In the freely downloadable National Academies book, “Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense“, the dudes who wrote the book “get it“. Check out this rather long snippet and place close attention on the bolded sentences. If you dare, pay closer attention to the snarky Bulldozer00 commentary highlighted in RED .
An additional challenge to the DoD is that the split between technical and management roles will result (has already resulted) in leaders who, on moving into management, face the prospect of losing technical excellence and currency over time. This means that their qualifications to lead in architectural decision making (and schedule making) may diminish unless they can couple project management with ongoing architectural leadership and technical engagement. The DoD does not (and legions of private enterprises don’t) have strong technical career paths that build on and advance software expertise with the exception of the service labs. Upward career progression trends leading closer to senior management-focused roles and further away from technical involvement tend to stress general management rather than technical management experience (well, duh! That’s the way status-centric command and control hierarchies are designed.). This is not necessarily the case in technology-intensive roles in industry (not necessarily, but still pervasively). Many (but nearly not enough) of the most senior leaders in the technology industry have technical backgrounds and continue to exercise technical roles and be engaged in technology strategy. Nonetheless, certain DoD software needs remain sufficiently complex and unique and are not covered by the commercial world, and therefore call for internal DoD software expertise. In the DoD, however, as software personnel take on more management responsibility, they have less opportunity and incentive to stay technically current (<- this “feature” is baked into command and control hierarchies where, of course, caste and who-reports-to-who is king – to hell with excellence and what sustains an enterprise’s health and profitability). At the same time, there is an increasing need for an acquisition workforce that has a strong understanding of the challenges in systems engineering and software-intensive systems development. It is particularly critical to have program managers who understand modern software development and systems (If that’s the case, then the DoD and most private enterprises are hosed. D’oh!).
Could it be that unelected, anointed “managers” in DoD and technology industry CLORGs and DYSCOs are still stuck in the 20th century FOSTMA mindset? You know, the UCB where they “feel” they are entitled to higher compensation and stature than the lower cast knowledge workers (architects, designers, programmers, testers, etc) just because they occupy a higher slot in an anachronistic, and no longer applicable, way of life – no matter what the cost to the whole org’s viability.
In command and control hierarchies, almost everybody is a wanna-be:
“I wanna rise up to the next level so I’ll: make more money, have more freedom, be perceived as more important, and rule over the hapless dudes in my former level“. Nah, that’s not true. BD00 has been drinkin’ too many dirty, really really dirty, martinis.