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Empowering the Acquisition Workforce the Acquisition Workforce2021-01-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClassC53C9DDC04D64F11961E022DDA4D53B8">The following senior acquisition leaders are members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Leadership Team who have contributed to this initiative and this article:<br> <br> Alan Shaffer, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Jeff White, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; Kevin Fahey, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition; Jay Stefany, Principal Civilian Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition; Darlene Costello, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Dr. Sandra Magnus, Deputy Director for Engineering, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Jackie Ferko, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Product Support; James Woolsey, President of DAU; Misty Cedano, Director, Acquisition Workforce and Talent Management, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. <hr />Why change? On Sept. 2, 2020, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord announced the Back-to-Basics initiative—the first major reform of the defense acquisition workforce management framework since the early 1990s. Since then, our world has changed significantly and the future promises even greater change.<br> <br> This reform initiative shifts our focus from a talent management system built for another time to a modern platform of continuous learning. It will take us back to the basics with a sharpened focus on the readiness of the workforce.<br> <br> We will equip the acquisition workforce through 2030, and beyond, by pivoting from a 30-year-old, “one size fits all” certification approach to tailorable, continuous learning, focused on the needs of the component and the workforce. Leadership’s highest priority is to take care of our people, and this change reflects that. We must prepare the workforce to develop, procure, and sustain overmatching operational capabilities in the face of competition between the world’s great powers. Doing so requires equipping the workforce with new skills, agility, and innovation—all at the speed of relevance. We also must adhere to the tenets of affordability. Budget reductions for acquisition workforce training and development also create the imperative for a focus on the lean “basics” that empower workforce success.<br> <br> Much like the acquisition system itself, our workforce management framework has grown to include excessive requirements and doesn’t provide enough flexibility to respond to the complex, diverse, and dynamically changing demands of today’s world.<br> <br> The recently implemented Department of Defense (DoD) Adaptive Acquisition Framework increases flexibility, reduces requirements of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), and empowers program managers to choose the pathway that meets their program needs. Similarly, the Back-to-Basics initiative is part of our shift to modern talent management, starting with the streamlining of the OSD acquisition certification structure, with reduced OSD and Functional Area required certification training, and creation of a 21st-century job-relevant learning environment. Acquisition leaders and workforce members will have new local flexibility to tailor training and professional development. <h2>Several Factors Drive Our Transformation</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Great Powers Competition: The United States won the Cold War with the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), and entered a period of relative peace and reduced military demands until the beginning of the War on Terror (2001). The United States and its Allies had a 25-year period without a near-peer adversary. As highlighted in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the United States now faces a world of increasing competition between great powers. Moreover, the acquisition cycle time for fielding new operational capabilities in China and Russia may be faster than in the United States. These circumstances require increased performance and speed across our acquisition system.</p> </li> <li>The recent “Adaptive Acquisition Workforce” initiative: This is, in large part, a response to the need for agility and speed in what the DoD fields in support of our Warfighters. Providing the workforce with the right tools, authorities, and flexibilities at the speed of relevance is a central tenet and impetus for Back-to-Basics: Empowering the Workforce Today and for the Future.</li> <li>Focus on the “Basics” that Empower the Workforce: A central dynamic to almost all business or technical management structures, both public or private, is that, over time, the structure can lose effectiveness in supporting mission success. Even if the current acquisition workforce training and development structure has served us well, a 30-year-old structure requires review, and Secretary Lord has challenged us to do just that. We ask the following questions: <ul> <li>Does our DAWIA implementation of today’s certification and training framework best equip the workforce for acquisition success—and can we do better?</li> <li>Does the current three-level certification framework, which focuses on early-career development, work—and can we do better?</li> <li>Does it make sense to have 650 hours of certification training for the contracting workforce? Note that the contracting community took an early lead and plans to reduce certification training to 250 hours. This will permit an increase in job-relevant training and on-the-job experience.</li> <li>Does it make sense to keep adding, and treating, agreeably key acquisition-related knowledge areas and practices as if they were substantive acquisition career fields—and can we do better?</li> </ul> </li> </ul> Under Back-to-Basics: Empowering the Workforce Today and for the Future, we set up a framework that prioritizes six major acquisition functional areas while providing the workforce new, job-relevant credentials, and point-of-need training. The senior acquisition leader steering group examined the functional areas, and we concluded that six of the 20 functions represented the core career-type functional areas in the development, procurement, and sustainment of operational capability.<br> <br> The six functional areas are Program Management; Contracting; Life Cycle Logistics; Engineering and Technical Management; Test and Evaluation; and Business–Financial Management/Cost Estimating. The remaining functions, while still important, do not represent core acquisition career-fields, but are most often cross-functional areas of knowledge that will be managed and trained as such. For example, we will continue to offer training in Small Business Management, and will make it available to the entire workforce rather than to a small self-selected group of contracting professionals who most often perform this work. In the improved Back-to-Basics framework, we will create a Small Business credential to structure this training and record its completion.