Creating Innovation Navigators

Students completing the Innovation Capstone Project (ICP) in the Department of Defense Management will collaborate on multidisciplinary teams that connect the diverse skills of NPS warrior-scholars, faculty, sponsors, and industry partners to deliver real solutions to current defense problems. Completing the ICP fulfils the academic thesis or capstone research requirement for NPS graduation.

The Innovation Capstone Project will: 

Create a generation of empowered and skilled warrior-scholars eager to solve naval acquisition problems

Increase student awareness and familiarity with the work of the naval acquisition community and problem sponsors

Provide hands-on education and methods to solve real-world acquisition problems, implementing a Get Real, Get Better approach

Establish DDM and NPS as critical partners in current and future acquisition innovation ecosystems

Integrated Capstone Project teams work with problem owners to develop both solutions and the strategies needed to transition those solutions into current or future programs of record and subsequent user adoption.

Change in Pedagogy

The Innovation Capstone Project combines three elements: a Flipped Classroom, Experiential learning, and Team-based learning.  Student-faculty-sponsor teams apply the lean startup methodology to the research process, a “build-measure-learn” process that uses experimentation to validate ideas.


Beginning with the end in mind, Innovation Capstone Project teams will pick from a list of Transition Sponsor problems provided by the Program Manager or DDM Faculty before starting MN 4044.  A transition Sponsor is defined as one who can provide resources to implement the ICP solutions into the user domain.  

ICP teams also have the opportunity to provide problems they have observed and work with the Program Manager to determine if a transition sponsor is willing to resource the effort into the solution domain.  

Resources include not only transition funding (if needed) to continue solution development beyond NPS involvement, but also engagement at milestone reviews and access to the user community of interest.


During the last week of MN 4040, ICP teams will brief the value proposition, acquisition strategy, and project roadmap.  A determination will be made by the review committee to evaluate if the project should continue as an ICP or transition to a thesis track.  Not moving forward with the ICP is only a pivot, not a failure.

Small innovative businesses, FFRDCs and academic institutions will support the ICP teams in the solution development through non-Federal Acquisition Regulation based agreements, providing access to leading thinkers and resources in both industry and government.

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The Innovation Capstone Project is part of the five-step Innovation Cycle at Naval Postgraduate School:

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