As we draw down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our force needs to make a very difficult transition from a large, rotational, counterinsurgency-based force to a leaner, more agile, more flexible, and ready force for the future.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter
See Dr. Carter’s full remarks at the National Press Club on May 7, 2013.
A March 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Long CEO Tenure Can Hurt Performance, highlighted research on CEO tenure on impact with employees and customers.
It’s a familiar cycle: A CEO takes office, begins gaining knowledge and experience, and is soon launching initiatives that boost the bottom line. Fast-forward a decade, and the same executive is risk-averse and slow to adapt to change—and the company’s performance is on the decline. Optimal tenure length: 4.8 years.
The underlying reasons for the pattern have to do with how CEOs learn. Early on, when new executives are getting up to speed, they seek information in diverse ways, turning to both external and internal company sources. This deepens their relationships with customers and employees alike.
But as CEOs accumulate knowledge and become entrenched, they rely more on their internal networks for information, growing less attuned to market conditions. And, because they have more invested in the firm, they favor avoiding losses over pursuing gains. Their attachment to the status quo makes them less responsive to vacillating consumer preferences.
In part 3 of my Inventing a Digital Pentagon post, I had a similar point on tenure of managers and key headquarters staff.
While the DoD frets about the frequent turnover of political appointees and program managers, it should remain vigilant of people who are entrenched into key headquarters staff positions. Maintaining a steady pipeline of fresh talent and ideas in organizations fosters an environment for thought leaders to emerge. Innovation rarely occurs from someone who has been in the same job for a decade. The DoD should review those who have been in a key position for over five years and develop transition strategies to maintain a vibrant enterprise.
Beyond tenure, they reinforced the importance of being attuned to the enterprise (internal and external) information networks. I couldn’t agree more.
Po Bronson had an inspiring piece in Fast Company in 2002: What Should I Do With My Life?
People thrive by focusing on the question of who they really are — and connecting that to work that they truly love (and, in so doing, unleashing a productive and creative power that they never imagined). Companies don’t grow because they represent a particular sector or adopt the latest management approach. They win because they engage the hearts and minds of individuals who are dedicated to answering that life question.
This is not a new idea. But it may be the most powerfully pressing one ever to be disrespected by the corporate world. There are far too many smart, educated, talented people operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the productive engine of modern civilization. There are far too many people who look like they have their act together but have yet to make an impact. You know who you are. It comes down to a simple gut check: You either love what you do or you don’t. Period.
The digital information revolution has handed the U.S. intelligence community a slew of new challenges that are nowhere close to resolution, a new study says. The 21st-century problems range from mountains of data to accelerated pace of change to competing information flow from nongovernmental sources to fears of violating privacy and civil liberties, according to a paper “Expectations of Intelligence in the Information Age” See GovExec article for highlights.
Decision makers will expect the Intelligence Community to validate and meld their information with that available in open source.
The new 10-page Army Doctrine Publications will be available on videos. The more detailed Army Doctrine Reference Publications will be on interactive computer-based training. The Army Training Publications will be on a MilWiki site, a collaborative website that enables Soldiers to participate in doctrine development. The system will allow Soldiers at any level to access Army doctrine, references, field manuals and technical publications through various different digital outlets. These outlets include DVD videos, interactive multimedia instruction videos and a wiki site allowing Soldiers to participate in doctrine development.
Integrating doctrine with digital applications will allow doctrinal resources to be readily available to Soldiers and provides a new approach to how doctrine is used to support education, training, and operations, he said. Users can locate Army publications specific to their jobs from an easy-to-use hierarchical process.
The redesign focus was based on guidance from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who directed “a Doctrine Strategy to categorize our manuals differently, reduce their length, and number, and leverage emerging technology to make them more collaborative and accessible,”
By 2015, the Army plans to have only 50 field manuals on tactics and procedures. The rest of the doctrine will be in various pubs. The end result of Army Doctrine 2015 is to provide the user an easy way to access military publications via mobile devices, and other non-tradition methods, but the physical hard copies will still be available. It is expected the new streamlined system for delivering Army doctrine will be complete by 2015.
