Why Do Programs Fail? An Analysis of Defense Program Manager Decision-Making in Complex and Chaotic Program Environments: Impacted by Process, Control, Relationships, Motive, and Risk

This late 2018 report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This research attempts to understand potential root causes and underlying factors that influence defense acquisition program managers’ decision-making. Using qualitative data gathered through in-person interviews and through review of multiple case studies as a research design, this project focuses on how program managers gain insight in the decision-making process. Results indicate that program manager decision-making is impacted by process, control, relationships, motive, and risk. Analysis of findings suggests that defense acquisition oversight and policies create an environment of risk avoidance, causing program managers to utilize interpersonal methods of management and decision-making as a method of control within their sphere of influence. Additional research into decision-making methodology of program managers during critical program milestones is warranted for a more thorough analysis.

This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

I. Introduction * A. Background * B. Problem Statement * C. Purpose Statement * D. Scope * E. Method * II. Literature Review * A. Decision-Making * B. Sensemaking * 1. Klein, Moon, and Hoffman * 2. Weick: Organizational Approach * 3. Thiel, Bagdasarov, Harkrider, Johnson, and Mumford: Ethical Decision-Making * C. Naturalistic Decision-Making * 1. Militello: Naturalistic Decision-Making and Macro Cognition * 2. Klein: A Naturalistic Decision-Making Perspective on Studying Intuitive Decision-Making * D. Trust * 1. Sun: The Decision-Making Dilemma * 2. Stamp: Trust and Judgment in Decision-Making * 3. Hurley: Culture Setting * E. Organizational Decision-Making * 1. Proveda-Bautista et al.: Analysis of Decision-Making Models for Project Management * 2. Kim and Mauborgne: Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy * F. Chapter Summary * III. Data * A. Chapter Overview * B. Code Method * C. Categories * 1. Motive * 2. Culture * 3. Process * 4. Relationships * 5. Risk * D. Findings * 1. Interview Summary—Subject A * 2. Interview Summary—Subject B * E. Chapter Summary * IV. Analysis * A. Chapter Overview * B. Analysis Of Findings * C. Hypothesis and Theory * D. Chapter Summary * V. Conclusion * A. Summary of Research * B. Recommendation

With an annual $100 billion Department of Defense (DoD) procurement budget, the stakes are high for program managers (PMs) to adequately navigate the defense acquisition process. Defense acquisitions delivers the latest, most technically advanced warfighting capability through a complex, multi-layer process that delicately balances budget restrictions (cost), product delivery timelines (schedule), and required operational capability (performance). Changes to any one of these variables (cost, schedule, or performance) affects the others, and it is the responsibility of DoD PMs to orchestrate these trade-offs. Add to that balance different external complexities—such as unclear priorities, new threats, budget constraints, new or changing technology, regulatory and statutory requirements, layers of oversight, federal contracting regulations, changing requirements, organizational culture, personal bias, leadership priorities, and federal policy objectives— and the PM decision-making environment becomes quite complicated.

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