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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 Cultural Transformation Live, A Virtual Conference.
The Air Force is building an ecosystem of improvement and innovation, which
necessitates a bit of culture change. The Air Force is embarking 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 Airmen development, Airmen innovation, and process management/modeling.
BRU, if you could please join us, very excited to have with us. ...
serves as Chief Continuous Process Improvement and Innovation Leader at the United States Air Force Base with its headquarters in Washington, DC. He is responsible for the development training and deployment of continuous process improvement and innovation concepts across the department in a way that fosters innovation, solves performance issues and transforms the culture with particular emphasis on and two and processes. Prior to his current role, mister O'Shea was a commissioned officer and a pilot in the US. Air Force and a consultant and business director for a privately held Lean six Sigma consulting company Grow. It's a real pleasure to have with us. And thank you for sharing your immense expertise with all of us today.
Thank you to say it's, it's my good fortune to be with you here today, with all of you, and I hope I'm able to bring some value to her to the conversation.
So, Jose, if I just say, if I could get you to just confirm that you're seeing my presentation and we'll go from there.
You're looking good.
All right, thank you very much!
So often asked about this question. You know, Joseph mentioned it in his opening comments. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
What an awesome observation, that just strikes the core of truth with all of us, doesn't it?
And we find out, as we go through this journey for the Airforce. Exactly, How come we have so many strategies to improve? Yet we find out that sometimes maybe like a diet, we often go backwards every so often, and there are lots of reasons for that.
But I want to dive down into a little bit of this, to share with you a little bit about our organization, and the The opportunity before us and the steps were taken to kinda make sure that we progress solidly in towards the future without as many slight backs as we've experienced in the past.
So, when I bring this first slide up, I always like to say, you know, in business, one of the common things I have to tackle this business profit as a motive, but in government profit is not a motive, right? And I hear that often as a way of people saying, you know what you do from the business world will never work in government, because we're just not motivated by the same things. And, I actually take exception to that, because, at the end of the day, the profit equation, you know, revenue minus cost equals profit, really converts into this type of an equation. Revenue minus converted capability is zero. And, you know, we have a government mindset.
All government or maybe perhaps bureaucratic organizations, tend to look at the revenues that come in for their budgets as we have to spend every dollar.
That's true because every dollar is dedicated for a specific purpose and outcome. So the question though, is, how effective are you at converting that money into capability, You know, the reason that you exist? And that's the fundamental question that drives our team and our organization and helping our folks understand that. You know, the budget and the money issue is one thing.
It's an obligation to make sure that the money received is converted as fully and as productively as it can be into capabilities.
So, at the end of the day, I'll just rephrase it as this. How can we make the most of our set funding to be responsible stewards of never forgetting that these are taxpayers' hard earned dollars?
And, and it's that kind of a sacred viewpoint that we have to hold dear to our hearts we can't ever take our customers for, for granted in business. We in government can't take our taxpayers for granted either because there's a limited supply of tax dollars and burden that we can, can execute and commit and still expect to be viewed as as reasonable stewards of the tax dollars.
So, how do you do that, right? How do you convert that, Do that, to have that capability conversation. And the question for us, really resonates with this concept of performance excellence. You're not have got little cloud here at work. You know? Yeah, it's a little bit about optimizing spend. Yeah, it's a little bit about making sure that we, we retain the right and best employees to minimize transfer of labor. It profitability is that weird word for government. But, again, we can define profitability in terms of capability improvement, right? If I can take a given budget, and I can increase my capability to X, Or Thanks, would you say that I'm being profitable with the assets that I'm given? Am I being a good steward of that aren't speaking of stewardship? Are we taking care of all of the assets, all the physical plant, all the capital equipment? All of those things that businesses have to wrestle with and then used to provide services and products, we do the same thing to provide a service known as Air Force capabilities.
So, I'll offer you, get that most people, when, when they stay the Air Force, you know, and we'll just say was opening up. I even myself had visions of this, or the airplanes that I used to fly by, going on the wall behind me there. People tend to think of our aircraft or our space operations or rockets and satellites as what the Air Force is, but I would just offer that. That is what we produce. That's not necessarily who we are.
When you think about that, the reality is, is that the Air Force is far bigger than just those, those capabilities that you see as the fruits of our effort, Right? For instance, we have 90 bases spread throughout the entire world. So read that is 90 different cities. And those cities have on them airports ranging from small regional airports, to international airports to intra Galactic space ports, if you will.
