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Leaders Identify Challenges, Opportunities and Way Ahead at NWDC Maritime Innovation Symposium

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120315-11

From Navy Warfare Development Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 150 members from the maritime services, academia and industry gathered this week to kick-off Navy Warfare Development Command's (NWDC) "Innovation Series 2012" at a Maritime Innovation Symposium themed "Regaining the Innovation Advantage...Awakening Our Creative DNA" on Naval Station Norfolk.

"Most of what I have seen in my years in the Navy has been activity driven, not purpose driven. The organizations and processes we use are purposefully designed to maintain course and speed - not to allow significant change. That is the reason I wanted to hold this conference," said Adm. John C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, in his opening remarks.

"Our choice is simple. We can either innovate today, or be forced to rapidly adapt in the middle of conflict. While we have a strong history of adaptation, we can certainly get some of the big things right beforehand," Harvey added.

Other renowned speakers engaged the audience on discussions on historical best practices, warfighter challenges, how to harness and increase the Navy's capacity for innovation, and setting the conditions for an innovative culture. U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, private sector and non-military governmental agency presenters provided valuable insight on innovation from their perspectives.

During a Flag Panel discussion on "Community Challenges in Need of Innovative Solutions," the speakers looked at challenges to innovation in cyberspace, undersea and expeditionary warfare, and fleet readiness.

Several themes emerged from the active discussions, which included real-time "chat" on Defense Connect Online (DCO) with attendees both at NWDC and at remote locations providing direct input into the discussion.
The importance of engaging younger Sailors and junior officers in the innovation process, not only because they are on the tactical front-line of employing innovation outputs, but because of their innate familiarity with modern communication tools, was a recurring message.

"If you want to think out of the box, you have to involve people that have never been in the box," said retired Capt. Vic Addison.

Overcoming challenges, such as budget constraints, bureaucracy, and risk-adverse "middle management;" recognizing that failure is part of the innovation process; and, the importance of defining the problem were addressed throughout the symposium.

The goal of NWDC's "Innovation Series 2012" is to reinvigorate a culture of innovation throughout the Fleet in direct support of the warfighter.

"The symposium provided a baseline frame of reference for innovation and set the stage for a bolder approach to the problems facing us," said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command.

"Now it's time for action and to move our ideas up the chain and out to the fleet."

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