Steve Blank hacking for defense at Stanford 2018 – wonder and fear


We have just finished our 3rd annual Hacking for Defense class at Stanford. Six teams presented their lessons learned presentations.

Watching them, I remained amazed and impressed by what they had accomplished in 10 weeks.

  • Six teams spoke on 600 beneficiaries, stakeholders, requirements writers, program managers, combatants, lawyers, security officers, clients, etc.
  • At the end of the class, all the teams understood that the problem raised by the sponsor had turned into something bigger, deeper and more interesting.

Each of the six teams submitted a 2-minute video explaining their problem and then presented their lessons learned for 8 minutes over the last 10 weeks. Each of their slide presentations follows their journey of customer discovery. All teams used the mission model, customer development and agile engineering to create viable de minimis products, but all of their journeys were unique.

Teams appeared in front of several hundred people in person and online.

If you can not see the TrackID video click here

If you can not see the TrackID slides, click here

If you can not see the Polaris video click here

If you can not see the Polaris slides, click here

If you can not see the Acquiforce video, click here

If you can not see the Acquiforce slides, click here

If you can not see the Intelgrids video, click here

If you can not see the Intelgrids slides, click here

If you can not see the See ++ video, click here.

If you can not see the See ++ slides, click here.

If you can not see Theia video click here

If you can not see Theia slides, click here
The video of the live team presentation is here. It's worth watching.

The class
Our students mantra was that we wanted them to learn more about "Deployment, not Demonstrations". Our observation is that the DOD has more technological demonstrations than necessary, but often lacks a deep understanding of the problem. Our goal was to make students understand the problem of their sponsors – before they started to build solutions. As you can imagine with a room full of technologists, it was difficult. In addition, we wanted students to understand all parts of the template of the mission template, not just the recipients and the value proposition. We wanted them to learn what it takes to get their product / service deployed on the ground, not give yet another demo to a general. This meant that the minimal viable products developed by the students were focused on optimizing their learning of what to build, and not just on building prototypes.

(Our sponsors reminded us that sometimes, deploying a solution meant that someone had to see a demo!)

Note: The Piracy for Defense category has been designed as a "basic research" to be widely shared and the results are not subject to any restrictions for reasons of property or national security. Over the course of the 10 weeks that students have been through, the prototypes of Hacking for Defense Hardware and Software have not gone beyond the level of readiness for technology 4 and have remained outside the scope of application US regulations on export controls and restrictions on the participation of foreign nationals.

Objectives for hacking for the defense class
Our main goal was to teach students about lean innovation when they engaged in a national public service. Today, if students want to give to their country, they think of Teach for America, the Peace Corps, Americorps or perhaps the US Digital Service or the GSA GSA. Few are considering making the world safer with the Ministry of Defense, the intelligence community or other government agencies.

Next, we wanted students to become familiar with the country's security threats and issues while working with DoD innovators and the intelligence community. In doing so, also explain to our sponsors (the innovators from the Ministry of Defense and the Intelligence Community (IC)) that there is a methodology that can help them understand and respond to rapidly evolving asymmetric threats. What if we could get the teams to quickly discover real problems in the field using Lean methods, and only then define the needs to solve them, could defense acquisition programs work speed and urgency and deliver timely and necessary solutions.

Finally, we wanted to familiarize students with the military profession, its expertise and its role in society. And conversely, show our Ministry of Defense and Intelligence community sponsors that civilian students can make a significant contribution to understanding issues and quickly prototype solutions to real-world problems.

Origins of the class
Hacking for Defense has its origins in the Lean LaunchPad class that I first taught at Stanford in 2011. It was adopted by the National Science Foundation in 2012 to train senior researchers who wanted a federal grant for marketing their science (SBIR grant). The NSF said, "Class is the scientific method of entrepreneurship. Scientists understand the "hypothesis tests" and have re-labeled the class under the NSF name I-Body (Innovation Corps). The class is now taught in 81 universities and has trained more than 1,500 scientific teams. It was adopted by the National Institutes of Health as I-Corps at the NIH in 2014 and at the National Security Agency in 2015.

In 2016, after brainstorming with Pete Newell from BMNT and Joe Felter at Stanford, we found that students at our research universities had little connection to the problems of their government and the broader issues that civil society was struggling with. We wondered how to involve the students, but we realized that the same Lean LaunchPad / I-Corps course would provide a framework for doing this. Hacking for Defense and Hacking for Diplomacy with the State Department were born. The hacking of energy in Columbia, hacking the impact (nonprofit organizations) in Berkeley and the hacking of conservation and development in Duke quickly followed.

Innovation is spreading
Hacking for Defense is now offered in eleven universities, in addition to Stanford – Georgetown, the University of Pittsburgh, Boise State, the University of San Diego, James Madison University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Southern California and Columbia University. In the next year, it will have 22 universities. Hacking for Defense.org, a non-profit organization, was created to train educators and provide a single point of contact to connect the problems of DOD / IC sponsors to these universities.

We were surprised at the applicability of the "Piracy for X …" methodology to other problems. It also applies to the resolution of public safety, energy, policy, society and society issues internationally and within our own communities. Next year we will see three new variants of the class:

  • Hacking for the environment
  • Hacking oceans
  • Hacking cities

It takes a village
Although I wrote this blog post, this course is a team project. The teaching team consisted of:

  • Pete Newell is a retired army colonel. He is currently a Visiting Principal Investigator at the Center for National Security Technology and Policy at the University of National Defense and Executive Director of BMNT.
  • Steve Weinstein is a 30-year veteran of Silicon Valley technology companies and Hollywood media companies. Steve is the CEO of MovieLabs, the joint research and development lab at all major film studios.
  • Jeff Decker is a social scientist at Stanford. Jeff served in the US Army as a light infantry squad leader in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two of our teaching assistants were alumni: Samuel Jackson, our main teaching assistant, and Will Papper and Annie Shiel and Paricha Duangtaweesub also helped.

Special thanks to our academic advisors – Tom Byers, STVP professor of engineering and faculty director, Arun Majumdar and Sally Benson, co-directors of the Stanford Precourt Energy Institute, and John Mitchell, Dean of Education and Training. learning at Stanford.

Special thanks to Rich Carlin and the Office of Naval Research for supporting the program at Stanford and across the country.

We were fortunate to have a team of mentors (venture capitalists and entrepreneurs) who gave their time selflessly to help coach the teams. Thanks to Tom Bedecarre, Kevin Ray, Daniel Bardenstein, Rafi Holtzman, Craig Seidel, Michael Chai, Lisa Wallace and Dave Gabler.

We had the privilege of being able to count on the support of an extraordinary team of experienced senior professional volunteers, who attended scholarship programs at the Stanford Hoover Institution, as well as at the Center for Security. and International Cooperation (CISAC) and the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC). Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI). These include: Colonel Bradley Boyd, Lieutenant-Colonel James "Gumbo" Coughlin, Lieutenant-Colonel Marcus Ferrara, Lieutenant-Colonel Jer "Jay" Garcia, Lieutenant Commander Nick Hill, Major Michael Nordeen, Commander Rebecca Ore, Major Michael Schoonover, Colonel Jason "Shrek" Terry and Todd Forsman.

And of course, a big congratulations to our sponsors. At SOCOM, Matt Leland and Angel Zajkowski of MITER, Suresh Damodaran of NAVFAC, Ben Wilcox of 9th ISR, Ian Eishen of AFRL, Jeff Palumbo and Mike Rottmayer of Defense Acquistion University of Shirley Franko and ERDC Thomas Bozada.

Thank you!

Classified in: Hacking For Defense |