Podcast with Dr Lucy Mason – Innovation and Defence’s Language of Change Ep 2

The series is sponsored by The Army Innovation Team. The Army Innovation team is leading on the Army BattleLab project which sits within the wider Defence BattleLab infrastructure. On the run up to the opening of this facility later this year, there will be a series of events which seek to engage with industry, academia and wider stake holders.  To sign up to these events, and to receive the project newsletter, please email the team at [email protected]

[00:00:00] [00:00:00] This podcast series is sponsored by the British Army Innovation Team. This team is set up to encourage and facilitate innovation across the Army and supports wider Defence initiatives too.  One of their, projects, The Army BattleLab, is due to open this year in the South West of England. If you would like further information about this project why not get in touch directly with the team via the show notes?

[00:00:24] Welcome to this Wavell Room podcast series, which focuses on Defences language of change. This series seeks to explore some of the key ideas about change. What does it actually mean to innovate? Are we less adaptive and agile than in the past? What does it mean to empower? And most importantly, why is any of this different from what has gone before?

[00:00:44]This series aims to understand what we mean by some of those Defence buzzwords we keep hearing over and over again. Over the next few weeks, look forward to hearing from a whole host of different people from the military, the academic world, industry, and also the sporting world to [00:01:00] understand their views on this language of change, which has dominated military conversations for decades.

[00:01:05]  This week we welcome Dr. Lucy Mason. Lucy has a doctorate in archeological science and a wealth of experience across government in dealing with change. Lucy has a significant depth of understanding about how government organizations try to do things differently.  She has worked with the police, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Cabinet Office and the Home Office.   The highlight of Lisa’s change initiative roles was undoubtedly setting up the Defence and Security Accelerator. This is arguably the most overt decision the government has made in recent years. That the defence and security apparatus must start doing things differently.

[00:01:45] Frosty: [00:01:45] We’re going to start with the same question that we ask all of our guests. Defence is awash with buzzwords. If you had to advocate for one buzz word, what would it be and why?

[00:01:54] Lucy: [00:01:54] I would advocate for innovation as being a really good buzz word for Defence.

[00:02:00] [00:01:59] It is a buzzword. I, I agree. But the reason it’s important is because innovation is absolutely core to what Defence and security are trying to do. The mission is to stay ahead of adversaries. To out-think them to have tactical and strategic advantage. And that’s why innovation needs to be the life blood of Defence and security organisations.

[00:02:19]Frosty: [00:02:19] If it’s the lifeblood of what we have to do, and it’s something that we’re doing all the time, why do we have to talk about it so much?

[00:02:26]Lucy: [00:02:26] Because it doesn’t happen nearly enough because it still happens in a very fragmented way and perhaps with some very niche teams working on it.

[00:02:35] So part of the key challenge now is to really embed that innovation culture across Defence and security, it should be a core part of what everyone does and not something that just a few people do.

[00:02:46]Frosty: [00:02:46] Okay. So yeah, if its a core part of what everyone does. I agree with you on that entirely, so you don’t think it’s something that’s centralised.

[00:02:54] Lucy: [00:02:55] I think innovation needs to happen in many different ways for different people. There isn’t any [00:03:00] one size fits all. One of the things that I think has been really great in the last sort of five, six, seven years has been this blossoming of innovation across Defence and security with different groups, doing it in their own way and experimenting with different styles.

[00:03:14] I think that’s fantastic.

[00:03:15]Frosty: [00:03:15] I suppose for an organisation like Defence broken down into its various different stovepipes and areas. Sharing that innovation though is that something that has to happen centrally sharing, best practice when it comes up? How, how does an organisation like Defence do that?

[00:03:30]Lucy: [00:03:30] I think collaboration is really important. I definitely wouldn’t want to see lots of innovation just happening in little silos with no one ever talking to anyone else. So communication is really key thinking about how you can leverage the best ideas there are out there. So communicating not only within and across Defence and security, but externally.

[00:03:49] So how can you bring in industry? How can you bring in academics? How can you bring in innovators and entrepreneurs who’ve got different ideas. So I’m a really big fan of kind of open innovation, getting [00:04:00] lots of people involved.

