Arnold Engineering and Development Center
How can a diverse community effect change in federal law in less than six months . . . start to finish?

In 1991, AEDC (Arnold Engineering and Development Center) a $6 billion product testing facility housed at Arnold Air Force Base faced deep budget cuts which would have allowed the facilities to fall into disrepair. If AEDC wanted to remain a valuable national testing facility then it was going to have to be competitive in the commercial arena.

AEDC held a series of DesignShop® events to determine its future role. AEDC brought together a variety of participants from its value web community, such as the Air Force, and commercial businesses like Boeing, General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney. The DesignShop events helped the participants recognize the full value of the facilities and how AEDC's intellectual capital could benefit all of its stakeholders.

Ralph Graham a strategic manager with AEDC and DesignShop participant recounts one of the profound paradigm shifts that emerged from their experience: "The DesignShop experience broke our paradigm — that we were locked into doing only military testing. It changed to — we can test military and commercial systems and must take action."

But taking their new found vision to action seemed impossible because of a long standing federal law that dictated to government organizations such as AEDC how to schedule and charge customers. For nonmilitary customers AEDC was forced to charge them excessively — twice that of military customers. And standard commercial practices like keeping reserved testing dates were not established for commercial customers, making AEDC an unlikely alternative for the profit oriented business world.

AEDC itself could not work to get the law changed because members of AEDC were prohibited from petitioning Congress, but through the DesignShop process AEDC had become more than just the people within it. All the stakeholders, commercial customers (real and potential), suppliers, and civilians who wanted to keep AEDC strong went to act in AEDC's behalf. These people held an intense one day DesignShop event to figure out the necessary changes in AEDC's charter, and get it done.

The results: In less than six months from the DesignShop activity, an equitable pricing and access bill was signed into public law. Using the DesignShop process over 22 months AEDC increased its commercial revenue base by 30%, generated $750 million in new business, and has moved into a more critical role in the aeronautics value web™ community.

The Gossick Leadership Center, a Navigation Center™ environment designed by MG Taylor Corporation, received the 1995 United States Air Force Design Award for Interior Design.

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