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--> 5 Conclusions and Recommendations This chapter contains the top-level conclusions and recommendations based on the committee's assessment, as documented in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. The first three conclusions deal with the Strategic Vision, Resources and Capabilities, and Quality Focus pillars in relation to the commodity directorates. The next two conclusions address the support directorates. The next two focus directly on (1) budget shortfalls and (2) the mix and emphasis of RD&E programs. The last conclusion suggests ways to substantially improve performance through reengineering. The committee has also listed recommendations that follow from each conclusion. Each group of conclusions and recommendations is accompanied by a discussion explaining the committee's positions. Commodity Directorates and the Pillars Three of the pillars of a world-class organization (Resources and Capabilities, Customer Focus, and Value Creation) were assessed as good at the Natick RDEC. However, the vector for the future of the Resources and Capabilities pillar was pointing down. Strategic Vision was assessed in the poor to adequate range. Quality Focus was assessed in the adequate to good range. The conclusions and recommendations related to the Strategic Vision, Resources and Capabilities, and Quality Focus pillars follow. Strategic Vision Pillar Conclusion 1. The Strategic Vision pillar was assessed as less than good, but there were indications that it is improving. Realizing the strategic vision of the RDEC and facilitating strategic planning require continuous, high-priority attention from top-level management and the involvement of RDEC personnel at all levels.
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--> The Strategic Vision pillar received the most poor or partially poor ratings of any pillar. This may seem surprising to top management of the Natick RDEC because a good deal of time has been spent articulating vision and mission statements. Yet the committee's interviews revealed that many staff members in the RDEC pay little attention to these statements. Also, the strategic planning process that the committee observed during its visits in 1996 seemed to lack substance. For these reasons, the committee devoted considerable time to Strategic Vision during its last visit in February 1997. Based on information presented to the committee at that time (see Chapter 2), the vector now seems to be heading up. If the new strategic planning process continues to receive the dedicated commitment of top-level management and actively involves personnel throughout the RDEC, the committee believes the rating of the Strategic Vision pillar will improve. The Strategic Vision pillar is crucial to maintaining the RDEC's competitive advantage. Strategic vision, especially strategic planning, requires a strong foundation of demonstrated, steadfast commitment characterized by openness to the exchange of information at all levels of the organization; the involvement (both formal and informal) of all personnel in key organizational processes, such as identifying and analyzing goals and formulating operating methods and procedures; and the efficient implementation of plans and programs. Commitment to a strategic vision often requires that organizations review their current operating procedures and long-range plans and programs and adjust them to meet new challenges. The commitment of Natick's top management to strategic vision must be communicated to personnel at all levels of the organization. The message must be presented in such a way that all personnel understand it and accept it. If this is done correctly, strategic vision will become a key factor in approaching world-class performance. Recommendation 1. The improvements under way at the Natick RDEC should be solidified and expanded. RDEC management should be especially receptive to adjusting plans and programs to meet new challenges. Senior managers of the RDEC should develop a comprehensive plan to solve the problems associated with the Strategic Vision pillar. The committee concentrated on defining problems with the strategic vision across the directorates and suggesting ways to solve them. The problems and challenges presented by the Strategic Vision pillar vary by commodity directorate. But rather than singling out a particular directorate, the committee focused on a mosaic of the problems observed across the directorates. The committee observed a lack of support for, and sometimes a lack of understanding of, the stated visions and missions in the commodity directorates.
