Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2017 Contents moves on to a newer, better technology. Either way, it knows
quickly in which direction to move, and it can move faster.
We asked Shoffner, a few days into his new job as RCO director
of operations, if he would be willing to share his insight into
talent management as well as his expectations for the RCO.
Without hesitation, he took the opportunity to address the link
between the two communities and introduce himself to the
world of acquisition.
Nancy Jones-Bonbrest: You came to the Army Rapid Capa-
bilities Office after serving as director of the Army’s Talent
Management Task Force, and as part of a long operational
career. How has your previous experience shaped your view of
Shoffner: I’ll answer that question in two parts. For the first,
I’ll reflect back on some of my operational experiences in both
Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it is becoming increasingly obvi-
ous that over the past 15 years, we as an Army have been focused
on winning the current fight, and during that period of time our
[traditional] adversaries [e.g., Russia, China] have taken advan-
tage of our focus being elsewhere. They have started to develop
capabilities that really get at our core strengths.
Also, over the past couple of decades, the rate of change for
technology has increased. It’s not just Moore’s Law, where every
18 months the processing power doubles—it’s even faster than
that. And so if you think about those two factors taken together,
that’s what has resulted in us being in the situation we are in
now, where there are some gaps between what we need to be
able to do and what our adversaries are able to do. So the Rapid
Capabilities Office has been established to help mitigate those
gaps. We also have to do more than that; just closing those gaps
is not enough. We’ve got to make sure we don’t find ourselves in
this position five, 10, 20 years from now.
Fundamentally, on talent management, what we are trying to do
is move from an industrial-age system where we looked at peo-
ple as interchangeable parts to a modern, 21st-century system
where we are managing individual talent. One of our strengths
as a nation for so long has been our ability to innovate and inno-
vate faster. So as it relates to the acquisition community, we are
looking to people who have that innovative spirit and who can
help us figure out how to close those gaps in short order without
having to wait seven to 10 years to field a new system. That’s why,
with the Rapid Capabilities Office, what we are looking to do is
to prototype systems to get them out there very quickly, to get
them out to exercises and learn from those experiences so we can
make adjustments and field the systems as quickly as possible.
Jones-Bonbrest: What did you learn at the Army’s Talent Man-
agement Task Force that can be applied to the Army Acquisition
Shoffner: I’ll start with how we define talent in the Army. We
don’t see talent as one single thing that you can put your finger
on. It’s the combination of a lot of things—it fundamentally is
the combination of an individual’s knowledge, skills and behav-
iors. Key to this, though, is that these are shaped over a lifetime.
It does include experiences people have in the military, but
also includes all the experiences they have outside the military:
where they went to school, where they grew up. It’s what their
hobbies are, what they are passionate about, how they think.
The thinking part is really, really important. Obviously we can
measure cognitive ability. We have tests, assessments that get
after noncognitive ability, but what we are really looking for
are people who are critical thinkers, people who are innovators
MANAGING CAPABILITY AND TALENT
Soldiers from Field Artillery Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct
new equipment training on the Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System
Mobile Integrated Capability at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany.
The training, conducted in February and March, put rapidly produced
prototypes into the field to close capability gaps of the kind targeted by the
Army RCO. Shoffner sees parallels between the kinds of solutions the RCO
is seeking and the Army’s interest in new talent management solutions.
(Photo by Sgt. Devon Bistarkey, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs)
40 Army AL&T Magazine
MEETING GLOBAL DEMAND
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