episode 841

Developing a Digital Thread: Northrop Grumman CIO John Russell on Collaborating Across the Product Development Process

John Russell is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Northrop Grumman, a space, aeronautics defense, and cyberspace company that earns in excess of $38 billion in annual revenue. John has been in his role for nearly four years and with the company for six years. Across his tenure, John has helped modernize the company's technology landscape and in the process has primed the organization to leverage hyper-automation, data, and artificial intelligence capabilities more effectively. Prior to joining Northrop Grumman, John served in various technology roles at companies such as SAIC and Leidos. January 29, 2024

841: The product development lifecycle includes a list of many disparate stakeholders that if not aligned properly, can result in disagreements, delays, and potential negative financial impacts. At Northrop Grumman, CIO John Russell has developed a “digital thread” that brings every stakeholder together to align the team before the product hits production. In this interview, John discusses the concept behind the “digital thread” and other methods he has adopted to create a more efficient enterprise. He explains the sanctity of data in a highly sensitive industry, the advantages of implementing automation across the organization, the implications of AI on talent development, and the critical process of including cybersecurity early in the product development process. Finally, John looks ahead at trends in AI and remote collaboration and reflects on the key elements of his career ascension.

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"When we think about digital thread, it really is about collaborating [with] the whole team and customers at the beginning."

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview

  • 01 1- People
  • 02 2- Infrastructure
  • 03 3- Project and Portfolio Management
  • 04 4- IT & Business Partnership
  • 05 5- External Partnerships

From strategy to implementation

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