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Innovations in Program Management Training in Program Management Training2020-03-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass0C4E6935395D4AEEB6E8938A3DB0D07B">From its earliest days, the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) has offered a capstone program management course. Over the years, this course has evolved from lectures by subject-matter-expert faculty to a more interactive, team-based learning curriculum. Recent changes have been made to improve the sequencing and integration of key course themes, add more “hands on” learning exercises, strengthen the focus on program leadership, and provide more follow-up support to graduates as they return to the workplace. Let’s look at the PMT 401 Program Manager’s Course and highlights of the curriculum and delivery approaches now used in this course. <h3><img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article1_image1.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:364px;height:291px;" />Critical Thinking</h3> A major goal of PMT 401 is to hone students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills (see the goals in the sidebar). Program management is full of complex challenges and dilemmas requiring effective analysis and timely decisions. Individual decisions are based on how you think and process information. Critical thinking improves your decision-making abilities by raising your awareness about the influences on your thinking. While our students already have experience in analysis and decision making, we focus on practical skills to improve the quality of their thinking. We have observed that the more our learners understand how and why they think a certain way, the better they become at evaluating and improving their judgment in the acquisition environment.<br> Every aspect of the PMT 401 curriculum presents opportunities for critical thinking and decision making accompanied by time for reflection and feedback. This is illustrated in the following review of our case studies, simulations, and experiential exercises. <h3>Case Studies</h3> The PMT 401 course initially was based on the Harvard case study and analysis methodology and included more than 80 defense acquisition case studies written by DAU students and faculty. These case studies provide an opportunity to explore how program managers think and make decisions in a variety of acquisition scenarios. Our focus on real dilemmas facilitates a deeper understanding of management and leadership challenges in the acquisition environment. It also prompts students to reflect on how and why they think and make decisions on their own programs and to share best practices with the class. Case studies remain an important part of the PMT 401 curriculum, but we have cut in half the number of case discussions. We found that while the case method is still applicable, there is a limit to its effectiveness as a prevailing methodology. We also have carefully scheduled the sequence of cases to provide increasing skill development of our key frameworks and learning objectives. This takes the form of a “learn, practice, and apply” evolution where students become increasingly proficient in using the skill or framework as the course continues. As an example, students learn a framework and process for stakeholder management on an acquisition program starting in Week One. They practice using the framework in later case studies and then must apply the framework in our final simulation exercise and in their 90-day transition plans. <h3>Simulations</h3> As the number of case studies has decreased, the number of simulations and experiential exercises has increased. This has given a more “hands on” flavor to the PMT 401 experience. In addition to analyzing a written case study, students are required to “be” managers in live-action scenarios. These exercises typically are very engaging, competitive, and fast paced. We have integrated simulations throughout the course to replicate real-life scenarios that help students demonstrate their leadership skills and strategies in negotiating, communicating, and implementing solutions in different situations. These simulations provide firsthand benefits and consequences that result from their thinking, actions, and decisions. They also offer insight into how their peers work, think and act—insight that is invaluable in leading teams in the acquisition environment.<br> Everest and Judgment in a Crisis are two computer-based simulations from Harvard Business Publishing that are used in our curriculum. In the Everest leadership and team simulation, teams of students compete to reach the summit of Mount Everest. During the 6 simulated climbing days, participants face different individual and team challenges. We use this simulation as an “ice breaker” to allow our new student teams to practice critical thinking and decision making as well as group dynamics and leadership. Judgment in a Crisis is an organizational behavior simulation used in the critical thinking session to have students practice their thinking and response to a managerial crisis situation in order to gain a better understanding of several factors that impair judgment and decision making.<br> <br> Our newest simulation is Harborco, a multi-role, multi-issue exercise designed to teach principles of coalition building and negotiation. The scenario features a consortium of developer, industry, and shipping concerns interested in building and operating a deep-water port. The negotiations include environmental, labor, economic, and government oversight issues. The simulation was developed by the Harvard Program on Negotiation.<br> <br> Our most extensive exercise is the 2-day “tiger team” analysis of a simulated Program Executive Office that includes a family of unmanned aerial vehicles in different development stages. This simulation was created by two DAU faculty members (John Driessnack and Patrick Barker) to give students “hands-on” leadership experience in a more strategic portfolio management scenario. The simulation is based on real-world issues faced by current acquisition programs with a goal of helping students use the key frameworks and tools taught in PMT 401 to address these challenges. The simulation includes leadership roles where many students work on problems similar to those they will face back in their jobs, after which they brief a senior acquisition executive who acts as the service acquisition executive in this exercise. The simulation includes reflection periods and a debriefing where each student gets feedback on the student’s contribution and personal skill development. <h3><img alt="A student outbriefing at a PMT 401 class graduation event last November." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article1_image2.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:688px;height:404px;" />Experiential Exercises</h3> Successful problem solving and decision making are at the heart of all effective teams. The exercises used in both small and large group settings require team members to analyze information, negotiate, and collaborate with one another. These activities encourage individuals and teams to develop their creative thinking, leadership, and communication skills, while building group cooperation and consensus.<br> <br> One of the most impactful experiential exercises in PMT 401 is our peer feedback process. In the early PMT 401 offerings, faculty “graded” student contributions and provided individual feedback. This was discontinued in favor of a team or peer feedback process. The framework for this process is Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI), which was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. The SBI model is designed to elicit clearer and more direct feedback from a broader group of students and faculty members. Instead of feedback like “great comment you made in class this morning,” a student might say, “When our discussion in the C-130 case seemed to wander off topic (Situation), you linked specific student comments as an example of stakeholder management (Behavior), which proved to be a key learning outcome from the case discussion (Impact).” After the SBI process is explained and demonstrated early in the course, we use existing student teams and faculty facilitators to provide feedback to each other. Use of the SBI process not only produces better feedback to students during the course, but it becomes a process students can take back to their workplace and use with members of their real-world project teams.<br> <br> Our media workshop ranks as the most popular experiential exercise in our course. Each student is interviewed in a print, Skype and taped format. These interactions provide realistic acquisition scenarios with faculty role-playing as media interviewers. To ensure that candid feedback and observations are received, video recordings are immediately reviewed with student groups who experienced the same scenario and with public affairs experts. One student commented, “My favorite part of the course. Being able to see yourself on camera, receive critiques and develop confidence in your ability to navigate the media was invaluable. Well organized and realistic.”<br> <br> A recent addition is each student’s personal transition plan exercise to apply what they learned when they are back on the job. A simple template is provided for students to list their near-term goals along with 30-, 60- and 90-day action steps to accomplish the personal and organizational goals. Students discuss their plans with their team and faculty advisor to help clarify and improve their product. Faculty advisors then are asked to follow up with students 3 to 6 months after graduation to check on their progress and provide any help if needed. Examples of student comments include “excellent forcing function” and “it made me think of what my priorities would be and how to achieve them.”<br> <br> In addition to traditional analytical methods of problem solving, we now emphasize the more creative approach of design thinking. The focus of design thinking is human centered problem solving, innovative solutions, and early prototyping. After a session introducing key concepts in design thinking, each student group is chartered to work on a real world problem currently impacting one of their workplaces. This includes interviewing a broad range of workforce members affected by this problem. Student groups work on their projects during the last part of the PMT 401 course, then present their prototype solutions as part of their graduation exercise (see photo of student outbriefing). <h3>Leadership Development</h3> Acquisition programs require effective management of budget, schedule and risk, as well as leadership skills. Program leaders must clearly communicate their visions and plans, set high standards, and motivate, and guide team members to achieve positive acquisition outcomes. As PMT 401 has evolved, the curriculum has expanded from a primary focus on program cost, schedule and performance to a broader acquisition leadership emphasis. This shift was driven primarily by our students. In fact, they demanded it whenever we asked them what they most wanted to learn.<br> <br> Once we got their message, we went to work to revise our curriculum. But rather than teach leadership, we chose to refocus our case studies and class exercises on the leadership issues and lessons inherent in each management dilemma. We just needed to make them a priority, and the success is now evident from recent student evaluations:<br> “First DAU course to really emphasize the leadership aspects and first leadership course which provided practical tools and frameworks.”<br> “The utility of the course overall to enhance my ability to lead in an acquisition environment—which I think is the purpose of the course—is outstanding.” <h3>Residential Program</h3> A key factor in the success of PMT 401 is the collaborative residential program that was designed for these senior acquisition leaders. As a change to its earlier history, the course has fewer lectures, guest speakers, and even case studies—and more interactive seminars, small group discussions, and one-on-one coaching from faculty and student peers. This decentralized approach to interaction in small groups was designed to promote greater skill building and behavior change.<br> <br> While we use a variety of educational methods and update them frequently, it is the collaborative learning climate that really makes PMT 401 effective. Faculty members encourage student peer teaching and facilitate this reciprocal teaching in all learning activities. As the course continues, the faculty and students gradually merge into a learning community. This is evidenced by student comments from our most recent PMT 401 class:<br> “I learned much more about myself and vastly improved my acquisition knowledge … primarily by learning from others.”<br> “I have been blown away by the level of learning, teamwork and development that I have received in this course. I have made additional professional colleagues that I know I can reach out to in the future, and, for me, those connections are immeasurable.”<br> “The true beauty of the course was the interaction with other senior acquisition professionals. Seeing and hearing how others would address an issue was invaluable. This is something that could never be done virtually.”<br> <br> The in-person relationship development between students and faculty in PMT 401 is unlike any other course we have experienced either at DAU or in academia. It is not uncommon for direct communication to continue between students and faculty for months or even years after their course was completed.