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--> This lack of support extends to the broader soldier-system concept. As long as directorate staffs have not embraced broad strategic visions and missions, they will exist only on paper. The committee perceived a general lack of understanding by the directorate personnel of how they should support and complement each other to realize the visions. Some groups were pursuing their own projects with little cross-fertilization of ideas or interaction with other groups. Upper-level RDEC managers devoted too much time to solving near-term problems, leaving them little time or energy to work with groups and individuals to align their thinking and projects with the overall visions, missions, strategic plans, and programs of the RDEC. The committee does not wish to be overly prescriptive by recommending specific changes; however, the managers of the RDEC should consider the following suggestions. Managers should examine current and planned work in the directorates to determine if it is in line with vision and mission statements. The vision and mission statements represent an ideal, but the operational activities are centered on funding and survival. Managers should be sure visions, missions, plans, and programs are aligned. For example, the basic vision, in spirit at least, should be encapsulated in the mission statement, and the plans and programs should clearly flow from this mission. This back-and-forth alignment is critical to the overall vision-mission-plans-programs linkage. The new strategic planning initiatives that the committee learned about in February 1997 should help to close the gaps. The new initiatives should consider overall technical direction of the RDEC beyond the tenure of the current leadership. Managers should consider developing technology plans or road maps showing generations of technologies that support the overall goals. In developing these road maps, the five-to-six year integrated planning process (linked to the Army's Long-Range Research and Development Plan) could cover several generations of rapidly advancing technologies. In the committee's experience, time horizons at other organizations have been shortened significantly (to two or three years) and have been complemented with real-time planning (e.g., 12 months) to ensure that technology plans remain viable. So far, the directorates have done a good job of keeping in contact with soldiers, but managers should also develop strategies for keeping in contact with senior officials who establish higher-level goals for technologies. These contacts would be most effective if they were accompanied by analyses (from models and simulations) that justify the RD&E plans of the directorates in relation to higher-level goals. Visions, missions, plans, and programs must be aligned in the context of communications throughout the Natick organization, from the Soldier Systems Command to the bottom of the structure. This alignment should take two forms. First, all personnel should be able to clearly enunciate the vision and mission of their organization. Second, the vision and mission should be communicated in a
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--> way that is both understandable and relevant to each person. This would correct the problem for many employees who stated that they were confused by the many vision and mission statements and did not find them inspiring or meaningful. Also, the strategic plans should be presented in a brief, easily understood format. Complicated statements probably will not be read or absorbed by rank-and-file personnel and will probably be looked upon cynically as management busywork. Communications within the RDEC are good in several respects, but they could also be improved in several respects. Managers should establish better lines of communication with individual staff members regarding how their activities and aspirations contribute to the organization at large. Managers should consider convening more town hall meetings with personnel to discuss the current situation and the overall technical direction of the RDEC. Managers should also consider discussing ways the RDEC might surmount its budgeting problems (see below). Personnel from all the directorates (even some of the most vocal critics) should be included in the strategic planning process. Managers need time to focus on strategic vision, but they also need time to communicate with employees (e.g., walking the halls). They may have to delegate some of their day-to-day responsibilities to staff or a middle layer of management, which would give them more time to focus on strategies, plans, and communications. If the suggestions listed above are followed, there may be some organizational fallout. For example, the terrain traversal and personal augmentation programs are now named as part of the mobility mission, but it is not clear how these capabilities fit into the current MobD organization. Either these aspects of mobility should be made vital components of the MobD organization, or MobD should continue to focus solely on airdrop technologies and transfer the other aspects of mobility to another organization. Resources and Capabilities Pillar Conclusion 2. Although the Resources and Capabilities pillar was assessed as good for the commodity directorates, steps must be taken to stop the steady erosion of scientific and technical talent and experience. The committee was alarmed by the continuing drain of RDEC resources and capabilities. Unless steps can be taken to stop the erosion of the base of scientific and technical talent and experience, resources and capabilities will inevitably decline. The committee recognizes that this problem is not under the direct control of the Natick RDEC. For example, a hiring freeze has been imposed from above. Also, the creation of the Soldier Systems Command, despite its good points, has attracted some of the RDEC's most highly skilled personnel to better paying, more promising positions. Nevertheless, the continued decline must somehow be stopped.
