Workshops to breed innovation across Navy

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), Unknown (photographer)

Topic(s): New Generation Navy (NGN), Science, Technology & Innovation

First New Generation Navy 'innovate and challenge' workshop held at HMAS Penguin. (photo: Unknown)
First New Generation Navy 'innovate and challenge' workshop held at HMAS Penguin.

Navy’s renewed focus on innovation shifted up a gear when HMAS Penguin in Sydney hosted the first of many workshops to give Navy people the practical skills to come up with innovative ideas and new ways of thinking.
Twenty sailors and officers, ranging from able seaman to lieutenant commander, attended the initial session at Penguin, coordinated by the New Generation Navy program team.
Able Seaman Marine Technician Stephen Coupland, of HMAS Parramatta, said the experience was positive.
“I think most of us believe we do our jobs well, but there is always room for improvement,” he said.
“Innovation is about thinking outside the square and the workshop was a great way for all of us to focus on how to do things differently.”
The seminar began with a motivational address from Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett that was not the traditional ‘clear lower deck’ speech.
In a demonstration of his commitment to thinking differently and trying different techniques, Chief of Navy engaged in a Q&A session with the participants via Skype from Canberra.
He encouraged Navy personnel to use their licence to innovate, adding that it was not about processes or forms, but about how people behaved and listened for new ideas from within their teams.
The participants considered some of the challenges facing Navy and why innovation is needed. They discussed examples of successful innovation in Navy and in other navies and defence forces around the world, and realised many new ideas are just waiting to be implemented.
Able Seaman Coupland said the workshop used practical techniques to develop ideas.
“The key to innovation is to find a sponsor – someone who understands and supports your idea,” he said.
“We talked a lot about how to work the system to achieve a positive outcome both for your work space and for Navy in general.
“You always need a structure, but it’s not just about thinking outside the box, it’s about acting outside the box also.”
The workshops are based on Vice Admiral Barrett's innovation statement, which was released in September and builds on Plan Pelorus, the strategic plan for Navy in coming years.
Acting Director New Generation Navy, Commander Nick Watson said the workshops aimed to encourage the “signature behaviour of challenge and innovate” that Chief of Navy flagged when Plan Pelorus was released.
“Navy people can be incredibly creative and the Navy’s innovation statement is all about harnessing that creativity within all Navy people,” Commander Watson said.
Able Seaman Coupland said the session produced much food for thought.
“All of us returned to our ships and units better prepared to help others create, shape and share their own innovative ideas.”