<br> This community building also pays great dividends for DAU’s other initiatives, such as mission assistance and executive coaching. Most of our workplace support (mission assistance) projects come directly from graduates of our 400-level executive courses, especially PMT 401. When students have developed strong bonds with our faculty, we are the first place they go when acquisition support of any kind is needed. <h3>Continuous Improvement</h3> The current construct of PMT 401 enables the faculty to rapidly prototype new content, methodology, and sequencing of learning events. Over the past year, the team has researched, piloted, and refined several learning activities to ensure that the course is relevant to acquisition professionals now and in their immediate future. After each course offering, the faculty and staff review and evaluate student feedback and faculty observations of each learning event. DAU’s capstone Program Manager’s Course must anticipate and make adjustments quickly while maintaining a constant pace of development to better serve the talented acquisition professionals who will lead our largest and most complex acquisition programs. <hr />Gadeken and DeLeon are professors at the Defense Acquisition University at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Both have taught in the PMT 401 Program Manager’s course for more than 10 years.<br> <br> The authors can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a> and <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Innovations-in-Program-Management-Training
The New Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards - Recognizing the Importance of Software New Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards - Recognizing the Importance of Software2020-03-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass69549BFFF47C4BED93B7065C1DE4362E">Software is a critical and enduring capability, but is the Department of Defense (DoD) acting quickly enough to embrace this reality? Software is a major component of business systems and weapons systems; in fact, software is an inescapable part of the daily lives of the entire defense workforce. Consequently, the development and deployment of modern software rapidly and securely to the field and across the DoD-wide enterprise is a key enabler for the United States to maintain the defense technological advantage over its adversaries. As announced in the January-February issue of Defense Acquisition (Page 44), Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, recently added “software” as a new category in the 2019 Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards. The category was added to recognize individuals and teams who are adopting modern software development approaches to meet the growing and ever-changing digital challenges.<br> <br> The inclusion of software in the Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards does more than acknowledge individuals who are developing and delivering software capability to the Warfighter; the new awards also aim to encourage and energize the workforce to retain its internal software capability, including Service members. The new awards also provide recognition to the DoD’s lethality-essential software workforce and their innovative accomplishments in improving software development and software acquisition vital to military systems supporting the Warfighter. Ultimately, only an informed and cohesive software workforce can work together to effectively change the culture around software.<br> As reported in the previous issue of Defense Acquisition, Kessel Run, an Air Force software factory, was awarded the Software Innovation Team Award. Kessel Run implements a DevSecOps culture (see <a href=""></a>). The team fielded 18 capabilities, including a tanker planning tool, by adopting an Agile software development approach, user-centered design, and lean startup methodologies. But let’s share the love and take a closer look at the other worthy contenders for this award.<br> <br> The Army nominated the Heads Up Display User Experience Team for their efforts in executing the Integrated Visual Augmentation System program, a 5-year program to integrate state-of-the-art night vision sensors with edge computing processors and myriad wireless network functionality. The team, in collaboration with non-traditional contractor Microsoft, used innovative collaboration tools and adopted an iterative software development approach to rapidly execute the first Soldier test within 4 months from contract award. The team’s understanding of the Soldier threat environment and knowledge of emerging situational awareness technologies were also instrumental in properly articulating system requirements to Microsoft.<br> <br> The Navy nominated the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Software Engineering Department for supporting all NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) programs, including the CH-53K helicopter. The team supports these programs using a very lean workforce of 135 civilian software engineers, staffing their programs quickly, at an affordable cost, and coordinating among team members and managers efficiently to ensure all software needs are met without disruption. NAWCAD was nominated for this horizontal sharing of its in-house expertise and processes across NAVAIR, which has greatly contributed to producing overall quality products to the fleet.<br> <br> The Navy also nominated the U.S Marine Corps’ Combined Arms Command and Control Trainer Upgrade System (CACCTUS) Acquisition Team. CACCTUS is a simulation training system; the scenario driven, simulated environment allows Marines to practice the teamwork required to command, control, and coordinate the use of supporting arms. The CACCTUS Acquisition Team was nominated for adopting agile development processes over a 5-year period to acquire the technology needed to change the traditional hardware architecture (desktops) to a thin client design.<br> <br> The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) nominated the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Baseline 6.0 Team for leading a joint team consisting of members from two program offices to oversee the development of an intricate and complicated computer program to deliver a layered defense against advanced missile threats. This team successfully integrated a solid state radar and a shipboard computer program from competing industry partners to deliver a program that will be fielded on the Navy’s Flight III AEGIS Destroyers.<br> The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) nominated the Modi Software Convergence and Refactoring Team for merging multiple software code bases used by USSOCOM, the Army, Marine Corps, and other government agencies. This monumental task was completed after the team successfully awarded a 24-month, $8 million contract to the prime vendor to refactor and re-architecture the entire Modi code base.<br> <br> The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) nominated the BEES Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) Integrated Management Team (IMT) for defining an autonomous architecture comprised of 22 specific system interfaces that flow from mission planning to mission execution. The most significant software innovation, which was flight demonstrated, is the Systems Intelligence Manager (SIGMA) collection management software. It was demonstrated while running with the Tasking, Positioning, and Orientation (TOP) autonomous system piloting software on flight compatible hardware. SIGMA was developed by Naval Research Laboratory; TOP is Georgia Technical Research Institute software that is foundational to several other DoD autonomy programs.