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--> Recommendation 2. Senior managers of the RDEC should develop a plan to stop the erosion of skilled personnel and experience. At a minimum, they should develop strategies to retain in corporate memory the knowledge of people who retire or depart for other jobs. The Natick RDEC's straggles to retain resources and capabilities are not unique. The entire U.S. defense establishment is trying to cope with cuts in forces, reduced modernization programs, tight budgets, and the loss of skilled personnel. Furthermore, in the last decade, many private sector corporations have also undergone radical reengineering, which has often meant massive reductions in personnel. Recognizing that other organizations have similar problems may be of some help if the RDEC can learn from the experiences of others who have had to adjust to new conditions. Several suggestions from the committee are listed below. Given that replacing experienced people will continue to be difficult, the knowledge and expertise of departing staff members must be passed on to remaining personnel. In other words, the RDEC must develop strategies for preserving its corporate memory. For example, departing experts might be given time to document their expertise (e.g., on video tape or hard copy) or to conduct training sessions. Expert-system software technology could be used to preserve key design processes. It seems obvious that the RDEC must also increase the efficiency of its remaining resources and capabilities by prioritizing programs and concentrating on the most important ones, dropping programs or functions when a critical mass no longer exists, prolonging the life of remaining programs through conscientious maintenance (of facilities and personnel), and initiating aggressive outreach projects with external organizations. For instance, assignments and training programs should focus on specific ways individuals can optimize their contributions to the organization (e.g., the contractual functions of outsourcing should be performed by people who are already qualified to manage contracts rather than training personnel who are better qualified for technical pursuits). Quality Focus Pillar Conclusion 3. The Quality Focus pillar was assessed to be at a lower level of performance than three other pillars, but the committee's principal concern was the uncertain trend for the future. The committee sets the stage for the following discussion by noting that quality focus at the RDEC was not in bad shape. But because the trend was uncertain, the committee wants to draw attention to this aspect of the assessment so that quality focus does not deteriorate in the years ahead. The committee was
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--> most uneasy about problems with learning from team to team and the general lack of metrics for tracking quality. As resources dwindle, transferring lessons learned across the RDEC is an increasingly important way to improve the efficiency of remaining resources. The repetition of mistakes cannot be tolerated. Metrics to assess the quality of the organization should be developed internally and tailored to measure the quality of unique aspects of the RDEC (e.g., the quality of services from the support directorates). Recommendation 3. Management of the RDEC should take steps to improve RDEC-wide learning and to develop and implement an internal system for assessing quality. The committee urges management and staff to review the metrics associated with the characteristics of the Quality Focus pillar called Commitment to Quality and Learning Environment. The RDEC should have a framework and methodology in place for measuring quality, measurable objectives for improvements in work processes, measurements for optimizing RD&E processes to deliver value, teams on one project teaching teams assigned to other projects, an organizational climate conducive to organizational learning, and methodologies to measure and evaluate organizational learning. Of course, all of these must be implemented and backed by the entire RDEC organization, from top management down and across all the directorates. Support Directorates The support directorates were not subjected to the rigorous assessment techniques used to assess the commodity directorates. The support directorates were assessed principally in terms of their support of the commodity directorates. The committee found that neither directorate provides the support that it should. Conclusion 4. The Science and Technology Directorate was not adequately focused on its primary customers, the commodity directorates. Although the committee found some instances when STD provides effective support (e.g., chemical analysis and research to improve the quality and shelf life of foods), and that STD research publications are commendable, the assessment uncovered many problems associated with the support provided by STD. In general, there are many gaps between what STD provides and the R&D needs of the commodity directorates. STD provides virtually no support for MobD, and the committee was informed that SurD and SusD have sometimes
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--> requested support they did not receive (e.g., support in materials research for SusD). The committee consistently heard that the outputs from STD cannot be easily integrated into the products of the commodity directorates. In response to this situation, each commodity directorate now pursues its own science and technology to ensure that at least its near-term needs are met. The committee also believes that STD could contribute to more modeling and simulation by ASCD (e.g., concerning behavioral factors that influence soldier performance). Personnel from STD were unable to articulate persuasively the importance, even the relevance, of STD's portfolio of projects to the soldier system, the ultimate mission of the RDEC. In short, the committee determined that the arrangement between STD and the other directorates was not working. Perpetuating an STD that serves only some of the needs of the commodity directorates while pursuing its own agenda, thereby causing the other directorates to establish their own research functions, is not only inefficient, it should be unacceptable. Recommendation 4a. The RDEC director should take