Army AL&T magazine is USAASC’s quarterly professional journal, comprising in-depth, analytically focused articles. The magazine’s mission is to instruct members of the Army AL&T community about AL&T processes, procedures, techniques and management philosophy; it is also to disseminate information pertinent to the professional development of workforce members and others engaged in AL&T activities.
No time to lose
JPEO-CBD seeks to reduce acquisition lead time through tailored professional training workshops with DAU by Mr. Jeff Megargel “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu As the Trump administration completes its transition, Better Buying Power may be replaced with something different, but the tenets and goals of acquisition reform will remain largely the same. All program executive offices within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) will be seeking ways to reduce administrative lead time while fielding and maintaining the best quality equipment and services possible within resource constraints. The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) has partnered with Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Mission Assistance to sponsor a series of workshops designed specifically to improve acquisition timelines. The curricula are intended for pre-milestone A or B program teams of Acquisition Category (ACAT) III programs but can be tailored to any effort. They focus on understanding contracting and applying that understanding to achieve superior contract vehicles and contractor performance. Other workshops allow credentialed DAU instructors and program teams to immerse themselves in developing exceptional solicitation documentation and finding ways to reduce the administrative burden by eliminating oversight that is appropriate for ACAT I programs but overkill for the ACAT III efforts that make up the bulk of the JPEO-CBD’s portfolio. The JPEO-CBD is in the second year of this program and recently offered the curricula to other PEOs across ASA(ALT). WORKING STEP BY STEPThe JPEO-CBD has partnered with DAU Mission Assistance to conduct tailored workforce development workshops throughout the procurement cycle. (Source: JPEO-CBD) CONTRACTING AS A WEAPON Doug Bryce, joint program executive officer, is convinced that program managers must have more than a fundamental knowledge of contracting in order to influence contracting-related decisions that impact their programs. “Far too often, the program management team throws their input over the wall to the contract team, and 24 months later we have a contract,” Bryce said. “This leads to the ‘contract of the day’ approach. The key is to use the right contract type and incentives for the program.” With this goal in mind, Bryce directed his staff to reach out to DAU to create a “Contracting for Program Managers” workshop that orients newly assigned program management personnel to the art and science of government contracting. The topics include contracting strategies, types of contracts, incentivizing contractor performance, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, and how it is all related to DOD Instruction 5000.02, “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System.” The intent is not to create contracting experts, but to establish a level of understanding that facilitates proactive engagement with the contracting community as the program management team plans acquisition strategies. The JPEO-CBD also has assigned former civil service contracting professionals to each program office. They assist in developing acquisition packages and liaise with their peers in the supporting contracting activities. This enables the program teams to collaborate with contracting subject matter experts who are also fully vested in program acquisition strategies. The result of this collaboration is acquisition packages that require far less rework between the acquisition and contracting shops, as well as procurement strategies that are more tailored to a specific requirement versus one size fits all. The JPEO-CBD also has sponsored several workshops on contract incentives, with a DAU subject matter expert providing a comprehensive review of contract incentives and their appropriate use in acquisition programs. After completion of the workshop, everyone understands the fundamentals of how and when to incentivize contractor performance, when cost or fixed-price incentive contracts are appropriate and, most importantly, how to discuss contract incentives with the contracting professionals during formulation of acquisition and procurement strategies. Bryce requires new start programs to complete a streamlined acquisition strategy development workshop well before milestone A. The workshop brings together program teams, functional staff and user community stakeholders to address major topic areas for development and potential streamlining of their program acquisition strategy. The DAU instructor tailors the workshop to one program and encourages the optimal levels of participation from the stakeholder community. This always includes the contracting officer and specialist, but also can include budget analysts, legal advisers, small business advocates and technical specialists who might only engage for selected topics. As an example, the workshop conducted for the Enhanced Maritime Biological Detection (EMBD) program included participants from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. Representing the Navy user community, they provided insight concerning the challenges of upgrading a legacy sensor system on a surface platform, including compatibility with other shipboard systems and fielding the systems in line with deployment schedules. Over several iterations, the program teams have universally praised the workshops for facilitating an immersive environment where the team can work as a team and develop critical thinking skills and ideas that are directly relevant to reducing the administrative burden as they develop and gain approval for ACAT III program acquisition strategies. The lectures cover multiple topics that must be addressed in the acquisition plans, including risk management, affordability, should-cost and supportability. Immediately following the lecture, the teams “murder board” each topic as it relates to their program: Small teams address each topic and document any assumptions, constraints, risk mitigations and proposed solutions on a big sheet of butcher block paper. At the end of the session, each team briefs their findings to the workshop as a whole. The program team members can tear off the page and carry their brainstorming back to their workspaces for refinement and inclusion in formal documentation. DOUBLE TEAMINGThe JPEO-CBD and DAU have developed workshops that empower program teams to accelerate schedules and reduce costs while maintaining high standards of capability delivery. (Source: U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center/chipstudio/iStock) “The workshop is very helpful in breaking down the components of the acquisition strategy into manageable parts,” said Michele Parrish, EMBD team lead. In some cases, the workshops have revealed the need for additional market research or more detailed analysis of data rights provisions. In others, the teams have identified how contracting methodologies can have a major impact upon reducing documentation requirements. For instance, using existing multiple-award contract vehicles often is more efficient than creating a new contract vehicle specific to one requirement. The assumed duration to complete all the steps necessary to award the typical stand-alone single award contract today is 18 to 24 months. But many program teams are unaware that they have access to existing contract vehicles that can reduce procurement schedules by months. They just need this input early enough that it can be incorporated into the acquisition strategy. Workshops can make teams aware of this benefit. NONTRADITIONAL APPROACHES JPEO-CBD’s portfolio contains a number of programs that are suited for procurement within the commercial marketplace, including vaccines and specialized textiles. As a result, the JPEO-CBD has established an other transaction authority (OTA) consortium in procuring vaccines and therapeutic drugs. “Companies that have never participated in a FAR-based procurement are now in line to support multiple Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program requirements,” said Gary Wright, director of the JPEO-CBD Contracting Management Office. The Joint Project Manager for Protection is also using an OTA to work with manufacturers of specialty fabrics and materials. The project office is seeking advanced chemical and biological protection ensembles and design concepts that might be used in handwear, footwear and respiratory protection systems. Companies that produce cutting-edge technologies might not be willing to conform to accounting practices or other regulations that are mandatory for participation in DOD programs. For instance, maintaining a compliant accounting system is extremely expensive, but the revenue that results from a given DOD program may be immaterial in a company’s overall income stream. OTA agreements allow such companies to provide prototypes for the JPEO-CBD programs without having to meet the many regulatory requirements of an arrangement governed by the FAR. To implement and sustain the consortium, the JPEO-CBD created two workshops that enabled potential program teams to leverage OTAs. The training is divided into an introductory workshop that allows program teams to test the waters and an advanced workshop that goes through the detailed process for establishing and managing an OTA program. In January, DAU conducted two basic workshops at U.S. Special Operations Command using the JPEO-CBD sponsored curriculum. One was tailored to the contracting community and the second for the program managers. The OTA training “was perfect to help expand our horizons and develop a full acquisition tool set,” said Col. John Reim, program executive officer for special operations forces – warrior. “… I suspect that you will be hearing more from SOF AT&L [special operations forces acquisition, technology and logistics] in the near future for additional information and lessons learned.” The JPEO-CBD also offers workshops that are focused on developing high-quality solicitation documentation and training government personnel to serve on source selection evaluation boards. The RFP development workshop capitalizes on the work already completed by acquisition teams but blends in the best practices as presented by DAU. The DAU instructors have the benefit of observing program teams across DOD and can offer lessons learned as they lead the team through refinement of its documentation. For instance, despite the best efforts of contracting and program management personnel, some solicitations require multiple amendments following release as a result of industry feedback and questions regarding the documentation. Borrowing from industry practice, the Joint Project Manager for NBC Contamination Avoidance adopted a process in which a senior contracting expert performs a formal crosswalk between the draft solicitation sections, including the Statement of Work (Section C), Instructions to Offerors (Section L) and the Evaluation Criteria (Section M). The emphasis is placed upon ensuring that statements of work reflect performance specifications and that instructions to offerors and evaluation criteria are optimized to ensure that the government procures the right solutions for its acquisition needs. Using this process, the program team corrects the draft documentation before it goes to the contracting activity. Normally, these major sections of a solicitation are prepared by two completely different interests: The acquisition team generates the statement of work and the performance specification, but the contracting officer generates sections L and M—often weeks if not months later. The workshop seeks to complete all major sections in a deliberate and fully integrated environment. The result is less confusion among offerors when they prepare proposals; more realistic cost proposals as offerors are less likely to mitigate risks through management reserves; and better performing programs post-award because the government and the winning offerors have a clearer understanding of what the program really needs to provide the capability to the warfighter. After the solicitation is released and before receipt of proposals, the JPEO-CBD’s source selection evaluation boards conduct a practice evaluation of the proposals using the actual solicitation documentation. The source selection workshop (DAU Course WSC 005) covers the roles of each member of the board, drafts practice source-selection decision documentation, and has the team conduct mock debriefs given to unsuccessful offerors. Finally, the JPEO-CBD and DAU are providing the Acquisition Program Transition Workshop (DAU course WSM 011) that brings the government program team and the winning offeror’s program team together to reach a common understanding of the government’s expectations and the contractor’s understanding of how the contract will be managed. According to Ashton Carter, former secretary of defense: “The benefits of this workshop include early alignment of government and industry team organizations, publication of roadmaps to integrated baseline review and other near-term planning events, agreement on management of scope and processes, and resolution of issues including differences in interpretation of contracts and other documents.” Throughout the workshop, DAU instructors leverage best practices they have observed across DOD. In nearly all cases, there are opportunities to improve the quality of deliverables—such as monthly cost reports or administrative processes—simply by demonstrating how a company uses automated tools and skilled employees to accomplish the same tasks on other contracts. There is opportunity for open dialogue that enables the company to demonstrate the value-added aspects of its reporting and to tailor the soft deliverables—e.g., monthly cost reports or government-furnished property inventories—based upon what the contracting officer’s representative can really use. This workshop provides a forum in which the government can meet face to face with its counterparts to emphasize the need to manage program risks and establish an effective methodology to leverage the contractor’s capabilities while meeting the government’s expectations. CONCLUSION Although Better Buying Power may be replaced with new direction for achieving acquisition objectives, the basic tenets will remain the same. The JPEO-CBD has demonstrated that PEOs can tailor DAU expertise to achieve material results at the program level. The key is to leverage the knowledge resident at DAU to tailor training for each program team depending upon where it is in the acquisition cycle, and then conduct the workshops in an immersive environment where teams can concentrate on producing quality results in collaboration with functional staff and technical experts. The JPEO-CBD is planning a full calendar in FY18, including workshops for all PEOs across ASA(ALT). It is the JPEO-CBD’s desire to conduct multiple iterations of the training in the five geographic areas where the PEOs are concentrated. The Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support already has requested a streamlined acquisition strategy development workshop in the Warren, Michigan, area this summer. Some of the curricula, including the OTA workshops, are appropriate for any agency within DOD and beyond. For more information, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to https://www.jpeocbd.osd.mil/ or https://www.dau.mil/consulting-services/. JEFF MEGARGEL is a former Marine Corps contracting officer and vice president with Science Applications International Corp. He is currently supporting the JPEO-CBD Contracting Management Office as an employee of Moss Cape, LLC. He holds an M.S. in contract and acquisition management from the Naval Postgraduate School and specializes in assisting program teams develop contracting strategies. Related links DAU Mission Assistance WSC 005 Source Selection WSM 011 Acquisition Program Transition Workshop This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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A different way of doing business
CERDEC’s talent management initiative incorporates a new, enterprisewide approach to help employees reach their goals while strengthening the organization. by Mr. John S. Willison Two years ago, the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) faced an unpleasant reality: More than 30 percent of our almost 2,000 government employees were eligible to retire or would be soon. Taking steps to address that challenge proactively, we launched a succession management initiative. But a growing realization that talent management was the key to strengthening the workforce prompted us to expand our focus. It is easy—and common—for an organization to declare that “people are our most important asset.” It is significantly more challenging and more meaningful for an organization to develop, implement and maintain an enterprise talent management strategy that embodies that claim. The future of the organization, and the foundation of our ability to deliver capabilities never before imagined by Soldiers, are rooted firmly in our ability to attract, develop and retain talent. Over the past two years, CERDEC dedicated significant executive attention and resources to putting in place such a strategy, which we continue to refine. The intent of the talent management initiative is to treat the recruitment and development of our employees as a top priority for CERDEC. Further, we intend to invest in the workforce and maximize the number of qualified employees to fill all positions. We believe the key to this is to have clear, standard qualifications published for all positions and to have career development plans for all employees. These and other tenets of the initiative will guide every aspect of talent management at CERDEC and will serve as the foundation upon which we build a qualified and engaged workforce. DEFINING DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS Two of the key components of our talent management initiative are talent management plans (TMPs) and domains. TMPs detail the requirements of positions, including the duties they entail and the qualifications expected to be successful. These include mandatory technical qualifications; areas of emphasis, such as business acumen, leadership and soft skills; and other requirements, such as acquisition certification, security clearance and financial disclosure. We define the second component, domains, as technical, business or other disciplines that require a certain knowledge, skill set or educational proficiency. These are similar to the Army career programs and acquisition career fields in that they provide CERDEC employees with recommended training, education and experience for each career level (junior, midcareer and senior) within each domain. We categorized the work performed by CERDEC employees into seven technical domains and 10 business domains. (See Figure 1.) ORGANIZING TALENT REQUIREMENTSCERDEC categorized the work performed by its employees into domains focused on a technical skill or business function, which require proficiency in specific subjects. Clearer requirements help managers guide employees to the right experience and education, and make it easier to zero in on the right applicant for a new position. (Graphic courtesy of U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and CERDEC) The technical domains include cyber, networking, radio frequency and power, with subcategories that further define the work, called technical specialties and capability specialties. Technical specialties are those that are largely common across related organizations or functional areas and are taught in academia; capability specialties are those that are unique to DOD and the Army, and typically specific to an organization or functional area. The business domains include financial and resource management, contracts and acquisition, security and human resources. The business domains have subdomains that further define the work. For example, the two subdomains for financial and resource management are budget operations and financial operations and controls. The domain descriptions, associated career development and staffing plans provide managers and employees access to position requirements and recommended training, education and experience; inform training and development decisions; allow management and human resource divisions to better plan for the investment of time and funds; enhance the skills of our workforce; and better communicate expectations to potential external applicants for positions within CERDEC. In addition to the technical and business domains, we created career development recommendations for those who are or aspire to become supervisors or team leaders. This was done to encourage development of the unique skills necessary for success in such positions early in an employee’s career. It is our intent to ground all human resource efforts in our talent management initiative, including recruiting, career development and performance management. MEASURES OF PROGRESS After two years of hard work, we are beginning to realize the fruits of the talent management initiative. For example, we are using the TMPs and domain definitions to complete a comprehensive review of the job descriptions of all 2,000 employees, with the goal of ensuring that the duties therein accurately reflect the work assigned and, most importantly, include the proper domain designation. The domain designation is critical to the next step, which involves revising Individual Development Plans to include the domain-specific training and development opportunities recommended by the teams of subject matter experts and outlined in the domain career development plans. The next step is a review and validation of employee performance plans to ensure that CERDEC is measuring employees against defined expectations that represent the duties appropriate to the position’s assigned domain. While it is too early to assess the full impact of this initiative, some key outcomes associated with these steps include the ability for all employees to assess their progress in developing themselves, compared with the comprehensive development plan for their position’s assigned domain, as well as for any positions to which they aspire; the ability for supervisors to make more informed recommendations about employee development; CERDEC’s ability to make more informed and cost-effective investments in training and development; and the ability to more effectively communicate job requirements and development opportunities to applicants and prospective employees. (See Figure 2) STEPS TO A STRONGER WORKFORCETwo years into its talent management initiative, CERDEC is seeing a number of benefits at all levels of the organization. For example, the TMPs and domain definitions have allowed for a comprehensive review of job descriptions. Now CERDEC is applying this newly developed framework to refine employees’ Individual Development Plans, then to review and validate employee performance plans. (Graphic courtesy of CERDEC) The latter area is where we have realized the most value since the inception