Like Hugging Grandma: Introducing Design into a Military Organization

Steve L. Pettit, David M. Toczek


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. 

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.