In 2007 senior officers in the Pentagon decided it was time to apply some of the innovation lessons learned in the tech sector and sent a team out to locate appropriate individuals with expertise in innovation and innovation management. Mr. Lieberman was fortunate to be selected to open up the first Pentagon Innovation Forum, a three-day event hosted by IBM, SRI and Google in the fall of 2008, and to accompany the pentagon team through all of the sessions in all of the locations as a kind of innovation connective tissue.
The outcome for Howard Lieberman from this summit was a year long assignment with the Air Force in the Boston Area, which later led to a several year-long assignment with DARPA in Washington and around the country.
USAF Hansom Field
The Air Force project had to do with how to acquire and apply new technologies within a government procurement context. The tech sector utilized not only different sets of collaboration tools and different levels of security than the government, but has extraordinarily different time horizons. The government was used to ordering technology so far in advance of when they needed, that by the time it was delivered it could be obsolete. The collision of two different worlds comprised of exceptionally intelligent and at times stubborn individuals provided plenty of opportunity to apply lessons in innovation collaboration.
It turned out the USAF was not the only one suffering from a techological time lag, and DARPA the bastion of the truly exceptional (sometimes called the Department of Mad Scientists and described as having their hair on fire) took things to another level. Howard worked with several of the US government's most technologically advanced teams, comprised of elite members of the special forces, government research labs and giant defense contractors, to identify and integrate new technologies.
Howard worked indirectly on establishing a context for innovation by contributing to specific interdependent projects as a senior SETA (science engineering technology advisor) and SME (subject matter expert). The SME areas cut across multiple disciplines including mobile devices, user interfaces, software development, technology integration, technology procurement and source selection.
Pentagon Silicon Valley Innovation Forum 2008