Innovation with Purpose
Remarks by CEO and President Marillyn A. Hewson
Lockheed Martin Fellows Conference
Fort Worth, Texas, June 18, 2013
Seventy years ago, Kelly Johnson – one of the greatest engineering minds of the 20th century – founded the Skunk Works. When you think of the Skunk Works, you think of innovation, and that’s what I’d like to discuss today.
Innovation defined our company’s first 100 years and will chart the course for our next century. Today, I’d like to address the important role innovation will play in our future and the steps we all need to take to carry forward our proud legacy.
Back in 1943, Kelly Johnson’s first project with the Skunk Works was the P-80 Shooting Star, America’s first operational jet fighter. It went from concept to test flight in just 143 days. Simply amazing.
If you know anything about Kelly, you know he was all about speed. His airplanes moved fast and were developed even faster. The secret to his success, though, was not just raw velocity – it was velocity with direction. He always kept his eye on the end goal. And, as fast as his team moved, he always knew where they were headed. More often than not, they were moving fast because national security itself was on the line. It wasn’t just innovation that powered the Skunk Works; it was purpose. Velocity with direction, and innovation with purpose.
Those ideals turned the Skunk Works into a national treasure and are the same principles that guide Lockheed Martin today. The marriage of innovation and purpose has always resulted in amazing breakthroughs for our customers. It’s innovation with purpose that drives us. And I need your help to ensure it continues to drive this company forward into our next 100 years.
I want to focus on that thought today. First, I’ll share a little bit about the landscape we’re facing. The world is a dynamic place. Security risks continue to evolve. North Korea and Iran are not backing down from pursuing nuclear capabilities. The DoD is shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific region. Terrorism is still a major threat. And unrest continues to plague the nations in the Middle East. Cyber security is rapidly becoming one of our most pressing issues as enemies seek to invade our networks and steal our data.
At the same time, the world needs new ways of thinking about how to address major issues like sustainability, healthcare, climate change. Our domestic and international customers alike have difficult decisions to make about balancing their growing needs with declining budgets.
In this challenging environment, we at Lockheed Martin want to be the company that governments around the world count on to solve their toughest issues on a global scale.
That’s our vision. That vision begins with our values: Do What’s Right, Respect Others and Perform with Excellence.
Our customers know that our people are wholly dedicated to the highest standards of ethics, integrity and performance. That commitment is part of our DNA. Building on those values, we have a solid strategy designed to capitalize on our strong portfolio and to position us in new markets.
Our strategy is focused around two core principles. First, we must secure our existing business through performance and innovation. And second, we will grow sustainably through smart entries into international and adjacent markets.
Let’s talk about securing the business for a moment. Just recently, escalating threats from North Korea spurred the U.S. to strengthen the defensive posture in the region. When the Department of Defense needed a show of strength, I’m proud to say our products answered the call. Aegis is patrolling the Sea of Japan. THAAD was deployed to Guam. F-22s are positioned in South Korea. And the Littoral Combat Ship is on a tour of duty in Southeast Asia. What better proof is there that our technologies are making a difference? That’s performance, and that’s how you secure business.
The second piece of our strategy is growing sustainably. You’re helping Lockheed Martin take the lead in an impressive array of fields – from our traditional areas of aeronautics, missile defense, modeling and simulation, sustainment, and information technology – to emerging fields like advanced fluid dynamics, applied physics, meta materials, and more. The possibilities are truly amazing.
I want to say thank you for all your incredible work. You’re addressing direct and immediate needs, and you’re doing it in a way that’s relevant and affordable for our customers. That’s purpose. And it’s why we come to work every day.
When I think about that idea of velocity with direction and innovation with purpose, there are three things I believe we need to focus on. The first is the importance of evolving our current products to keep up with the changing world. Even in just the last few years the landscape has changed dramatically for our customers. They’re counting on us to stay ahead of that change and to keep our technology adaptable and relevant to tomorrow’s priorities.
We’ve demonstrated the ability to do that time after time. Think about it. The F-35, the world’s most advanced 5th Generation fighter. The idea of creating one platform and one production line to produce three variants of the same aircraft for nine partner nations is incredibly ambitious. There aren’t many who could pull it off. And yet, thanks to the innovative thinking in areas like design, processes, manufacturing and sustainment, we’re making it a reality.
