Sandia’s new 10-year target objective goes to the heart of why the Labs exists
As a national security laboratory, Sandia must look ahead to anticipate threats and be ready to quickly respond to challenges. A long history of strategic thinking has led the Labs to a new target objective designed to strengthen its mission, operations and culture in the decade to come.
“Where are we going and what do we need to become? We wanted to answer those questions,” said Labs Director James Peery, who spearheaded development of the target objective. “Having a strategic vision is critical to Sandia. Our role is unique and vital in a rapidly changing geopolitical world with numerous evolving threats. We must stay ahead of adversaries who are making technical advances that endanger our national security. In this dynamic environment, it is imperative that Sandia stewards its work into the future with a thoughtful and impactful strategy focused on breakthrough ideas.”
The target objective is deceptively simple — “In 10 years we will have unleashed innovation and high-velocity engineering to counter global threats” — but a lot went into it. Over the past nine months, the Senior Leadership Team worked on every word using input from numerous feedback sessions. “There is a lot of commitment to the words in the target objective,” said executive strategy professional Elizabeth Roll. “The whole SLT got behind it.”
Eye on the future
The 10-year target objective is the ultimate, larger-than-life goal that everyone at the Labs works toward. “It should be specific and measurable and ignite passion, excitement and energy from every person in the organization,” Elizabeth said.
It sits under Sandia’s purpose, vision and mission, enduring statements that spell out who we are and what we do. It is supported by four 5-year goals to be achieved through specific milestones, all developed through extensive research and analysis, workshops, crowdsourcing and leadership meetings. “This is a solid framework of a single objective supported by goals and milestones to reach critical results: sustained U.S. technical advantage, an unstoppable team, breakthrough innovations, timelines cut in half and our DNA, exceptional service in the national interest,” James said. “The importance of these outcomes cannot be overstated.”
The first of the 5-year goals is to provide unmatched value to Sandia’s sponsor, clients and National Security Enterprise partners by understanding the needs of the nation, delivering on commitments and cultivating and enhancing relationships and collaborations. The second goal is to radically improve mission delivery by advancing the way Sandia does science and engineering and unleashing innovation. “This is about changing how we do things in order to go faster and reduce timelines,” said executive strategy professional Cally Maloney.
The third goal is to drive an exemplary culture of inclusion, agility and delivery to build the power of Sandians. “We have awesome people and need to unleash their potential through a great culture, inclusion and diversity, better processes and less bureaucracy,” Cally said. “We won’t reach our objective without Sandia being a great place to work that attracts and retains the best people.”
The fourth goal is to transform the user experience by adopting best practices and modernizing operations. “This addresses what it’s like to do work at Sandia,” Cally said. “We can’t change the way we work and move quickly if processes are slow and systems and operations aren’t efficient.”
Crucial steps to success
The nitty-gritty work toward achieving the goals and, ultimately, the objective is in the FY22 milestones. These are measurable yearly steps outlined by the Senior Leadership Team that are crucial to achieving the goals and include such areas as benefits and compensation, risk-taking, product realization, modeling and simulation, information technology and community engagement.
Each member, including James, is the champion of a particular milestone and works on tasks with directors and staff members. Teams report back at the Quarterly Strategic Review, when progress is recorded and adjustments made. So far, $2.5 million has been budgeted to achieve FY22 milestones.
James said the objective, goals and milestones apply to every Sandian. “No matter which organization you represent, we want you to bring ideas and innovation to your work to achieve our shared goals,” he said. “We need innovation from HR, finance, facilities, science, engineering — from everywhere in the Labs — to improve how we deliver on mission and to make Sandia an even better place to work. Think about how you can contribute to this 10-year vision. Strategy touches us all, and we move toward this future together. In everything we do we must keep an eye on the horizon and take the Labs closer to the tomorrow we envision.”