Disrupting Acquisition Blog
Enabling Speed and Agility in DoD
This is the second part of a two-part post. In the first post, DoD’s Lack of Agility is a National Security Risk, I assessed DoD as poor on most of the eight factors Gallup found to be key for organizational agility.
Gallup had a follow-on article To Be Agile, You Need Fewer Processes and Policies, that apply beautifully to DoD. In it, Gallup noted:
The more decisions that have to be made, the longer it takes to fulfill a customer’s need.
“A good place to start is with simplifying processes. Remember those speed bumps that complexity creates? Flatten them. It’s a good way to start changing mindset and shedding useless rules and low-value activities can have a quick, positive effect on the workflow and the employee experience.
A close review will show that some processes, policies, and rules are relics of an outdated strategy. Some were designed to prevent minor problems. Some, however, were designed to protect personal fiefdoms.”
DoD needs to balance speed with rigor and provide sound judgements on programs based on risk and environment. DoD must aggressively trim, streamline, and modernize its compliance processes. This includes cutting the number of Pentagon Hall Monitors. DoD and Congress must focus more resources and expertise on those who do the work than those who check the work. There must be a continual education and support for the workforce to enable them to understand what is required and how to effectively do it.
Gallup’s advice is to evaluate processes, policies, and rules with the customer in mind.
In DoD’s context, this means focusing on delivering capabilities to INDOPACOM in the next five years, with an objective of the next two years. Every month DoD takes to square away funding and requirements, burn down risk and assess the new system, is another month that Warfighters are at risk using 30-year-old legacy systems with significant performance and cost issues. Every month we fail to deliver new capabilities to INDOPACOM, Xi Jinping factors that into his risk calculus for invading Taiwan.
So, for every process, document, and review, one must ask themselves:
- Does this help deliver capabilities to INDOPACOM in time?
- Does that document need to be 50 pages, or would 20 pages suffice to convey the core strategy and details?
- Does this require four levels of oversight to validate my strategy or would two or three suffice?
- What value will be gained by additional reviews? Are major changes likely to result? Or is the proposed change something that could be better handled dynamically in execution?
- How can we provide an 80% solution (strategy, design, capability) now and iterate based on rapid learning?
To increase velocity requires changing the culture to support an agile mindset and processes.
And that’s a tall order.
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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