Thursday, March 26, 2009

Leading the Revolution one Speech at a Time

One of the favorite parts of my job is getting to speak to a lot of groups about the PA mission. Many times the groups are other PAs and sometimes the groups are future commanders or others taking classes and there is a communication block on the schedule.

Today I'll speak to a joint class of future PA officers and then I'll do an AF-unique class. I plan on telling the joint class that now is the right time to be getting into our business. Communication expertise is a critical asset and force multiplier for commanders. We have some cultural challenges across the military concerning communication--but it's up to us to start breaking those down. Now is the perfect time because the communication environment is going through revolutionary change--we need to be the experts on how to deal with that change and how communication helps the commander accomplish the mission.

Wednesday's F-22 crash is a perfect example of the changes we've seen. There were about 900 news stories on the crash. Most papers picked up the AP and Reuters reports. But there were also thousands of blog entries and Twitter messages concerning the crash. People getting their information from each other is the new deal in global communication and I'm glad we're diving head-first into the deep-end of the pool. The town square is back in fashion and this time it's virtual.

One other note on the F-22 crash. Please remember the family of Lockheed-Martin pilot David Cooley in your thoughts and prayers. David was 49 years old and a 21-year veteran of the Air Force.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Worldwide Reprise

Sorry I've been "off the net" for awhile. I have been a little busy as the Acting Director but I'll try to do better with posts starting now.

Writing is really about all I can do right now anyway. I just returned from the DiLorenzo Dental Clinic for my retirement appointment. They also fixed a broken tooth that cracked about a month ago. As you can see--not blogging--is not the only thing I haven't been able to take care of lately. Anyway, they shot me up pretty good and used every technique except leeches to fix me up. I'm still a bit numb but I'm sure that will wear off soon.

I'm still getting great feedback from folks who attended the Worldwide. It was great to see more than 300 motivated communication professionals getting even more motivated about their contributions to the Air Force. Secretary Donley said to me Tuesday morning how impressed he was to see the diversity in the room--all ranks and different specialties. That really got him jazzed before he took the stage Thursday afternoon.

We were very fortunate to have the Secretary and Chief of Staff speak at our conference. As I said during their introductions--they've given us a place at their table each morning for their daily spin-ups. They understand our mission, it's importance and they are active participants. And, I certainly appreciate every one's enthusiastic reception of our two top Air Force leaders.

I thought Col Woody Woodyard's briefing was simply outstanding. A PA professional who is now a sitting vice wing commander, talking to other PA professionals about getting through to the commander. There's no better credibility than that and Woody hit it out of the park and he received a well deserved Standing-O when he finished his talk.

We had a couple of great speakers that we brought in to talk about change and social media. Curt Garbett, with Spencer Johnson Partners--the company that brought us the best book ever on change--"Who Moved My Cheese," did a terrific job pointing out that change doesn't have to be a slog and that change important to stay productive. As communicators, our universe has changed dramatically over the last five years. We have to embrace the change now or we won't stay relevant.

Curt's talk was complemented by David Meerman Scott's presentation on the "World Wide Rave." As one colleague put it to me in an e-mail just yesterday, "This was a wake-up call for those that stuck their head in the sand with the merger, base papers, bloggers and any new technologies...get on board or step aside!!!" I couldn't agree more.

Mr. Al Black's presentation about our deployment situation opened about 660 eyes in the ballroom at the Dulles Hilton. His "dose of reality" I'm sure dispelled some myths about how we get people deployed. We work this hard every day here at the Pentagon and our career field is fortunate to have Alan Black working our issues.

I think our break-out sessions went well too. AFPAA's booklet on engaging in the social media realm is getting rave reviews. Check out this recent posting on the Buzz Bin.

Certainly, one of the major highlights of the week came Thursday when Secretary Donley formally announced that Col Les Kodlick will be our next director of Public Affairs for the Air Force. I've known Col Kodlick for many years. He's a great PA and an even greater person. The Air Force and our career field will be in good hands with Les in the lead.

Of course, another important factor of the Worldwide is the opportunity to reconnect and network with our colleagues. If the social engagements were any indication than I think that part of our conference was a resounding success.

It was a great week. I hope those who attended will take the lead in inspiring others about our great mission. We're more important to our Air Force than ever before and our brothers and sisters are relying on us to help them tell our story.