SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, stated “change is the only constant in life,” and his famed, centuries-old advice is being embraced by U.S. Transportation Command to optimize efficiency and effectiveness.
Since 2004, the warfighting, global combatant command has applied change management to assist the workforce to adopt, use, and become proficient in new processes, tools, and job roles for enhanced productivity.
“Some people readily accept change, but most are not comfortable with it,” said Diana Van Winkel-Roach, chief, Command Change Management, USTRANSCOM. “Change is a process, not just an event or a series of events.” It focuses on the people impacted by the change and through use of formal processes, helps them transition to a stage of acceptance which will improve the command’s overall ability to rapidly operationalize new technologies, processes, and other initiatives to evolve for tomorrow. CM is about defining the change from the perspective of the people affected and taking advantage of engagement opportunities where details and concerns can be addressed. It’s also about maturing our culture to overall be more acceptive of change.
For the past eight years, Roach has led the command’s CM efforts, but her involvement with the organization’s change journey with this capability dates back to 2006. At that time, she and other CM professionals focused on supporting the command in defining USTRANSCOM’s role as Joint Deployment and Distribution Coordinator. Currently, Roach, supported by six contract consultants, endeavors to build change as an enabling capability.
To do this, Roach and her team have written a CM strategy that will be released soon. It will provide the means for assisting leaders and the workforce to progress towards realizing results and outcomes, as well as minimizing risks associated with projects that support the commander’s strategic vision and priorities.
Roach identified the Transportation Management System as a good example of CM practices.
“CM processes were incorporated into the project from the very beginning of the prototype and all the TMS Core Team members actively engaged those that would be impacted,” stated Roach.
“We identified early in the TMS project that resistance to change was one of the biggest risks to success. As one of several CM activities, we developed a plan that focused on stakeholder engagements. Frequent updates were given to senior leaders. In addition, mid-level managers and subject matter experts were involved in identifying requirements, developing an integrated end-to-end process, and identifying required change,” stated Kathy Miller, CM and training lead, TMS Core Team Member, Operations Directorate, USTRANSCOM. “We also conducted site visits and met with those impacted the most, the end users. We used their feedback to tweak the process and configuration of the system to meet their needs.”
“Managing change is not just about the tasks of communication, or training. Focusing on the people side of change provides the capability to realize change faster, with greater engagement (participation level) and higher proficiency (performance) by everyone affected,” Roach said. “The ultimate goal is to realize the objectives of the change and maximize the total return on investment.”
USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the joint force, advance American interests, and provide our nation’s leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options and create multiple dilemmas for adversaries.