The 100 Year Old Booz Allen Hamilton’s Innovation Strategy

A few years ago, I was lucky to have attended a session at the State Department Day of Networking, where you get to meet contractors and outside vendors who offer in-house “innovation” services. I peeked into a few programs offered by Booz Allen Hamilton. Here I did my own analysis.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a leading consulting firm for business, government, and military in analytics, digital, engineering and cyber. They also have an innovation hub in Austin, in the DMV area, and provides a steady source of personnel to the government who hold active security clearances.

WAR GAMES AND EXERCISES

This one is called “War Games and Exercises” mainly for military services. Looking at the list of activities, it really looks like a whole design thinking exercises for military personnel. According to Booz, the “wargames and exercises empower creativity, simulate and test ideas in a safe environment, and discover the solutions that help organizations survive and thrive.” It worked with joint staff, military services in acquisition approaches, intel in “simulating future environments, civil agencies for …organizational resiliency and …risk management on a range of events and exercises to build preparedness, increase resilience, and sustain performance.”

Wargames

  • Alternative Futures and Scenario Planning
  • Wargame: A scenario based simulation with moves and countermoves in a controlled and competitive setting with team play and role playing
  • Red teaming/red cell: An independent adversarial group that challenges an organization

Exercises

  • Workshop: A discussion with focused group activities to develop strategy
  • Tabletop: A scenario-based discussion to test strategies, policies, plans, and approaches
  • Drill: aAn exercise with coordinated activities to validate a specific function or capability
  • Functional/Command Post: An exercise to validate and evaluate the synchronization of management with various operational capabilities (logistics, communications, command & control, coordination)
  • Full-Scale/Field Training: An exercise with high-stress, multiagency activities infvolving actual deployment of resources in a coordinated response.

Analysis

  • Wargame/Exercise After-action report analysis: analysis and subsequent improvement planning in accordance to existing plans
  • Real World Event Analysis: An After-action analysis and subsequent improvement planning of a real world or planned event in accordance to existing plans.

Here are some more familiar names like hackathons also dearly known as “Diplomacy Lab”, creating a platform to submit ideas, and a crowdsourcing platform. Without seeing the crowdsourcing platforms myself, I couldn’t really tell how effective the programs were. I wasn’t sure from based off the language for both Accelerators and Incubators the exact type of support they offered.

Hackathons

US Navy: Hack the Machine

The primary objective of the hackathon was build a robust community of maritime cybersecurity talent from among a diverse pool of candidates in Austin, Texas.

Delivered 10 solutions Navy could develop to improve the safety and efficiency of the maritime cybersecurity, data science for safer oceans and next-generation design for PNT alternatives.

Diplomacy Lab

As a follow-on to the Silicon Valley Tech Challenge hosted at UC Berkeley in 2016, Booz Allen partnered with the Bureau of Energy Resource to identify ways that technology and innovation could help improve energy access through a three-day Data Science Challenge in San Francisco. The challenge was to build a community and test how geospatial analysis could increase visibility into renewable energy development potential and help expand access to the two billion people who lack electricity or lack reliable electricity around the world.

Department of State: Silicon Valley Tech Challenge

  • Engaged 144 onsite attendees (117 participants and 27 subject matter expert mentors) and nearly 300 online registrants.
  • Built a crowd of industry experts, data scientists, designers, and those who are engaged in a follow-up crowdsourcing challenge
  • Booz Allen and the State Dept. jointly presented findings at UNSEE4ALL conference in NYC

Crowdsourcing

Booz Allen’s crowdsourcing approach is a methodology for assessing problem spaces in order to design both one-off and related series of crowdsourcing challenges for organizations across multiple sectors and industries. Our focus on every step of the challenge process, from problem space deconstruction to challenge communications to awards disbursement, helps organizations leverage crowdsourcing as a unique problem solving tool in their innovation toolkit.

Intelligence Community Client: Crowdsourcing and Innovation Management Platform

  • Launched flagship crowdsourcing platform, which led to increased speed to mission and saved over $2M collectively.
  • Generated new cross-team collaborative efforts and received recognition at an event with over 200 attendees and 5 agencies
  • Reached over ten thousand active participants spanning several government agencies

Challenges, Competitions, Prizes

Each organization has unique requirements and we emphasize understanding those details during the challenge design process, including facilitating communications, marketing, compliance, engagement analysis, and various other challenge facilitations. The right preparation in deconstructing the client problem space is critical to selecting the right tool to complete the job.

National Science Foundation: Challenge Platform Revitalization

  • NSF Chief Technology Officer sponsored a challenge and selected three idea to include as flagship initiative in NSF’s 2014 Open Government Plan (delivered to the White House in June 2014).
  • In the three months following re-launch, IDeaShare experienced the following results: 43 challenges launched, 4,136 new users, 451 new ideas, 43 ideas selected to be flagship initiative in the Open Government Plan out of the NSF potential user pool (2,300 staff and contractors.)

Accelerators

Accelerators can be achieved with effective program design and governance utilizing their existing assets and resource to achieve internal innovation results.

NASA: Internal Technology Accelerator

This effort is assessing the effectiveness of the current NASA accelerator model and the leadership team through observation and the stakeholder research.

  • Conducting a tailored innovation assessment in order to establish a baseline of the organization’s innovation maturity
  • Conducting external innovation accelerator market research through interviews with members of similar innovation efforts going on at federal, commercial and academic institutions
  • Assessing the potential benefits, cost savings, time savings, skills acquired, reputation, employee engagement, network size, associated with adopting innovative methods, tools, processes, and practices within NASA’s larger organizational context

Incubators

Incubators creates a space where new ideas can flourish and become a reality. Booz Allen iHubs are geographic concentration of accelerated ideation and entrepreneurship. Each iHub has a formal an informal network of investors, entrepreneurs, patents, and cutting-edge companies. Booz Allen’s physical presence in leading innovation ecosystems around the country accelerates our ability to source targeted capabilities and new thinking.

Booz Allen Innovation Center and iHub Network

  • Interdisciplinary teams work side-by-side with the clients, partners, and the innovation community to create integrated solutions.
  • Project teams provided with the customized curricula, mentorships, and technologies
  • The space serves as a working laboratory to test, showcase and measure how space and technology and promote collaboration, wellness, and productivity – while reducing the time to market for new products and services.
  • The space features in-person and virtual platforms to connect diverse stakeholders from the larger innovation community to help solve the world’s toughest problems. “

So my take on the Booz Allen innovation programs for government is that they took on a few projects as they came and had some resources to offer, but did not have a streamlined set of programming offices could lay on top of. I think when you’re approaching BAH, you do have to have a set objective as well as KPIs. I’m very interested to see how the Booz Allen’s presence in Austin, Texas might envelop along with SXSW.