Executive Summary

The Nature of the Defense Innovation Problem

July 2022

AUTHORS: Melissa Flagg, Molly Nadolski, Jose Sanchez, Tom McDermott, and Philip S. Antón

The Department of Defense (DoD) asked that we assess its innovation problem. This effort was spurred by the Department’s continued struggle to engage the innovation ecosystem effectively to support improved acquisition, capabilities, and military outcomes. We considered the existing approaches that are heavily focused on process solutions and the standing up of new offices. It was clear that the challenge remains. As a result, we took a step back to clearly define the problem, its causes and challenges, and potential remedies rather than risk blindly identifying and chasing rapid or simple solutions that may not resolve the fundamental issues with obtaining and fielding the right innovative defense capabilities. As such, this report is an effort to look at the challenge from first principles and truly understand the nature of the defense innovation problem.