Tuesday, November 25, 2008

COMMENTARY>>Alice, balanced scorecard and Wonderland

By Col. Charles Hyde
314th Airlift Wing commander

I love military history and reading about the exploits of the warriors and units that left us with a rich legacy of character, service and heroic defense of our republic. A storied history, however valuable for learning and development of the warrior ethos, does not predict success on future battlefields. Future success depends on a well-understood objective and requires progress toward its attainment.

In previous articles, the 314th Airlift Wing’s mission, vision, and goals were presented. The mission is the purpose of our wing – to train the world’s best C-130 and C-21 crew members to fly, fight, and win. The vision sets an enduring context for our mission: what we are, what we want to be, and our legacy in the future – the foundation of combat airlift. Goals help us accomplish our mission and realize our vision. In short, our mission, vision, and goals are our objective as a wing.

Our objective, that point toward which we strive, is the first step on the road to success. In the book “Alice In Wonderland,” Alice asks the Cheshire cat which path she should take. The cat replied by asking where Alice wanted to go. Alice, unfortunately and similarly to many businesses and organizations, didn’t know. The Cheshire cat then replied that it didn’t matter which way she went. If we don’t know what we are trying to accomplish, then we cease to be an effective and successful team. Having an objective is the first step toward success.

The next requirement for achieving success as an organization is to continuously progress towards its objective. If we don’t have a common mission, vision, and goals, we will fail. Likewise, we can have an objective, but fail to move toward it.

Continuous improvement is the lifeblood of a military organization. Our success and the success of our students depend on it, but it is not enough. The improvement must lead us on a path which reaches our objective. That path is defined by metrics.

Metrics are the key to measuring where we are going and how we are progressing.

The 314th AW leadership met last week to work on our metrics. The balanced scorecard is the AETC tool we use to document our objectives and measure our progress toward attainment.

We refined our mission, vision, and goals and started to define the metrics we will use to chart our path as a wing. I have challenged each of our commanders to build good metrics and implement them in each flight and section. The reason is simple. In order to be successful, we must work together with a common objective and strive for continuous improvement.

Hopefully when you hear someone talk about the balanced scorecard and metrics, it won’t be a mystery. It’s simply a tool to keep us out of Wonderland and focused on training the world’s best C-130 and C-21 students to fly, fight, and win.


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