<br> <br> Budget Realities: During Defense Wide Review 1.0 and 2.0, led by then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the DoD reduced funding for the DAU and the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Account by $215 million. This represents roughly a 50 percent cut in the pre-Defense Wide Review levels. Secretary Esper examined many areas within the DoD, and, through hard decisions, identified resources to shift for delivering near-term operational capability essential to National Defense Strategy priorities.<br> <br> Continuous Learning: There is an ongoing revolution in how the world accesses knowledge and training. As described in The Economist special report “Lifelong Education—Learning and Earning” (Jan. 14, 2017), the education model that most of our current workforce grew up with—block learning, with long courses leading to a degree—is being supplanted by a model of continuous learning. Educational models are changing, and we need to adapt and provide the acquisition workforce with rapidly delivered, flexible training. This means that we must reform our training to provide more frequent continuous-learning opportunities, often delivered virtually. Most professionals—including doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and others—now have a mandate for some continuous learning, frequent and required training updates, and refresher courses . As we improve acquisition workforce training and development, we also are adapting and providing more point-of-need, job-relevant training and credentials as part of a continuous learning culture. This approach will lead to a better trained, more agile acquisition workforce and will enable the workforce to deliver operational capability to our Warfighters more rapidly. <h2>The Changes and Their Workforce Impact</h2> It is important to note that aligning the workforce to six functional areas does not diminish the importance of the work performed by any employee. On the contrary, the work performed, and the people who perform it, remain critical to achieving the DoD mission. Streamlined certification requirements will include lean acquisition core training required of everyone in the workforce—such as the former DAU ACQ 101, now streamlined as the new ACQ 1010 course—and lean functional-area-required training.<br> <br> Our current three-level certification requires significant time in training, most of it early in careers, to achieve certification. Lean certification requirements mean reduced training hours and more time for on-the-job training, work experience, and earning job-relevant credentials. For example, in Contracting, DoD’s senior leaders plan to reduce the current, three levels of certification to one, and reduce certification-training hours from 650 to 250 hours. The six functional areas will be supplemented by credentials in the Back-to-Basics framework, allowing for training in important areas across functions—Small Business, for example—when doing so helps meet an employee’s job or career needs.<br> <br> By design, the streamlined certification demands increase the ability to shape teams and tailor individual development to what is needed. The new construct increases flexibility for component acquisition leaders, program managers, supervisors, and the workforce members to tailor training and development requirements with specialty training and credentials that “make sense.”<br> <br> DAU already has fielded eight new credentials—with more than 7,000 students currently enrolled—and is developing 38 additional credentials. The initial credentials reflect skills in Program Protection (Cybersecurity); Services Acquisition (two for this); Agile; Digital Engineering; Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management; Intellectual Property; and Data Analytics.<br> <br> Some credentials will apply primarily to one functional area, designed for career development inside that area. Others will cut across multiple areas and will often reflect emerging technologies and priorities. The key is greater flexibility to allow for tailoring to need. DAU also is leveraging the private sector, for example, by increasing access to private-sector training such as that provided by COURSERA—with access funded by DAU for the workforce. <h2><img alt="Marine Corps recruits practice maneuvers during basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article1_marines.jpg" style="margin-left:6px;margin-right:6px;float:left;width:400px;height:211px;" />What’s Next?</h2> Following Secretary Lord’s Sept. 2, 2020, memo, teams have been developing plans for implementation and deployment of the new framework by Oct. 1, 2021. The Lord memo established the streamlined functional areas, designated new functional area leaders, and established a new senior leader team—the Defense Acquisition Workforce Leadership Team (WLT)—chaired by me as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and including other Service and functional area senior leaders. The team, supported by the President of DAU and the Executive Director of Human Capital Initiatives, provides hands-on planning guidance to a supporting team of subject-matter experts. The functional area leaders are supported by a joint, functional task force, and are planning implementation details for their respective functional communities.<br> <br> During Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, functional leaders will operate very transparently, and the Services and Agencies will in turn strive to keep leadership and the workforce informed. Acquisition professionals already certified to their position requirements should stay focused on relevant professional currency. This is a different approach for everyone, taking into account job needs, individual experience, education, and current and future work within the relevant acquisition framework. For acquisition professionals working toward their current certification requirements during FY 2021, the current grace period extension established by Secretary Lord on April 1, 2020—from 24 months to 36 months—provides more flexibility. Workforce members should discuss their professional development planning with their supervisors.<br> <br> The Office of Human Capital Initiatives, on behalf of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Leadership Team, will issue monthly updates on implementation, which will include Frequently Asked Questions and other online resources, at <a href=""></a>.<br> <br> Back-to-Basics: Empowering the Workforce Today and for the Future is about you—the defense acquisition professional. You have proven over and again that acquisition professionals are critical to building the lethality and readiness called for in the National Defense Strategy. Your senior leaders care about you and your success.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/messagefromalanshaffer
