Stanford University is pioneering in many ways, and one of the latest is in considering how to best pair "fuzzies" and "techies" to address some of our gravest societal challenges. Steve Blank, the legendary entrepreneurship professor who all but created the Lean Startup movement now accelerated by Eric Ries, has brought the customer development model to the industries of defense and diplomacy through his courses known as "Hack 4 Defense" and "Hack 4 Diplomacy."
In today's Net Politics blog for the Council on Foreign Relations, I outline how Blank partnered with two retired U.S. Army Colonels to bring together some of the most intractable problems from the U.S. Military, Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomatic communities together with some of the best of the best in tech. This pairing of political scientists and defense experts together with technologists is a tremendous example of hands on blending of fuzzies and techies.
This engagement brings together comparative advantage, and ensconces code deeply in context. It's not tech in search of a problem; rather problems are sourced from agencies drowning in them. In 2017 more than a dozen more universities will roll out their own H4D programs, creating a brilliant crowd-sourced approach to solving some of the most challenging problems in the world.