Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
December 9, 2019
Seeking a culture of process improvement based on own and others' successes and failures drives the U.S. Transportation Command's Joint Lessons Learned Program
By Michael P. Kleiman, USTRANSCOM Public Affairs
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – American Philosopher John Bradshaw stated “…Mistakes are our teachers – they help us to learn.”
Similarly, successes can also serve as an educational tool for self and others when shared.
Learning from both failures and achievements to enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiency reflects the purpose of the U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Lessons Learned Program (JLLP).
At its core, the JLLP involves the process of seizing and leveraging individuals’ knowledge, expertise, and experiences from operations and exercises to improve USTRANSCOM’s doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy.
Five distinct phases comprise the JLLP. Discovery, the initial stage, entails personnel capturing good and bad observations while executing their duties. During the next phase, validation, command lesson managers review the observations to determine if there are issues requiring resolution. The validation process assesses command missions and priorities, as well as strategic- and operational-level leadership inputs to decide if the identified concerns need to be resolved.
The third phase, resolution, is where the JLLP focuses much of its efforts, validating and assigning issues to a point of contact or working group to actually fix the problem. Once proposed resolutions are approved, the evaluation phase tests the proposed remedies during an exercise or real-world operation to ensure their effectiveness. Finally, in the dissemination phase, lessons are shared throughout the Department of Defense via the Joint Lessons Learned Information System.
For years, the JLLP sought to fix a broad range of command inefficiencies. As of late, the program has focused on resolving only strategic- and operational-level issues. For example, during the annual USTRANSCOM-sponsored TURBO CHALLENGE in March 2019, the JLLP received approximately 280 observations of various inefficiencies. In the validation phase, the number of submitted issues was reduced to 90. Currently, only 10 to 12 strategic-level issues remain in the resolution phase.
“USTRANSCOM’s global mission has many touch points including our ability to command and control forces around the world and to employ the joint deployment and distribution enterprise’s capacity and capability to execute operations. Conducting these operations requires us to be as effective and efficient as possible, but it also exposes gaps and seams where we need to improve,”
said Danny Hayes, Joint Lessons Learned Program Manager, USTRANSCOM’s Operations Directorate. “When we observe gaps and seams in our operations, we must close those gaps and that is where the JLLP comes in. Highlighting your successes and improving your failures has a direct impact on warfighter readiness.”
The JLLP team endeavors to create a culture of process improvement in USTRANSCOM, advocating the command to actively incorporate lessons learned into day-to-day operations, as well as during exercises. Additionally, they encourage the USTRANSCOM staff to introduce lessons learned to senior leaders during routine battle rhythm events.
To learn more about USTRANSCOM’s JLLP, call 618-220-5835 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“To improve USTRANSCOM’s mission and operations, the command must learn from its own successes and failures, as well as those from others,” stated Hayes. “If not, warfighter readiness will be impacted.”
USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the joint force, advance American interests, and provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options and create multiple dilemmas for adversaries.