Winning in Digital Transformation: A Sports Model for Building Teams

By Tom Lee, General Manager

In the fast-paced arena of federal government digital transformation, some things more than others set contractors apart. I’ve had the privilege of leading winning teams in a company that’s not only embraced digital transformation, but also has adopted a playbook that draws inspiration from the world of sports. At Octo, we’ve built dynamic digital transformation teams using a sports model, emphasizing the pivotal role of company culture and commitment to the customer to succeed in the larger federal market.

Playing in the Fast Break: Agile DevSecOps

One of the ways we have succeeded is by embracing Agile DevSecOps methodologies across national security, civilian, and other agencies we serve, emphasizing collaboration, adaptability, and speed in software development. This allows us to pivot swiftly in response to changing requirements and deliver secure, high-quality software at a breakneck pace.

Agile DevSecOps prioritizes collaboration, adaptability, speed, and security. It promotes cross-functional teams including developers, operations, and security experts to ensure security considerations are integrated from the start. We work iteratively for continuous improvement, empowering our teams to make quick adjustments in response to changing requirements, reducing the risk of costly late-stage changes. By automating many aspects of the software development pipeline through using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) and other automation technologies, we accelerate the delivery of error-free software to production using “Continuous Everything” techniques: continuous testing, integration, security, and deployment.

But Agile DevSecOps doesn’t necessarily set Octo apart from other contractors. It’s the way we implement the strategy through a unique approach to teamwork.

A Winning Culture of Curiosity and Collaboration

Championships aren’t secured by star players alone—they’re won by teams with a vibrant culture. Culture impacts everything from collaboration and innovation to employee motivation and project outcomes. I describe our culture as first, being curiosity driven, and second, collaboration driven.

Curiosity Driven

Our technical experts are multidisciplinary and always want to learn more. That’s what drives them personally and professionally, and it’s what enables them to innovate in the face of change.

Technology is always evolving, and the federal government is increasingly adopting modern technologies like AI/ML to improve its operations and services. Add constant security threats and the need to protect sensitive data, and you have a real challenge.

Companies that demonstrate a commitment to staying up-to-date and providing cutting-edge solutions are more likely to win contracts. Through educational programs, cross-training, and personal development, our team members do just that. We continuously upskill so members are always in top form. We also ensure members are highly flexible and capable of being put in positions where they are most needed, not necessarily in the same positions they have worked in most of their lives. This commitment to ongoing learning and adaptability makes us always in the running for new opportunities with current and future customers.

Collaboration Driven

A team’s success often hinges on how well its players work together. Even the most talented individuals may not reach their full potential if they don’t collaborate effectively. So we place a strong emphasis on maximizing team dynamics, fostering an environment where each player can execute their role effectively to meet and exceed goals.

“Locker room culture” greatly impacts teams. We bring engineers, architects, UI/UX designers, and analysts together and carefully observe how they huddle up. Doing this allows them to get to know more about each other and each other’s jobs. When individuals know their teammates, when they know what each one needs and what part everyone plays in the overall strategy, they can work at peak performance and succeed together.

The “Show Me, Don’t Tell Me” Mindset: Proving Our Skills on the Field

The government increasingly demands that we show our capabilities like AI/ML and not just talk about them. We actively participate in technical challenges, putting our team’s skills to the test.

Anyone who has had to go through a technical challenge knows how intense it can be. It’s not just a true test of technology skills, but also a showcase of our ability to collaborate, develop under pressure, demonstrate understanding of the customer’s needs, and succeed as a unified team by using approved processes that can scale. Our company has won many technical challenges because we succeeded collaboratively, proving we know how to do the work correctly, together. In the high-stakes game of government demands, we’ve successfully taken the ball and run with it by bringing together our own “Dream Teams” whose members understand the demands and rules and who can work with each other under intense scrutiny.

Our involvement in numerous coding challenges for proposals has demonstrated our commitment to the “show me, don’t tell me” mantra.  And we’ve succeeded in winning the deal by showcasing our teams’ talents and capabilities.

Celebrating Victory

In the end, building a winning digital transformation team isn’t just about playing the game. It’s about taking home the championship. The sports model approach to team building, combined with our unwavering commitment to company culture and ongoing development, distinguishes us in the digital transformation arena. It’s something everyone can be proud of. And it’s something that best serves customers.