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Leadership; Hearts and Minds

Okay you are probably wondering what leadership has to do with agile acquisitions. The truth is, leadership has everything to do with being agile. Trying to change the way people buy what they need or even describe what they need is culture change, and you can not change culture without leadership. I had the great opportunity of going fishing this weekend with one of the greatest leaders I have had the privilege of working for. Amidst the scenic bay view I took the opportunity to ask him "what is the single most important thing for changing culture?" His answer, "capture their heart and minds." So simple and yet so true. Folks have been acquiring things for a long time, and during that time there have been many theories on how to do it differently. So when I start talking to acquisition professionals about buying agile and changing requirements I am often confronted with one of two oppositions, either they just don't think it can be done or they think it is just another fad and not worth their time...hearts and minds. I can't just tell them t

o trust me and I can't just force them to change. So what leadership tools can be used to get people on board? First I employ these techniques myself and show others that it can be done. When I first started talking about fixed price iterations it was a foreign concept, but now there are so many examples around the federal government that it is easy to show where it has been successful. I also need to help them see that it there is more to consider than a single acquisition. We are a community and as such everything we do affects each other. From case precedence to "scar tissue" we need to look beyond our single acquisitions and help the community adopt practices that will benefit all of us.

It isn't always easy to go against the grain. For some it is a fear of standing out for others it is a legitimate fear of reprisal. Helping others challenge the way things are done can help them brake free from the status quo. I try to provide templates and samples and most importantly examples of successful implementation in an attempt to give them the courage to step out. Most importantly it is essential that you provide others with the opportunity to demonstrate and flex their own creativeness and expertise in solving the ever evolving acquisition challenges. When they do take that step it is equally as important to recognize their efforts. A wise person has failed more times than the fool has tried. There is no single answer to all challenges but giving those you lead the opportunity for responsible risk taking and the support they need regardless of its success is essential to continuous development. Teach, guide, support, and appreciate the hearts and minds that are the future of acquisitions!

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