Innovation is paramount to the Department of Defense (DoD) because with innovation and new practices we can continue to give the warfighter the decisive edge. There are over 40 innovation cells and initiatives at the DoD today implementing incredible innovative outcomes and culture change including Defense Innovation Unit, AFWERX, SOFWerx, GOVWerx, Kessell Run, NavalX and all the NavalX Tech Bridges, the Army Futures Command, and more are forming as we speak, including the Space Force Innovation Cell.
Innovation Leadership is paramount to achieving the mission of an organization. Industry research shows that with new technologies and processes, it is necessary for organizations to think innovatively to ensure continued success and stay competitive to adapt to new changes.
However, when it comes to innovation today at the DoD, the biggest challenge is twofold: 1) How do we connect the dots across all these innovation initiatives to leverage lessons learned and share best practices, tools, and skills, and 2) how do we scale large and small innovation to drive new practices to support and empower local teams to deliver better mission outcomes faster?
These two questions and more inspired an engaging conversation in the latest DAU "Think Differently" webcast episode Jan 21, 2021, moderated by Dr. Marina Theodotou with four speakers: Professor Peter Denning and Todd Lyons from the Naval Postgraduate School, Hannah Feldman Hunt, the Chief Innovation and Product Officer from Army Futures Command Software Factory and a warfighter, Gunnery Sergeant Brandon Smart.
More than 500 members of the DoD workforce joined the episode and engaged in a lively chat conversation with the speakers who tackled the innovation challenges from various angles. Professor Denning highlighted a practical definition of innovation "as the adoption of new practices" as discussed in his book "The Innovator's Way" which distills eight essential practices every innovator needs to be able to spread innovation adoption and build the innovation ecosystem. Todd Lyons, a retired USMC Colonel current serving as the Vice President of the Naval Postgraduate School Alumni Association and Foundation discussed the practical applications of fostering innovation through the NPS course "Sense 21" which teaches students how to navigate large and risk averse bureaucracies such as the DoD and how to drive innovation adoption. Hannah Feldman Hunt highlighted how the Army Futures Software Factory creates the space for Soldiers to tackle software problems and to think differently. Brandon Smart discussed how he brought his learnings from a fellowship in industry and, by collaborating with another Marine, put them in practice by creating the Centers for Adaptive Warfighting Agile and scrum training through NavalX.
To listen to the DAU Think Differently episode click here. To explore previous and upcoming Think Differently episodes and more DAU web events click here.
About "Think Differently": The "Think Differently" webcast series invites the workforce to think differently by participating in live interactive moderated conversations with thought leaders from the workforce, DAU, DoD agencies, industry and academia. The series tackles key topics and practices drawn from the National Defense Strategy and the learning needs of the acquisition workforce including innovation, agility, leadership, learning, and AI among others. The series has grown from 35 participants in the first episode to reaching more than 3,500 members of the workforce who engage throughout the 90-minute session by asking questions and posting comments directly to the speakers via chat.
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