Dan Ward: Acquisition Prophet

Defense acquisitions sometimes get behind schedule, cost too much, and/or have poor performance. This often comes from using incorrect approaches.

Dan Ward, who I actually consider an acquisition prophet of sorts, argues for a different methodology called FIST — Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny. It calls for rapid acquisition using “80% now is better than 100% later” and evolutionary approaches. Traditional acquisition sometimes tries to tackle too much and everything else suffers.

I’ll give you a few of my takeaways from his articles.

Some Pentagon Acquisition Successes: Yes, They Do Happen. If a FIST-type approach can work on the complex Virginia-class nuclear submarine, it can work on anything.

Don’t Come to the Dark Side: Acquisition Lessons from a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Death Star-type projects are failures waiting to happen. Evolutionary approaches, not something brand new, are better.

FIST Approach to System Development. Quick, fun PowerPoint (I know fun and PowerPoint in the same sentence) contrasting FIST versus traditional approaches.

My Big, Slow Fail: A Comedy of Errors. Yes, this sometimes happens. It’s pretty funny.

Read on. He knows what he’s talking about.

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Jaime Gracia

I have been familiar with Dan’s work with Defense AT&L for some time now, and it is marvelous. He uses a unique, comic-book genre of super heroes and villains to make acquisition and program management topics interesting and fun. It also helps that he is spot on with his analyses, and able to make it approachable.