Navy Asst Sec: Acquisition Speed is Good, but Simultaneity is Key

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Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James “Hondo” Geurts wants the Navy to take control of its acquisition processes by adjusting to speed and increasing simultaneity.

Speaking at the CXO Tech Forum on Acquisition Innovation, Assistant Sec. Geurts said that agencies need to have speed with acquisition if it is to be competitive in the market. In what he calls the “Age of Surprise,” agencies should have plans to adapt quickly because changes in the business plan will occur along the way. Simply being fast isn’t enough, though, he said.

“[We] can’t just do what we’ve always done, faster,” Geurts said, emphasizing that agencies should strive for simultaneity or, in other words, be able walk and chew gum at the same time. “Are we burning calories on things that make a difference?” he added. Working with industry on acquisition is essential because “it’s best to grab a better idea that’s out there than to try and create the idea ourselves,” Geurts suggested.

To adapt to simultaneity will require multiple sides to work together to be able to work transparently and fluidly. To create a more fluid agency, Assistant Sec. Geurts suggests “four D’s” to success:

  • Decentralize the organization;
  • Differentiate the work;
  • Take advantage of Digitization; and
  • Develop talent.

“The only person that likes change is a baby with a wet diaper,” Geurts said, to laughs. He added that it’s hard to make these changes, but there must be continuous efforts to implementing change.

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