Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT October-December 2011 Contents ASC.ARMY.MIL 87
Smith has received numerous awards and
accolades, including the Circle of Honor
Award from the Congressional Medal of
Honor Foundation; the 2010 President's
Award from the Transportation Research
Forum; and the Lone Sailor Award from the
U.S. Navy Memorial, among other honors.
A member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, named
among the world's best CEOs by Barron's
Magazine, and Chief Executive Magazine's
2004 CEO of the Year, Smith has a B.A. from
Yale University and served as a officer in the
U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970.
Following are his thoughts on how the Army
can take FedEx's lessons learned and apply
them to acquisition, logistics, and technology.
Q. The Army is looking for efficien-
cies in every aspect of its operations. In
short, the Army needs to "do more with-
out more." How does the Army's current
environment compare to the challenges
you have faced at FedEx?
A. I think that what the Army faces today
is similar to what FedEx and all organiza-
tions are facing---the need to excel with
fewer resources. The recession knocked us
off the seat of our comfortable assumptions.
When that happens, strong organizations
look ahead and decide what they will need
to do, not just to meet challenges but to
come out ahead on the other side. How
do you do that? Through stringent exami-
nation of products, services, and processes.
Through streamlining and eliminating
redundancies. Through listening to your
stakeholders and concentrating only on
those things that add value to their world.
Q. FedEx has been recognized as both
innovative and a great place to work; the
two must be related. What is the single
most powerful driver toward a culture
of innovation in an organization of the
Army's size and scope?
A. Innovation and being a great place to
work are related. If you give your people
the training and encouragement to do
their jobs well and come up with new
ideas, they will enjoy coming to work.
Being valued for hard work and good
ideas does create a stimulating work envi-
ronment for most people. As far as what
drives a culture of innovation at FedEx
and most organizations, it's a combina-
tion of dedication to the customer (or to a
particular goal); a strong leadership team
that shows people how they fit into the
big picture; and encouragement/reward
for working toward the next great idea.
Q. What can the Army learn from
FedEx hiring, assignment, and promo-
tion practices, so that the Army AL&T
Workforce can truly provide "the deci-
sive edge" to Soldiers?
A. Hire the best people; give them the
tools and training to do their jobs well;
then stand back and let them perform. If
they deliver excellent results, recognize
and reward them and give them bigger
challenges. When people feel they are
recognized for excelling, they gain the con-
fidence and momentum to do even greater
things. And that results in the decisive edge
we all need to succeed in the global arena.
Q. Army AL&T strives to provide
Soldiers with the latest technology and
processes when and where they are
needed. How does FedEx meet customer
needs and keep the lines of communica-
tions open to ensure that customers get
the service they need?
A. We talk to our customers constantly.
Not only do we keep tabs on how they
rate us in terms of quality, service, and
performance, but we also talk to them
in focus groups to give "texture" to their
comments from various surveys and trans-
action follow-ups. We don't just check in
once or twice a year, but on an ongoing
basis. Through customers' constant feed-
back, we can modify our offerings, be
they online tools, new shipping services,
or better processes. Likewise, the Army
can engage in regular conversation with
its Soldiers to understand what works,
what doesn't, and what else they need.
Q. The Army encourages the application
of Lean Six Sigma principles to identify
opportunities for greater efficiency and
FedEx has grown exponentionally since its launch in 1973 with 14 aircraft and 186 packages.
(Photos courtesy of FedEx.)
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