Use Kelly’s Model

Pentagon acquisition czar Frank Kendall believes that there’s a lot of merit in pursuing the “Skunkworks model”—pioneered by Lockheed aerospace legend Kelly Johnson—in getting some projects done in a quick fashion. Speaking on May 23 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Kendall said the approach would only work when teams are small, “both sides know what has to be done” to meet “well-defined requirements,” and there is a sense of trust between them. Kendall said he’s asking each service to nominate one new program to pursue in the Skunkworks style as a test. If they are successful, both the services and contractors involved will get more opportunities, he said. One feature will be milestone reviews on-site, in view of the work taking place, said Kendall. “It could be a very efficient way to do work,” he said.