At first glance, creativity might seem like the ability to make something from nothing. That isn’t actually true, but creativity does require an active imagination and the ability to judge what, among all the imagined things, might have value, given what you’re trying to accomplish. Creativity in engineering and in the arts requires the ability to generate a wide variety of ideas that relate to the goals of the effort, often the more ideas the better. Judgment is then used to evaluate the merits and flaws of each idea.
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This story is the first in a series about how The MITRE Corporation tackles complex problems. This first article probes the concept of upstream thinking in the context of veteran wellness and the value of designing with people rather than for them.
Air travel has become so commonplace to the point where many of us never even think about the wonder of flying on an aircraft or being able to send things around the world over night. And yet every day, countless agencies and individuals around the world move in a coordinated ballet even in the face of a global pandemic.
Regular sources of stress in our lives can arise from challenges at work, challenges in personal life such as with partnership and parenting, and challenges from societal divisions at home and abroad, among many other factors. With one public crisis after another appearing in the news to add to what’s happening directly in our lives, these stress factors may pile on and conspire to make well-being hard to maintain.
Every year countless Americans with disabilities interact with government resources for everything from receiving benefits to registering to vote. But not all websites are created equal, and even fewer are designed with the disabled community in mind. Enter project Demodocus, a new automated approach to test websites of all kinds on how usable they really are for those who need more than just a keyboard and mouse.
On the evening of April 13, 1970, there was a loud “BAM!”, then “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Apollo 13 had “lost” the moon because an oxygen tank explosion that wasn’t predicted caused a series of systems failures in propulsion, electrical power, and life support, and the world focused on how three isolated men over 200,000 miles from Earth would get safely home.
In November 2019, a customer of Apple Card complained when he and his wife separately applied for Apple Card credit, and his wife was given a credit limit twenty times lower than his despite the fact that they jointly owned all assets in a community property state. According to Neil Vigdor in an article in the New York Times, an Apple Card representative checked into the matter and came back with the explanation that “It was the algorithm.”
The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) has honored MITRE with its 2020 Excellence in Knowledge Management (KM) award, recognizing us as one of the top organizations in the world for our mature KM capabilities. MITRE scored a level five—the highest possible score—in most of the areas the association assessed.
As graduating seniors at Florida International University (FIU), Charlie Ramirez and Sephora Jean-Mary headed into their final semester aiming to find a real-life business problem they could solve. Their senior design capstone project was supposed to enable these two front-end developers to display what they’d already learned as computer science students.
Military members and first responders learn early in their training how to deal with stress because of the inherent danger of their occupation. Although stress certainly comes with being in harm’s way, they may also experience stress that comes with facing the unknown, time pressures, and challenging tasks.
Despite our modern world, many systems aren’t built with uncertainty in mind. Alas, these unexpected events may become the new normal. Fortunately, Imanuel has been leading the charge to re-examine how we design and implement systems with new approaches that make them more resilient to the unexpected. Listen in as we explore how his work is helping the world prepare for the next natural disaster or global pandemic.
It’s an understatement to say that we’ve all experienced a lot of change during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, some positives have come out of this situation, especially when it comes to how federal agencies and other organizations have quickly adapted to keep the government running and work moving. Organizational agility has been a goal for many years now, with numerous agency mission statements highlighting the need for it.
Agencies call on MITRE to help navigate all manner of unique challenges, but not all projects are lean enough for the innovations that agencies seek. That’s where Justin Brunelle comes in. Justin has developed a reputation as division technical integrator, helping pair trail-blazing research with government use cases.
As the Coronavirus began impacting social and professional life, I noticed a lot of friends, family, and acquaintances posting to social media that they were learning or relearning how to knit and crochet.
MITRE’s talents for strategic modernization (e.g., enterprise planning, organizational change, business innovation, technology transitioning) are informed by both our explicit knowledge and our tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is what we objectively know. Explicit knowledge can be readily articulated, codified, stored and accessed, and transmitted to others, and represents an estimated 20% of our knowledge (e.g., plans, reports, data analysis). Implicit or tacit knowledge is more subjective.
MITRE has taken on a challenge: to shape America’s future workforce and economy by alerting college students to the power of artificial intelligence (AI). That vision is now taking shape at schools across the country through an initiative known as Generation AI Nexus (Gen AI).