<br> <br> The High-altitude Attritable Link Offset (HALO) JCTD IMT was nominated by OUSD(R&E) for developing high-altitude communication relays on very low-cost balloon-platforms using small, attritable, ultrahigh frequency communication payloads (essentially low-cost, disposable balloons carrying low-cost transponders), with no sensitive data onboard, to mitigate adversary communications jamming in a contested environment. This solution is of tremendous benefit to the Warfighter, which merited the HALO JCTD IMT a nomination.<br> <br> Software engineers on the Semi-Automated Counter Propaganda (SCP) JCTD IMTs were nominated by OUSD(R&E) for developing new software capabilities to enable SCP to operate undetected and allow the joint Warfighter to employ multiple social media entities in the information environment to disrupt and counter narratives posed by threat organizations. The capabilities delivered to USSOCOM for military information support operations directly supports the requirement to become more adept at parrying narratives aimed at undermining U.S. military power and disrupting U.S., allied, and partner, operations.<br> <br> George Senger, a lead engineer supporting Project Manager Tactical Radios under the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control Communications-Tactical, was awarded the Individual Software Achievement Award for his efforts in leading a team that developed an application that revolutionizes the Soldiers Unit Task Reorganization process. But who were the other estimable nominees?<br> <br> David Gay, the Test and Evaluation (T&E) Lead for the Navy’s Strike Planning and Execution Program Office (PMA-281), was also nominated for the Individual Software Achievement Award. He has consistently conceived and implemented innovative software T&E strategies in support of accelerated acquisition efforts, reducing cost and schedule while exceeding expectations. His leadership and advocacy of automated software testing at the Naval Aviation Enterprise level has saved more than $2 million that he continues to apply to other programs.<br> <br> The Navy also nominated Timothy Bergland for leading a cross-competency team that spanned two program management offices within Marine Corps Systems Command, as well as NAWCAD and Training and Education Command. Under his leadership, the team moved the Marine Corps Distance Learning Program from a larger server platform maintained at NAWCAD to the Amazon Web Service Cloud, reducing costs and risk of catastrophic failure due to site loss from natural or manmade causes.<br> Air Force Materiel Command nominated Col Enrique Oti for his leadership of Kessel Run. He was nominated for revolutioninzing how the Air Force develops and delivers software solutions. He transformed a traditional program office into a highly effective team of technologist and acquisition professionals that demonstrated the ability to continuously deliver valuable software to the Warfighter across multiple weapons systems.<br> <br> We congratulate and recognize all the individuals and teams for being nominated for the 2019 Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards. By sharing their achievements and best practices, we will leverage proven successes for greater research, engineering, acquisition, and sustainment in support of the National Defense Strategy and the Warfighter. <hr />Boleng is the special software advisor for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Sizer is the program manager for the Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards Program at Human Capital Initiatives.<br> <br> The authors may be contacted through <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/The-New-Defense-Acquisition-Workforce-Awards---Recognizing-the--Importance-of-Software-
Distributed Leadership to Empower Acquisition Professionals Leadership to Empower Acquisition Professionals2020-03-01T12:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClassD2626030260E446DB2BAA4A01BFCD726">After retiring from the Air Force, I secured a position as the Air Force’s Rotary Weapon Systems Spares Manager. One aircraft we supported was the CV-22 Osprey. As spares manager, I was on the retail end of the acquisition process supporting the System Program Office (SPO) receiving spares and distributing them to the field. This was not my first time working directly with an SPO, but it was the first time I worked this closely with one. This closeness was necessary as we initially fielded the CV-22. This required coordinated synchronization of spares distribution as aircraft entered the field. Although I was on the outside of the SPO looking in, my position gave me a good view on how an SPO worked. It was obvious that the program manager (PM) was large and in-charge. Everything was controlled by the PM, and, as is common in many Department of Defense (DoD) organizations, there tended to be a vertical organizational structure to the SPO from the component acquisition executive, program executive officer, division leadership, senior PMs, down to the junior PMs. <br> <br> Fast forward a decade, and I am a contracting officer (CO) at a component command in charge of numerous contracts supporting Acquisition Category (ACAT) III programs. Again, the PMs were in charge, but I had a seat at the table as the CO. I held a contracting warrant and had what some academic texts call ”expert power.” Since few people outside the contracting profession understand government contracting, my experience, education, and authority held a level of influence within each of the supported programs. Again, we worked in a vertically structured organization with specific levels of responsibilities and authorities.<br> <br> Fast forward another decade (yes, I’m that old), and I am the PM for three ACAT III programs. However, a funny thing happened to me somewhere on the way to the office … my perspective on leadership changed. Having previously served as a senior non-commissioned officer, I was educated on leadership models and styles and comfortable in transitioning between them. I found that it wasn’t the models of leadership I needed to correct to succeed in my new role as PM. It was my perspective on leadership itself. The military had taught me to view leadership as a leader-centric activity. There are leaders and followers, period. Leaders lead and followers follow. Simple, right? <h3>Digital Age and the New Leadership Environment</h3> But it isn’t that simple. Something changed from the conception of these leader-centric models. I’m not even sure my parents were aware at the time, but it all started 6 years prior to my birth when two Bell Lab engineers invented the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET). The MOSFET is the basic building block of modern electronics. As the most widely manufactured device in history, it revolutionized the electronics industry, transformed our world economy, and allowed mankind to leap into the Digital Age.