For more information, see Army Doctrine 2015
GAO Published an interesting report today Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms
Federal agencies have used a variety of mechanisms to implement interagency collaborative efforts, such as the President appointing a coordinator, agencies co-locating within one facility, or establishing interagency task forces. These mechanisms can be used to address a range of purposes including policy development; program implementation; oversight and monitoring; information sharing and communication; and building organizational capacity, such as staffing and training. Frequently, agencies use more than one mechanism to address an issue. For example, climate change is a complex, crosscutting issue, which involves many collaborative mechanisms in the Executive Office of the President and interagency groups throughout government.
Although collaborative mechanisms differ in complexity and scope, they all benefit from certain key features, which raise issues to consider when implementing these mechanisms. For example:
- Outcomes and Accountability: Have short-term and long-term outcomes been clearly defined? Is there a way to track and monitor their progress?
- Bridging Organizational Cultures: What are the missions and organizational cultures of the participating agencies? Have agencies agreed on common terminology and definitions?
- Leadership: How will leadership be sustained over the long-term? If leadership is shared, have roles and responsibilities been clearly identified and agreed upon?
- Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities: Have participating agencies clarified roles and responsibilities?
- Participants: Have all relevant participants been included? Do they have the ability to commit resources for their agency?
- Resources: How will the collaborative mechanism be funded and staffed? Have online collaboration tools been developed?
- Written Guidance and Agreements: If appropriate, have participating agencies documented their agreement regarding how they will be collaborating? Have they developed ways to continually update and monitor these agreements?
U.S. Army officials announced the winners of its Greatest Inventions of 2011. While these inventions stemmed from urgent operational needs from warfighters on the battlefield, it would be interesting to examine the culture and processes that enabled these solutions to be developed.
Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, commended the scientists and engineers for their efforts to empower, unburden and protect Soldiers. ”The 2011 award winners demonstrated significant impact to Army capabilities, potential benefits outside of the Army, and inventiveness. This program’s unique selection process reflects the voice of the Warfighter and insight into the future of Army equipment. The AGI awards are truly Soldiers’ Choice Awards.”
- 120mm Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative Cartridge - A 120mm GPS-guided mortar cartridge provides infantry commanders with new precision-strike capability.
- Caiman Explosively Formed Penetrator Add-on-Armor Kits - An armor package is integrated into a MRAP vehicle with little modification to an existing armor package, protecting the driver and commander sides and mitigating the exposed area from explosively formed penetrators.
- Helmet Sensors - Along with a data retrieval system measures impact and pressure events continuously.
- Level 2 Manned-Unmanned Teaming for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Helicopter - A real-time system that can receive video and metadata in the common bands, within a long range, and is used by fielded unmanned aerial systems first fielded on the Kiowa Warrior aircraft.
- M2A1 Cal .50 Machine Gun - An enhancement to the .50-calliber M2, including a modified barrel, barrel extension, barrel support, barrel handle, flash suppressor and a fixed headspace and timing configuration.
- M982 Excalibur Increment 1a-2, 155MM Extended Range Precision Guided Projectile - A GPS-guided, inertial measurement unit-aided, fin-stabilized, 155mm projectile flies a ballistic trajectory during its ascending branch, then a guided trajectory during its descending branch to preprogrammed target coordinates.
- OH-58D Common Missile Warning System - Provides missile warning and countermeasures for infrared guided missiles.
- Pelvic Protection System - A response to an increased threat of buried improvised explosive devises, providing protection from serious injuries to the pelvis, femoral arteries and lower abdominal organs in a blast or small fragmentation threat.
- Precision Lightweight Universal Mortar Setter System - A highly transportable, all-weather, rapid response, indirect fire control system that is capable of programming the world’s first precision guided 120mm mortar cartridge.
