Grappling Titans

It’s Friday afternoon and I found a little bit of time to catch up on my reading, a bunch of which focused on big DoD programs that are going through big pains (Including an article in the Wall Street Journal I can’t link to called “Is the U.S. Government outourcing its brain?”). And this got me thinking…

What happens when your customer behaves as though it thinks that you, as an industry, are “contractor scum” and when you, attempting to serve that customer, feel like you are dealing with the line at the Post Office the week before Christmas writ large?

What happens when that disgruntled customer makes more and more rules to ensure that the providers that it really doesn’t trust can’t take advantage of it? And when the suppliers of systems and services to that customer, ever more constrained in their ability to be innovative and efficient, by the very customer they are attempting to serve, are forced to more and more complicated efforts to deliver profits to their shareholders sufficient to keep the capital from finding greener pastures? And in doing so struggle to maintain the cultures that made them great in the first place?

While Sarbanes-Oxley, by raising the cost of doing business for public companies, is having the unintended effect of forcing organizations to merge for scale where there is no fundamental business reason to do so. The beuracracy and complexity of doing business with the federal government continues to encourage even greater unnecessary scale and makes SarbOx look like a school yard game.

So… what does it look like when a giant, beuractratic, policy-by-the-pound issuing customer and the five remaining monolithic, defensive, culturally misanthropic providers do business? 🙂


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