Dept of Defense Entrepreneurs learn about Premortem and Culture Change

Dept of Defense Entrepreneurs learn about Premortem and Culture Change

The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF)’s mission is to promote a culture of innovation in the national security community, and Project Agitare is a group of DEF Facilitators who are passionate about putting innovation, design, and discovery skills, tools & methods into the hands of individuals across the Defense community.

When their founder, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel Hulter, invited Team Toolkit to present in a training workshop, it was a no brainer for Team Toolkit to connect with fellow co-conspirators for innovation! Jen Choi and Rachel Gregorio introduced two MITRE-unique tools, the Premortem and Culture Change Canvas, that every organization should keep in their back pocket. Check out the full recording here!

Project Agitare aims to further the vision to enable innovation in the Department of Defense, by introducing a type of social technology that they call facilitated discovery. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, check out Project Agitare’s page on the DEF site.

(PLAIN LANGUAGE DISCLAIMER: we’re providing the link so you can learn more about Agitare, but it’s not an official MITRE endorsement or anything like that)

Democratizing Innovation through ITK Workshops

Democratizing Innovation through ITK Workshops

Bridging Innovation frequently partners with MITRE’s Innovation Toolkit (ITK) team – also known as “Team Toolkit” – to train our employees, government sponsors, and startups learn how to be innovative and jumpstart the innovation process. Using the user-centered methods in the ITK will help teams to ask and answer the right questions, build consensus around the problem they’re trying to solve, and design the right thing.

The ITK is a curated collection of tools to empower us to think and work more like innovators. The Toolkit is made up of 25 lightweight, low-cost, high-impact methods and templates that get everyone innovating, regardless of their domain. All tools come with a template and description of how to use it on the website. The tools are organized into use cases on the ITK website.

In July, Rachel Gregorio, from Team Toolkit, introduced the ITK to the MassChallenge Texas cohort. She provided the startups with some suggested tools that they can apply to some typical use cases, such as using Premortem to plan ahead and assess risks, Rose, Bud, Thorn to capture rapid feedback from users, and Mission Vision Canvas to define where their company is going.

Also in July, Team Toolkit hosted a virtual Challenge Statement training for members of the Banshee program, a 2-week innovation training program run by Hanscom Air Force Base and MassChallenge for Air Force and Army acquisition programs. Using 3 tools from the ITK, Jen Choi, Rachel Gregorio, Marissa McCoy, and Dan Ward led 60 program participants through a tool chain – where the output of one tool leads to the input of the next tool – to develop challenge statements releasable and generalized for industry.

Team Toolkit started by explaining the Lotus Blossom, a divergent ideation tool, before converging around their favorite ideas using the Stormdraining tool. Next, the participants walked through the Problem Framing tool to reframe and refine their problem statement. Taking the final outputs from the tool chain, they were encouraged to further generalize the statement, line-by-line, to ensure it removed acronyms, jargon, and specificity to mission.

Participants in the Banshee program learned powerful methodologies and easy to use tools to shape their problems and solution needs in clear and concise language without being prescriptive in the implementation.  This approach opens the door for finding game changing innovative solutions

If you’re interested in working with Team Toolkit, feel free to reach out to the team at and subscribe to their newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things innovation!





The Innovator’s Burn: Transform your frustration into the Innovator’s Fuel

The Innovator’s Burn: Transform your frustration into the Innovator’s Fuel

Learning how to embrace and unlock your frustration is one of your most powerful sources for innovation.

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“Man, this [whatever is status quo] sucks. We could totally do this way better.”

– Every Innovator. Ever.


Have you ever been frustrated at how slowly things are progressing (if at all)?

Do you have ideas and solutions for the problems you see, but feel like you’re banging your head against the wall because no one else is willing to do anything about it?

Are you aggravated by ambivalent decision-makers who are holding you back at the gate, rather than arming you with their backing and resources to charge ahead?

And the key question: Are you so fired up about this that you can’t help but feel the need to DO something?!

If you are vigorously nodding your head ‘yes’, then congratulations: You are feeling the Innovator’s Burn!

I know, the feeling sucks. Frustration, anger, and tension definitely do NOT feel like something to be congratulated for.

However, THIS is the moment that separates the Innovators from the Couch Complainers.

Innovators embrace their frustration because they understand that their frustration is alerting them to a gap between where they are and where they want to go. Which means: Here’s an opportunity! If this gap exists for them, then it may exist for others too.

Innovators harness this insight, and they decide they will do something about it. They transform their frustration into inspiration & motivation to create a solution. And they take action.

They create. They get out there and start asking questions. They conduct market research. They convert problems into actionable ‘How Might We’ questions. They sketch early ideas. They prototype. They put their creation out there for feedback. And then they iterate. And they keep going.  

For Innovators, their initial frustration was so intense that they are determined to do whatever it takes to find a solution so that their experience won’t happen again. Even when they encounter setbacks and rejections (which happen to all of us!), they are motivated to keep going because their experience has left such a lasting imprint on them. Unbeknownst to them, their frustration has become their Innovator’s Fuel: a powerful, intrinsic source of energy that thrusts them towards success. It compels them to keep going, and it re-energizes them when they are feeling low. 

While the Innovator is hustling to create something that will change someone’s world for the better, the Couch Complainers continue to complain and vent to anyone who will listen. Rather than taking action, they inadvertently maintain the status quo by doing nothing. Eventually, they start saying, “it is what it is” as they shrug their shoulders and clock out for the day.

So when you find yourself frustrated, ask yourself: Do I want to be an Innovator or a Couch Complainer? What is my frustration here to tell me? How might I transform this frustration into inspiration & motivation?

By learning to embrace your frustration, you unlock your ability to transform something that’s unsatisfactory into insights for innovation. You also you unleash one of your most powerful sources of the Innovator’s Fuel. Now, go forth and innovate!