A CEO's Dilemma | Federal Compass

A CEO's Dilemma


For those in our audience who own or hold the top position within a government contractor, think about the following statement. When you’re in the boardroom, do you have the information you need for accountability and transparency? If you own a smaller company, you might be forced into the fray and have intimate knowledge of your business. For those managing more substantial companies, fire drills and meetings consume your day and prevent you from acquiring the necessary visibility. From carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders to feeling like they are alone on an island; company owners and CEOs face unique challenges that require the right information. Do you have the decision intelligence you need to navigate through the tough choices?

If you’re operating without critical intelligence, there is a way to find the clarity you need--beyond just using the System for Award Management


I’ve spent enough time in boardrooms to know that look when I see it. Someone or multiple people are talking, and the CEO realizes they should have worn boots to the meeting. Because it is starting to pile up pretty quickly. They lack the information to call out the offender, but there is no doubt that they desperately want to pull the bull---- card.

Often this frustration is a symptom of a significant conflict of interest that CEOs commonly encounter. Presentations, reports, and information created within the company get reviewed by the people sitting around the table. Once they have given their stamp of approval, it finally lands on the CEO’s desk. This flow of information places the person at the head of the table at an immediate disadvantage. All of the data driving a meeting was vulnerable to someone’s spin. An outside perspective that offers the necessary situational awareness, free of potential manipulation, is a CEO’s best friend in these situations.

Customer strategies

Feedback and advice on customers are areas fraught with potential bias. It is human nature to avoid straying from your comfort zone, and that has the potential to quickly contaminant conversations. Let’s say Bob is one of your business developers, and Bob knows DISA, has been doing business with them his entire career. How interested will Bob be to get put on the hook for a DARPA job? He doesn’t know anyone, his connections have no value there, and it would make sense that he might advocate pushing on that particular pursuit. However, is that opinion in the best interest of the company or Bob? As CEO, you’re concerned with growth, and that requires a persistent focus on market share and customer expansion.

When you’re relying on information to make decisions about your customers, you need assurance that there is no bias present. Understanding your market share within each customer positions you to challenge your team and shape customer-specific conversations. Access to unfiltered analysis of addressable, adjacent and new markets removes the dependency that you have on others for decision intelligence. With transparency, you have the insights you need to ask the right questions and hold your team accountable for executing customer-centric strategies.

Pipeline chaos

What is in the pipeline is not the right question. Why it’s in the pipeline is what you need to know. What will this win do for the company, how will we leverage it, and which strategic goals does this win support? Pipeline arithmetic has further complicated the issue. Achieving your target revenue requires a pipeline 10, 20, or 30 times that number. That might encourage your team to remove all criteria as a means to inflate the pipeline and reach an arbitrary dollar amount. Of course, bluebirds and unexpectedly attractive opportunities are a part of the equation, but they shouldn’t be the rule.

It is a ridiculous assumption to think that a CEO should be capable of reviewing the entire pipeline. What is entirely plausible is asking how many opportunities grow market share, satisfy customer expansion strategies or help bring a new offering to the market. By creating actionable, strategic goals you develop anchor points that enable accountability.

Leverage previous investments

Incentives are a tricky thing for most companies. They are a great tool to encourage the right behavior, but they often result in unintended consequences. If you’ve stood up a contract vehicle or GWAC PMO, then you’re headed in the right direction. Without centralizing that effort, do you know who is working your contract vehicles? Are you incentivizing new contract wins over leveraging current contracts?

Contract vehicles are not just a way to generate revenue. They represent powerful tools for executing on your strategy. Once again, this comes down to the right information. Who are the active customers on each contract vehicle? If your primary customers are showing up, and you’re not winning, what is the explanation? If you’re trying to expand into new customers, which of your contract vehicles offer that access? Managing your contract vehicles goes beyond the revenue to see the potential that exists under every contract. One highly leveraged contract vehicle is more valuable than a portfolio full of poorly managed IDIQ contracts.

The Author

Jim Sherwood Federal Compass
Jim Sherwood
Leading the revolution in federal market intelligence.

Federal Compass offers unique solutions for every member of your government contracting team.

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