Please “Tailor In” Your Adaptive Acquisition Strategy! “Tailor In” Your Adaptive Acquisition Strategy!2021-01-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass930D9D4D8A43460E8B30157B394057B1">This article is a “refresh” of “Please Tailor Your Acquisition Strategy,” published in the March-April 2018 issue of this magazine. Since then, much has changed and the imperative to develop sound acquisition strategies in this new environment is even more critical. Meanwhile, the concepts we discussed in the previous article still apply. Starting with program priorities, conducting prerequisite tasks, employing critical thinking, understanding the industry perspective, and iterating all remain integral to strategy development. Let’s review these concepts in the context of the new environment and begin by briefly reviewing the new acquisition guidance.<br> <br> Implementation of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) provides a new paradigm for defense acquisition. The AAF was implemented in December 2019 and provides regulatory and policy guidance for the acquisition of products and services. The new framework provides a set of acquisition pathways that the program manager (PM) can select to enable better warfighting solutions at a faster pace. The new framework includes separate 5000 series Department of Defense Instructions (DoDIs) for each acquisition pathway. The Framework also provides separate 5000 series instructions for each functional area, versus the previous DoDI 5000.02, which included enclosures and tables in one comprehensive document.<br> <br> Featured in the new framework are the six acquisition pathways versus the previous acquisition models in the DoDI 5000.02. Additional details on each pathway are available at The pathways are the (1) Urgent Capability, (2) Major Capability, (3) Middle Tier of Acquisition, (4) Business Systems, (5) Acquisition of Services, and (6) Software. PMs will use one or more of these pathways as part of the acquisition strategy and will “tailor-in” the regulatory information for program plans and how that information will be provided for review by the decision authority. This is a new approach from the previous model of tailoring out regulatory requirements and has significant ramifications for acquisition strategies.<br> <br> Using a football analogy to highlight the new tailoring-in paradigm, think about an Offensive Coordinator (OC) starting the initial game-plan effort with a full playbook. The OC decides to delete some plays based on the strengths, weaknesses, and expected defensive schemes of the coming opponent. The OC’s job is straightforward since he can select the team’s existing plays in the big playbook and tailor out plays that do not seem to be a good fit.<br> <br> Conversely, using our tailoring-in construct, the OC now starts game-planning with a blank playbook and thinks through which type of plays are best suited for the upcoming game. The OC starts selecting or even designing a small number of plays and then customizes them even further to optimize the team’s ability to move the ball and defeat the opponent. As this analogy demonstrates, tailoring-in requires greater preparation, analysis, and critical thinking to be effective. It also should produce a better plan of action and help avoid the checklist mentality of just doing everything in the book.<br> <br> The AAF includes the following major tenets: (1) Simplify Acquisition Policy; (2) Tailor Acquisition Approaches; (3) Empower Program Managers; (4) Conduct Data Driven Analysis; (5) Actively Manage Risk; and (6) Emphasize Sustainment.<br> <br> While each tenet is important and relevant for acquisition strategies, items No. 1 (Simplify Policy) and 3 (Empower Program Managers) provide opportunities for fundamental change. PM empowerment sends a clear message that the person charged with leading the integrated product team has the requisite responsibility and authority to make strategy decisions. Rather than just consolidate inputs from the team and stakeholders, the PM must decide how to best integrate the various interests into a comprehensive and executable strategy.<br> <br> Simplifying policy, when combined with tailoring in regulatory requirements, suggests that PMs must no longer try to satisfy every possible regulation and functional requirement as part of the program strategy. Rather, PMs can focus on the critical areas that deserve the resources and attention based on the unique program situation. The burden of justification switches from why are you deleting this requirement to why should we include it? Tailoring-in for the acquisition strategy suggests a new approach, but we can still use the following strategy development concepts to help navigate the process. <hr /> <div style="text-align:center;"><span style="text-align:center;font-family:Georgia, Times, "Times New Roman", serif;font-style:italic;">The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.</span></div> <h5 style="text-align:center;"><em>—Michael Porter, noted academic expert on strategic thinking</em></h5> <hr /> <h2>Start With Program Priorities</h2> Strategies involve choices that need to link directly to the program priorities. Recently, we have heard about Operation Warp Speed (OWS), an interagency partnership to accelerate medical countermeasures to combat COVID-19. If we consider OWS as an example, we can obviously observe that schedule is a top priority to save lives and fully re-open economies and other public institutions. Rapidly acquiring vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to combat COVID-19 is a top priority for the nation and global community.<br> <br> In addition to rapidly awarding multiple contracts to companies for the most promising medical countermeasures, the government in some cases accepted financial risk to fund concurrent development, clinical trials, and manufacturing ramp-up. This enabled much earlier availability of the critical vaccines and therapeutics, some them already proven effective and safe. It also encouraged greater industry participation. The urgency of rapid delivery across the entire nation drives many other decisions and shapes the overall strategy.<br> <br> Program priorities should drive acquisition strategy decisions. Start with a full understanding of the relative importance of cost versus schedule versus performance (or quality). But PMs also must consider overall constraints since desired performance or quality must be affordable and available within a reasonable schedule. PMs also must consider tradeoffs between technical parameters and ensure that the program can quickly access the data and models to inform good decisions. <h2>Prerequisite Tasks and Critical Thinking</h2> As I work and consult with program teams, I often observe the tendency to jump right to contract type when discussing an upcoming acquisition strategy. As we indicated in the previous article, contract type, and overall business strategy should be among the last topics vetted. In order to develop a sound acquisition strategy, PMs must have accurate and timely information that form the basis for the business strategy. Conducting pre-requisite tasks enables the accumulation of that needed data. Activities such as market research, identification of framing assumptions, technical strategy development, risk management planning, and opportunity management typically are the key tasks that will feed the business strategy and the resulting contract type.