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Technical Response Unit

What we do

The Technical Response Unit (TRU) places mid-career fellows in large complex projects with a simple goal: pick a single problem and assemble the team that will fix it.

Our philosophy

We believe that program failures do not result from lack of talent, lack of funding, or lack of accountability. Building teams that respond to challenges with creativity and vision is a skill that few people are ever given the opportunity to learn. TRU wants to give applicant that opportunity.

The ideal fellow

Although TRU projects are all technical in nature, we are interested in fellows with a broad range of experiences. A candidate will be a good fit for a TRU fellowship if they are interested in empowering people and not intimidated by things they do not understand at first glance.

Potential projects

TRU fellowships are self-directed. We partner with other bureaus on specific IT investments then work with them to develop an overall strategy. Fellows pick the problems that appeal to them and decide how best to solve them.

Potential TRU projects will have the following characteristics:

  • Technical Challenge: There are software solutions that make this situation better.
  • Cross-Coordination: The solution is difficult because it requires many different groups to work together. Some of these groups may have conflicting incentives.
  • Unempowered Talent: There are people with the knowledge, skills, and ability to solve this problem already in place, but they are not empowered to make decisions or execute.

Some examples of projects that have those characteristics:

  • Sensitive data is processed across multiple environments, applications, and organizations. Figure out how to chain digital signatures to ensure the data is tamper proof.
  • Four different Security Operation Centers (SOCs) must share information and coordinate their response to suspicious activity. Their current process relies heavily on email and phone trees. Migrate them to more modern tools that enforce proper access control and clear communication.

The manager's adventure

TRU fellowships last for three months. That's not enough time to solve most of these problems, and that's the whole point. The goal of a TRU fellowship is not to be the smartest person in the room or to provide expertise otherwise unavailable but to build high functioning teams. The best teams are able to lose their leader and continue to execute. While the fellowship ends in three months, the team that is built will be made up of people who are around for the long haul.

The timeline of a TRU fellowship looks like this:

  • Month 1: Learn as much as possible about the greater IT project, start building relationships with potential team members, and flesh out a strategy.
  • Month 2: Identify, prioritize and eliminate blockers preventing the people already working on this problem from being able to solve it. Introduce team members from different organizations to each other and facilitate collaboration. Make sure the proper chains of command are informed and engaged.
  • Month 3: Assess the work left to be done. Review documentation generated up to that point for clarity and accuracy. Transition project to an incoming fellow or back to the organizational owner.

Nominations are now open

Know someone (perhaps even yourself) who would make the perfect TRU fellow? Use the form below to submit a nomination.