A vision for the future: Installation management commander focuses on direction of Soldier and family support

By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch
Commander of the Installation Management Command

Like many others this time of year, I have been reflecting on the past 12 months and looking forward to the new year. In my professional capacity, I am focusing on the future of the installation management community — specifically, what should it look like a year from now?

I have been asking this question of installation management personnel during meetings, town halls and garrison visits. After all, the dedicated professionals at the garrisons and headquarters are doing the work on a daily basis; they know what it takes to deliver the facilities, programs and services that support our Soldiers and families.

I have also been seeking feedback from Soldiers, families and leaders through a number of avenues, including installation visits, the Family Forums at the Association of the United States Army annual conference, the Army Community Service focus groups I recently held and the Army Family Survey. This feedback is critical because everything we do is focused on providing Soldiers and families the programs, services and facilities that support their well-being, resilience and readiness. We need to know where we are on target and where we are missing the mark.

I urge everyone — installation management personnel, Soldiers, family members, leaders — to continue to send me solid ideas that help answer the three fundamental questions: Are we doing the right things? Are we doing things right? What are we missing?

The point of asking for input from so many different people is to build a shared vision of where we are going in the next year. I am meeting with senior installation management community leaders this month to develop that vision based on all of this input. The shared vision will enable us to begin with the end in mind. Once we have a shared vision of what right looks like, we can figure out how to get there. We can eliminate random activities and focus all our efforts on the initiatives that will have the greatest impact on Soldiers, civilians and family members.

We started 2010 by producing version one of the Installation Management Command’s Campaign Plan. The campaign plan laid out a vision, strategy and way ahead for providing the programs, services and facilities that support Soldiers and families. With the campaign plan and the three fundamental questions as our guides, we have continually challenged ourselves to improve our performance.

Some of our efforts are visible to those we serve. For example, based on feedback from Soldiers and families, we have enhanced delivery of several vital programs, including the Exceptional Family Member Program, Survivor Outreach Services, the Total Army Sponsorship Program, the Army Substance Abuse Program and the Army Continuing Education System.

Many of our efforts will not be immediately apparent to those outside of our workforce. For example, we are reducing the number of administrative regions from six to four and integrating the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command into IMCOM Headquarters. Soldiers and families will see no difference in the quality of support or number of services they receive, but behind the scenes, we will be working smarter. We will streamline delivery of services to our customers and generate savings that can be applied to Soldier and family programs.

Now, as we build a shared vision of what the installation management community should look like in November 2011 and lay out the plan to achieve that vision, we will continue to challenge ourselves to go beyond what we already know and are comfortable with. We will continue to look at the shape and size of our organization and workforce. We will continue to reach out and build relationships with others committed to supporting Soldiers and families, including universities, businesses, non-government organizations and other government agencies. We will continue to identify, develop and align the resources, policies and processes needed to support family programs, safety, sustainability, energy security and other priorities.

The process of developing a shared vision can be difficult for some, since it carries the possibility of change, but it can also be energizing, and it is important for us to do if we take our jobs seriously. For one, we owe it to our fellow citizens to be good stewards of all the resources entrusted to us. We always have to be mindful of how we impact the environment, how we treat our people and how we spend taxpayer dollars. If we do our job well, if we are good stewards of the resources entrusted to us today, then we will have the resources we need in the future.

An even more important reason is the Soldiers and families we support. We are committed to providing a strong, supportive environment in which they can thrive. We do not chase change for change’s sake, but if the only reason we do something is because we have always done it that way, then we can do better. We owe it to our Soldiers and families to ask what right looks like and to make sure we are on track to get there.