The Community Advisory Cohort 2 members have just been selected, but who are they, what do they do, and why are they important to DEF and the defense innovation community at large?

Two business men working together.
Two business men working together.
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

What is the Community Advisory?

The Community Advisory is a program to culturally engineer enhanced collaboration between organizational leadership and the overall community. The first cohort served as a pilot of the program, with six members completing a 6-month stint from November 2019 through May 2020. Selected via application, this initial group was allowed to self-organize and self-select specific objectives within an overall goal of engaging the DEF community at large. With the…


The time has arrived to select DEF’s next Executive Director! Michael Madrid’s two-year tenure will be coming to a close this fall, and the team will welcome a new leader to the helm. We’re looking for someone who is passionate, like heart on fire passionate, about DEF’s vision to promote a culture of innovation in national security. And we need someone who is ready to lead through a strong sense of servant leadership. Interested yourself, or know a community member who would be a good fit? Read on!

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

Process Overview

The transition process for selecting a new Executive Director will follow this…


By Patrick Collins

The previous article in this series addressed small and medium sized enterprises, how the government takes on market as well as technical risk to support them, and how large firms often acquire smaller firms to absorb their innovations.

Those engaged in the defense innovation business know there are a multitude of organizations across the military services, joint department efforts, the private sector, and the non-profits. Some offices or programs are designed for researchers, some for start-ups, and others for everything from academics to multi-national corporations. Through my research, I found that a few key niches seem to…


by Patrick Collins

The first article in this series introduced the defense innovation ecosystem, discussed what makes it unique compared to other sectors of the economy, and explored cooperation between the government and the largest defense firms. This article will look at how the government engaged with small and medium sized firms and their challenges, including the legendary valley of death.

The Bottom of the Ecosystem

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the mature, large scale programs of record is the innovative basic research phase. This is usually laboratory work done at universities, federal research labs, or federally funded research centers. Here again…


by Ryan Hilger, Lieutenant Commander US Navy

Note: This is the second of a two-part series. You can read the first part here.

If people are your top priority, train them like it. In Part Two of a two part series, a former submarine department head offers lessons from the U.S. Navy’s submarine force on how to turn training into a competitive advantage.

The first part of this series looked at how companies can learn from the nuclear navy and their rigorous approach to training and workforce development. We looked at how to adopt the mindset of developing the team…


by Patrick Collins

DEF is just one of many entities in the defense innovation ecosystem, to better understand our organization, it is necessary to understand its place within a web of others. This article is the first in a series that will explore that ecosystem, spanning government, corporate, and non-profit entities. In this installment we set the stage and then explore innovation as a result of cooperation between the Defense Department and large defense companies.

The defense innovation ecosystem is complex and diverse, and at times, confusing. It can be easy to get lost in the mix of private, public…


by Ryan Hilger, Lieutenant Commander US Navy

If people are your top priority, train them like it. In Part One of a two part series, a former submarine department head offers lessons from the U.S. Navy’s submarine force on how to turn training into a competitive advantage.

I am convinced that even if a submarine was mid war, Engineering Department training wouldn’t be cancelled. Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the Nuclear Navy, would probably rise from the grave to excoriate any Commanding Officer or Engineer Officer who slacked on training. Many newcomers to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force are…


Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

As an all-volunteer team, DEF strives to be the best that it can for the virtuous insurgency. One of the many groups supporting us is our Board of Directors, who share their experiences, advice and hard-earned insights to make us better.

The Board meets regularly to review business and provide strategic mentoring. If you’re interested in learning more, check out other posts about this amazing group of leaders.

We are excited to announce that Joy Shanaberger is joining DEF’s Board of Directors! Read more about Joy below.


by Dustin Thomas, Eric Heller & David Schiff

Hopper is DEF’s innovation consultancy, a community of volunteers who leverage their expertise in national security issues to address challenges of senior leaders in government.

Digital technology is changing the workspace. Digital innovation will be critical if we want to maintain a competitive advantage in the future. Recruiting, training, and retaining digital talent in the DoD is a national security priority, but is not receiving the time, attention, funds, or other resources necessary to ensure future mission needs are met. …


by Kuljinder “Jeena” Cheema

Disruptive Thinkers curates blog posts that promote a culture of innovation in the national security community, inspiring and connecting ideas that challenge the status quo. We welcome submissions that are in line with this mission.

How can Admiral Gilday lead the way toward these objectives and meet the challenge of great power competition?

On July 22, 2020, The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it had selected three universities to become the Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes. Most notably, the University of Colorado Boulder will focus on sensing and distribution concepts. The new center is named Quantum…

Defense Entrepreneurs Forum

We inspire, connect and empower people to promote a culture of innovation in the national security community. More at www.DEF.org. Follow @ Disruptive Thinkers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store