We tend to rewrite the histories of technological innovation, making myths about a guy who had a great idea that changed the world. In reality, though, innovation isn’t the goal; it’s everything that gets you there. It’s bad financial decisions and blueprints for machines that weren’t built until decades later. It’s the important leaps forward that synthesize lots of ideas, and it’s the belly-up failures that teach us what not to do.
The thing is, innovation without risk (and ultimately failure) is nothing of the sort. Innovation and risk go hand in hand. The DoD acquisition enterprise must be re-thought to accommodate the type of calculated risks that drive the leap-ahead innovations that fuel the commercial tech sector.