immediate action to consolidate the RDEC's science and technology activities and focus them sharply on the needs of the commodity directorates. If a refocused, centralized Science and Technology Directorate cannot provide the necessary support, the director should consider distributing the entire research function among the other directorates. Either of the options in Recommendation 4a would eliminate the current arrangement between STD and the other directorates. The first option would consolidate the science and technology activities at the RDEC into a single unit that would serve all of the commodity directorates. The second would do away with a centralized science and technology unit (i.e., STD) at the RDEC and replace it with science and technology units distributed among the commodity directorates. The committee favors the first option, primarily because it would concentrate the research talent of the RDEC in one organization, but only if the refocused organization could guarantee requisite support. Concentration of the research talent could facilitate interactions between members of the research staff (e.g., to apply common technological solutions to the problems of various customers) and sharing of scarce research equipment. Nevertheless, concentrating the research talent in a single directorate is less important than contributing meaningfully to the science and technology needs of the RDEC. If the first option is chosen, the new directorate would not just be a larger STD that operates the way the current STD does. Instead, the new STD would have tight links to each of the commodity directorates and oversight by senior management of the RDEC and the commodity directorates to ensure that their science and technology needs were being met. The commodity directorates would also have to specify their needs clearly. The new unit would also honor the needs
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--> of ASCD for technical assistance in modeling and simulation. Measures of performance for the new directorate that address the research needs of the entire RDEC would be established and monitored. Another way to improve the focus and relevance of a centralized science and technology unit would be to rotate staff members between the unit and the other directorates at a pre-planned rate (e.g., 25 percent per year). Consideration could be given to rotating the more experienced researchers to work with the personnel who apply the results of research. The committee was informed during the peer-review process for this report that a rotation strategy in another RDEC is working effectively, especially because promotions were influenced by rotational assignments. Among the benefits were broader vision, improved communications, and a greater willingness on the part of the science and technology unit to pursue research relevant to the customer. Similar benefits were observed in the commodity directorates, where reliance on the research program increased. In short, researchers and the members of the commodity directorates and ASCD need to function as a team (or as several teams). The new arrangement should be designed to take maximum advantage of outside research, although some in-house work on new technologies should still be done. It is time to recognize that the military's influence on the development of technology is decreasing; the RDEC must keep abreast of technological advances in the private sector that could help satisfy military needs. The RDEC must concentrate its internal resources on maintaining the capability to evaluate external research and on fulfilling needs unique to the military that the private sector is unlikely to meet. Although the committee favors the formation of a consolidated science and technology unit, the committee does not mean this preference to be determinative on the RDEC management. If after due consideration the director of the RDEC decides that consolidation of the RDEC's science and technology activities can not overcome the problems associated with the current STD, the STD should be broken up and its functions distributed to the commodity directorates. Recommendation 4b. The new science and technology operation, consolidated or distributed, should ensure that its research is demonstrably relevant to the RDEC's overall mission. The committee suggests that the RDEC's research arm, whatever its form, should thoroughly investigate the soldier-system concept and identify the full range of technologies within the RDEC's domain that could improve soldier performance. In conjunction with ASCD and the commodity directorates, the science and technology unit should evaluate these technologies and determine which ones offer the highest payoffs for the soldier system. These technologies should then be compared with the technologies already in the military R&D
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--> pipeline or under development in the private sector. Decisions could then be made on candidates that are worthy of pursuit as highly relevant, military-unique, technology-push items. Conclusion 5. The Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate is not sufficiently supportive of the commodity directorates (its primary customers) or of the RDEC as a whole. ASCD, through its several divisions, was chartered to provide a variety of support services to the other directorates in the Natick RDEC. These services include customer liaison, strategic planning, and quantitative assistance for evaluations and decision making. Through its operations research and modeling and simulation capabilities, ASCD's purpose is to integrate the programs of the commodity directorates and demonstrate to higher headquarters the utility of the RDEC's products. In other words, ASCD is supposed to have a broad focus across the RDEC and provide support by looking outward as well as inward. The committee learned of some instances when the commodity directorates had established their own mechanisms for obtaining customer feedback. ASCD could provide more assistance through surveys and by eliciting requirements definitions from customers. However, the commodity directorates must maintain some responsibility for marketing their products and working directly with their customers. Also, strategic planning is no longer the responsibility of ASCD. ASCD's modeling