of this effort. Specifically, the existence of a talent management plan and a complementary career development plan for the positions we have recruited to fill has resulted in clearly written staffing plans. Those, in turn, have generated better referral lists, according to CERDEC supervisors who have filled the positions. We have also received positive feedback from employee focus groups, specifically about the perceived value of defined career development guidance being readily available to all employees so they don’t have to rely exclusively on a supervisor or mentor. Rather, they can chart their own path toward their career goals, guided by the plans now available to them. We believe these early results are indicative of the initiative’s positive long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain talent. In addition to making the talent management plans and career development plans available to employees, we finalized and approved a Workforce Career Development Program Handbook, which outlines the overall intent and the roles and responsibilities of all involved. The handbook, combined with the more detailed TMPs and domain documents, will help our employees take actionable steps in their career pursuits and better understand the philosophy behind this effort. The handbook will also encourage the evolution of our culture to fully embrace talent management. ANTICIPATED BENEFITS We have already seen a benefit in streamlining, standardizing and communicating our recruitment actions. We anticipate similar benefits in our performance management practices, particularly with regard to greater consistency in plans, ease in measuring performance outcomes and the perception of greater parity in performance evaluations and employee recognition as grounded in measurable objectives. Shifting to a more enterprise-based approach to planning and executing training will allow us to ensure that all training aligns with the domain career development plans, is the best and most cost-effective available to meet the targeted need, and is scheduled so as to capitalize on economies of scale, thereby maximizing the return on our investment in employees. Concurrent with this effort, we initiated a centerwide climate survey, using the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, with the goal of applying the feedback from the survey to assess and enhance employee engagement at CERDEC. The feedback we received from employees has validated the importance of some of the very things that served as the impetus for this effort, particularly the need to place our employees at the center of our focus through a viable, enterprisewide, enduring talent management strategy. We will continue to use this survey to inform decisions about our workforce and refine our talent management strategy. INITIAL FEEDBACK: POSITIVEThe author describes the new talent management initiative to employees. In focus groups, employees have rated the first phases of the initiative positively, noting that organizationwide guidance about the requirements of each job gives employees a way to manage their careers without having to rely entirely on a supervisor or mentor. (Photo courtesy of CERDEC) CONCLUSION When my career with the Army started almost 31 years ago, I would have appreciated having a clearly defined set of career paths and decision points on which to base my own plans. The input from our survey and employee focus groups demonstrates that our employees are seeking the very same thing, and we are now able to provide that information as an enterprise. I am confident that our team’s hard work will dramatically improve the effectiveness of our organization’s recruitment and retention efforts. With that, CERDEC will be able to demonstrate consistently that our people truly are our most important asset. For more information, contact the author at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @STCDDir. MR. JOHN S. WILLISON, a member of the Senior Executive Service since 2011, is director of CERDEC’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where he leads more than 750 civilian, military and contractor scientists, engineers and support staff. Willison earned his M.S. in software engineering from Monmouth University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Lafayette College. He also completed the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows program and recently became a certified executive coach, completing George Mason University’s Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being program. This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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AcqDemo and upcoming improvements significantly empower acquisition organizations and their teams to focus on contributing to successful execution of the acquisition mission. by Mr. Jerold A. Lee The most significant changes to the Department of Defense Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) since its inception will be coming in 2018. “These additions and improvements in AcqDemo are the result of a deliberative (over two years) process undertaken by the AcqDemo office in collaboration with participating organizations in all of the services,” said René Thomas-Rizzo, director of Human Capital Initiatives in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)). For those who are participating in AcqDemo, the new provisions will be welcome news. For organizations considering joining AcqDemo, the new provisions may just close the deal. “These changes position AcqDemo for the future and for growth,” Thomas-Rizzo said. The proposed changes, which are being finalized within DOD, are wide-ranging. They affect everything from reducing the number of “contribution factors” in the Contribution-Based Compensation and Appraisal System (CCAS) from six to three, to new direct-hire authorities, which include an internship program. ACQDEMO 101 Created by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 1996 fiscal year, designed in 1998 and implemented with the publication of the Federal Register notice on Jan. 8, 1999, AcqDemo has been updated several times over the years. But those amendments were minor compared with those anticipated for FY18. AcqDemo is an acquisition-based alternative human resource (HR) management pay and personnel system that provides managers and organizations with increased flexibility in recruitment, staffing, classification, performance management, compensation and employee development. The purpose of the project is to enhance the quality, professionalism and management of the DOD acquisition workforce through improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness and agility of the human resource management system. AcqDemo not only provides a system that retains, recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, but also supports their personal and professional growth as acquisition specialists and professionals. In addition, the demonstration project provides managers, at the lowest practical level, the authority, control and flexibility they need to achieve effective workforce management, quality acquisition processes and superior products. Part of retention and motivation is, of course, compensation, and AcqDemo ties compensation of the workforce directly to individuals’ contributions to their organization’s mission. This is in stark contrast to the General Schedule (GS) system, which compensates employees more on the basis of longevity and performance. For those employees in defense acquisition organizations participating in AcqDemo, the system is more beneficial than the General Schedule in large part because of the flexibility to compensate employees based on the value of their contributions to the mission. “The General Schedule is very rigid in terms of [career] progression,” said Sandra Brock, deputy director of the Army AcqDemo Program, which manages the Army’s implementation and sustainment of AcqDemo. “Salary increases in the General Schedule are given for performance (quality step increases) and longevity. By virtue of longevity, every year—or two years or three years, depending on your step in the General Schedule—you get a step increase as long as you’re doing well,” said Brock. And when a GS employee is at the top step of the grade, there is no available step increase. That is not the case with AcqDemo, because of its salary “broadbands,” each of which is a grouping of grades. The AcqDemo broadbands increase the maximum salary, as shown in a comparison of the 2017 GS and the AcqDemo pay tables. (See Figure 1.) MORE ROOM TO ADVANCEA comparison of the 2017 GS and AcqDemo pay tables illustrates the greater flexibility afforded by the AcqDemo broadbands, which increase the maximum salary for a given position. The General Schedule, by comparison, creates rigidity in career progression. (Graphics by U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and Jerold A. Lee, Army AcqDemo Program) The General Schedule has 15 grades, GS-1 to GS-15, with 10 salary “steps” in each. Progression from one GS grade to the next, with each grade progression requiring a “promotion,” can depend on a lot of variables. For example, a job may be classified as a GS-6 slot, based on its position description, and the organization can’t just change the job to GS-7. Contrast that to AcqDemo, which uses position requirement documents instead of position descriptions. Instead of hundreds of different position labels, AcqDemo has three career paths; instead of 15 pay grades, it has three or four broadband levels in each career path. The greatest flexibility of AcqDemo is in the broader pay bands. If that same GS-6 were in the NK II broadband, for example, the manager could increase compensation based on an employee’s contribution results through the CCAS pay pool panel process. The flexibility of AcqDemo is also in the ability to shape the workforce to meet “required skills and knowledge,” as the original Federal Register notice in 1999 noted. “The current personnel system [GS] is unable to adapt the workforce rapidly to changing needs. This demonstration project provides more flexibility to shape workforce capability and size as needed,” Brock said. The system provides for three types of appointments: permanent; temporary limited, not to exceed two years; and modified term, up to five years with the possibility for a one-year extension for a total of six years. A CONTRIBUTION-BASED SYSTEM Contribution-based compensation starts with the premise that pay should be based on an employee’s contributions to the organization’s mission. So the measurement isn’t only whether the employee accomplished specific tasks. Rather, it’s about what the individual’s efforts contributed to the mission. “For the AcqDemo community,” Brock said, “it’s how well did you contribute to the mission of the organization? Then, based on that and the value of the position, are you appropriately compensated?” For participating AcqDemo organizations, perhaps the most significant upcoming change is streamlining the contribution factors from six to three. (See Figure 2.) The contribution factors are the criteria that employees and supervisors use to enumerate and evaluate annual contributions. HALF AS MANY FACTORSAmong the changes coming to AcqDemo in FY18, perhaps the most significant is the streamlining of AcqDemo contribution factors, the criteria that define and help measure an employee’s yearly contributions to the successful execution of the organization’s mission. In a significant change in authority, the FY17 NDAA moved AcqDemo from under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the secretary of defense. The significance of that, said Steve Edsall, AcqDemo deputy program manager, is that “along with authority and