Strategic review keeps Huntsville Center moving in right direction

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Feb. 13, 2015
Huntsville Center Commander Col. Robert J. Ruch talks with USACE Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Richard Stevens during the Command Strategic review Feb. 13 at the Center.

Huntsville Center Commander Col. Robert J. Ruch talks with USACE Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Richard Stevens during the Command Strategic review Feb. 13 at the Center.

Maintaining transparency, listening to and meeting the needs of customers and clearly defining measures of success were resounding themes throughout the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Command Strategic Review Feb. 12-13.

Led by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Richard J. Stevens, the discussion focused on looking at Huntsville Center programs, opportunities and challenges from an enterprise-level perspective. This was the sixth of 10 strategic reviews Stevens is conducting at USACE units this fiscal year in an effort to improve transparency across the Corps and ensure the entire enterprise is effectively working toward the command’s Campaign Plan goals.

“Our intent really is to look at the enterprise-wide issues and share best practices and lessons learned,” Stevens said. “I know you all are doing a lot of things right here. Sometimes we get very focused as an organization on what’s going wrong [when] we ought to be focusing on those things that are going right and figuring out how we can export that to the larger organization.”

The result of the CSR was a detailed homework list for both Huntsville Center and the Headquarters. Key issues included the civilian hiring process and student employment programs, external audit tracking, information sharing and deliberate planning for contingency operations to better address Army requirements.

“This is OUR campaign plan,” said Alex Dornstauder, chief of the USACE Strategy and Integration Office. “If we are not focused on the right things and measuring the right things, please help us. It’s not just all about the dialogue. We are holding ourselves accountable to homework assignments and committing to get things done.”

Huntsville Center Commander Col. Robert J. Ruch said the Center’s briefings to the Headquarters staff “focused in on the things we think [Headquarters] can help us with to move the USACE Campaign Plan forward.”

“It’s about Headquarters hearing our direction and interpretation of things, us hearing the Headquarters’ direction and interpretation, and then at the end of it knowing we have the right azimuth and confirm we are moving in the right direction,” added Dan Heinzelman, Huntsville Center’s business director.

Day two included a voice of the customer discussion about how the Center can improve processes and better support customers. Feedback from key stakeholders interviewed by Headquarters staff was overwhelmingly positive; the U.S. Department of Energy gave high marks for Huntsville Center’s contracting support, and the U.S. Army Installation Management Command offered praise for the Center’s facilities reduction, furniture and master planning programs.

The day-and-a-half event also included candid lunch-time discussions with emerging leaders from the Center’s Leadership Development Program (LDP).

“What I got from them, frankly, was a sense of what’s important to our young workforce today and how they think, and how we have to adapt as an organization to be able to harness the energy of the young workforce,” Stevens said, adding that he appreciated their involvement in the CSR program. “It takes everybody – from interns all the way up to make this organization pump. We ought to embrace that diversity as a strength.”

The LDP members also sat in on all the CSR discussions and participated in topical breakout sessions with Headquarters staff.

“This has been a parallel conversation to what we hear during our line-item reviews,” said Wesley Trammell, an LDP member from the Engineering Directorate. “It’s great to know our issues don’t just stop with our leadership – they make it to headquarters level.” Other LDP members echoed Trammel’s comments, saying it was also a good opportunity to see how what they do fits into the big picture.

During his closing comments, Stevens asked the group if the event was a success.

“I’ll tell you I don’t know yet if it was success,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was successful if we all go back to our desks, throw the briefing book on the shelf behind us and go about our days the way we always have. It’s up to all of us to follow up; time will tell if it was a success.”