Booz-ing on Innovation

One of the core values we pride ourselves on at Greysteel is our dedication to innovation. Whether its improving the client experience through new technology integration, developing novel techniques to position and market a property, or simply engineering the best way to prank a co-worker who left for an extended vacation (plastic wrap, tinfoil, and an air horn, by the way), we all worship at the altar of innovation.

Thus when an opportunity arose to tour Booz Allen's recently opened Innovation Center in Washington, D.C., we jumped at the chance. The quick stats:

Location: 901 15th Street, Washington, D.C.
Size: 8,700 SF
Main Sponsors: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, and Microsoft

According to Booz, the center is “a physical embodiment of [their] innovation agenda, designed to connect the best technology to the toughest problems in a split ticket city of startups and government.” According to us, it’s a really cool space jam-packed with technology and collaboration-enhancing features. In no particular order of awesomeness:


  • The “Minority Report” meeting room where users can flick their wrist with a Wii-like remote control stick and have files or videos pop up magically on half a dozen screens surrounding the room

  • The Internet of Things Lab where original software and hardware are developed to solve unique, client-specific challenges involving networking various devices and platforms

  • A modular collaboration space where walls (and televisions on ceiling-mounted tracks) can be shifted on a whim to accommodate whatever meeting or event style is required.

So what did we learn and how can we apply it to the world of commercial real estate?




  1. Leverage the Power of Partnerships. This applies to investing, developing, or building out the client experience. What makes Booz’s innovation center so impressive is the combined knowledge and efforts of multiple partners. The people you choose to work with, in any capacity, need to be invested in mutual success, which is why we strive to view and interact with our technology providers as partners, rather than simply vendors.

  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New. Our industry, and professional services in general, has a bad reputation for being slow to adopt new technology and platforms. There may be a host of reasons for why this perception exists, but fear of failure should not be one of them. Valuable lessons can be learned from failure, ultimately leading to huge success stories.

  3. Innovation Can Come From Anywhere. Booz told us that some of the best ideas their company has brought to life sprang from the minds of employees far removed from upper management. The point being that when a company supports a culture of innovation, great ideas can come from the most unlikely sources.