[00:04:00] Frosty: [00:04:00] Yeah. And that’s I guess there’s a tension for the, for the military, certainly open innovation, peerless kind of barrierless innovation. There’s something that I think struggles to then reconcile against the hierarchical structure. Have you, have you any experience with that?

[00:04:18]Lucy: [00:04:18] So certainly my experience in coming into the Ministry of Defence and setting up the Defence and Security Accelerator DASA, was very interesting for me.

[00:04:27] I was a civil servant previously and I came in from the Home Office. So that was my first experience of kind of Defence culture, I guess. And it is very different. Of course, you know, people, people that doing things for the right reasons and they all wanted it to be a success that, that stands out very, very strongly.

[00:04:43]And sometimes the hierarchy supports that and sometimes people can feel that it’s a bit of a blocker.

[00:04:50]Frosty: [00:04:50] So Lucy at DASA, many of our audience will have no idea what that means. Who are they? What do they do? And why are they important?

[00:04:58]Lucy: [00:04:58] Great question. So [00:05:00] DASA is the government’s Defence and Security Accelerator so DASA to rhyme with NASA to help people remember it. And it’s a team that I’ve set up back in 2017. It’s now 80 strong people. And the mission of DASA is to find and fund exploitable innovations to support UK Defence and security quickly and effectively and support UK prosperity. Um, What’s important about that is having a single organisation, which is fairly sizeable and it works across Defence and security. That can spot opportunities across those sectors. And it’s really plugged into what’s happening outside as well with industry with start ups, with academia.

[00:05:39] And the point of DASA is to be really open and transparent about what it does and why, and be easy to engage with. So it’s very accessible.

[00:05:47]Frosty: [00:05:47] And how much success is it having?

[00:05:49]Lucy: [00:05:49] I mean, I would say it’s been very successful because I set it up. I think genuinely it’s been very successful. The last financial year, DASA invested more than 42 million pounds into startups and [00:06:00] smaller, medium sized enterprises. Over half of all those contracts went to small businesses, which I think is fantastic.

[00:06:06]Really shows those innovative ideas that there are out there. And actually more than 40% of those have never worked previously in Defence and security. So it’s really reaching out beyond the usual suspects. They’ve also given business and coaching advice to entrepreneurs. Resulting in further private sector investment into innovation, which I think is fantastic as well.

[00:06:26]Frosty: [00:06:26] I don’t suppose you, you wouldn’t have any examples of something that has come through into Defence through DASA funding.

[00:06:33]Lucy: [00:06:33] There are many and the, the annual report is a really good place to look for case studies of that. But, but one that I is close to my heart is Easy Bridge.

[00:06:41]So this was a very nice chap who I met at a  Innovate UK event quite early on. I think it was creating ,almost in his shed, using alluminum ladders bridges. And so we gave him some funding through DASA. He applied for funding and was successful. And he went onto trial [00:07:00] man-portable, easy to transport, lightweight bridges for the Army who are now investing in those.

[00:07:05] And that’s, I think a really great example of someone who just had a good idea. It was simple. It didn’t take a lot of money or technical difficulty to create a decent product. And it was something that there was a call for in Defence.

[00:07:20] Frosty: [00:07:20] Yeah. Well, it’s funny that Easy Bridge is close to your heart. It’s close to mine as well.

[00:07:24]I’m I’m in the parachute regiment so the infantry assault bridge, it’s the easy bridges, not predecessor because it’s still in service and still has a place, significantly heavier than easy bridge. So easy bridge is what we would use. Cause you can, it’s, it’s much more transportable than the, the IAB.

[00:07:44]Lucy, Five years ago, the UK government outlined its  ambition with the Defence innovation initiative a key part of that was setting up the Defence and Security Accelerator as the first of this organisation. Can you outline what DASA was hoping to achieve in those [00:08:00] first few months?

[00:08:00] And what were the key issues of setting this organisation up from scratch?

