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Executive Spotlight: Peter Lierni, Founder of Solutioneering

Peter Lierni,



Executive Spotlight: Peter Lierni, Founder of Solutioneering

Peter Lierni founded Solutioneering in 2015. Since then, he has led the consulting firm in its efforts to provide capture management, solution design and proposal development support for government contractors pursuing new business opportunities.

In a recent interview with the Potomac Officers Club, Lierni reflected on changes in the federal contracting landscape, highlighted his career inspirations and shared his insights on team building.

Read the full interview below:

What can you tell us about your background and how you’ve been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape over the course of your career?

As a young man, I was a sailor in the United States Navy and served aboard a guided-missile destroyer.  I was later selected for a commissioning program from the fleet, and after college, I served on an Aegis cruiser as a junior officer while it was being built in the shipyard. A ship is a system-of-systems (e.g., engineering, operational combat), where policies, people, processes and technologies are all interacting, interrelated and interdependent. This early understanding helped me to become a systems thinker. 

Examples of change in the federal landscape are too numerous to list, but one that is most evident to me is that when I left the Navy in the nineties, our government’s systems and even our individual lives were more standalone and not as interconnected as they are today. We have come a long way from mainframes and client-server to the face-to-face-like interconnectivity that we all experience today. This connectedness coupled with the global challenges our nation has faced these past 25+ years has been a big driver behind a lot of the spending in the GovCon marketplace. 

When I left the Navy, I became a consultant in the GovCon industry. I worked for several consulting companies and eventually ended up at High Performance Technologies, Incorporated (HPTi) in 2000. There, I did delivery, managed programs and started to do capture, which was when the “systems thinking” I always did was the basis to the successes I experienced. To win a high-dollar value, solution-based, mission-critical prime contract, you have to understand how the upfront analyses needed to get the best context of your company, customer and competition to win are all interrelated and interdependent. This resulted in my development of a proven framework to support these capture-related analyses called the Solution Engineering Framework

The COVID-19 pandemic and the present state of communication technology, including platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, seem to have made the remote/hybrid workforce a staying fact of life for most GovCon companies. This environment makes it even more challenging to perform the collaborative analyses needed to win a competitive GovCon pursuit, which we so often conducted face-to-face in a company conference room pre-pandemic. This resulted in my leading a team to automate the Solution Engineering Framework into a software-as-a-service/on-premises offering called the Solution Engineering Tool, or “SET,” for short. My consultancy uses SET to help companies win competitive GovCon pursuits and a number of customers are starting to see the value it provides with enabling their winning and are licensing it.

Who are the executives that have inspired you the most over the course of your career?

Two executives who have inspired me over the course of my career are Tim Keenan and Mark Forman. Tim Keenan was the co-founder of HPTi, which went through a very successful acquisition. I developed under him both professionally and personally. Tim demonstrated the highest ethics and was passionate about doing anything to enable America’s safety and prosperity. Key to this was building a high-performance company culture by investing in people and making a difference through them, which is the foundation to winning any competitive GovCon pursuit. He encouraged me to do what I do today, which is to help companies do the upfront thinking before writing a response to a competitive GovCon bid. Today, he oversees the Tim & Kathleen Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship at The Ohio State University, which he founded with his spouse. 

Mark Forman was the first person in the federal government to fulfill responsibilities normally associated with a corporate chief information officer. Mark is a global thought leader and sage in the area of digital government and likewise a benchmark for ethics for all to follow in the GovCon marketspace. I have never met an individual more passionate about improving the quality of digital services that the citizens of our nation need, deserve and expect. He was Global Head of Unisys Public Sector for a number of years and allowed me to successfully prove my thought leadership which enabled Unisys to win many competitive pursuits.

What are the core values that you believe are essential to build a great team and establish a foundation to drive success in such a competitive industry?

I am passionate about enabling GovCon capture teams to better work together to win. The most important core value that I believe is necessary to build a great team and establish a foundation for success in such a competitive industry is that “your word should be your commitment.” This is key to integrity, mutual respect and client commitment. 

With emerging technology influencing the federal government and industry more by the day, what are some of the challenges on the business side of innovation that aren’t always discussed as often as they should be?

Technological innovation offers many benefits for both government and industry. I think the biggest of these positives is the amount of information at our disposal via search engines, including Google and Bing, and now the democratization of artificial intelligence such as with Bard and ChatGPT. The ever present issue that I am finding is that these innovations are adversely impacting the ability of the younger GovCon workforce to think critically. I see that very often they are taking information from search engine results and AI prompt engineering without any analysis-based context of whether what they are reviewing is accurate or not. The older pre-public Internet GovCon workforce is retiring at ever increasing rates, and they had better critical thinking skills because they were not so dependent on technology. If the GovCon industry is going to successfully win business and support the government’s many and diverse missions, this workforce concern needs to be openly discussed and addressed.

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Tags: executive spotlight govcon Peter Lierni Solutioneering