Program Manager as Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Leading with Accountability and Empowerment
Defense Acquisition University Fort Belvoir United States
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Former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics John Young continues to challenge program managers PM in the Department of Defense to be more accountable for their program outcomes and to feel empowered to take on the challenges presented by the complex acquisition, budgeting, and requirements processes Young, 2008. Yet, program managers may feel victimized by the myriad budget drills, the continual pressure to include new features and requirements in programs that are already strapped,and to navigate the labyrinthine oversight bureaucracy whose job, it appears, is to second-guess the PM at every turn. While perhaps overstated, these external forces are nonetheless among the serious systemic problems highlighted, most recently, in the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment DAPA report Kadish, 2006. How can a PM working in such an environment be able to control program outcomes and feel empowered It is not uncommon for perceived roles and norms to be self-limiting, even if the perceptions are wrong Intentional Behavior,2004 Terry and Hogg, 2000. If the PM views the position as one simply responsible for program execution, then the external forces on the program are likely to contribute to disempowerment and reactive decision making to address the pressures of the moment. Rather, a PM should adopt a more strategic view of the position as equivalent to a Chief Executive Officer of his or her own company. Operating within that new paradigmatic framework is likely to contribute to behaviors that can be far more strategic and empowering.