<br> <br> In today’s Digital Age, information has become ubiquitous and extremely portable. However, prior to invention of the MOSFET, this was not the case. Information took time and effort to distribute. For example, although the World War I armistice occurred on the poetic date of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, fighting did not cease until Jan. 5, 1919. It took weeks to notify all of the German commanders that Germany had surrendered. Today, we could get that done in seconds with a tweet and a hashtag, thanks to the semiconductor.<br> <br> When information was not easily accessible, it had the characteristics of currency—held by few, commanding by its presence, and tending to be leader-controlled. This coalescing of information among leader groups gave those communities great influence over follower groups. Conversely, in today’s digital environment, information has the characteristics of an electrical current—made by many, quickly shared, and peer-controlled. This change in information dynamics has significantly affected our social and organizational cultures.<br> <br> Within our social culture, print news is nearly extinct. Who reads a newspaper anymore? Information is now aggregated onto websites giving people easy access to information and much more data to consume. This new availability of information has led to information overload and the demand for “safe spaces” from opposing views. Access to information has become so powerful within today’s world that American social media companies now work closely with socialist regimes to limit the information allowed into the borders of certain socialist countries for fear people will rise up. For example, in March 2019, revolutionaries in Hong Kong began developing grass-roots support almost exclusively through social media, demanding freedom from China. This single event may have changed how future uprisings and revolutions may be instigated and fought. <br> Armed with new information power, people are capable of and more likely to self-organize, challenge the status quo, and feel empowered to express their views. Individuals are now empowered to draw others to their cause and demand a voice in the conversation. Our workforce has also been affected by this new phenomenon and, as a result, been given more power. <h3>Leading a New Workforce Within a New Culture </h3> While I was an employee in a large DoD organization, our commander had an “Ask Us Anything” social media platform. And ask the commander anything is exactly what the people did. Instead of being a way to reach out to the masses, it became a way for the masses to voice discontent, whether relevant or not to the organization’s goals. People started visiting the site just to see what astonishing query or demand was presented to the commander that day. This was not an uprising like the one in Hong Kong, but it was a similar opportunity for people to challenge the status quo, feel empowered and express their views. Regardless of the relevance or lack thereof to the organization’s mission, they expressed their views. One person even demanded that the commander address an issue about the saltiness of the fries at the base Burger King. People became so emboldened by this new power that the site was eventually taken down.<br> <br> Another phenomenon created by our interconnected world is the ability of people to learn from each other. For example, with nearly as much ease as turning on a light switch, you can go to YouTube and reveal videos that will enlighten you on just about anything. Type in “how to perform heart surgery” and dozens of videos are presented giving nearly step-by-step instructions. No matter how expensive healthcare gets, I wouldn’t recommend this as an option for open heart surgery. <br> <br> Professional organizations, employers, and educational institutions have recognized and embraced this new medium of teaching elevating the capabilities of the workforce and further distributing expert influence and competencies within our organizations. Information, flowing like electricity and easily distributed, has created a highly capable, well-educated, and broadly skilled labor force within our acquisition community. Although leadership models have tried to keep up, I am convinced that leading today’s acquisition professionals requires more than customary modes and methods. <br> <br> Our leadership styles and practices must advance to meet the evolving changes of our new culture and workforce. Therefore, it is essential for acquisition leaders to continually search out new leadership thought. One new leadership movement popular in educational circles over the past decade and potentially compatible with this new trend is Distributed Leadership. <h3>Distributed Leadership Is Compatible with Digital Age</h3> Distributed Leadership is still a nascent theory. Yet, an examination of it reveals promise in engaging with the current workplace culture. Leadership models and styles always will be important considerations, but unlike customary models that put the leader out front, Distributed Leadership highlights the practice of leadership at multiple points within the organization instead of the leaders themselves. Furthermore, Distributed Leadership is not a model or style. Rather, it is a ”system” where responsibility for leadership stretches across the social framework of the organization with the recognition that there are numerous leadership activities in various situations occurring simultaneously within an organization. As a PM and CO, I found that our acquisition communities were populated with highly qualified professionals. They work with minimal supervision and have a high degree of technical ability. This creates an interesting dynamic within the organization as each of these professionals have a degree of information or ‘expert’ power to wield.<br> Furthermore, the acquisition profession has become extremely complex with the result that that leadership relies on mid-level acquisition professionals to be out front in major organizational muscle movements. This gives mid-level professionals significant influence because they control access and flow of information and, thereby, influence and help set organizational direction. This influence is anchored in the information they choose to discern, create, and document. These professionals and their teams, considering (or not) policy or governance, make or create nearly unilateral decisions at key decision points, through information they select and contextualize. The assumption that policy or governance is enough to influence direction of these efforts may no longer be valid. Policy and governance, in an effort to frame all situations, quickly lose influence in today’s continuously evolving environment.