About DS4D

In 2010, at the height of the surge in US forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban changed tactics. Instead of attacking large vehicle convoys with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), they began to target the dismounted troops that had started to flood the country. These attacks rapidly climbed from a low of 5 a month in April 2010 to a peak of more than 800 a month by November 2010. With minimal means of finding buried IEDs or the pressure plate triggers that set them off, dismounted patrols could do little to protect themselves. The resulting casualties were horrific.

Designing Solutions for Defense (DS4D) gives students hands-on experience in understanding and working with the Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS), and Intelligence Community (IC) on actual problems they currently confront. Students learn how to innovate at speed and learn how to deploy solutions using Lean Methods to solve national security problems.

The class combines that same rapid problem sourcing process developed on the battlefields in Afghanistan with the Lean LaunchPad Methodology for fast customer learning and product development, first taught at Stanford as the Lean LaunchPad course.

The focus of the Designing Solutions for Defense class has been on solving Department of Defense and Intelligence Community problems; USM will be adding the Department of Homeland Security in the hope of finding dual-purpose solutions. However, initial indications are that the approach is generalizable and can embrace the challenges faced by various organizations that measure their success. This success is not measured by revenue and profit, like most private sector companies, but instead by mission achievement and creating public value for their constituents. These include, for example, the State Department for diplomacy and policy problems, local and regional governments addressing a diverse array of public sector challenges, and many others that can succulently frame issues and provide student access to beneficiaries and stakeholders.