By LT. CMDR. KEITH A. CAPPER, SC, USN NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND
When U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus established the Navy’s Task Force Innovation, he intended to establish a short-term initiative that allowed for the jump-start of innovation across the Department of Navy (DoN) enterprise followed by the identification of five key focus areas as documented by DoN Strategy and Innovation.
The vision of innovation is for a continuous cycle of self-assessments and idea implementation because great ideas come from everywhere, not anywhere, but everywhere when we have the right innovative climate. The Innovation Vision must be consistent and remain credible to ensure the success of not only the naval forces, but also the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Enterprise. Above all, we must remember that innovation is a process and not the end in itself.
As a result of the Navy’s Task Force Innovation, five key focus areas were established to make the Navy a more innovative organization:
1. Build the Naval Innovation Network
2. Manage the talent of the DoN workforce
3. Transform how the DoN uses information
4. Accelerate new capabilities to the Fleet
5. Develop game-changing warfighting concepts
Build the Naval Innovation Network
The Naval Innovation Network (NIN) has been established to create an environment with the ability to connect innovators across the globe. This allows innovators to collaborate and share information using the core tenets of innovation – People, Ideas, and Information. NAVSUP relies heavily upon you and your talents to identify opportunities and insights. You are empowered to shape the future of our Navy that powers our naval forces through a time of reduced resources. The DoN is researching ways to develop incentives that reward innovators and their leaders.
Manage the Talent of the DoN Workforce
The men and women of the DoN and NAVSUP are an extremely talented and diverse team; however, no single individual can harvest the responsibility of bringing great ideas from cradle to grave alone. A workforce whose strengths are trust, mutual respect, and traditional and nontraditional views is a means to bring these thoughts and concepts to operational reality.
NAVSUP is committed to creating an environment that seeks out, appreciates, and supports the creativity, expertise and insights of our entire talented team to solve many of the challenges which lie ahead.
Transform How DoN uses information
Each day, the Navy produces, collects, and disseminates more volume of information than is humanly fathomable. Despite this undeniably large information footprint, we often find that we lack sufficient processes to enable this multitude of valuable data to fully benefit the mission. Undoubtedly, information is viewed as an asset which empowers our leaders to make important decisions. A collaborative information sharing architecture allows innovation to grow boundlessly. The Navy is committed to integrate technology and learn the best practices of other successful organizations to maximize our ability to master the science of the ever changing information cycle.
Accelerate New Capabilities to the Fleet
Many of the new capabilities are ideas inconceivable a few years ago. How would itbe possible to land an unmanned vehicle on a moving ship? This idea was once in the realm of science fiction if not considered totally impossible. The advancements in technology, along with reshaping how existing resources are employed, give credibility to the expansion of innovation in the operational capabilities for the Fleet. We must evaluate and revise legacy practices before our adherence to these practices has a negative impact on our ability to remain technologically superior, and allows our adversaries to gain a competitive advantage. Revolutionary manufacturing, for example, can be a substantial influence to transform our logistics, supply-chain and acquisition systems. We must define acceptable risk tolerance metrics to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology. Conducting tests where risk can be better analyzed and reduced or eliminated will be valuable in implementing safer and more effective solutions to our Navy. Secretary Mabus explains, “Too many new assets are mired in outdated bureaucratic practices that were developed for another era. As we enter the age of cyber, unmanned systems and advanced manufacturing, we cannot allow these overly complex, form-over-substance, often useless, and too often harmful, practices to slow or prevent development of some game changers, while simultaneously giving our potential adversaries the competitive advantage.”
“Right now, there are examples of innovation occurring in pockets all over the Fleet. We owe all our Sailors, Marines and civilians a platform by which their ideas can reach the decision makers.”–Secretary Mabus
Develop Game-changing warfighting concepts
We need to take lessons learned and move forward. The global security environment of the future is undefined and complicated. We must evaluate new concepts and develop effective options for our leadership as well as to our policy makers. The challenges we face tomorrow will assuredly become more complicated if we cannot afford to think big and innovate our concepts today. The DoN and NAVSUP challenge you to use your ingenuity and think big as your idea may very well be the next idea that deters aggression, wins our nations battles, and keeps the hearts and minds of the American people restful at night. We have the watch and together we will aggressively develop innovative concepts that will be used by our sons and daughters that will have the watch long after we stand relieved.
“When our team draws on the talent, dedication and skills of all our Sailors we will remain the finest Navy in the world.”–Admiral Greenert, CNO
This article is based on the document Department of the Navy Innovation Vision created by DoN Strategy and Innovation. To read it in full, visit: http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2015/04/15/department-of-the-navy-innovation-vision/