NASIC, AFRL team up for innovation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Zachary Wilson
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center Public Affairs

More than thirty members of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Air Force Research Laboratory spent June 18 – 21 at nearby Tec^Edge in Dayton, Ohio, to learn how to implement innovative practices and ideas across organizational structures.

“This event is a great example of putting innovation to work,” said Col. Jed Cohen, NASIC vice commander.  “If we continue to bring together good ideas, enthusiastic volunteers, and the right resources, we can tackle some of our most challenging problems.”

Led by experts from the University of California Berkeley, in partnership with the National Security Innovation Network, military and civilian participants worked through 16 instructional segments to solve a real-world objective – “How might we ensure information and goal alignment through NASIC and AFRL to improve collaboration and decision making?”

Tackling this problem required a combination of knowledge and skills along with innovative thinking.

“The primary goal of this boot camp was to teach NASIC and AFRL members the design thinking process for problem solving by applying it to real world issues,” said Capt. John Munro, a member of NASIC’s Innovation and Transformation Office.

Attendees said the bootcamp structure gave them freedom to embrace and apply these new methods.

“The most valuable part for me was the constant emphasis on not just learning, but also doing, in order to ingrain the learning process and fully comprehend how difficult it can be to identify the root problem and create innovative, user-centered designs, ” said one attendee.

By the conclusion of the bootcamp, participants had interviewed more than 90 of their coworkers, learned how to apply design thinking and lean launchpad methods, and created seven unique solutions to a wide range of issues.  Solutions ranged from assigning experienced guides to new employees to creating new ways to assign priorities by utilizing technology.

“While the problem statement and resulting solutions are important, they are primarily there as a tool for learning,” said Munro. “We really wanted to teach NASIC members new ways of solving problems that they can apply to their normal duties and improve NASIC from the ground up.”

This course was sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network, a Department of Defense organization that funds innovation programs.

“Our mission is to build networks of innovators that generate new solutions to national security problems,” according to Rose Butchart, NSIN program manager. “NSIN and its programs serve to develop a new alliance between defense, academia, and venture communities whose collaboration is imperative in the service of our national security.”

This was the first of several planned events between AFRL, NASIC and NSIN.