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Air Force Materiel Command (May 9, 2007): AFMC unit helps workforce manage change.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Successful organizational change can be quite difficult to accomplish--it can be like trying to change a person's habits.

Most of Air Force Materiel Command's workforce has been involved with initiatives that generate change. An ongoing example is continuous process improvement--an effort to enhance the way AFMC performs core functions to better support the warfighter.

Continuous improvement also implies continuous change, which can be disruptive to an organization. To survive in such an environment, leaders of improvement initiatives must engage proactively in managing the impacts to the workforce.

Fortunately, there is an organization in the Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command Strategic Plans and Programs Directorate that can minimize the trauma often associated with the impact of these disruptions, while increasing the pace of the process or system improvement

Strategic Organizational Development, or SOD, engages with and empowers AFMC organizations in change management, knowledge management, and organizational learning.

"Our job is to provide tools and expertise to enable a culture of continuous improvement," said Sandy Speake, SOD division chief.

The SOD developed a transformation lexicon--a list of terms used in a particular subject or profession--to provide standard definitions for change management and knowledge management. The transformation lexicon defines change management as a planned and systematic process of continuously aligning and improving an organization's people, structure, and culture to meet organizational strategy. The lexicon is located at <https://afkm.wpafb.af.mil/DocView.asp?DocID=1143456>.

Change Management

Change events can vary in size, scope, and leadership priority. However, workers in SOD agree that every change management effort should include the following:

* Mobilizing and aligning leadership

* Assessing and managing readiness and risk

* Preparing and equipping the workforce for change

* Institutionalizing the infrastructure by establishing a governance process.

Depending on the size and scope of a unit's process or system improvement, change management tools and techniques can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each initiative. One such tool recently implement by the SOD office is termed the AFMC Change Management Process Automated Tool. The tool walks the change management novice through the process listed above and provides templates for ease in producing documentation.

The tool will be kept current with continuous updates. It is ready for use and can be found at <https://afkm.wpafb.af.mil/Procmgmt/Entry.aspx?Filter=OO-XP-MC-52&ProcessID=1>. Feedback is welcome. The point of contact is Wayne Witherell, in Headquarters AFMC/A8C. He can be reached at DSN 787-2668, or commercially at 937-257-2668.

Knowledge Management

This is a new operational paradigm concerned with the management of intellectual capital for establishing competitive advantage through high-performance environments.

"If the knowledge in your organization exists primarily in the minds of individuals, it is hidden in forgotten reports, or walking out the door when employees retire or change jobs, then knowledge management can help," said Speake. "Knowledge management is more than document organization or information technology systems. Knowledge management is a way of operating--not a software package."

The ability to respond to customers more quickly and with greater insight, the ability to accelerate learning and skills development of the workforce, and the ability of managers at every level to electronically plan and track actions are some of the benefits of a knowledge management program. In addition, knowledge managers in SOD are studying the best methods for knowledge retention as AFMC's workforce ages and retires. They're also investigating the best way to identify and use the social networks people work within.

Organizational Learning

This is a process through which a group acquires new knowledge or technology that it then uses to make better strategic decisions and improve its ability to develop and apply specific tactics. It also increases the group's chance of operational success. When knowledge is organizational, a group has captured new or expanded capabilities in such a way that it does not depend on particular individuals to exploit them.

In a survey conducted by CSC Index of Fortune 500 executives, 52 percent identified inadequate change management and communication as the greatest barriers to successful implementation of change initiatives. This emphasizes how important change management, knowledge management, and organizational learning are to success in today's ever-changing environment.

Purath is with Air Force Materiel Command Strategic Plans and Programs Directorate.
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Title Annotation:Career Development
Author:Purath, Carol
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:704
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