Like Hugging Grandma: Introducing Design into a Military Organization


  • Steve L. Pettit US Strategic Command
  • David M. Toczek US Strategic Command


Like other US military organizations, US Strategic Command  has experienced varying levels of success with “design” or “design thinking” over the past five years. In one stream of activity, the headquarters relied upon the chief of plans to employ design in the development of contingency plans through informal structures and relationships.  This approach, though completely dependent upon individual personalities, has had lasting impact on the command and the Department of Defense. In another stream, the headquarters formally charged an individual with the establishment of a commander’s design team; this approach has also had impact, although of episodic and shorter duration. This article describes the circumstances surrounding both efforts and offers relative merits and demerits of both. 

Author Biographies

Steve L. Pettit, US Strategic Command

Mr. Steven L. Pettit currently serves as the US Strategic Command chief of plans.  A retired U.S. naval aviator, he has played a crucial role in the transformation of both Strategic Command and Department of Defense planning efforts

David M. Toczek, US Strategic Command

Mr. David M. Toczek currently serves as the U.S. Strategic Command chief of the Commander’s Design Team (CDT) and the Planning and Policy Directorate senior technical advisor.  A retired U.S. Army infantryman and planner, he established and has led the CDT since its formation in 2011.