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How to Think about Innovation

Ariel KleinKaia Haney
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Navy senior leadership's recent effort to address innovation in the fleet continues a long tradition of naval innovation, and especially among dedicated innovation organizations. Some of these organizations still exist, such as the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) Agility Office, or Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) Innovation Cell, while others, having fulfilled their mission or were subject to external drivers, were eventually shuttered (e.g., the Strategic Studies Group and Deep Blue). One common thread among many of these innovation organizations is their attempt to address a wide range of innovative products but their lack of optimal organization to deliver. For instance, Deep Blue was given the broad mandate to innovate "new ways to fight wars" across various "cognitive" domains: intelligence, future operating concepts, manning, technology, operational art, and tactics [1]. Lacking a common framework or language to describe desired "innovation" can hinder how the Navy organizes to achieve innovation goals [2]. Having a more descriptive language would support design efforts in creating an organization optimally organized to achieve the type of desired innovation. All of this raises the question: What type of innovation does the Navy want? Below, we provide a rough framework to categorize innovation and provide other considerations that can affect how an organization should organize for innovation.

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  • Publication Date: 7/14/2021