's going through that pipeline is actually a really healthy thing and so what we're doing now is we're also bringing in an education and training program that's designed to take all of these concepts and embed them into our technical training programs those are the pre those are the programs where we teach airmen off the street once they they volunteer and sign uh the commitment they become an airman or a space professional.

We teach them how to do the job that they're doing and we're embedding all of the concepts that you would learn in all of these types of classes into the technical training of how to do your job because we want them to be thinking about improving work giving them the tools to know how to do
it and facilitate that discussion all through their careers as airmen because in doing that this is my investment in our future capability at the end of this stream. We'll graduate with senior leaders who have really lived awesome operational excellence techniques and programs and then be able to demand it and get to it in a better faster and healthier way so where will all this culture change lead us uh at the end of the day.

You know it's i think it's very um it's a very calculated uh study and a plan of action into getting us to
think differently and ultimately to accelerate the pace of change and in a prioritized way the things that most affect that global community out towards um where where we need it to be for best effect
so that the things that you do see and think about when you hear the word air force or space force uh those effects continue to be uh world leading so stewardship innovation operational excellence that's our plan that's our program what what questions can i answer for you as always a master class on uh on the organizational excellence and innovation.  

I love the way you wrap it up with stewardship as foundational and uh and excellence innovation as well so certainly is a follow-up on that uh lots of great questions i'm gonna ask the audience to go into the app and type your questions we're still monitoring their them some have already come in and we're gonna look at uh i wanna i wanna address a couple of logistical eye items before i ask quite your questions to to brew and uh several of you asked about these sessions in this session for
example um so this session will be is being recorded and will be available to you in the app um after uh the if this segment is completed it takes some time to process and then you. Should be able to come back to the app and see the session uh playback at your convenience so that's one of the key benefits for being a registered participant uh the other sessions are happening parallel and if you're afraid you're gonna miss something they'll also be be there for you for whenever you need you can go there and replay the session for you this is an awesome feature that we have made available to you and we are making that available to you for a full year.


So you're going to have access to all of this material for the next 12 months. So thank you for being part of the uh BTOES From Home with us and that's just one of the many benefits you're gonna get from that now since that was a big question a lot of people's minds that they brought it up i
i would highlight that now i want to go back to bruce presentation bro steve wozzak who woke up
super early in california to ask to be here and participate in the session steve is a leader who is also presenting the conference and he asks he says enjoy the presentation very much for the value of excellence in all we do what is done to make sure that everyone understands what this means and what behaviors this should inspire inspire yeah that's a great question.

Thank you, and thanks for getting up early so ultimately that's where i'm going with the discussion points about embedding the concepts of continuous improvement and innovation in our technical training so we're taking uh you know we kind of use a uh three-level apprentice five-level journeyman seven-level craftsman nine-level master craftsman approach to our our workforce and we want embedded in there three levels to be thinking about how to number one outcome how do you improve the way you do your job in fact we're trying to get our our our hr system set up so that that is a criteria for awarding promotion to the next uh level of of grades or ranks um the second thing then after you've got a set up on how how to improve the how you do things is then to talk about uh improving doing the actual job right so so right now i would say our culture is about doing the work itself come in do the work and go home that'd be done with your shift um but we're moving to a piece where we're embedding it in and we're changing the focus so that the number one outcome is improving how you get your job done and then the second outcome would then be to do it and the key to that absolutely is teaching people from day one in their technical training programs how those tools that can help them understand what the different types of waste are and so that they can become sensors for us 685000 sensors of where stupid is right i need to be able to identify where stupid is 10 times out of 10.

I need every airmen to be able to to see it understand it and call it out and be able to do something about it and i want them to use a partnership with their supervisors on how to get rid of it because no one likes to do that stup the stupid thing right waiting time waiting waste motion waste transportation waste etc. because they're trying to add value to their job and so as we head back on the second edge of that coin about do you show that you value the work that they do it's about showing you showing them that we value their time so by putting this program in through their technical training that's where we're really trying to get after that behavioral change and i hope that answered your question steve yeah well well said that's a great uh note on shifting the mindset from doing work to improve the way we work that's that's a that's a a higher uh bar that makes uh uh puts perspective on on.

What we do now the next question here comes from uh akil matawala and he is asking about uh the common culture uh in such a diverse workforce and organization so you know the corollary from drucker's you know culture each strategy for breakfast improvement in innovation or just side dishes and uh so the question is the air force is not one thing the air force 640000 plus professionals there as you said and you have an overarching culture but you also have lots of subcultures.

So when you're thinking about transforming a culture how do you how do you manage across so such diversity that that is a great question and and i think the air force actually and space force actually has a a little bit of an advantage over uh traditional civilian uh public companies because um at the end of the day, most of 85000 people put on the same uniform right and so that under that uniform we have our name tag on one side and we have united states air force or US space force on the other side and and that belonging that sense of commitment to the organization itself that sense of identity.

Actually helps us overcome that key barrier because you're right that's absolutely a critical barrier our civilian workforce is kind of mixed some of us are retirees others have not ever been a retiree but they've been career civil service but they're just as bought into the future that they need to deliver for our air force as the men and women who wear the uniform day in and day out.

So, I would say the clothes we wear is that is the biggest part of that the second part of that is we define on our operational outcomes so you saw the air launching airplanes launching rockets putting a satellite into orbit doing our day-to-day job for the people the taxpayers the united states that is another unifying principle where we bring to to point uh our airmen can focus on the service that they deliver for the good of the nation that's very helpful for us and it may be a maybe if you will a competitive advantage. Over what a commercial organization has to has to face for sure for sure that's the next brew how do you manage all the ideas that are coming in as part especially the innovation piece that you talk in the end you have lots of ideas i saw thousands of ideas in there um what is the process that you're using to to go from from those i from the ideation if you will to decide on the alignment of the strategies to decide on what you're going to work on right.

So that is a great question um and i would say i don't want to get into the details of our funnel or the technology behind it but we do have a platform that we use that allows us to kind of have a catcher's mitt or funnel all the ideas ingest and actually have a small team of people whose job it is to review every single one of those ideas uh and so on on order we're getting uh that's a as a two and a half year snapshot essentially so we're getting about 100 to 150 ideas a month each month and so it's not an insurmountable uh work task to do that but they're reviewing for a couple of things first they're reviewing um is this something that's actually come up before uh because our model actually helps rewards airmen who take and invest their time and energy into solving the problem we call them entrepreneurs uh so not entrepreneurs but n i entrepreneurs because they're in the mix they're in the job and they need to do and own the work.

So with that um we're rewarding them because we want them to have skin in the game and we're evaluating how how rich their proposal is right in terms of is it ready to consume for it to be presented to a general officer and if it's not. we assign a local pitch coach to them at their base whose sole purpose is to help them understand and really codify that problem-solving model what's the problem you're solving. Help me understand the data what does your solution bring to the table
all right now let's go sell that and they turn it into a commercial pitch typically three minutes or less on how to solve that problem and we turn them loose to the commanders at their local level who make decisions and have some investment um money set aside to go see if there's some there there because quite honestly you know in the innovation space uh there's oftentimes there's there's just as many dogs as there are um creative and wonderful ideas that are really game changers so we have to see if they're sincere they get that validation and once we do that then we have a way of escalating it through their chain of command.

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So they get credit for being the entrepreneur who is potentially changing the way their career field does their job and that's a that's a it's a little investment i would say i probably have um about a hundred people across the the air force and space force who are kind of dedicated to that job everybody else is doing it as kind of an additional aspect of or requirement of their day job that's fantastic that that's truly world-class and that and the incredible uh insights that you're sharing with us from you know how uh the best really around the world or do this and that's that's terrific i have time for one final quick question here um i know there's certainly uh value that's measure and success that's measure in in in financial state in the financial sense in value creation in terms of better efficiencies and and uh and perhaps saving money uh and part of this process but i have to imagine that there are as many or more um hard to measure intangibles that the air force values and I'm curious about that what's beyond dollars how you're measuring success for the program at the air force.

