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Cadre Capabilities vs. BIS

If you are wondering; "Butts In Seats"


Found in an industry day suggestion box: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Actually, it is a quote from General George S. Patton. There is a ton of wisdom in it, and we are putting it to good use.


For the most part, procuring services is a simple process. An outfit needs additional manpower to get a project done. A subject matter expert (SME) determines the number and type of specialists needed. The procurement team finds the “best” provider to source the specialists. They report to the outfit SME, who guides them to success. Scene, and onto the next project.


Easy right? If you want to weld pipes in a ship; hire welders. If you want to get the pipes to the ship; hire some shipyard workers. If you want to paint the work area after the pipes are welded; hire painters. If you want all activities between welders, workers, and painters choreographed; hire a PM.


This approach works well when the projects are finite, the challenges are well known by the hiring SMEs, the scope of the work is narrowly defined, and its progression is 100% predictable.


Now, try this approach to establish and maintain a newly minted IT enterprise network. Try this approach to develop and implement its cybersecurity plan. Try it in an environment that requires clearances, and let me know how it goes.


Hiring “butts in seats” when the projects boundaries are unknown, the challenges are aggressively changing by the second, and the next step is as sure as a bet in the blind. It does not work well, if at all. At best you are wasting budget, and at worst you are setting up the project to fail.


IT-centric IC missions are some of the most complex projects to tackle, yet we feel compelled to source them as if we were baking a cake; one ingredient at the time. To boot, the available and cleared resources are so scarce that collaborating agencies end up poaching talent, one from the other, to accomplish their goals.


What if we took General Patton’s recommendation to heart? What if instead of hiring SMEs by their LCAT and cost, we hired a cadre based on their capabilities and cleared resources to accomplish the mission, and let the cadre itself define what the “A-Team” looks like?


This approach may very well help the resource problem across the board. It is extremely difficult to hire a ½ SME FTE, but if instead of FTEs and “level of effort” we shift the focus of a mission’s solicitation to “results”, we can share the resources amongst projects, even agencies, and still get the work done.


Curious to hear what you think, but as quick as cleared IT missions appear and grow into eight headed dragons, I’d rather let the industry experts do their magic, and let them deliver positive results in the form of consistently resolved missions at the time and place where they’re needed.

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