An in depth look at how and why the USA Military research organisation has been so successful at supporting innovation.

DARPA is an outlier organization in the world of turning science fiction into reality. Since 1958, it has been a driving force in the creation of weather satellites, GPS, personal computers, modern robotics, the Internet, autonomous cars, and voice interfaces, to name a few. … Which emulatable attributes contributed to DARPA’s outlier results? What does a domain-independent “ARPA Model” look like? Is it possible to build other organizations that generate equally huge results in other domains by riffing on that model?

I’m fascinated by the handful of (mostly US based) organisations that have had an outside impact on our lives (for better and worse) through their creations of innovative technology: The Manhattan Project, Bell Labs, Palo Alto Research Centre, The Institute of Advanced Studies. Reading about them gives useful insights into how and why innovation happens. Doing innovation well should be one of the primary aims of our society and most organisations are not good at it. This guide is useful for anybody trying to do better.