capability does not adequately address many technical aspects of soldier-system components, and the simulation capability does not make use of the entire cadre of models of RDEC products to simulate soldier-system performance. Therefore, the benefits of new technologies from the commodity directorates (or research results from STD) cannot be easily assessed, which limits the RDEC's ability to convince higher headquarters that its programs are worthwhile. The committee wishes to emphasize that ASCD also needs the cooperation of the other directorates. Personnel in the commodity directorates have little understanding of how their products are represented in the models and simulations that are used to inform higher-level commands in the Army and other potential customers. The commodity directorates and STD must contribute their technical expertise to ASCD, including staying fully aware of what the models do and even developing models for ASCD, if necessary. ASCD must take full responsibility for the simulations, however, and must ensure that the performance of all RDEC commodities and technologies are properly simulated for evaluations of soldier-system combat effectiveness. Recommendation 5a. ASCD must improve its capabilities to develop and use models and simulations in support of the other directorates and the entire RDEC. RDEC management should emphasize to all personnel the importance of (1)
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--> adequate modeling and simulations of the soldier system and (2) full cooperation of the other directorates with ASCD. It is hard to overestimate the benefits to the Natick RDEC of a greatly improved capability to model relevant technologies and simulate the soldier system. The benefits include internal efficiencies and effectiveness, as well as external visibility and appreciation of the contributions of the RDEC to soldier-system performance. The committee firmly believes that RDEC participation in top-level analyses of military forces is necessary for the RDEC to compete successfully for resources in the constrained environment facing DOD. Current constraints at the RDEC will make it difficult to hire new staff for the ASCD to improve modeling and simulations, and personnel within the RDEC who might be reassigned to modeling and simulation projects would probably need additional training. When necessary technical knowledge can be found in another directorate (e.g., behavioral science), full cooperation with ASCD will be vital. Both the commodity directorates and the RDEC's research arm (consolidated or distributed) should share their understanding of how their projects are expected to influence the soldier system and should model the relevant parameters and validate them for use in the ASCD models, which must be as complete as possible. Experts in the various directorates should also support integration of these models with system-level simulations. These contributions will help scientists and technologists appreciate the potential applications of their work to the soldier system. In summary, it is imperative that people in the other directorates with technical knowledge that is important for models and simulations contribute fully to ASCD. A strategy that might expand the portfolio of models and improve the use of and reliance on models at the RDEC would be to temporarily assign people from the commodity directorates and the science and technology unit to ASCD. The purpose of these temporary assignments would be to embed unique aspects of technologies in existing models or to help ASCD create new models that reflect the needs of a particular directorate. The resulting models would become an important part of the process for assessing the combat value of technologies or products. The strategy might also help to institutionalize the use of models at the RDEC. ASCD could become a catalyst for closer interaction among the new science and technology unit and the commodity directorates to find areas where new technologies could improve the performance of particular products or the larger soldier system. Closer interaction should include brainstorming, focused by ASCD through models and simulations, on how new technologies can improve performance or lower the costs of a military function. The potential benefits of new technologies should be demonstrated before significant funds are allocated to them. This demonstration could help the commodity directorates explain to the science and technology unit why they need assistance with a particular technology.
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--> Recommendation 5b. The RDEC managers should reexamine the other functions of ASCD and either expand them or eliminate them, as appropriate. In theory the RDEC could either consolidate all customer liaison work in ASCD or distribute it throughout the RDEC. Consolidation would have the advantage of combining in a single organization all RDEC personnel who design and administer surveys. The major disadvantage of consolidation is that it would separate the scientists and engineers from direct contact with customers. The committee believes that the commodity directorates and ASCD (and the survey designers in STD) must work as a team. ASCD helps but cannot be substituted for direct interaction between the product developers and the users. The customer liaison function should generate enough customer interest in RDEC products so that customers either establish formal requirements for these products or declare that RDEC products meet their requirements. Surveys should encompass the whole array of potential uses of RDEC products. Comprehensive, marketing-oriented databases could be very useful. Customer liaison is vital to the RDEC both from the marketing-and-requirements standpoint and from the more traditional standpoint of analyzing feedback to determine customer satisfaction. Expansion of the customer liaison function should involve teamwork among ASCD and the other directorates. The committee learned in February 1997 that the RDEC director's office has taken a new interest in strategic planning, calling into question the merit of having a separate strategic planning function within ASCD. Although strategic planning, per se, by ASCD could be eliminated, the committee believes that the modeling and simulation capability of ASCD is vital to strategic planning for the RDEC. ASCD should remain a strong contributor to strategic planning. Budget Shortfalls Members of the committee probably heard more expressions of distress over the budget woes at the RDEC than over any other problem. Budget cuts are usually followed by limitations on promotions and reductions in personnel, which naturally concern the people who work at the RDEC. Conclusion 6. The RDEC director and managers face a major challenge in adjusting their priorities to cope with declining budgets. The committee begins by stating the obvious, that budget shortfalls, and their accompanying constraints on personnel and facilities, are not going to get better. As pressures on the U.S. defense establishment to cut back persist in the years ahead, budget shortfalls at the Natick RDEC are likely to get worse. The