<br> <br> A notional starting point of questions to address in this phase might include, but not be limited to the following: <ul> <li>Is this a developmental item? If so, what is the scope of development?</li> <li>What existing data, test results, other users/developers, and infrastructure are available? How will we use them?</li> <li>How do commercial technology and products support this acquisition?</li> <li>What should we prototype, and how will we demonstrate the capability to gain early knowledge and confidence in the system design?</li> <li>What are the opportunities for innovation? What new or novel concepts and technologies are relevant?</li> <li>What are the opportunities to accelerate development and fielding?</li> <li>What are the minimum essential regulatory and policy items, reviews, and tasks?</li> </ul> The new tailoring-in methodology will require robust critical thinking. We know from various sources that critical thinking is one of the most sought-after job skills in a technology-driven workforce. It is worth emphasizing that critical thinking is a skill that grows with training and practice. As a professor, when I ask students how many have taken critical thinking training and then practiced that skill, I often get blank stares. Critical thinking training is available in multiple venues and platforms, including virtually. PMs should make this skill a priority for their teams and emphasize the need to develop processes to enforce the use of thinking methodologies within the organization. <h2>Consider the Industry Perspective</h2> Since industry is the ultimate recipient of the strategy, PMs must consider how industry will respond to it. There is potential danger in making assumptions about industrial capabilities and motivations when developing the acquisition strategy. Industry is constantly changing, with the introduction of new companies, business models, and offerings. New start-ups, small businesses, and commercial technology companies can provide opportunities for innovation in defense acquisition, but only if we exploit the opportunities.<br> <br> Many of these companies have not previously worked in the defense market and may be hesitant to pursue DoD contracts based on their fear of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and other government regulations. We should not assume that multiple companies will pursue or bid on new defense solicitations since many are leaving the defense sector for greener commercial pastures. Fortunately, authorities like Other Transactions Agreements (OTAs) provide DoD the flexibility to work with nontraditional defense companies. Agencies are using OTAs more frequently, even in combination with or in support of traditional defense company efforts. OTAs, if structured properly, can even support follow-on production after a prototype effort.<br> <br> Industry can provide valuable feedback on key tasks that should be tailored-in. As part of our dialogue with industry, we should assess reducing, revising, or even eliminating various tasks, reviews, and documents that can add unnecessary costs and time. <h2><img alt="Figure 1 Integrating Acquisition Strategy Elements" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article2_figure1.jpg" style="width:611px;height:400px;" /><br> Iterate and Integrate</h2> As Porter’s previous quote suggests, tailoring-in an acquisition strategy involves addressing what to do and even more important, what not to do. In my PM experience, various functional experts and other stakeholders want their areas of concern addressed in the strategy. It is not an easy conversation to tell teammates that their desired “play” is not part of the upcoming game-plan, but those conversations need to occur. As part of the iterative nature of the strategy process, we can explore different approaches and assess benefits and costs. But the PM has the ultimate decision and subsequent accountability.<br> <br> The flow of analytical tasks in developing the strategy refers to integration. There is no cookbook or standard method, but the flow typically begins with technical drivers—especially for developmental efforts. This is due to the premise that technical aspects often drive decisions in other elements that follow it. Figure 1 represents a revised notional strategy flow. Given the importance of tailoring-in items in the strategy, we include a new Step 3 (Determine Pathways and Tailoring-in). <h2>Final Thoughts</h2> The Tailoring-in paradigm and other recent changes in acquisition provide acquisition professionals an exciting opportunity. Expectations are high for innovation, speed, and streamlined processes. To meet the expectations, the entire acquisition community should be open to new ways of doing business and learning new skills. The DAU can help with training on the AAF and acquisition strategy development, including various workshops that we can customize to support an organization’s specific needs.<br> <br> We will all learn as we enter this unchartered territory. Please share your lessons learned and ideas with others so we can all benefit. I continue to be very interested to discuss and review your thoughts experiences on this subject. Thanks in advance for your support as we all try to figure out what not to do! <hr />Schultz is a professor of Program Management and an executive coach in the DAU’s Capital and Northeast Region at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Please-Tailor-In-Your-Adaptive-Acquisition-Strategy
Thinking Critically: Unleashing the Power of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework Critically: Unleashing the Power of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework2021-01-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass7C0ECF8671634CA6AF9A88FF82FA29E6">Fahey has served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition since February 2018. He previously retired from the Senior Executive Service after serving as the Executive Director, System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology); Program Executive Officer, Combat Support and Combat Service Support; and Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems. Howard leads strategic communications for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown University. <hr />Mr. Fahey discusses with Matthew Howard of the Office of the Secretary of Defense the impact of recent acquisition reforms and the cultural shift required to continue building on its momentum. In addressing the new approach to the Defense Acquisition System, Mr. Fahey focuses on delivering capability at the speed of relevance. <hr /><strong><img alt="Kevin Fahey" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article3_kevinfahey.jpg" style="margin-left:6px;margin-right:6px;float:left;width:236px;height:300px;" />Q. Last year saw the publication of the new DoD Directive 5000.01 as well as several supporting DoD Instructions. What is so important about these reforms and why will they have a lasting impact?