How Lockheed Martin is overhauling its GEOINT business
Lockheed Martin’s Sharon Watts believes strongly in what she calls “the innovation shout-out.”
“You don’t just innovate on Tuesdays,” Watts said. “Innovation just happens. You need to be in an environment where you can go run and tell somebody your idea.”
This is exactly the type of culture Watts is striving to promote in her new role as vice president of Lockheed’s GeoVision line of business. GeoVision was stood up this year as part of an overall effort to re-organize and re-name Lockheed’s Spatial Solutions line of business, in order to better reflect changing customer needs for more agile, affordable, and mobile technologies, according to Watts.
“We had been developing large scale products for the government,” she said. “It was time that we took those large scale software development products and broke them down to provide more innovative, mobile solutions to our customers.”
Watts, who has been with Lockheed for more than 22 years, said the decision to transform the business unit reflects the ways in which the GEOINT Community has transformed over the past decade. She drew inspiration not only from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) when determining how to restructure the business, but she also looked at the goals of all of NGA’s mission partners. She found agility, mobility, and the ability to get the data quickly to end users tasked with making decisions to be among the top priorities. GeoVision is in the process of aligning to meet these needs.
“The culture is the hardest and the most important thing to change,” Watts said.
In addition to promoting an environment that supports the kind of collaboration and creative thinking that yields “innovation shout-outs,” GeoVision is altering culture through initiatives such as town hall meetings, brown bag lunches, and voice of the employee 1-to-1 sessions. Watts said leadership also plays a key role in helping people feel like they can open up with their thoughts and ideasâ€”an effort she and her peers are focused heavily on.
Changing the role of technology in the customer workplace is essential as well.
“At home, we get everything we want quickly,” Watts said. “It’s mobile, on-demand, speed, relevancy, and we want that at work. It’s more of a challenge to get it at work, but it’s critically important that we do that, and create an environment that also gets that technology to the end user.” >Watts said she believes working with small businesses is an essential element in achieving these goals. It’s amazing how quickly small business can turn around these innovative ideas and solutions that large companies frankly just can’t,” she said. “We both provide an amazing service and we’ve got to make sure that we partner and bring the best to bear as teams.”
Lockheed also engages in mentorship with small businesses in its global supply chain, by helping small companies better understand how to work with the government, win business, and grow.
In addition to partnering with small businesses, Watts is passionate about collaborating with other large defense contractors through working groups to bring better solutions and savings to the government.
“We get up every day because we believe in their mission, values, and vision,” Watts said. “Together, we’ve got the depth and breadth that can provide the government better ways of doing business.”
Watts said Lockheed’s participation in the USGIF as a strategic partner member has helped GeoVision reinvent itself through sharing knowledge and experiences. But most important, she said, is the network.
That network is so critical that USGIF helps create,” Watts said. “It’s the most important thing because that helps you reach out to your industry partners.”
GeoVision is about halfway through this evolutionary process of determining how to take the infrastructure it already has in place for customers, and break it down to become more portable and agile, according to Watts.
“A year from now, I’d like to be where all of that naturally comes to us, and the culture has completely caught on,” she said. “I’m not foolish enough to think that culture turns overnight—that’s what technology does.”