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Blockchain 6 of 7 : Collaborate to Innovate


Last year, I had the privilege to moderated many of the GSA IT Contractor Collaboration Event(s) known as the C2E. Working with GSA’s IT leaders, the C2E brings the entire GSA IT contract landscape together to discuss and plan how we can better serve the agency. GSA OCIO Senior Leadership were always briefed on topics of discussion.  After an event, we provided recommendations from the forum with respect to new technologies and technical standards within the GSA IT practice.  GSA’s IT landscape spans the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and Public Building Service (PBS).  In addition, GSA’s regional centric applications are supported by regional tech. Contractors supporting GSA IT assets include virtually every large business inside the beltway and dozens of small businesses.  Managing partiality and behavior in these events was accomplished with three simple rules.

1)   Each industry partner was given the opportunity to host an event in one of their locations, providing refreshments, sandwiches and, my favorite, pizza.  We showed no partiality and every vendor enjoyed the opportunity to host. 

2)   Behavior was managed by ensuring that no government personnel attended an event.  Although not intentional, behavior in the room will change when the customer is present and participating.  In our highly competitive industry, there is fear in transparency. We want to remove anything that might hinder genuine queries and sincere responses.

3)   The third rule to the engagement was simply “No Business Development”.  This was not to be an opportunity to gather intelligence on a competitor.  Minimizing the events during any large competitive cycle helped support this objective.

We were sensitive to and mitigated any threat to open collaboration.

Honestly, the first C2E was like a junior high school dance.  GSA’s brightest IT support staff, all in a single room; everyone seated with their colleagues, afraid to ask someone to dance and equally afraid to be asked. A few of us started asking open ended questions to stimulate discussion and by the end of the evening, people were exchanging information, friendly and open. As the C2E matured, GSA IT Sr. Leadership would give us topics and we would exhaust them in forum and report the results. The C2E’s were an extremely positive experience for everyone and we always looked forward to the next “dance”. 

Collaboration is the CornerStone to Innovation.  All puns intended :-) !  All disciplines across the landscape are vital.  Who knows, I may find that a portfolio has deployed consensus engines throughout the enterprise in support of their specific business line.   If I’m wise, I’ll leverage a solution that is already in place and capable to support my mission. 

If I’m going to champion transformation, I will need to learn to be impartial and collaborate!

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