Part I: DARPA, The Valley of Death and Answering the Crucial Project Questions Upfront

We continue our effort to underscore certain patterns and themes found throughout the OODAcast library of 100 conversations with leaders and decision-makers, on topics such as leadership, empowering a team, the qualities and best practices of a true leader, innovation, exponential technologies, and strategic action.

In July of 2021, OODA CTO Bob Gourley spoke with Dr. Tony Tether.  Dr. Tether was the Director of DARPA, from 2001 to 2009. Dr. Tether shares some of his formative experiences and the importance of quickly assessing challenges (an approach very consistent with the famous “Heilmeier Catechism).”

In April of 2021, Bob spoke with Dr. Lisa J. Porter. Porter has a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford and eventually joined DARPA as a program manager. From 2018 to 2020, Dr. Porter was the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In this conversation, Porter elaborates on how Heilmeier’s decision-making framework was vital to the success of DARPA.