Innovation takes collaboration.
That was the message from the Army Materiel Command’s top leader as AMC co-hosted the Army’s third Innovation Summit with the Training and Doctrine Command, at the College of William and Mary, Aug. 16-17.
“It is critical to take a moment to pause, slow down and ask ourselves are we doing things right, and more importantly, are we doing the right thing,” AMC Commander Gen. Dennis L. Via said. “You can’t achieve innovation all at once, it takes time and collaboration.”
The event brought together more than 250 leaders from industry, academia, DOD and Army to explore processes to achieve innovation, expand collaboration efforts, and refine the innovation initiatives developed at the first two Army Innovation Summits. The three summits are a part of the larger Innovation Campaign, initiated by AMC on behalf of the Army in 2015.
“What is important, is that we are opening up to the outside, to our partners in industry and academia. We need to work together; this is a public-private partnership,” said Undersecretary of the Army Patrick Murphy in his opening remarks at the summit. “The reason why we do what we do, is that we have a solemn duty to make sure that our troops do not have a fair fight. We must give them the technical and tactical advantage over our enemies.”
Murphy underlined the importance of the summit to take ideas into execution.
“My management philosophy is very clear. Ideas are great, but execution is critical,” he said. “Having that operational excellence is something that we strive for, and it is something we can learn more about from private industry.”
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall emphasized the Army needs to become more innovative in order to respond to tomorrow’s threats.
“The world is changing. It has been 25 years since the Gulf War, and we largely have the same operating concepts. We’ve modernized and improved, but we really haven’t fundamentally changed what we are doing,” Kendall said in his keynote remarks. “But others have; they are thinking and actively working on how to defeat us. We have got to be more agile. Part of innovation is being able to respond in any direction.”
The summit featured two panels, one with academia and the other with industry, where participants discussed their perceived challenges to innovation and what can be done to break down those barriers.
According to Dr. Randall Hill Jr., executive director at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, three factors impact innovation: talent management, inspired research and increasing collaboration.
Members of the industry panel emphasized the need for more communication between the Army and industry, as well as reducing the restrictiveness of requirements.
“Today there are so many requirements binding what we do,” said Robie Roy, Lockheed Martin vice president for technology and innovation. “We need more challenged-based research that will ignite our young scientists and engineers to be truly innovative.”
The summit culminated with recommendations from four breakout groups on how to improve Army innovation. During the first two summits, the groups met to discuss barriers to, and opportunities for, innovation in the materiel life cycle. They presented their final recommendations to Via and Perkins.
“We appreciate the inclusion of academia and industry,” Gen. David Perkins, commander of TRADOC, said. “Innovation needs to be a culture, not a niche corner or a specific time. Our Soldiers are natural innovators; we just need to make sure we don’t stifle them.”
Additional presentations included the Army’s acquisition reform initiative from Katrina McFarland, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, and Maj. Gen. James Richardson, director of the Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office; the Department of the Army’s Office of Business Transformation innovation strategy; Army Research Lab’s open campus; TRADOC’s mad scientist program; Office of the Secretary of Defense Small Business Office; and contracting reform from the Army Contracting Command. In addition, Army Cyber, the Space and Missile Defense Command, the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, Medical Command and the Corps of Engineers presented current innovation efforts with an emphasis on how they can better partner with industry and academia.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense