• Published
  • By Maj. Jeffrey Darden
  • 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
"The basic principle which I believe has contributed more than any other to the building of our business as it is today, is the ownership of our company by the people employed in it."
-- James E. Casey

Casey founded the American Messenger Company in Seattle in 1907. Merely 12 years later he grew his company and renamed it the United Parcel Service. Obviously a success, Casey understood the value of his employees understanding they had a stake in the company where they felt empowered to innovate for improvement. The approach led to a company with an enduring business model that has survived for more than 100 years. Simply put, employees owned their product, their facilities, their processes, and their company.

When you step back and take a look at your organization, do you feel a sense of ownership? When you walk from your car to the building do you pick up that piece of trash on the sidewalk or in the grass?

Much like UPS, or any other successful business, Air Force Airmen and civilians need to feel the sense of and pride in ownership in their respective squadrons. Take stock in how people treat their Air Force tool boxes, vehicles, offices, aircraft, processes, and how they treat people. These indicators will give insight into how people think about and approach their jobs. Do they "drive it like a rental" or do they treat it like their carefully manicured lawn or their restored classic corvette?

I recently observed two maintainers give a tour to the 3rd Stryker Brigade 2nd infantry division's commanding officer. Looking sharp in their uniforms, the Airmen clearly articulated the features and capabilities of the C-17 Globemaster III impressing the officer with their knowledge of the aircraft. Their toolbox was tidy, Air Force technical orders were available for any maintenance action, and they presented a clean jet. The technical sergeant and senior Airman owned their workspace, their tools, and equipment. They showed pride in ownership of their duties and delivered a fantastic presentation which the officer recognized by coining them.

As you go about your duties, think about whether your superiors, peers, and subordinates own their workspace and does it show. Like UPS, the success of the Air Force depends on the Airmen and civilians having a sense of ownership and responsibility to innovate and improve their organization.

Will you own your duties and workspace in the future or simply "drive it like a rental?"