DISPATCH FROM THE 2017 NCMA WORLD CONGRESS

DISPATCH FROM THE 2017 NCMA WORLD CONGRESS

CHICAGO, IL

 
Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope - a slight change, and all patterns alter.
— Sharon Salzber
 

NCMA World Congress is like a kaleidoscope. Do you remember those from your youth? Usually you find them in the toy store, in the back, where the less exciting toys are located.  The toys with no batteries or electronic gizmos.  It’s there you pick up a tube, rattle it to hear something lose inside, then, putting the end to your eye, you point it at a light. And an amazing thing happens, random, broken pieces of glass, and mirrors create exquisite colors and patterns. And best part is, as you turn the tube, those colors and prisms, and patterns change.

NCMA World Congress is the same way. 2000 people attended this year’s WC and 2000 people saw different patterns, colors, and experiences. Same event – completely different and unique experience. Let me share a little of my kaleidoscope experience called NCMA World Congress.

 
Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.
— Dale Carnegie
 

There were several notable key note speakers at the WC that lasted from Monday to Wednesday noon. The first speaker of note was Ms. Omer Kahn, a professor of operations and supply chain management from Aalborg University, Copenhagen.  She discussed issues related to transformation (of economy and personal growth). She emphasized that, “…we’re in a radical state of uncertainty – a single key supplier can take out an entire supply chain.” She discussed how it is important how we view, and take action on, these new challenges that exist today and see them as opportunities for growth, not something to hide away from, or try to mitigate out.

The other keynote speaker who picked my interest on Wednesday morning was Mr. Jason Schenker, President of Prestige Economics.  Mr. Schenker bills himself as financial market futurist. Basically, he takes current trends, extrapolates them, and attempts to figure out in advance the impact on the economy (and how to profit from said trends).  His key theme was robopolypse or robotopia? The trends appear to be moving in both directions. But a key takeaway is, if current trends continue, 20% of jobs done by humans will be outsourced to automation by 2020. This will cause serious disruptions in the employment economy.  Business operate via incentives and penalties.  Public officials can help direct these trends by finding the right balance of incentives and penalties to mitigate the disruption that automation and robotics will cause.

 
If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.
— Thomas Aquinas
 

One definitition of leadership is, “…as an art that is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” There were several showcases of positive leadership examples on display at the WC this year!

First were the individuals who received Fellows Awards. These awards were given to nine people who have made significant contributions to the field of contracting and to NCMA. The Fellows Award is the second highest award given by the Association. The first NCMA Fellows Award was given in 1967. Although the specific criteria have evolved over time, the broad categories of service required for selection as an NCMA Fellow have remained the same: continuous support in a leadership role for NCMA, participation as a member of the Council of Fellows and as an active member of thelocal chapter, contributes to efforts to enhance and expand the professional acceptance of NCMAmembership and certification, and mentors new NCMA leaders.  The Fellows Award is a worth aspiration. If you think you have what it takes to be an NCMA Fellow, click here for more information!

Another example of leadership was the graduation of the Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP) class of 2017.  These 20 individuals committed a full year of time and effort to honing their skillsin contract management.  They traveled to offsite meetings, worked on academic projects together (as one example one team developed an IT tool kit to help chapters better communicate with their members), took courses, and wrote papers on various topics related to contract and subcontract management.  The CMLDP program is designed to develop the next generation of NCMA and acquisition leaders.  If you are new to the contract or subcontract management field, and are ready to grow your leadership and acquisition skill-set, this is an outstanding program to apply for. For more information about the CMLDP program, click here.

One last example of leadership was the Leadership Master Class which was held on the Sunday prior to the official beginning of the WC.  This was a daylong program designed to give NCMA chapter leadership ideas and recommendations on how to improve their respective chapters.  Over 50 chapter leaders from across the country gave up their time on a Sunday to hear discussions related to emotional intelligence and how it can facilitate chapter growth. The program was organized around the leadership competencies discuss in the 5th edition of the Contract Management Body of Knowledge (CMBOK).  Attendees worked thru real-world situations and case studies.  And it was all in an effort to give chapter leaders new tools and ideas to better serve their members back at home.

 
“Final thoughts are so, you know, final. Let’s call them closing words.”
— Craig Armstrong
 

The WC was held at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Il. If you have not been there, it is a nice place with lots of activity. The venue for the event worked well with a large ballroom for the key note speakers and a ton of breakout rooms for individual, separate training sessions.

Speaking of training sessions, I attended several but the one that most caught my attention is the Section 809 Panel. The purposes of the Section 809 panel, headed up by Deidre Lee, is, “…tasked with finding ways to streamline and improve defense acquisition.” This session was well attended (to the point people were standing in the doorways). Their motto is “Go Bold” and recommend to Congress serious reforms to defense acquisition.  Some of their tasks are:

Review the acquisition regulations applicable to the Department of Defense with a view toward streamlining and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the defense acquisition process and maintaining defense technology advantage.

  • Establish and administer appropriate buyer and seller relationships in the procurement system.
  • Improve the functioning of the acquisition system.
  • Ensure the continuing financial and ethical integrity of defense procurement programs.
  • Protect the best interests of the Department of Defense.
  • Eliminate any regulations that are unnecessary for the purposes described.

If you have any ideas on how to improve defense acquisition, I highly recommend you forward them to the panel. You just never know where a good idea might get implemented!

If you are able, you should plan to attend NCMA World Congress 2018 in Cleveland and make time to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! It will be well worth your while!