<br> <br> Consider the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denial of a recent protest (<a href=""></a>) in a decision that supported skills development outreach and training programs as prototypes procurable under Other Transaction Authority (OTA). The prototype determination was supported by requirement documents promulgated by acquisition professionals who chose to categorize these requirements as prototypes. GAO’s decision to deny the protest ultimately came down to a matter of semantics on how the requirement was defined, documented, and solicited by acquisition professionals. This may have set an interesting precedent for the future procurement of training programs by the organization involved.<br> <br> So let’s go back to my leadership transformation. Relatively new to the position as PM, I relied heavily on my team of acquisition professionals. This dependence naturally resulted in conjoint responsibility for our program’s success. Completely unknown to me at the time and purely out of self-preservation, I began to practice distributed leadership. Although I was the PM, and was responsible for delivering my program, I turned leadership or influence over to technical or functional experts on certain aspects of the program. This is where the “system” of leadership can be witnessed among the variables of leader, follower, and situation. The Distributed Leadership “system” considers the interrelation between leader, follower, and situation, with the understanding that none of the three elements remain permanently static. In select situations, I voluntarily converted to follower where a technical staffer was more qualified to take the lead. I did not abdicate my position as PM, but knew that allowing others to have a significant hand in leading the program was necessary for our success. <h3>Distributing Leadership = Distributing Power</h3> The essence of Distributed Leadership is sharing leadership power. In an organization in which Distributed Leadership prevails, power is shared and lines of responsibility are broadly drawn and allowed to blur. Thus, leadership becomes an organizational quality instead of a bestowal on select members. This does not mean that there no longer is a place for formal leaders, but they must defer to others who have more expertise. However, in this deferrence, the formal leader has an active role in anticipation of eventual resumption of leadership responsibilities. This is empowerment at a basic level. <br> <br> You may have seen facets of this in your acquisition organizations, but in some ways we have failed to fully embrace it. The call for less control and more empowerment has been heard at the highest levels. As a result, less measured methodologies like OTA and middle-tier acquisitions are gaining traction in our acquisition conversations. These activities reduce not only governance, but put decisions and influence in the hands of others.<br> <br> A May 2010 Harvard Business Review article, “Sharing Leadership to Maximize Talent,” identified the following suggestions for sharing leadership that echoes Distributed Leadership practices. <ul> <li>Give power away to the most qualified individuals to strengthen their capabilities.</li> <li>Define the limits of decision-making power.</li> <li>Cultivate a climate in which people feel free to take initiative on assignments.</li> <li>Give qualified people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources and encourage them to use these tools.</li> <li>Don’t second guess the decisions of those you have empowered to do so.</li> <li>Consider yourself a resource rather than the manager.</li> <li>Set appropriate follow-up meetings to review progress and take corrective action if necessary. </li> </ul> <h3>Sharing Leadership Power Has Its Benefits</h3> Sharing leadership and the information that accompanies it allows people in formal leadership positions to create positive inroads within the organization’s network, while generating trust and flattening the organizational structure. A flatter structure shortens the information path to and from organizational members, creates opportunities, and generates trust necessary for members to recognize and tackle opportunities as they arise.<br> <br> Leadership is not executed in a vacuum. Leadership behaviors affect the organization’s interpersonal network. Watercooler talk still goes on. It’s just done instantly and efficiently through channels like Skype or Snapchat. Leaders should consider tapping into these new mediums, sharing and creating information that drives initiative and empowerment. As organizational needs are generated with no obvious solution, perhaps a quick social media post or instant message to the organization will produce an innovative solution. But leadership must be willing to share that information, receive the feedback, and allow organizational members to take leadership in developing the answer.<br> Leaders of organizations also must occupy key spaces in workplace networks, be sensitive to the situation, and influence information being distributed. Attempts like the “Ask Us Anything” website to occupy a key space in the information network fail because leadership allowed others to fill the vacuum of information and drive influence. In contrast, leadership must persistently inhabit the space and understand that information, like influence, is a shared resource.<br> <br> Sharing leadership power may also reduce the walls of tribalism that can arise within our acquisition communities. We all understand that the PM is responsible for delivering desired capabilities, and the acquisition team supports that goal. Nevertheless, when one or more of the members of the acquisition team (PM, CO, test manager, etc. … ) reaches for full and unrelenting control of the conversation, team members can become alienated and tribalism result. However if members feel empowered and consider themselves, regardless of rank or position, to be joint leaders within the organization, leadership is distributed together with a sense of responsibility.<br> <br> Aspects of Distributed Leadership may already exist in various forms within your organization. Nevertheless, moving your organization to a fuller Distributed Leadership framework requires building leadership capacity within your workforce that will develop initiative and empowerment. There is hidden talent in our acquisition organizations that we need to tap into. Followers who possess hidden talent may be unfamiliar with acting in a leadership role and need instruction in how to recognize opportunities to lead, as well as on emerging leadership techniques. <br> <br> The Harvard Business Review article suggested cultivating a climate in which people feel free to take the initiative. Instruction on recognizing those opportunities goes a long way in cultivating and/or exposing our hidden talent resources. Moreover, instruction in current leadership models, such as Transformational Leadership, and application within a “system” of leadership will prove invaluable. It will give members a leadership toolset to begin with. <h3>Times, They Are a-Changin’, and So Should We</h3> As Bob Dylan sang in 1964, “The