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--> resulting hardships on people and their careers are unfortunate, but they will occur. The RDEC director, managers, and staff must accept this reality and develop ways to cope with it. Lessons can be learned from the private sector, which has also undergone major upheavals as the United States has confronted the need to compete in the global economy. These lessons include the ruthless elimination of inefficiencies, the prioritization of missions to decide which ones to drop, the aggressive marketing of products and services, and the development of new markets. Recommendation 6. As part of its strategic planning, the RDEC should develop strategies and tactics to cope with budget shortfalls. The committee recognizes that government operations like the Natick RDEC are limited in what they can do to reduce inefficiencies. Nevertheless, the RDEC has already streamlined organizational structures within the commodity directorates and appointed vigorous leaders. These leaders, other senior managers, and the staff know where the inefficiencies are. Some are addressed in this report. As part of the new strategic planning, the RDEC should reexamine what it does and how it does it, drop activities that are inefficient or unnecessary, and use the remaining resources to concentrate on the sale of services, licenses, and products to government and commercial customers. Good leadership and participatory strategic planning should help to overcome the inevitable resistance to change. The point is not to eliminate jobs but to employ personnel as efficiently as possible. The committee learned about several attempts to improve marketing at the RDEC; unfortunately, some of these initiatives appeared to be suffering from a lack of expertise and critical mass. The committee learned of instances, for example, of good ideas that had not been sold convincingly to higher headquarters (e.g., Force Provider, air beams, special boots) and had remained dormant until the need became desperate and someone in command, maybe not even in the Army, asked for them. The committee believes that quantitative cost-benefit analyses would be valuable tools for developing markets. For example, one of the long-range goals of the Air Force is to develop a stand-off delivery capability for air-dropped supplies (AFSAB, 1995). Technology being developed by MobD could help fulfill this need. If cost-benefit analyses show that aircraft would be saved as a function of stand-off-delivery capability, the RDEC could develop a market for this product, even if the market is outside the Army. Other valuable tools include more persuasive communications techniques, strategies for making connections with customers, and techniques for ''closing deals.'' This kind of marketing expertise could be learned from the private sector.
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--> Research and Technology Programs The committee reviewed the full range of research and technology programs at the Natick RDEC. Several of these programs are unique, and some have been highly acclaimed. The committee believes that two considerations should be taken into account when assessing the mix and emphasis of various programs: (1) circumstances at the time of assessment and (2) future needs. Conclusion 7. The mix and emphasis of research and technology programs will have to be adjusted to improve the RDEC's support of the Army and other customers. The committee was told that the core technologies of the RDEC are textile technology, food science, biotechnology, and airdrop technology; the list of underlying technologies included these core technologies, as well as survival technology, materials science, environmental research, and behavioral science (Brandler, 1996). The committee considered some of the RDEC's unique capabilities (e.g., in food processing and packaging, multifuel burners, air beams, multicapability protective clothing, and airdrop technologies) in relation to its mission to support the soldier system. In most cases, the connection between what the RDEC was doing (or not doing) and its mission was clear (e.g., food science to satisfy the unique needs of the military). In some cases, however, the connection was not clear (e.g., some airdrop technology is not supported by the Army's requirements, and the ground mobility mission is not supported by advanced technologies). Some of the RDEC's key technologies were narrowly focused (e.g., biotechnology was limited to developing materials with the properties of spider silk). The committee also noted that STD's main emphasis was not aligned with the RDEC's list of core and underlying technologies (e.g., STD has no airdrop technologies). Recommendation 7. The RDEC should reevaluate its rationale for all in-house research and technology programs in light of the unique needs of the Army or other customers and the availability of sources outside the Army to advance the technology. The following suggestions could help the RDEC reevaluate its research and technology programs. First, if any program does not show a measurable payoff in terms of improved soldier-system performance when subjected to benefit and cost analyses, that program should be considered suspect. Second, if another agency or someone in the private sector is advancing a technology much faster than is possible with the limited funds available to the RDEC, the RDEC should consider whether or not to pursue that technology at all. An alternative would be to monitor developments elsewhere and try to influence them to include
