How Captain Kangaroo Is Changing Defense Procurement

October 5, 2012
By Rita Boland

Passion and childhood inspiration are driving the chief information officer of JIEDDO to alter acquisitions through his innovation engine.

Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo in 1970

Jim Craft has been the CIO and deputy director information enterprise management at the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) since March, bringing with him a passion for the mission and an energy to start making changes. Through what he dubs the "innovation engine," he is working to enhance rapid acquisitions by facilitating self-forming networks of people across government, industry and academia. You can read the ins and outs of the initiative in my article, "A Different Type of Self-Forming Network."

Craft's drive in this effort is tremendous and has roots in one of his favorite childhood television shows, Captain Kangaroo. From the program, he heard the story of stone soup, a folk tale that takes different forms, all focused on the benefits of cooperation, especially in times of scarce resources. "It made an incredible impact on me," Craft explains. "That's part of what the innovation engine is all about." In his previous roles in government and industry, Craft discovered that when applied, the lesson can create powerful results.

Now, the same idea is being put to use to defeat IEDs—the number-one cause of casualties in Afghanistan and a worldwide problem—and to improve information technology. JIEDDO is an agile organization by nature, and Craft's bosses have given him freedom to take risks. "I'm pretty pumped about it," he states. Craft is using that liberty to look downrange at how to help warfighters, eager to embrace processes and technologies that work well or that can be refined to fill needs. "What I'm doing matters," he explains. Recognizing the need for bureaucracy in certain situations, he criticizes any use of rules and regulations that gets in the way of saving lives.

And like his plan and Captain Kangaroo's story, he is enthusiastic about working with others who want to make a difference as much as he does. He explains that working with a lot of people who are passionate about the mission makes him more passionate, too.


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I believe that this is very similar to the story that the Captain told,

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