accountability, it provides DOD more flexibility to implement improvements to AcqDemo.” AcqDemo Program Manager Scott Wortman agreed. “It’s significant because, rather than having to go through DOD and then OPM, now the secretary of defense has the authority to make the changes. However, we’ve shared with and leveraged OPM expertise.” The upcoming changes have been reviewed by OPM. “OPM’s input was helpful and incorporated,” Edsall said. In addition to the major change from six to three factors, there are many other improvements and new features. The most significant anticipated changes are in the categories of recruitment and staffing, pay administration and employee development. RECRUITMENT AND STAFFING Direct-hire authorities—Hiring managers in participating organizations will have the option of making on-the-spot tentative job offers to candidates at recruiting events when using a noncompetitive or direct hiring authority. That includes on-the-spot offers to qualified candidates who have a degree required by OPM or DOD standards covering acquisition positions, or qualified candidates in direct support of acquisition positions in a critical acquisition career field. Direct-hire authorities also include hiring veteran candidates for acquisition positions in a critical acquisition career field in the business and technical management professional career path or the technical management support path. Additionally, hiring managers will have authority to make direct-hire appointments of acquisition student interns. Managers can offer intern positions to recent graduates in a critical career field. Managers also will be able to offer acquisition intern appointments to undergraduates who have not yet completed their studies in a field directly linked to an acquisition position’s requirements for one of the critical career fields. “We call this our version of the Pathways [federal hiring] program,” Wortman said, “which we think will provide improved benefit for the acquisition community.” He added that this major improvement will enable participating organizations to “make direct offers and bring [candidates] in, and put them into a program to advance them in their careers.” “Direct-hire authority doesn’t apply to the administrative support career path, which accounts for only 2 percent of the AcqDemo workforce,” Wortman said. MASTERING THE FINER POINTSHR personnel—in the foreground, Gerard Calvin, HR specialist, and in the background from left, Willie Barber, lead HR specialist; Tammy Knox, supervisory HR specialist; and Lorraine Kamaal, HR specialist—receive updated training in Army AcqDemo policy, processes and procedures at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in May. The four are with the Army Acquisition Workforce Hiring Cell of the Civilian Human Resources Agency, Northeast Region. (Photo by Catherine DeRan, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center) Scholastic achievement appointment— This modification of the existing scholastic achievement appointment makes it available to a wider range of candidates. Rule of many—When there are 25 or fewer candidates for a position, the hiring manager, who knows the subject matter better than HR personnel, will have the option of reviewing all the candidates to find the skills needed. “It gets the pool of candidates to the supervisor much faster, and then the supervisor has complete control of identifying the best candidates,” Wortman said. Voluntary Emeritus Program—This, too, expands an existing part of AcqDemo, opening it up to military and civilian retirees who supported the acquisition workforce but were not in positions that fell under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act. Expanded supervisory and managerial probationary periods—This expanded requirement provides adequate probationary periods for current managers with significant responsibility for major programs. “It gives the organization—and the manager—more time to assess that the candidate can do the job,” Wortman said. If the increased level of responsibility doesn’t work out, the organization can move the new manager back to the previous supervisory or nonsupervisory role. Reduction in force—In the event of a reduction in force (RIF), Wortman said, “we are moving from a longevity-based system of determining our RIF list to using performance as a primary factor.” Although performance has been part of AcqDemo from the beginning, it has never been measured the way that contributions have. This provision changes that, adding a different dimension, and makes CCAS compliant with 10 U.S. Code, Section 1597(f). Expanded detail and temporary promotion authority—This enables managers to fill open positions at a higher level of responsibility with existing employees beyond the current 120-day limit, to as much as one year within a 24-month period. For example, if an employee’s supervisor is on extended leave, that employee in a lower broadband level may be temporarily promoted to a higher level of responsibility, with a higher salary, for six months. At the end of that period, if circumstances require it, that employee could again be temporarily promoted for another six months within the 24-month period. SPREADING THE WORDNAVSEA employees converting to AcqDemo ask questions while attending a program overview at the Washington Navy Yard in July 2016. (Photo courtesy of NAVSEA Public Affairs) PAY ADMINISTRATION Compensation strategy—Participating organizations will have to look at their compensation strategy deliberately, based on “how the market is doing locally, the value of the position to the organization,” Wortman said. “We have cost controls now, but this expectation is adding a level of increased compensation strategy to what we’re doing. It’s really trying to bring more discipline to the program.” Promotions—This provision clarifies whether a move from the GS to an AcqDemo position constitutes a promotion or a reassignment (lateral move). For the purposes of AcqDemo, a permanent or temporary promotion action occurs when a non-AcqDemo federal employee or an AcqDemo employee is selected under competitive or merit promotion procedures for an AcqDemo position in a broadband level with a referenced GS grade or level of work in a higher broadband level than would be appropriate for the federal employee’s current GS grade or the AcqDemo employee’s current broadband level, or a previously held position on a permanent basis in the competitive service. Accelerated compensation for developmental positions (ACDP)—This new provision enables managers to accelerate compensation based on contribution and performance. “It gives managers flexibility at two points during the year. For example, at the midpoint of the appraisal cycle,” Edsall said, “the manager can say [to the employee], ‘OK, we think you’re ready to move to a higher level of contribution,’ because we are a contribution-based system. At that point, they [the manager] can approve a pay raise—up to 10 percent for each midpoint or annual appraisal—within the broadband levels of the developmental position.” So, at two points each year, employees are evaluated for their progress, and a manager is able to give pay raises commensurate with the employee’s level of contribution. In addition, ACDP employees are eligible for the CCAS rating and CCAS payouts (both salary increase and award). This can be used in conjunction with the direct-hire intern program, which makes it much more flexible than Pathways. Supervisory and team lead cash differentials—“This is a big one,” Edsall said. Local commanders can use the differentials as an additional tool to incentivize and compensate supervisors and team leaders as defined by the OPM General Schedule Supervisory Guide or Leader Grade Evaluation Guide in such situations where salary inequities exist between the supervisor’s and nonsupervisory subordinates’ basic pay; when supervisory or team leader positions are extremely difficult to fill; or when the organizational level and scope, difficulty and value of position warrant additional compensation. Based on their needs, organizations can offer incentives to candidates for team lead or supervisory positions with a 5 or 10 percent pay boost above their current salary, depending on their role. “That’s [calculated] off the base pay,” Wortman said, adding, “The provision is essentially intended for highly technical professional people who could assume a supervisory role, but who might not consider taking on a managerial role with all the extra responsibilities but no extra pay.” This cash differential is not permanent and will be reviewed annually as part of the pay pool panel review process. WELCOME TO ACQDEMOGen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), addresses the audience at an AcqDemo town hall meeting in May at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in preparation for the transition of approximately 13,000 AFMC employees to AcqDemo in June. The Air Force represents the single largest segment of AcqDemo’s more than 33,600 participants—47 percent—followed by the Army, at 25 percent; the Navy, at 14 percent; and the Marine Corps, at 5 percent, according to OUSD(AT&L) Human Capital Initiatives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Stacey Geiger) Special act awards of $25,000—The acquisition executives for each of the services have the option under this provision to give “special act” awards to employees of participating AcqDemo organizations of not more than $25,000, an increase over the current $10,000 limit. “If you’re in acquisition and you jump a big hurdle or solve a major enterprise problem, it gives the acquisition executive of the service the ability to say, ‘This person really just saved the day or saved millions of dollars,’ ” and reward them commensurately, Edsall said. “Very high score”—This new provision provides scores in the NH, NJ and NK career paths above the current maximum of 100, 83 and 61, respectively, to a very high score of 115, 95 and 70, so that managers have more flexibility in rewarding contributions. It provides increments for NH of 105, 110 and 115; for NJ of 87, 91 and 95; and for NK of 64, 67 and 70. (See Figure 3.) Performance assessment—Although performance has always been a part of AcqDemo, its design has been contribution-focused. Incorporating a separate performance assessment adds another dimension to employee appraisals for a fuller picture. The same criteria used for evaluating contribution will be used to measure performance. THREE DEGREES OF ‘VERY HIGH’By introducing increments to the very high scores in the evaluation of employees’ contributions, AcqDemo will provide managers more flexibility to reward outstanding contributions. EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT Sabbaticals—This provision expands the existing sabbatical provision, which is open to all eligible employees with seven years of federal civilian service, to require a post-sabbatical service requirement that is three times the length of the sabbatical. For example, if an employee takes a six-month sabbatical, the individual has a service obligation of 18 months. Student intern relocation incentive—This incentive gives local commanders or their designees the option to approve relocation incentives for new student interns and to student interns whose work site is in a different location than their college or university or their permanent residence. “Let’s say, for example, there is a student in college in California pursuing an engineering degree, and it’s a very competitive area for technical talent. If you want to attract them to take a student internship on the East Coast, this relocation incentive will help many decide ‘yes.’ This will not only help with attracting top talent for student internships, but also increase our chances with a follow-up top talent hire after graduation,” Wortman said. Edsall added, “Students typically don’t have much money. So if you tell a student you want them to intern with you but then tell them they have to pay their own way, it’s not likely that they’re going to take the job.” CONCLUSION Significant improvements to the Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project are projected to be implemented in 2018. The design improvements are the result of extensive collaboration among OUSD(AT&L) Human Capital Initiatives, the AcqDemo Program Office and organizations participating in AcqDemo across DOD. The last step in finalizing the improvements is the upcoming Federal Register notice process, which will give the public an opportunity to provide input on the changes. Improvements include streamlining of contribution factors from six to three, providing new direct-hire authorities, adding supervisory and team leader cash differentials, simplifying classification standards, providing accelerated compensation for developmental positions, increasing the amounts for special act monetary awards, expanded detail and temporary promotion periods, and more. Planned streamlining improvements and new features will enhance the value of AcqDemo to organizations and their team members as they contribute to successfully execute the acquisition mission. For more information, contact the Army AcqDemo Program Office at 703-805-4512 (DSN 655). For more information on Army AcqDemo training, contact Sandra Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org. MR. JEROLD A. LEE, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is director of the Army AcqDemo Program, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He holds an M.S. in administration from Central Michigan University and a B.S. in business administration from the University of San Francisco. CONTRIBUTORS: Mr. Scott Wortman, DOD AcqDemo program manager, and Ms. Sandra Brock, Army AcqDemo deputy program director. Army AcqDemo Roadshow The Army AcqDemo Program Office plans to train the acquisition workforce on Federal Register changes via an educational tour that will run from this October through March 2018. The Army AcqDemo team will offer training at regional locations where large populations of the participating Army AcqDemo organizations reside. Details will be available in late summer from command-level pay pool administrators or by contacting Sandra Brock at email@example.com. This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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Faces of the Force: Margaret Balanowski
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Product Director for Army Watercraft Systems, Project Manager for Transportation Systems (PM TS), Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS & CSS) TITLE: Assistant product manager, Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), Landing Craft Mechanized-8 and Research, Development, Test and Evaluation YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 29 DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in program management, life cycle logistics, and business – financial management EDUCATION: M.S. in logistics management administration and master of public administration, Georgia College and State University; B.A. in chemistry and business management, Mary Baldwin University AWARDS: Achievement Medal for Civilian Service (4); Army Superior Unit Award; Detroit Federal Executive Board Employee Recognition as part of PEO CS & CSS; PM TS Employee of the Quarter A dogged pursuit of acquisition success By SUSAN L. FOLLETT Here’s something that Margaret Balanowski has learned over the course of her three-decade federal career: Being an Army product manager is a lot like leading a dog through an obstacle course. Balanowski has been with the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS) for the past 15 years and has been involved with dog agility, dog shows and similar activities for about 12 years. “There are so many areas where my work and dog agility overlap. First, teamwork: learning what your teammates need. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and different ways of communicating. The challenge is to figure out how to work together toward a common goal.” In agility events, dogs must complete a series of obstacles, led by a handler who navigates the dog through the course. “Every course is different, and the handler has seven minutes to walk the course and decide the best strategy to get their dog to complete the course within time and without any faults,” Balanowski explained. “At work, we have an end goal and we must figure out the steps to achieve that.” Dog agility requires tackling one obstacle at a time, she added, and that focus is essential in acquisition as well. “Sometimes at work we tend to start worrying about obstacle No. 12, and we aren’t there yet. Also, because there’s more than one way to run a course, being flexible is important, too.” Balanowski is the assistant product manager (APM) for the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)) and the Landing Craft Mechanized-8, and oversees research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) for the product director for army watercraft systems. One area of her management of RDT&E projects is ensuring that the Army’s legacy and future watercraft fleet remains compliant with statutory environmental requirements, an effort involving close collaboration with Navy engineers. “As an APM, I touch all aspects of a program—from funding and engineering to testing and logistics—and I’m able to see the complete picture. In the end, the most rewarding part is hearing from a Soldier that the piece of equipment you manage does what it is supposed to do and keeps them safe.” Over the course of her time at PEO CS&CSS, she has worked in different capacities on different products, and her career outside of the PEO included assignments with the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency. “I’ve worked backward through the life cycle: I started on end-of-life turn-in procedures and logistics, worked as a program analyst, a logistician and a systems acquisition manager, and I’ve been working on the MSV(L) from the material decision document to where we are now: source selection for contract award and obtaining milestone B approval.” MSV(L) is a new-start program designed to improve the Army’s ability to maneuver from the sea with current combat platforms. It is intended to access austere entry points, degraded ports and beaches without on-shore support, to facilitate land maneuver support or sustainment operations, and it will be capable of operating in rivers, shallow coastal waters and narrow inland waterways. Balanowski has played a role in getting the program from early development through successful release of the request for proposal. MSV(L) is an ACAT III program that’s entering into milestone B. “Army Watercraft has not had a new program in more than 15 years and never had a program entering at milestone B,” Balanowski said. “So, we don’t have a roadmap for what milestone B paperwork should look like. We’ve been working with examples of documentation from several other program offices such as Joint Light Tactical Vehicle [JLTV] Program, using their program’s documentation as a guide, but the JLTV is a vehicle and the MSV(L) is a vessel, so there are some differences.” Balanowski grew up in a military family and worked for a large defense contractor after graduating from college. “Something was missing from my job, and it took me nearly three years to realize that what I really wanted to do was work for the government, specifically DOD.” Of the positions she has held, Army acquisition is her favorite. “To take user requirements and transform them into equipment that allows Soldiers to complete their missions is very rewarding.” The best thing for people seeking a similar career is to get uncomfortable, she said. “Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Take opportunities for special projects or assignments, and expand your experience. Having experience in more than one area of a program management office allows you to excel in the long term.” She knows from whence she speaks. She took part in a PEO CS&CSS shadowing program in 2015, spending two weeks traveling and attending meetings with Program Executive Officer Scott Davis. “That experience allowed me to gain insight on the span of systems within our PEO, the issues and concerns that are discussed at that level and the magnitude of responsibility that the PEO has. I am not sure I could keep up the same pace for 365 days a year.” As the APM for the Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System, more commonly known as the Husky, she spent 17 days at five forward operating bases in 2011, meeting the Soldiers operating the system. “That trip gave me the chance to understand things from the Soldier’s point of view. I learned what was working, what needed improvement and how they felt about the vehicle in enabling them to complete their mission. When a 19-year-old Solider—who could be your child—tells you that they love the Husky and feel safe in it, you know that what you do day to day is working—something that’s especially meaningful since route clearance is dangerous and demanding work.” This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. “Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-664-5635. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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First, Manage Yourself
In 30 years of studying and teaching leadership, Harvard Business School Professor Linda A. Hill has seen the numerous ways that understanding oneself and the organization well makes for better managers and leaders who can build thriving teams by Ms. Margaret C. Roth Professor Linda A. Hill If it seems to you that managing or leading in government and managing or leading in business have nothing in common, Dr. Linda A. Hill has a story or five to tell you. Hill has made it her life’s work to study, from a global perspective, what makes a good manager a good leader, and vice versa. What she has learned and teaches as the Harvard Business School (HBS) Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration holds lessons for managers and leaders of all stripes. Hill has the added perspective of having grown up in the Army in the Vietnam War era, one of four children of now-retired Medical Service Corps officer Lt. Col. Clifford Hill Sr. and his wife, Lillian, who, with her sense of adventure and curiosity, made their highly mobile life look easy. Posted to places as different as Germany and Thailand, the Hills took advantage of their space-available travel opportunities to see the world aboard military transport. So it was natural for Linda Hill to be drawn to ethnography, the study and systematic recording of cultures. She started by earning a B.A., summa cum laude, in psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 1977. Continuing her study of organizational theory and behavioral sciences, Hill received her M.A. in educational psychology, with a concentration in measurement and evaluation, from the University of Chicago, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences there. At that point, someone recommended that she pay a visit to the Harvard Business School, which was looking for people from the social sciences as opposed to business. She did, finding it a very attractive environment, and set her sights on joining the HBS faculty, starting by completing a postdoctoral research fellowship there to gain more business expertise. Now she is fully immersed in studying leadership, globalization and innovation. Hill’s personal and professional experiences—traveling the world, watching her dad establish himself at each new hospital administration job and establishing her own body of work in the world of academia—have helped make her both a masterful storyteller and a world-renowned analyst of leadership practices. Hill is the co-author, with Kent Lineback, of “Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives of Becoming a Great Leader,” and, with Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback, “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation.” She is also the author of “Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership.” SETTING THE CONTEXTHill speaks in London about her book “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation,” co-authored with Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback. The title refers to a piece of wisdom that many companies noted for their innovation—including Pixar and Google—recognize: Truly good leaders help combine the little bit of genius each team member brings. (Photo by fyfephoto.com) Army AL&T interviewed Hill May 9 to hear her views on the personal and professional development of managers into leaders. Army AL&T: Your dad was [in the] Medical Service Corps. Having grown up around the Army, did you ever consider going into the Army yourself? Hill: No, I never did. I enjoyed it, but I think I always wanted to be a professor. I pinch myself because I feel like I found exactly the right career, and somewhat by accident. I didn’t know anything particularly about business, because my father was in the military. None of my relatives were in managerial positions in business; some were factory workers or coal miners. But I really loved the fact that Harvard Business School focused on both theory and practice. I wanted to do work that made a difference in people’s lives and livelihoods. Army AL&T: What is your view on the fundamental difference between leading and managing? Hill: Well, I am actually a protégé, literally, of John Kotter [an internationally known scholar and author on leadership and change] and Warren Bennis [the late leadership scholar, also a prolific author]. They taught us all about the important distinction between leadership and management: Leadership is about dealing with change, and management is about dealing with complexity. They helped us understand that no matter what your formal authority is, usually you have to deal with both. Sometimes I worry that most people would rather be a leader than a manager, and usually both are necessary to sustain organizational success. When John and Warren were first writing about this, they were really focused on the fact that most companies, many large companies, were overmanaged and underled. Today, we live in a world that is more complex and dynamic, and I think we have many large companies—and sometimes even small companies—that are undermanaged and underled because we face so much complexity and turbulence in today’s global economy. Army AL&T: Are leading and managing things that have to be refreshed on a regular basis, or do you mostly learn them by doing? Hill: There are two things we know for sure. Managers mostly learn by doing and with the assistance of others; we are all social learners. No matter what your position, usually some management and some leadership is required. You may be better at one than the other, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. One of the things that we [at HBS] try to do, that I presume is consistent with the military, is to help individuals in a position of formal authority understand that you need to build a team. You want to have people around you who complement your particular strengths or weaknesses. You have to work with those who come at their work differently than you do. We all need to be prepared to refresh, update and sometimes even transform ourselves. We talk about the importance of lifelong learning, particularly given how dynamic the world is. You can’t assume that you know all that you need to know and stop. You have got to be prepared to learn from others. For instance, we all have to learn to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges new technology brings. We have to continually update our functional expertise. We are all really struggling to keep up. THE MANY FACETS OF LEADERSHIPLeadership is about handling change; management is about handling complexity. Hill sees a dearth of both in many large companies today, in part because of the demands of the global economy. (Image by USAASC/sorbetto/iStock) Army AL&T: What is making it harder to lead now? Is it the technology? The pace of technological change? Hill: There are a number of things. It is harder to sustain success in an organization these days. The world, the global economy, is more competitive than it used to be, right? And it is a fairly unforgiving economy. Organizations need for their leaders to be better at what they are doing. This is an obvious example, but if you were a retailer [20 years ago], you didn’t have to worry about disruptors like Amazon or Alibaba [a Chinese e-commerce company] coming in and taking away your market share. Demographics, technology, growing expectations of diverse constituencies, the global economy: Any number of things make it harder. We did a study in which we asked C-suite executives around the world, what does it take to be a high-potential [employee] in your organization, and what did it take 10 years ago? What they told us was, it is harder to be a high-potential today. They said that 10 years ago, if you were a value creator, you could be considered a high-potential. But now if you want to be considered a high-potential, it is not enough to be a value creator; you also must be a game changer. A value creator is someone who knows how to identify and close what are referred to as performance gaps, whereas a game changer is someone who knows how to identify and close what are referred to as opportunity gaps. A performance gap is a gap between where you are now and where you should be, whereas an opportunity gap is a gap between where you are now and where you could be. If organizations don’t have enough people who know how to be game changers, they may be able to execute their current strategy, but they will not be agile, able to adapt. And if you want to grow as an organization and thrive, you need to be able to change and innovate. Another thing that is happening is that customer expectations are always rising. So customers expect more from companies, but they don’t necessarily want to pay proportionately more for what they expect. When the iPhone was first introduced, Apple found that customers wouldn’t pay a premium price, and Apple had to reduce it. I suspect the military faces similar pressures—more is expected from the military but, given your budgets, you have to figure out how to do more with less. I haven’t done any work with the military. But I know there is a lot of effort to modernize the Army, to make sure that you have the talent that can actually use the kinds of high-tech equipment, artificial intelligence or data analytics we see these days. And I think that in the military, you have always had demographic diversity—probably more than we see in business—and you probably have even more these days. And for the military, the stakes are as high as they get—national security and people’s lives. We are living in a relatively slow economy with all kinds of political uncertainties. Budgets are very tight, and you need to have money to invest in new technologies and to attract and retain top talent. I can only imagine that in the military, you truly need great leaders, not just good ones, who can cope with the complexity of issues and constituencies and the dynamism you face. We talk about those three imperatives of leadership—managing yourself, managing your team, and managing the network of all those people over whom you have no formal authority but you are deeply dependent on to get your job done—both inside and outside the military. Everybody cares about what the military is doing. Managers everywhere have to figure out how to manage up, manage across and manage down. Even the very senior ones—and they also have to deal with Congress and the public. Army AL&T: In the introduction to “Being the Boss,” you say your dad taught you that integrity and caring are at the heart of great management. What did your Army life tell you about the role of adaptability in an organization that is now 242 years old and is bound to some extent by tradition and yet is trying to invite intellectual diversity? Hill: One of the things I saw my father have to do is go into many different kinds of settings and figure out what was going on, establish credibility, develop a strategy and start to deliver in whatever context he found himself in. So, like in business, military leaders have to have both contextual intelligence—the ability to diagnose situations—and emotional intelligence, the ability to build relationships with diverse others quickly and in new environments. As you may or may not know, in the private sector many people do not make these transitions very successfully. Part of the reason is because they don’t have the contextual intelligence. The other part is that they haven’t built up the networks necessary to actually deliver and get work done, because it is usually the informal network that you really have to rely on, particularly if you want to do things like innovate. A GROWING, ACTIVE FAMILYMedical Service Corps officer Lt. Col. Clifford Hill Sr. and his wife, Lillian, raised their daughter Linda and her three younger siblings around the world, as Hill’s Army career took the family to multiple continents. In addition to the perks of travel, being raised in the Army showed Linda Hill some key leadership challenges up close, including the importance of contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence as her father adjusted to each new assignment. (Photo courtesy of Linda A. Hill) Army AL&T: Can you define contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence? Hill: Emotional intelligence is usually defined as how self-aware and how socially aware you are. Some people are empathic and are good at interpersonal relationships. But that does not guarantee that they are socially aware, able to read organizational and political dynamics and figure out how to impact or transform the system. The more self-aware you are, and the more socially aware you are, the more likely it is that you can manage yourself effectively. Managing yourself is the core imperative of leadership. Leadership is always about trying to use yourself as an instrument to get things done, and that means being able to match your intent with your impact. Contextual intelligence relates to your capacity to learn what is important about a context or a circumstance, [understanding] what you need to pay attention to and adapting your behavior accordingly. Two people doing the same job in different contexts—say, Afghanistan as compared with Germany—will face different challenges and may even need different skills. Each needs to be able to figure out what matters in their particular context and then to adjust their action plans accordingly. Army AL&T: On the day-to-day level, are there specific questions that a manager or a leader should ask him or herself to establish emotional and contextual intelligence? Hill: You might think you are empathic, but that might not be how your colleagues perceive you. This is why a lot of organizations have 360-degree feedback. One of the things we have the executives do, and the MBAs, is get 360-degree feedback on their emotional intelligence. They get peers, bosses and direct reports to assess them on a variety