US Air Force Defense Acquisition and Contract Officers Come to NC State

We were proud to host a group of 20 contract officers from a number of different US Air Force bases across the country, including Wright-Patterson (Ohio), Hill (Utah), Pope (NC), Charleston (SC), and several others.  We spent three days with this talented group of officers, discussing the importance of acquisition leadership during times of disruption.  The first day I spent some time talking about the critical capabilities required of acquisition personnel during a time of disruption, including supply market intelligence, supplier risk, stakeholder engagement, relationship building, contract management, and sustainability monitoring.  The team was then treated to an assessment of their communication styles by Professor Beth Ritter, spending time in James B Hunt visualization studio understanding how their individual communication styles often differed from those of the team or stakeholder group that they are working with.  The importance of effective communication during a time of disruption was emphasized.

On Day 2, LtCol. Dan Finkenstadt, PhD, discussed how Anticipatory Thinking is critical to envisioning future states, and being able to prepare for disruptions.  Following this time, one of my old MBA students from Poole, Alek Samuelson, along with Pete Guinto from Resilinc (fifth from right, top row) took the students through the Resilinc platform.  This was an eye-opening experience, as we examined war rooms depicting the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global supply chains, with detailed supplier mapping graphics and impact analyses.  We also looked at the supply chain for the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and contemplated the net impact of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, and the devastation wrought on the global economy.  Finally, we had the group break out into teams, and identify specific instances of disruptions that were impacting warfighters and programs within the US Air Force.

Finally, on Day 3, Pete Guinto again came and spoke about Design Thinking, and the steps required for”future state” thinking that imagines a solution to a difficult problem.  In the afternoon, the teams presented to a group of senior supply chain executives from the private sector, including John Zapko from Lenovo, (top, first on left), Carol Kozar from SAS (top, second from left), and Dave Quintilio, former SVP for UPS Healthcare, (fourth left, top row).  These individuals pressed the team to work to identify how the major disruptions impacting their warfighter programs were going to get solved, and urged them to reach out and use the communication tools, supplier relationships, and leadership skills they had acquired over the next two days.

We had some great dinners together over the three days, and everyone left with a signed copy of my new book, FLOW:  How the Best Supply Chains Thrive.  We hope to host more Air Force acquisition officers here on campus in the future!