By November 21, 2005 2 Comments Read More →

"Lean Across the Air Force"

There is a memo circulating, dated 11/7/05, from the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael W. Wynne, and General T. Michael Moseley, titled “Lean Across the Air Force”. Here is a link to an image version of the memo (fixed link 2/21/06), it should be readable, I hope.

It’s quite an ambitious agenda — using lean concepts throughout the Air Force, not just in logistics. Basically, they are defining lean with two core concepts:

1) Do it right the first time
2) Eliminate non-value-added activities (waste)

They call it a “comprehensive effort to to improve our work processes throughout the Air Force.” They are right to emphasize the top-to-bottom leadership that will be required to drive lean thinking throughout the Air Force. Imagine individual airmen acting like production workers in the Toyota Production System — following standard work but also driving continuous improvement, waste reduction, and kaizen.

The memo authors emphasize that “all airmen” must participate and that many Air Force leaders are to attend a two-day seminar to kick off the lean program.

One question I have, not being a military person — how will the Air Force make kaizen and airmen-driven improvements work in a command-and-control environment? Will the culture really allow airman to make suggestions and drive improvement, even if that means questioning their superiors? Click here for an article on command-and-control vs. lean management.

I’m glad to see the Air Force take this approach. I truly hope they can make it work. Anyone else have thoughts or perspectives on this? Click “comments.”

 


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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2 Comments on ""Lean Across the Air Force""

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Airforce has had some past sucess with lean techniques. Check out the book, The Five Pillars of TQM : How to Make Total Quality Management Work for You
    by Bill Creech, a retired Air Force General

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