Organizing for Success

Organizing for Success

Why Many Government Software Factories Are Dying While Others are Thriving

Trent Hone, Gene Kim, Dr. Steve Spear, Col. Brian Beachkofski, LtCol Max Reele, Captain Jay Long, Major Jesse Cooper, Rick Jack, LtCol Andres Otero, LtCol John Schreiner, Col Jeff Worthington


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Winning the future fight requires fully unleashing technical capabilities across the US Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies. Developing software at speed and scale is crucial to that effort. In February 2022, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks charted a path forward by releasing the DoD Software Modernization Strategy, arguing that “delivering a more lethal force requires the ability to evolve faster and be more adaptable than our adversaries.”

However, government software efforts lag behind. Operating at greater speed and agility is absolutely essential to winning the future fight. After surveying approximately 30 government software efforts, some key attributes as to what is going wrong are clear—first, it is not a technology issue. Instead, it is organizational—most DoD software efforts are not achieving desired war-fighter outcomes because they are not organized to succeed. Our findings reinforce prior research that indicates the greatest challenges with DoD software are “non-technical challenges dealing with regulations, organizational culture, and process.”