Three organizations critical to the Army's Next Generation Ground Combat Vehicle modernization priority have won an award for a workforce development initiative that brought a new strategic outlook and talent management practices to the ground vehicle enterprise on Detroit Arsenal.

U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combined Service Support, and Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems, dubbed Team Detroit Arsenal, recently received the 2020 Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award/large organization category.

Team Detroit Arsenal captures 2020 Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A team of more than 120 engineers participated in the 2019 Collaboration Summit, which was held over two days. The summit was one of the events hosted by Team Detroit Arsenal that focused on increasing collaboration and building trust. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Team Detroit Arsenal captures 2020 Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Small teams participated in workshops at the 2019 Collaboration Summit, which leveraged Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle (Discover, Dream, Design and Deploy) and SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results). The 2020 Strategic Capabilities Design Summit was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
“The award reflects the team’s exceptional outside-the-box thinking, which they used to tackle numerous workforce development challenges. These are the kinds of talent management initiatives we need to achieve Army modernization while also developing our teams to support Soldier-centered design as we build capabilities for 2035 and beyond. The three organizations, which have been partners for many years, fostered a collaborative work environment built on leadership, trust and a shared purpose,” said Maj. Gen. John George, DEVCOM commanding general.

All three organizations are located on the Detroit Arsenal in Michigan. Their success was based on a strength-based, whole-system change approach that focused on intensive collaboration through several joint activities, workforce development initiatives and integrated capability groups.

The team also hosted workshops designed to create a culture of collaboration and trust. The team partnered with academia to leverage expertise in the field of whole systems change, using Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle (Discover, Dream, Design and Deploy) and SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) framework to create a strategy that inspires innovation and engagement. Appreciative Inquiry seeks to uncover the best of people and organizations, allows people to dream about the positive future for themselves and their organizations, and gives people and organizations tools to design and deploy specific initiatives to reach those dreams. SOAR is a positive approach to strategic thinking, planning and leading that allows anyone at any level in an organization to create strategy and strategic plans through conversations, collaboration and a commitment to action.

“Using SOAR-based questions enabled strategic conversations that ensure our team has the confidence, knowledge and capabilities to plan and act in ways that align with the organization’s values, vision, mission, goals, strategies and action plans,” said Keith Schweizer, DEVCOM GVSC associate director program engineering.

During the workshops, the team identified a need for test engineers for the next two years with a gradual tail off of that need. The community now has an opportunity to create collaborative and innovative approaches to meet the challenge without blindly hiring 30 test engineers only to have an excess two years later.

In addition to the workshops, Team Detroit Arsenal also held two summits and several satellite activities in 2019 and 2020.

One of the key outcomes of the 2019 Collaboration Summit was a Strategic Collaboration Steering Group, consisting of leaders from all three organizations across the Ground Vehicle Enterprise. The SCSG, which included 1,500 technical and engineering professionals from various programs and functional areas, prioritized opportunities to work together; created a functional level SOAR from a capability view; and produced data for the strategic collaboration framework.

The main outcomes of the 2020 Capabilities Design Summit include: identifying capability groups; defining capability mission and operating procedures; prioritizing initiatives for the strategic framework; and providing communication and collaboration training tools.

The three organizations within Team Detroit Arsenal have distinct, yet overlapping missions, and they serve two commands – U.S. Army Futures Command and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Together, the team overcame several challenges by empowering employees to work outside of traditional hierarchy.

“This was several years of work that continues today. This effort is not only scalable, but also repeatable, so we are studying how to make it more repeatable for various other organizations,” Schweizer said.

The Defense Acquisition Workforce is composed of 181,000 civilian and military professionals from the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of the Air Force, Defense Agencies, and Field Activities. The acquisition workforce delivers products and services to the Warfighter that are affordable and at the speed of relevance.