[00:08:05]Lucy: [00:08:05] So it was, it was a really interesting challenge. I was absolutely delighted to be appointed the first Head of the Defence and Security Accelerator and huge challenges, certainly fro from day one. So I think there’s a parallel there perhaps between DASA and the creation of the the ARIA agency, the Advanced Research Invention Agency that’s just recently been announced by government. In both cases, you’re trying to set up a new organisation from scratch. That’s looking to do something very differently and potentially in a slightly disruptive way. You know, in any instance, you want to try and get quick wins. You want to establish your brand early on.

[00:08:40] Have a very clear sense of mission and a strategy of how you’re going to get there. So be able to really talk clearly about the why and the how, of what you’re doing. And you need to kind of carve out that place for yourself in what’s quite a complex landscape and get buy-in from the people who you need stakeholders across government and externally.

[00:09:00] [00:08:59] And because you’re creating something from scratch, you have to grow it quite rapidly. So there’s a lot of early recruitment that, you know, you need to get really great people in through the door. And build your teams and you have to do all of that simultaneously.

[00:09:12] Frosty: [00:09:12] There must have been setbacks trying to do that.

[00:09:14]Lucy: [00:09:14] Sure. Yeah. I mean, I I started with a lot of ambition of what I wanted to achieve which I think is a good thing. But you know, as ever you you have to temper that on kind of meeting reality, I suppose, and think about, well, you know, practically, what can I achieve?

[00:09:28] In this situation that I actually find myself in. So I think, you know, you have to be pragmatic to a great extent that there was a very sort of dynamic stakeholder landscape. A lot of different organisations were being set up around the same time. So there was also the Joint Security and Resilience Centre.

[00:09:46] JSARC on the security side, there was the Defence Innovation Unit in the Ministry of Defence. There were new people coming in to this area. And so a very sort of I guess choppy, choppy seas in the first year or so. But yeah, [00:10:00] really exciting time. And I did enjoy myself a lot.

[00:10:03]Frosty: [00:10:03] The J hub was that set out about the same time.

[00:10:06] J

[00:10:07] Lucy: [00:10:07] J HUB was also set up about the same time.

[00:10:11]Frosty: [00:10:11] I guess with that cross lanes there with  what the J Hub was trying to achieve.

[00:10:14]Lucy: [00:10:14] Yeah. And I would say complimentary. Absolutely. No. We had some great engagement between J Hub and DASA.

[00:10:20]So I think my, my general take on this is that, you know, it’s, there are lots of pieces of this landscape. But they, they don’t really duplicate each other. They’re trying to be complimentary and what they do J Hub, I would say, are trying to do quick win sort of high technology, readiness level innovation.

[00:10:36]And that’s really important. DASA is probably trying to do something that’s broader across all of Defence and security. And the way that DASA operates is to provide services to other parts of Defence and security across government. So, you know, J hub can absolutely be a customer of DASA if you see what I mean.

[00:10:53]One of the many acronyms that get waved around innovation is TRL technology readiness [00:11:00] levels.

[00:11:00] And it’s just a way of trying to describe within the kind of life cycle of a technology from idea at a very, very low technology readiness level. You’ve just got an idea. Through to early stages of developing that, perhaps prototyping something, testing it bringing together the research that you need.

[00:11:17]And then sort of getting to a point where you’ve got something that you can take and trial and test and kind of explore. How’s this really going to work iterating as you go kind of up for TRL scale and eventually reaching, reaching point of maturity where you’ve got a product or service that’s ready to go to market.

[00:11:35] That’s been trialed. That’s been tested that perhaps has had regulatory approvals or anything else you need to go through. So that’s a sort of a broad way of describing where you might sort of go, go through the innovation life cycle.

[00:11:48]Frosty: [00:11:48] There’s pros and cons to, to bits of equipment or services, depending on where they are on the  technology readiness level.

[00:11:55] If you want something to use now, you want a high TRL. But if [00:12:00] you’re a low TRL, I suppose it gives you a chance to shape something slightly more.

[00:12:04] Lucy: [00:12:04] Yes. I think it’s the, the thing about innovation is that, you know, people want everything to be fast for there to be, you know, huge pace and understandly so

[00:12:13] If you want something that you can use quickly, you need to have something that’s already there in the market that you can take in and use. But if you want to invest in emerging technologies and new ideas, you have to accept that that’s going to be further down the TRL scale, and it’s going to take time to mature that technology to a point where you can procure it integrate it  in what you’re doing and deploy it.

