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‘Innovation Engine’ drives Air Force innovation process

Airmen Powered by Innovation

Airmen Powered by Innovation

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Air Force Global Strike Command’s chief scientist introduced the “Innovation Engine,” Nov 1., which is a new process that will reorient, reinvent and reimagine the AFGSC innovation process.

Innovation Engine focuses on creating a margin in the command’s processes and procedures, thus building space to empower Airmen to find innovative solutions. This new process also expedites the implementation of solutions, allowing the command to acquire new technologies at the speed of relevance.

“I really see Innovation Engine snowballing,” said Dr. Donna Senft, AFGSC chief scientist. “I think we’re going to start out small with a couple of successful projects and the excitement will catch on and we’ll grow rapidly.”

This process comes as a byproduct of the command’s 2020 strategic vision where Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander, communicated his plan for the command’s future, which includes innovation at the heart of every effort.

“By emphasizing teams and innovation, we will achieve the dual goal of encouraging our Airmen to view themselves beyond the individual, as well as exhibiting the command’s dedication to an innovation culture,” Ray said.

Under the new 2020 strategic vision, the command reorganized the way it does business, focusing on a team approach that uses boards, bureaus, centers, cells and working groups. This approach creates a cadre of cross-functional teams working problems together, allowing issues to be worked more rapidly than individual directorates working problems separately.

In addition to this team problem-solving approach, Airmen can submit innovation ideas directly to their wing spark cells, which will then be communicated to the AFGSC Spark Working Group under the A9 - Innovation, Analyses and Leadership Development Directorate. Once the ideas have been vetted through this working group, nicknamed the Hornet’s Nest, they will then be sent up to the Doolittle Group, the directorate board and chaired by the chief scientist, referred to as the “Innovation Raiders.”Those efforts that are elevated to the Doolittle Group will receive further consideration for resourcing to scale across the MAJCOM.

These specialized groups are designed to streamline the overall process of implementing innovative solutions.

With the return of the great power competition, Ray said cultivating a culture of innovation will allow AFGSC to maintain its global competitive edge.