What does it mean to be innovative? It’s almost a buzzword nowadays, but underneath the flashy exterior is a very basic truth — innovation has always been a key factor for success in any industry, and it may be especially important in today’s competitive business environment. We generally think of innovation as something new, an idea, practice or technology that hasn’t been thought of before. That’s an easy part of the definition, but we also like an expanded concept of innovation as a part of organizational culture that encourages new ways of doing everyday work. We’re not talking about going all-in on radical experiments that have your team constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Rather, being innovative can center on staying open to new ideas, whether they come from casual brainstorming with your “boots on the ground,” the folks who know well the reality of life on site, or via an AGCW training or networking event. It helps to have a role model for this kind of thing, so we looked to one of the most innovative organizations in the country — the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Though you may not have heard of it, DARPA has been driving the cutting-edge tech of the military for more than 50 years now, guiding innovations in everything from the Internet and space flight to self-driving vehicles. To do that, the defense group has followed something called the Heilmeier Catechism, a series of questions intended to figure out which risks are worth taking. Here’s what the folks at DARPA ask when vetting new ideas:
This is a great template for any firm looking to weight the merits of a new idea. Want to get the ball rolling on something new? Come see us for the latest trainings and workshops to kickstart the process!