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Demonstrating ‘due diligence’ vital in carrying out Air Force mission

  • Published
  • By Steven Wourms
  • Director, Advanced Computational Analysis Directorate Aeronautical Systems Center
I recognize it is easy for me to get distracted as I try to juggle my many activities: leading my directorate; dealing with the crush of daily e-mails; juggling meetings, conferences and telephone calls; making time for the gym; and enjoying down time with family and friends. It seems to me that our society spends so much time caught up on dealing with our myriad of daily activities that we neglect the time we need for practicing “due diligence”, which is necessary to assure quality, integrity and efficiency.

Due diligence is the effort a party makes to avoid harm to another party; failure to make this effort is considered negligence. Thus, the meaning of due diligence has come to represent the effort required by a business, government or other entity to ensure the customer’s trust in that entity. Due diligence encompasses the activities needed to prove to those outside of the entity that it has integrity, worth and reliability.

Exercising due diligence in the workplace is challenging. It’s often difficult to concentrate, to stay focused in the midst of the mind-numbing daily pace. Electronic interruptions and the rapid pace of assignments increase the risk of poor quality work.

Our work culture is at risk of being degraded as we scramble, doing more work in less time in an increasingly distracting environment; yet, it is imperative to make the time and take the effort to apply due diligence in our workplace.

Foundational to a diligent workplace is provision of the appropriate training and education, so the work is carried out according to the established policies, practices and procedures. Management must support the training of staff and supervisors to ensure they are competent, as defined by approved policies and procedures, public law and quality principles and guidelines.

The workplace must be monitored to ensure that employees and supervisors are following the policies, practices and procedures. Employees should be encouraged to report problems that should then be investigated. Information from these investigations would then be incorporated into revised, improved policies, practices and procedures.

And what can we do? What action can we take individually to improve in this regard? I suppose the answers are as varied as the situations and the number of personalities. Have you considered asking a coworker to review your work? Have you ever counseled (OK – nagged) your children to double-check their work? Have you consciously saved the work and revisited it in order to review it with a clear head? On bigger efforts, have you considered employing a “red team” — a group of contemporaries with varied backgrounds — to provide an independent peer review of products and processes, to role-play with a critical eye?

Demonstrating due diligence is vital in carrying out the Air Force mission, our personal agendas, our personal and professional business concerns, as well as our commitments to family and friends. Individual performance of due diligence results in a society characterized by greater trust, efficiency, integrity and honor.