Col. Jacob Haynes - Defense: Mr. Fix-IT
Col. Jacob Haynes - Defense: Mr. Fix-IT<@VM>Online Extra Q&A: Col. Jacob Haynes
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Apr 13, 2004
Haynes has a reputation as a turnaround specialist on troubled programs
'The first thing we did was to completely re-engineer oursoftware development process. We changed our process for testing, allowing the services to be more involved.'
Army Col. Jacob Haynes is a program fix-it man. When he took over as project manager for the Transportation Coordinators' Automated Information for Movement System II in the late 1990s, the program was falling apart.
TC-AIMS II was behind schedule and over budget, its requirements muddled. The Joint Defense Department system operates as part of the Global Combat Support System to plan, execute and track deployment of people and equipment.
Haynes organized the office, focused on defining the requirements and software engineering, and developed a better relationship with the contractor, said Kevin Carroll, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems at Fort Belvoir, Va.
'Jake Haynes is known as a turnaround specialist,' said Carroll, his boss. 'Jake brought management and engineering discipline to the program.'
After a rocky start, TC-AIMS II became one of the success stories in Iraq, Carroll said, a change he largely attributed to the reorganization Haynes brought to the program.
The same can be said for the Standard Procurement System, an automated contracting system that standardizes procurement processes across DOD, Carroll said.
'SPS had the same reputation. It was a joint program that couldn't agree to the requirements. It looked like the program was crashing,' Carroll said.
Then Haynes was asked to head SPS and began working his magic, Carroll said.
'If I had a program in trouble, Jake would be the guy I would always want to go to,' Carroll said. 'As far as I'm concerned, he's two for two.'
With SPS, Haynes said, 'the first thing we did was to completely re-engineer our software development process. We changed our process for testing, allowing the services to be more involved. We decentralized testing to go out in the field in real time. That changed the situation.'
When Haynes came on board, testing took up to six months per iteration. It now takes 60 days, he said.
'This is really software development 101. We're trying to emulate a commercial model,' Haynes said.
Another measure of success, user satisfaction, was at an all-time low about three years ago, when the General Accounting Office de-livered a scathing report on the $582.5 million program.
DOD temporarily halted the program, and Haynes, just a month into the job as program manager for SPS, found himself in front of Congress testifying on his remedy for the embattled program. His solution looked a lot like his remedy for TC-AIMS II: Define software requirements, improve user satisfaction and emulate commercial best practices.
'We have actually used the GAO report, not as a hindrance, but a tool to get better,' Haynes said.
Haynes' functional division chief, Linda Beckner, organized a monthly newsletter that gives users frequent updates on SPS. The electronic newsletter gets about 10,000 hits a month, she said.
Now, Haynes says, 'eight out of 10 users are happier.'
The program has about 28,000 users at 308 locations worldwide. At full operational capability, expected in 2006, SPS will replace more than 70 legacy systems at 801 sites worldwide.
In fiscal 2003, SPS was used by more than 23,000 contracting workers to purchase more than $48 billion in goods and services.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, troops in Kuwait and Qatar used a stripped-down version of SPS called the Battle Ready Contingency Contracting System. The system was deployed on notebook PCs, speeding supplies to troops by bringing procurement officers closer to the front lines.
Gino Magnifico, deputy program manager for SPS, calls the system 'contracting's face to the warfighter.'
Magnifico said he started with SPS early in its development and the difference between the system from then to now 'is like night and day.'
'The requirements process was greatly enhanced. Users determine what gets into the software. A lot of that has to do with Col. Haynes coming in,' Magnifico said. 'Everything is much more disciplined in the process.'Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to move up to the manager level?
My advice would be two-fold. First, make sure you have the tools you need to succeed. By that, I mean get the education and the experience that are considered 'must haves' to become a successful manager. Make sure your experiences build upon one another to move you up to the next level because experience is the best teacher and the way you'll learn how to be successful at the next level. I can honestly say that the United States Army has one of the very best professional development programs for program managers and I highly recommend it for young people with motivation.
Secondly, never confuse management with leadership. Management can be taught; leadership can't. Management is based on balancing risk and resources. Leadership is all about providing inspiration' inspiring people to align to one mission, to focus their energies on attaining results, and to freely give you the gift of their loyalty. It's paramount that your people understand the mission. And that's part of the challenge for a good leader: deciphering the mission, boiling it down to elements everyone on the team can understand, appreciate and support.
