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We've come a long way delivering innovative solutions. But our next chapter is still being written.
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Booz Allen takes pride in a culture that encourages and rewards the many dimensions of leadership—innovative thinking, active collaboration, and personal service. We’re particularly proud of the diversity of our Leadership Team and Board of Directors, among the most diverse in corporate America today.
It’s an origin story worthy of a Hollywood movie—an impassioned doctor petitioning the president of the United States to donate a Navy ship to be converted into a sailing hospital to deliver medical care, health education, and hope to underserved communities around the world. (A documentary about Project Hope’s maiden voyage won an Oscar for best documentary short in 1961.) Some 54 years later and long after the SS Hope sailed its last voyage, Project HOPE—still burning with equal parts passion and purpose—connected with Booz Allen volunteers for help in creating a culture of innovation that would keep its work alive and thriving for another 50 years and counting.
“Igniting innovation is at the heart of what Booz Allen does, so how cool for us to engage with Project HOPE to grow their innovative culture. ”
- Josh Elliot
With 400+ employees working in 30 countries around the globe, Project HOPE is at the front lines in building capacity by supporting local healthcare workers—with training, health education, community outreach, and distribution of medicine. The organization relies primarily on grants to fund its programs. “We asked ourselves, one, how can we better compete for limited funds against much bigger organizations, and two, how can we harness the expertise we have among our 400+ employees to create more mission effectiveness and impact across the totality of the organization. Innovation is the key,” says John Bronson, a 20-year veteran of Project HOPE.
“Igniting innovation is at the heart of what Booz Allen does, so how cool for us to engage with Project HOPE to grow their innovative culture,” says Principal Josh Elliot, who was part of a volunteer team helping the organization. “One of the first things we did was to create a shared meaning of innovation. Project HOPE employees didn’t always consider what they were doing in their own sphere to be innovative or applicable to another part of the organization. We said—if it’s working for you, you need to share it. The heart of innovation is the sharing of ideas and solutions, which can lead to bigger ideas and solutions.”
Over 4 months, the Booz Allen volunteers interviewed employees, Board members, peer organizations, and community entities and provided an Innovation Framework that included ideas they could implement quickly and those they could implement over time. “One of the first things Project HOPE did, based on our recommendation, was to pilot an ‘idea challenge,’” says Josh. Project HOPE employees submitted ideas to be voted on by peers for funding and further exploration. “We saw this create a lot of engagement and energy among their employees,” continues Josh.
The firm’s volunteers also recommended that Project HOPE explore utilization of better collaboration tools to empower their geographically dispersed workforce to connect with one other. “It was key for them to thoughtfully and intentionally build into their culture specific avenues and opportunities for the sharing of ideas, experiences, and impacts that were occurring locally,” says Principal Osama Malik, another of the project team members.
Several members of the project team stay in touch with Project HOPE, more than a year after their 4-month stint concluded. “When you work so closely on a project like this, you fall in love with their mission, and you want to do whatever you can to continue to help,” says Osama. “It’s not all the time that we get to apply our knowledge and the skills we’ve honed at Booz Allen to an organization that helps others on such a global scale.”
In speaking about the impact of the project, John, later named “Innovation Czar” at Project HOPE, says, “Booz Allen helped us think more broadly, more innovatively about the work of our organization. One example is to examine the inherent value of our in-country expertise and how we can capitalize on it to further our mission through creative partnerships and other ways. They gave us the confidence to be innovative, and their work validated our journey forward.”
Project HOPE is just one of the not-for-profits that benefited from support by Booz Allen volunteers participating in a firm initiative called the Leadership Excellence Program (LEP) that develops senior employees’ leadership skills and allows them to apply their strategy and consulting expertise to helping not-for-profit organizations.
In the 4 years of the Leadership Excellence Program’s existence, more than 215 volunteers have helped 33 not-for-profit organizations, volunteering for 15,517 hours with an estimated value of $2,858,881.