Sandia LabNews

Charting a course that all can travel

Goals in Labs FY 23 Strategic Plan grew from year of asking ‘What do we need to become?’

Image of Strategy_1000x667
STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE — Sandia Labs Director James Peery, pictured here at a Rally Cry Q&A session in July, says of the 2023 Strategic Plan, “Strategy touches us all. … We must keep an eye on the horizon and take the Labs closer to the tomorrow we envision.” (Photo by Craig Fritz)


Sandians joke when they’re confused about team priorities or the Labs’ direction: “I know there’s a plan, but I don’t have a clue what it is.”

For years employee surveys have found that a top concern is a desire to know how what they do — day in and day out — really advances Sandia’s mission.

Well, there is a plan and there is a strategy, worked out by a dedicated team, Labs leadership and staff from throughout the Labs. They have asked that precise question: How can our individual organizations align our current and future work with a set of clear, Labswide goals?

This week the 2023 Strategic Plan rolled out with four goals and 14 annual, actionable milestones to help achieve those goals. It charts a course to put the Labs in the best position to anticipate and respond to emerging threats over the next decade and guides hiring plans and investments.

“We need innovation from everywhere across the Labs to improve how we deliver on mission and to make Sandia an even better place to work,” said Labs Director James Peery. “Strategy touches us all, and by thinking individually about how each of us can contribute to achieving our goals, we can 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.”

Work on the plan began a year ago with an assessment of the global environment and a survey of trends, aided by a panel of external experts. They sought to answer questions on critical future national security challenges and what Sandia must do to address them. The Senior Leadership Team then developed, reviewed and refined the four, five-year goals and committed to milestones that outline actions that will help achieve those goals.

By asking where Sandia is headed, the strategy team developed the target objective, an overarching goal that everyone at the Labs can work toward. The objective, “to unleash innovation and high-velocity engineering to counter global threats,” will help answer such big questions as “Where are we going?” and “What do we need to become?”

Goals for work and people

The first two of the fiscal year 2023 goals focus on improving the work Sandia does, and the other two aim to make advances for those who do that work. They are:

  1. Provide unmatched value to our sponsor, clients and Nuclear Security Enterprise partners that builds trust in our ability to counter global threats.
  2. Radically improve how we deliver the mission.
  3. Empower Sandians to optimize mission delivery and position Sandia as a premier employer of choice.
  4. Build a hybrid work environment for mission success.

“A wide variety of groups provided input at all stages of the yearlong effort to develop our FY 23 goals,” said executive strategy professional Cally Maloney, who, with executive strategy professional Kathy Robertson and graduate intern Deidra Soto, helped lead the planning. “Across the Labs, there was a concerted effort to ensure the goals would have a wide-ranging impact and that many different Sandia organizations would have a hand in meeting the milestones.”

Milestones for the first goal involve increasing employee awareness of Sandia’s unique role, understanding what hinders innovation and building on the Labs’ role as system integrator across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

Goal 2 milestones increase the use of digital engineering to speed delivery of hardware and software, improve supply chain resilience and project management execution and make electrical component development more consistent.

To empower the workforce, goal 3 milestones focus on hiring and the compensation program, redesigning performance management and ensuring the Labs’ organizational culture informs its strategic direction.

And goal 4 milestones enhance Information Technology infrastructure and services, demonstrate remote classified work and foster the transition to the hybrid workplace of the future.

A rigorous, quarterly reporting process tracks the progress Labs leaders and their organizations make in meeting those milestones, and identifies what other support they need to move initiatives toward accomplishing the goals. Those reviews will focus on challenges to progress and gathering information that leadership can use to make decisions that promote the goals.

Strategy an annual effort

Cally said strategic planning has been a vital element of Sandia’s success for decades. The Labs used to develop five-year plans and periodically make minor annual adjustments. Today, the dynamic global security environment and Sandia’s outsize role in national security demand a deliberate, Labswide effort to build a plan each year that offers high-level guidance to decision-makers across multiple disciplines and programs.

“The Labs has this reputation as an objective, trusted adviser because we draw from our deep technical experience to anticipate, innovate, create and inform the national security policy debate,” James said. “Getting our strategic plan right year after year is how we maintain and build on that reputation, whatever happens globally. We’ve seen that more than ever in the past year.”

Cally agreed and said, “The planning process this year was especially urgent and paid more attention to the speed of change, both in the world and in how the workforce — facing the pandemic, a hybrid work environment and hiring and retention challenges — has delivered on its mission requirements.”

Each division and program must determine through its own planning process what they need to do to succeed, and they’re encouraged to be as creative as possible in using the Labswide plan to work out the details. For an example, see the article: “‘A better place to work and serve our mission’.”

“What the individual organizations do in building their parts of the strategic plan expands the milestones into realistic, day-to-day actions that promote our target objective, the goals and milestones and the overall course charted in the plan,” Cally said.

Image of Strategy_chart_1000x580