CEO Perspective: Leading Through 2020 into the Networked Future

June marks one year since Jim Taiclet took over as Lockheed Martin president and CEO. We met up with him to hear about his first year and his vision for the future.


Q: As we adjust to the new normal, many of us are reflecting on what the 2020 year was like, not only for ourselves as individuals, but for our local communities, the nation and globally. What reflections do you have on the past year?

A: The past year has been, actually, awe-inspiring. We kept our company going through the entire pandemic period. We delivered for our customers. We helped our towns and cities, our neighbors, by making and distributing PPE. We supported our suppliers through accelerating payments on a weekly basis. And at the same time, we all took care of each other and made sure that we were medically and physically doing everything right to stay safe. So I’m really proud of all of our team members who were able to soldier on through the pandemic and deliver for our customers while staying safe and also helping our communities.

Q: That’s a lot to be proud of. With such a difficult year behind us, let’s talk about the future. What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year?

A: I’m most looking forward to advancing our strategy. I believe that by shifting from a platform-centric model to a network-centric one, we’ll transform not only the way we do business, but – I hope – how the defense industry serves its customers. Our company is uniquely positioned to make this happen.

Q: Can you dive deeper into that? What are the benefits of network-centric design?

A: Military assets of the 21st Century perform best together. In a platformed model, tools are siloed. We’re advancing our solutions by forging connected – or, networked – capabilities. We leverage advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable our warfighters to make data-driven decisions quickly, efficiently and effectively. Everything we do is driven by our commitment to deliver on our customers’ critical missions and to protect what matters most.

As we lead this effort and position ourselves as the global leader in networking solutions for our customers, we’re enabling America’s warfighters and allied militaries to defend the world better and more efficiently. We will continue to innovate. Innovation is at the heart of all we do. We plan to innovate within the scientific disciplines we’re great at, but also in new and different ways, by working with companies outside of the defense industrial base, where we can accelerate 21st Century technologies even more quickly. I also believe there’s a lot of opportunity for, not only us but the whole defense enterprise, to run more efficiently together. This will enable us to deliver our products and services more effectively and economically to our customers.

Q: What are some of the challenges and opportunities facing the corporation as you look to this future?

A: First, we need to continue to be safe and take care of one another as we bring our employees back to the workplace and adjust to the new normal.

I think our position as a platform leader allows us – and enables us – to be the leader in driving to a network-centric strategy for the defense industry. We’re uniquely positioned for that, and it’s a huge opportunity.

When we embark on this strategy for the connected capabilities of 21st Century Warfare, it won’t be with only our U.S. customers. We look forward to extending these capabilities to our international customers and allies as well.

Q: With all these opportunities, we’re looking at a lot of change. How can leaders and team members adopt a growth mindset to navigate change and embrace transformation?

A: We encourage all our team members – from manufacturers to developers to leaders – to embrace a growth mindset. We need to build on our track record of excellence, the greatness we have. Then we need to take it further. That is the growth mindset. ‘How do we take what we have, the great position we have – as individuals, as work teams, as an organization, as business areas and functions, and finally as a corporation – and push it forward?’ I think if everyone thinks in those terms, we’ll be an institution in the defense industry that excels. We’ll get even better at what we’re great at already and we’ll grow into spaces where our customers need us to, like artificial intelligence, hypersonics, directed energy, distributed computing, and networking

That’s our growth mindset.