Acquisition Manifesto Draft 1.0

UPDATE: An editable-by-everybody version of the Manifesto (now renamed Rules of Thumb) is posted on Google Docs. This lets you add ideas as they come to you and should give a sense of ownership. That means a better end product for the entire Acquisition/Contracting/Procurement community.

Leading up to BuyCamp, I’ll post online info about talks that are happening. This is a draft attempt to give general guidance for a new acquisition professional.

This manifesto was inspired by (and in some cases adopted) the Innovation Manifesto. In other cases, it pulls maxims, some silly, some deep. This document also recognizes that we as humans don’t always succeed at living up to our promises; but we do our best and move on. (Just don’t go to prison for your mistakes). Best of all though, it is a living pledge, meant to be improved as more advice comes up.

So, without further ado…

The Acquisition Manifesto

On Processes, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Understand that acquisition is a process, not an event.
  • Know that work flows from person and person. They are expected to do your part.

On Communication, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Shut up and listen.
  • Ask the right questions after listening.

On Research, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Say that “options” and “alternatives” are their two favorite words.
  • Actively seek out, and (whenever possible) try out options and alternatives.

On Relationships, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Know they are not at work to make friends, but know work is a lot easier if you make friends.
  • Understand relationships are necessary to get your work done.
  • Not be assholes. (Thank you Laurie Ruettimann)

On Ethics, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Intelligently invest the Taxpayers’ money.
  • Not purposefully screw over others.

On Contract Writing, new acquisition professionals

  • Dictate the “What”, but let the technical experts determine the “How”.

On Problems, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Prevent them.
  • Solve them.
  • Not cause them.

On Results, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Realize.
  • Acquisition doesn’t happen in a vacuum. (Innovation Manifesto).

On the Mission, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Remove their ego from the situation.
  • Know that results and performance matter.

On Fun, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Well, have fun.

On Long-Term Thinking, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Know people are short-sighted, so long-term thinking is a rare and valuable skill.

On Planning, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Know it is highly desirable in a career field where acquisitions can last decades.

On Judgment, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Have logic and evidence to back up opinions and statements.
  • Let the data determine the best solution, and not let the solution determine the data.
  • Identify and correct destructive emotions before they damage the acquisition.
  • Identify and harness positive emotions to help the acquisition.

On Learning, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Pursue education in all its forms.
  • Pass on what they have learned. (Yoda).
  • Know that Wisdom = Amount of Experiences x Types of Experiences x Adopting Lessons Learned from Experiences. (Note that Time is not a separate variable; it is built into the factor “Amount of Experiences”).

On Decisions, new acquisition professionals should…

  • Know that while they can only control their own choices, their decisions ultimately affect others.
  • They can influence others’ decisions.

On Innovation, new acquisition professionals should…

  • know that is necessary and vital to fail.
  • Accept that they will learn far more from failure than success.
  • Fail small, succeed big, adjust and move on. (Innovation Manifesto).
  • (Whenever possible) cheaply develop fast prototypes, quickly scale up what works and bury what doesn’t work. (Innovation Manifesto). Adopt a different approach when something isn’t producing the desired results.
What other ideas do you have?

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Amanda Blount

I love this! I think I will print this out and hang it up!

Also don’t forget –

New acquisition professionals should have a tough skin coming in, or develop one quickly.

Contracting sometimes hurts. Don’t take it personally. Get over hurt feelings quickly. We’ve got contracting to do, and we need your head in the game.

Sterling Whitehead

Thanks Amanda! I’ll keep revising this thing as more comments come in. I think I’ll eventually make a doo-wiki out of it on All Things Sterling.

Sterling Whitehead

Harlan, just to clarify and summarize, your preferences would be
(a) Clear objective and goals for the Manifesto?
(b) Less focus on the individual, more focus on the acquisition discipline?
(c) Less or no axioms and/or vulgarity?

Tina M Borger, CPPO

Overall, it evokes very positive feelings when I read it, which is a good litmus test, I think.

I don’t quite understand what is meant by “Contract Writing, new acquisition professionals – Dictate the “What”, but let the technical experts determine the “How”. ” There is clearly a role for both procurement and techincal in contract writing, but I’m not sure if “what” and “how” is the right comparison.

On Ethics, maybe add “Never let your personal interests govern your actions, only the public’s.” or something like that.

On problems, add “Expect them.”

On Long-Term Thinking, insert the word “some” in front of “People”. Generalizations are not usually helpful.

I love the Innovation section! Maybe it should be first!

Srinidhi Boray

Manifesto needs to refer to Legislations and Circulars. This is very important like the “CCA”.

Needs clauses for vendor management….
Know that Inviting vendors is to allow them to “heist” federal dollars

Regarding what and how –

Tell “what” needs to be done, hire a contractor who will know “how” to do it

Sterling Whitehead

@Srinidh and @Tina

This is an editable Google Docs version of the Manifesto. (P.S. Manifesto has been renamed to Acquisition Rules of Thumb). Editing the doc yourselves should give you a sense of ownership (i.e. you’ll want to keep checking back and adding ideas as they come to you) in this project, resulting in a better end product.