Our unique value proposition to the Air Force is our ability to take Airmen Approved ideas, codify them into policy, and scale and sustain the innovation across people, process, technology, and the budget. Previously, end users were largely subject to the products of the headquarters decisions who have been separated from the field, flightline, or warehouse for decades. Yes, it may seem there are innovation cells popping up across the entire department of defense, what is unique about Tesseract is we are nestled in the Air Staff Logistics Directorate where decisions are made on how to develop human capital, update policy, and set functional demand signals to the Air Force corporate structure, whereas a large proportion of the innovation ecosystem is spread across a variety of entities which do not directly write or influence policy decisions.
How do we field Airman innovative solutions? We have tapped into Airmen idea networks and competitions, and have created our own pipelines such as our Aether Sprint initiative to funnel maintenance and logistics problem sets and partner with those Airmen to drive change. Previously, these competitions, while effective tools to bring out ideas, only brought one winner on stage… Now, Tesseract has brought dozens of effective Airman ideas to life by cutting the red tape, and in some cases leveraging industry and academia. Tesseract finds avenues for sustainment, provides headquarters advocacy, and coaches frontline Airmen as they develop and finetune their ideas.
How do we approach process improvement? We generate aircraft readiness by leveraging the Theory of Constraints management methodology. In short, this methodology helps us identify constraints and bottlenecks within units by using a data driven approach and frontline subject matter expertise to untap the potential within organizations, and building solutions around that constraint. Most importantly, we work with leaders across the organization, top to bottom, and collaboratively come to solutions on the ground instead of independently prescribing answers from our office space.
How do we scale software solutions? Tesseract is bringing Airmen on board to help modernize the way in which we develop and sustain software with the intent to meet current and future warfighter needs. We are seeking to shift the logistics IT software development strategy away from platform-centric and monolithic legacy software systems and towards developing and sustaining an interconnected network of cloud-native micro-service applications, such as Google’s “G-Suite'' concept with apps like Google Calendar and Gmail, that each focus on providing a single mission-critical capability to our Logistics Airmen. This “software ecosystem” approach has become the standard among private sector tech companies and will allow a future maintenance information solution to grow and adapt with future Air Force and DoD needs.
As you can see, Tesseract’s lines of effort are leveraging the competitive advantage we all have as a coalition and Joint force- our innovative American warfighters. Whether it’s a process, a software application, or even just a budding idea, Tesseract’s strategic positioning on the Air Staff gives us the perspective to effectively align priorities and bring together the right people to optimize the flow of information and accelerate innovation across entities.
Using peer-reviewed survey questions, Airmen can anonymously answer short ~6 question surveys from their phone or computer in minutes. Using the data gathered from these surveys, units can measure their cultural movement against themselves as well as others.
Foundations evaluates culture components such as psychological safety, teamwork, and trust in order to build the leaders and teams we need for the future fight. It is an assessment that operates at increased frequency and decreased intensity compared to traditional USAF methods such as the DEOCS. It serves as a real time measure of a unit's culture, gives a voice to all Airmen, and provides leaders with actionable data to better inform decisions.
Foundations looks to identify where to focus your time and energy to improve yourself and your organization the most, by recommending resources in your lowest scoring areas. This provides Health of The Force metrics for everyone. An NCOIC can see the culture of their section, a supervisor can gauge their shop, and your Airmen have a new way to have their voices heard.
Once you reach out, our team will connect with you to evaluate your unit’s needs and what you would hope to gain from Foundations.
If Foundations sounds like a good fit for your team, Tesseract will deploy an initial 21-question baseline survey within your unit (we promise they don’t get any longer than this!) so that you have a good idea of where your organization’s culture sits at the start of your journey.
After this, the Tesseract team will work with you to identify the appropriate frequency for deploying micro-surveys within your unit. Some units push out a survey once a week, some once a month. This program is flexible enough to match your needs and operational tempo!
