Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen's Ideas Festival

Ideas Festival Advances Innovative Thinking and Collaboration Among Booz Allen Staff

Festival Empowers Employees, Encourages Thought Leadership Development

Over the years, Booz Allen has seen how ideas and innovation can change the shape and nature of our clients’ mission and business. From change management to systems engineering to cybersecurity, Booz Allen has always been at the forefront of delivering the newest thinking. A critical part of that success has been encouraging innovation from our employees and then developing and nurturing those sparks of creativity.

Cultivating Our Greatest Asset

The Ideas Festival combines both of those robust traditions – developing game-changing ideas and developing our people. “We believe that the best ideas come from the folks who are working on the frontlines with clients,” says Senior Vice President Gary Labovich. “And the best ideas aren’t necessarily the biggest ideas. Some so-called small ideas have made big impacts with clients and the firm.”

“The firm’s commitment to supporting staff innovation helps set Booz Allen apart,” adds Senior Vice President Karen Dahut. “The Ideas Festival is the firm’s signature innovation effort, designed to identify and incubate new ideas and solutions for the marketplace. The Ideas Festival consists of two parts: an Ideas Contest where consultants vie for the opportunity to win investment funding to turn their ideas into business plans; and an Ideas Summit, a daylong workshop focused on discussion and collaboration around innovation. The event guarantees significant exposure across the firm for our employees’ innovative ideas, and since the original Ideas Festival was held in 2008, it has continued to evolve and become an institutionalized part of our culture.

The Idea That Started It All

The Booz Allen Ideas Festival was the brainchild of Senior Associate Erin Comer, who proposed it after working with the firm to support the Aspen Ideas Festival. “Booz Allen was helping to drive content development at Aspen, and I wanted to do something similar at the firm that would help it advance its ideas,” she says.

Comer knew that each year, the firm makes major strategic investments in the ideas most relevant to client needs. These investments allow senior leaders and staff to turn those ideas into capabilities and service offerings for that market. The Ideas Contest aligns to the firm’s investment process, giving staff the opportunity to win investment funding and bring their ideas to market. “I also knew that many of the junior staff wanted to make more of an impact,” she says. “Between what I observed at Aspen and the spark that happens when people want to share exciting ideas, I believed an Ideas Festival could work at Booz Allen and help highlight its capable staff, help them gain credibility faster, and identify future leaders in the firm.”

In 2008, Comer launched the Mission and Information Integration (MI2) Campaign Ideas Festival, the precursor to today’s Ideas Festival. In 2009, she was recognized as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, partly because of her work on the firm’s Ideas Festival.