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SXSW Interactive 2014

Entrepreneurs in Bureaucracy: Military Innovators

Returning from a decade of war, emerging military leaders had been required to innovate their way through countless cross-cultural interactions while deployed overseas. Stateside life has proved otherwise, as bureaucratic realities crush combat-tested, entrepreneurial minded officers. Recognizing this, junior officers have self-assembled to create ad hoc, informal advocacy organizations within the military to promote outside-the-box solutions. Groups such as Disruptive Thinkers and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum have galvanized lumbering military institutions to look to Start Up culture in motivating the Millennial Generation.
This panel will explore the challenges faced and lessons learned by junior officers and enlisted personnel pushing Information Age solutions through an Industrial Age hierarchy. Their stories of being both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs will give valuable lessons to those desiring to navigate and innovate within large, established organizations.

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  1. How does a seniority based organization identify and promote young, innovative talent?
  2. What does entrepreneurship within the military look like?
  3. Why is this generation of military officers particularly well suited within startup cultures?
  4. What lessons has the military absorbed from agile, innovative companies?
  5. How can an organization set up a distinct cell of young, "disruptive" individuals, and harness their passion for the good of a large organization?



Ben Kohlmann, Co-Director, US Navy

Meta Information:

  • Tags: disruptive
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Policy and Civic Engagement
  • Level: Intermediate
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