Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing participate in a role-playing exercise mimicking a clinic customer service process during a Continuous Process Improvement class at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, July 11, 2019. The participants dealt with redundant processes, before learning to write a problem statement and find innovative solutions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Joshua P. Arends)
Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing participate in a role-playing exercise mimicking a clinic customer service process during a Continuous Process Improvement class at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, July 11, 2019. The participants dealt with redundant processes, before learning to write a problem statement and find innovative solutions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Joshua P. Arends)

Wolf Pack Airmen learn to tackle practical problem solving

by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Arends
Kunsan Air Base

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing attended a Continuous Process Innovation course covering the first three steps of practical problem solving.

During the course, Airmen learned how to clarify and validate the problem, break it down and set an improvement target.

Col. Tad Clark, 8th Fighter Wing commander, wants to use courses like this to create a culture of innovation at Kunsan.

“This is about making sure that what we are doing is efficient, purposeful, deliberate and impactful,” said Clark. “This is what group commanders, all the way down to the squadron level, are trying to do this year. At the end of the day, creativity and innovation is the most important thing. Innovation is huge, and it can never be a me thing, it has to be a we thing.”

Over the five-day period, students acted as patients and care providers seeking to shorten the appointment making process. In order to clarify the problem, students worked on addressing the issues from the viewpoints of the patients, caretakers and leadership.

The second part of the class taught students how to map the appointment making process so they could locate problems or gaps. To build the map, the group had to discover the reason why problems were occurring at their level. The map could then be used to show leadership the current process’ costs, the investment needed to correct the situation and how much can be saved.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Connelly, 8th Maintenance Squadron combat plans and training supervisor, re-enforced the importance of data when presenting a process change to leadership.

“Data makes you powerful,” confirms Connelly. “If you have actual useful information in your corner, there is no leadership on the planet that is going to say no, because we don’t have enough resources, manning or time to waste on stuff that is hurting us.”

Clark encouraged everyone who attended the course to use the tools and apply it to their assignment at Kunsan.

“Whether you are in the back shop, dining facility, ammo or anywhere in between, let’s not leave anything untouched.” Clark said. “Let’s look at every single thing that we are responsible for, own it and make it better than the way we found it.”

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