[00:12:34]Frosty: [00:12:34] When you look at some of the examples of. Equipment that we’ve purchased.  Things like the Bowman communication system, which was a separate architecture, exquisitely designed piece of equipment took years to come in. Do you think  there’s been a noticeable shift in Defence into what sort of TRL they’re looking at and the amount of work that goes into acquisition prior to investing [00:13:00] in it?

[00:13:00]Lucy: [00:13:00] Hmm. I think this has been a really difficult nut to crack for Defence. The acquisition cycle is sort of very well tried and tested over many years, and its perfectly sensible. The problem with it is kind of the pace. When your technology changes and develops at such a rapid pace these days, and that’s only getting faster and it becomes easier for, for adversaries to pick up and use that technology against us than it is for us to be able to sort of innovate quickly enough to counter that threat or work out how to use that technology ourselves.

[00:13:31] And that’s where you’ve got an increasing mismatch between distance and structures and processes set up perhaps decades ago sometimes and kind of the pace of the modern world. I do think there are some really encouraging signs of trying to address that. And certainly there are some really key things for me about making sure that people who were involved in the acquisition are involved very early on in discussions.

[00:13:54] So at the point where you’re starting to think about innovations, you should already be thinking about what is the route to [00:14:00] exploitation for this thing? How am I going to get it there? Who do I need to involve in doing that? So it should be a whole enterprise level of engagement and innovation and not a a siloed bit where, you know, people innovate over here and then sort of throw it over the fence to the acquisition people to buy it.

[00:14:17] And and they’ve not previously been involved. That’s where things break down. I think.

[00:14:21] Frosty: [00:14:21] I feel like Defence innovates best in conflict, and that’s where we see the quickest sets of innovations in Defence where, you know, the, the most progress has made the obvious ones being World War Two. World War One potentially before then, you know, an awful lot of change has happen, happen in a very short period, but the difficult part for Defence is innovating out of conflict.

[00:14:48]Yes. I agree with that. You know, there are many great examples of kind of innovation happening when it has to, and we’ve seen that just in the last 12 months with the UK ventilator challenge. Whether it was a sudden urgent need, about [00:15:00] 12 months ago, they weren’t gonna be enough ventilators.

[00:15:02]And the government put out a challenge to entrepreneurs, to companies to come forward with ventilator ideas and technology PA consulting, which I’m now part of, I was really proud that we were helping to lead that for government and coordinate that effort. And I think it was an amazing story of success where, you know, based around a really urgent, clear challenge that galvanized people into wanting to get involved, there was a fantastic response.

[00:15:28]Practically a whole new supply chain built from scratch involving people who’d never been involved in ventilators before. And and you know, everyone who needed a ventilator did have one. So I think that really shows what can be done when you have to, I guess, with that, we could do that a bit more, but without the crisis happening around us.

[00:15:46] Who was it who said, if I could bottle a crisis, I suppose we can’t always be in crisis mode. We’d be completely drained.

[00:15:53]Lucy: [00:15:53] Exactly. Exactly. So.

[00:15:55]Frosty: [00:15:55] So Lucy, you’ve spoken about the leadership challenge that is inherent when trying to [00:16:00] do things different. When working in an organisation whose sole purpose is to do things differently what sorts of challenges did you come across both expected and unexpected.

[00:16:12] Lucy: [00:16:12] Yeah, I mean it’s so when I was appointed head of the Defence and Security Accelerator, I came in on promotion. So it was my first stepping up to a senior leadership role. So that had a lot of personal challenges for me, as well as the, all the challenges of sort of trying to create and lead this new organisation as it was certainly a time of, of high pressure for me, I was expecting certain amount of resistance. I knew that I was coming in to try to do something that would be different, potentially challenging, potentially disruptive. And and people often don’t, don’t like change, you know, they, they like things the way they were. So I wasn’t surprised to sort of encounter, encounter some resistance and find that I really needed to try to get people to buy in and be part of, and own what we were doing in DASA. So I, I was, I was spent a lot of time getting out and about, I thought [00:17:00] that was really important to really go and  talk to people face to face. Explain what we were doing.

