Exploring the Third Horizon of Innovation

Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld discusses innovation and its role in war. He breaks down three horizons of innovation and how federal primes are world-class with first and second horizon innovations but struggle with third horizon innovation.


Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld

Retired United States Navy Admiral

Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld is a retired Naval officer who served as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the number two ranking officer in the U.S. military.  He is a frequently published author and director or advisory board member for companies operating in a broad spectrum of business sectors, and serves as a professor of the practice at Georgia Tech.

The technology is changing so fast, you have to be at the leading edge of innovation in a fight. If you aren’t on the leading edge, you’re going to be left behind very quickly, and you aren’t going to like that.
Admirad Winnefeld and Ben

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The first horizon is incremental improvements to an existing problem. The second horizon is a step change applied to an existing concept. The third horizon is rethinking the entire problem.

It takes a lot of courage to innovate at the third horizon. You have to think about what is coming next, and you have to be willing to completely rethink the problem.
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