And the Airforce, our airmen and our space professionals are responsible for providing everything associated with that city.
So we have, For instance, firefighters. We have medical folks. We have maintainers who get to fix the aircraft that they so lovingly accuse me of breaking intentionally so that they would have work to do. Back in my findings, we have airmen who, in this case, in the lower right, who are digging trenches to put in water pipelines, to make sure that the the service for that airport goes Senator erupted in this location it's an expeditionary or temporary location. So, we have to have those skill sets as well.
And I've got a dog up there, you know, that's not just for all of your pet lovers because somebody told me to have a dog in the presentation somewhere. What the reality is, most people don't recognize that. The Air Force is actually the enterprise manager for the entire federal government, of the United States, for all working dogs. Whether that's drug detection, dogs, bomb, dogs, bomb detection, dogs, that kind of stuff. We run the program that trains and acquires and trains and managers working dogs. Now, did you ever imagined that? When you're thinking about what our Air Force is and who it, how it looks like, and who comprises?
Probably not. You didn't realize that you could join the Air Force. In fact, it'd be a dog handler. That just doesn't compute normally, but I say that because I just want to give you an a bigger idea about this: expanse and scope. Of the skills, All told, there's about 150 different specialties that come together to produce the effects that you see on our on our glamor end of air and space operations.
All told were comprised of about 685,000 people.
So 328 or so active duty, 28,000 active duty 145, or so. Civilians that go into full-time employees. And we've got some part-time employees through our Air, National Guard and our Air Force Reserve Components, and that that doesn't include the thousands of people that we have available to us and contract operations through contract operations. So, all told about 685,000 full-time and part-time employees who do the work required to produce the effects of our air and space forces.
So, I just said that in a little weird way. To digital catch that, it's been all over the news of late, but I just wanted to point out that this year 20 20 is the first full year of operational existence for the United States Space Force. So, back in December of 2019, the President, and the Secretary of the Air Force got together. And Congress approved, and we separated out from the United States Air Force Force, specifically dedicated to the United States Space operations and space mission. So now, we have, both underneath the Department of the Air Force umbrella, both the air force and the space, force and the numbers of people and and physical plant, didn't grow necessarily because we have an extra.
Kinda set of team at the leadership level. But what that does is you know kinda complicates things a little bit for us, as we try to figure out how, how now do we have these different conversations across two different sets of decision makers, and a lot of you may that may resonate with you. If you're perhaps in operations. And you're supporting two different lines of effort or two different business units, That's the same kind of a thing.
I just, I don't know if you have this big of a footprint to do that with, but that's the, that's the organization that we have. That's the organization known as the Department of the Air Force.
All that physical plant and capital equipment. So, I put this up here as this, as kind of a segue into making sure that we keep focused on this goal of achieving maximum capability from every tax dollar, from every asset. Every physical plant asset that we have, it's precious to us, so we we can acquire, thanks. We have nope, Nope. nobody ever disputes the military's ability to find new things. We also have to take all those things that we buy and we integrate them into the system. That produces all the effects that you know as our Air Force and are capable, our capabilities out there. But we also look at making sure that we have to maintain those assets over the course of a lifetime so we have all of those, all of those folks, who are dedicated to making sure that the physical plant and capital equipment, all of the machines they break a lot. Especially, you know, the average age, those, those airplanes that I flew back there, the earliest one, I flew, and I think it's still fly.
Today, is in 19 58 model, built in 1958 and put in service them. And we've been flying it now for well over 50 years. That's incredible to me, and it's a testimony to how talented our maintaining our maintenance forces, and making sure that we take all those assets, and we achieve every single thing that we can from it, in terms of our max capability and capacity.
Those are the things we're talking about.
How do you increase that? The productivity not Just that people have assets. How do you build that culture? Where good enough I hate that I bristle every time. I kinda think of that that phrase. Some people say, 80% mission capable rate, that's good enough. Or 75, Hey, it's a 52 year old airplane. 75% mission capability is good enough.
Well, what, how do you manage, and how do you define, decide, what is the most productive or the best productivity you can get out of any asset? And the, the issue is, is that we have a number of folks who can do those calculations. But the reality that I faced was simply that we didn't have.