times they are a-changin.’” Leadership practices within our acquisition community must consider changing with them. Within today’s networked, information-rich world, we must view information and influence like an electric current. It is made by many and should be quickly shared. Handling it any differently will lead to a lack of innovation, trust, and empowerment within your organization. To develop Distributed Leadership’s culture, leadership power must be shared and leadership capacity increased. Broadly drawing lines of responsibility, permitting those lines to blur, giving power to qualified individuals, and providing wide decision-making freedom will develop a sense of empowerment among employees and expose hidden talent. Distributing leadership will make leadership an organizational quality and a sustainable competitive advantage within our acquisition community. <hr />Schleckser is a professor of Contract Management at Defense Acquisition University (DAU) in Huntsville, Alabama. He holds a Doctorate of Management from Webster University. He retired after 23 years from the U.S. Air Force where he served as a logistics manager. Prior to joining DAU, Schleckser served 12 years as a contracting officer and program manager for the United States Transportation Command.<br> <br> The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.<br></div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Distributed-Leadership-to-Empower-Acquisition-Professionals
Today’s Complexities Demand More Chefs, Fewer Cooks!’s Complexities Demand More Chefs, Fewer Cooks!2020-03-01T12:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass3E4096BF69FF435EA7A94E0FD4799215">If you’re a cook, you had better become a chef! Do you know the difference? A cook can follow a recipe and prepare a nice meal, but a chef can take a variety of wide-ranging ingredients, understand how they complement each other, and create a gourmet feast. Have you ever watched “Chopped” on the Food Network? Each chef contestant is given a basket of eclectic ingredients and a challenging schedule to fix an epicurean dish that their customers, the judges, will fawn over. Sound familiar? We live in an increasingly complex acquisition world where just following a Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 recipe will not suffice to provide your customer, the Warfighter, with the “dish” needed for success. For example, if you were to have taken the Defense Acquisition University’s Intermediate Systems Acquisition course 10 years ago, you would have been shown a single, phased-approach model, the Defense Acquisition Management System (Figure 1).<br> <br> <img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article3_figure1.jpg" style="width:765px;height:350px;margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;" /><br> Five years later, with a recognition that software is developed and procured differently than hardware, DoDI 5000.02’s refresh would have exposed you to six different models, a combination of hardware and software-dominant paths. An appreciation that the break between phases is not a smooth process led to the revamping of the hardware model, as well (Figure 2).<br> <img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article3_figure2.jpg" /><br> Today, our acquisition world’s complexity has expanded even more, recognizing that different situations require different urgencies, tools, and solutions. This has resulted in the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, whose latest draft includes the 2019 DoDI 5000.02 process as only one of the six potential paths to acquiring the best Warfighter solution (Figure 3).<br> <img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article3_figure3.jpg" style="float:left;width:759px;height:534px;" /><br> You need to become a chef! Gone are the days of being able to simply follow the prescribed Milestone A, B, C recipe. But how to make the change? First, you need to understand the circumstances presented to you. What is the “speed of relevance” for your program? How flexible and/or stable are the requirements? Have you established an enduring conversation with your customer to discuss requirements options? Then you will need to apply a thorough understanding of the major ingredients that will spell success or failure for any program. What are they? Let me suggest the following as a start. <h3>Acquisition Pathway</h3> Where does your effort fit into the new Adaptive Acquisition Framework? Are you trying to exploit some new innovative technology and provide the Warfighter with residual operational capabilities? Explore the Middle-Tier Acquisition (MTA) Rapid Prototyping path. Is there some proven technology, perhaps exploiting a commercial use, that you can produce quickly and field within 5 years? If so, then, MTA’s Rapid Fielding path might be right for you. Is software the major acquisition product, perhaps an upgrade to a command and control product? Why not follow the Software Acquisition path? Of course, there is nothing evil about the traditional Major Capability Acquisition path, which can and should be tailored to meet your specific needs. But it is crucial that you understand the requirements and benefits, along with the risks, of taking these different acquisition pathways, and then choose the pathway most appropriate for your program. <h3>Contracting Strategy</h3> Congress recently expanded some tools for finding and getting the right defense industry contractor on-board for our programs. Beyond traditional contracting vehicles based on the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Other Transactions (OTs), and Commercial Solutions Openings (CSOs) have provided some great additional options. Are they right for your program? Does your program meet the Three Ps of OTs—purpose, prototype, and participation? Many of your colleagues have embraced these contract vehicles, as evidenced by a rapid increase in OT use over the past several years. However, beware of statements that imply one contract vehicle is superior to all others. Some dishes need salt, and some need sugar. Just because both flavorings are white granular substances doesn’t mean it is appropriate to use them interchangeably. A good understanding of contract strategy differences can mean the difference between success and failure. If risk is too high and you’ve demanded a fixed price contract, industry proposals will reflect that. In such a case, you can likely gain flexibility and save money using a cost-reimbursable vehicle. You can often save time using an OT, but not always. The experts say that if you’re using OTs for the sole purpose of saving time, don’t! Always remember the reason you choose a particular contracting vehicle is to properly incentivize the contractor to provide your end users with the product they need, when they need it. <h3>Funding Strategy</h3> How will you get the money to run your program? Beyond the traditional Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) system that requires 2 years of foresight for acquiring funds, are there