- Soldier Plate Carrier System - A lightweight hard armor plate carrier system with a modular lightweight load carrying equipment attachment that has a quick release capability, which aids in reducing load, increases mobility and provides direct fire protection.
2011 Soldier Greatest Inventions Award Winner
- Small Unit Tactical Light - SUTL lights up target areas when motion is detected by using a 12-volt DC motion sensor to operate an infrared light.
See additional details of these Army innovations at Army.mil.
Seth Kahan has a great article in Fast Company, 7 Key Activities For Getting Innovation Right.
- Discover Inflection Points - A positive inflection point is a game changer that has the power to propel you forward.
- Build Capacity - Systematic innovation relies on the ability to contain and the three inherent stresses of a successful innovation environment.
- Gather Business Intelligence - The best innovation rises from a sea of information about products, services, customers, competitors, market conditions and internal capabilities.
- Shift Perspective - In order to see new opportunity you must be able to get out of your own box.
- Exploit Disruption - Successful leaders learn to identify the opportunity embedded in adverse conditions.
- Generate Value - Value is what causes people to reach in their pockets and spend.
- Drive Uptake - Every stage of the innovation process holds opportunity to engage the community of people who will be most interested in your offerings.
See the details behind each of these 7 key innovation activities here.
For a long list of insightful innovation articles, books, and videos, visit my Innovation Page.
There are two absolutely conflicting priorities in acquisition reform: maximizing efficiency — which requires giving acquisition officials more freedom and minimizing mistakes — which requires imposing tighter control.
Almost always the second trumps the first.
It’s the only enterprise in the world that would spend millions
to prevent the fraud of pennies.
-Former DoD Undersecretary for Acquisitions Ken Krieg
Information Week editors selected the Top 15 Government IT Innovators for 2012. ”In government IT, doing more with innovation is the big opportunity. Beyond just cost cutting, government tech teams are coming up with creative ways to offer new and improved services to their internal users and to the public.”
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – Hastening the screening process for pedestrians entering the U.S. from Mexico.
- Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System – Developed a decision-support tool called “outcomes-based prescribing,” that lets patients search clinical outcome information based on the experiences of other people with similar medical conditions who live in the same area. A crowdsourcing component lets patients get feedback on treatment outcomes from other patients.
- State Department – Their latest internal service is called Corridor, a mix of Facebook and LinkedIn. The professional networking service lets State Department employees publish their credentials and find colleagues with common interests. This adds to their existing suite of capabilities like Diplopedia and Communities@State.
- NASA Goddard - The space center has developed a cloud environment inside a 40-foot shipping container that it’s using as a testbed for virtualization, storage, and networking in support of its research. It has evaluated the open source cloud stacks OpenNebula, OpenStack, and Eucalyptus, and experimented with “cloud brokers,” which are used to switch among cloud services.
- US Marine Corps – Eliminated 24 of 35 data centers and centralized enterprise IT services in one facility, which now runs at an impressive 75% virtualization level. The benefits include millions of dollars in savings over five years and better visibility into, and control over, its IT infrastructure. The Marine Corps is the first DoD organization to in-source IT operations on such a scale. The centralization and optimization strategy has improved information sharing and increased tactical agility.
- Lawrence Berkeley National Lab - Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI) will bring 100-Gbps networking to more than 40 national laboratories and research centers. ANI went into operation last fall as a prototype, connecting supercomputer centers and extending to gateways that serve hundreds of research networks. The plan calls for ANI to become the next-generation national research network, ESnet5. One demo involved simulating the creation of the universe.
- NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) – One of the first organizations to come up with a modern mobile strategy that served two key constituencies: its employees and the public. JPL designed capabilities for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. As those devices proliferated, JPL’s mobile app team established an internal app portal, while making other mobile apps available for public consumption in the iTunes store, Android Market, and Windows Azure Marketplace. JPL’s Space Images app alone has been downloaded nearly 1 million times.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - Transitioned after 50 years of processing tax returns on a weekly schedule to daily. Their Customer Account Data Engine 2 (CADE 2) system processed more than 1.8 billion transactions and issued 83 million refunds totaling $229 billion. At the core of the system is a relational database that balanced “to the penny” with the agency’s master file. The IRS acted as its own system integrator on the four-year project. Taxpayers now receive refunds faster. And taxpayer information is updated more quickly, which translates into better customer service, including the handling of potential identity theft.
- Intelligence Community - The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and U.S. intelligence agencies have started work on an enterprise IT strategy that promises vastly improved capabilities at significantly lower costs. The five-year plan aims to replace IT silos with centrally managed platforms and services in areas such as desktops, servers, storage, and networks. Rather than outsource the work to a government contractor, ODNI has asked five intelligence agencies–the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and National Security Agency–to function as service providers to the 17 organizations that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The strategy will use data tagging for fine-grained information access and cloud computing for more efficient data processing and storage. If IT centralization works as planned, the IC could shave 25% from its IT budget.
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - Their IT Shared Services Strategy seeks to reduce duplicative IT systems and services by consolidating on shared platforms. Under the plan, the Federal CIO Council will create an online catalog of IT services that are approved for sharing across agencies. The services will be established by organizations designated as “managing partners,” which are also responsible for maintaining contracts with agencies that consume the services. OMB wants federal IT teams to think “shared first” for new requirements.
- San Diego Sheriff’s Department – Rolled out a data integration platform, called SDFusion, that pulls in data from a dozen databases, including FBI and Department of Motor Vehicles records, arrest warrants, and restraining orders. The system, based on Microsoft’s BizTalk Server, provides data on any person who has had contact with the department and also draws on public records. A mobile version of SDFusion extends those capabilities to data terminals in officers’ cars, as well as to their smartphones and tablets.
- Cook County, Illinois – Collaborating on a website that serves as a one-stop shop for government data from the region. Metrochicagodata.org, hosts more than 1,200 data sets in categories such as public safety, health, education, transportation, taxes, and property. Some of the most popular data sets on the site, which is hosted by Socrata, include the names and salaries of city employees in Chicago, a map of crimes in the city, and a guide to police stations. Last fall they held a contest, called Apps for Metro Chicago, to encourage developers to build apps that incorporate the data. The contest resulted in more than 50 new mobile and Web apps.
- San Francisco – Making government information and services available, streaming audio and video of legislative meetings, and extending its social media presence to the city’s on-the-go citizenry. It has created a framework for developing mobile apps that’s device-agnostic–not surprising as both iOS developer Apple and Android developer Google are based in the area. The mobile technologies provide fast and easy access to municipal services such as a 311 customer service center at relatively low cost, according to city officials. They say the initiative is the first in a series that will “redefine” how people interact with local government.
- Santa Monica, California – Deployed an Advanced Traffic Management System, including traffic signal controllers and cameras, to remotely monitor and manage traffic in real time. Ambulances and other public safety vehicles, equipped with transponders, automatically trigger green lights as they rush along major throughways. Buses will get those privileges next, to help them stay on schedule. The city’s parking lots are monitored, and opened or closed as necessary, while electronic signs show drivers the number of available spaces. A website, at parkingspacenow.smgov.net, shows parking availability at local lots. Wi-Fi-equipped parking meters accept payments from credit cards and cellphones. And if drivers get a parking ticket, those can be paid via mobile device, too.
- New York City - Struck a five-year enterprise license agreement with McAfee that goes beyond antivirus and firewall protection to include encryption, application white-listing, vulnerability management, change control, and mobile device management, implemented in the city’s data centers. The deal will save the city an estimated $18 million and giving the department visibility into the security status of most city agencies and access to threat analysis capabilities.