The Kessel Run Experimentation Lab is not your typical DoD program - it's not located on a military installation, you won't see anyone wearing a suit and it's driven by an almost frenetic need to innovate. It's leaders wouldn't have it any other way.
Although the U.S. Air Force program is only a few years old, it is already shaking up how Service does things like create software and purchase information technology capabilities. It's non-standard approach is designed to do two things, speed up the acquisition process and turn the Air Force into a software company that happens to fly planes.
The imperative for change and the need to innovate is palpable. "Traditional acquisition and software development can't keep up with the rate of change or challenges from our enemies," said deputy director U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders during an interview with the Defense Acquisition University. "We just can't keep up."
To overcome these challenges, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Kevin Kennedy mentioned in an interview with FedScoop that brings three skills into the conversation, "...an operator in that conversation who understands how to do software development, understands that it has some level of efficiency. I need an acquirer, someone from the acquisition community who understands how do we field these types of capabilities but also has some proficiency in it. And then I need a coder. That’s the ninja person who really knows how to do it quickly and can leverage those talents.”
In the ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab's new facility, Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, the Air Force’s director of information technology acquisition process development, called attention to just how different this organization is. “It’s one thing to say you’re going to do business differently, but look around and you can see that these airmen are learning. They’re building actual products, and they’re writing the book on how to be combat engineers for the information age,” she said.
Using this approach, Kessel Run has already been able to reduce the labor required to plan its missions and saves $750,000 to $1 million weekly.
Learn more in this video interview with Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders.
Video: The Agile Imperative with Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders
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Article: Air Force's New Software Lab in Boston Aims for High Speed
Article: Air Force's Kessel Run has admirers elsewhere in the military
Keywords: best practices, lessons learned
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