December 2005/January 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 8 
Main Feature

Training ground

IDS rotational team members propel program managers—and themselves—to career success

Steve Winkler (right), director, F-15 Production Programs, discusses Program Management Best Practices metricsThink of their jobs as "Training Times Two." They are experts who, during the course of job rotation assignments, train and coach managers throughout Integrated Defense Systems to run more successful programs.

And in doing so, they are being trained themselves to rejoin their business units, where they'll help implement the lessons and best practices they learned during those rotational assignments.

John Adrian, manager of IDS Program Management Implementation and Assessment, envisioned the dual payoff when he recruited his new team early in 2005. He needed specialists who could provide improved training and assessment capabilities as well as enhance networking and information sharing among programs.

Adrian's plan is to rotate specialists in and out of Program Management and Independent Review annually, thereby creating consistency in the implementation of program management across the company and increasing the number of knowledgeable practitioners.

"These individuals are not specialists in just one area any more. They are gaining a broad and deep understanding of all of the Program Management best practices," Adrian said. "At the end of their 18-month rotation, they will take their enhanced knowledge and new contacts back to their business units. This benefits the programs, the employees and the company."

The nine members of this development team have rotated to Program Management and Independent Review to share their knowledge in supplier management, engineering, scheduling, finance and other disciplines. In some cases, these specialists rotated away from large staffs, private offices and international locales. While they seek new challenges and a way to broaden their skills, their reason for taking on a new assignment goes beyond career growth: They aim to make Boeing stronger.

"We are taking great ideas from one program, site or [Boeing predecessor] company and 'cross-pollinating' them to other areas so they will become more effective," said Peter Wells, who came from engineering management in NASA Systems.

As part of the IDS Program Management Development Team, Wells and the others are helping facilitate team leader training and the monthly Program Managers Workshops held at the Boeing Leadership Center. They're also traveling around the United States to assess different programs, including Future Combat Systems, Joint Tactical Radio System and Ground-based Midcourse Defense. Their main focus: the Boeing Program Management Best Practices, a set of eight management strategies that are key to achieving excellence in programs of all sizes.

David Konecek is a scheduling manager from Air Force Systems. "From my 30 years of experience in production, I know first-hand how well the Program Management Best Practices work and the many benefits of using those standards. During our workshops and assessments, I try to convey the benefits they bring to programs," Konecek said. "I also have been on the receiving end of assessments and understand the worries and concerns that program managers have when reviewers walk in the door. Now I advise them we are not looking for a particular goal or score; our aim is to identify where and how they can improve."

As for making a career move with no guarantees, Konecek warns against pigeonholing yourself. "I've always liked getting the product out the door, but I had to get out of my comfort zone," he said. "Now I am seeing a whole different side of Boeing, which has been very rewarding."

For more information on the program, visit (internal link only) on the Boeing Web.

—Diana Eastman

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