As your team continues to accumulate data, Tesseract will work with your leadership to review the data, discuss what it might mean, and provide recommendations on how you might be able to engage with your Airmen to improve any metrics that may need it!
If you are an LNO interested in supporting Foundations, there are several ways you can get involved!
We are constantly collecting more and more data from units that are leveraging Foundations to assess their internal culture. If you are interested in data science or data analysis, please let us know! There’s no telling what sort of comparisons or insights we might gain about our units and our Airmen through this data, but we need your help to do so!
If you are interested in supporting Foundations as a facilitator with units in the field, please contact us as well! We are more than happy to provide “ride alongs” as we engage with units using Foundations to get you the exposure and tools you might need to facilitate these discussions on your own. The more LNOs we have that want to support this effort, the more Airmen we can positively impact with this program!
1. Foundations Playbook_V2
Since 2020, Tesseract has been in the trenches implementing the Theory of Constraints across the Air Force logistics enterprise. Specifically, our business model consists of generating results, educating Airmen, and communicating about our efforts.
Tesseract has been working with Airmen in the field generating results. Our team has trained facilitators working hand in hand with Goldratt Consulting who travel across the world to help maintenance and logistics organizations implement TOC. We are helping leaders reach their strategic objectives by getting after readiness through TOC principles, while simultaneously giving more time back to frontline Airmen. Not only do we work with contracted efforts, we are spearheading ways for Airmen to get after TOC through organic capabilities. Our Slingshot initiative is adapting lessons learned from industry and is our current model to scale TOC.
Tesseract also educates Airmen about TOC. Not only do we provide materials such as playbooks, podcasts, and direct work in the field, we are also working with leaders in professional military education and force development teams on the Air Staff. We are onboarding TOC across a variety of courses and schools, such as the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Logistics Officers School, and more.
Communicating our success is also crucial to our mission. We have seen Airmen take their organizations to a whole new level, and we've learned a lot along the way. Our virtual summit next week will be a great opportunity for you to learn about how far the Air Force has come with TOC!
TOC Fundamentals: https://www.afit.edu/LS/course.cfm?c=324
TOC 101: https://www.afit.edu/LS/course.cfm?c=367
TOC 201: https://www.afit.edu/LS/course.cfm?c=368
TOC Aircraft Maintenance Playbook: CAC Login required for access*
1. Slingshot FAQ
2. Tesseract ToC Quick Guide
Have you ever had to stand in line to receive your IPE for an exercise or deployment? Have you ever wondered why you can order clothes online but have to leave work or home for several hours to ensure you have the right equipment before hitting the road? URSUS is a Tesseract pathfinder designed to address this exact problem by delivering a modern, digital storefront for IPE issuing.
URSUS is a responsive web application designed to return time to Commanders and Airmen that is lost during the Deployment Process. This Airman-driven initiative utilizes agile software development to deliver a transformational solution for how we manage IPE. In an initial test of the URSUS MVP at Exercise Polar Force 21-5 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, URSUS showed that modern software capabilities that we’re all familiar with in our day-to-day lives have the potential to return thousands of hours to our Airmen before they depart for a deployment or exercise.
Over the past two years, Tesseract has partnered closely with Air Force Research Laboratories’ (AFRL) Information Directorate to develop and test this game changing tool and we are now working to scale and sustain these capabilities for all Airmen!
If you are interested in learning more about URSUS, please reach out via our help desk. In the interest of transparency, please note that this application is still in its testing phase and will not be scaled across the Air Force for at least another year. However, if your unit is interested in serving as a test location for this capability that can help influence the final product through end user feedback, please let our team know!
Inspection Development Framework (IDF) and Kitting is one of Tesseract's chartered deliverables as it is a cornerstone concept of the Strategic Sustainment Framework (SSF). We work hand-in-hand with leading Industry and academic partners Delta Tech Ops & Georgia Tech Research Institute to adapt and apply the practice of breaking down and fully resourcing aircraft maintenance tasks to opportunistically inject health into weapon systems.
