Why Goals Matter

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- 2011 is only a couple of weeks old, but I suspect most of us are already having trouble keeping our New Year's resolutions. In fact, I've heard some people say they don't set New Year's resolutions, because "I never keep them, what's the point?"

Here's a thought: "If you aim at nothing, you hit it every time." Or, "If you don't know where you are going, how do you know you got there?"

Setting the goals, identifying the targets and recognizing your progress are the keys to getting anything accomplished. It sounds a little counter-intuitive, but the process starts at the end when you declare what you are trying to get done.

Businesses (at least successful ones!) do this all the time. Wall Street is all about "hitting the numbers," and every manufacturing or process driven entity uses "metrics" to track progress. Otherwise, they would never know if improvement efforts are paying off, initiatives are effective or if wasteful practices are getting in the way.

The same holds true here at AEDC. Shortly, we'll finalize our goals for 2011, but here's a sneak preview, and one you can keep in mind for your own contributions and home life.

The nation is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges, and "belt tightening" will be a way of life for all of us for the foreseeable future. That's not all bad. Just as the economic downturn forced many industries and businesses to really crank down on their processes, we are in the same boat.

We are all better off if we can find more efficient ways of doing things, spend less, and get better results out of our efforts. Along the way, as we discover things we shouldn't be doing, we have to find the right way to stop doing them.

Sometimes it's as simple as changing an old procedure. Other times, we need to think through unintended consequences, and get a "reg" changed. But this fight is NEVER over. Some call it "continuous improvement," and that's not a bad label. It's a motto we need to live by.

For 2011, this is more important than ever here at AEDC. What we do here has huge impact on systems years away. We just can't meet the challenges of 2020 if we can't continue and improve upon the work we did here that made the F-15, F-22 and other amazing things possible.

We'll be turning over every rock this year trying to dig out every conceivable method of streamlining our operations, cutting costs and preserving what we know is needed. Some things will have to go, but it's up to all of us to pull out all the stops and keep the ideas flowing. We can - and must - start today and put in place a path that will keep us viable in 2012. And as always, we're relying on everyone to make this happen.

"Top-down" approaches for these efforts have a horrible track record. "Grassroots" are the way to go. So as you discover things we need to do differently, send it "up the chain." We're taking every idea we can get!