Anybody that made sure that every single one of those 685,000 employees had productivity skin in the game, right? They did, they weren't necessarily on the hook to think about how productive they were with their time, how productive they were with the tools, their tool, how productive their tools were, right? How productive all those assets are? and they weren't thinking about that, Well, why is that?
well, because there's endless competition for the things that we have to think about, You know, every airmen and we can't ever forget, is an individual, and those individuals have family concerns. They have money, concerns, they have home concerns, they have school concerns, professional, development, personal development. All of those things kinda come in and compete for space in our heads, as we try to figure out how, then, to also become really good at doing my job.
Well, the issue is sometimes you come in as an employee. And this is one of the first things we started trying to work on with our continuous process improvement innovation deployment model is to make sure that we understood, and could wear airman were in assessing themselves, and how valuable they were to the equation. And one of the things that we came up with was some old tried and true information on assessing employee engagement, and happiness. And yet, many of, you probably know about the gallops, Q, 12 or 12 questions that are most statistically relevant and helping an employer gage insight as to whether or not their employees are engaged and satisfied. And happy. Most of them have nothing to do with money, for instance. And would, probably knew that, But, many of them, you know, or at least four of them, are copied captured here.
But there, again, there are 12 questions that help you get to that, and I'll say that for me, if you reflect on those questions.
And you'll come down to a point where you realize that at the end of the day, it's really one double edged question that we want to understand.
How Ehrmann believe and feel. Is that do they believe the work they do is of value to the organization?
And do they believe that the work they do is valued by the organization?
Now, that's pretty simple way of boiling it down. Those 12 Galaxy to 12 questions kinda get you into that a little finer detail, but ultimately, as does the organization put in place.
A system that helps ehrman and clearly see the value in what they're doing.
And as it relates to the big capability, does every dog handler understand their role in producing combat effects, or fire, or combat firepower, or space operations, or secure port operations. Does every fireman understand that their primary purpose is to respond in the case things go wrong? Right, whether that's a fire type issue, or a medical emergency, a paramedic type of emergency.
Those are the types of connectivity things. Do you believe that the mission and the work that you do is of value to the organization?
And then the second thing, is that, do you believe that the organization values the work you do and bring something to the table to kind of prove that? So how did you prove? How does the organization prove that it values its people?
So one of the first things that Secretary Barrett and General CQ brown, the chief of staff of the Air Force in general J Raymond, the Chief of Space Operations. one of the things that they go out of their way to make sure everyone in the Air Force knows from top to bottom, is that the Air Force values its employees and their contributions to the work we do. It's critical, and it's important work. And they wanna make sure that everyone can connect to that work in a way that makes them and takes, helps them apply their natural talents, takes that, and converts it into the combined effects of our aerospace forces. So that's an important thing. That underlies a respect for people, which I believe is common to all of the Lean and six Sigma deployment models that I've studied throughout my career.
Respect for people. That's got to be core one. Respect for what people bring to the table, respect for their insight, and respect for their knowledge, as subject matter experts, we have to listen and listening, we can learn a lot, right?
So, one of the things that we found when we, our team, is in charge of the continuous improvement and innovation deployment model, is that we didn't seem to be thinking, like an enterprise, and how does, how do I have evidence of that? So one of the things I would say is, you know, if I take one of those people and responsible for producing, you know, building the city, and maintaining the city is take something as simple as an air conditioner heating, ventilation air, conditioning HVAC. Know, for, for many, it would be easy to just say, yeah, it's a building. There's moisture that humidity, there's climate control and temperature. There's computers inside that, need to be protected. So we have to have an operational air conditioning unit. OK, And so it's pretty easy to kind of, we had to build a concrete pad. We have to install an air conditioner And have to do that oftentimes, though, will rely on a contract partner to come in and provide the equipment, maybe even, to do some of the install work supervised by a government technician.
But, is that a transactional thing?
But is it what can we learn from that? Well, it turns out we weren't learning a whole lot. It was viewed as a discrete operation. Can you imagine with that, that global footprint of 90 different cities, with major with regional to major airports. How many air conditioners we buy? Yeah, It's a lot. And what we found was that people weren't thinking about all of this together as a system. So every one of those air conditioning contracts was built as if it was a standalone thing.
And the lessons learned from this air conditioning contract are not the same as lessons learned at other of the other 89 bases where conditioning contracts were were in place. In fact, would it surprise you to learn that even one base, we would have up to 4 or 5 different contracts just to do procurement and installation and maintenance of air conditioning systems.
Wow, different contracts on the same base. They're all set at different times, perhaps by different people, and they all had different purposes and durations, et cetera, slightly different, but no one was really thinking about air conditioning. And in this example as at the enterprise level.
