First Person

David Wennergren on the role of teams in driving change

David Wennergren, a former Defense Department executive who is now vice president of CACI International’s Enterprise Technologies and Services group, recently shared his thoughts on leadership and change management with FCW.

Here is what he had to say about pushing the Navy to reorganize its shore bases into a single command:

I brought with me a few independent brokers, honest brokers to meet with the commanding officers of all the bases and the functional leaders there so that they would actually have skin in the game of making the choices about their future.

I brought enough external voices that could help force [the commanding officers] out of their comfort zone — idea generators coming to work with the people who actually have to own the problem.

After that process finished, there [were] gelling and the hard conversations. We got to the place where we made a set of recommendations that they could do and get done.

Fast forward two years later. Now I’m the deputy chief information officer for the Navy. I’m back in San Diego for a completely different purpose, but I end up at this briefing with all the base commanders.

Two years is like forever. It’s different people. Nobody knows that this is the Wennergren who was out there meddling a couple years ago.

They brief me on all the things they were getting done in regionalizing and consolidating the shore installation management functions and how proud they were of what they had accomplished, the $40 million a year they had saved and the more efficient operations and all that kind of stuff.

When we left the meeting, the guy who traveled with me said to me, “Weren’t you annoyed that they didn’t realize it was you and a few other people helping force them to do it and you were in the middle of the change?”

I said no, I was actually delighted, because that’s the art of this light touch. If the change leader is the only person who can make it happen, then it will only last for as long as that person personally has their hands on the wheel.

The only way change can actually stick is if the people who have to live the change have their own skin in the game and force the change to stick.

We forced them to think outside the box, so to speak, but come up with a set of recommendations that they could implement, and once we left they were able to take the ball and run with it. That was the only reason why it actually worked.

About the Author

Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group