Over the past several weeks I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with friends, Shipmates, and civilian and military customers old and new. We talk about career changes, who’s gone where, who’s doing what, and why they went where they went. I love this chat. I love it because I’ve never been so excited to explain what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and why I’m at Steampunk.
If there are genuine bad actors (the “beltway bandits” of folklore fame) I’ve never met them. The vast majority of those I work with and compete against are patriots who want to serve the Department of Defense the very best they can. On the other side of the acquisition fence, I’ve never met a Government leader who didn’t want the best product or service for the best value. But there are externalities and variables beyond the control of these individual good actors that can cause our best intentions to fizzle, and the Warfighter to end up with less than they deserve.
Over the next few weeks and months, I’d like to start a conversation here about how we address those challenges. In many ways, solving the hard problems and enabling the missions we ask the Department of Defense to execute must be a partnership – no entity can do it alone. Companies like Steampunk must be a willing partner with other industry players, and no successful program operates without a hand-in-glove relationship with the Government.
So, let’s get started! Just what is Steampunk? Steampunk was founded with a very specific mission in mind: how do we help the Government transform, with the help of cutting edge technologies all while keeping people at the core. Putting people at the core means more than just “engaging stakeholders” – it’s an entire paradigm shift. Whether we’re developing software enabling the mission, or securing a network, Steampunk’s emphasis on Design Intelligence encourages engagement with the end mission implementer – which may or may not be the “user” in the traditional software sense of the word. Working on a program to improve Defense Health support to families? Let’s talk to those families. Let’s understand the requirements behind the requirements. By keeping the mission and the Warfighter in the center of every process, we can go beyond “contractual compliance” and can start delighting Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with results.
Doesn’t everyone want this? How is Steampunk different?
But this all sounds like Mom and Apple Pie, right? Is there an industry partner out there who would disagree? Probably not (I hope not!), so how are we different? Steampunk is built structurally to take risk and be responsive to our Defense customers in a way that is genuinely unique. By being employee owned, Steampunk can take the ‘long view’ – we’re here to solve problems, not fill cubes. Part of being nimble means being flexible to how and when our Defense partners need to acquire services. Without pressure from public investors, Steampunk can stop worrying about Wall Street quarterly reports and start worrying about Pentagon daily briefings. Being nimble also means taking risk. Too many of our friends are pushing the Sisyphean boulder up the mountain that is internal corporate approval only to have it roll down stamped “too risky.” We exist to take on risk. We exist to support an enterprise which defends the Nation. To take risk off their plate is the greatest professional honor we can ask for.
Next time I’d like to share some thoughts around the Agile transformation in Government – how much of it passed us by in Defense, and the opportunities we have to really get it right. Many thanks from those of us at Steampunk to all of those in our Defense community, both in Government and in Industry working every day to keep our men and women safe, secure, and lethal.
Stay tuned for Steampunk’s ability to help DoD battle the “fake agile” bug – as well as more on the Steampunk brand. What’s in a name anyway?