A case study of project ATHENA: tactical level technological innovation aboard the USS Benfold
Cannon, Christopher K.
Barrett, Frank J.
Abdel-Hamid, Tarek K.
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The Department of Defense (DOD) must find a way to maintain its technological superiority during this dawning era of fiscal austerity. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end and defense budgets shrink, the DOD can no longer rely solely on the commercial sector to address its technological problems. Instead, the DOD must harness the intellectual capital resident in its ranks to identify and solve its most salient technological challenges. An innovation effort initiated aboard the USS Benfold exemplifies ways in which tactical level units can drive technological innovation within the DOD. The initiative, known as Project ATHENA, began in early 2013 as a way to develop junior officers aboard the USS Benfold. However, Project ATHENA grew over the following months into an innovation initiative that is now supported by leading academic institutions, the commercial sector, private enterprise, and a growing number of government agencies. Project ATHENA offers an opportunity to conduct a case study analyzing the ways in which organizational change management and design thinking can be utilized to spur technological innovation. The case provides DOD leaders with an in depth examination of the factors contributing to the burst of technological innovation witnessed in project ATHENA.
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