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Steve Clean Right here’s What Occurred When Deputy Secretary of Protection Dr. Kathleen Hicks visited Stanford’s Gordian Knot Heart for Nationwide Safety Innovation

It was an honor to host US Deputy Secretary of Protection Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Stanford’s Gordian Knot Heart for Nationwide Safety Innovation.  (Consider the Deputy Secretary of Protection because the Chief Working Officer of an organization – however on this case the corporate has 3 million staff (~1.4 million energetic obligation, 750,000 civilians, ~800,000 within the Nationwide Guard and Reserves.)

She got here to the Gordian Knot Heart to debate our distinctive method to nationwide safety and innovation, and the way our curriculum trains the following era of innovators. The Deputy additionally heard from us how the Division can higher companion with and leverage the U.S. innovation ecosystem to unravel nationwide safety challenges.

Our aim for the Secretary’s go to was to present her a snapshot of how we’re supporting the Division of Protection precedence of constructing an innovation workforce. We emphasised the crucial distinction between a technical STEM-trained workforce (which we want) and an innovation workforce which we lack at scale.

Innovation incorporates lean methodologies (buyer discovery, drawback understanding, MVPs, Pivots), coupled with pace and urgency, and a tradition the place failure equals speedy studying. All of those are completed with minimal assets to deploy at scale merchandise/providers which might be wanted and wished. We identified that Silicon Valley and Stanford have finished this for 50 years. And China is outpacing us by adopting the very innovation strategies we invented, integrating business know-how with tutorial analysis, and delivering it to the Peoples Liberation Military.

Therein lies the main target of our Gordian Knot Heart —join STEM with coverage schooling and leverage the synergies between the 2 to develop revolutionary leaders who perceive know-how and coverage and may resolve issues and ship options at pace and scale.

 What We Offered
A key part of the Gordian Knot Heart’s mission is to arrange and encourage future leaders to contribute meaningfully as a part of the innovation work drive. We mix the distinctive strengths of Stanford and its location in Silicon Valley to unravel issues throughout the spectrum of actions that create and maintain nationwide energy. The vary of assets and capabilities we deliver to the battle from the middle’s distinctive place embrace:

  • The insights and experience of Stanford worldwide and nationwide safety coverage leaders
  • The know-how insights and experience of Stanford Engineering
  • Distinctive college students prepared to assist the nation win the Nice Energy Competitors
  • Silicon Valley’s deep business know-how ecosystem
  • Our expertise in speedy drawback understanding, speedy iteration and deployment of options with pace and urgency
  • Entry to danger capital at scale

Within the six months since we based the Gordian Knot Heart we’ve got centered on six initiatives we wished to share with Secretary Hicks. Reasonably than Joe Felter and I doing the entire speaking, 25 of our college students, students, mentors and alumni joined us to present the Secretary a 3-5 minute summary of their work, spanning throughout all six of the Gordian Knot initiatives.  Highlights of those displays embrace:

  1. Hacking for Protection Groups – Vannevar Labs, FLIP, Disinformatix
  2. CONOPS Improvement
  3. Nationwide Safety Training Know-how, Innovation and Nice Energy Competitors
  4. Protection Innovation Students Program – 25 college students now, 50 by the tip of the 12 months
  5. Coverage Impression and Outreach –ONR Hedge Technique, NSC Quad Rising Know-how Observe 1.5 Convention
  6. Internships and Skilled Workforce Improvement – Innovation Workforce Vignettes

If you happen to can’t see the slides click on right here

All through the over 90 minutes session, Dr. Hicks posed insightful questions for the scholars and instructed our gathering that considered one of her key priorities is to speed up innovation adoption throughout DoD, together with organizational construction, processes, tradition, and other people.

It was encouraging to listen to the phrases.

Nevertheless, from the place we sit..

  1. Our nationwide safety is now inexorably intertwined with business know-how and is hindered by our lack of an built-in technique on the highest stage.
  2. Our adversaries have exploited the boundaries and borders between our protection and business and financial pursuits.
  3. Our present approaches – each prior to now and present administration – to innovation throughout the federal government are piecemeal, incremental, more and more much less related and inadequate.

Listening to the secretary’s conversations, I used to be additional reminded of how a lot of a radical reinvention of our civil/army innovation relationship is critical if we need to maintain abreast of our adversaries. This may use DoD funding, non-public capital, dual-use startups, present prime contractors and federal labs  in a brand new configuration. It would:

Create a new protection ecosystem encompassing startups, scaleups on the bleeding edge, prime contractors as integrators of superior know-how, federally funded R&D facilities refocused on areas not coated by business tech (nuclear, hypersonics,…). Make it everlasting by creating innovation doctrine/coverage.

Create new nationwide champions in dual-use business tech – AI/ML, Quantum, House, drones, excessive efficiency computing, subsequent gen networking, autonomy, biotech, underwater automobiles, shipyards, and many others. who are usually not the normal distributorsDo that by selecting winners. Don’t give out door prizes. Contracts needs to be >$100M so high- high quality venture-funded corporations will play.  Till we’ve got new distributors on the Main Protection Acquisition Program record, all we’ve got within the DoD is innovation theater – not innovation.

Purchase at Pace. Right this moment, the common DoD main acquisition program takes 9-26 years to get a weapon within the arms of a warfighter. We’d like a necessities, budgeting and acquisition course of that operates at business pace (18 months or much less) which is 10x quicker than DoD procurement cycles. As an alternative of writing necessities, DoD ought to quickly assess options and interact warfighters in assessing and prototyping business options.

Combine and incent the Enterprise Capital/Non-public Fairness ecosystem to speculate at scale. Ask funders what it might take to speculate at scale – e.g. create huge tax holidays and incentives to get funding {dollars} in know-how areas of nationwide curiosity.

Recruit and develop leaders throughout the Protection Division ready to satisfy contempory threats and reorganize round this new innovation ecosystem. The DoD has world-class individuals and group for a world that in some ways not exists. The threats, pace of change and applied sciences we face on this century would require radically totally different mindsets and approaches than these we confronted within the twentieth century. Right this moment’s senior DoD leaders should suppose and act in a different way than their predecessors of a decade in the past. Leaders at each stage should now perceive the business ecosystem and the way to transfer with the pace and urgency that China is setting.

It was clear that Deputy Secretary Hicks understands the necessity for many of if not all these and extra. Sadly, given the DoD funds is actually fastened, creating new Primes and new nationwide champions of the following era of protection applied sciences turns into a zero-sum sport. It’s a politically unattainable drawback for the Protection Division to unravel alone. Modifications at this scale would require Congressional motion. Laborious to think about within the polarized political surroundings. However not unattainable.

These are our challenges for not simply the Gordian Knot Heart for Nationwide Safety Innovation however for our nation. We’ve taken them on, within the phrases of President John F. Kennedy,  “not as a result of they’re simple, however as a result of they’re exhausting. as a result of that aim will serve to prepare and measure one of the best of our energies and expertise, as a result of that problem is one which we’re prepared to just accept, one we’re unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”



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