So, what does that mean?
That means that, that you have that initial product costs, but all of those hidden costs of doing things that are below the surface, on our iceberg example here. We were one, each one-off, unique individual.
I just items that we were trying to think through and dispose of independently. Oh, my goodness. How ripe of an opportunity is that to make some sense of it and get some get our arms around some of the costs, make sure that our dollars are being productive? So, leaning on the Best Ideas and Industry about looking at category management. And as part of a federal government initiative, the Air Force has been all in and understanding and learning about category management, or strategically managing our costs, and so we started diving down into little things.
We understand that, you know, if an HVAC is an HVAC as an HVAC, that it might make sense. That we have one kind of person who's the subject matter expert and responsible for all that HVAC knowledge and we build some other people around them that can take their place. It's something bad happen, but we want to make sure that the knowledge is kept to maintain and dispersed widely as possible. So when you start doing that, you start categorizing your spend, you start assigning that cost of ownership. You develop a category, cost manager, and then you start developing business intelligence and you share that intelligence across your enterprise.
And you think, OK, well, how much could that really drive? If you just did that with air conditioners well, maybe not a whole lot. But, how about if he did elevators, elevators, go up and down? Would shock you to know that we had the same contract structures in place for elevators and how about for any other thing you can buy all those different categories and purchases, Same thing. So, just our efforts to date. We've already produced $1.65 dollars in savings and cost avoidance by getting our arms around the strategic business intelligence that we can gather and applying our, our cost and buying principles across the enterprise for all of those installations.
Wow, 1.65, does that get anybody's attention?
Yeah. Well, now, that's 1.65 that we had in the past, written off, kind of as a cost of doing business. But now, with our newer model, our newer way of thinking, or this cultural respect for the productivity of the dollars as an asset, now we're able to take those 1.65 and apply them to something else.
That helps us because we always, We often reflect that there's a fundamental axiom when it comes to money. And that axiom is that well, you know, let's break the Air Force into two different capability areas. one is the tooth that, you know, everybody sees as the operational, in effect side of the Air Force, and the others, that tail that goes together to produce the effects of Counterbalancing weight and give forced to the tooth that we use to do our operations with.
So, a fundamental axiom of our principles are that a dollar spent in entail is not available to spend in tooth.
And guess what? That dollars precious. So now, through efforts like category management, we've been able to take 1.65 previously spent entail, and free it up to be allocated where necessary in tooth, and in driving efficiency and other operations inside the tail of the Air Force.
So, everybody, you know, here's one of our folks that helped me put this together, said, you know, when I think of the Air Force, they get to ..., not September 18 to 19 47. We're coming up on an anniversary, an important anniversary, for us. And we think about all of those things that we've been doing over time.
But, you know, those of us in the continuous improvement business, we tend to look at this as something a little bit different. I see that over time, we've made decisions. For instance, we've made decisions.
And in specifically, in the IT world, gee, wouldn't surprise you to know that. We bought hundreds of systems over the years. We've disposed of hundreds of systems.
But our current state, when we started looking at this, about a year ago, or two years ago, we found that we have about 450 business systems in that tail section of the Air Force that only produced 309 unique outcomes.
I gotta pause for that for a second, for effect, and let that sink in.
We invested in 450 different IT systems that only produced 309 unique outcomes. So the primary reason for that none of it was malicious, none of it was badly motivated. All of it could be a suitable to the fact that we weren't under communicating perhaps that we were managing systems as a category that we weren't looking at, well managing a widget here and tracking it, buying it and then storing it and then dispersing it so that it can go and do its thing later. That's the same as buying and storing and disbursing dispensing it over here, right. So we weren't looking at that, and 1 for 1 installation may create their own system. And another installation create their other system. And you know, as well as I do, that, if we have all of these independent systems out there effectively doing the same thing, you can be close. But you're not going to necessarily achieve the full productivity of the dollars used to help fund and by their systems.
So, that's the, one of the big tables. one of the big tasks that we've taken on today is to help bring that down a little bit. I don't know what the right number of systems is. I don't even know what the right number of outcomes is. Usually, the outcomes grows, right?
But our hope is that this equation for this ultimately is, in number of systems in the future, equals, or is less than or equal to the number of outcomes, 309, plus Y, some number of growth outcomes in the future.
The fundamental axiom in principle that we're driving towards from our business systems, manufacturer, implementation plans, effectively are to say the principle is we need fewer systems to do more things.