[00:17:05] Listen to their ideas, listened to what their problems were, ask them, what would they like DASA to do for them? So that was a really helpful piece of trying to sort of understand the landscape. I was very keen to recruit a great team. I I’ve long believed that if you just bring a group of great people together, then amazing things happen.

[00:17:24] And I think DASA really shows that that is the case. I was very keen to recruit a fantastic team. They are amazing. And I was very proud of the team that we put together. Trying to sort of bring more and more people in and gives you additional challenges about sort of cohesiveness and giving people enough room and flexibility to shape things the way that they want to run it.

[00:17:46] Also, diversity was a really big theme for me. I wanted DASA to be live, breathe, and walk and talk diversity inclusivity, bringing people with different backgrounds, different experiences. Different [00:18:00] perspectives and being open to the challenge that, that provided and avoiding that kind of group, think that you get when you’re a little bit too similar.

[00:18:07]So that was really interesting. Some of my personal challenges were kind of trying to work across different locations. So sometimes in London, sometimes down in Porton Down at the DSTL and being out and about so much I felt I kind of needed to be everywhere and visible to everyone and obviously that’s not possible.

[00:18:24]So that, that was kind of quite personally challenging. I was also very aware that as a senior woman in Defence, I was quite visible. That role of head of DASA was quite high profile. I was very visible on social media. I was out giving talks to people and for a civil servant as well, that’s quite different.

[00:18:42]But I, I felt that I was in some ways was a role model for some, for some younger women. And I felt that was a really important aspect as well.

[00:18:51]Frosty: [00:18:51] Was it difficult guessing a diverse crowd to come and work for Defence?

[00:18:54]Lucy: [00:18:54] Th th there are so many fantastic people working in Defence. I certainly in terms of the gender [00:19:00] balance in DASA, we were over half half women obviously led by a woman. Half of my senior team were women. So at all levels the gender balance was very well represented in DASA. I think that’s unusual in itself in, in Defence and security.

[00:19:12]But I certainly didn’t have any difficulty finding great women to come and work with. There are many of them. I think I would have liked to have seen more minority ethnic diversity in the team. I found that quite I would really have welcomed a greater range of applications for people from different ethnic backgrounds.

[00:19:29]Part of that I think was possibly that DASAs team was very largely based down at Porton Down in Salisbury, which is perhaps not the most ethically diverse area in the UK. But that would have been nice for that, but I think generally we’re very diverse team, you know, lots of different backgrounds.

[00:19:45] People who’ve come from government, people who’ve been entrepreneurs. People who’ve been academics, people of all ages. So I think if you look at the DASA team, you know, it’s a really impressive, diverse, inclusive group who all believed in the same mission and are all driven by the same [00:20:00] passion for innovation.

[00:20:02]Frosty: [00:20:02]  Lucy, we, we seemingly have an endless thirst for doing things faster.

[00:20:07] The very ideal of an accelerator alludes to this. Why do we seem to insist on setting up teams such as DASA tasked with doing things faster? There must be a reason why our routine business as usual functions are unable to do this. Should we not be focusing on improving our usual usual functions rather than bringing new teams together?

[00:20:27]Lucy: [00:20:27] It’s a really interesting question about the question of pace and, and you’re right. That setting up an accelerator was a recognition of the fact that we don’t do innovation fast enough in government, Defence and security that we were being out innovated by other people. And that somehow we needed to find ways to more rapidly spin in ideas into capabilities for Defence and security.

[00:20:51] And that’s absolutely what DASA was all about. Faster has to be the right thing as well though. And not just faster for the sake of it quicker is not always [00:21:00] better. And it really does depends what you’re trying to do. So if you want to make, you know, longstanding, sustainable changes it’s going to take time.

[00:21:07] If you want to do really substantial technology changes that are very complicated and needs a lot of integrating and a lot of thinking about it’s going to take time. If you want to do something very, very innovative. You know, it may take many years before a new technology really has an impact. And whereas demand, if you demanding kind of instant results from people, pushes people to go in certain directions about how they approach innovation.