</strong><br> <br> A. I retired from government in 2015 after a 34-year career, and I had no intention of coming back. However, some three years later, people convinced me that, if there was ever a time it would be possible to fundamentally change how the Department of Defense (DoD) does acquisition, that was the time. The Senate, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Under Secretary Ellen Lord were all aligned to better provide capabilities at the speed and time of relevance.<br> <br> When I arrived on the job, Ms. Lord gave me clear guidance but also afforded me the flexibility to do what was required to meet her goal of getting people to think critically while being creatively compliant within an Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF). As I thought about that, particularly through the lens of my career-long experiences, it became clear that redesigning the 5000 series was the best way to execute.<br> <br> DoD Directive 5000.01 is primarily about roles and responsibilities within the Defense Acquisition System. While updates reflect the split of the former Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics office into Acquisition and Sustainment and a separate Research and Engineering division, as well as the creation of the Chief Management Officer, the real transformation was DoD Instruction 5000.02. That policy formerly focused primarily on a checklist for carrying out major acquisition programs: Here was everything you could ever think of; and every other type of program should tailor out as appropriate. This created a culture of “what don’t I have to do” versus really thinking through what makes sense to do given the capability being developed. In many instances program managers (PMs) did things that were neither effective nor useful, but doing them was actually easier than tailoring them out. We wanted to create a policy that gave PMs the authority and responsibility to tailor in what is required.<br> <br> The thought behind the new 5000.02 is to get folks to do the critical thinking, and that means figuring out exactly what needs to be done to deliver a capability at the speed of relevance. Six acquisition pathways address examples we’ve seen over the years: urgent requirements, the middle tier of acquisition, major programs, business systems, services, and software. Fundamentally, though, it’s not about picking a specific pathway and boxing yourself in. It’s about common sense decision making and thinking through what the right acquisition strategy looks like for the capability you’re developing. You could choose to follow no pathway at all, and that’s the beauty of this AAF.<br> <br> In addition to DoD Instructions for each pathway, the other critical piece of the redesign is the emphasis on functional areas. Regardless of whether you’re doing a software acquisition, major acquisition, or anything in between, you still have to think about sustainment; no matter what you’re doing, you need to think about cybersecurity, disciplined systems engineering, test and evaluation, and so on. Just as that PM is doing the critical thinking to establish the right acquisition strategy, instructions for each functional area better enable the functional experts to help establish the right functional program to support the PM. <hr /> <blockquote> <p style="text-align:center;">“You’re empowered; now you need to do the critical thinking.”</p> </blockquote> <hr /><strong>Q. You mentioned the notion of “critical thinking.” What does that term—and that mindset—mean?</strong><br> <br> A. When I first pitched my ideas for this new acquisition framework, many thought I had lost my mind. But as I tell people all the time, the worst thing you can do is surround yourself with people who are just like you and have the same background. The acquisition enterprise truly lucked out with Stacy Cummings and the herculean effort she led to make this transformation a reality.<br> <br> Prior to becoming the Principal Deputy here in our office, Stacy was managing DoD’s electronic health records. Her background was in logistics—not acquisition—so when she arrived, she had no choice but to ask me the hard questions. It made both of our staffs uncomfortable because they all thought I was going to get mad or view it as pushing back; but it was exactly the opposite. The ideas that Ms. Lord and I had are 1,000 times better because Stacy was asking those questions. She forced us to think critically about our every decision in order to create best possible policy for the DoD, for our PMs, and for our Warfighters—it’s exactly the kind of critical thinking that the new Defense Acquisition System was designed for.<br> <br> It’s all about asking the critical questions: the ones that are open-ended and not a matter of simple yes or no answers. When I have a discussion with someone, I’ll often actually argue what I don’t believe so that I can hear the other side and better understand the full scope of the decision. PMs have to be asking those questions as they think through their specific capability, its associated risks, and all the supporting functional areas.<br> <br> I’ve told every PM who has ever worked for me, “You’re empowered; now you need to do the critical thinking.” I would ask them the hard questions, but as long as they kept me informed, I made sure they knew I would take the blame if they ran into problems. In the past, we’ve often created a risk averse culture: If something goes wrong, you’re going to be fired. We need to change that mentality.<br> <br> If a PM is doing the right things and has done the critical thinking, leaders need to trust and support that PM—even if it’s not what they might do in the same situation. If the PM identified a risk and that risk was realized, we have to be able to say, “That’s OK. You did a good job.”<br> <br> <strong><img alt="Soldiers test the Capability Set 3 (CS3) militarized form factor prototype of the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) during its third Soldier Touchpoint at Fort Pickett, Virginia." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article3_Soldiers.jpg" style="width:400px;height:267px;margin-left:6px;margin-right:6px;float:left;" />Q. How will these changes impact the acquisition workforce?</strong><br> <br> A. Ms. Lord has delegated most programs down to the military Services, which in turn have delegated a great deal of authority and responsibility down to the O-6 and O-5 levels. By delegating to the lowest level, that’s where you get innovation and are able to hold people accountable—but you can’t tell everybody what to do. While our intent with the AAF is to empower PMs with more flexibility, how do you train that?<br> <br> At the micro level, we’re working to develop a course focused on critical thinking. In its Introduction to Special Operations Acquisition Course, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) dedicates a significant amount of instruction time to cognitive agility as a way to set the foundation for both the course and the acquisition career writ large. With the help of Jimmy Smith, the USSOCOM Acquisition Executive, we’re building off of their best practices and lessons learned to create a similar course for the AAF that’s really aimed at teaching our PMs how to think, not what to think.