As a father of twin 8-year-old boys and twin 5-year-old girls (yes you read that correctly, we are blessed with twin boys and girls), I was able to tap into my inner child this summer. With the kids at home in between summer camps, juggling travel, work schedules, and a few weeks of oppressive heat, we found ourselves playing with every toy in the house. One of our kids’ favorite activities is to concoct challenges where they name something that everyone has to create out of LEGOs, blocks, magnetic tiles, train tracks, or anything else at arms’ reach. Bonus points are awarded if your creation can connect or interact with someone else’s creation. We affectionately call these “LEGO challenges,” but anything is fair game!
Sometimes their challenges are themed around building roller coasters, bridges, or playgrounds. Other times, we like to throw scenarios out where they are responsible for building a structure that can weather tornadoes, monsters, or other disasters. As I observed and participated in a particularly grueling challenge in our playroom one weekend this summer, I reflected on how my relationships with peers and colleagues at Parsons and throughout the Defense Industry were similar to how my little ones engaged with each other. Negotiations over “work share,” who was teaming with whom, discussions on quality, safety, performance, and how their unique solutions were going to interact with each other after they were complete all took place in a matter of minutes. Decisions were made rapidly and everyone was feeling like they “won” and got exactly what they wanted out of the deal. It was an impressive sight!
Although the likenesses my children share with the Parsons team may part at the word “monsters,” the grit to overcome seemingly monstrous tasks in environments that to many of us, are a reality we’ve never seen (space for example) are very similar. And like our playroom, Parsons cultivates a culture that challenges the kid in all of us to “Imagine Next,” where innovation and technology are needed to combat tomorrow’s toughest global challenges.
I learned that in the eyes of children, no challenge is too big. They band together to solve some of their world’s biggest problems with the tools at their disposal. Watching them tap into endless creativity and imagination while never backing down from the challenge makes me proud. They work independently and collaboratively at the same time while creating simple yet elaborate schemes and models to battle monsters and protect each other.
One particular project that really underscored the core-concepts that are evident in all of us at such young ages was my first assignment at Parsons in 2004 at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Our team was responsible for bringing together stakeholders from multiple DoD agencies, local government, the developer, general contractors, subcontractors, and a multitude of other organizations to ensure the USAF received a state-of-the-art facility in El Segundo, CA which eventually became home to Space Systems Command. On a recent trip through LA, I made it a point to drive by LAAFB and share with my children an important lesson I re-learned there: when we focus on the outcome and put the mission first, it can be much easier to find our common ground and work as one cohesive team.
It’s these skills and an environment that nurtures innovation and problem solving that has made Parsons a differentiator as I reflect on my career. Perhaps it’s because we solve problems with LEGOs in the office, too. The culture of collaboration and working together with a “mission first” mentality helps us to focus on the common goals we share with our customers and all stakeholders in the work we do.
My kids opened my eyes to the importance of bringing this playfulness and collaboration to the workplace every day. I trust that when we work together in true partnership, there are no monsters too scary that we can’t overcome. It’s that shared purpose and unity that fuels Parsons’ ability to deliver the cutting-edge technologies that will protect our country, and our world, tomorrow. I appreciate all of my brothers and sisters in the national security and defense industry protecting our families, our children, and our future.