Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Its Not our People, Its our Processes

We've written a couple of posts recently concerning Representative Thornberry's proposals to reduce the size of the Defense Department's "fourth estate". See, for example, Proposal to Cut $25 Billion from DoD Support Agencies and Comprehensive Pentagon Bureaucracy Reform and Reduction Act.These proposals have garnered a lot of attention in the press. The idea that you could abolish seven major Defense agencies and no one would notice or the persistent stories in the press that fourth estate workers were standing around with their hands in their pockets has got to have had a demoralizing effect on affected staffs.

Yesterday, Patrick Shanahan, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, went on the offensive against such notions. While welcoming Thornberry's interest in the "fourth estate", Shanahan announced that he too has been working to reform the Department. He believes that there is tremendous opportunity for reform and reforms would significantly boost productivity and modernization in the Department. And, the fact that Thornberry is also approaching this issued gives support to DoD's efforts.

But the main point of Shanahan's comments was to ensure that his and Thornberry's efforts were not viewed as a "people problem" or as a way to reduce the workforce. "What we find is we have processes and management systems ... that have evolved over years and years that were never designed to scale to the size that we are, and so people are stuck in processes that ... aren't as productive as they could be."

Shanahan added: "People are the solution, not the problem. From a management standpoint, the easiest thing to do is redraw the lines and boxes on an org chart, but it is actually the hardest thing to implement." The Department must look at processes. "It's our processes, not our people".

Was that enough to inspire a demoralized workforce?

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