That makes sense. Yeah, absolutely, common sense. And putting that in policy to make sure that people respected the system, purchasing, and buying, and the productivity of those dollars is a harder thing. So that's where we ended up coming right now. That's our goal. And that's what we're working towards. So, how do you do that? one of the things we found is, you know, I mentioned, we've got about 73 years, almost 73 years of expertise doing it. The way we've always done it.
Oh my goodness, how many of you have ever had.
But this is the way we've always done this, know, we've always gone to the system, or We've always done this thing. We always ask the customer to give us their name, their Social Security number, or their ID number, their address, their date of birth, and blah, blah, blah on a form. Every time they interact with us.
So my question to them was, how many times does the taxpayer need to pay for us to ingest all of this information that we already know about this employee, right?
Those systems that we have already have every ounce of data that you can imagine about me.
No, it knows that I have a Bachelor of Science degree, But yet, the system that governs my personal employment right now doesn't have record of the fact that that bachelor's degrees in some other Air Force system, it's up to me to connect those to, be as the customer, me, as the end user. And that's, that reflects this, this fundamental premise, that every, it's every encounter that we have ends up being a unique data point that can only be captured new and at that point of service.
And that's one of the models that we're trying to break culturally. We want to respectfully say, that name, date of birth, Social security number, all of that information is in this data structure. And here, that's the authoritative data for that. And if you need it, then you scan my ID card and it'll go and put a call into that system and pull up my information right there. And you can just say, is this all still correct? You still live at this house? Are you still born on this day? Is this W or social security number, right? Did you get married or anything? Those kinds of things.
They changed the way we ask the questions, But our people don't necessarily feel empowered to help make sense of that. And we're changing that. We just launched a new campaign, and our innovation space called Rise of the Digital Wingman, where we're asking aramid to say, point out what stupid looks like on your IT systems. What is it that doesn't have respect for you? Your time as a, as an IT user, or the customer's time?
From an information upload download management perspective, How many different times do we have to capture and store the same information?
Oh, it's mind boggling, but we're asking those kinds of questions now. And we're not going to be except we're not going to rest easy when we get the answer. That's the way we've always done it. That star challenge, that's opportunity.
So what we're doing now, with this rise of the digital ehrman, is we're challenging our image, and say, hey, show us where stupid is happening. And you believe that the work you're doing is of no value to the organization.
And they're identifying it. And they're scouting out loud. We've got about 20 different Robotic Process Automation events underway with our RPA partners, and they're helping us understand where we can employ and do things, and save us from doing the dull and monotonous things that we don't need to be doing anymore.
Now, some of you may be thinking, actually, I know a couple of folks in the audience are actually are friends of mine.
And I know them colleagues And they say BRU, you are on record as having said, careful IT can make stupid happen at the speed of light, absolutely right and I haven't changed that position. IT can make stupid happen at the speed of light and I will tell you that one of the reasons that we got into this predicament was because we all felt that our stuff was special and unique and different. And it could not be handled by the way that we think about things today. You can only handle it the way we think about things, right? We brought in systems, engineers, software experts, who knew, Well, I just have to connect. Once I have the identifying piece of information, my X, my ID card number, I can pull your information out of the normal system, of record the authoritative data. I could just ask you to verify it. I don't need to store it separately.
But people would insist No, no, no.
You don't understand our process, Our process, we have to capture the name, and the social and blah, blah, blah, and what we found was, is that our people, the way we've always done it, that culture, started eating our strategy for our systems, build strategy for breakfast, and we slaved systems engineers into building coding unique systems that did things the way we did them.
Always since 19 47 the way we thought about it, not allowing them to employ new, modern data thinking techniques, so we're baby steps and saying, This is not acceptable And we're going a different direction. We've got these new ideas. We're listening to you.
one other point I want to make about, how do we do that, is, you know, we've got to attack that notion of, but this is how I do this work, at its foundation.
In our past, we've had training for Green Belts and Black Belts. We have a Yellow Belt or foundational awareness course. We even help our leaders create a demand function by teaching them all of these continuous process improvement principles.
We have master black belts, we have an executive course for general officers and senior executives.
But one of the reflections that we learned is we're not going to really make any inroads to the cultural points that are the cultural transformation that we need, until we quit thinking about continuous process improvement and innovation as a special skill that only certain people can handle, right?
