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CHIPS Articles: Innovation – Technology, Diversity of Thought and Gender

Innovation – Technology, Diversity of Thought and Gender
By Sharon Anderson - April-June 2015

In this edition of CHIPS we continue with the Secretary of the Navy’s emphasis on innovation. Building on the work already begun, SECNAV released the DON Innovation Vision in April which includes five specific focus areas aimed at reinvigorating the culture of innovation in the department:

• Build an innovation network for the Department of the Navy to eliminate barriers to progress. It has a website, that will have a crowdsourcing element, where ideas can be submitted, debated and evaluated, and where innovators can connect to each other and resources. The network is evolving with more capabilities still to be added.

• Reform how DON manages its workforce and its talent. Modernizing the DON’s military personnel system is critical to its ability to attract, develop and retain the people with the skillsets needed for the future, said SECNAV.

• Improve the way the DON uses its massive amounts of data. As an example, Rear Adm. Grace Hopper once said, “Someday, on the corporate balance sheet, there will be an entry which reads, ‘Information;’ for in most cases, the information is more valuable than the hardware which processes it.”

• Get emerging operational capabilities to the fleet much more quickly — and make sure ideas float to top leadership more quickly!

• Create breakthrough warfighting concepts.

In his column, Acting DON CIO Dr. John Zangardi discusses continuing efforts to streamline processes, upgrade mobile capabilities on the NMCI, and open the way for the DON to use commercial services whenever feasible.

There is a direct link between innovation and changing demographics in the workplace.

New faces are appearing in both government and industry with individuals from a range of gender, racial, religious, cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds.

This energetic and creative group of millennials and Gen Xers think about the work/life balance differently than their baby boomer colleagues. They have different expectations too about just about everything, according to the Business of

They want work that is meaningful — and they place a high value on technology and innovation, for example. They expect work-life flexibility and continual personal and career development.

They assume virtual access to their work equipment, to bring their own device to work (they have multiple devices), and unlimited access to the Internet and Wi-Fi, and by the way, they value an attractive environmentally friendly workplace environment.

Civilian and military leaders across government recognize that change is needed to attract the workforce of the future. They are recommending reforms to the government’s midcentury personnel and compensation systems and bureaucratic processes, such as some of the reforms SECNAV outlined in the DON Innovation Vision.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management released the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion Roadmap March 9 to help the federal government attract, develop, and retain a talented, engaged, and diverse workforce.

Leaders recognize that a diversity of perspectives will help solve the complex national security and IT modernization challenges the country is facing.

Vice Chief of Navy Operations Vice Adm. Michelle Howard said in an interview with Navy Times in April that one of her goals is to strengthen the integration of women in the Navy and improve retention rates for women.

The Navy has already experimented with reforms to increase retention, which includes a pilot program that allows military men and women to take sabbaticals, for example.

The battle to attract talented individuals is fierce with the economy improving and industry able to offer better compensation for critical job skills, according to various studies.

But public service can provide matchless professional fulfillment, as noted by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

In March, at Syracuse University, Carter said that he would like people to consider military and public service because, “when it comes to working in national security, no matter what you do — military or civilian — you will be better off for having been a part of this incredible mission.”

Welcome new e-subscribers!
Sharon Anderson

Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor, she can be reached at

Cover page of the DON Innovation Vision. U.S. Navy image.
NORFOLK (June 13, 2014) Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun, Chief of Navy Reserve, left, Vice Adm. Nanette M. DeRenzi, Judge Advocate General of the Navy, left-center, Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe, Commander U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, right-center, and Vice Adm. Michelle J. Howard, Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans and Strategy, hold a discussion during the Sea Service Leadership Association's 27th annual Joint Women's Leadership Symposium. This year's theme "Why Do You Serve?" offered opportunities for personal and professional development. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laura Hoover.
WASHINGTON (March 25, 2015) Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Michelle J. Howard speaks with a Senate staffer before giving testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on current readiness. Howard testified with Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer. U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash.
Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In, speaks at the Pentagon April 9, 2015. Sandberg spoke about how diverse leadership teams make better decisions. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chuck Burden
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