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Strategic Alignment yields clearer mission focus

910th Airlift Wing group photo

Members of the 910th Airlift Wing form a 910 on the flightline here in front of several vehicles representing the unit's mission, June 03, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffrey Grossi)


If you’ve heard words like mission, vision and priorities buzzing around the business world in recent years, it’s an indication that people have grasped the importance of clarity in organizational leadership. A clear sense of purpose (mission) helps components of an agency direct efforts toward a common goal. A stated picture of the ideal future state (vision) incentivizes relentless pursuit of the mission. Concise and focused priorities are intended to provide the most efficient and stable path toward reaching the vision and achieving the mission. Without widespread understanding of mission, vision and priorities, organizations lack the focus and direction required to escape the status quo.

To that end, more than 25 leaders from a cross-section of Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s employee population attended a three-day Strategic Alignment event, Aug. 22-24, 2017. The goal of the event was to draft new mission and vision statements and priorities.


Lt. Col. Ray Gale, 910th Airlift Wing Chief of Process Management, facilitated the event, incorporating a variety of Air Force Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) tools that have been used and proven successful in many world-class organizations. These tools included pre-meeting data-gathering exercises, brainstorming exercises, consensus decision making, advocacy rather than debate, weighted voting and a Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis.


“The CPI process and the application of the CPI tools these 910th participants engaged in has a long history of great successes in many, many military, government and commercial organizations,” said Gale. “If used correctly, exceptional results are the outcome when pursuit of the Strategy is sustained.  The tools allow focus of our greatest resource…military and civilian Airmen and their ideas, in a data-based, sequential, structured set of exercises designed to produce products that enable great decision making on issues like application of resources, identification of waste, how to successfully deal with change, and problem solving that corrects root causes.”


One reason for revisiting the Wing’s mission, vision and priorities is to ensure they are in alignment with those of the station’s parent organizations. As an Air Force Reserve installation, YARS falls under the Air Force Reserve Command and the U.S. Air Force, respectively. The Air Force mission is to fly, fight and win…in air, space and cyberspace, while the Air Force Reserve’s mission is to provide combat ready forces to Fly, Fight and Win. The 22nd AF, AFRC and AF provided some strategic products to help ensure the outcomes were strategically aligned with higher levels.


Col. Dan Sarachene took command of the 910th Airlift Wing in February and requested the event.


“Ideally, units should accomplish this event every few years and after a mission or commander change,” said Sarachene. “This past July the United States Air Force published new priorities making our event all the more timely and relevant.”


Whereas changing or updating the Wing’s mission or vision statement doesn’t functionally change the mission of the organization, it is intended to provide a clearer focus of what the 910th is called to do and what it should look like in its ideal state. The priorities give insight into how the mission will be accomplished while working toward the ideal state.

“The planning and the input from this event provides a solid framework or roadmap to direct our efforts and resources,” said Sarachene. “We will further develop our priorities and establish action plans that align with our priorities and publish a strategic plan for the wing in January. I encourage every 910th member, military and civilian, to consider how they, along with their units, can continue working toward executing our priorities.”


Gale says the event was very successful and credits the success to the interaction and inputs of the participants.


“The 22 AF CCO that co-facilitated remarked that she had never seen Strategic Alignment participants work so well together,” said Gale. “This is the third one I have facilitated at the 910th, and these participants were by far the most focused and embraced and followed the Strategic Alignment Process using CPI tools the most effectively.”


The new mission statement, vision statement and priorities will be officially launched during the Sept. Unit Training Assembly, Sept. 16-17.