No programme will succeed without a clear purpose and framework (the ‘what’) within which individual initiatives can be shaped. However, the strategy for execution (the ‘how’) is equally important. It needs to focus on delivering waves of transformation that will each secure benefits despite any changes of strategic direction – illustrated by the ‘top curve’ model shown by the blue line in Figure 1 below. There are three key factors that will increase the chances of delivering acquisition transformation successfully:
Deliver ‘good enough’ solutions early
It is increasingly recognised that timely delivery of the ‘80% solution’ can deliver much more value than the late delivery of a 100% solution. This is as true for acquisition transformation as it is for the equipment programme and means:
defining discrete and time-bounded packets of work (eg 6-12 months) that are manageable and deliverable within current planning horizons
making changes that will have a positive impact within the time period – recognising that improving acquisition performance requires changes to the way the MOD operates
being objective about the value derived from each activity so that effort can be invested appropriately.
Do a few things well
Spreading activity across many parallel streams of work is likely to result in counter-productive and overlapping initiatives with key resources thinly spread, thereby weakening the chances of success. Instead, the transformation process should focus on:
selecting a few things to do quickly (and once complete, moving on to the next group of ‘few things’)
those changes that can deliver significant benefits by tackling the causes of inefficiency (for example, by establishing much clearer accountability and stripping back the layers of scrutiny).
Executed and communicated well, this approach will deliver tangible benefits and build momentum and confidence across the community.
Free up the resources to deliver
In defence and more widely, high-quality resource is rarely readily available to implement large transformations. However, now is the time to be bold; to free up those people who are willing to commit to the results and have the skills and energy to drive change across the defence enterprise. A decision to focus resource on doing a few things well should make this more achievable.