Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tools Available to the Transformation Agent

Two sets of tools are available today that, if executed with the right combination of guts and wisdom, could have a historically significant effect on the DoD IT portfolio and, as a consequence, the DoD warfighting capability in general.

The first set comes from Public Law 108-375, 10USC2222, 10USC186 and the 2005 NDAA - from here on referred to as the "Core" Defense Business Transformation legislation. This Core both specifies and mandates that all decisions made relative to developing, modernizing or enhancing business IT in the DoD must be supported by a specified suite of decision support tools.

The fact that these tools are mandated by a higher authority for use everywhere in the Department of Defense has political value. The fact that these tools, when made to work together as a decision support system, behave almost identical to the investment decision support tools used by city and county governments all over the US is not, in my opinion, an accident.

They have not yet been executed in a way that provides even a fraction of the potential value. Execution is moving in the right direction for the OSD level Investment Review Boards IRB's, but on balance, the IRB's are a fraction of the decision makers in the DoD who are making daily decisions about their IT portfolios. Many DoD decision makers have little decision support other than their action officer staffs and no visibility to what others are doing.

If I were investing in DoD myself, I would consider this set of tools an undervalued asset.

The second set comes from Darwinian advancement in technology and innovation. What the folks over at milTech Solutions might not be quick to reveal is that the milSuite of tools, coupled with Army Knowledge Online (AKO) or a similar ubiquitous backbone, has the power to do much more than merely enable people to socialize. It can enable systems (and their associated data) to socialize - without the need for months of RICE object development and costly interfaces. Another undervalued asset.

Either one of these tool sets could put billions back into circulation, but not without a good trainer and champions. The tectonic shift that either would cause in the DoD would affect nearly everyone. Anyone reading this who has been around DoD long enough understands what I am not saying.

Government Accountibility Office Says More Work Is Needed

Defense Business Transformation: DOD Needs to Take Additional Actions to Further Define Key Management Roles, Develop Measurable Goals, and Align Planning Efforts

According to GAO-11-181R January 26, 2011, the Department of Defense still needs to make progress In some key areas:

1. To establish ongoing accountability and better leverage the unique positions of the CMO and DCMO to provide the leadership necessary to follow up the Secretary's recent efficiency initiative for the long term, the Secretary of Defense should assign specific roles and responsibilities to the CMO and DCMO for integrating the Secretary's efficiency initiative with ongoing reform efforts, overseeing its implementation, and otherwise institutionalizing the effort for the long term

2. To enhance DOD's ability to set strategic direction for its business transformation efforts, and better align and institutionalize its efforts to develop and implement plans and measure progress against established goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the CMO to ensure that DOD's revised SMP contains measurable goals and funding priorities linked to those goals.

3. To enhance DOD's ability to set strategic direction for its business transformation efforts, and better align and institutionalize its efforts to develop and implement plans and measure progress against established goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the CMO to issue guidance to establish a strategic planning process with mechanisms---such as procedures and milestones---for routinely updating the SMP and military department business transformation plans. In particular, this guidance should include elements such as how DOD and the military departments---including the CMO, DCMO, and military department CMOs---will reach consensus on business priorities, coordinate review and approval of updates to plans, synchronize the development of plans with the budget process, and monitor the implementation of reform initiatives, and report progress, on a periodic basis, towards achieving established goals.

DoD Budget Cuts

To cut or not to cut...
Where to cut...

This discussion is on main US stage right now. It made it into the State of the Union address last night. Yet, this is an over simplification of the real questions we should be asking. It ignores what Transformation is all about.

If someone decides that they need to lose weight, the simplest and most expeditious way is to lop off an arm or a leg. Doing so will ensure that a person will lose weight fast, but treating a weight problem with this kind of solution causes collateral damage and it ignores the fact that, baring legitimate medical pathology, poor decision making is a root cause. Every time a person reaches for fast food, junk food, eats more than they need to, or decides not to exercise, a little more fat is the result.

The DoD is great at making tactical and strategic combat related decisions. One could argue that the US DoD is the best in the world at this. It is also terrible at making business investment decisions. Poor decisions collected over the years have put a lot of "fat" on this beast & it is causing the DoD to be operating in poor health. Vital resources that should be flowing to needed operations are plugged up in redundant investments, un-needed investments, poorly executed investments, under-executed investments, etc.