<br> <br> At the macro level, we’re changing the way we train the acquisition workforce as a whole. Since the Department’s Acquisition Corps was initially established in the late 1980s, we’ve steadily built an extensive certification process for 20-plus career fields—but the focus was always on certification. We know people are certified, but are they truly qualified for the jobs we’re assigning them?<br> <br> We’re still going to certify, but the idea is to cut back the amount of core training and get back to basics. Previously, we tried to teach everybody everything, and a great example is information technology (IT) acquisition. As part of their required training, every PM had to complete a class on IT acquisition. But not every PM is going to do IT acquisition! And for those that would, the training was probably insufficient in scope and detail and likely forgotten by the time the information was actually needed.<br> <br> Instead, we’re focusing on the critical skills a program management shop needs while giving the workforce members what they truly need to know as they progress through their careers. In many instances, we had Level I, II, and III certifications; now we’re thinking more in terms of basic competencies for a journeyman or an expert with additional training at the time of need. You’re still going to learn how to be a PM regardless of whether you’re doing IT or services. But if you are doing IT or services, we’ll have specific, PhD-level DAU classes to train you at that time and ensure that you have the right credentials.<br> <br> <strong>Q. Are there examples where these reforms are already making a difference in the DoD?</strong><br> <br> A. A program that has done really well is the Army Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), and that’s largely because the team is top notch. From engineering, to contracting, to sustainment, to industrial base evaluators, their people are doing the critical thinking—and doing it well.<br> <br> People often think, “They’re doing middle tier of acquisition; they’re just winging it.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. I can’t emphasize enough that, to do what we’re asking people to do, you still have to do your due diligence. After the IVAS team conducted their second major prototype demonstration, they sat down with the contractor for five weeks for detailed planning on the rest of development.<br> <br> When COVID-19 hit shortly after, the two parties didn’t have to be co-located because everyone already knew the inchstone plan to get to the next demonstration. Because of their diligence, the program is still on track to transition from a middle-tier prototyping to a middle-tier fielding within the next year. It’s a great example that, for all of the puzzle pieces—engineering, systems engineering, sustainment, and so on—detailed planning is more important to program delivery than ever before.<br> <br> The DoD has been really supportive of IVAS as well, and a big part of that is the team’s openness with information and data. To a large extent, we’re taking advantage of a commercial product and militarizing it. One of the biggest challenges in doing so is cost and pricing—it’s not the typical process when we’ve historically paid for everything. Even in the cost and pricing, there are pieces proprietary to the contractor that we really have to think through to make sure we’re getting a fair and reasonable price when we make an award. It’s certainly a learning experience, but the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office has been working with both the PM and the contractor from the outset, and it’s a great example of the DoD coming together to develop the right strategy for the program.<br> <br> Building a similar culture of data transparency across the DoD is critical. In the past, PMs haven’t liked sharing their data because we weren’t mature enough to handle that transparency—we ended up trying to do the PMs’ jobs for them. We have to get away from that mindset. Sure, we will use that data to hold PMs and the Services accountable, but we’re more focused on how we can help programs survive rather than beating them up because they aren’t going well. We want to employ that data to identify systemic problems in the Defense Acquisition System and inform the development of new policy or other tools. We’re getting better, and Congress has been a real supporter of our efforts.<br> <br> <strong><img alt="B-52 bomber " src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article3_b-52.jpg" style="margin-left:6px;margin-right:6px;float:right;width:400px;height:212px;" />Q. Can you discuss how the Defense Acquisition System and AAF are better postured to proactively address cybersecurity?</strong><br> <br> A. We’re laser-focused on ensuring a safe, secure, and resilient defense industrial base (DIB), and there are two pieces to that. First, how do we help PMs with supply chain risk management? We’re working with the Services—and in some instances directly with PMs—to develop common tools for better visibility into the second-, third-, and fourth-tier levels. Several prime contractors are also helping us throughout the development process.<br> <br> Second, how do we ensure cybersecurity across the DIB? Again, Ms. Lord provided guidance on the end-state but allowed me to use my background in quality assurance to guide the direction of our efforts. Our previous requirements for industry were essentially “do the right thing,” and compliance was self-attested by each company. Taking a cue from what we did when we shifted from the Military Standard for quality to that of the International Standards Organization (ISO), how could we establish a self-correcting cybersecurity standard?<br> <br> Today, industry itself has built an infrastructure to guarantee quality. Let’s say that you teach people how to do quality, or are a quality certifier. If folks are still not producing good quality, you’re not going to be employed very long. In essence, that infrastructure is self-enforcing and ensures that there are good trainers and certifiers throughout the supply chain. Our first major step in that direction is CMMC—the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. Along with cost, schedule, and performance, security is foundational to acquisition and CMMC establishes a single, unified standard to measure a company’s ability to protect critical government information.<br> <br> Many companies—especially small businesses—are concerned about the costs associated with CMMC implementation. Under Katie Arrington’s leadership, however, we’ve made it a priority to get constant feedback from industry throughout the development process, including how we train and assist during implementation. In many instances, industry will only need to attain the lower levels that include processes and practices that most people should be doing in their own homes. While it does become more expensive once you get to highest certification levels, when you look at the cost of the information we’re losing, it’s well worth it in the long run.