So, if you think about it for, for a minute, if we have undertaken this process. We have contracts in place so that we can have access to external experts from industry, so we can bring in their master black belts and help us do our work, we're training our own green belts and black belt semester black belts. But those are simply internal consultants, right? So, we have external and internal consultants to do this. This belt process is to help us analyze and get better from a process perspective.
But is that the right best answer? If cultural shift shift and transformation is your goal?
I don't think so.
So, ultimately, we're on a path of transforming that I'm on a path of making sure that every ehrman when they come into basic military training, they head off to their technical training program, and then they, as they learn how to do their jobs, they are learning Greenbelt principles are to a green belt level of knowledge. If you will a deployment embedded in the how they learn how to do their job, and how to do their job, because if we can put those principles in that work, then this is the way we've always done.
It goes away, right?
So, Mike, our goal is that we have every three level ivory apprentice or journeyman, has Greenbelt level skills. I want every frontline supervisor. At every journeyman to craftsmen and master craftsmen and the officers that that are in our Air Force in Space Force, I want them to have black belt level skills in terms of analysis and be able to calculate not be afraid of six Sigma and Calculators.
I want every business unit lead to be have master black belt level skills and beyond just ... skills. I think they need to have those type of senior executive type interaction skills. They need to be able to talk about their issues from start to finish. From a process perspective and solutions perhaps from a business process re-engineering and innovation cleat sheet. Let's throw the whole thing out. Let's see what's really possible to deliver this capability. We need to embed those skills in the technical trading programs that we're developing our, Every, I remember at the end of the day, I want 685,000 belts.
Not just 1% and 5% because that's what GE settled for, a Jack Welch's book.
So that's one of the password to mitigate the root cause issue. Airmen Empowered by Innovation, that's our innovation program.
We actually have a program that we put on for the Air Force, and its face force, currently called Spark Tank, Every airman right now ongoing campaign, is that they put their most innovative ideas in the capture and video. Just using their cell phones to record themselves, capturing the essence of the issue, and what they, how they're thinking about solving it. They upload that through their public affairs offices into a channel they compete and we get a skinny down to where we get six finalists onstage. A couple of years ago, we even have Mark Cuban as one of our guest panelists. And but, and that varies, the guest panelists vary from year to year, but the secretary's there.
Secretary the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Raymond Chief of Space Operations was planning to be there for the next one that we have. And those six finalists get onstage and they pitch this, the Sharks, if you will, and about their idea and our leadership is all in it helping make sure that they're doing this. Why?
Because they believe that they have to make sure that every Ehrman knows they're listening.
Everything is about there.
Airmen's ability to bring solutions to the table.
They're thinking about transferring and making sure that airmen are comfortable. And they know that their leadership believes in the value that they bring to act to the workplace every single day. That's critical, And that's a key part of our cultural transformation piece. The last little bit, as I kind of close out, cares about going digital. And I'm not going to do a whole lot on this, but I'll just say that I believe there's a role for belts in the future. Where are we talking about processes in converting value streams, where you can see objects moving around, very cleanly translates to business process modeling and software language for software architects and engineers. Understanding data dictionary, we're authoritative, data is all of those data points, those data elements. Those are simply inputs and outputs in a transactional work stream, a workflow.
And we're going to make sure that our belts understand that, we're going to make sure that our subject matter experts understand those concepts. And then, we're going to help them through tools, like, our robotic process automation tools, through our mapping tools, help understand, really, the work they're doing and look for ways to slash it, or improve dramatically.
We're all this change lead. We don't know ultimately, you know, the future is unknowable. But we believe that by undermining or setting out the conditions for success, we will undermine the way.
We've always done it and that we will get to a new future with the same without sacrificing any capabilities whatsoever And allow our Air Force and our space force to continue to excel at this at the business. We do, because we're empowering our people and helping them make it happen.
That's our challenge. Stewardship, innovation, excellence.
What questions can I answer for you?
Awesome, Bro. Very, very good.
So, we have questions coming in as you're speaking, and we have, and I strongly recommend that everybody keeps submitting your questions. I'm gonna pop up this question box here.
And brew, I'm gonna ask you to stop sharing your presentation at this time, OK, Here we are, So, I'm Let's see.
The very first question that came up was was related to first of all the quote on, there's a whole lot of software companies on the call right now. They're riding that as the newest logo for their company IT to make the speed of light. So.
Just open it to a circa 2008.
