Business Acumen and the Acquisition Workforce
Here are definitions from others:
- Business acumen is the ability to make sound business decisions by combining a number of factors to arrive at the best outcome for a given situation. [A Guide to Developing Business Acumen]
- Business acumen is a portfolio of skills, behaviors, and capabilities needed to support an organization in the achievement of its financial and strategic goals. [The Business Acumen Handbook]
“Business Acumen” for this blog is different than what the government defines as business acumen for its executives. There is a business acumen definition defined for Senior Executives in their core qualifications. I suggest for this blog that the SES qualification would better be called “government acumen”. What I am trying to define is what does business mean by business acumen or better, what does the defense industry mean by business acumen. I have recently encountered, from a reputable source in the defense industry, that “government doesn’t understand business finance”. What should be done?
Along with other factors, this has caused an accelerated effort for the development of material in addition to classes or virtual classes already in place. DAU has been providing training to understand industry via courses such as ACQ 315, CON 7200, CON 7210, and a workshop based on ACQ 315 for several years. Furthermore, DAU and OSD Functional Leaders have long understood that, to be better partners with industry, we the acquisition workforce, need to understand what makes industry tick. Work has just started to make additional learning assets that will be asynchronous for business acumen.
Over the last several years the United States has come to realize China to be a “pacing challenge” and the situation has become an existential one for the United States. In World War II the U.S. made hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of aircraft. But now, the United States needs to recapture manufacturing capability and other abilities to win in the 21st century.
By no means do I discount the need for competition while performing acquisition. However, we do need to strengthen the defense industrial base, to move more rapidly and efficiently for the defense of the nation.
Oh by the way, the definition DAU may well land on for business acumen is:
“Business acumen refers to a person's ability to understand and implement various aspects of business, including strategy, marketing, finance, human capital, risk and opportunity. It encompasses the knowledge, skills, and experience to address any business issue, improve an existing product or service, or introduce a new product or service to create a competitive advantage. Skills and competencies include strategic planning, market awareness, financial literacy, team building, analytical thinking, and risk management.”