Sometimes I think I should stick with non-fiction. I received word that my brief article, “The Mission Matters Most” is scheduled to appear in the Fall issue of Air & Space Power Journal (the USAF’s professional journal).
A couple of years ago, ASPJ published my article, “How the Air Force Embraced ‘Partial Quality,'” which generated some discussion and eventually a review/rebuttal in the Fall 2007 issue. This new article is something of a rebuttal to the rebuttal, which is what “The Merge” section of the journal intends:
In air combat, “the merge” occurs when opposing aircraft meet and pass each other. Then they usually “mix it up.” In a similar spirit, Air and Space Power Journal’s “Merge” articles present contending ideas.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt:
I read with interest Randall Schwalbe’s critique …. [which] is well thought out but somewhat misses the point.
… Mr. Schwalbe made the statement [that] the “fundamental flaw” (p. 16) of my article was that I had confused “quality with process improvement.” That my article dealt with the way the USAF implemented quality improvement ideas in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and attempted to show that the ideas themselves were sound but the execution flawed, did not seem to come through: my execution, apparently, was itself flawed.
… more salient to this discussion, the commercial success of Toyota, Ford, or Motorola, etc., is not the best argument for convincing the military that these new tools and techniques are germane to their mission. Obviously I did not make that point clear enough in my original article, so let me reiterate: for the rank-and-file to see Lean or any other improvement effort as vital to their service’s continued success, these efforts must be adapted to the core military mission as much as (if not more than) they are adapted to ancillary functions.