Yeah, well, then, so one of the first questions that came up, is that my business from one of the participants, that, their vision of the Air Force, and, of course, the military as a whole, is that to function, well. The military has a strong hierarchy, and the has top-down command and control. And how do you go from there, from that model, which is kind of the foundation of most military, around the world, to one, where you are trying to establish more of a collaborative culture. How does collaboration work in an environment that's fundamentally a hierarchical environment?
That's a great question. And, you know, just like consultants go in and advise the leaders of business units on how to improve their business processes, they're doing the same kind of coaching services, if you will, for the people who are embedded in the hierarchy, right? So, we're approaching them from the executive level. We have our own three star General Equivalent in charge of our organization, who has those kinds of conversations with general officers and senior executives every day. And then we're plugged in at every single level of effective labor that bureaucracy to help coach and advise them that it's not about changing their outcome or necessarily how they're going. What they're doing that each is, it's about changing the way they think about it.
And by exposing them to different data points were able to help inform that conversation. So, for instance, most people, it's kind of a natural thing. They tend to overlay weight with bias. How they see it done at their location today?
They have no idea while I love my people, and I'm very, I believe that we're the best in the world at this. They have no real idea because we don't track that data, per se. Right? So one of the things that we're looking at doing is kind of help building models to help people understand who is that has? no kidding the leading practice, for doing any given thing in our Air Force base force today? Because that way, now, a leader, they will have two data points, right? If I have, no, how it's done today, and I know how the, what's perceived as the leading in the class and the business in this world, and for this processor or function is how they're doing it in their costs and their output and their consistency.
Then, now I can say, Are we better than that? Or worse than that?
Then I can take that Delta, and I can say, what, what does it take to get us to there, or maybe even to leapfrog and advance this for the Air Force? So we're taking advantage of those kind of competitive tendencies in the bureaucracy to be able to do that.
But the big issue is, we're having to bring market data, if you will, from other segments, like, segments in the middle and in our organization.
I'll say, too, that it's OK to not. one of the things or Brain is it's OK to not do any change whatsoever. It's OK to leave them with a Delta, if that makes sense. For instance, we had one case, where we had a great idea, improved a process for, from one of our airmen at a base in England in the UK. And they found a different way of processing something, and it made a lot of sense to them. So, they did it. We looked at doing that across the enterprise.
But the folks in Texas said, no, The reason that they're doing that, entertaining that is because their costs are different for their, you know, whether it's environmental law based cost or different things that drive the different actions.
Their cost model is completely different than our cost model. And our cost model shows that it doesn't make sense for us to do that same investment, because we won't reach that same benefit for 50 years beyond when they plan to reach there's. So it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make from a dollars productivity standpoint to to be able to do that. And, and that's OK. Right. We have to have the flexibility to allow that difference. The important point is is that we gave that commander an option we gave a market intelligence that showed there's a different way. And now that command or saw the Delta and was able to explain it in a way that makes sense. And everybody goes, Yeah, you're right, you keep thinking about ways to possibly improve that without necessarily doing the exact same thing they're doing there? And for different reasons. Does that make sense?
Yeah, Yeah. Makes sense. Very good, very good. Clery Saunders posed a question related on how you started the journey. Or how did the Air Force start their journey in terms of where they want to be? What is there a vision for, for the future here, that, that drove this cultural transformation?
Um, so, so, yes, there absolutely there is, but, you know, we're as the big organization, though, we probably suffer a little, maybe a little more. labor transiency than many other big organizations are size. For instance, our leadership, the Secretary of the Air Force, will change out every time there's a change in a bullet and the political administration, and the pull up the political administration and the civilians run the military. When there's a change in philosophy at the top off, then there's a small change in philosophy inside the bureaucracy. At the end of the day, though, we have to deliver the effects that our nation needs. So there came this call to be something that transcends the transitional nature of the leadership, and even the bureaucratic management in the middle, and the workforce of below.
So the Air Force, we're actually blessed a little bit, in the sense that we have a better retention model than most of the other services.
I think the Air Air Force tends to retain about 15% of its workforce to retirement eligibility. The Marines maybe are the least capable in that regard. They only retain about 3% of their people to retirement age. So that means that they have to invest in training programs that effectively can produce reproduce capability. And the Air Force doesn't have to rely on that a little bit as much as I covered in that presentation, that's a little bit of a double edged sword. But the need for us was, we're still looking at what is.
And we're saying, that's all we get for that amount of money, That it's got to be better.
