The CO gathered a group of petty officers for a brainstorming session. He was looking for some new ideas, and to hear from them what they wanted and needed to do their jobs more effectively. A few ideas were put forward by the more outspoken sailors present, but ultimately nothing came of the session, and the CO shot down every idea with varied reasons why he couldn’t implement any of them. Morale following the meeting declined as sailors felt even more ignored by their chain of command.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It has been played out in similar form countless times throughout the Fleet. Our military, we hear, is not innovative. Yet, good leaders seem to understand there are great ideas brimming from their sailors. The difficulty lies in finding the proper tools to tap into that creativity.
This tool exists, and it has been used extensively in the private sector. Wait! I can almost hear the reader grumbling now that “the Navy isn’t a business”. Agreed-we should not run the Navy like a business, but we can learn some ways that businesses have encouraged innovation and creativity amongst their employees. Furthermore, the process, if done properly, can be very fun-described by one sailor who took part in it as one of the best and most unique experiences he has had in the Navy.