Preparation for ' Excellent' is continual process

  • Published
  • By Col. Mark Vivians
  • 81st Mission Support Group commander
Two weeks ago, Team Keesler proved to the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General and the Air Force that it is a well-oiled machine. Congratulations to everyone for helping the wing achieve an overall "excellent" in the 2012 Consolidated Unit Inspection! From the Airman who tirelessly ensured the program was perfect, to the customer who patiently waited as the exercise unfolded -- everyone played a part in our success. We should be very proud we worked together as a team and achieved excellence.

Many people say the hardest part of any inspection is the months prior to the IG team's arrival. Painstaking reviews of every program across Keesler made our programs the best. Our self inspection tracking tool, Inspector Gadget, tracked 12,746 compliance checklist items across the base. We combed over every conceivable instruction, manual and guide to find the correct way to document and accomplish the mission. It is a very hard undertaking, but in order to keep our mission execution sharp, it is necessary. However, this should be done all of the time, not just in preparation for the CUI. Compliance should be a part of our every day working life.

So, why is inspection prep so painful and cumbersome? Why do we need to spend an inordinate amount of effort getting ready for an inspection?

The reality is the Air Force's manpower is the smallest since its founding and getting smaller. Our responsibilities and additional duties are more complex than ever, and getting more complex. We have to change the way we do business to ensure we accomplish the things that must be done.

In today's military, we need to change our thought process -- we are too busy to rely on memory to get things done. If there is an appointment letter needed for a position, don't simply trust that someone will remember to draft and sign the letter. We need a process to ensure it is done. For example, a continuity notebook can be created with a checklist that includes creating a continuity letter when a new person is appointed.

Each member, supervisor and commander must "own" each and every one of the checklist items and develop a process to ensure compliance. That way, compliance becomes a regular part of doing business. It is a simple answer to a complicated problem. The questions are endless. How do you ensure a meeting happens every quarter? How do you store, catalog and account for all hazardous materials? How do you ensure every purchased tool is etched and accounted for?

If we take the time now that the inspection is over to continue with our processes, it will be far easier to be in constant compliance. It is up to all of us to make the next compliance inspection preparation period less painful than what we just experienced. The next inspection is less than 700 days away. Let's get ready now.