Lockheed Project Management

Fast Company has an interesting article on the management approach at Lockheed Martin that led to winning the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter contract. One important point is the willingness of the Pentagon to prove out the technology during the bidding process: 'The defense department gave both Boeing and Lockheed $1.1 billion in funding to develop prototypes for the head-to-head fly off, and it set up a fire wall on the amount that each company could spend directly on the JSF.'

Another point is their approach to doing a premortem:

The team's best hope for staying on schedule is to anticipate problems and fix them before they occur. To do that, managers from Lockheed and its partner companies, Northrop and BAE, undertook an ambitious postmortem: They compiled an exhaustive database of setbacks and lessons learned on virtually all of the world's modern tactical-aircraft development programs. Then they did a premortem: They plotted their lessons-learned analysis on a graph that runs from 2001 to 2011. The graph enabled them to identify 10 future inflection points -- dates when the risk of a setback runs high.

I've done postmortem's to learn the mistakes of a project, and premortems to guess what may go wrong on a new project, but to plot the potential pitfalls over time extends the benefits of this planning process further than the initial meetings.

Sunday, June 2, 2002 | Permalink | Filed in Process


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