Tom Burbage: F-35
Tom Burbage retired from the Lockheed Martin Corporation in 2013. He was the President of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company and the Executive VP/GM for both the USAF F-22 Raptor and the multi-service, allied next generation fighter, the F-35. Prior to joining Lockheed, Tom was a Naval Aviator, completing the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1975. He has accumulated more than 3,000 hours in 38 different types of military aircraft. As a reservist he retired as a Navy Captain in 1994.
Tom has received numerous industry awards, including the U.S. Naval Academy/Harvard Business Review Award for Ethical Leadership; the Aerospace Industry Personality of the Year; the Society of Automotive Engineers Leadership in Aerospace Award; and many others. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in the United Kingdom. He is co-author along with Betsy Clark and Adrian Pitman of the book F-35: The Inside Story of the Lightning II.
Sometimes we find ourselves leading a very large team that isn’t used to working together. That happened to Tom who was the general manager of the F-35 fighter jet. In this conversation, we explore how to bring together many stakeholders in order to do something bigger than any one of them could do alone.
- Solicit and listen to feedback on what didn’t work in past situations.
- Establish behavior norms and expectations and continue coming back to them. When disagreements happen, resolve them in the context of these norms.
- Consider including customers in major meetings, so struggles are shared transparently with all stakeholders.
- Behavior norms and expectations were established globally and referenced in most formal interactions. When flare ups happened, they were often settled quickly in the spirit of the norms.
- A “one team” concept was used to unify people from formerly competing organizations to align them to the nobler motive.
- F-35: The Inside Story of the Lightning II* by Tom Burbage, Betsy Clark, and Adrian Pitman
Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required).
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- How to Lead Better Through Complexity, with Jennifer Garvey Berger (episode 613)