Military News

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer of five transitions encourages innovation

by Airman 1st Class Autumn Velez
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/10/2015 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- What if, instead of muting and storing your cell phone during a commander's call, you took it out of your pocket and began typing and texting in plain sight?

At a commander's call hosted by Col. Michael Bob Starr, 7th Bomb Wing commander, that's exactly what happened.

Starr invited Airmen of all ranks to join him for an interactive commander's call by using their mobile devices to view his presentation in a web browser. In addition to putting the presentation in the palm of the audience's hands, the web-based program allowed Starr to perform live polls, display real-time results and allow the audience to submit questions.

To begin his call, Starr acknowledged the numerous transitions the wing will soon experience. "I am referring to this season, for us, as the summer of five transitions," Starr said. "This transition will provide a chance to relook at how we do business."

These transitions include: the B-1B Lancer's transition to the Block-16 upgrade, which is the largest hardware and software modification ever performed on the aircraft, the standing up of an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the establishment of a B-1 classic reserve association at Dyess, the 7th BW's transition from Air Combat Command to Air Force Global Strike Command, and the introduction of the new Enlisted Evaluation System.

"Anytime you go through a transition, it is a good time to reassess where you are and what you are doing," Starr said. "This will help create an innovative culture."

He then took the opportunity to highlight innovative things happening across the installation, including the introduction of a smartphone application created by a Dyess Airman that streamlines data collecting and work order processing for damaged runway sections by geo-tagging the specific damaged areas and the reorganization of the aircraft parts store to more effectively accomplish the mission.

"This is what we do," he said. "We are driven by the need to find creative solutions to problems."

Continuing to encourage innovation, Starr promoted the Big Country Innovation Challenge 1.0. The challenge is an entrepreneurial pitch contest that gives Airmen six minutes to propose their innovative idea for the chance to win $5,000 to put towards executing their solution. The first challenge was held June 26, and there will be and more challenges to come over the course of the year.

After his briefing, he took questions from the audience using the questions submitted to him from the web-based program. In total, there were nearly 300 questions submitted to Starr over the five commander's calls throughout the day. These questions ranged from serious concerns to simple questions.

One common concern was the 7th BW's upcoming transition from ACC to AFGSC. Starr expressed that very little would change with this transition to a new major command. Some questions were about upcoming changes to the Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted Airman Promotion System. One audience member asked if Chief Master Sgt. Aaron Bennett, who recently became the 7th Bomb Wing command chief, was required to shave his head in order to take the job. Bennett took the floor to assure a clean-shaven head was not a requirement, just a coincidence, since he and Starr both sport the look.

To bring the commander's call to a close, Starr left the Airmen with some motivational words.

"Innovation is part of Airmen's DNA," he said. "This is who we are. It's branded into our culture. It's branded into our tradition. It's part of our core values. It's inherently part of excellence."

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