APRIL 17, 2015, NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) – Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus unveiled the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) Innovation Vision during remarks delivered at the annual Sea, Air and Space Exposition April 15.
“The superiority – in technology and concepts – the Navy and Marine Corps have on, over, under and coming from the sea did not just happen,” said Mabus. “There have been more than two centuries of collaboration and experimentation among people in and out of uniform, in government and industry, redefining what is possible. In so many cases, we have taken seemingly impossible ideas and made them real.”
One theme of Mabus’ remarks was that, despite the centuries of innovation that have contributed to the success of the Navy and Marine Corps, the time has come to reinvigorate that culture while breaking down existing barriers to new ideas and concepts.
“The world is getting faster, more nimble and is changing exponentially-the world that is with, too often, the exception of the United States military,” he said. “If we do not free ourselves from the ever expanding, ever tightening coils of bureaucracy, if we do not set the pace on adopting change, if we continue to think and do in the same ways we have for so long, then our days as the world’s pre-eminent maritime force are surely numbered-and that number is small and shrinking.”
The initial push toward a DoN better equipped to adopt and incorporate innovation at a quicker pace began earlier this year when Mabus established a special group tasked with focusing on these ideas.
“In January, I established the Navy’s Task Force Innovation: a group from across the department comprising thinkers, experts, and warfighters with diverse backgrounds and from every level,” said Mabus. “We have a long tradition of creativity, and we have exceptionally talented people in the Navy and Marine Corps. I’ve charged this Task Force with harnessing that creative energy of our Sailors and Marines and infusing the ideas that come forward into our operations.”
Following months of study and collaboration with the fleet, other governmental organizations and the private sector, the task force reported their results and recommendations to Mabus who established five key focus areas designed to make the DoN a more innovative organization.
The first of these areas is to establish an innovation network for the Department of the Navy.
“This innovation network will be the scaffolding used to ensure coordination and get rid of barriers to progress,” said Mabus.
The second is to reform how the department manages its workforce and talent.
“We need to be evaluating and rewarding our top performers appropriately to show them we value the knowledge, talent and risk-taking they bring to the fight,” Mabus said.
The third focus area is to use the massive amounts of data collected by the DoN in a better way.
The fourth is to get emerging operational capabilities to the fleet much more quickly.
“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,” said Mabus.
He also pointed out that this shift toward a culture more focused on innovation was about more than simply new weapon systems or platforms but also about changing the way the Department as a whole thinks.
The final focus area is to create breakthrough warfighting concepts.
For the next several months, Mabus also announced, the Department of the Navy will highlight a new innovation in the fleet every day.