Pentagon Meets Silicon Valley for More Innovation

When Pentagon Meets Silicon Valley

"It's when you believe in the ingenuity of the soldiers, things happen."

It was simply through trial and error the U.S. Army Cyber Command discovered what worked in spurring innovation — and what didn't. The long-held convention had been to push innovation down from headquarters to lower levels. However, when subordinate levels were allowed to develop innovation programs on their own, the effort was successful, says Lt. Col. Chris Cline, director of strategic plans in the U.S. Army. 

"It's when you believe in the ingenuity of the soldiers, things happen, and what's exactly where you want it to be," Cline says.

The Army Cyber Command also saw success when creating innovation pilots and having people from those pilots go to Silicon Valley to create partnerships. Participating in Hacking 4 Defense and in innovation challenges led to additional success. 

On the flip side, what didn't work was having a set formal procedure for an incubation process, and it was especially challenging on the headquarter level, Cline said.  

"Especially in a military organization, it was difficult, for example, if you would have a monthly panel where ideas were presented and decisions made, it was hard to get all the players involved and participate at a certain time," Cline says.

Watch above the full discussion with Cline and Simon Meacham, CEO of Trusted Networks and former senior executive for the Defense Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.