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April 19, 2016

New Textbook by APL Authors Shares Lessons Learned on Creating a Culture of Innovation in Large Organizations

Cover of Infusing Innovation into Organizations: A Systems Engineering  Approach

Creating a culture of innovation and collaboration in large, complex organizations is hard work. And doing so successfully requires a strategic framework, committed leadership, and significant investments in time and resources.

A new textbook, written and edited by a team of technical and administrative leaders at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, describes a process the Lab has used since 2010 to spur innovation and collaboration.

“Infusing Innovation into Organizations: A Systems Engineering Approach” shares lessons learned in developing a culture of innovation and collaboration in a large, complex and successful organization. Told from a systems engineering perspective, the book details how the APL system has benefited from an infusion of new activities and functions that, when combined with existing concepts, processes and techniques, enhance staff members’ ability to develop ideas and deliver innovations.

The book is the result of a significant collaborative effort, with chapters and articles by 17 APL authors, edited by APL Space Exploration Sector Managing Executive Ann Darrin and Assistant Director for Science and Technology and Chief Technology Officer Jerry Krill.

Together, the authors share insights on issues ranging from creating an innovation framework and nurturing a culture of collaboration, to case studies on APL innovations and HR practices used to create and sustain a workplace environment conducive to groundbreaking ideas.

The results of APL’s innovation and collaboration efforts since 2010 include the following:

  • More than 85 percent of staff members have participated in APL’s innovation program.
  • Intellectual property disclosures have increased by more than 80 percent.
  • Patent filings have nearly doubled.
  • 1,100 new research projects have been proposed for internal grant funding.
  • 25 percent of the funded projects have received follow-on funding by external parties.

“When we looked back at the progress we’ve made in strengthening innovation and collaboration at the Lab during the past five years,” said Darrin, “we knew it was something worth examining and chronicling. For others at large, complex organizations seeking to develop successful and sustainable innovation programs, this book should be of great value.”

The book is available at

Media contact: Geoff Brown, 240-228-5618,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

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