Dr. Richard Joseph, chief scientist of the Air Force, believes “failures have their seeds planted in success.”

Bureaucracies within the Air Force perpetuate what works. Yet, they often cling to ideas, systems or methods beyond the point of effectiveness – producing failure from that success.

They also tend to eliminate ideas and people that challenge the existing paradigm in order to protect what has worked in the past.

Now, the Air Force is identifying “out of the box” thinkers and removing them from a bureaucracy consumed by self-perpetuating tasks, to pursue game-changing ideas and technology.

Bureaucracies within the Air Force perpetuate what works. Yet, they often cling to ideas, systems or methods beyond the point of effectiveness – producing failure from that success. Video // Andrew Arthur Breese

“You can’t ask the pig to slaughter itself,” said Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, Air Education and Training Command commander. “Failure is punished in a bureaucracy; don’t ask a bureaucracy to reinvent itself. Instead, find the people with a natural propensity for innovating; hide them from the bureaucracy and give them the money, freedom and authority to try and fail.

“Nine out of 10 will fail. Maybe even 99 out of 100 will fail. You just have to live with that, because the one that brings you the idea that is transformational…will pay for all the other failures and those failures become basically discovery, telling you what doesn’t work.”

From Kessel Run’s agile software development to AFWERX’s Technology Accelerator, innovative Airmen are solving Air Force needs and getting those solutions to the warfighter quickly by planting the seeds of success from failure.

This video produced by Andrew Arthur Breese explores the mindset and support of senior Air Force leadership that has led to a new wave of innovation across the force.

Related content:

Lt. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, Commander, Air Education and Training Command

Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force

Kessel Run

Air Force Small Business Innovation Research SBIR program