Maintaining Excellence

  • Published
  • By Colonel Tony Lombardo
  • 17th Training Group commander
On the heels of our excellence during the recent Air Education and Training Command Unit Compliance Inspection, Team Goodfellow has earned a brief respite and the satisfaction in a job well done. Your many accomplishments have shone through during this very "deep look." The IG team took notice in the many hallmarks of world-class fire-fighting, special instruments and intelligence training that takes place here at Goodfellow. Our obvious traits of professionalism, character and a spirit of enthusiasm spiraled us to an impressive winning attitude for all of the IG Team to witness (and document)!

However, amidst our successes it's easy to let the many facets of this achieved excellence start to fade and dull with time. Without the threat of an imminent inspection, it's easy to become less attentive in certain items and programs, in effect putting them on the "back burner" knowing that other day to day requirements, more directly relevant to training operations, will take center stage. However, while producing the world's finest Fire, Intel and SPINSTRA warriors should remain our number one priority, we would be doing ourselves a disservice by letting some of our programs fall dormant. In addition, it is not so much the IG we should worry about - rather we should be building something better than we found it and be preparing for our successor's success. We all are, by the way, replaceable!

Successful maintenance in Excellence is all about good, solid routines. Maintaining a program or project though a few minutes of daily or weekly effort to keep it current is in most cases much easier than the hours or days required to repair a program that has been neglected or fallen into disrepair over an extended period of time. Failure to perform this simple maintenance on even the smallest program can ultimately mean that someone, be it ourselves or our replacement, at some point in the future will have to "reinvent the wheel" in first ascertaining the status of the program, and then commit the extra time and energy into repairing it. These routines will help you maintain your continuity of excellence.

Month ahead of the inspection, Pamela Stevens, the director of the Training Group's Internal Inspections Section, superbly demonstrated the keys to success of self-inspections implementing a program to sustain our quality programs. She and her team will now help us maintain our excellence by focusing on five following areas:

1. Checklists (the IG really focus on use of current, applicable checklists): Ensure all CCMI checklists and self-inspection checklists are updated. Using the results from the 2009 UCI, we will scrub all existing checklists and highlight any problematic areas from the UCI. Checklist modification will be the focus of CCMI for the 30-days post UCI. Checklists will be maintained through the inspection cycle by regularly scheduled reviews.

2. UCI findings and recommended improvement areas: Correct and validate any findings and/or RIAs from the 2009 UCI. Squadrons will have approximately 30 days to file their first responses to UCI findings. Once the responses are received, Stan/Eval will validate that corrective actions are in place and that corrective actions will prevent recurrence of the finding. That is, ensure fixes are applied across the programs, not just to a single area.

3. Stan/Eval evaluations: In previous years, Stan/Eval evaluated programs on a 12 month cycle, but beginning with 2009, will evaluate all 17 TRG programs on a 24 month cycle. This evaluation schedule will allow for a more detailed, longer review of each program and provide commanders with more in-depth program assessments. Extending the evaluation period also allows time for trained evaluators to conduct OJT with program managers.

4. Self-Inspection: The Self-Inspection program will be conducted each April and October, beginning in Oct 09. Results of squadron self-inspections are compiled by the OSIM and presented to group leadership quarterly, until all findings are closed.

5. Special evaluations: Staff Assistance Visits, commander-directed evaluations, and no-notice evaluations will be conducted at the request of squadron and group leadership. These evaluations will give leadership a clear picture of the status of programs without program managers "prepping" for an inspection.

Continuing to improve our programs immediately after a UCI will undoubtedly mean a small amount of additional work in the short-run, but, hey, it's what we should be doing anyway, right? Further refining programs recently validated as excellent or better by the IG may seem a bit awkward to some, but it will build habit patterns and continuity that will let our next inspection, whenever that may be, both easier to prepare for and also allow us to build on our previous successes in the process to hopefully have even better results.

It's also worth noting that the Air Force and AETC IGs have begun to conduct limited, small-scale, no- notice inspections, so staying inspection ready at all times is definitely in your best interests. We'll know they're en route for a "no-no" when we get the call that the IG Team is "taxiing on our runway." We know you're up for that challenge because you'll have been working to maintain Goodfellow Excellence.