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#47—Pete Newell: Lessons in Accelerating Innovation

#47—Pete Newell: Lessons in Accelerating Innovation

Pete Newell is a nationally-recognized innovation expert whose work is transforming how the government and other large organizations compete and drive growth. He is the CEO of BMNT, an innovation consultancy and early-stage tech accelerator that helps solve some of the hardest real-world problems in national security, state and local governments, and beyond.

Pete is a founder and co-author, with Lean Startup founder Steve Blank, of Hacking for Defense (H4D)®, an academic program that focuses on solving national security problems. It has in turned created a series of sister courses—Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Oceans, Hacking for Sustainability, Hacking for Local and others—that use the H4X® framework to solve critical real-world problems

Pete is also the Co-Founder and Board Director of The Common Mission Project, a 501c3 non-profit responsible for creating an international network of mission-driven entrepreneurs, including through programs like H4D®.

Pete served as the Director of the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF). Reporting directly to the senior leadership of the Army, he was charged with rapidly finding, integrating, and employing solutions to emerging problems faced by Soldiers on the battlefield and was responsible for the Army’s first deployment of mobile manufacturing labs, smart phones merged with tactical radio networks, and tactical drones.

In this podcast, he shares:

  • Lessons from accelerating innovation in the military that can be applied to business

  • The key stages you should be focusing on in your innovation pipeline

  • Why driving innovation is sociological problem, not a technical one

  • The first step you should take if you want to elevate innovation in your organization


"Part of the beauty of a pipeline is that you start with a lot of volume and you make hard decisions about the things that go through it. So that increases the velocity, both in terms of speed and pressure, because it allows you to focus your resources on a smaller and a smaller group of things until you pile everything you own on the things that you know are going to win, but you can't get there without having a large pool of things you're sourcing."

-Pete Newell


  • Episode Timeline:

    00:00—Introducing Pete + The topic of today’s episode

    2:11—If you really know me you know that...

    3:04—What is your definition of strategy?

    3:44—Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to your work?

    6:15—Could you walk us through the key 10 steps of your process of innovation?

    9:27—Where do you think large organizations most often falter in this process?

    11:00—How does an organization flip failure to seeing it as learning?

    15:20—Could you share an example of an organization that gets this process more right than others?

    17:18—How do you balance speed and killing ideas off?

    17:57—What are the first steps a Chief Strategy Officer should take in their organization?

    19:08—How can people connect with you and learn more about what you're working on?


Additional Resources:



The 4th Option Junto
The Outthinkers podcast is a growth strategy podcast hosted by Kaihan Krippendorff. Each week, Kaihan talks with forward-looking strategists and innovators that are challenging the status quo, leading the future of business, and shaping our world.