Too often in the defense industry, we build for an abstracted version of the end-user. We design solutions for edgefighters as viewed through the lens of contractual language written by acquisition professionals who are well removed from the situation-dependent tactical details that can mean the difference between life and death in the field. We develop products for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines instead of a soldier, a sailor, an airman, and a marine.
Industrial age warfare is over. Modern, information-age warfare is a competition of individuals, not institutions, where technology is relegated to a supporting role – albeit an important one. Within this context the question is not “How can technology ‘leverage’ achieve the desired tactical, operational, or strategic outcomes?” but rather “How can technology help edgefighters to achieve the desired outcomes?”
Today’s operational environments are a chaotic mess by historical standards. And operational diversity demands functional specialization, which in turn demands tools that can be optimized at the lowest common denominator: the individual edgefighter.
As a private citizen, I can customize the technologies in my daily life in a near infinite variety of ways to enhance my productivity and performance, yet edgefighters are seldom afforded the same luxury in the execution of their duties.
I marvel at how poorly designed most military systems are from a pure usability perspective. Even today, there seems to be little recognition in the defense industry that usability impacts performance. The extra split second that it takes to find actionable threat information using a poorly design user interface can make all the difference in the field. And anyone who’s ever tried to squeeze into a HMMWV understands how poor design can effect mission performance.
Thoughtful design with an eye towards end-user specialization doesn’t just win in the commercial marketplace, it’s a strategic imperative in contemporary conflict environments. When the enemy is regularly innovating new threats in a development cycle that measures in weeks, it’s impossible to go back to the well and create new purpose-built countermeasures in time to effect the tactical fight.
This is where good design comes in. Military systems must transcend the idea of application-specific engineering and migrate to the technology-as-ecosystem model, where platforms are designed to co-evolve with the operational environment and the changing needs of users.
Mav6 is committed to the idea of improving the edgefighter experience through great product and solution design that helps the men and women engaged on the front lines of conflict and public safety do their jobs better, safer, and faster. This means building flexible, easy to use solutions that can be customized in the field to accommodate emerging operational needs. There’s nothing revolutionary about this. It’s something the commercial world learned long ago. And if you ask us, it’s well past time for the defense industry to take note.