On Future Thinking and Innovation: How Military Concept Writing can unwittingly suppress Innovation

Chris Smith

This article examines military concept writing in terms of explorative and intentional concepts and contends that militaries ought to be circumspect about writing the latter because of their disposition to suppress innovation. The article contends that intentional concepts might be useful for relatively simple problems for which the means and knowledge to solve a problem are already available to an armed force but they are inadequate for the complex problem of future force development because they inexorably and needlessly limit the space within which to explore solutions and innovate. The article’s specific purpose is to dissuade the Army’s senior leaders from sponsoring comprehensive future operating concepts and encourage its members to proffer new ideas by writing limited-scope explorative concepts.