Rachel Mayer has grown up with medicine on the mind, but one subject has always been at the forefront: Maternal mortality. In a country as advanced and capable as the United States, why is Maternal Mortality still so high? While many public health practitioners often turn to medicinal interventions, she turned to data.
A recent discussion with colleagues on intriguing approaches and paths to innovation triggered my systems thinking habits – to explore and understand challenges systemically. What I ended up discovering were multiple dimensions of innovation, particularly for collaborative innovation.
Theodore “Turtle” Wilson has made a name for himself inspiring change. MITRE has never been short on good ideas, but getting others to embrace those ideas is always a challenge. That’s when you need to call in someone who can empathize with the folks you want to help, while seeing the big picture—someone like Turtle.
Delve into the history and meaning of risk, and you may be surprised to find that the word risk has an uncertain etymology. Depending on the domain, definitions of risk may be based on probability, danger, uncertainty, or chance.
Innovation doesn’t just happen, and it cannot be forced. It takes time, effort, and commitment to find a new path forward. Still, sometimes asking the right question can set us on that path. That is the goal of MITRE’s Open Innovation Challenge.
Every year, MITRE’s independent research and development program receives over 1000 research project ideas from across the organization and selects approximately 200 for funding. When Dr. Shelley Kirkpatrick received funding from the MITRE Innovation Program (MIP) in 2017 to research the principles of organizational agility, little did she know that three years later her work would be a big hit in Las Vegas.
Most organizations typically plan for one type of opponent (one future) even though a better approach would be preparing for multiple opponents (multiple futures), building in the much-needed resiliency. One approach that helps build this resiliency into organization is Strategic Foresight, an approach developed by Herman Kahn in the 1950s to help the US contemplate and plan for various outcomes of the Cold War including Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) using applications from game theory.
Instead of hitting the beach over the third weekend in September, more than 1,000 students from several Florida and southeast universities loaded up on caffeine, went without sleep, and were driven by a “will to do good.”
When you’re a large government organization, it can be hard to be innovative. You have a lot of moving parts and not a lot of time or resources. You can always lean on an innovation organization to help you along the way, but the question remains: “How do you know you’re really innovating?” Fortunately, Paula and Dan are on the case.
“Field of Dreams” is a delightful movie. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and curl up on a do-nothing night and watch it. But even if you haven’t seen “Field of Dreams”, I’m sure you’ve heard the most famous line from it, “if you build it, he will come.” But since language is more fluid than the ocean, and changes to suit the context du jour, you more than likely have heard it as, “if you build it, they will come.”
We’ve all been there—sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, filling out redundant forms with our healthcare history. Each time, we sit with silent frustration, wondering why we must complete the same paperwork every time we visit our healthcare provider.
We wonder: It’s 2019. Shouldn’t transmitting health information from one place to another be seamless?
MITRE staff, teleworkers, and business partners are attending more and more meetings virtually from different locations. Among the options at MITRE for communicating and sharing non-sensitive information, Slack, a cloud-based team collaboration tool, has become a meeting place where people can work productively and feel comfortable—much like a virtual coffee shop.
Sponsors turn to us for our expertise and expect us to have the answers and to make recommendations. This role of guide can be liberating. As guides, we no longer need to have all the answers. Instead we ask provocative questions to our sponsors to elicit their own answers. (Feel free to start playing the song “Let it go” in your head.) This change in role may push both us and our sponsors out of our proverbial comfort zones. Let me tell you how this has worked in real life.
Privacy engineering involves injecting legal, policy, and ethical requirements into technology. It takes perspective to effectively manage privacy risk while keeping the big picture in focus. Fortunately, Julie McEwen, MITRE’s Privacy Engineering Capability Area Lead, is on the case. She and her team provide policy and technical privacy support to MITRE’s sponsors while managing privacy operations in support of MITRE’s Chief Privacy Officer.
A woman who has always identified as Ashkenazi Jewish received a DNA testing kit from one of the ancestry services and participates on a whim. Surprise! Turns out her father was actually a non-Jewish sperm donor. It’s one of many fascinating and recent cases of renegotiating identity, along with stories about an adopted child finding their true birth family, or even individuals tracing their ancestry back to someone practicing witchcraft.