Apr 2, 2021
Lisa J. Porter has successfully lead some of the world's largest and most critical technology efforts. Her career started with a focus on academic rigor in pursuit of some of the toughest degrees, a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and a PhD in Applied Physics from Stanford. She would later lecture at MIT and then became a researcher for DARPA related projects, eventually becoming a DARPA program manager. Dr. Porter would later lead NASA's Aeronautics Portfolio, would become the first Director of the Intelligence Community's IARPA, became President at Teledyne Scientific and an EVP at In-Q-Tel, and then was named to be the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, an office which is essentially the CTO for the entire Department of Defense. She now co-leads a consultancy she formed with Michael Griffin (LogiQ).
In this OODAcast we explore Lisa's approach to leadership in the technology domain. Some themes from the discussion:
Lisa discussed the courage she saw in leaders like George Heilmeier, including the courage to stand up to large interests that will try to push there parochial interests through decision-makers, at times trying to do so by throwing their weight around or bully or seek to claim some ultimate wisdom. One of the way Heilmeier dealt with that was to force all who came to DARPA with a new idea or request to answer a set of very simple to understand questions which are still in use today. These simple questions, now called Heilmeier's catechism or Heilmeier's rules, were not always simple to answer, especially if an idea was not firmly rooted. They are: