Bias for Action

By Damany Coleman Kessel Run Public Affairs

BOSTON (February 28, 2023) – Defense Department and military-centric organizations around the globe are very familiar with the eternal bias for action balancing act. Decisions at every level are made by assuming a certain level of risk. Kessel Run is no different.

What impact do your decisions have? How are you owning your time in your job, relationships or life?

Questions like these were asked during the organization’s own Celebrate Kessel Run Day recently, with the theme being ‘Bias for Action,’ one of KR’s core values.

Celebrate Kessel Run Days, better known as CKRs, are quarterly observances to promote collaboration, networking and diversity, equity and inclusion. Call it their own way of culture consulting or human enablement.

Throughout the bustling work-from-work day, volunteers gave testimonies of how the decisions they’ve made, or have yet to, affect them personally and professionally. Bias for Action seems to be the body of Kessel Run’s favorite core value out of the four. Continuous Evolution, Intense Customer Focus and Ideas Over Rank are the other three.

The guest speaker for the event was Chief Master Sergeant Jason A. David , who currently serves as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the Defense Media Activity in Maryland. He is also the Senior Enlisted Leader for Headquarters, American Forces Network & Media Production Operations, as well as a father, husband, Purple Heart recipient, warrior poet and proud Asian American and Pacific Islander ambassador.

David, who rose rapidly through the enlisted ranks, shared some anecdotes and war stories of great loss and trepidation, but essentially left the audience with this electric adage: Do what you have to do, even if it scares you.

“It's been a bumpy ride for those that are used to doing things because ‘that's the way it's always been.’” he declared. “I feel like a lot of you in this room can feel that to your core, because you’re moving fast. A road must first be traveled on to then prove that it can be paved for benefit later.”

To keep it simple, here are three powerful insights we’ve synthesized from things Kessel Runners said during their bias for action-based affirmations throughout the day:

  • Colin Powell’s 40/70 rule applies to Bias for Action: Leaders need between 40 and 70 percent of the information to make a decision. Decide with less than 40 percent and you’re likely to make a mistake. Waiting for more than 70 percent means you’ll likely be late.
  • Holding on to undesirable patterns can hurt us more than disrupting said patterns would.
  • Choosing to be courageous, with every cell in your body, reprograms who you are.

It’s worth noting that this ecosystem is crammed with individuals who have all made some sort of promise to encourage peace, freedom and FAWS (food, air, water, shelter) in every corner of the globe.

Can we harness that boundless patriotic energy? The short answer is yes.

Luckily for us, the illustrious Chief shared the long answer too.

“It’s important to remember that you have the power to take action and make a difference,” David said. “Taking action is not always easy, especially when we’re uncertain about the outcome. The only way to create the change we’d like to see in our Air Force is to then take a moment to look at our personal lives, our communities or the global scale at large, and take action to make sure we separate ourselves from those who dream of a better future and those who would like to make it a reality.”

Aloha, Chief. Heard. Folks of many colors and creeds have taken powerful oaths or signed on a dotted line somewhere with a sister organization. The consensus is that Kessel Runners are all taking healthy, calculated risks to benefit themselves as well as the warfighters down range.

Today, think of all of KR’s command and control efforts and efforts pivoting toward the Pacific. To encourage the pacing threat to make better choices, we will always have work to do. The work we put in today can foster peace in perpetuity, but the progress we’ve made so far is considerable.

Even with our distributed force during this remote work renaissance, our organization’s continuous evolution depends on strong characters, like David, to pat us on the back or give us a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Another great person who excels at checking our biases is Lauren Knausenberger, the Chief Information Officer for the Department of the Air Force, who also visited KR recently.

“My first visit to Kessel Run was a number of years ago when this merry band of rebellious innovators literally had to smuggle agile DevSecOps into the Department of Defense, " she said during a recent visit. “And thus, Kessel Run was born.”

She noted that KR today is very different from when it started. Back then, Knausenberger was still the Chief Transformation Officer, which was even before the Space Force entity existed at all.

“We were working on problems like, how do we bring a culture of innovation? How do we help people to understand DevSecOps? How do we introduce user centered design to a group of people that haven’t really thought of this before?”

Knausenberger suggested that consistently deploying incredible mission operations, at speeds never before seen in the DoD, are the way Kessel Run, and others, stay a beacon of hope in the fog of war.

“I have matured my perspective and it's awesome to see that Kessel Run, too, is kind of all grown up in their perspective now; Going from a startup to an organization that has to scale,” she stated. “It is really incredible to see the continued mission success and that level of maturity, without losing the initial innovation and all of that cultural work this organization has done within the Department of Defense and within the Department of the Air force.”

Last month, Knausenberger said that her agency is focusing its modernization efforts to help speed up mission system migrations to the cloud.

Kessel Run is fully embracing the strategic direction and hopes to be a leader in the transition. There will always be uncertainty and challenges with such technical changes, but moving out with a level of uncertainty is how Kessel Run started. Had KR waited for everything to be perfect before smuggling DevSecOps into the DoD, instead of taking action, they’d still be waiting.

Since authorities like David and Knausenberger agree on such points, it seems the challenges Kessel Runners faced along their journey were tell-tale signs they were heading in the right direction.

Keep going, Kessel Run. Take action as if our lives depended on it, because they do.

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Digital Directorate
HBB, Kessel Run
Media and Communications Engagement