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“Always keep your mind open…always look for a better way of doing business.”
If it were possible to summarize a 36 year career in military procurement leadership into one sentence, you could do a lot worse than the quote above. During our sixth episode of the Procurement Leaders Podcast, General Wendy M. Masiello, USAF (Ret.) shared plenty of wisdom from her work in reshaping services acquisition at the U.S. Air Force as its Deputy Assistant Secretary (Contracting) to her leadership of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA).
Any leader will tell you that changing culture is difficult, but doing so within an organization as vast as the Department of Defense (DoD) comes with a few additional degrees of difficulty. Fortunately, Gen. Masiello had the type of leadership support that reshaping a $30 billion budget shared by seven major commands requires. This allowed her to build bridges into each of the commands (each led by a four star general) where she could rally the interests of all members of the acquisition team. They responded to her technique, which focused on creating a plan for improvement with concrete expectations and timelines governed by a no-nonsense approach: the checklist.
“When you take the acquisition and translate it into a checklist they can relate to, and then assign accountability and responsibility, it changes the discussion. And it could not have been done if I had not had the leadership in the acquisition community” to build these bridges.
So what could any procurement professional do for an encore to that? For Gen. Masiello, it was a move to DCMA where she assumed responsibility for all the services contracts in the DoD. Many will be interested to learn that DCMA is actually a successor to what each service used to have within their own contract management tool, which resulted in many unique and disparate interpretations of procurement regulations and policies. Her mission was two fold: 1) make sure contractors have business systems that are reliable, repeatable, and compliant and 2) hold both parties accountable to the terms of their contract.
Given her experience as a change agent, Raj asked Gen. Masiello to lay out three barriers that prevent other organizations from moving forward. The first barrier, getting the right talent, was clarified to mean personnel with solid fundamentals but also the patience to really learn the profession before moving up the ranks. Second were technology tools, which are a huge opportunity for everyone in government. And finally, teamwork, which she eloquently framed through this statement: It’s easy to point fingers…it’s a lot harder to have intelligent conversations with each other.
Are you a procurement leader that wants to get the right people on board, give them the tools to succeed, and then promote teamwork across your organization? Then you won’t want to miss Gen. Masiello’s turn on the Procurement Leaders podcast.
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