So um you know it's one of the interesting things and i think i have to draw a little further out so you can see a comparison with the other services um the if you look at the army navy air force marines and space force um their air force and space force are a little different um for marines um people enlist and then they come out after they're usually after their first enlistment in fact you're invited to stay and they have a different retention model than than the other services do uh army a little a little more similar to that navy a little longer uh tenure in terms of retention the air force has the highest retention from a session uh into the service to retirement than any of the other services and that's only about 15 percent of our folks.

So 15 of our folks come in on day one and stay till they're retirement eligible uh the rest um come in they learn what they need to learn they get the skills they need to do and then they go out to be productive members of society so i would say that the retention piece of that is one of the ways that we assess the intangibles because we don't necessarily have to offer bonuses because people tell us time and again it's not about the money.

It's about whether or not they believe the work they they do is a value to the organization and valued by the organization compensation's certainly a part of that but trusting people to be professionals and to set the groundwork for a future that is better working environment and produces better more consistent more capacity in terms of their results and their service outcomes.

That's what rewards people and that's where we're i think we're finding a lot of success with this program that's a great question thanks fantastic bro chain it's always a master class from a leader who has been doing this consistently on an incredible high level of excellence for so many years and thank you for taking the time to share that experience with us thanks for your service thanks for your leadership, uh in this uh incredible journey of uh excellence and innovation that you're leading for the air force jose thank you again for being an incredibly gracious host and and to all of you i i
hope I provided something of value to you at least to think about little brain candy to to fuel the rest of your week and this uh i hope the rest of this uh vetoes world summit experience is for you as learning and enjoyable and personal filled with personal growth opportunities as it always is for me
thank you very much for your time this morning thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen that's Brou incredible leader of excellence innovation at the air force is sharing best practices for sure in an incredibly large transformation and ecosystem so uh terrific now we're going to have a break here on the main stage but remember sessions happening everywhere uh make sure that you check out what's going on in the in the tracks make sure they're
the woman in opex forum is happening today as well and i have to highlight that that session may be actually sold out in full but uh worth checking it out visit the virtual booth and be eligible for giveaways and the one thousand dollar prize um and then at 10 45 eastern US time.

We're gonna meet back here with a keynote panel on the future of work so joining me we're going to have a new george from morningstar yuval dever from google and desolate wood from the thought exchange and you do not want to miss that session, So I'll see you back here the main stage at 10 45 a.m. eastern time.


About the Author

more-Nov-24-2020-01-06-22-75-PMBrou Gautier,
Chief, USAF Improvement and Innovation Division,
United States Air Force.

Brou Gautier serves as the Director of Continuous Process Improvement and Innovation (CPI2) and lead strategist for USAF Operational Excellence supporting the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force, Management and Deputy Chief Management Officer. In this capacity, MAJCOM/NAF commanders, CIOs, CTOs, Senior Executive Service members and government leaders rely on his counsel and leadership on lean policy and business strategies. 

Mr. Gautier is a Master Black Belt and private sector business owner with extensive experience in government and public sectors as both a leader and on-the-ground change agent. He developed tactics, techniques and procedures to improve command effectiveness, readiness & efficiency across a spectrum ranging from maximizing contract ROI and authoring enterprise IT architecture analysis to developing PMO governance support, business cases and root cause mitigation strategies for complex problems. He has presented leader and organization business transformation and deployment strategies for IQPC’s PEX LSS Summit, Shingo International, and multiple DoD CPI Symposia.

Mr. Gautier received a B.Sc. from the US Air Force Academy, a Master of Air Mobility degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Auburn University. 


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