JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO -- RANDOLPH, Texas-- Airmen can now download an Air Force mobile application designed to help them better get at the root of workplace problems. Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21, is the Air Force's eight-step problem solving method and the application puts AFSO21 resources right at their fingertips. The application, available for free download from the two most popular mobile marketplaces, provides a breakdown of problem solving steps with common tools and a rubric for each step. A glossary of AFSO21 terms wrapped up with tools and methodologies related to other problem solving models is also available.
The Air Force eight-step problem solving model is taught to Airmen through AFSO21 and Professional Military Education programs to generate efficiencies and improve combat capabilities across the Air Force. Although the application was developed with a focus on AFSO21 facilitators, any Airman will benefit from the application's user-friendly steps when working through a problem. "This application will make problem solving information more readily available to any Airman who wants to help improve processes within their organization," said Dan Kjolhede from the Air Education and Training Command Chief Learning Office. "Instead of having to rely on a piece of paper, they can use their smart device. The steps are available to them anytime, anywhere."
Process improvements come in different forms, from a quick fix to a more complex problem that requires time and coordination through several organizations. The AFSO21 application provides a one-stop resource with detailed information on each step in the problem-solving process and interactive tools providing users with an avenue to take photos, record data, populate charts and graphs, and store their inputs on their mobile device.
The AETC Chief Learning Office used this development project as a reconnaissance mission of sorts with hopes of paving the way for more applications. With service-wide budget cuts, the Air Force is transforming its training model to maintain its edge in education and training.
"Our mission is to transform education, and mobile applications will play a big part in that," said A.J. Ranft, AETC's Chief Learning Officer. "This was a great way for us to build a mobile device framework for use in the future." Although the CLO team learned a lot through the application development process, they hope to gain even more information from the users.
"Feedback functions are embedded into the application," Kjolhede said. "We're looking forward to feedback from our users to make this application even better." According to the CLO, the bottom line is facilitating better problem solving. "It's very helpful to have a reference and to go through the problem-solving steps instead of just jumping to a solution ... that's what we tend to do," Ranft said. "The Air Force has sanctioned this methodology for problem solving and this application gives all Airmen a resource to really work through problems effectively."
There are two AFSO21 applications available on the market, so Airmen should search their smart device's application store for "AFSO21" and choose the application developed by Griffin Mobile. The Griffin, the 367th Training Support Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, improves Air Force combat capability through world-class interactive multimedia instruction for aircraft and munitions maintenance training for Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command. The application is also searchable by the terms Lean Six Sigma, Continuous Process Improvement, CPI, Smart Operations, Air Force, AETC or DMAIC.