CPI symposium focuses on lessons learned, reform

  • Published
  • By Tyler Grimes
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

As part of the Air Force Reserve's efforts to improve and reform itself, Air Force Reserve Command hosted a continuous process improvement symposium at the Advanced Technology and Training Center in Warner Robins, Georgia, in May for 40 CPI and lessons learned practitioners from across the Reserve.

Thomas Jones, AFRC Analyses, Assessment, Lessons Learned and CPI functional community manager, led the three-day event and said it was a great opportunity to focus on different ways to reform the Reserve enterprise.

"The event provided attendees a collaborative environment to share process improvement, innovation, lessons learned and best practices needed to support Air Force efforts to improve unit effectiveness and manage resources," Jones said. “It also availed process managers the opportunity to network with other process managers and CPI practitioners, given they are the sole resource to lead CPI and lessons learned cultural transformation in the units."

Guest speakers from across the Air Force, including the Air Force Business Capabilities Directorate, Air Education and Training Command, AFWERX and AFRC, gave updates on how CPI is affecting the organization at various levels. Jeffery Elliott, AFRC/A9 director, highlighted the importance of providing increased capability to units with and through using CPI methodologies and tools.

In March, Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, AFRC commander and chief of the Air Force Reserve, issued a memorandum, titled “Leading a Culture of Continuous Process Improvement,” in which he made clear the Reserve’s commitment to building and sustaining a culture of CPI.

“Additionally, CPI enables the wings to strategically align with the commander’s strategic priorities, which in turn support the SecAF and chief of staff of the Air Force priorities, which in turn support the National Defense Strategy,” Jones said.

Maj. Tara Mercado, 22nd Air Force process manager, was one of the attendees of the symposium and explained that CPI is one of the keys to achieving the Reserve’s priorities.

“Efficiency is at the heart of business reform. A complacent organization stuck in ‘the way we’ve always done things’ is not well positioned for advancement,” Mercado said. “If we are to create an organization that effectively gets after readiness, retention and the other CAFR priorities we have to build capacity.”

She said part of building capacity is by improving processes, sharing ideas and developing a network of CPI practitioners.

“Process managers gained perspective from multiple leaders and program directors across the Air Force,” she said. “This was an environment where we learned not only from the leaders in our field, but from each other as well. The opportunity to network and share best practices is invaluable.”

This CPI symposium was the first in AFRC since 2016, something that Mercado said was overdue. She said this year’s event demonstrates the longevity of CPI.

“CPI is here to stay,” she said. “Ideally, a culture of continuous process improvement and innovation will become the new normal.”