(former Automotive Component Industry CEO & Chairman, past Australian Government Rail Manufacturing Industry -Supplier Advocate )
DRAIN THE DEFENCE SWAMP
A Blueprint for Weapons Acquisition Reform
How to FIX every Product Development to be more Affordable, Producible and Problem-Free
Author: Gary D. Stewart
WRITING STYLE: 4.5/5
Wow! I found this to be a most compelling book to read and a powerful thought-provoking page-turner.
While the main title gives off obvious negative tones in fact this is a very positive book to read.
This is a very bluntly written book that brutally and unflinchingly reviews Australia’s current and past performance failures at product development in terms of Defence Weapons programs. Gary Stewart’s brutal dismantling of every excuse used by Defence to justify their equipment acquisition failures is quite riveting to read.
For some readers this book will be very controversial, as it was for me, as I am a strong believer that Australia needs to continue to develop a strong and efficient Defence Manufacturing Industry. It made me think twice about writing a review, but the book is absolutely inspiring and persuasive for those looking for solutions, it will not disappoint. The book includes facts and new information that I was not aware of and includes many interesting anecdotes and stories. The writing style makes it easy to read – and hard to put down. This is clearly a book written by a passionate expert in this field
Given almost 50 years of Australian manufacturing industry background I was most interested in any inputs that will lead to a resurgence of best practice Global manufacturing in Australia.
Without giving the story away, Gary Stewart describes the problem as one of a form of organisational incompetence that has evolved over an extensive period. Industry continues to scramble to resolve these problems but never resolves the issues. Mistakes are repeated time and time again.
Gary walks us step-by-step through real life examples of those failures, explaining as he goes why and how they happen, and explains in simple terms precisely why the well documented cost and time blowouts are unavoidable using current processes.
The enormous amounts of ‘taxpayer gold’ that is wasted is truly astounding and disturbing, a concern that Gary tries to address with sound recommendations.
The chapters on affordability and cost reduction were eye-opening. I’ve never seen it explained so clearly and thoroughly. Initially it’s hard to believe the scope of cost reductions described as possible. But Gary’s explanations and examples of 30-50% cost reductions will change your mind.
I was troubled by Gary’s metaphor – “For far too long now Defence has been selling us ‘square wheels’ – and telling us they will eventually make them round. The time to deal with these issues is now given Australia will need to rebuild Manufacturing as an outcome of Covid-19 pandemic and the massive effect on our country’s productivity and opportunities globally.
The time for disruption is now. And disruption he delivers. In spades.
The reform chapters methodically lay out a persuasive blueprint for how to shift away from dysfunctional product developments to a new world’s best practice method that for some will be challenging but for most readers will just make total sense. Complexity is made simple. Excellence is made simple.
Gary walks us step-by-step through the solutions in an easy to understand conversation style.
For me this was a significant moment when the promise in the book came together. After forcefully describing the big problem (the swamp) then persuasively describing a solution that will solve that big problem.
Gary shares his knowledge, understanding and experience in a quite eloquent and masterful book that can enrich readers’ lives and careers in many ways.
Gary concludes the book with; “Success is about creating and establishing Superior SYSTEMS for Weapons Acquisition programs. Those Superior (product development) SYSTEMS then deliver much needed better cost and performance outcomes. Those Superior SYSTEMS enable the Weapons Acquisition Swamp to be drained”.
There are many good lessons to be discovered in this book for both Defence and general industry and I believe that everyone in business leadership and engineering should read this book.
Don’t pass this book by; it’s well-worth your time to read. Highly recommended.