Hacking the Feedback Loop
“Capture is more of a team sport.  No individual will carry the day; collaboration is imperative and information is king.”

Richard Caldwell and Richard Wiggins presented an interesting session on Tuesday afternoon concerning how CI practitioners might best come to the decision to suggest a “no-bid” perspective to leadership, and how to best communicate that choice in a profit-driven environment.

The aerospace industry has leadership comprised of type A, high performing people.  For them, obstacles are challenges and competition is a good thing.  The industry is market driven and highly regulated; consequences of failure are high.  Some engineers used to be the customers, so they are mission-focused.  Their mindset is “We can solve a lot with advanced technology.”

The industry also has business development staff that don’t concur with engineers.

Market stress is evident:

  • Technology cycles get shorter
  • Disruptive technologies are increasing
  • Widely available commercial technologies have closed the technology gap
  • Dealing with a slow overregulated acquisition won’t change anytime soon

Companies, then, face a dilemma:

When faced with a new lucrative opportunity requiring investment in disruptive technology, and you can’t make a good business case, how do you teach leadership the best choice may be a no bid decision?

Questions to consider:

  • What case do you need to make?
  • How do you get through all the secondary letters with a story?
  • What do analysis do to show “no bid” is a sign of strength?
  • What will it do to leadership ego if you’re the only prime provider not competing?

The information age had to evolve, information gathering was previously intensive.  The voice of the customer is always critical, but in earlier days, CI had not been established.

There is now a new age dawning—if you’re not making big investments, get out or you won’t survive, because consortium procurements are becoming more prevalent.  If you don’t have capital investments, you will not play in the marketplace.  You must shift to that dynamic.

The current environment means customer interaction is paramount.  But, capture is more of a team sport.  No individual will carry the day, collaboration is imperative, and information is king.  Know you are only as good as your CI and competitive analysis:  you must be on the right information at the right time.  Disruption is the new norm.

Case study

The most significant loss of American life was the battle of Gettysburg.  A confederate commander in the civil war was phenomenal but did not win because the Union infantry was fixed at the right time and at the right place.

Today, it is all about having the edge.  How will you bring sensing capability to assure an advantage?

Know that there is no such thing as a fair fight—winners need to be asymmetrical.  We must track every enemy’s platform.

Today’s market shift is “find-fix-finish.”  It is all about detection in battle space and determination of timing.

“Cyber is huge” because in a defensive mode, cyber offers protection, but in the offensive, a cyber effect is critical.  This is a major advantage.

Any one of the third-offset technologies are lucrative.

Is it smart business to chase them all?  Or is it better to pick and choose?  Sometimes smaller niche companies are more agile.

Consider the bleeding edge vs leading edge—early adopters pay the price of development and few front runners survive. “Build it and allowing the market to develop” it doesn’t work in the aerospace industry with risk-averse customers in an over-regulated market.

Case studies were presented to reveal incidents in which “no bid” situations occurred:

Northrop noted unit fly as a cost of first 68 tankers were ordered.  The Pentagon decided to get a smaller design so the taxpayer paid less.  Boeing submitted a transparent and competitive proposal.

Nothrup Grumman opted against a 16.3 billion air force trainer program, it was not in the best interest of companies.

GD Withdraws as T-100 Prime Contractor—a general dynamics information systems and technology group reorganized its businesses effect the first part of 2015 and in the course of that reorganization decided to not bid.

Caldwell and Wiggins proposed an exercise in which attendees chose a disruptive technology, and needed to give a solid business case to leadership on how to deliver this technology and still make money—or offer a no-bid scenario.

Parameter of the task:

–It must happen now and can’t be postponed

–Techology has not been fully tested

–CU analyst must build landscape and make a recommendation

–The competitive rivalry is high, barriers are low, threat of substitution is high, suppliers have power and the buying power is low but growing high.

Participants made their decisions to make a bid or decline and provided rationalizations to the group.