What are our results? At Dover and Travis AFB, the experiments on 10 C-5s showed that If we break up only the Home Station Check (HSC) on only the C-5 we have the potential to gain 29 additional sorties per base per year and the potential of 15 additional flying days per base, per year. When looking at the Readiness Driven Allocation Plan, we saw 34 occasions where Travis and Dover Missed Operational requirements and had aircraft in HSC. Potential there that IDF/Kitting could have benefited crew readiness and TACC’s ability to support combatant commander requirements.
Tesseract, along with academic and industry partners, have now scaled IDF/Kitting to the KC-46 to help define right-sized scheduled maintenance from a maintenance program onset. The KC-46 program was developed to be a wholly Air Force organically sustained platform. Additionally, knowing the KC-46 is a commercial variant deriving from the Boeing 767, the team is connecting Original Equipment Manufacturer Specifications and commercial partners.
Where did MICAP Prime start? Maj Arthur "Chip" Litchfield III asked a simple question – "If I can get a pair of flip-flops from Amazon in less than 2 days, why does it take 4 days to get a MICAP?" He began to look at the data and current processes to investigate. He pitched his idea to [then] Brig Gen Linda Hurry (HAF/A4L) and the newly forming Tesseract Logistics Office of Innovation, and was cleared to run a test. From his research, Maj Litchfield came up with these focusing questions:
In 2020, the Air Force conducted a Proof of Principle test at select locations in order to expedite the fulfillment of grounded aircraft in Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts (MICAP) status. The PoP targeted F-16, KC-135, and C-5 weapons systems and showed an average 20% faster MICAP Response Time (MRT).
Tesseract is currently working with the Basing and Logistics Data Analytics Environment (BLADE) team to develop a first-of-a-kind dashboard to monitor the movement and fulfillment of MICAPs from the time the maintainer enters the demand in the maintenance information system, through the supply and transportation systems that source and deliver the part, and back to the maintainer who installs and "greens" up the aircraft.
This capability will enable near real-time supply chain performance and constraints analysis without the burden of manually pulling large amounts of data from different systems. BLADE's data lake is the enabling technology to pull these systems together, and we couldn't be more excited.
Can this work OCONUS? The cornerstone to OCONUS speed is found in Maj Vince McLean's graduate research project. In short, Maj McLean studied the movement of F-16 grounding MICAPs to Aviano AB, Spangdalhem AB, and Misawa AB. His research indicated that the single option for small parcel shipment, International Priority, resulted in some variation in delivery (from 2 days to 7 days). It also highlighted that as fast as 2-day shipping was achievable, leveraging the fastest commercial carrier capabilities. The conclusion was, combining an additional level of service with MICAP Prime expedited processes principles would result in significant readiness gains, as seen below.
How might we transition from a pull to a push Logistics system?
How might we provide solutions and processes that can develop and enhance Multi-Capable Airmen?
How and where might we automate processes so that humans only do what a human must do?
After finalists share their efforts with the enterprise, Tesseract will continue to work with them to fine tune, scale, and sustain their efforts to directly influence Air Force Logistics strategy and business processes. We’ll be sure to keep you informed of project progress across our social media pages!
Aether Sprint is an annual event, usually starting in October. The Tesseract team will work with functional stakeholders and senior leaders on the Air Staff to generate problem statements based on our A4 strategic priorities, then partner with AFPC to share a MyPers message across Log Nation requesting teams apply to share their perspective on how we can tackle these problems.
Tesseract evaluates these applications and identifies semi-finalist teams, which are paired with a Tesseract coach to clearly define and develop their recommended solution over a period of 3-4 months. At the end of that “sprint”, the semi-finalist teams have the opportunity to brief a panel of HAF/A4L evaluators, including Career Field Managers and the Air Force Director of Logistics, to determine which finalists will have the opportunity to share their proposals on the LOA Main Stage!
Keep a look out for Aether Sprint 2023’s call to action later this year! We look forward to hearing the ideas Log Nation has to offer!