About the Strategic Innovation Lab

What will our children see in the future? What does their future hold? The answer is simple: their future will be determined by what we citizens do or by what we don’t do. And, right now, we’re just not doing. It’s time for America to live up to its best and finest traditions; to move past the partisan divisions that are holding us back and reinvent ourselves by embracing a new national design that will not just allow us to survive in the 21st century, but to thrive in it. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.

That’s what the Strategic Innovation Lab is all about: developing, testing and implementing a new grand strategy for the United States that can power a new era of prosperity, security and sustainability for the United States. Powered by Case Western Reserve University’s Appreciative Inquiry methodology and leveraging advances in social media, the Strategic Innovation Lab will work with business leaders as well as civil society leaders at the national, regional, and local levels to develop a new economic engine for the 21st century. And in so doing, the United States can set a path of prosperity and security for the entire world that will last for generations to come.

Business-Led

If humanity is going to navigate the many treacherous challenges of the 21st Century, we will only succeed if our economy is doing the heavy lifting. We think the best way to get business to lead is to place orders for the new world we want to create and have business figure out how to make it happen. Instead of changing culture, aligning policies or navigating legislation, we really just need to just start building it. As the economy starts to really dig into the extraordinary opportunities presented by the transition to sustainability, domestic policy, foreign policy and our governing institutions will fall into line. This approach is at the heart of our two core projects, the Economic Strategy Task Force and the Lake Erie Crescent.

Born in the Pentagon

In 2009, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen asked Marine Corps Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby and Navy Captain Wayne Porter to look at the question of U.S. grand strategy in the 21st Century. Their response, a memo entitled, A National Strategic Narrative, called for a national strategy of sustainability. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2011, Mykleby teamed up with Patrick Doherty, then-Deputy Director of the National Security Studies Program, at the New America Foundation to write the strategy the Narrative called for. Over the succeeding months, Doherty and Mykleby prepared A New U.S. Grand Strategy and delivered it to the White House after the 2012 elections. Subsequently published by ForeignPolicy.com, Doherty and Mykleby briefed the strategy across the interagency, including the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of Policy Planning, National Intelligence Council and USAID/Policy as well as several major national corporations and foundations.

Launched in the Heartland

Seen as the first fully integrated grand strategic effort since the end of the Cold War, the reception in Washington was positive. However, it was clear that such an effort is beyond the capacity of Washington, DC to take on. The adoption of a new grand strategy would require an immense bipartisan effort to pull together a package that includes the content, the coalition and the implementation plan to see the job through. With today’s divisive political environment, the catalyst for change would have to come from somewhere else. The idea for the Strategic Innovation Lab was born.

In July 2014, Case Western Reserve University chairman Chuck Fowler and Fairmount Santrol - David L. Cooperrider Professor in Appreciative Inquiry David Cooperrider invited Doherty and Mykleby to bring the Lab into America’s pragmatic industrial heartland. Here, they are building a team to catalyze the adoption of a new U.S. grand strategy and working to develop the support base for a business-led strategic transition to a new national design of prosperity, security, and sustainability. Hosted by the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at the Weatherhead School of Management, the Strategic Innovation Lab began work in September 2014.