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Spotlights on Innovation

April 2015


The US Navy now faces the imminent unfolding of two simultaneous, macro revolutions: the cyber and the robotic. Today, Dr. Mark Hagerott notes that they share common roots —the fundamental nature of warfare, combined with advancing science, and accelerating technological change. A framework is offered to situate these two epic events...

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have a rich history of innovation spanning more than two centuries. Today's naval innovators inherit a legacy of turning bold ideas into operational reality, even when money was short. From these examples, we should all be inspired to do things better, for innovation in today's Department of the Navy is simply a return to our roots. For an overview of naval innovation check out this infographic...

One finding of Task Force Innovation was that innovation is occurring across the DON, but often times efforts are not mutually supportive, and the great ideas of the workforce are encumbered by unnecessary bureaucratic processes. To help foster DON innovation, SECNAV establishes the Naval Innovation Advisory Council for two main purposes: coordinate innovation within the DON and trim the ""briar patch"" of bureaucracy that can choke the life out of sprouting great ideas...

People have always interacted with technology in both predictable and innovative ways. Scott Cheney-Peters notes that new wearable, implantable, as well as biological and chemical augmentations are poised to vastly increase our abilities to perceive data and execute hazardous missions. But the Department of the Navy must soon consider the ethical questions posed by such technology, in the hands of adversaries as well as when used by members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps...
Ideas of the Week:The contributions below represent some of the great ideas that we have received since the website was launched. Thanks to the many innovators, within and outside of the Department of the Navy, that continue to provide impressive suggestions!

Not all of the DoN computers maintain the latest version of the web browser. In some cases, there are warnings that the web browser will not be supported by the website visited. Additionally, many sites are best viewed by a specific browser. It would be beneficial to have more than one option for a web browser.
- Submitted by a Sailor

The Navy is still using a performance evaluation system (NAVFIT98) that was built in 1998 and uses antiquated processes. Within the Department of the Navy, the Marines have been using the APES (Advanced Performance Evaluation System) since the late 90s. APES is fully interactive using email, auto-population, auto-archive, and even tracks the submission and approval process all via the system. NAVFIT98 still requires a ""snail mail"" postage stamp process using PERS-32 to unpack letters, scan and load to BUPERS Online (BOL). I certainly value the customer service support that PERS-32 has provided to me when I had questions about FITREPS/Evals, but we should not task people to unpack envelopes and scan documents that could all be done electronically by the individual sailor and supervisor(s). This type of documentation should be all accessible in one database tied to the member’s record. The Navy Awards system is not automated either. There is neither a central database nor an online approval process. The Marine award system is online and fully automated. The Navy should automate these processes, and incorporate the lessons learned by the Marines.
- Submitted by a Navy Officer
(The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States government.)

The Secretary of the Navy issued his first Innovation Action Memo that directs innovation leadership to be included in the annual performance appraisals of Naval Leaders. He recognizes that not everyone is an innovator but every leader in the Department of the Navy must contribute to the innovation culture either by creating an environment to encourage innovation, championing the great ideas of the workforce, or trimming the bureaucratic ""briar patch"" that prevents innovation from occurring...

Innovation is one of NAVAIR’s top priorities and an integral part of our business. We have a rich history in innovation and invention inspired by people like physicist Dr. William B. McLean, the father of Sidewinder and China Lake's technical director from 1954 to 1957. Dr. Mclean championed the importance of creativity in engineering and scientific endeavors. Then as now, our military is driven in large measure by rules, budgets and process. But Dr. McLean insisted that creativity was important, and an overzealous ""process"" focus can kill innovation...

We know our Facebook fans are keen to the fact that #NavyInnovates - so how about a little Wednesday morning "Innovation Trivia" to keep things interesting?
Q: I was a #USNavy innovator in the field of computer programming. Who am I?
    See the Interview
    Read the Bibliography

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus noted in his 15 April 2015 speech that information flows threaten to increase so fast in the near future they will give America’s adversaries a competitive advantage. Today, Navy Lieutenant Kat Dransfield argues that the volume of such information, and its chaotic nature, are easy to manipulate. Such an easily distorted reality, she argues, could neutralize our technical military advantages...

Check out Dr. Burton Neuner III's contributions to innovative photonic technologies at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific!

It's easy to get lost and mesmerized amongst the spectrum of colors bouncing off the mirrors in the photonics lab at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific). The hypnotic colors reflected are, in fact, lasers and the kaleidoscopic light show is the future of data transmission.

During his 15 April 2015 speech at the Sea-Air-Space Expo, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus highlighted Department-level initiatives to field new operational capabilities for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as exploit unmanned systems to the fullest extent. Today, Professor John Arquilla offers us crucial insights into what operational differences have made in the past. More importantly, he also shows how swarms of small systems, alongside people operating in disaggregated yet purposeful groups, can change future warfare. In this inaugural innovation posting, Professor Arquilla opens our minds to consider how to use swarms and exploit them to counter the swarms of potential adversaries...

Yesterday during his remarks at Sea, Air, Space, Secretary Mabus focused on changing the way we think, challenging outdated assumptions, and removing bureaucratic processes that prevent great ideas from becoming reality. Each weekday over the next 100 days, this website will feature an innovation spotlight including: profiles of innovators, best practices, thought-pieces, and SECNAV directives in order to unleash the culture of innovation...

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