Most companies have a mission. Lockheed Martin has many. That’s because the global security and aerospace company is committed to helping other organizations achieve theirs. As the force behind some of the most ambitious advances in aerospace engineering, artificial intelligence, energy and defense in modern history, it’s built a reputation for mission success.
So it’s no surprise that when external events (a global pandemic) demanded an internal mission (digital transformation), the company’s 114,000 employees rallied to the occasion. They not only adapted to a new way of working, but they also adopted innovations to recoup productive time, source faster answers and build stronger external partnerships.
To support its mission-critical work, Lockheed Martin turned to Slack. Here’s a look at how the company transformed its daily operations with a digital HQ, a secure platform that unites teams, tools and partners.
“Slack helped blur the lines within our organizational structure. Our Slack-led AMAs not only give individual employees more access to executive leadership, they also give executives an opportunity to collect real-time feedback.”
Deploying Slack in record time with a digital war room
Pockets of Lockheed Martin had been using Slack since 2016. So when the organization began its digital transformation in earnest, Slack was already part of its toolkit. Several thousand people were using the platform, and it was starting to catch fire across the company, according to Tim Lewis, the director of digital workplace services at Lockheed Martin.
Then, along came the pandemic—an unexpected accelerant. When Covid-19 rendered most of Lockheed Martin’s workforce remote, the company turned to Slack as its digital HQ. Over the course of one weekend, Misty Anderson, a messaging products manager at Lockheed Martin, and her colleagues deployed the collaboration platform across the entire company.
“We hadn’t planned on rolling it out that quickly, but we had an urgent need to do so,” Anderson says. “And that’s one of the big benefits of using Slack: You can get it in your end users’ hands at a very large scale, very quickly.”
During the early months of the pandemic, the IT team, which was largely responsible for the rapid deployment, set up a 24/7 war room in Slack. This dedicated channel served as the primary rally point for hundreds of teammates around the world. Here, they reported for work, provided critical updates, and shared information between shifts so projects could continue moving forward.
“The Slack war room became a lifesaver,” Lewis says. “It allowed us to break down barriers around time and location to co-manage action items. It really helped to drive efficiency and speed in our operations.”
But times of crisis call for more than getting teams set up with the right tools. They also demand clear and regular communication from leadership. When health precautions sidelined in-person town hall meetings, Lockheed Martin’s leadership opened the lines of communication with “ask me anything” (AMA) sessions in Slack. These candid exchanges allowed employees to pose questions to executives and leaders in-channel and receive real-time responses. The practice was so well-received that it has become part of Lockheed Martin’s culture and a regular occurrence for many teams.
Strengthening collaboration with contractors and vendors in Slack Connect
Lockheed Martin’s footprint spans nearly 400 facilities across 50 countries, and includes corporate offices, contractors and vendors. To support seamless communication between its teams and external partners, Lockheed Martin relies on Slack Connect.
Designed to replace email, Slack Connect extends channel-based messaging to everyone an organization works with—inside and outside its walls. With the feature, up to 20 separate organizations can work together in a single channel, uniting contractors, vendors and temporary employees as one team.
The defense contractor currently uses Slack Connect with 30 of its partners, according to Misty Anderson, a messaging products manager at Lockheed Martin. Teams use Slack Connect channels for:
- Product testing
- Long-term projects
- Daily updates
Executives and teammates across Lockheed Martin rest easy knowing that Slack’s enterprise-grade security features and compliance standards extend to Slack Connect, including support for Enterprise Key Management (EKM), Data Loss Prevention, e-discovery and more.
“[Slack Connect] creates business opportunities,” Lewis says. “It’s much easier to share information in real time versus sending emails back and forth or calling someone who’s not in your network. Leveraging Slack Connect to integrate with other companies has created significant value for our corporation.”
With Slack Connect, it’s also a snap to work with teammates and partners across time zones. “You pop your question or comment in your Slack Connect channel and leave for the day knowing that when you come back, you’ll have a response,” says Corrie Kalivoda, a collaboration services senior manager at Lockheed Martin. “It certainly helps with that instant feedback loop.”
“The Slack war room became a lifesaver. It allowed us to break down barriers around time and location to co-manage action items. It really helped to drive efficiency and speed in our operations.”
Transforming day-to-day operations with automation
When you have more than 114,000 employees, every little automation helps. Each time a process is streamlined, an employee recoups seconds, minutes or even hours back in their day. Writ large, this can have a transformative impact on company productivity.
At Lockheed Martin, employees carve more time out of each day with Workflow Builder, a visual tool that lets anyone automate routine tasks right in Slack—no coding required. To date, teams across the company have created 1,400 individual workflows to simplify everyday tasks, such as making an IT request, polling employees and running scrums.
Request workflows are a particularly popular use case. With a simple intake-form workflow, teams can quickly collect the information they need to address the issue. The forms also reduce back-and-forth exchanges and result in faster response times—a win-win.
Teams also use emojis to move requests along more efficiently. For example, rather than drafting a written reply, the responder can use 👀 to signal that the issue is being addressed or a ✅ to indicate that it’s been completed. This also prevents multiple team members from tackling the same request, while keeping the requestor informed.
When teammates get stumped, they can search for the people and information they need in help channels dedicated to different products, according to Anderson. “The help channels not only cut down on calls to the service desk, they also minimize the time it takes to solve those issues so people can get back to work faster,” she says.
With Slack, Lockheed Martin has strengthened collaboration, transformed operations and unlocked productivity for tens of thousands of employees. Mission success.