It might be said that successful program managers move up, and when their programs run into trouble they go to marketing. While that's the headline for today, the real story is that program leaders are moving to the forefront of most every aerospace and defense company in terms of influence and responsibility.
This is why most every company I've talked with continues to elevate the role of program management and focus on program leadership excellence as a corporate strategy.
In the past two to four years, companies have added power and authority to their Program Management Councils. Some have appointed corporate level program management leaders, such as Steve Goo at The Boeing Co., Dave Barakat who is vice president of program management, engineering and technology for Northrop Grumman. Susan Dong is leading performance excellence for BAE Systems NA, Mike Blake leads the effort at Bell Helicopter, and Nick Kuzemka continues to develop the role and responsibilities at Lockheed Martin.
John Young, (Acting) Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, has challenged these program management leaders to come up with operating standards for the proposed Configuration Steering Boards.
This will be among the topics tackled by a meeting of program managers Oct. 29. The next day, senior industry leaders will also discuss what the new metrics for program leadership should include.
The overall goal is to avoid creating more bureaucracy for Defense Dept. program managers and stay focused on the end goal -- successful programs. The truth is that there are no bad programs -- there are programs that become victims of funding vagaries, of requirements creep, and of poor leadership.