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Navy To Host Innovation Day

The service is looking for great ideas to improve its business and enterprise systems.

In its quest to advance its systems, the U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Office for Manpower, Logistics and Business Solutions is hosting its second Innovation Day on April 28 and 29. The office is looking to its end users within the Department of the Navy and its military and civilian staff for ideas to improve its digital enterprise, which includes such platforms as MyNavy HR IT Solutions Services, Ready Relevant Learning, Data Transformation Services and Marine Corps Logistics Integration Information Solutions Services, amongst others, explained Noelle Shott, principal, assistant project manager, Innovation Support Services, PMW 250, Enterprise Systems & Services & Innovation Support Services, Department of the Navy.

Interested individuals or groups should register through a special website that the Program Executive Office for Manpower, Logistics and Business Solutions, or PEO MLB, set up: https://peo-mlb.ideascale.com/.

Registration is open through April 27.

To test the concept of how to pull in new ideas, PEO MLB hosted its first innovation day last December, Shott offered. “We piloted the innovation day with the first 50 people within the PEO that registered,” she noted. “We had over 13 teams of both groups and individual that came together over a 24-hour period. They put away their regular work and really focused on something that meant a lot to them that could really make our work better. Then we had a Shark Tank[-like] panel after that where people presented their five-to-six-minute pitches, with the judges selecting the [innovation] winners.”

This year, the office is adding to the process by piloting an innovation-helpful software tool or ideational portal called ideascale.com that provides a way for participants to input and rank ideas, find collaborators or request to join a team.

“We’ve gone live with our PEO-MLB.ideascale.com website,” Shott stated. “It is a way to post ideas and crowd source and gather input into your ideas. And we’re running that all the way until Innovation Day starts on the 28th and 29th of April.” 

The office is offering two topic areas: workforce agility and digital agility. “We have two different innovation day challenges that people can propose ideas against,” she stated. “The first one is workforce agility, which is ideas on how we can improve our process, culture and workforce development. The second challenge, digital agility, is how can we improve our products, services and customer experience. And this Innovation Day is open to military and civilians that are within PEO MLB as well as military and civilians who are customers of our products, and with our products, [almost] everybody in the Navy uses our business systems.”

Last year’s winning pitch from the previous Innovation Day was from William Yip, technical director of the MyNavy HR IT Solutions Services platform. Yip suggested and ended up creating a system status dashboard to find any parts of systems or websites that were not functionally properly.

“I have supported the Navy for over 20 years and a lot of us have had challenges with our government assets and networks,” Yip noted. “We were constantly frustrated when we would go through a Navy website and see a ‘page cannot be displayed’ warning. We were often wondering if there was something wrong with the department systems or if it was something on the network or on my assets that we needed to troubleshoot. The idea of the system status dashboard is to provide that one stop shop for any given user or sailor to go and identify [an issue].”

Since then, Yip has been working with various officials within PEO MLB and cloud brokers in the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic to provide the capability to end users via cloud native services. “And more recently I’ve been working internally within MyNavy HR IT Solutions Services because one of our programs, called the MyNavy portal, they have been looking at a similar idea to providing that system status,” he shared. “The idea is that once we can implement this dashboard for HR [human resources] systems, we can scale that for other Navy systems as well.”

From her experience as previous senior acquisition manager for the Navy’s Enterprise Systems and Services portfolio, Shott saw firsthand how the department's new software acquisition efforts into rapid software prototyping, agile methodology and development security operations were providing digital and user experience improvements, and she wanted to harness those type of accelerated advancements through Innovation Day.

The officials hope that the second innovation day draws in anyone who wants to help improve the Navy and Marine Corp enterprise systems. They will have a robust array of Navy officials and leaders judge the ideas. And Yip encouraged possible participants to take advantage of the opportunity to specialize in innovation, even if it is just for a day.

“We took a page out of Google where we implemented what we called a 20% day,” Yip shared. “Our twist was at the end of our one-month sprint, we gave our developers one whole day to come up with and implement an idea that they think will solve our users’ needs. We did this for about a year and a half. It was really satisfying for our developers and also a number of those ideas were eventually implemented. That was probably one of the major reasons why I participated in Innovation Day, as I felt it was an opportunity to look at ideas that people have, which we may not have time to do in our day-to-day jobs.”