Last month, I shared a post about an experiment that I had undertaken to crowdsource the development of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Strategic Guidance. I was pleased, though not surprised by the final product. What did surprise me, however, was the uncovering of what I believe to be the communication of our personality. When you read it, it will no doubt make you think about Apple’s Think Different campaign, which was amplified by¬†Here’s to the Crazy Ones. Though emulating their campaign was not our intent, truth is, like everything else we do, it wasn’t by accident. When immersed in this public-private innovation ecosystem, the blending of cultures is intentional and the influence of commercial cultures is by design. To provide further insight into who we are and what we do, I offer the below which is taken from the cover letter to our Strategic Guidance that I signed out…

We are a team unlike any other: warfighters from all services, government civilians, international teammates, and commercial executives. We operate on the edges of traditional practices using authorities provided by Congress to redefine the status quo along the way. We live at the cultural intersection between the startup world and the deep-rooted national defense establishment. We tap into the unique asset of reservists and veterans with native fluency and deep experience in both worlds. We identify and exploit opportunities to cooperate with allied partners to deliver impact internationally. As we work to establish an unmatched 21st century National Security Innovation Base, we will continue to drive acquisition reform and leverage commercial innovation, focusing primarily on the areas of information technology, artificial intelligence/machine learning, space, and autonomous and human systems. We will Field commercial technology, Create tailored solutions, and Coach others as we unleash the power of non-traditional innovators and the methodologies they employ.

Living up to our responsibility to execute our mission requires us to borrow from commercial innovators. Heck, our mission statement is Accelerating Commercial Innovation for National Defense. So why would it surprise anyone that when we attempted to communicate why we do what we do the result would look similar to one of the most iconic marketing campaigns from one of the most iconic lifestyle companies of our lifetime. The team I am blessed to be a part of right now is iconic in our own way. Like any team passionately committed to a shared cause, we embrace our responsibility to communicate what it is we stand for, how we see ourselves, and the movement we continue to inspire. Though we don’t aspire to be Apple, we do Think Different, we most definitely represent the future of the Department of Defense, and we are looking to identify partners to join the cause. We may not have any hiring vacancies at the moment, but there is always plenty of room to become an Xer…

  • How is your team communicating what it is they/you stand for?
  • What is it that sets you apart from other teams in your mission space?
  • Are you allowing others to define your message?