AFSO21 adopts 8-step problem solving model

by Maj. Jason Todd
14th Flying Training Wing Commander's Action Group

3/10/2008 - COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. -- Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21, has adopted a new 8-Step Problem Solving Model to achieve continuous process improvement. This model is based on the OODA Loop and will make it easier for Air Force members to eliminate waste in the workplace.

The OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) was originated in the 1950's by Col. John Boyd. It is an objective description of the decision making process. Due to an emphasis on the infinitely repeating nature of decision making, the OODA Loop is an excellent match for the AFSO21 principal of continuous improvement. The eight steps of the Problem Solving Model fit within the frame of the OODA Loop. The eight steps are (1) Clarify and Validate the Problem, (2) Break Down the Problem and Identify Performance Gaps (Observe), (3) Set Improvement Target, (4)Determine Root Cause (Orient), (5) Develop Countermeasures (Decide), (6) See Countermeasures Through, (7) Confirm Results and Process, and (8) Standardize Successful Processes (Act). Following the eight steps will ensure that actions lead to the desired results with an absolute minimum of wasted effort. Following the steps will also ensure the results are aligned with the needs of the organization.

The 8-step process is better than the current methods of Value Stream Mapping or Rapid Improvement Events. Supervisors and process owners have been hesitant to do a VSM or RIE because they are resource intensive and may take up to five work days to complete. Using the 8-Step Problem Solving Model, events can now be complete in about two days. Process owners can now also run an event without a Level 1 Facilitator physically present through phone consultation. So, in effect, the Air Force has improved its process of improving processes.

Columbus Air Force Base has a Blaze 21 Council that meets once a month to discuss all of AFSO21 projects on the base. The council is comprised of representatives from the Wing Staff Agencies, DynCorp, and each Group. If you want to learn more about AFSO21 or are interested in improving a process in your organization, please call the Commander's Action Group at 434-7001.