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

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It was an honor to host US Deputy Secretary of Protection Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Stanford’s Gordian Knot Middle 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 lively obligation, 750,000 civilians, ~800,000 within the Nationwide Guard and Reserves.)

She got here to the Gordian Knot Middle to debate our distinctive strategy to nationwide safety and innovation, and the way our curriculum trains the subsequent technology of innovators. The Deputy additionally heard from us how the Division can higher associate with and leverage the U.S. innovation ecosystem to resolve nationwide safety challenges.

Our purpose for the Secretary’s go to was to offer her a snapshot of how we’re supporting the Division of Protection precedence of constructing an innovation workforce. We emphasised the essential 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 fast studying. All of those are achieved with minimal sources to deploy at scale merchandise/companies which can be wanted and wished. We identified that Silicon Valley and Stanford have achieved this for 50 years. And China is outpacing us by adopting the very innovation strategies we invented, integrating business expertise with tutorial analysis, and delivering it to the Peoples Liberation Military.

Therein lies the main focus of our Gordian Knot Middle —join STEM with coverage schooling and leverage the synergies between the 2 to develop modern leaders who perceive expertise and coverage and might resolve issues and ship options at pace and scale.

 What We Introduced
A key element of the Gordian Knot Middle’s mission is to arrange and encourage future leaders to contribute meaningfully as a part of the innovation work power. We mix the distinctive strengths of Stanford and its location in Silicon Valley to resolve issues throughout the spectrum of actions that create and maintain nationwide energy. The vary of sources and capabilities we convey to the struggle from the middle’s distinctive place embrace:

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

Within the six months since we based the Gordian Knot Middle now we have targeted on six initiatives we wished to share with Secretary Hicks. Quite than Joe Felter and I doing the entire speaking, 25 of our college students, students, mentors and alumni joined us to offer the Secretary a 3-5 minute summary of their work, spanning throughout all six of the Gordian Knot initiatives.  Highlights of those shows embrace:

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

In the event you 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 advised our gathering that certainly one of her key priorities is to speed up innovation adoption throughout DoD, together with organizational construction, processes, tradition, and folks.

It was encouraging to listen to the phrases.

Nevertheless, from the place we sit..

  1. Our nationwide safety is now inexorably intertwined with business expertise 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 up 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/navy innovation relationship is important if we need to preserve abreast of our adversaries. This might use DoD funding, personal 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 expertise, federally funded R&D facilities refocused on areas not lined 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 autos, shipyards, and so forth. who should not the normal distributorsDo that by choosing winners. Don’t give out door prizes. Contracts must be >$100M so high- high quality venture-funded firms will play.  Till now we have new distributors on the Main Protection Acquisition Program record, all now we have within the DoD is innovation theater – not innovation.

Purchase at Velocity. Right now, the common DoD main acquisition program takes 9-26 years to get a weapon within the palms 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 sooner than DoD procurement cycles. As a substitute of writing necessities, DoD ought to quickly assess options and have interaction warfighters in assessing and prototyping business options.

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

Recruit and develop leaders throughout the Protection Division ready to fulfill contempory threats and reorganize round this new innovation ecosystem. The DoD has world-class folks and group for a world that in some ways now 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 now’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 best 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 price range is actually mounted, creating new Primes and new nationwide champions of the subsequent technology of protection applied sciences turns into a zero-sum recreation. It’s a politically inconceivable drawback for the Protection Division to resolve alone. Modifications at this scale would require Congressional motion. Exhausting to think about within the polarized political atmosphere. However not inconceivable.

These are our challenges for not simply the Gordian Knot Middle 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 straightforward, however as a result of they’re exhausting. as a result of that purpose will serve to arrange and measure the most effective of our energies and expertise, as a result of that problem is one which we’re keen to simply accept, one we’re unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”



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