of interpersonal and organizational skills, from managing conflict, to exercising influence, to inspiring others. There is a whole series of questions about how they manage conflict, how they manage influence, how aware they are of their strengths, their weaknesses, their emotions. Most of us think we are doing fine, even on very fundamental things, such as integrity—but it is difficult to figure out whether you are actually matching your intent with your impact without that 360-degree feedback. In “Being the Boss,” we talked about the importance of trust. There are two dimensions of trust, your character and your competence. People want to know that you are well-intended and that you want to do the right thing. That’s what character is about. Competence is about whether you know the right thing to do. Now you may know what the right thing to do is and you may, in fact, be well-intended. But what matters? The truth matters. Perception matters, too: Are you behaving in ways that provide evidence for people that you are, in fact, trustworthy? One of the things that we frequently find with our executives and MBAs is that people who have been very successful and are in some ways very ambitious are not particularly self-aware or empathic. And they are rather surprised to learn that. One of the ways we help them learn that is by letting them collect feedback from people who they think know them and should have a sense of them; often they discover that there is a gap. Army AL&T: What is the hardest thing about developing emotional intelligence? What are the big challenges? Hill: One is that we can know what our intentions are, but other people don’t, right? They just see our behavior. It is as if we assume that people can read our minds. And I think that’s why it can be rather shocking sometimes to learn that people don’t perceive us as trustworthy. Maybe they just don’t know you very well. Research has suggested that when people don’t know you, they don’t necessarily feel positively about you or your behavior. This can be especially true if you are a star; if your mind works very quickly, you might tend to jump from the data to conclusions without explaining your reasoning. That’s why teachers made us show our work when we did math problems. If you are really good at something, you might easily become impatient with people. And people are very good at reading nonverbal signals, right? They can see your frustration when they appear not to get something that, frankly, you haven’t even explained, and that doesn’t make them feel very good. So the two questions that I always tell people to ask themselves are, how do people experience you, and how do people experience themselves when they are with you? Because leadership is always about an emotional connection. You can be very talented and know you are well-intended; you can do the job and think people are enjoying working with you, that the whole group is successful, etc. But it may be that you are actually not making space for other people’s ideas and they feel pretty left out; that they see it as being all about you and not necessarily what the group wants. Or maybe you are very talented and pushing people along—you are quite a pacesetter, as it is called—but you are burning out people with your pace. Maybe you are not actually providing them with the development they need or delegating enough; you might be micromanaging and making them simply follow your path. These are the kinds of things that get in the way of talented people actually developing empathy and/or being trusted by individuals. The other thing is, if you don’t inquire a whole lot—if you are a person who always advocates—then not only do you not learn new things, it is also insulting to people. So, for example, if we are peers who are collaborating on a project in the military and you don’t inquire, you don’t ask any questions, that sort of makes me feel like you don’t see me as someone you can learn from. There is some evidence that the more talented you are, the more difficulty you will have learning to lead and building trust. Because you also can be just plain intimidating. Your talent, your strengths, can become weaknesses. There is research that people who are high-potentials and ambitious and have a high need for achievement tend to be people who see what other people haven’t done. So when someone brings them work, they see what the person hasn’t done as opposed to what they have done. What we hear about people who are very talented, motivated individuals is that they don’t give much positive feedback. That is a very common complaint. It is partly because when you are really good, you really want to make sure the whole group is going to achieve. Also, you have a lot of pressure on you to deliver. Imagine you have a child who brings home a report card with all As except for one C. You see the C; you don’t see all of those As. We are sort of wired that way. And therefore we inadvertently create experiences for other people that make them feel not so good or not so special, when in fact if someone who brings home all As but for one C—that’s a lot of talent there. THE MORE BRAINS, THE BETTERThe genius hitting upon a brilliant breakthrough alone in her lab is the exception. Most innovations come from the friction and competition of a group—but it has to be supportive competition. Research shows that fostering a feeling of “psychological safety” is one of the most important things good leaders do to encourage innovation. (Image by ARTQU/iStock) Army AL&T: I would like to talk about dealing with the bureaucracy, because it is such a big part of working anywhere in the government. Are there skills of particular value in building networks across bureaucratic boundaries? Hill: Businesses today recognize the need to do what is referred to as silo busting, to be able to work horizontally. Usually in highly bureaucratic organizations, those silos and those rules are deeply embedded in the organization. But bureaucracies exist for a reason. They serve a purpose—to give us clarity about people’s roles and responsibilities and formal structures. It matters [especially] when you are at war, for example, that people know what their roles are, the reporting structures, who is supposed to speak to whom and when. Bureaucracies are not very agile, obviously. One reason is that they are so siloed, both horizontally and vertically. Vertically, communication tends to go in only one direction, from the top down as opposed to the bottom up. Horizontally, we sort of stay within our own worlds and communicate within those worlds. To be able to execute and innovate, communication needs to become more transparent, and it needs to move up and down and across the organization. As a leader, this is why you have to build that informal network, to help you figure out what is happening in the organization and to get things done, because sometimes the formal structures are actually getting in the way. Most innovation happens between the silos, in their adjacencies. So if you are not communicating across functions or across levels and dealing effectively with that diversity of thought, you are not going to get the kind of healthy conflict that tends to lead to new ideas. Army AL&T: It is possible to overcome those barriers, though. So the question is, how do you make a concerted effort to forge ties across bureaucratic boundaries and get things done through the informal network you talked about? Hill: First of all, you need to build a strategic network—which in our language is the network that allows you to scan and sense your environment, to detect what the future may bring and prepare for it. Your strategic network basically helps you figure out the performance gaps and the opportunity gaps: How do you know what your priorities should be, what you should work on? You can only know that from actually understanding what the organization’s priorities are, and understanding the opportunities and challenges in your area of responsibility. When we talk about networking, many people experience it as a dirty word or evidence that the organization doesn’t work. Well, no. The only way you can know what your team should be working on is if you are talking to the right people and they are talking to you. You don’t just want to have the bosses tell you what those priorities are and what the capability constraints are. You also want to be able to inform your bosses of what you know, what they should be taking into account and understanding. You want those to be two-way conversations. So when you are building networks, you need to be deliberate and think about who do I need to be connected to, both in the military and outside the military, to understand the opportunities and the challenges that we are facing. I try to help leaders understand that that is a part of your job. The only way you can answer those questions is if you are interacting with the right people and having two-way conversations. Don’t tell them, this is what I am working on and this is how you can help me. Instead, ask, “What are your pain points and how can I help you get the job done?” Then, when you set your priorities for your own team, they are more likely to accept what you are trying to do, right? Then you also need to build the operational network that allows you to actually get things done—to close those gaps, to work on those priorities. If people don’t trust you, they are certainly not going to help you work on an opportunity gap because they have so many performance gaps of their own to work on. I always tell people, think about who you are dependent on to get your job done now. Then think about who you are going to be dependent on six months from now, and introduce yourself to those people. Because if they don’t trust you, if they don’t know what they can expect from you or if they can’t influence you, they are not going to help you get your agenda done. Not because they are bad people, but just because we are all human. So try to build relationships with people before you actually need those relationships. OPEN YOUR MIND TO EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCEResearch by Hill and others has shown that business leaders—even very successful ones—are often surprised to find that they don’t rate highly on the self-awareness or empathy scale. Without self-awareness, an executive can’t manage himself properly, and without managing himself, he can’t lead others. So Hill recommends asking for feedback from employees and peers, not just supervisors, to see if the way you see yourself lines up with how others see you. (Image by akindo/iStock) Army AL&T: I would like to talk about your work on leading innovation and “Collective Genius.” Tell me about the approach that you talk about in the book. Hill: The research on innovation is quite separate from the research on leadership, and we were looking at that connection. Often we sort of have this myth in our head that innovation is about a solo genius having an “aha!” moment. But in fact, the research has been clear for quite some time that most innovations are the result of collaborations among people who have diverse perspectives or talents. The second thing is, we know that you really can’t plan your way to an innovation; you have to act your way to it. It is a process of discovery-driven learning. There are missteps and wrong turns and, of course, actual failures. We know that most innovations are actually a combination of ideas, often old and new. Very rarely is an innovation the result of a single idea. And the final thing is that innovation is really hard work, and it is very scary work. You have to help people be both willing and able to do the work, because it involves risk, and it is hard work to do and sustain over