Friday, April 01, 2005

The Value of the Military Skill Set - Part XI

Part XI - The Military's Supply System Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism This isn't going to be a long diatribe on what the US Military has for a supply system, as much as a comment on how much exposure military members have to it. Specifically, I can speak most clearly about what would be the experience of someone assigned to a Navy ship or submarine, which was my experience. Long before Wal-Mart had a huge "cradle to grave" logistical network, the Navy had one. I'm sure the other services have almost identical structures, but the forms and who's in chagre is listed differently. As far back as the mid-80's, when it was my job to manage the maintenance of a squadron of forward deployed surface ships, I had very close to real time information on where every spare part needed for critical operational systems was, and when we could expect it's delivery. Most all of my peers in the officer corps had similar hands on experiences. For most non-commissioned officers and above, pretty much everone on on the ship had to interact with the supply system in detail. I have good and bad sea stories regarding the actual supply officers I worked with, but for the most part, while we didn't like the thought that they didn't have watches to stand at sea, they were a perofessional bunch, with only a few radical bean counters in the bunch. If you needed something, there were ways to look up exactly what it was, and then a form to order it with. While it seemed like a pain in the butt for a pad of paper, it was pretty handy when you turbine front frame attached gear box failed, and you needed another one in order to put that engine back in service. We all learned it wasn't a wild, wild west oout there, with easy access to the storerooms, but a structured system, which accounted for useage and made sure the next one got on order to be able to keep the authorized spares in place. My point is that military person in front of you understands the need for a large, seemingly cumbersome logisitics network, and how, in fact, it really does make life easier. The requisition form goes to the supply petty officer, he logs it in the division's records and it begins it's journey to the chain of command. The chief or leading petty officer usually has a grasp on the budget and knows if it's a go or not, so they can justify it to the division officer, if it's not a part of the planned, budgeted perocess. You won't need much to educate an ex-military person about your system, because the basic concepts and operation are already a part of what they have done. Show them the forms and tell them were to go to submit them and when and where to expect a delivery. I ended up becoming very connected to training issues in my career. In the outside world, I was a skydiving instructor for about 15 years. I always found the quickest way to get someone into the "program" was to use correct analogies, that drew on their past experiences. When you see their eyes light up in a few minutes, and they are saying words indicating they "get it," you're on the way and probably saved many hoours of classroom time with your new employee. This post was to provide an analogy that may be useful for just this situation, when you bring someone into a large corporation, with an extensive logistics system.

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