other sources of more immediate funding? Are you aware that the DoD has a Rapid Prototyping Fund administered by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering? Could that bridge the 2-year gap between a great technological opportunity now and establishing your long-term funding line through PPBE? If you can go faster via additional funds, have you explored getting on your service’s Unfunded Requirements List or pursued Reprogramming Requests? You need a thorough grasp of all of your options to get the required money, in the right appropriations, at the right time. Depending on your total budget, you will have a variety of reporting and accountability requirements. Have you accounted for those in your timelines? Can they be waived, when appropriate? Understanding your program deeply enough to predict the funds needed, in the appropriations category needed, will allow your team to ensure the money is available in time. <h3>System Engineering, Metrics, and Risk/Opportunity Management</h3> What is your path to getting the technical solution to work? Are you prototyping the hard stuff first—i.e., “the quickest path to failure,” as Dr. Bruce Jette, the Army’s Acquisition Executive would say. One of the most important system engineering tasks is to develop and maintain a rigorous risk and opportunity management plan. With today’s need for products to be delivered at the speed of relevance, it is essential that your team thoroughly recognizes the risks facing the proposed solution. How can those risks be mitigated? Will they be assumed, transferred, controlled, or avoided? And don’t forget about opportunities. Are any available that would increase speed or performance? What resources are needed to enable pursuit of those opportunities?<br> <br> This risk/opportunity management plan is not to be built and put on a shelf, but to serve as a steady guide as the product matures. If your product is software, do you understand the Risk Management Framework and how to best exploit its virtues to improve your software product? Is agile software development the right methodology for getting your software matured and in the users’ hands? If not, why not? A good strategy for developing the technical solution for the warfighter’s requirement is essential to your program’s success. <h3>Integrated Testing</h3> Employing a collaborative effort with the warfighter and tester, have you established a test and evaluation plan to ensure that your product meets that customer’s needs? What type of testing does your product and chosen acquisition path demand? A program manager’s worst nightmare is to contract for a product and successfully execute that product, only for the warfighter or tester to find it inadequate. If you follow a rapid prototyping pathway, you should engage in a test-learn-fix-test approach with multiple user test points in a series of small, targeted events, while maximizing modeling and simulation to increase your speed. A Test and Evaluation Master Plan will be required for the traditional Major Capability Acquisition approach; however, you should tailor it to increase testing’s influence on your development efforts. Like many of the functional offices, these vital activities can appear to program managers as impediments. However, they serve a vital role. Engaging with them early and developing a common understanding of schedule and technical requirements can foster an environment of mutual support toward the common goal of getting war-winning technology faster into the hands of the warfighters. Still, you also need to ensure that it stays in their hands. So, it is crucial that you track sustainment and producibility, starting early in the design process. <h3><img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2020/DEFACQ_Mar-Apr2020_article3_figure4.jpg" style="float:left;width:772px;height:247px;" />Sustainment and Producibility</h3> One of the potential pitfalls of the rapid prototyping path could be the neglect of production and sustainment costs in the effort to ensure that the product reaches residual operational capability within the 5-year window dictated by Congress. Studies have shown that, by the time the Preliminary Design Review is conducted, approximately 80 percent of the program’s life-cycle cost (LCC) is determined, even though only a small percentage of the program’s cumulative costs has been spent. This early design work is the place where the team has the best opportunity to impact LCC. By the time of the Critical Design Review, the LCC commitment is approximately 90 percent (Figure 4). <br> Production, logistics, and other considerations must be exhaustively understood and prioritized early or your program could easily become unaffordable. Prototyping emphasizes an experimental philosophy in order to get innovative technology to work. Without a strong program manager emphasis, there is little incentive to focus on future LCC drivers—i.e., production, operations, and support. Also, award fee contracts, which allow for profit margins to be influenced subjectively, and to include consideration of items such as affordability and sustainability, are highly discouraged. This may dissuade the government/contractor team from paying much heed to these longer-term factors. Like a chef who has visualized the flavor and presentation of the final dish early in the cooking process, your team must emphasize sustainment and producibility early in the design process to ensure that the final product is technologically superior, producible, and affordably sustainable.<br> <br> As a former senior manager of manufacturing at one of our industry partners, which produced the interiors of the canceled VH-71 Presidential Helicopter, I can testify how early design decisions can subvert manufacturing’s ability to produce an affordable product.<br> <br> Yes, a number of other factors must be decided on, managed, and tracked in order to produce a successful product for our warriors. Your team cannot forget to ensure the myriad other elements—such as environment, safety, and occupational health, spectrum certification, airworthiness, unique identifiers, energy policy, etc.—that must all be addressed for the program to succeed. However, the thorough understanding and vetting the above six major ingredients will allow you to master the complexities of today’s acquisition world. With that mastery, you will no longer feel the need to open up the DoDI 5000.02 cookbook to find the recipe for creating a good product. Instead, when you open up the basket of ingredients that the requirements and acquisition community has handed you, you’ll be able to create a gourmet, masterful acquisition strategy. Bon Appétit! <hr />Riel is professor of Acquisition Management at the Defense Acquisition University in Kettering, Ohio. He formerly had a 20-year career with the U.S. Air Force, including work with industry. <br> <br> The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.<br></div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Today’s-Complexities-Demand-More-Chefs,-Fewer-Cooks!