Since its founding in 1995, Mercury Solutions, Inc. staff members have worked by guiding standards learned and passed down from one of the most successful test organizations in existence. These are the standards we demand of our team:
Three ingredients are essential to operating in an environment where you are minimally manned. There is, by definition, no institutional set of checks and balances to see that you were doing the job right….just yourself.
Force everyone to rise to the standards we’ve set. The opposite approach is how you create a bureaucracy - someone makes a mistake and then “the system” creates rules so nobody should ever make that mistake again. The net result is that you “punish the innocent”…everyone else now has new burdensome rules because one person made a mistake. Our approach is to point out the mistake to the person that made it and encourage them: “don’t do that again.” No one sets out to create a bureaucracy; it creeps up on you, onerous rule by onerous rule, until there’s a prohibition against everything; stagnation, inertia.
You must appreciate the fact that it’s not Performance and Flying Qualities or Avionics Testing that’s critical but Military Utility - it’s the combination of probability of arrival, tests of mission planning systems, probability of finding the target, probability of kill and weapons testing - we must realize that we are at the vanguard of this approach.
The real customer is not some person standing in front of you trying to save money or make “his/her” system look good, thinking short term. Our customer is a Second Lieutenant, fifteen years from now, that we will never meet - who is using the weapon system and succeeding at his/her mission because we did our job well. It’s about the warfighter…don’t ever forget that.
Contractors and Government: we are all in this together and so we must eliminate the adversarial relationships. While each of us could do the job without the other, each brings something to the table. The government must realize that the contractor is in business for profit and contractors must realize that the government is the oversight for the taxpayer.
By this I don’t mean the physical courage of taking risks, but rather a willingness to stand up to the outside world even when “someone won’t like it” or “we won’t get any support”. Sometimes you won’t get support. Don’t stop! Be sure you’re right and go ahead. Remember some of the themes of the plaques in the lobby. “Forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission,” “Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” and “Stupid rules are meant to be broken.”
This business is easy if everything goes right and according to plan – that never happens. Always be ready for the unexpected by asking the “what-if “questions.
Create a culture and an understanding that you’re not giving out data, you’re giving out information .In an arena where there are limited checks and balances, you have to devote the time and energy to make sure that information is the best it can be.
Second rate is never good enough – it’s what other people in our business settle for. Demand excellence of yourself and those around you, even if you have to put someone on the spot from time to time.
This has to be the most important principle. We all work harder than anyone else around – it’s our nature. We also spend a considerable amount of time on the road away from our families. Watch out for yourselves and each other. Don’t be afraid to come to me and say, “I need some time home”, or “So and so is really burned out – heads up.” I try to be aware and stay ahead of this, but I can’t do it all by myself. We have enough talented people that we can cover each other, so let’s stay happy and healthy.