DIN Blitz Challenge


DIN Blitz Challenge

Why might the Defense Innovation Network (DIN) matter, what might its purpose be, and how might it fulfill that mission? 


On February 10–11, 2016, the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTA) and a select group of collaborators gathered at The Think Wrong Lab in Half Moon Bay, CA, for the DIN Blitz. 

The Blitz was an intense and immersive effort to
explore and articulate the vision, purpose, and target operating model for the Defense Innovation Network.


Our goal

Develop a portfolio of small bets that the NSTA might act on immediately to accelerate the development of a highly effective and productive Defense Innovation Network.

Our objectives

  • Align the interests, purpose, and ways of working of the DIN’s key constituents.
  • Explore how the Navy’s Athena Project might provide a foundation for a Defense-wide innovation network.
  • Generate compelling options for the DIN vision, purpose, and ways of working.
  • Generate compelling options describing who the DIN is.
  • Generate compelling options for what the DIN produces.
  • Generate compelling options for how the DIN might work (a target operating model). 


DIN Approach

DIN Approach

Thinking Wrong about the DIN

We used drills from across six Think Wrong Practices to generate a portfolio of small bets that address our challenge and realize our opportunity.


Think Wrong Practices

Dare to make a big difference.

Find fresh inspiration for status quo–busting solutions.

Stretch beyond assumptions, biases, and orthodoxies to expand what’s possible.

Gain insights that can be gotten only through making.

Discover what works without risking it all.

Open up so others can help you improve your solutions and achieve impact sooner.


Think Wrong Drills

Deflection Point
Million Man March

So That...
8-Word Impact
Challenge Challenge


That’s Odd

Loathe to Love
Brand Takeover
Random Word

Draw It
Biz in a Box



Truth + Truth
I’m a Tool
Matters Most
Moments that Matter

Dog in a Hat
Love & Loathe


DIN Vision, Purpose, Model

DIN Vision, Purpose, Model

Exploring the DIN Vision, Purpose, and Model


The Blitz produced compelling options for the impact the DIN might have, why it should exist, how it might work, and why people might join.



First Four Members

We explored who matters most to the DIN’s success. 

We selected the four most important archetype DIN members from among dozens of potential members. Each Blitz Team became an advocate for one of the four archetypes so their point of view, needs, and voice might be in the room as we conceived of the DIN.


Team 1:

Team 2:

Team 3:
War Fighters

Team 4:


DIN Impact Vision

We developed a portfolio of options for describing the impact the DIN might have. 

We used “Moonshot” and “Eulogy”—Be Bold drills—to inspire many different expressions of the impact that the DIN might have. The most compelling options were selected through dot voting. 


Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Aim high


DIN drives a free-market China.

DIN turns the DoD into a service.

DIN creates a unclass(y) world.

DIN leads the formation of Milicon Valley (Valley 2.0).

DIN inspires sweeping culture change in Defense.

DIN delivers concept to system deployment in two months.

DIN enables flexible deployment; DoD = Deploy on Demand.

DIN cuts military cost in half with twice the capacity in 18 months

Service in the DoD becomes the most desirable job of every Harvard/Stanford/Princeton/MIT graduate.

DoD School of Innovation

Create a legacy


We can keep the good guys in charge.

We can save lives.

We can preserve freedom.

We can attract and retain the best.

We can confront the greatest challenges.



The U.S. can lead a model the world wants to follow.

We can lead a Second American Revolution.

We can create a network that will be emulated by governments and companies around the world.

We can offer members a purpose higher than money.

We can create agility for the DoD, DIN members, and warfighters everywhere.

We can create relationships that transcend the DIN.

We can transform the relationship between the DoD and Congress.


We can eliminate incentives to fight the U.S.

We can help the DoD deliver technologies that drive the economy for years.

We can keep the U.S. safe.

We can make it futile to threaten the U.S. and her allies.

We can advance the U.S. technology dominance.

We can raise the intellectual bar for America.



DIN Purpose

We created a wide range of options for how we might communicate the DIN’s reason for existing. 

We used “8-Word Impact”—a Be Bold drill—to generate purpose statements for the DIN. The most compelling options were selected through dot voting. 


Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4


To lubricate the defense community.

To respond to an uncertain future.

To foment freaks, geeks, and weirdos to save the world.

To overcome convention to create exponential innovation.

To unite dreamers and create the future.

To defend the U.S. by disrupting threats to global prosperity.

To open the DoD innovation doors to all companies and military members.

To transform military research and development to change the world.

To leverage the global tech base to eliminate armed conflict.

To catalyze innovative talent networks to solve U.S. challenges.

To catalyze talent networks to spark high-impact solutions.

To excite talented citizens to disrupt ourselves first.

To unlock hidden genius to effect change.


Make It Real

We explored operating models and why people might join the DIN.

We used “Draw It” and “In a Box”—Make Stuff drills—to explore how the DIN might engage members and operate.


DIN in a Box
Respond to an uncertain future.

Save Me
Preserving precious resources.


Call DIN
Uniting problems with solutions and resources.

I’m with the Band
Get in sync, stay in sync.

Waypoint Planning

We identified and prioritized big questions that might drive the development of the DIN.

The DIN is charting new territory—attempting to build an innovation network that spans all branches of the military—on the foundation of past successes within individual branches.

We used “Waypoints”—a Move Fast drill—to surface the most important questions that we should be considering to discover what it will take to stand up and operate a successful Defense Innovation Network. 


Key Partners

Member Desirability
Why might key partners want to participate?
Who might key partners need and want to talk to?
What are the biggest challenges key partners face today?  

Execution Feasibility
Who might help the DIN bring ideas in and get ideas out?

Key Activities

Execution Feasibility
What might leadership need?
How might we protect classified information?

Key Resources

Execution Feasibility
Who might be responsible for the DIN?
How much space might be needed and where might the DIN be located?
Who might report to whom? 

Value Proposition

Member Desirability
Why might members care?

Execution Feasibility
What might the DIN mission be?
How might the success of the DIN be measured? Now? In 6 months? In 5 years?

Economic Viability
What might Phase One of the DIN be and require?

Member Relationships

Member Desirability
How might we define our members?
What are the biggest challenges members face today?

Execution Feasibility
How might we define our members?
How might we best equip our military forces to defend America?


Member Desirability
How might members communicate with collaborators?

Revenue Streams

Execution Feasibility
How might the DIN generate income?

Economic Viability
Where might funding for the DIN come from?

Week 1

Week 2

Key Partners

Execution Feasibility
What might be the advantages of partnerships?

Key Activities

Execution Feasibility
How might the DIN filter bad actors out?
How might the DIN reach interested people?

Economic Viability
What might be in it for members?

Key Resources

Execution Feasibility
What might be the legal obstacles?

Economic Viability
What resources might we steal/beg/borrow?

Value Proposition

Execution Feasibility
What might set us apart?
What measures of effectiveness might help keep the DIN going?

Economic Viability
How might a bottom-up approach affect funding?

Member Relationships

Economic Viability
Why might members trust us?
Why might members invest time with us?


Economic Viability
How might we get visibility outside of the DoD?

Member Segments

Execution Feasibility
How might we market the DIN?

Cost Structure

Execution Feasibility
What might be the best allocation of money?

Revenue Streams

Economic Viability
Who might pay and how?


Week 3

Key Partners

Execution Feasibility
When might the right people be available?

Key Activities

Execution Feasibility
How might we “filter” needs?
How might we integrate government decision makers?

Key Resources

Execution Feasibility
How might we link or own?

Member Relationships

Member Desirability
How did you build your network(s)?

Member Segments

Execution Feasibility