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The Pentagon’s Pivot: How Lead Users Are Transforming Defense Product Development

By Adam Jay Harrison | Defense Horizons 82 | August 14, 2017

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Defense Horizons 82Key Points

  • Historically, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on strategic forecasting to determine specifications for new military products. These specifications are codified in formal product requirements that drive new product development (NPD). 
  • The rapid rate of technology change combined with increasing uncertainty in the global security environment challenges the ability of DOD to make accurate longterm predictions about future military product needs. 
  • To improve the efficacy of capability development, many DOD agencies and the Defense Industrial Base are exploring NPD strategies based on the insights of lead users with direct exposure to emerging military-technology problems. 
  • This paper details emerging approaches to military NPD that incorporate lead users; that is, practitioners who experience and proactively solve needs ahead of the market.

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