Commentary

August 30, 2013

What do you mean, ‘Back to basics?

Lt. Col. David Fazenbaker
10th Airlift Squadron commander

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Last September, in his first speech as the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III advocated a back-to-basics approach for the Air Force. He noted that the missions of the Air Force have not changed over time, but rather, the terms by which we identify the missions have changed.

Welsh outlined that, from a strategic view, in order for us to continue to do what the Air Force does best, we will have to work around budgetary pressures. In recent months, we have seen those budgetary concerns come to fruition, most notably in the form of sequestration. We have felt the impact, at varying levels, of losing our civilian workforce for 20 percent of their pay periods.

In order to continue operations, we identified the minimum requirements to accomplish our mission. We’ve found that we must go back to basics.

So what does that actually mean?

To me, it means looking at every task I accomplish – every meeting and every process – then asking myself a simple question.

Why?

Why do I accomplish that task? Why is this meeting important? Why is a particular process done a certain way? Is it required by an Air Force instruction? Is it something your predecessor did, so you feel you have to also?

Understanding why we do things is the basis for identifying new processes and new ideas to improve the way we accomplish our mission.

The budgetary limitations Welsh spoke of are upon us and they will continue over the foreseeable future. As it always has been, it is our job to be good stewards of the resources we have. This is not about finding ways to do more with less; it is actually about finding ways to do less with less.

We do less by finding the tasks that are essential in our jobs and by amending existing processes or developing new ones to meet our requirements. We find these opportunities for improvement by continuing to be who we are and experts in what we do.

If you’re an expert in your career field, continue to be that expert. If you’re just starting your Air Force career, strive to be that expert. Learn your job and how to do it the best you can. Ask the “why” questions. Go back to basics and continue to make a difference.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Overcoming failures

You will fail. The question is, how will you respond? This reminds me of a parable of the carrot, egg and coffee. A senior airman was distraught when he learned he did not make staff sergeant after his first time testing. His staff sergeant supervisor saw a teaching opportunity and the next day he filled...
 
 

Lessons learned in protecting social media accounts

On a Saturday afternoon in late November, I was informed about a political remark that appeared on my Director of Public Affairs Twitter feed. A staff member called to ask if I was aware of the re-tweet. At the time, I was on leave, out of the state, tending to my daughter who had had...
 
 

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community

- As stated last week, the Atlantic Monthly ran an article contrasting two sets of virtues: “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The goal of the article was to provide motivation for others in order to create a “counterculture” to our power, wealth and achievement culture. In the author’s words, we need to become people who...
 

 

My journey as a victim advocate

When I was a teenager, I saw a movie about a college student who was raped by her brother’s fraternity brother at a party. I remember being saddened by what happened to her; not only by the act of sexual assault, but by how the school’s administrators and students treated her when she decided to...
 
 

Lessons learned in protecting social media accounts

On a Saturday afternoon in late November, I was informed about a political remark that appeared on my Director of Public Affairs Twitter feed. A staff member called to ask if I was aware of the re-tweet. At the time, I was on leave, out of the state, tending to my daughter who had had...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - This past year the Atlantic Monthly ran an article contrasting two sets of virtues: “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The article explained that resume virtues are oriented toward “accumulating power, wealth, and professional achievements.” Eulogy virtues on th...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>