time. We studied individual leaders who built teams or organizations or ecosystems that were able to innovate not just once, but time and again. That is the key to this. Army AL&T: So if you are working in the federal government and you are given a group of people and don’t really have a lot of choice of who’s in the group, how do you maximize the potential for innovation? The government has a vast array of very talented people, but you can’t always move people around. Hill: Most people have more potential than we realize to help with innovation. We know from our research that the process needs not only experts, but also people with a naïve eye, who are willing to ask, if you will, that “dumb question.” One of the individuals we studied told us a story about how [Apple founder] Steve Jobs went to visit [Polaroid co-founder Edwin] Land because he was trying to understand how Polaroid was an organization that could innovate. Apparently, when the scientists or technologists got stuck at Polaroid, often they would bring in arts and humanities students from the local colleges, because the students were willing to challenge the basic assumptions of the scientists and technologists. As nonexperts, they didn’t know what the basic assumptions were, or they would ask a so-called stupid question because they didn’t know it was a stupid question. And inevitably that naïve perspective would help the scientists and technologists break out of the box and think of new ways of doing things. Earlier I talked about being a value creator and a game changer. No matter what your role—you can be a janitor in a hospital—you may have some ideas about what we could be doing and not just what we should be doing. As they say at Pixar, everybody has a slice of genius, so the role of the leader is to figure out how that slice of genius can be utilized to help the organization do great things. To close an opportunity gap, by definition, you are going to have to either change something about the way you are doing things or come up with a new way of doing things. Leading innovation is about understanding that we might all have a point of view that is worth considering when you are trying to solve a problem or work on an opportunity. That is what we found in our work, a kind of democratization: Everybody can play if they are willing and able to. Army AL&T: Does that democratization extend to decision-making? Hill: My co-authors and I talk about three organizational capabilities related to innovative problem-solving: creative abrasion, creative agility and creative resolution. (See Figure 1.) Creative resolution is the capability that relates to how decisions are made. In the organizations we studied, everybody understands how decisions get made and who is responsible for the final decision. However, these leaders use a decision-making process that is more inclusive and more patient. When you do decision-making that way, it is more likely that you will be able to combine the best of the different ideas that have been proposed and come up with a solution that will address whatever opportunity you are trying to address. Creative resolution is about not letting certain people dominate—usually the bosses or the experts. It’s also not about compromising just because you want to go along to get along. It is an inclusive decision-making process, but still, in the end it is very clear who is going to make the final call. The other two capabilities I mentioned are equally important. Creative abrasion is how you generate a marketplace of ideas in the first place. The people who are involved in trying to deal with the problem or the issue are expected to advocate for their point of view. But they are also supposed to inquire and actively listen to other people’s points of view. So creative abrasion is not brainstorming, where you can say anything and do anything and people aren’t supposed to judge you. It is quite the opposite. It is a competition of ideas; a heated but hopefully constructive sort of abrasion, in which ideas rub up against other ideas. The third capability, creative agility, is about a process of discovery-driven learning. It involves experimenting, testing something out, maybe building a prototype, either a real one or a thought experiment prototype. You kind of bump it up against reality, get some feedback on how that idea works, and then make adjustments. Creative agility is about acting your way toward a solution. So creative abrasion, creative agility, creative resolution—those are the three capabilities. You need to build a culture that allows for those capabilities to be exercised. FIGURE 1: THREE ORGANIZATIONAL CAPABILITIES TO BUILDIncrease your team’s ability to solve problems innovatively by replacing the judgment-free—and occasionally therefore decision-free—practice of brainstorming with the concept of creative abrasion, whereby members of the team advocate for their ideas but are also open to rigorous questions. Moving from idea to prototype or other quick experiment gives you creative agility. The essence of creative resolution is that the team knows exactly who’s going to make the final decision, but all viewpoints are welcomed during the search for a solution. (SOURCE: Figure III-2 from “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation,” by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback. Reprinted with permission.) Army AL&T: And they have a distinct application in the military. Hill: Yes. In fact, we just lost one of my colleagues, David Garvin, who actually did a lot of work on the military with regard to creative agility and after-action reviews. He studied organizational learning, and he thought the military would be an excellent place to study them. [Editor’s note: Garvin, Harvard Business School’s C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration, died April 30 at age 64. His fields of expertise included business and management processes, principles of organizational learning and the design and leadership of large, complex organizations.] Another example that relates to creative abrasion is the idea of psychological safety. I am not going to be willing to engage in creative abrasion with you if I don’t feel the support of the group. What we see is that if the leader doesn’t provide support in an environment of psychological safety, people are too afraid to share their ideas. It is too risky. On the other hand, the leader needs to confront the person who won’t refine his or her ideas, because not every idea is working to solve the problem. What we also see—and the military really does have an advantage here—is that there has to be a common sense of purpose that matters, if the group is going to be willing and able to innovate together. Innovation leaders don’t focus so much on where we as a team are going together. They focus more on why we are doing it and who we are together, our collective identity. In the military, obviously people have come together around a clear purpose to keep us safe, and they are willing to dedicate their lives to make sure that purpose is achieved. It’s a little harder sometimes in business—let’s say, in a company that manufactures shoes or cars—to help people understand their collective purpose. To get innovation done in government is certainly a co-creation process among a whole range of parties. You can’t push this stuff down people’s throats. In fact, that’s one of the things that I think leaders forget: People have to volunteer to innovate. They have to find the purpose of the work meaningful, something that they want to work on and do; something they care about enough to do the hard work of collaboration, discovery-driven learning, dealing with the failures and missteps and then working through the decision-making process. (See Figure 2.) The other thing we also forget about innovation is, breakthrough innovations take a long time. You know, it took 20 years for Pixar to make a full-length computer-generated movie. It took 18 years for Corning to come up with the glass that’s on most of our smartphones. But you can’t build an organization that’s only going to innovate once every two decades. That’s why I think the leaders we studied had this more inclusive definition of innovation: They said, we want to do innovative problem-solving every day, no matter what it is, and we know how to work together in a way that allows us to combine our own individual slices of genius. This is why the book is called “Collective Genius.” FIGURE 2: PURPOSE MOTIVATESA common sense of purpose and a feeling that the work matters are essential for a group to be willing and able to innovate together. Military leaders have an advantage on this score, since shared purpose and values are built into the mission. (SOURCE: Figure III-1 from “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation,” by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback. Reprinted with permission.) Army AL&T: How important do you think it is, especially in the area of innovation, for midlevel managers to get job experience outside their workplace, such as a Training with Industry program or a detail to another organization in the government? Hill: I think it’s very important. We know that people learn from experience, so you want midlevel people to have opportunities to lead for change or innovation earlier in their careers, so that they develop the risk appetite required for it and get used to leading. It can be dangerous, though, when you promote people too fast—when you give someone not a stretch assignment, but a break assignment. I think that sometimes happens to people if they haven’t been given opportunities all along the way to take reasonable stretch assignments that help them to develop the resiliency and other kinds of qualities that are quite critical to being able to lead, particularly to lead change and innovation. It is important that people have those opportunities. Maybe they get to do short tours of duty in private-sector organizations where they can be exposed to certain ideas. Something we are seeing a lot more is that in our societies, in our countries, we need more trisector leaders: people who know how to bridge and work across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to get done some of the things that we want to resolve. In your military context, for example, rebuilding a country after a war requires people from all three sectors to get it done properly. Working across the sectors, you get people who have different sensibilities, perspectives and transferable skills. Plus, you get that creative abrasion I was talking about. You are more likely to get innovative solutions if you can actually harness that diversity. The bottom line is: Leadership has always been hard, but it is definitely getting harder. We do see more and more executives who understand that they cannot afford to stand still. Even if you were an exceptional leader 20 years ago, it’s necessary to keep in mind that you are dealing with a more diverse workforce and a world that is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. Leading innovation, in particular, requires a different mindset and a new set of skills that can harness diverse talents and unleash creative solutions. MS. MARGARET C. ROTH is an editor of Army AL&T magazine. She has more than a decade of experience in writing about the Army and more than three decades’ experience in journalism and public relations. Roth is a Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Award winner and a co-author of the book “Operation Just Cause: The Storming of Panama.” She holds a B.A. in Russian language and linguistics from the University of Virginia. This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. 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