The Department of Defense (DOD) increasingly recognizes that it must do more to spur innovation to maintain its technological superiority. This article suggests that DOD’s leadership make time for David McCullough’s recent biography, The Wright Brothers, as an aviation anecdote chock full of fundamental lessons that DOD must embrace to succeed.
Among other things, this article encourages DoD to consider - in light of the Wright Brothers' experiences and successes - experimenting with prizes and contests; looking outside the inner circle (including conventional contractors and sources of R&D) for new ideas; appreciating that bigger isn’t always better; recognizing that prototyping makes sense - DoD should embrace "fly before you buy"; embracing, understanding, and rewarding responsible risk-taking; and coming to grips with the reality that, today, innovation respects no geographical boundaries.
GW Paper Series
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2016-8; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-8
Schooner, Steven L. and Castellano, Nathaniel E., Reinvigorating Innovation: Lessons Learned from the Wright Brothers (April 2016). Contract Management, Volume 56, Page 46 (April 2016); GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2016-8; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-8. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=http://ssrn.com/abstract=2758727