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News | July 14, 2023

New program targets leadership growth

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Those in supervisory roles at Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Oklahoma City are invited to participate in a new elective program, Human Leadership Development and Aviation Process Excellence, commonly referred to as APEx, that aims to build and enrich outstanding leadership across the command.

These program’s provide supervisors with targeted seminars on topics such as empathy in leadership, career planning, motivating employees, production science, and CPI (Continuous Process Improvement). Human Leadership Development is the new addition to APEx, a newer system that has been developed over the last six years, ultimately combining the two.

The program was born out of a necessity to improve several areas of functionality across the command, said Jerad Friend, a management analyst within DLA Aviation at Oklahoma City Command Support Staff. “It’s new to Aviation and also new to bringing all of these types of leadership focus' and putting them all together,” he said. “Instead of having multiple programs, it ties them together for balance and they bounce off of each other.”

“We were experiencing a few different roadblocks with communication with U.S. Air Force customer, along with process improvement, identifying root causes, and coming up with meaningful solutions,” Friend said.

DLA Aviation at Oklahoma’s leadership learned about a program used by Tinker Air Force Base personnel called Art of the Possible, which the Air Force use for process improvement, production science, continual process improvement, and for creating a culture of problem solvers.

"After exploring the content, we realized this could solve a lot of our roadblocks not only with communication with our customer but with improving our end-to-end processes that could be improved upon,” Friend said.

Now dubbed Aviation Process Excellence, or APEx, the project focused on analyzing content and identifying material that could be used in daily work and in the development of a training course to be applied at the local level.

Friend said Chris Basden, Retail Order Management Branch Chief within DLA Aviation’s Business Process Support Directorate, spearheaded the development of the APEx course.

“He truly laid the initial foundation of this program, and I was able to come alongside him and take it to the next level.”

Friend explained that a program of this size and breadth requires acceptance from everyone, from top brass down to entry-level employees. To ensure a strong program foundation, leaders were trained first.

“After we completed the training, we immediately started holding CPI events, which led to some very eye-opening moments and improvements, from which the agency felt a massive impact,” he said. “This was a defining moment for the program to promote buy-in from all employees.”

Because it was a new program, Friend and his fellow developers tempered their expectations. But, as the workforce began to display improvements, headquarters took notice, Friend said.

“We were asked to teach a course [APEx] to over 100 senior-level leaders, and this sparked a lot of conversations; as a result, we were asked to teach the course to leaders at other installations,” he said.

Friend said the program can be enhanced and adjusted to accommodate new hires and supervisors. “This is the beauty of the program—it encourages change for the better,” he said.

The newest versions of the course target new hires, and a refresher course is available for supervisors. All are tailored to the audience to maximize efficiency.