[00:21:33] And I worry, that’s not always the best thing for the longer term. So it can lead to a sort of short term ism of approach and decision-making I think but I, I think my reflections are there really needs to be a clear hole for innovation that needs to be a customer. Who’s got a problem and you’re trying to solve their problem.

[00:21:50] So I’m a big fan of challenge led innovation, where you’re really clear about what’s the problem you’re trying to solve. And you don’t worry from the outset about how you’re going to solve the problem or what technology you [00:22:00] might use. You go out quite widely with your problem, help people understand your problems and listen to their ideas for solutions.

[00:22:07] I think that often ends up with better results. Having a clear ownership of the problem having that person or persons involved throughout is really key to making sure that what you get out the other end is what you wanted. And as I said earlier, thinking. Really from an early stage about how you’re going to exploit that innovation and the by who, and how is it going to reach the market?

[00:22:28] I think that’s really important as well. I’m really a big fan of some not the novel commercial model that was created some years ago called innovation partnerships. So the public procurement regulations created this innovation partnership model. It’s not really been used in Defence and security.

[00:22:44] And I would love to see it used, it’s a way of bringing together people to innovate and pulling through those innovative ideas at pace, without needing to recompete things later on. And I would really love to see a pilot of that happening in Defence.

[00:22:58] Frosty: [00:22:58] The something that was striking me as [00:23:00] we were talking about this is the innovation that The DASA has been bought in. Is that mostly, is that mostly around equipment  or does it, services fall into that as well?

[00:23:10]Lucy: [00:23:10] In any innovation, it could be product, it could be services. It could be, what’s a better way to do something.

[00:23:16]

[00:23:16] Frosty: [00:23:16] Okay, cool. Sorry. I was just more for my own, my own interests. Cause I, I often feel like certainly people within the services we can end up thinking about innovation only in terms of a piece of equipment, that sort of thing that needs to be brought in, rather than thinking about an innovative change to the way we structure ourselves or.

[00:23:37]Even using something, I think that’s where he talks about the challenge, led  innovation, where we articulate what the problem is and, and talk to large numbers of people about that because maybe you saw an example of this, but there’s plenty of things that already exist within our own resources that potentially solve some problems.

[00:23:53] It’s just that we haven’t articulated the problem enough or clearly enough so that we understand that there’s. I don’t [00:24:00] know a piece of equipment we already have that does it, or an organisation that could be adapted quickly to achieve something. Did you see any examples of that?

[00:24:08]Lucy: [00:24:08] I mean, I totally agree with the general point that you were making.

[00:24:11] I think technology never exists in isolation, but it it’s, it’s always part of the organisation and culture, the way that people choose to use it. And, and trying to introduce technology as if it was just an isolated thing. It’s never really successful in my view, because you’ve not thought about the culture change that needs to happen to get the best use out of that technology.

[00:24:31]So I’d love to see kind of more holistic thinking, I guess, about innovation from end to end. Not only how can you use new and interesting things, but how would you have to change in order to do that? And bringing people with you and how would they need to be trained differently and how can, you know, how will they accept using this different technology that, you know, those, those things often get forgotten about I   I mean, it’s all about people at the end of the day, you know what, you know, what people get up in the morning and do with their day is absolutely critical to the [00:25:00] success or failure of innovation in Defence and security.

[00:25:03] So unless you’ve got those people bought into spending time and effort, You know, helping an innovation be successful when you’re not getting anywhere.

[00:25:11]Frosty: [00:25:11] Absolutely.  Lucy you’ve now left the loving embrace of the civil service. The very idea of a government organisation being agile, adaptive, and willing to take risk.

[00:25:22] Is in stark contrast to many people’s perception and experience of working with a government organisation. So now you’re outside looking in what sort of barriers do you think government sets up for itself?

[00:25:34] Similarly, when it comes to being flexible enough to innovate.

[00:25:37] Lucy: [00:25:37] Yeah, so I’ve, I have left the civil service and joined PA consulting which is really interesting. It’s, it’s very interesting for me to see the same problems, but kind of from a different perspective. Yeah. So I’m really pleased to have had that opportunity. I think my reflections on it from where I am now is that really trying to get to a truly integrated cross government strategy and approach to innovation [00:26:00] is going to be really important for the future.

