I spotted an interesting article in the current issue of the Defense Systems Information Analysis Center’s (DSIAC) “Defense Systems News Digest” entitled “The Drone You Can Eat: Edible Craft to Have Wings Stuffed with Food and Medical Supplies for Humanitarian Missions.” According to the article, the aircraft “is designed with an airframe skin made from biodegradable starch-based thermoplastic, which will be filled with vacuum-packed food packages. Wood would be used for the rest of the parts, which can be used for cooking and heating.”
An innovative and admittedly intriguing idea. On the one-hand, this concept illustrates the power of applying imagination, creativity, initiative, and “out of the box” thinking to complex, otherwise costly, and often seemingly insurmountable challenges. On the other hand, I found myself wondering the extent to which possible unintended consequences, unanticipated issues, or second/third order effects been considered? Do the benefits, opportunities, and positive outcomes outweigh potential costs, risks, or consequences?
So what do you think? If you were a senior decision maker tasked to evaluate the pros, cons, and implications of an innovative concept such as this, what kinds of thought-provoking questions should you ask? What kinds of data would you need to be able to sufficiently conduct such an assessment? Are there additional considerations that may not have been taken into account? How would you apply the principles and practices contained in the DoD Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs? For a potentially one time-use item, what kinds of suitability, product support, sustainment, and operating environment considerations need to be taken into account? What would happen if….? Have we thought through…? Who else might need to….? And so on.
The answers might, of course, be satisfactory -- and ultimately, the answer may be absolutely. However to confidently reach that conclusion necessitates that we as acquisition professionals first ensure we have the requisite data, understand the myriad of considerations and factors involved, to ask questions, to think critically, to evaluate the resources required and potential alternatives, to think through implications, and to anticipate potential outcomes and consequences. Agree? Disagree? Either way….ready….set….think!