And so it was really the fiscal stewardship aspect at leadership levels that really drove home the need for us to have a continuing deployment of this type capability so that we could have a theme that kept us going for a number of years, and we've been at this model for about 14 years now.
Very good, very good. In 2006 hours in the six Sigma conference, the world's six Sigma conference and Mike Curb being than the Under Secretary of the Army was talking about, you know, the six Sigma deployments and the army and as well as the military.
In general, And there, he was dealing with like a $500 billion budget, and it was like incredible, greater than the GDP of most countries and and then the question to him, and I will pose the same question. She was about how do you identify these opportunities for value creation, but he provide a very colorful answer to that. Now, I want to preface by saying, well, he's share with me, which was that, Hey, listen. This is 2006. And I just came back from the Pentagon and we're trying to dissolve R Y two K task force. Of course, the wife took a task force happening before the preparation for the year 2000 is 2006. They still had like 50 plus people in the Pentagon to work on that project. And he was trying to work it out. So his point was that it was a real challenge to identify the right opportunities for value creation, because there is a real concern about budget cuts. So, I'm curious today, you fast forward, now. We're in 20 20 in the Air Force.
Of course, how do you deal with that tension on trying to bring people in and collaborate to identify what can create the most value. But at the same time, you know, as, you know, there is this concern that we may lose budget. So how, how do you deal with things like that in the current scenario?
Yeah, that's a great question. And remember, that first slide, I showed said, revenue minus converted capability equals zero. And that's the issue, right? It, it will get spent because the Congress appropriates it an authorizer to be spent to produce the capability. But what they don't stipulate and it's kind of implied is that the spend should be smart, right. We should seek max return on every single tax dollar. I mean, that's just a fundamental element of our core values are who we are that. That piece drives all of this discussion. And I will say that for a long time, our culture really was, Let's not waste a single dollar, especially August Timeframe. Everybody knows that when the fiscal year ends, one October, August and September, we're rounding up all the extra unspent dollars. And we're saying what can we buy?
And over time, the military has gotten a bad rap, deservedly, So in many cases where we buy things that seem to be silly because we need to spend the money, Right, or else it may, the people who set the budgets may say, Well, obviously you didn't need it. So therefore, it's going to go away. And so that's a that's one way to look at it.
The other way to look at it is I think that And the approach we're taking, it's not that we're trying to drive to spend the money for spending the money sake.
It's there is another fundamental axiom that I didn't say in the presentation, and that's requirements always, always, always exceeds available resources, right.
You never have enough money to do what needs to be done. You have a list of unfunded priorities from top to finish.
That we spend our money sometimes in the past, foolishly, on hammers or you name it right, bad things will buy a, we need to recapitalize our, our, our computer monitors or our TV screens or whatever so that we have information flows. Well, those may be legit, perfect purchases. But the issue then becomes, how prepared are leaders? For that end of your spend? Is their list of unfunded requirements racked and stacked to be the most possible effect, and that's part of what we're attacking to make sure that we don't, we don't end up with that same culture. The mindless spin, mindless spend as bad anywhere, but purposeful spend for all of the available resources you have. At your disposal is critical and making sure that all of the most number of requirements can be satisfied with what resources are available.
Bruce, thank you so much for providing such great insights, sharing the journey with us in such an open way and really, really great insights throughout your presentation. So, good. Luck with the journey ahead and, again, much gratitude for taking the time to share with us.
Yeah. Thank you so much, Joe. Say it's a privilege for me to be here. I'm honored and humbled that you guys asked me to share where we are and how we're going about it. And I truly hope that it was a value to those of the listeners all over the world. I was amazed what an amazing presentation lists. So, thanks to Brian Raffle and all of the team putting this on. And thanks to you, sir, You've been a gracious host.
Thank you very much. You have a great rest of your day, and we'll be in touch, we'll continue to, to follow your journey. Thank you very much. Absolutely. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, this completes this segment. At the top of the hour, we're going to have directly from the United Arab Emirates. Asked, Do Ashutosh, Sheila Brew, the Chief Human Resources Officer from BMA International discussing how we need to become chief culture officers and what that means, what that Role means. So, as you close this session, there is a survey that you can fill out and provide any feedback. Also, we have discussions going on on LinkedIn. that will go on for the next few base. So, feel free to join the discussion on LinkedIn and provide your comments, provide additional questions. We have speakers myself, who participate in the Q&A on LinkedIn, as well. So, for now, thank you very much. We'll close this session. We'll open back up at the top of the hour.
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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