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MacDill calls for University’s help in evaluating its operations

When the MacDill Air Force Base decided to “streamline” its daily operations, it turned to the USF College of Business Administration (COBA) for help, said Lorie Briggs, director of Communications and External Relations for COBA.

Two USF management professors, Jerry Koehler and John Jermier, are working with MacDill to implement a Lean Management program that focuses on “cutting waste” and increasing productivity, Briggs said.

Using this management process, the professors will help MacDill better the new program Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO21), Jermier, a COBA professor of organizational behavior who specializes in Lean Management, said in an e-mail.

Lean means “creating more value for customers with less resources,” according to

MacDill started AFSO21 hoping to get its own Lean Management program before recruiting help from USF, said Lt. Col. James Ledbetter, director of the AFSO21.

“We were in the midst of a Lean cultural transformation. We thought there was some areas that we could help each other with,” Ledbetter said. “So that’s how it all got started.”

Robert Forsythe, dean of the COBA, said looking at MacDill’s “culture,” meaning business practices, is an important part of the research because it will help the base sustain the changes.

That evaluation is called “value stream mapping,” Forsythe said. When every aspect of MacDill’s operations is documented, officials study which areas could be more efficient.

“Unless you have everyone from the top down supporting it, then you can make all the Lean changes you want,” Forsythe said. “I’ll bet you within one to three months all the waste will be back in the system.”

Forsythe said the partnership also gives USF faculty more hands-on examples to improve classroom teachings.

“The more our faculty does in the community that is consistent with the topics they’re teaching in their classes, the more real-life examples they have to bring back to the classroom,” he said. “They can give examples of things they have done, and it isn’t just in theory.”

He said the work done in this partnership would help COBA’s research, which may allow the college to hire additional faculty members.

“We are thinking of MacDill as a kind of pilot project,” Forsythe said. “There are no promises made, but if we are effective and can do things there, then we hope that other military bases will consider making use of our expertise.”