[00:26:02]But not centralizing it, you know, you don’t want to suppress all that great work that’s going on out there. In fact, you want to empower people and encourage them to do things. But I think trying to sort of work out how to align. And integrate. So there’s something great that’s happening over there in security can be leveraged into something over here. That’s happening in Defence or more broadly, you know, something happening in health. That’s really great. You know, how can we use that for Defence? That would be a fantastic direction of travel. Overcoming some of those barriers that we’ve talked about around procurement.

[00:26:32]I think it’s really key. But also thinking, you know, more about how do you grow these companies to be successful for the future. So that they’ll exist in 10, 20, 30 years time. So, you know, funding for scale ups, I think is a real gap in the landscape, but I’d love to see more thinking about that.

[00:26:47]There’s a lot of great work going on around experimentation in Defence, and I think the next bit needs to be integration. Really thinking hard and understanding how do we integrate at the right time and in the right way, these [00:27:00] innovative ideas and technologies. And I think finding a way to engage some of the big Defence prime industry in sort of shared innovation enterprises will be really important to unlocking some of that.

[00:27:11]And culture change, you know, we’ve talked about collaboration is going to be really important communication. Incentivizing people to, to be innovative and allowing them to take those risks and be rewarded for taking risks. That’s, that’s very important to me too.

[00:27:25]Frosty: [00:27:25] There’s definitely, I think a tendency of the people who work in, in government or certainly within the military to think that outside is faster, more agile, that’s that sort of thing. Have you found that to be the case?

[00:27:40] Lucy: [00:27:40] Yeah. I mean, consultancy is pretty fast paced to be fair and quite agile. But that’s, you know, the nature of it is that we’re there for our clients and and we want to deliver really well for them.

[00:27:51]And so it’s certainly an organisation that’s very keen to deliver great quality work for our clients, you know, as quickly and to the best of our [00:28:00] ability which I’m, which I love. I think it’s fantastic.

[00:28:03]Frosty: [00:28:03] The final question Defence says innovation is generating ideas and putting them into practice to overcome challenges and exploit opportunities. In your many years involved in innovation work how has your perception of innovation changed and what is your go-to explanation of what innovation is nowadays?

[00:28:21]Lucy: [00:28:21] Yeah, and it’s not a bad definition, but I think I was actually involved in writing that.

[00:28:25] So I probably would say that my, my, my go-to definition for innovation is very simple. It’s ideas successfully applied, and each of those three words is really important. It’s pretty easy to get out there and find good ideas. You know, everyone will give you lots of great ideas. It’s really hard to apply them successfully.

[00:28:46]To solve your problems and make a change for the better. And the truth is that most innovations do fail. That’s kind of the nature of the beast in innovation. And that’s not an easy thing for Defence, which doesn’t like to fail. And it’s not an easy [00:29:00] thing for successful and ambitious people who like to win and to, to have career success.

[00:29:06]So I think that’s always been a really interesting tension in innovation. But, but then, you know, there is no, there’s no stopping innovation. It just, people will keep innovating because, because we’re human beings and we like to try and do things differently and better. And so if anything, you know, we should just try to harness that passion and enthusiasm that people have for innovation work out how to implement it better.

[00:29:29]But I’m still really excited by innovation. I think it’s an amazing thing to work on. It’s fun. It’s interesting. And it does mean getting to work with some really brilliant people, which is great.

[00:29:41] Frosty: [00:29:41] Lucy, thank you very much.

[00:29:42]Lucy: [00:29:42] Thank you.

[00:29:43]This podcast series is sponsored by the British Army Innovation Team. This team is set up to encourage and facilitate innovation across the Army and supports wider Defence initiatives too.  One of their, projects, The Army BattleLab, is due to open this year in the South [00:30:00] West of England. If you would like further information about this project why not get in touch directly with the team via the show notes?

[00:30:08] Remember to subscribe to the Wavell room through whoever your podcast provider is and comment and give us a rating too.

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