And by All Means, Be Persistent: How Eccalonians Advance Innovation

By StratComms
Text – Earl C. Wyatt, USAF Col (Ret)
Layout – Robert Prickett
Graphics – Joseph Marshall & Robert Prickett

Hanover, MDApril 13, 2020 — Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, once said: "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."1

Every day as we enter Eccalon headquarters, we are encouraged to be our best selves – "Be Smart, Be Talented, and (by all means) Be Persistent." This motto prominently adorns our entrance as a reminder to embrace the power of persistence because, without it, we will not advance breakthrough research and technology to improve the lives today and to ignite the promise of tomorrow. But how can we best harness this omnipotence?

We do so by continually investigating technological opportunities and preemptively attacking threats. We do so by consistently determining what part of the problem space we are best positioned to tackle and with whom to partner for the best outcome. We do so by relentlessly pursuing excellence as we develop, test, and demonstrate that new algorithm, device, or system.2 And above all, we do so by persistently sustaining a culture of innovation, integrity, and diversity to champion our client's vision and to serve the nation and the globe.

Uncovering novel research and technology is more often than not, the result of focused technology scanning and repeatedly engaging thought leaders in the research community. Whether assessing a novel technology for relevance or devising a compelling customer application, you will frequently encounter "Minefield Mappers" – individuals who delight in pointing out every imaginable obstacle (natural and human-made) on the path to commercialization. At Eccalon, we are not frustrated by mappers because our subject matter experts, scientists, and engineers not only map the potential hazards but also provide the best paths to navigate the minefield. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the technological opportunity or emerging threat, a compelling application for customer employment, and a keen awareness of most likely obstacles equips you with an informed persistence and eagerness to approach the next step.

Eccalon enhances this informed persistence by objectively describing the entire problem space and skillfully characterizing our client's segment of it. This two-step approach provides the best potential for a successful outcome because, in step one, we detail how our client's effort fits into the entire problem space. And in step two, we note what additional resources are required to operate effectively in it. Our extensive network of material, data, and computer scientists allows us to continually assess multiple development scenarios across multiple domains, which facilitates the selection of the most appropriate partner for project success.

While the value of "speed to market" in advancing innovation is obvious, we place an equally significant value on the persistent employment of appropriate levels of rigor to determine the readiness of a particular methodology, algorithm, system, or device.3 By so doing, we enable the consistent delivery of quality products on time and avoid unintended consequences that arise when speed alone is key.4

Consequently, at Eccalon, once we have settled on the technology and its application, as well as the specific segment of the problem space and the ideal partnerships, we then outline the development, testing, and demonstration process.

This crucial step frequently offers significant innovation in its own right. For it is here that we may apply an alternative form of engineering (e.g., digital) or introduce a new material treatment approach (e.g., low temperature curing of carbon composites).5 Furthermore, the proper balance must be maintained between embracing flexible approaches to development and remaining persistent in determining the sufficient levels of rigor. It is this balance that allows us to advance innovation and deliver cost-effective commercialization.

Eccalonians will have numerous opportunities to advance breakthrough research and technology commercialization. Some of you will collaborate on game-changing discoveries and others on countering potentially devastating threats. Some of you will be part of the decision process for selecting the best partner for a new project, and others will devise alternative measures of rigor to ensure excellence and avoid unintended consequences. All require a degree of persistence that will become second nature to you. It will be born through consistent employment in the technology scanning process, refined in devising pathways around the innovation minefield, reinforced in examining the reputations of candidates before completing the selection of compatible partners, and fully embraced in the agile yet disciplined approach to demonstrating and delivering excellence.

So, for our clients and our culture – embark on today's assigned task with an eye toward excellence and ear toward President Coolidge's dictum: "Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."