Laser Focus Today for the Future Ahead

Laser Focus Today for the Future Ahead
May 08, 2019

Let’s talk about performance.  I believe performance is something each of us control daily; not something for the future, but rather something we must be laser focused on today, to enable the future.

While the definition of performance may vary amongst individuals and organizations, I believe what it means to perform can be encapsulated in three operational tenets, regardless of one’s individual role, or functional responsibility. I believe their simplicity and relevancy are universally applicable to all us when it comes to the topic performance.  

It’s about Delivery. Delivering the products, goods, or services our customers (both internal and external) rely upon and expect. On-time delivery of aircraft. On-time delivery of components and material. On-time delivery of completed staff work, analysis, and engineering solutions. On-time delivery of capability and resources. No matter what your deliverable is, providing it on-time, every time is integral to our performance today. Consistent, predictable delivery builds customer confidence and is a hallmark of high performing individuals, teams, and ultimately organizations. 

It’s about Quality. The ultimate quality of our products hinges upon each of us taking individual ownership of the quality of work we perform. Taking the time to slow-down and ask clarifying questions when needed, knowing that slowing down to “do it right the first time,” ultimately results in increased efficiency. Actively seeking, and remaining open to feedback. The learning and sharing of mistakes to ensure prevention of future escapes. It’s about going above and beyond and ensuring your work is complete, accurate, compliant, and repeatable by others. Performance and quality are inseparable. It starts with a personal commitment to quality, and ensuring quality in each step of the value stream, regardless of your particular deliverable; whether its an aircraft, an assembly task, a capability, or a service.

It’s about Affordability. Affordability is everyone’s responsibility. To put it bluntly, flawless delivery of the utmost quality, will only carry us so far, if the customer cannot afford what we provide. Remaining competitive, while delivering quality products and services, is the only way we achieve our future. The key to affordability is the universal adoption of a continuous improvement mindset, by all of us, in all that we do. Continuous improvement opportunities exist in every value stream---but we must be looking for them, and actively pursuing solutions which make us more efficient, and ultimately affordable. Continuous improvement through leveraging of new technologies/tools, elimination of redundant processes, streamlining existing processes or automation of recurring task are just a few examples. But it starts with a willingness to challenge the status quo and mindset of “how it’s always been done.”  Affordability is not limited to Hours Per Unit (HPU); its really about total cost and how we all contribute to the overall affordability and competitiveness of the Aeronautics enterprise—today— so we may continue to be the choice of our customers tomorrow and in the future.    

In summary, performance is about fulfilling your delivery commitments, prioritizing quality in all that you do, and actively challenging the status quo to remain affordable and competitive in a total cost environment. 

Quality is Just Our Title

Measure twice, cut once. That age old adage, among many from our previous generations, got it right. Quality and safety come from thinking things through and ultimately, doing it right the first time.

I remember when I was a mechanic at a gas station, and then later joined a teacher’s race car pit crew and the focus on safety with the race car verses when I was working for someone else at the gas station were totally different. I was reprimanded quite a bit when I first joined the pit crew because safety was not part of my behavior when working on cars. Ultimately, I was jeopardizing myself and customer’s vehicle each time I chose not to wear protective gear or adequately secure a raised car.

Knowing that we don’t live in a perfect world and that that some employees don’t always go home the way they came to work bothers me. Because of that, I’m okay with having an awkward five second encounter with anyone at work to point out where safety, and quality, are lacking. I care about our Lockheed Martin team enough to do this and to protect us, and hope theyyou would do the same for me.

Quality and safety align so well. They both stem from pride in what you do and taking ownership of your tasks. Just the other day I had an experience with someone in the shipping and receiving area. Long story, short, instead of getting her tasks completed and calling it done, she noticed the next phase after her work was completed was lacking and needed improvements to help get material to the production line and decrease unnecessary steps. This individual was thinking further down the value stream than what she alone was responsible for, which results in quality work. If everyone thought well past what we are responsible for it would change the company’s DNA; we wouldn’t think in silos and by taking ownership and pride in our work, quality and safety would soon follow.

When employees hear the word “quality,” they think of our organization, but it’s a descriptor or an adjective, if you will. “Have you done a quality job?” or “You are a quality person.” It should describe the results you want. My hope is that the word QUALITY is not associated with our organization, but with the results that we produce.