<br> <br> It’s imperative that we move fast, but we’re working with industry to move at a speed that makes sense. Unlike many Federal Acquisition Regulation rules, the CMMC requirement doesn’t go into effect full-blown on Day One but rather will be phased in over time. We’re taking the time to conduct pathfinders with industry partners to work through how requirements flow down beyond the primary level, see where we have issues, and correct them. Like ISO 9000, we expect full CMMC implementation to take about five years.<br> <br> Katie has also done a remarkable job developing a supporting instruction to the 5000 series focusing on weapons system and infrastructure cyber-resiliency. From the time we conceptualize a capability to the time it’s demilitarized and retired, how do we ensure it’s cyber-secure? It starts with the requirements, and this new policy will outline how cyber must be addressed throughout the entirety of the acquisition process.<br> <br> Most people don’t understand how hard it is to do policy in the DoD; it really has to be a collaborative effort between the Services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As Katie was finalizing the draft, just by luck the Executive Program Manager’s Course was under way at DAU, as was the Senior Acquisition Course at the Eisenhower School. In both instances, students asked questions about improving cybersecurity and weapon system resiliency—so we ended up sending them the draft.<br> <br> Too often, you see policy being written by people who never seek input from those who have to implement it. This is a great example of how including the eventual practitioners in the development process will really make a difference in the final product. Whether Stacy Cummings, Katie Arrington, or Kim Herrington, the team has done a remarkable job involving all the stakeholders—be they internal or external—to produce meaningful reform.<br> <br> <strong>Q. The DoD has generated a lot of momentum on the way we do business in acquisition. What’s next, and how do you foresee us building on that momentum? </strong><br> <br> A. When I began my career, we developed parts by creating one-dimensional Mylar drawings. Eventually we transitioned into 3D drawings and then model-based systems engineering, and I believe digital engineering is the next step in that evolution. Companies like SpaceX are pushing the boundaries in industry today, but when you look at the sophistication of many DoD systems, we’re going to be pushing the state-of-the-art on a lot of those digital engineering tools. It’s going to be a process, especially when it comes to establishing policy and documentation requirements. Are we going to direct the use of digital engineering for new programs? If so, how will we incentivize industry and ensure that the right tools are in place? These are the questions we’re beginning to think through, but we still have a lot of work to do.<br> <br> Contracting is another major focus. Across DoD, we have unbelievable contracting officers, but they’ve often grown up in in a culture of “don’t do anything wrong.” We certainly don’t want them to do anything wrong, but Kim Herrington, John Tenaglia, and their team have done a wonderful job thinking through how we better use modeling and past experiences on certified cost and pricing. As we work to ensure a fair and reasonable price, what do our models say versus what industry models say? And just as with the overall acquisition program, how do you delegate authority and responsibility and what is the appropriate level to do so? Contracting is probably one of the areas training is most critical, and we continue to get better.<br> <br> Finally, we must continue to drive the culture of tailoring in. I hate checklists because I believe it gets to the point where there’s no thinking involved. I’ve seen it firsthand with my involvement in programs I considered very successful. A few years after, you could see programs quite similar to mine that took our acquisition strategy and essentially did a word search. While it was a great acquisition strategy, it did not, for any number of reasons, fit the specific capability they were acquiring.<br> <br> We have to get people away from, “That worked for that program,” to saying instead, “I’m delivering this capability.” While there is certainly still value in capturing lessons learned, the AAF is a framework, not a blueprint. It is a template to lead people through the critical thinking, not a checklist to get to a milestone. Chris O’Donnell and Dyke Weatherington have done a tremendous job instilling this mentality throughout some of the DoD’s most critical acquisition programs. As a result, we’re really beginning to see that enterprise shift in thinking. As we look to the future, culture is everything as we unleash the power of the AAF.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Thinking-Critically-Unleashing-the-Power-of-the-Adaptive Acquisition-Framework
Leaders, Take Charge! Step Up to the New Acquisition Learning and Development Challenge, Take Charge! Step Up to the New Acquisition Learning and Development Challenge2021-01-01T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass12A4A31DBAFE4DA685D7218BEDB070E8">Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord recently signed the Back to Basics memo. In the memo, she stressed the importance of personnel development and the streamlining of Defense Acquisition Workforce training to meet the National Defense Strategy objectives.<br> <br> Parallel to Back to Basics, DAU is undergoing a transformation in three key areas—Frictionless Learning, World Class Content, and Dynamic Network.<br> Frictionless Learning is about providing the workforce easy access to training that reinforces lifelong learning. World Class Content ensures that DAU offers high-quality learning assets that are current and relevant. The Dynamic Network connects people with knowledge to those who need that knowledge. The convergence of Back to Basics and DAU’s Transformation represents a chance for leaders to shape Acquisition Learning and Development as never before. Viewed through DAU’s module on the Five Dimensions of Leadership, this is the time for leaders to take charge of Acquisition Learning and Development. <h2>The Learning and Development Challenge</h2> The Back to Basics and DAU Transformation initiatives are part of an effort to empower leaders to shape acquisition learning and development for their workforce. One can characterize the current state of acquisition learning and development, anchored in the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA), as being certification-focused to deliver “just-in-case” learning, driven by a centralized workforce development process. Acquisition Learning and Development in the future will involve much leaner certification and credential focus to deliver “just-in-time” learning, with leaders driving the workforce development. <hr /> <blockquote> <p style="text-align:center;">Frictionless Learning is about providing the workforce easy access to training that reinforces lifelong learning.