28 OWS Cobras establish culture by design

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destiny Millerd
  • 28th Operational Weather Squadron

Recognizing that operational excellence cannot be achieved much less sustained without a solid team and culture, the 28th Operational Weather Squadron (28 OWS) began deliberately prioritizing Airmen one year ago. Specifically, the squadron chose to invest in the psychological returns of a three-pronged renovation strategy, including physical space, time to connect, and professional development.

“There’s a famous phrase, originated by Peter Drucker, that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast,’” said Lt. Col. Daniel Muggelberg, 28 OWS commander. “Our goal at the 28 OWS is to have invested Airmen who enjoy coming to work every day ready to solve the joint force’s toughest environmental challenges. Creating these great communal spaces helps achieve this goal.”

Upon assuming command on June 2, 2021, Muggelberg charged his officers and senior enlisted to get after organizational culture change collectively.

To address the “physical space” component of the strategy, the 28 OWS procured the assistance of architect Richard McQuone – father of 28 OWS Operations Officer Maj. Lauren McQuone. McQuone prioritized environmental psychology when redesigning the breakroom.

“You can definitely notice the upgrade,” said Senior Airman Charis Dion, 28 OWS forecaster. “The thematic murals and modern chic atmosphere bring a greater sense of pride in the breakroom.”

The multipurpose room now better serves as a place to break away from everyday operations, create memories with coworkers, and to learn about others in a more relaxed work environment; equal parts functional, socially inviting, and space to recharge.

The addition of Cobra Wi-Fi further enables that essential downtime recharge and accessibility for members continuing their education. With a 24/7 mission, the on-site gym renovation followed suit. The breakroom and gym renovations occurred from Apr. 18 - May 2 and July 18 - Aug. 10, respectively, through the hard work of 22 members.

As a key member in the on-site gym renovation, Airman 1st Class Jaice Reyes said, “Renovating the rooms make them more approachable and accessible. It is optimized to make you want to use the space.”

These physical changes by airmen - for airmen are actively reshaping the squadron’s internal social environment.

To elevate connection, the 28 OWS instituted squadron-level First Fridays beginning June 3, with a lunchtime grill out with activities such as volleyball, frisbee, cornhole, and sumo suit wrestling. The latest First Friday was held at Lake Wateree for an end of summer edition. Making time for events like this have allowed aspirations and goals of each team member to come to light, creating a squadron more conversant in work and personal goals.

To better develop Airmen and — in so doing — take care of Airmen, the 28 OWS implemented comprehensive Officer and Enlisted Professional Development 365 (OPD/EPD 365) programs. These programs run in parallel throughout the year, but also involve facilitator and participation crossovers (e.g., O and SNCO Capstone). OPD365 challenges its company grade officers to higher-level decision-making  competency, emphasizing intellectual leadership and human capital value. This is led by Capt. Meagan Sawyer. EPD365 integrates but also builds upon the Enlisted Force Development Action Plan 2022 - 2023, and is led by Senior Master Sgt. Damian Diaz and Master Sgt. Benjamin Reeves, and facilitated by squadron Senior Non Commissioned Officers and Non Commissioned Officers.

By focusing on Airmen’s needs, deliberately building up all pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness over time - effectively in-sourcing care - the 28 OWS is paving the way for a stronger, more resilient team culture. This is the 28 OWS’s chosen path to sustainable operational excellence.