“Falling behind early gives you more time to catch back up.”
This may sound like one of Yogi Berra’s many scintillating quips, but it is actually one of the new laws that former Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Norm Augustine—and author of “Augustine’s Laws”—composed in preparation for his participation in Aviation Week’s recent Executive Summit.
Augustine began writing his now famous “laws” in the late 1960s as a way of crystallizing the complexities of program management and the potential consequences of poor execution. With the benefit of hindsight, today they read more like uncannily accurate predictions. One of his most widely quoted laws states: “In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy three and one-half days each per week.”
“Augustine’s Laws” are just as relevant now as they were when he authored them. For the enlightenment of about 75 industry leaders, Augustine diagramed the increase in the price of fighter aircraft since the dawn of military aviation up to and including the F-22 and F-35. Sure enough, the unit cost is on track to achieve “unaffordable” status in just over 40 years. If past is prologue...
With aerospace contractors confronting unprecedented challenges, such as affordability imperatives and emerging competitors in both commercial and government markets, Augustine was asked by Aviation Week to update his “laws” and present them at the Summit. Meanwhile, conference goers developed their own set of “laws” as they brainstormed possible approaches to solutions to some of industry’s greatest pain points. Their laws will be presented in a future edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Until then, here are two more updated laws by Augustine worth pondering: “In cost estimating, we always underestimate the first digit by a factor of two — but get the last digit correct about 10 percent of the time,” and “Regulations grow like weeds and are self-fertilizing.” No argument there.