JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The 15th Wing’s Aloha Spark is making moves in helping Airmen address both big and small issues faced on a daily basis. With the goal of fixing a scheduling nightmare, Staff Sgt. Kristina Calla, Hickam Field Honor Guard manager, worked with the innovation team to tackle the issue, and as a result, scored the first Aloha Spark idea-to-implementation win.
Calla approached the Aloha Spark team in November to help solve a problem several units across the installation likely face: whiteboard scheduling resulting in ineffective operations. Calla is a member of the Hickam Field Honor Guard whose members were being inundated with requests and struggling to find the people to fill events based on overlapping work schedules, she said.
“We were using an Excel spreadsheet to track each of our member's details and rotations and communicating with our Guardsmen via a GroupMe app, all of which was incredibly time consuming and inefficient,” she said.
According to Capt. Eric Robinson, 15th Operations Group executive officer, addressing the issue required a scientific-based approach that would define the scope of the problem, test Calla’s three hypotheses and implement a solution. Robinson stressed the importance of researching the actual problem from every angle in a process called customer discovery.
“Two key parts of the process require spending time with the unit and asking several people a lot of open-ended questions,” said Erickson. “This allows us to identify the most significant pain points and work on prototypes that add the most amount of impact for a given amount of effort and resources; finding a good solution takes time, effort, and experimentation.”
Calla was responsible for researching and generating testable solutions to address the problem with the guidance of Robinson and Tech Sgt. Alexander Carsner, 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron directory service operator. They settled on using Deputy, which is a scheduling system used by other government affiliates. The program offers 24/7 support and consolidates multiple databases in mobile app or desktop view.
“Within one month’s time, we have built a sound scheduling system that will benefit not only us, but other Honor Guard programs across the Air Force, if they choose to follow our lead,” said Calla.
Robinson stressed the importance of the customer doing the work to finding the fix, with the full support and resources of Aloha Spark.
“If any Airman has a problem, we encourage them to reach out so we can help them through the process in a manner that is not addressed by the typical military problem-solving frameworks,” Robinson said. “The only thing we ask is that Airmen be willing to put in a lot of work to test their ideas and that once they are done, they help as a mentor for a future problem or idea.”
Since implementing the Deputy program at the beginning of January, the Honor Guard has seen a 50 percent reduction in man hours for scheduling.
Airmen interested in working with Aloha Spark can contact them directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.