Q: What's the best advice you received and from whom?
I've been fortunate in my career to have worked for some wise and generous leaders from whom I've been able to learn sage career advice. I'll always be grateful to retired Army Col. James Cross, the program manager of the Army's Mobile Electric Power Program, for teaching me how to develop and promote people.
Because at the end of the day, it's not about the manager. It's about the people who work for the program. The hallmark of a successful program manager, or any manager for that matter, is a program or project that runs just as well on the days he's there at the office as it does on the days when he's not.
Mr. Kevin Carroll is another leader from whom I received excellent advice. When he was the program executive officer for Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMIS), which is now Enterprise Information Systems (EIS), I served as a project manager under him and learned the importance of having confidence in my decisions and in my dealings with senior officers. It was a tough environment politically and programmatically, but having a mentor who will support you in any environment fosters courage and growth.
Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it. Senior military leaders can sniff hesitation a mile away and, believe me, you must wholeheartedly have confidence in what you're doing or they won't let you even take the very first step.
Q: Why government service?
I'm a career military officer and I can't imagine having chosen any other path. To me, there was never any question. The honor of serving my country, the camaraderie of the United States military and the personal satisfaction I have knowing that I support America's defense are absolutely unquantifiable and, to me, are the best things anyone could do. The training, experience and opportunities I've received as an Army career acquisition officer makes me feel a part of the team, an essential member in 'The Army of One.'
Q: How important is mentoring in developing a good manager?
Mentoring is everything. Having people empower and nurture you is the only way to grow. I'm fortunate in that I've had program managers and Army generals who have served as my mentors; they've been confident enough in themselves to trust in me, to open up and share their challenges (both past and present) and to make themselves available when I needed advice. Those aren't easy things for a leader to do, and they don't come naturally, but they're essential to a good mentoring relationship.
An unspoken part of my job now is to train junior officers, to take them under my wing, share with them lessons learned from my career, and to be available to them whenever they need advice or guidance. It's all about two-way communication.
Retired Army Gen. Ed Harrington, director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, was a terrific mentor. Let me tell you, when you are called upon to testify to Congress, knowing that a strong mentor is in your corner is absolutely invaluable. Gen. Harrington had had the privilege of providing congressional testimony earlier in his career and he shared with me his experiences and helped prepare me for what was to come. I'll be forever grateful that he took the time to do that because it made all the difference and gave me the confidence I needed to stand before the U.S. Congress and testify to the solidity of my program.
Another mentor'and one who has been there for me my entire life'is my uncle, Mr. Jonas Kennedy. An accomplished farmer and a success in every aspect of his life, he taught me how to live my life with integrity and the importance of treating everyone with respect, regardless of their station in life. It's a lesson that's stuck with me'and has made a positive difference'in every part of my life.
Q: What part does fun play in your work?
To me, fun is mandatory. I'm a practical joker, ask anyone who works with me. And when times are tense'which they are more often than not on a program that's got challenges'that's when I try to bring the most fun into the workplace. People are more creative, they solve problems better and they work more cohesively as a team when they're having fun.
The leader sets the tone and I set a tone that makes it clear that if we're not having fun we're doing something wrong. I encourage the team to look for ways'for excuses really'to do something fun, whether it's celebrating birthdays, baking 'anti-stress' cakes or having cubicle contests, because you need to have fun to let the pressure escape, reduce stress, and in the end, to build a team.
Q: How do you balance work and home life?
I have to be honest with you and admit that I'm still trying to find that balance. All of my mentors had the same challenge; they acknowledged it and even tried to help me find ways to not fall into the same trap. But when you're on a mission, when what you do is a passion, it's hard'if not impossible'to not think about your job 24/7.
My daughter (who's 26 and is in med school) and I had this very discussion just the other day. She thinks I did OK balancing work and home life, but I have to disagree. If I had it to do all over again, I'd take more time to spend with her, with my family. Because at the end of the day, what really matters is what kind of person I was and how good of a father I was. Those are the measures that truly matter.
I strongly recommend young leaders strive to find that balance because, quite frankly, a balanced leader not only sets a good example, but he also does a better job. Don't be unrealistic: You won't be able to find that balance 100 percent of the time. But so long as you're conscious of it and striving for it, the 'inside-the-beltway' mode won't drive your life decisions ' you will.