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--> features that would benefit the Army. Assessing the status and value of scientific and technical advances by others requires that the RDEC maintain technical competence, which means some ongoing in-house research. Third, the RDEC should reassess the long-range needs for technologies like those associated with airdrop and ground mobility systems. If the Army is not the customer, the RDEC should seek support from likely customers outside the Army (e.g., the Air Force in the case of precision airdrop). If support cannot be guaranteed, the effort should be dropped. If the Army is the customer but does not provide adequate support, the effort should be dropped (e.g., ground mobility). Fourth, the RDEC should consider the merits of suggestions made elsewhere in this report—coordinating experimental and simulation programs within MobD, developing new materials for shelters, and pursuing new areas of research (see, for example, the section on Research and Technology Issues in Chapter 4). However, these suggestions should only be implemented as part of a new master plan for research at the Natick RDEC. Given the current climate of shrinking resources, Natick should consider negotiating additional support from other organizations within the Army R&D community (e.g., the Army Research Institute, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, and other RDECs). The committee was informed during the peer-review process for this report that the Army Research Institute is working on soldier-environment interaction, that the Army Research Office sponsors broad-spectrum research, that the Army Research Laboratory programs include a substantial program and capability in composite materials and in most other Army-relevant materials, and that the Tank-Automotive RDEC has a significant capability in ground mobility. The committee does not mean to suggest that the Natick RDEC is unaware of these organizations or is not coordinating its work with them. However, better collaboration with these organizations might result in more support, which could allow the Natick RDEC to concentrate its scarce resources on Natick-unique capabilities. Reevaluations should be made in the context of the strategic planning process that was explained to the committee in early 1997. The committee was impressed with the potential of that initiative for making reasonable decisions concerning investments by the RDEC. Whenever possible, models and simulations should be used to help assess the merits of particular technologies in terms of effectiveness and cost. The committee recognizes that reevaluations and changes will meet with some resistance. From some quarters (e.g., senior scientists), the resistance may be formidable. The leadership skills of senior managers of the RDEC and the participatory strategic planning process should help to overcome such resistance. Opportunities for Reengineering The committee was asked to "identify opportunities for reengineering in areas judged deficient or worthy of improvement" (see statement of task, Chapter 1).
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--> In the opinion of the committee, none of the previous recommendations taken individually amounts to a recommendation for reengineering, which is usually associated with large-scale corporate reinvention. Corporate reengineering is usually characterized by radical changes in how an enterprise operates (Davenport, 1993). Results of the committee's assessment did not indicate that radical changes were necessary for the Natick RDEC. Also, the success rate of radical reengineering is reported to be only 25 percent (Landauer, 1995). However, all of the committee's recommendations taken together do constitute a prescription for less-than-radical reengineering for the Natick RDEC—improving the way of doing business that will require persistent management attention and buy-in from all of the stakeholders (including personnel at the RDEC), as well as substantial time to implement. An important component of this less-than-radical reengineering is the establishment of long-range strategies for the RDEC to maintain its competitive advantages. Another component is a demonstrated commitment by management to support those strategies and see that they are carried out. Conclusion 8. The Natick RDEC is performing well, and its performance is relatively uniform across most directorates. The RDEC's cycle time and responsiveness to urgent customer needs are particularly impressive. World-class performance, however, which requires widespread excellence, will be difficult for the RDEC to achieve but remains a worthwhile goal. Less-than-radical reengineering is an appropriate way for the RDEC to move toward that goal. The fact that three of the five pillars of a world-class organization were judged to be good and one more was judged to be in the range of adequate to good indicates to the committee that the Natick RDEC is performing well. Although the assessment did not show world-class performance, the RDEC can tightly be proud of its remarkable capabilities and many noteworthy accomplishments. The fact that the RDEC had the courage to subject itself to this arduous assessment is indicative of its commitment to strive for world-class performance. In general, the RDEC management, directorate leaders, and personnel were extremely cooperative during the assessment, both in preparing answers to the committee's many questions and in participating in the interviews. This was another sign of the RDEC's commitment to its world-class vision. Given this positive environment and the fact that the assessment did not find the RDEC to be broken, the committee believes there is no need for radical surgery. The phrase world-class has been used as a description of excellence for all R&D in the DOD. The Natick RDEC is the first DOD agency, in the committee's knowledge, to bring concrete meaning to that phrase by sponsoring the committee's studies to define world-class performance and by submitting itself to an assessment of its own performance. Now that there is a reasonable understanding of what constitutes world-class performance, the committee believes it is a worthwhile goal for the RDEC to pursue.
