Superheroes Not Uniquely Required In The Innovation Ecosystem

The heart of innovating is about partnerships, finding opportunities and people to make good things happen quickly.

Sabra Horne

March 8, 2023

Despite being a nation of intrepid tinkerers and big thinkers, we often associate great innovators with those who have had to take near superhuman effort against an onslaught of barricades to success. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. To drive innovation in the public and private sectors, we need fewer heroes and more regular folks with the right support and pathways to success. 

Lately, we’re seeing a shift in how the public sector approaches innovation. In my recent conversation with Vago Muradian at the Defense and Aerospace Report Podcast, we discussed how the way we innovate in government has changed and what still needs to happen to advance the way we work to achieve mission success. We touched on why we need to build innovation ecosystems, stay mission-focused and more. Highlights from our chat below.

Heroes Not Required

The U.S. Government, with its obstacle course of bureaucracy and red tape, has created an innovation culture that either stagnates or surges with the rare heroic efforts of rebel geniuses. 

Our processes keep us from the ability to problem solve. But the reality is, while we’ll always need heroes, we desperately need more regular people who have the support, strategic partnerships, training, and leadership to go out and make big ideas happen for the mission. 

The heart of innovation is really about partnerships and finding the opportunities and people who can help make good things happen quickly, easily and simply. This doesn’t require grand resources to achieve. Creating talent management systems and changing the way we treat and train innovators in the government will have a positive influence on mission focus overall. 

Slowly, this is changing, with many government agencies taking tangible steps to implement mission-innovation efforts among their staff: from training and compensation, to building the infrastructure for improved networks with businesses and partners. 

For more, listen to our full conversation here or skip to the timestamps below: 

13:40: Who is getting it right? Examples of mission-focused innovators in the Department of Defense

15:21: What qualities make a good innovator? 

20:00 What does a successful talent management system look like? 

23:37: How the Office of Personnel Management fits into this concept 

24:59: Training and performance evaluations/rewards for innovation 

28:04: Economy and compensation: how the public and private sectors are changing 

29:13: Incentivizing industry to embrace mission-focused innovation

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