The Pentagon is a curious place. It is the heart of a colossal machinery of war and security, a $700 billion-plus behemoth. You might expect, then, that the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department would be cutting-edge itself, staffed with world-class talent making split-second decisions while working on futuristic projects all to protect the nation. Kind of like Apple, but with lasers.
As anyone who has walked the Pentagon’s musty corridors—or struggled with its paperwork—knows, though, the reality is very different. It is as if former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s Pentagon had been preserved in aspic when he resigned way back in 1968, leaving behind a living museum to the workplace culture and administrative processes of the Mad Men era. And while much has changed in the intervening half-century, much has stayed exactly the same.