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Command strategic planning begins; new approach, more broad input from start

“Everyone has this sense of working for a higher purpose, but we don’t necessarily have clarity on the ‘why’ we do everything we do on day-to-day basis,” said Air Force Col. John Michel.

Last week, U.S. Transportation Command deputy directors, as well as peers from component and subordinate commands participated in a two-day offsite. The event served as the initial discussion on the most effective approach to creating a new strategic plan that addresses the host of changes occurring in the Department of Defense operating environment.
“Our USTRANSCOM family understands that the command needs to be focused on the right things for our stakeholders,” said Air Force Col. John Michel, deputy director, strategy, policy, programs and logistics, and lead for the strategic planning process under the direction of the chief of staff. “The world has changed, our national priorities have changed, and we have new DOD guidance. That’s why we’re undertaking a comprehensive and collaborative process to assess how we can best align our command to support the needs of our nation for next five years.”
The working group discussed the commander’s guidance, which includes the directive to be inclusive and transparent, and to place emphasis on the journey toward the strategic plan as much as the product itself.

The group referenced the book, “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars,” which Army Lt. Gen. Kathleen Gainey, deputy commander, is inviting the command to read as part of an effort to promote better collaboration among staff and with partners.
“This is collaboration in practice,” said Billy Baxter, deputy director, manpower and personnel, of the off-site. “You have to warm up before you can really get collaboration going. Senior leaders recognized this, and allowed us the time necessary for it.”

Representatives at the off-site agreed upon a methodology for the planning process, one which focuses not on problems, but on understanding the best of what already exists in the organization. They also reviewed a visual metaphor, created in order to help leaders communicate with staff about the planning process.

“Everyone has this sense of working for a higher purpose, but we don’t necessarily have clarity on the ‘why’ we do everything we do on day-to-day basis,” said Michel. “This metaphor helps to illustrate not only the ‘why’, but also communicates the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our process in simple and logical terms. Ultimately, our objective in creating a shared image of the future we are driving toward together is to reinforce the interdependent nature of every person’s work in positioning this organization for success.” 

The group used a standard methodology to begin next steps, including the assessment of the current and future environment, USTRANSCOM roles and responsibilities and subsequent resourcing.

“The goal is not for particular organizations or the command to come out doing more,” said Larry Jameson, deputy director for programs and readiness, operations and plans. “It’s to do the right things — what we choose to focus on to better serve and what we need to do to be world class.”

A brief covering what emerged from the two-day dialogue has been shared with directors for their use with staff. It is the start of the conversation, outcomes of which will be worked through a series of sub-briefs with input from up and down the chain of command.

The working group is not a decision-making body, but will bring these issues to Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander, USTRANSCOM, through a series of in-process reviews. The plan is scheduled to be delivered 31 July and will be refreshed annually.   


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