I got the announcement a couple days ago that Vivek Kundra is joining Salesforce.com as executive vice president of emerging markets, and the invitation to be first to post a comment.
Mark Amtower beat me to it and he was right to the point: “Is Salesforce.com part of that “IT Cartel” that Vivek warned us about?”
It took me a few minutes to get my thoughts organized and then I was second and third with: Given his mixed acceptance by senior government leadership, I wonder how successful he will be in marketing back to the government.
I thought he would do his best innovation work at Harvard and not become aligned with a specific vendor.
Look at Mark Forman’s experience: he left government for Silicon Valley, returned to DC to consulting practice at KPMG, and then co-started a cloud computing company. Looks like Vivek Kundra was influenced by Marks Forman’s experience, but decided not to start his own cloud computing company but join the “most innovative company in the world that is pioneering social, mobile and open cloud computing technologies for the enterprise.”
It seems like they think they have left Google, Facebook, and a few others behind on this.
I should add that while Vivek Kundra is credited with adopting game-changing cloud computing technologies, strengthening the cybersecurity posture of the nation and launching an open government movement, I feel others (including myself) should be credited with actually implementing cloud computing and open government work, against great cultural opposition.
Adoption is important but implementation is even more important to improving government services and saving money and still has a long way to go so we need a federal CIO that can really make it happen and then we can praise him or her for that.
Mark Amtower made me feel good when he said: “Brand is right on target. Implementing these initiatives at the agency level can be a battle. It should also be pointed out that Brand was ‘Mr. Fed xml’ and pushed hard for that adoption as well. Thanks for your work, Brand, and your candid opinions.”
So now I am emboldened to say more: I think Vivek Kundra has missed the mark three straight times now: He started federal cloud computing but didn’t stay to implement it; he went to Harvard to foster global innovation and didn’t publish anything on that that I am aware of; and now he is at Salesforce.com trying to market cloud computing back to the government that isn’t ready to implement it.
I wrote recently about Gall’s Law which I think our government senior managers should follow during their often brief, but important tenures, by piloting new things, instead of starting yet another new program that hardly gets to real results before they are gone and/or the administration changes.
Gall’s Law says: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.” Gall’s Law is why prototypes and iteration work so well when creating value.
So why can’t Vivek Kundra and others in senior leadership positions just sit still awhile and follow Gall’s Law and create a simple cloud computing system that works? (I like the “Put Your EPA Desktop in the Cloud” idea that the Japanese METI has adopted myself, but of course I am partial to my own work).
Make it a requirement that they do that before they can announce a new program or jump to a new job and I think we would see better performance and outcomes for our taxpayer dollars. That’s my candid opinion again, Mark, and I am sticking to it!