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Action vs. Drift … Which one Characterizes You?

Outside the fitness center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C. is a marker honoring Colonel Raynal C. Bolling, who served in France during World War I as Assistant Chief of the Air…

Action vs. Drift … Which one Characterizes You?

Action vs. Drift … Which one Characterizes You?
Shawn Harrison
Outside the fitness center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C. is a marker honoring Colonel Raynal C. Bolling, who served in France during World War I as Assistant Chief of the Air Service, Lines of Communications. On the marker is a quote: “Whatever happens to me will be the result of action, not inaction or drift.”

Posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Gen John J. Pershing, Col Bolling was known for his “grasp of aviation matters, his insight into the means of establishing an effective Air Service, his brilliant capacity for arrangements with foreign governments, and his boldness and vigor in carrying out policies.” (Source: https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=63899)

A few questions for self-reflection for acquisition professionals, who, like Bolling, serve our country:
  • Do I have a firm grasp of my area(s) of responsibility? If not, what am I doing about it in terms of self-directed learning?
  • Am I delivering insights to my superiors for effective and affordable program execution? When was the last time I came to my boss with not just a problem but a well thought-out recommendation with pros, cons, and views of others?
  • Am I a team player who collaborates with stakeholders and closes deals (or supports those who do) on arrangements, such as product support arrangements?
  • Do I carry out policies with “boldness and vigor” or am I naysayer or quiet “saboteur?” Once you’ve made a recommendation, if it wasn’t accepted, it’s time to “salute smartly” and get behind the idea like it was your own. Work to change a bad policy behind the scenes, not in front of your team.

Lastly, encourage you to ask yourself 'what am I doing to avoid “drifting"?' Getting and staying organized, having a plan, working the plan, and knowing when to deviate from the plan is one of the marks of a good leader. A robust Acquisition Strategy, Life Cycle Sustainment Plan, or Systems Engineering Plan are each great tools to guide the acquisition team to purposeful action.