May 1, 2023

October 23, 2023

Executive-level training to facilitate innovation in the UK Ministry of Defence

An executive-level training programme that brings together Defence leaders to dissect the innovation system and foster the conditions for innovation success in their teams.

Learning & Workforce Transformation


Today, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) faces an uncertain threat environment, characterised by live conflict, rapid technological developments and transnational challenges. The ability to generate and deploy game-changing ideas at pace is central to maintaining the United Kingdom’s military and strategic advantage over its adversaries. Innovation skills and knowledge are only one part of the solution. For new ideas to move through to impact, leaders must create, nurture and facilitate the conditions for innovation success across their teams, organisations and MOD as whole. With the goal of creating an innovation movement, the Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) aims to upskill its leaders to empower its people to deliver impactful solutions, removing friction from innovation pathways.


The DIU’s three-tiered training approach targets the adopters, deliverers and enablers of innovation - the three roles required to bring innovative ideas through to impact. PUBLIC was selected to design and deliver the Innovation in Defence training programme, consisting of the three courses, Innovation Essentials, Innovation in Practice, and Strategic Innovation. The programme offers holistic, people-centred innovation learning, facilitating organisational conversations that bypass hierarchical and bureaucratic structures, making innovation work for everyone.

The third tier of the courses, Strategic Innovation, unpacks the layers of the innovation system, through culture, behaviours, structures and processes, partnerships and collaboration, and spaces. In the course, senior leaders explore and strategise how to enable the conditions for innovation success across their teams and organisations. Using the case study method as a primary teaching medium, the course hinges on fast-paced, interactive discussions among peers through role-playing and group debate. The course brings together Defence leaders in collaborative workshops and expert-led panels in order to maximise opportunities to learn from each other’s ideas and perspectives.


Strategic Innovation equips and empowers decision-makers and senior leaders to act as enablers of innovation, creating the conditions in which innovation ideas and cultures of innovation can thrive in order to give us the edge over our adversaries.

The first iteration of the Strategic Innovation course concluded in May 2023, with 75 senior Defence leaders graduating from the programme. Participants came from across Defence, including the Army, RAF, Royal Navy, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Civil Service.

Over 91% of surveyed participants responded that they are likely to recommend the programme to others. Participants reported that the course exposed them to more new ideas and models, and that the course led them to rethink aspects of their role.


Photo by the author

Elina Lam-Gall

Former Team Member

Photo by the author

Charlotte Abrahamson

Head of Learning Delivery

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