Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fulfilling our vital purpose

A message to all Sandians from Labs Director Stephen Younger

Stephen Younger

Labs Director Stephen Younger

On behalf of the entire Senior Leadership Team, I would like to say how excited we are to join the extraordinary tradition of “exceptional service in the national interest” at Sandia National Laboratories. This is an extraordinary place with extraordinary people. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing more about initiatives to reduce bureaucracy and streamline processes. Sandia has always been among the best run national laboratories. Our goal is to bring proven business practices that will improve our efficiency and our contributions to national security. In the meantime, I would like to share some general thoughts on our approach to management and operations.

Rather than Mission and Vision Statements, I put great stock in Purpose Statements. Instead of focusing on capabilities, or what we want to be as an institution or how we want others to see us, I like to emphasize what we do. The Purpose Statement that I wrote for the Laboratories is: Sandia develops advanced technologies to ensure global peace. There is no mission more important than giving millions if not billions of people the opportunity to live peaceful and productive lives. All Sandians can be proud of the work they do in support of this mission.

"Sandia develops advanced technologies to ensure global peace."

Everyone at the Laboratories should take a moment to understand their role in carrying out this vital purpose. If you are designing a new sensor, working on a nuclear weapon life extension program, or analyzing potential threats to our nation, you may see the results of your work in a direct way. However, achieving our purpose requires the talents and energies of all Sandians. If you are ordering a large piece of plastic for an experiment on Z, you are not just procuring a part in a compliant manner — you are enabling an experiment to explore the behavior of material at conditions similar to those found in an operating nuclear weapon. If you are maintaining an older facility, you are not just fixing things. You are enabling the manufacture of components in our nation’s nuclear deterrent. Neither the experiment nor the components would happen without you.

Nothing happens at the Laboratories without teamwork. Engineers cannot design things without tools, fabricators cannot make things without materials, and no one can do anything without a place to do it and resources to support the work. When you come to work in the morning, remind yourself of what you do and how your work fits into the bigger picture.

Working in a large organization can, at times, be frustrating. Rules and regulations, each created for some specific reason, tend to proliferate until they become a bureaucracy unto themselves. That’s why it’s important to do some occasional housekeeping, to put things in their proper place so that they are easier to find and easier to use. Over the coming months, you will be hearing a lot about the Laboratory Operating System. There is nothing magic about the LOS — it is just a systematic way of renewing policies and procedures to make them more user friendly. Having a safe, secure, efficient, and effective system for performing work sets the foundation for greater technical productivity, and makes the world safer as a result.

We are privileged to be part of a truly noble cause — ensuring peace around the globe. Few people get to have such a purpose, and even fewer people work under the expectation of “exceptional service in the national interest.” Take a moment to be proud of Sandia and of your individual role in the Laboratories’ success. But pause only for a moment — we haven’t a moment to lose in fulfilling our vital purpose.