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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 has been delivering innovative solutions to clients for over a century, but in 2013, the firm embarked on a mission to effuse an intentional Culture of Innovation throughout the organization.
“The spirit of entrepreneurism and innovation has been at our core since the beginning. And as we looked ahead to the next 100 years, we had an opportunity to freshly infuse innovation in how we approach the market and solve client problems,” says Senior Associate Chris Holmes, one of the Culture of Innovation initiative leaders. “The greatest pool of innovators are our employees—who understand their clients’ missions better than anyone. Employees’ diversity of thought, experience, and expertise are the key to driving innovation. We thoughtfully built a framework to bring this creative diversity together, which provides a new lens to analyze problems. Our culture of innovation empowers employees as creative thinkers and provides unparalleled value for our clients and for any problem we try to tackle.”
For the past 3 years, Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group (SIG) has built and driven this Culture of Innovation framework. We connect people and ideas across the natural barriers of markets, capabilities, and geographic distances. Through focused challenges, and the creation of planned points of collaboration, we’ve established an environment that attracts more of the best ideas and compels our people to connect, contribute, and thrive. Recruiting and retaining a new generation of talent is a priority to stimulate creativity and create original, sustainable value.
“Our culture of innovation empowers employees as creative thinkers and provides unparalleled value for our clients and for any problem we try to tackle.”
- Senior Associate Chris Holmes
To foster this culture, Booz Allen developed a set of tools and programs—several of which have generated impressive buy-in and engagement. These include:
We’ve come a long way since 2013 and the next chapter of our innovation journey is underway as we jump into the Innovation Hub (iHub) network, a group of entrepreneurs, startups, incubators, investors, and other leading-edge firms in pre-existing hot beds of innovation in places like Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. Our iHub presence is helping the firm enhance our brand, recruit and retain top talent, generate leads, sell new business models, and pilot new technologies. We’ve even opened our own Innovation Center in Washington, DC. From its innovative space design to the cutting-edge technologies from our partnering sponsors—Intel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Microsoft—the state-of-the-art Center is built to fuel creativity.
“The Innovation Center and our engagement in the larger Innovation Hub network are helping to raise the bar,” says Senior Associate and Innovation Center Director Kurt Scherer. “Now our clients are getting not only the best of Booz Allen, but of our partners and alliances as well.”
In February 2016, in an effort to develop brain health innovations for veterans experiencing mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, Booz Allen leveraged relationships with its San Francisco and Austin iHub co-working locations—Galvanize and Capital Factory—to host, with the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation/MyVA Partnerships, the #VABrainTrust Hackathon, together with veterans, caregivers, clinicians, data scientists, and others.
Booz Allen’s data curation platform, Sailfish, provided hackathon participants with datasets categorized by the hackathon themes: community reintegration, rehabilitation, and diagnostics. Throughout the weekend, teams developed and pitched ideas and presented them to the judges. Twenty projects were created, including: using Twitter bots for suicide prevention and intervention, creating online communities for service members to find jobs and reintegrate into society, developing platforms for clinicians to provide qualified veteran medical referrals, and using wearable devices to monitor and improve sleep patterns and attentiveness.