“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions,” Albert Einstein once said.
Einstein believed a quality solution is in direct proportion to the ability to identify the problem someone can hope to solve.
When Lt. Col. Kaly took command of the 25th Operations Support Squadron, she realized the traditional structure of an Operations Support Squadron did not fit the mold of the 25th Attack Group mission that requires access to 24/7 operations support.
A traditional OSS owns an airfield, operates during daylight hours, on weekdays, and is neither built, nor postured, for 24/7 combat support. The 25th OSS, on the other hand, is not responsible for a runway, but rather directly supports units across three geographically separated locations that all fly operations downrange on behalf of combatant commanders.
“It really became evident that we needed to look at our organizational structure, and how we provide support,” Kaly said. “The 24/7 support capability was a critical piece of that.”
To remedy the greater need for support, the 25th OSS conducted a day-long design sprint reorganization at their host-installation of Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
Calling upon her experience as the former innovation officer at Creech AFB, Nev., the 25th OSS command team looked for out-of-the-box ways to facilitate an array of ideas for their reorganization.
According to Kaly, one tenant of innovation is having all stakeholders in the room when solving tough problems. The 25th ATKG and the four attack squadrons supported the event by sending critical members of their team TDY to the 25th OSS. This allowed each unit’s unique perspectives and needs to be considered as the groundwork was laid.
The participants began the day with a two-hour mission objective briefing, detailing the end goal of the sprint: to redesign components of their squadron, including command structure, department responsibility, and scope of operations.
“During the ‘sprint’ we had Airmen report to work in civilian attire and split into five different working groups,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daina, 25th OSS superintendent. “The experience levels for each group ranged from little-to-no knowledge, to people that have had 20 years in the military, and have had long-lasting experiences with the MQ-9.”
According to Kaly, Airmen were dressed in civilian attire to encourage the free-flow of information and friendly debate without fear of repercussion, or enforcing hierarchy of thought.
“There’s an aspect of team building in getting to know your teammates beyond their rank and last name,” Kaly said. “We were really able to get to know people that day, and listen to them share their ideas, their perspectives, and their ‘why’ behind things that were important to them.”
After breaking into groups, brainstorming ideas, and working through team building exercises, teams finalized and pitched their ideas to the 25th OSS command team, who then carefully deliberated, and choose a way forward.
“What we ended up doing was taking a hybrid of a couple of the different pitches,” Daina said.
Daina said it was exciting to see everyone come together and bring their experiences to the table to make the 25th OSS better as a squadron. She also explained how it also served as an innovative and cost-effective way to modernize and increase the lethality of the 25th ATKG.
“I’m not just optimistic, I’m really excited,” Kaly said. “I’m excited because we used the best ideas of [Airmen] not only in the OSS in order to influence how we define our structure.”
Kaly emphasized the important role comradery and team building played in creating the best product for the squadron. Without the input of all, the OSS could not support the mission adequately, and units equally.
“Our roles here are expanding every single day and it’s such an honor to provide support to the people flying the line day-in and day-out,” Kaly said. “We really hold that mission sacred here in the 25th OSS and it’s incredibly important for us to get this right.”