Steve Blank This Is What Occurred When Deputy Secretary Of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks Visited Stanford’s Gordian Knot Center For National Security Innovation

It was an honor to welcome VS Deputy Defense Minister Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Stanford Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation. (Think of the Deputy Secretary of Defense as an organization’s Chief Operating Officer – however on this case, the corporate has 3 million workers (~1.4 million on energetic responsibility, 750,000 civilians, ~800,000 within the National Guard and Reserves.)

She got here to the Gordian Knot Center to debate our distinctive strategy to nationwide safety and innovation, and the way our curriculum educates the following technology of innovators. The deputy additionally heard from us how the division can higher collaborate with and leverage the US innovation ecosystem to unravel nationwide safety challenges.

Our function for the Secretary’s go to was to offer her a snapshot of how we help the Department of Defense’s precedence in constructing a innovation workforce. We emphasised the vital distinction between a technical ROD-skilled workforce (which we’d like) and an innovation workforce that we lack at scale.

Innovation encompasses lean methodologies (buyer discovery, drawback understanding, MVPs, Pivots), coupled with pace and urgency, and a tradition the place failure equates to quick studying. All of that is achieved with minimal sources to deploy merchandise/companies at scale which can be wanted and desired. We identified that Silicon Valley and Stanford have been doing this for 50 years. And China is forward of us by making use of the identical innovation strategies we invented, integrating industrial expertise with tutorial analysis and supplying it to the People’s Liberation Army.

Therein lies the main target of our Gordian Knot Centre: join STEM with coverage training and leverage the synergies between the 2 to develop revolutionary leaders who perceive expertise and coverage and may clear up issues and ship options at pace and scale.

What we introduced
An essential a part of the Gordian Knot Center’s mission is to arrange and encourage future leaders to make significant contributions as a part of the innovation workforce. We mix the distinctive strengths of Stanford and its Silicon Valley location to unravel issues throughout the spectrum of actions that create and maintain nationwide energy. The vary of sources and capabilities we deliver into battle from the distinctive place of the middle consists of:

  • The insights and experience of Stanford worldwide and nationwide safety coverage leaders
  • The technological insights and experience of Stanford Engineering
  • Exceptional college students prepared to assist the nation win the Great Power Competition
  • Silicon Valley’s deep industrial expertise ecosystem
  • Our expertise in fast perception into issues, fast iteration and implementation of options with pace and urgency
  • Access to enterprise capital at scale

In the six months since we established the Gordian Knot Center, we have centered on six initiatives that we wished to share with Secretary Hicks. Rather than Joe Felter and I did the speaking, 25 of our college students, students, mentors and alumni joined us to offer the secretary a 3-5 minute abstract of their work throughout all six Gordian Knot initiatives. Highlights of those displays embody:

  1. Hacking for protection groups – Vannevar Labs, FLIP, Disinformatix
  2. CONOPS improvement
  3. National Security Education Technology, innovation and superpower competitors
  4. Defense Innovation Scholars Program – 25 college students now, 50 by the tip of the yr
  5. Policy impression and outreach –ONR Hedge Strategy, NSC Quad Emerging Technology Track 1.5 Conference
  6. Internships {and professional} workers improvement – Innovation Workforce vignettes

If you’ll be able to’t see the slides, click on right here

During the greater than 90 minute session, Dr. Hicks posed clarifying questions for the scholars and informed our gathering that one in all her high priorities is to speed up the adoption of innovation in DoDtogether with organizational construction, processes, tradition and other people.

It was encouraging to listen to the phrases.

However, from the place we’re…

  1. Our nationwide safety is now inexorably intertwined with industrial expertise and hampered by the shortage of an built-in technique on the highest stage.
  2. Our adversaries have exploited the boundaries and bounds between our protection and industrial and financial pursuits.
  3. Our present approaches – each previous and present administration – to government-wide innovation are piecemeal, incremental, more and more irrelevant and insufficient.

Listening to the Secretary’s talks additional jogged my memory how a lot of a radical reinvention of our civil/army innovation relationship is required if we’re to remain on high of our adversaries. This would leverage DoD funding, non-public capital, dual-use startups, present prime contractors, and federal labs in a brand new configuration. It would:

make a new protection ecosystem complete startups, scale-ups on the leading edge, foremost contractors resembling integrators of superior expertise, federally funded R&D facilities refocused on areas not coated by industrial expertise (nuclear, hypersonics, …). Make it everlasting by creating innovation doctrine/coverage.

To create new nationwide champions in industrial dual-use expertise – AI/ML, Quantum, Space, drones, excessive efficiency computing, next-gen networking, autonomy, biotech, underwater automobiles, shipyards, and many others. that aren’t the normal suppliers. Do this by selecting winners. Don’t give out costs. So contracts ought to be > $100 million High Quality enterprise capital-funded corporations will play. Until we now have new suppliers available on the market Major Defense Acquisition Program Listall we now have within the DoD is innovation theater – no innovation.

Acquire with pace. Today, the typical DoD main acquisition program takes 9-26 years to get a weapon into the arms of a warfighter. We want a necessities, budgeting, and acquisition course of that operates at industrial pace (18 months or much less), which is 10x sooner than DoD procurement cycles. Instead of writing necessities, DoD ought to quick assess options and contain warfighters in assessing and prototyping industrial options.

Integrate and drive the Venture Capital/Private Equity ecosystem to take a position at scale. Ask financiers what it takes to take a position at scale – for instance, create large tax exemptions and incentives to get funding {dollars} into areas of expertise of nationwide significance.

Recruit and develop leaders throughout the Department of Defense ready to face in the present day’s threats and reorganize round this new innovation ecosystem. The DoD has world-class folks and group for a world that in some ways not exists. The threats, pace of change and applied sciences we face on this century require radically completely different mindsets and approaches than these we confronted within the twentieth century. Today’s senior DoD leaders should assume and act otherwise than their predecessors a decade in the past. Leaders at each stage now want to grasp the industrial ecosystem and know learn how to act with the pace and urgency that China units.

It was clear that Assistant Secretary Hicks understands the need of most if not all of those and extra. Unfortunately, for the reason that DoD finances is basically fastened, creating new Primes and new nationwide champions of next-generation protection applied sciences a zero-sum sport. It is a politically unattainable drawback that the Department of Defense alone can clear up. Changes on this scale require Congressional motion. Hard to think about within the polarized political surroundings. But not unattainable.

These are our challenges, not just for the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, however for our nation as effectively. We have handled them, within the phrases of President John F. Kennedy: “not because they are easy, but because they are difficult. because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energy and skills, because that challenge is one we want to accept, one we don’t want to put off, and one we intend to win.”

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