Disrupting Acquisition Blog

The Game-Changer We’ve Been Expecting Isn’t a Technology

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Innovation

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The innovators of the acquisition ecosystem have been waiting for a game-changer, but didn’t expect it to be Covid-19.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” ― Fred Rogers

We innovative types have been talking for the last three years about a game-changer that was coming. We didn’t know which technology it would be, but how often have we said one of at least five “game-changing” technologies would take off in the next couple of years and change life as we know it?

Turns out, the game-changer is a pandemic.

If you’re a student of history, you know that pandemics are nothing new, and that the best known have always been game-changers. The Justinian Plague of the sixth century coincided with war, famine, and extreme weather events in the 535-542 time frame and sank the world deep into the Dark Ages. Other than tree rings data and an occasional mention from a monk or two, we have little information about the next few centuries. The Justinian Plague was the catalyst for that change.

But we have a huge advantage over the people of the sixth century.

This is it. Right now. This is what we’ve all been preparing for over the last 3 years of pushing innovation and figuring out how to work together and move quickly.

We may not have known it or we may have thought the problem we’re trying to solve now would look differently, but all the preparation we’ve been doing for pitch days, omnibus BAAs, other transactions, lowering the barrier for non-traditional defense contractors, accelerating procurement lead times?  This is it, and it’s not a trial run.

Mr. Rogers taught us as children to, in times of fear, look for the helpers. Look, too, for the innovators, the people with potential solutions and different ways to get to an answer more quickly, to make an impact, to make a difference in the long run by making a difference right now.

More than any time in history, we are more connected than ever…even though we may be isolated in our homes right now and hoping our wifi doesn’t turn fickle. It’s a strange juxtaposition, this physical isolation and mental connectivity, but that connectivity of modern technology allows us to work together to solve the pandemic and get potential solutions to the front lines. The connectivity also allows us to know who’s working on what so we don’t waste precious resources.

We’ve started a resource page of Covid-19 authorities, contract vehicles, and initiatives (https://aida.mitre.org/covid)  so we know what’s out there and aren’t duplicating efforts. If you know of a Federal, State, or local initiative that should be included, please message us at aida@mitre.org. If you’re an Acquisition pro who’s turned a contract around quickly or brought together a vendor and a Covid-19 need, no matter how unusual the acquisition strategy you used, let us know. No attribution needed—just a quick blurb of what you did to answer the call.

Let’s solve this together!

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Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are those of the authors only and do not represent the positions of the MITRE Corporation or its sponsors.

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