What Do You Know?
A few years ago, the former Pentagon Comptroller, Dov Zakheim, said at the Reagan National Defense Forum that the government fails to make the investment in its executive workforce in meaningful ways. For example, a professional financial manager may never attend a continuing education course. As I pondered his words, it was easy to bring to mind numerous examples confirming his thesis.
The Knowledge Gap
Sadly, this condition also exists in the industry. It may be all around you. Let’s check and see.
Do you recall learning the Rule of 72 at some point? It’s a simple metric used to roughly identify how long it takes for things that grow at a compounded rate to double based on a particular interest rate. It’s often taught in the first weeks of an accounting or managerial finance course. Once you learn it, it’s easy to recall. The formula is T = 72/r, where T represents time, and r represents the rate.
For example, 4% annual growth will double in 72/4% = 18 years.
What other simple metrics have you heard?
How about, “If you want to get into selling to the government, be prepared to starve for the first five years.” This one comes up often at small business conferences.
What about, “If you want to make money in shipbuilding, you need to start with a lot of money.” This one is not unique to shipbuilding but is often mentioned in those circles due to the single-digit margins associated with shipbuilding.
Is your workforce living with simple tropes such as these?
Investing in a Better Future
Some of my clients have organized reading groups or speaker series where they encourage new and creative thought among the workforce. They are making a small investment in their employees. It’s a start and better than doing nothing.
My recent academic research confirms that most defense executives fail to invest in a greater understanding of the sales process into which their company sells. The lack of investment stems from a broader lack of process awareness.
It’s an insidious loop.
The lack of awareness inhibits one’s imagination of better outcomes, thereby making the investment in additional learning and resources appear to be a dubious investment.
If the investment in additional learning or in hiring dedicated support were made, new learning would enter the picture, opening the aperture to greater learning. The wisdom of investing for new future outcomes would become clearer. I’ll ask again, “What do you know?”
For a copy of my book, Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales, and more information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.