Aegis is another great example. The Aegis program began 44 years ago as an advanced sea-based radar and missile defense system. Since then, our people have worked relentlessly to evolve Aegis to keep up with the rapidly-changing missions. And when the Missile Defense Agency wanted to stage those same capabilities in Europe, the team didn’t reinvent the wheel. They came up with “Aegis Ashore,” the same sea-based Aegis system for use on dry land. They even re-packaged the system on aluminum skids for transport in shipping containers so it could be taken apart, shipped overseas, and reassembled in Romania. These are the kinds of connections we must continue to make between our technologies and our customers’ priorities.
The second thing I’d like to ask you to think about is innovating for affordability. Help us identify ways to do things more efficiently while maintaining the strong performance our customers need.
The Orion program is a good example. The technology in this vehicle is not just awesome, it’s affordable. That’s because our Space Systems team worked shoulder-to-shoulder with NASA to find ways to reduce costs. So far we’ve saved more than a billion dollars on this program through innovative processes like using more simulation to optimize production, simplifying reporting and oversight requirements, and reducing the number of test flights required for the development and demonstration of the spacecraft.
Finally, I need you to focus on pursuing the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Many of the global challenges ahead of us can’t wait to be addressed in 10, 15 or 20 years. We have to work now to address problems like diminishing natural resources, climate change, energy management and security threats that loom on the horizon.
Game-changing breakthroughs have been a calling card for Lockheed Martin for decades, and we need to step up and change the game once again. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, or OTEC, is a great example because it’s quickly maturing from a technology investment to a viable business. The potential to create clean and unlimited energy capable of powering small cities has enormous implications.
I also think there’s a tremendous future for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. We began investing in these next-generation technologies six years ago. As a result, today we’re at the leading edge of a revolution in 21st-century materials.
With advanced materials we can improve the size, weight, power and performance of systems, and at the same time increase affordability. For example, we’ve introduced carbon nano-structure infused fibers on the Juno spacecraft to protect against electromagnetic interference. We’re designing advanced nano-composites on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter wingtips to reduce costs and drive efficiency.
With carbon nano-structures, electric vehicles will drive and charge faster. The body armor that protects our warfighters will be stronger and lighter. Aircraft will have better protection against lightning strikes. These examples are proof that you’re constantly thinking about the pressing issues of today and tomorrow and coming up with incredibly innovative solutions. That’s innovating with purpose!
I’d like to end with a final thought about innovation. Our customers depend on us to deliver the technology that helps defend global security. They depend on us to provide solutions that make life better for people around the world. They depend on us to help explore the far reaches of the universe and expand the boundaries of human knowledge.
So I ask you– as you innovate, make it affordable innovation. Help us to be responsive and forward-looking for our customers today. And, help us invest in the game-changing technology that they’ll need for tomorrow.
Let’s go back to Kelly Johnson and the team that created today’s Skunk Works. They set up a circus tent behind the Lockheed Burbank facility so they could operate in secret. And they went to work on the P-80. They had just 180 days to deliver it – an impossible deadline – and they beat that deadline by over a month.
That set off a string of technological marvels that defined the term “game changer.” Legendary aircraft like the U-2, the SR-71 and the F-117. Each of these aircraft was special because it delivered the perfect technological answer to a critical and immediate need. Each one played a key role in defending national security – and in shaping the course of history itself. That’s what happens when velocity meets direction, and innovation meets purpose.
Now, seven decades later, Kelly Johnson’s innovative spirit lives on. It lives on in each of you – every time you envision the future, every time you ask “what if,” every time you stand up to an impossible challenge and say, “Let’s get to work.”
Thank you for everything you do for this company and our customers. I’m proud to work with you and value the impact you’re making on our future.
You’re carrying on a 100-year legacy of fearless innovation. You’re driving progress on some of humanity’s biggest challenges. And you’re charting the course of our next 100 years– a future of velocity with direction, and innovation with purpose.
Thank you very much.
Chief Executive Officer and President Marillyn A. Hewson