One look at the numbers submitted as a "business case" for these investments would reveal just how healthy DoD business investment decision making is. A look at the supporting documents and information (missing or wildly incomplete solutions architecture, self-certifying compliance letters, undefined milestones, recycled arguments, etc) being used to inform decision makers would reveal the quality of DoD due diligence. And a look at the actions produced by our decision making system in terms of redundancies allowed to continue, follow up (or not), course corrections (or not), accountability (or not), and management of the Department bottom line would reveal the overall quality and effect of the decisions the DoD's current decision making system is producing.

There is another way to lose weight. A way to make cuts without so much collateral damage. Change our habits. Make sure our decision making "food" is grown with care and in good shape by setting (and checking) the standard for business cases and supporting documents. Consume good information instead of information "fast food." Exercise our decision making powers by forcing course corrections, remembering where we were yesterday, and setting (and sticking to) a strategy for where we will be tomorrow.

Core legislation (Public Law 108-375, 10USC2222, 10USC186, and the 2005 NDAA) gave the DoD the tools it needs to get healthy. The Business Enterprise Architecture (BEA), the Enterprise Transition Plan (ETP), an Investment Review (Due Diligence) process and governing bodies, an Annual Review and even threw in a way to get and keep the DoD on the path to better health - the ADA.

What are your thoughts about losing weight in the DoD?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Simple Sabotage - We Wrote the Book

On 17 January 1944, the Office of Strategic Services published a book titled "Simple Sabotage Field Manual." You can find this book for Kindle on for about $5, or you can download a free version by clicking this link to

Warning text on page one states:

"The contents of this Manual should be carefully controlled and not be allowed to come into unauthorized hands."

Later the book describes two forms of sabotage. The first form requires "... planning and the use of specially trained operatives." The second form "...the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform." It's the second form which caught my attention.

To be clear, this "...type of simple sabotage requires no destructive tools whatsoever and produces physical damage, if any, by highly indirect means. It is based on universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt a non cooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit."

"This type of activity, sometimes referred to as the "human element," is frequently responsible for accidents, delays, and general obstruction even under normal conditions." The book seems to have originated in Europe and I assume was directed at friendly civilians living in enemy occupied territory.

So why am I sharing this with you? It's the last chapter or two that hit me between the eyes. It dawned on me that in some places in the government, we're really good at this. We're really good at doing this to ourselves. Maybe you have seen these behaviors. Maybe your being sabotaged. What do you think? Check these out:

(11) General interference with Organizations and Production

(a) Organizations and Conferences
(1) insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
(2) Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
(3) Whenever possible, refer all matters to committees, to "further study and consideration. Attempt to make the committees as large as possible -- never less than five.
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise workings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarassments or difficulties later on.
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision -- raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

(b) Managers and Supervisors

(1) Demand written orders.
(2) "misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
(3) Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver it until it is completely ready.
(4) Don't order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
(5) Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don't get them, argue about it. Wanr that inferior materials will mean inferior work.
(6) In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers on poor machines.
(7) insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
(8) make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong places in the plant.
(9) When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
(10) To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
(11) Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
(12) Multiply paperwork in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
(13) Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.

(c) Office workers

(1) make mistakes in quantities of material when you are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.
(2) Prolong correspondence with government bureaus.
(3) misfile essential documents.
(4) In making carbon copies, make one too few, so that an extra copying job will have to be done.
(5) Tell important callers that the boss is busy or talking on another telephone.
(6) Hold up mail until the next collection.
(7) Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.

(d) Employees

(1) Work slowly. Think out ways to increase the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed, and so on.
(2) Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or a punch, take needless time to do it. If you are cutting,shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary.Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.
(3) Even if you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.
(4) Pretend that instructions are hard to understand, and ask to have them repeated more than once. Or pretend that you are particularly anxious to do your work, and pester the foreman with unnecessary questions.
(5) Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.
(6) Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.
(7) Snarl up administration in every possible way. Fill out forms illegibly so they will have to be done over; make mistakes or omit requested information in forms.
(8) If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence or a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.
(9) Misroute materials
(10) Mix good parts with unusable scrap and rejected parts.

(12) General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creating Confusion

(a) Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.
(b) Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.
(c) Act stupid.
(d) Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.
(e) Misunderstand all sorts of regulations concerning such matters as rationing, transportation, traffic regulations.
(f) Complain against eratz materials
(g) In public treat axis nationals or quislings coldly
(h) Stop all conversations when axis nationals or quislings enter a cafe.
(i) Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.
(j) Boycott all movies, entertainments, concerts, newspapers which are in any way connected with the quisling authorities.
(k) Do not cooperate in salvage schemes.