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Jon_Johnson

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  1. I shared this article internally (echoing h2h - thank you @Vern Edwards and @bob7947 for posting this). Been thinking of it all day. I think many of us can attest to the 'crisis of routines' vs. know-how/what/why. Lets me ask, what makes you believe that a specific discipline in higher education is the answer? To tie it to another post, can the degree infer a level of curiosity needed to improve or is that an inherent personality trait? I could see an argument for graduate programs (Masters or Robust Credentialing) in that specialty, but other than the GW procurement law program, I don't see many business or public administration schools that would the scenario described in the article. The ones I see that are out there would need to change from being everything to everyone to having a mission-like purpose to the field. This also makes me wonder about NCMA as an organization. Maybe a government-specific standards body that focuses exclusively on federal contracting? Would that be the pathway to a better education/professional development?
  2. What I like about this has less to do with the content (though I am currently accessing every piece you have cited on questions and reading 5-15, 17-18 ) than the practice that you are showing about how to capture and categorize information, which would help with my retention and recognition. I will see if I can capture anything that didn't slip through my mental sieve. More water is out than in I am afraid.
  3. For those interested...a final FAR rule has been issued that was called for in the Biden Administrations EO 14005 Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America's Workers, on Jan. 25, 2021. I have been tracking this to see how it affects the prior exemption for information technology, but the community may need to know that this will be in effect come October and have to manage it for their procurement. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/03/07/2022-04173/federal-acquisition-regulation-amendments-to-the-far-buy-american-act-requirements
  4. I think you are onto something Vern. First question begged is what is a complex adaptive system? Here is tone source that is grounded in management theory that may be apt (Dooley, Kevin J. "A complex adaptive systems model of organization change." Nonlinear dynamics, psychology, and life sciences 1.1 (1997): 69-97.) "A theory of complex adaptive systems was borne from the discovery of chaotic dynamics in systems' behaviors. Chaos theory has developed along two dimensions. Experimentalists (as popularized in Gleick, 1987) found ways (primarily grounded in topology) to discover deep and complex patterns in seemingly random or "chaotic" data. Prigogine and Stengers (1984), among others, use chaos to describe how order can arise from complexity through the process of self-organization. Here is a summary of some of the main characteristics of systems described by chaos theory (Dooley et al., 1995): (a) seemingly random behavior may be the result of simple nonlinear systems (or feedback-coupled linear systems), (b) chaotic behavior can be discovered via various topological mappings, (c) nonlinear systems can be subject to sensitive dependence to initial conditions—this sensitivity forces a re-examination of causality—which now must be considered multilevel and multideterminant (Abraham et al., 1990), (d) systems that are pushed far-from-equilibrium (at the edge of chaos) can spontaneously self-organize into new structures, and (e) changes in the essential nature of a system take place when a control parameter passes a critical threshold—a bifurcation point." He continues by stating there are two conditions that need to be met in order for something to be considered a complex adaptive system "Whereas chaos theory relates to a particular behavior of complex systems, complex adaptive systems theory allows one to analyze the organizational system from a more holistic point of view. A CAS is both self-organizing and learning; examples of CAS include social systems, ecologies, economies, cultures, politics, technologies, traffic, weather, etc." Does our acquisition system fit this description? If not, then it is not a complex adaptive system. Would want to think about this more, but maybe self-organizing and learning happens outside of, and in opposition to, the structures of acquisition policy. Take OTAs as an example. This could possibly fit into the kind of self-organizing activity in federal procurement that resides outside of the system (inside of one system - 10 U.S.C. 2371 - but outside of the controls of those responsible for acquisition policy) Looking at acquisition policy I can only help feel that it is blind carpenters seeking nails through the only mechanism that they have any control over. I often hear folks proposing a FAR rule thinking that it will simply force compliance on the private sector to address a federal need as if a contract are the things that fixes (or incentivizes fixing) problems. These contract driven incentives towards solutions place greater compliance burdens on BOTH industry and federal contracting officers, as if compliance achieves the result. As Maybe acquisitions is not a system at all but rather a construct that drives integrated systems and activities that are meant to cover the berth of federal acquisitions from satellites to sandwiches? It seems to be driven by very earnest people who try hard, but there are big differences between a sandwich and a satellites. Put it in the hands of the internal policy and compliance outfits (as @WifWaf noted in his DCMA example) and things just get progressively less logical and more silly. No self-organization and no learning. In fact, self-organizing is in fact frowned upon.
  5. It has been a long time away from WifCon but am glad to start getting back and engaging with a community I respect, and ironically people and a platform that fed my self-study as I was starting out as an 1102. I like that there are some familiar virtual presences I see, binded together in a common desire to see in the public sector (particularly in operational contracting) something more than it is today. Self-study is not limited to contracting topics. Contracting as a discipline is influenced by other disciplines. As a good hillbilly philosopher would say...always drink upstream from the herd. In order to get upstream you have to follow the streams to see where it comes from. This leads often to matters that come from elsewhere, and self study is mandatory for not just becoming part of the herd but for greater understanding of what is being proposed, and why. It is also why my favorite parts of a book are the references so I can see where their ideas came from...continuing to work my way up stream. Since my realm is primarily with commercial Information and Communications Technology contracting I have had to learn enough about all types of things that enter the federal lexicon and pushed through OMB/OFPP. Cloud Computing, Mobile Technology, Strategic Sourcing, Category Management, Supply-Chain Risk Management (and now Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management), Internet of Things, Zero Trust, are just a few examples. More often then not these are trends that when initially introduced lack meaning, are concepts misapplied, have not been made sense of yet, and become regurgitated thoughtlessly. Maybe it is my natural skepticism, but I like to understand what I am being sold because in government we are sold to constantly - not just products and services but also ideas. I will also add a lament of lack of good conversations with people outside of your practice, which is a key piece of the self-study and learning process. As I would study a technical topic I would engage in conversations with technical people, not to be technically proficient but to understand the technology proficiently in order to help acquisition personnel with buying process that serves their mission needs. I imagine the same to be true if you are buying weapon systems, doing construction contracting, utilities and fuel contracting, or any other discipline for that matter. I am interested in reading Vern's repot on what he observed as a result of this exercise. In the mean time I will give a little thought as to the kind of self-study that matters most at different points in one's career. My gut imagines that there tactical self-study for better execution, leadership self-study for better operations and working in various management roles (tactics for mangers?), and strategic self-study for larger understanding, breadth, and change. So an open question...what kind of self-study is best depending on the point in your career?
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