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--> The methodology developed in the phase-one report (NRC, 1996) and used in this assessment is sound. Although the characteristics and metrics might have to be modified to suit specific circumstances, the major components of world-class performance are useful parameters for assessing RD&E organizations like the Natick RDEC. Lessons from the examples of impressive past performance at the Natick RDEC should be used to suggest ways to correct deficiencies revealed in this assessment. To achieve the goal of widespread excellence, the committee recommends that the Natick RDEC be reengineered in the way described below. Recommendation 8a. The Natick RDEC should implement a five-step reengineering plan: (1) improve the Strategic Vision pillar to good, reverse the downward trend of the Resources and Capabilities pillar, and upgrade the Quality Focus pillar; (2) correct the problems associated with STD and the research and technology programs; (3) enhance ASCD's capability to support the RDEC; (4) raise selected pillars to the excellent level; and (5) conduct periodic self-assessments using the methods described in the phase-one report. The committee offers the following suggestions for consideration by management of the Natick RDEC. First, the fact that the committee found significant problems with strategic vision suggests that there has been a shortcoming in management. The committee urges that greater emphasis be put on training to improve the leadership capabilities of the RDEC managers (see Recommendation 8b below). The goal of this training would be to bring about fundamental changes in the RDEC to make it a true learning organization that would develop its own improvement vectors and would produce a cultural change throughout the workforce. Ideally, the RDEC would then have true leaders instead of just managers. Leaders motivate, empower, and coach continually; they have strategic vision, which they communicate to the workforce at every opportunity. Without this kind of leadership, the organization's vision statements will continue to fall on deaf ears. Appropriate elements of leadership training would be extended to members of the RDEC who have team-leader responsibilities. The teams should be taught to operate across organizational boundaries and to work toward common goals. They should strive for a high level of communication and interaction. Team leaders should be trained to motivate, empower, and coach team members by reminding them of the vision and by stressing improved communication with others in the RDEC. The committee believes that maintaining a highly qualified workforce is possible if management takes a long-term view and attacks the problem creatively. The committee urges that management pay special attention to the recruitment of high-quality personnel. Successful recruitment is an ongoing process that should begin long before spaces open up or the hiring freeze is lifted. Successful hiring of top-quality individuals is the culmination of a recruitment
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--> process that takes place over months or even years. These individuals must be targeted by the most capable scientists and engineers at the RDEC through on-campus interactions—long before graduation. Promising individuals must be nurtured through cooperative projects, summer hiring programs, and temporary jobs sponsored by on-site contractors. Management must be ready to hire expeditiously as soon as a hiring window opens. Also, RDEC management should be aware that good people are attracted by superior facilities, a user-friendly research environment, and rewarding professional relationships. Implementing this plan will require teamwork among all of the employees at the Natick RDEC, who will have to look beyond the narrow confines of their own programs and encompass the whole organization. The end result should be a cohesive organization, a smoothly functioning RDEC that can approach the ideal of a world-class organization. Recommendation 8b. The Natick RDEC should begin an educational program in leadership development and modem principles of technology management. In the committee's opinion, many of the problems associated with strategic vision, resources and capabilities, quality focus, and the two support directorates of the Natick RDEC stem from management limitations at the senior level. The committee does not intend to sound simplistic by throwing all of the problems at management and recommending that management fix them. But these problems are similar to the problems that have faced managers of other government and private-sector organizations that were still functioning partly in the past and had not reengineered themselves to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Problems cannot be excused because managers say they are overburdened or because resources are limited. The RDEC managers must learn and then transmit to all employees the techniques that have made some organizations pacesetters. The training must be passed from the top down, with people at each level becoming mentors and trainers for people at the level below them. A new culture must be created and maintained through continuous coaching by leaders over a period of months and years. The training should include the many considerations related to the five pillars of a world-class R&D organization contained in the committee's phase-one report (e.g., leadership and stakeholder buy-in under the Strategic Vision pillar and learning environment under the Quality Focus pillar). Strong management commitment must be evident to the entire staff at the RDEC. With these improvements, the committee is hopeful that the organization will be able to excel in the future.
Representative terms from entire chapter: