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Lt Col Johnson
Lt. Col. Brent Johnson, 71st Medical Operations Squadron commander
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Applying core values to the organizational culture

Posted 12/18/2012   Updated 12/18/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Lt. Col. Brent Johnson
71st Medical Operations Squadron commander


12/18/2012 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Happy holidays Team Vance. Here's hoping you have a joyful Christmas celebration and return safely in the new year.

Before your break begins, I've got some questions for you. What is the 71st Flying Training Wing mission statement? What's the Air Education and Training Command vision statement? And what are the Air Force's three core competencies?

Don't worry - you have lots of seasonal planning on your mind and I couldn't answer those questions from a cold start either. I'll provide the answers shortly.

In the meantime, here's another topic for consideration - organizational culture.

Organizational culture can be loosely defined as a set of common understandings around which action is organized. It is also a set of understandings or meanings shared by a group of people that are passed on to new members.

Organizations can take on their own spirit or values, and new people coming into those groups may be influenced in one way or another and act in a way that they might not ordinarily act.

These shared behaviors passed on to new members can be very positive when they work for the common good. Other times they can be negative -- think peer pressure in high school.

Since organizational culture revolves around common understandings, it makes sense that core values would apply to that culture.

In the 71st Medical Group, we have five core values -- Integrity, Service Before Self, Excellence in all We Do, Teamwork and Compassion.

I think these nicely encapsulate what the Air Force as a whole, and the 71st MDG in particular, embody.

No matter what your career field -- pilot, nurse tech, bioenvironmental engineer--the first three are common to us all.

The last two values can be common, depending on your outlook.

I think being in the Air Force or going to war is an excellent example of teamwork. We all learn the importance of working together in our initial training, whatever the branch.

As a private in Army basic training, I learned about teamwork while pushing a broom and buffing the floors. Later, the teamwork lesson was reinforced during officer training.

Teamwork is one of the things I highly value about military service. We all have a common mission.

The Medical Group's core value of compassion is probably not something you see in an organizational statement outside of a medical unit. Maybe should be.

It's hard to talk about compassion in the military where the mission is to kill people and break things. However, compassion is discussed in Law of Armed Conflict, and touched on in mental resiliency discussions.

Do we show compassion with each other, and is it part of our organizational culture? It's fine for me as commander to show compassion, but I'm also responsible for mission completion. Sometimes those two things work at odds.

The answer for me is to be clear, consistent and ensure squadron members know the standards and expectations. And at the end of the day I need to ensure the mission is completed.

As commander, in addition to all that, the health and well-being of my people is also my responsibility. It's an interesting balance.

Do you display compassion in your daily interactions? Do you ensure that you and those you are responsible for meet standards and perform the mission?

During the new year, take time to consider the organizational values you recognize as important and how you communicate these to others.

And now, the moment you have been waiting for - the answers to my initial questions.

71st FTW mission: Develop professional Airmen, deliver world-class pilots and deploy combat ready warriors.

AETC vision statement: Deliver unrivaled air, space and cyberspace education and training.

Air Force core competencies: Developing Airmen, Technology-to-Warfighting and Integrating Operations.



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