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Achieving “Bare Metal” success

By Lt. Col. Mark Vitantonio 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander

"The actions that a caring individual makes which may seem like nothing to him or her can have such a positive impact on the recipient." (undisclosed Master Sgt. (Ret), 30 May 13).

These are the unsolicited statements which consistently find their way back to Airmen who take ownership and pride in the mission.

After a year of commanding the 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, I found it important to reflect back on the culture we've fought so hard to foster. Our goal--establish simple and clear direction to create a "Bare Metal" approach to operations and a culture of "Fairness and Equity". While there is always room for improvement, by keeping the goals simple and clear; progress and success are achievable.

When I speak of a "Bare Metal" approach to operations I'm talking about losing the weight of years of "paint". Be it those processes and/or equipment items which aren't required for operations or those individuals who don't have their priorities in order.

When you look around your section, what do you see and what questions do you ask? Does everything have a place and purpose or do you wonder when someone is going to take care of the problem? I've heard we don't have enough space, we're short of people, and we're constantly in need of more funding, yet I've witnessed acres of excess materiel which has to be inventoried/accounted for and individuals who fail to take ownership in their careers/sections.

"Bare Metal" isn't renaming the quality movement initiatives; it's about reinforcing and adhering to the fundamentals of your career field. Within the 2nd LRS, this approach has indirectly increased our relative manning through more efficient processes and has freed up career opportunities for those hungry to make change. I have no doubt that if you get rid of what you don't need instead of trying to find that elusive grand unifying theory of success you'll achieve your goal.

"Bare Metal" success is achievable, but not for long unless the environment instills a culture of "Fairness and Equity".

A previous mentor of mine once said, "Fair and equitable doesn't necessarily equate to one's happiness". In other words, it may be that our focus is too narrow when we believe something is unfair or not equitable. Take a broader perspective when judging the events which occur around you; are you being singled out or have your actions drawn negative attention upon yourself?

I can personally say that after a year in command of the 2nd LRS, I've learned that even my happiness is not immune if we are to maintain a sense of fairness and equity. No one wants to work in a unit where they can't get a fair shake or believe that favoritism is prevalent. Be vocal about adhering to established standards and hold yourself/others accountable--over time you will see a reduction in disciplinary actions as well as an increase in individual and unit achievements. What I'm saying is so obvious you may wonder why I'm discussing it, mainly because without constant maintenance a positive unit culture will erode over time.

Every day I'm excited and thankful to be part of the achievements and pride seen across our Air Force. The upcoming years will undoubtedly be filled with a never ending supply of opportunities for those hungry to make change. Don't wait--make the decision to take ownership of your section/career and be thoughtful to the fact that sacrifices may be necessary for the greater good.