</p> </blockquote> <hr /><br> Since the 1990 passage of DAWIA, a goal of acquisition professionals has been achievement of Level III certification in one or more career fields. The logic was, “If I am Level-X in Career Field-Y, I am qualified for the job coded for Level-X in Career Field-Y.” This approach professionalized the acquisition workforce but, in the process, included scrap learning (learning you don’t need now but are forced to take “just in case”) and front-loaded training too early in the acquisition professional’s career. The “just-in-case” approach to learning is wasteful and insufficient for today’s complex and dynamic acquisition challenges. It also wastes a precious, non-renewable resource—time.<br> <br> Conversely, credentialing offers a more responsive approach to arming acquisition professionals with the knowledge for the job at hand. DAU’s trifecta of Frictionless Learning, World Class Content, and Dynamic Network will provide the acquisition professional with the necessary knowledge to accomplish a task in a fraction of the investment required by the traditional approach. Historically, acquisition learning and development was something the “system” did to the acquisition professional. The centralized system required an individual visit to DAU for Level-X training. In the future, acquisition learning and development is something leaders must do for their acquisition professionals. Leaders (at all levels—self, team, organization) will need to expand their field of view and raise workforce development to the center of the cost, schedule, and performance triangle. One way to look at how leaders can step up to the future of acquisition learning and development opportunity is through the lens of the Five Dimensions of Leadership. <h2>The Five Dimensions of Leadership</h2> DAU’s Acquisition Leader Development course, “Becoming an Acquisition Leader” has a module on the Five Dimensions of Leadership. The module is an adaptation of Karen and Henry Kimsey-House’s book, Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead (2015). The framework of the Five Dimensions of Leadership applies to leaders at all levels of responsibility. Great leaders are able to effortlessly transition between the dimensions depending on circumstances.<br> <br> Let us look at each of the five dimensions before applying the Five Dimensions of Leadership to the future of Acquisition Learning and Development:<br> <br> (1) The Leader Within takes responsibility for developing greater self-awareness, purpose, and commitment to align thought and action.<br> (2) The Leader in Front provides direction and holds the vision while making connections between people and groups.<br> (3) The Leader Behind supports others, clearing obstacles and facilitating what is necessary to realize the vision.<br> (4) The Leader Beside collaborates with other leaders, each one giving 100 percent to the endeavor.<br> (5) The Leader of the Whole senses the big picture and anticipates its needs.<br> <br> <img alt="Figure 1. The Five Dimensions of Leadership. In Front, Behind, Beside, Of the Whole" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Jan-Feb2021/article4_figure1.jpg" style="margin-left:6px;margin-right:6px;float:left;width:500px;height:286px;" />Figure 1 illustrates the Five Dimensions of Leadership. If you want to know more about it, view Professor Mike Mochel’s short video on the DAU website at: <a href=""></a>. <h2>Applying the Five Dimensions to the New Opportunity</h2> So how does the Five Dimensions of Leadership framework relate to the new Acquisition Learning and Development? In the new Acquisition Learning and Development, the Leaders Within must take charge of their career-long learning. The Leader Within constantly assesses their own capabilities and limitations and uses all available learning and development opportunities to close immediate and future gaps. A personal SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis is a great tool to use in creating an individual development plan.<br> <br> The Leader in Front establishes an Acquisition Learning and Development vision for the team. The Leader in Front asks the important question, “What then?” For example, “After we achieve the next milestone, what skills will the team need then?” They also lead by example, walking the lifelong learning talk.<br> The Leader Behind guides and encourages subordinates’ learning and development. The Leader Behind enables the team by removing obstacles so they may continue to grow professionally. A common obstacle to Acquisition Learning and Development is the lack of time to grow. Leaders have to provide their people the opportunity to grow the skills that they need. Leaders transform the challenge, “We cannot afford for you to lose” into “While you are learning about X, someone else will step-in to grow.”<br> <br> The Leader Beside helps other leaders learn and develop. This includes sharing resources, knowledge, risks and opportunities. Establishing local communities of practice and skill marketplaces are ways the Leader Beside can share human capital with others at the same level of responsibility.<br> <br> The Leader of the Whole looks at the workforce development picture and anticipates future needs. This can take the form of succession planning and skill forecasting. “Sand Pile” charts that show the ebb and flow of specific skills over the course of a project are useful tools for the Leader of the Whole. The Leader of the Whole empowers the team to define learning and development opportunities and obtains the resources to deliver on those opportunities. The list on page 18 summarizes some of the ways leaders at all levels can take charge of Acquisition Learning and Development. <h2>DAU Outreach to Assist</h2> In the future defense acquisition environment full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, leaders will have an expanded role, and they cannot do it alone. DAU will be conducting extensive outreach through DAU’s Customer Liaison Officers to assist Program Executive Officers, Major Commands, and Defense Agencies. This assistance will include an overview of DAU’s learning assets, including credentialing assets. DAU may also assist organizations with mapping required skills and forecasting future Acquisition Learning and Development needs. You can expect that DAU will work closely with customers on making this transition happen. <hr />AUTHOR’s NOTE: The author thanks the many DAU and Fourth Estate Defense Acquisition Career Management teammates who peer reviewed this article. If you want to know more about the Acquisition Leader Development initiative, please view the video at this link, <a href=""></a>. If you want to create an acquisition leadership development program within in your organization, view the video and download the Grow Your Leaders support package from the DAU website, <a href="/tools/t/Grow-Your-Leaders-Job-Aid"></a>. If you have ideas, suggestions or comments, please contact the author at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>. <hr />Gallop has nearly 30 years of acquisition experience in military, industry and government leadership positions. He is currently the Director of the DAU Leadership Center. The Center brings leadership learning and development opportunities to civilians at all levels of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/leaders-take-charge

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