In early 2016, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation began implementing Aviation Process Excellence. As Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry took command, the organization needed to ensure it didn’t let the higher operational tempo of a change of command be an excuse to lose focus on process improvement.
That’s where Patty McCarty comes in. McCarty, as DLA Aviation’s APEx and Continuous Process Improvement program manager, is key to ensuring the activity continues to advance its process-improvement efforts.
“In this journey that Aviation has started under the leadership of former DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Day, DLA Aviation Commander Brig. Gen. Hurry will continue the journey of process excellence through people, mission and safety,” McCarty said. “DLA Aviation stands ready to receive new guidance and continued process excellence for FY18."
Until such insight or new guidance, Brig. Gen. Hurry's philosophy of people, mission and safety and the basic tenets of APEx will stay the same.
“Basically, APEx is trying to efficiently manage your execution, your people and your resources using continues process improvement and leadership tools,” said McCarty.
McCarty stressed the importance of the employee in the APEx program.
“It’s more than just being efficient,” McCarty said. “It’s about empowering the individual and giving them ownership of the process.
She explained: “Every employee knows that we are supporting the warfighters, but as a leader you need to explain how their role is important in that support … As a supervisor myself, it brings me great joy when one of my employees succeeds and they are proud of their success.”
McCarty started in her role in March and has embraced APEx, visiting other sites to see its implementation firsthand.
“I journeyed out to Tinker Air Force Base to partner with them to learn more about it,” said McCarty. “I met with their senior leadership and the authors of the ‘Art of the Possible’ book.”
The ‘Art of the Possible’ book was created by the Air Force Sustainment Command. AFSC describes AOP as a method to create a culture that is focused on the efficient execution of its processes.
McCarty explained that Air Force’s version of this document was a leading document used in the creation of APEx and one she often references.
McCarty said that during her July visit, she met with Janice Wood, the strategic deputy director for the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex and a contributing writer to AOP.
“I interviewed her and got some of her leadership guidance,” said McCarty. “She was able to get me into an advanced AOP APEx training session in November, so I got really lucky by meeting with her.”
McCarty has worked with the Air Force to learn new techniques she can share with supervisors in the workforce.
“I’m partnering with the Air Force to learn more about it, and I have been to some of our activities to go over APEx and CPI,” said McCarty.
As APEx is used, the organization matures and can be tracked on a maturity model.
“There are five phases and eight different elements in the model,” McCarty explained. “This model is used from the highest level to the lowest level.”
McCarty explained that each site has its own challenges. “They all started at different times, so they all mature at different rates.”
Although sites will mature at a different rates, McCarty said she considers the overall maturity of DLA Aviation and its progress.
“We’ve achieved a lot of success in the training, but we still have a lot to learn. We’ve gone through phases 1 and 2. We trained the senior leaders, and now we’re training the supervisors. We’re at the point where it’s cascading down from the supervisors to the employees,” McCarty said. “We‘re at the beginning of our journey.”