The Innovators Beer Call


This piece continues the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London.

This week’s post was provided by Jonathan Silk, an Army Officer. The views expressed here are the author’s alone and do not reflect those of the US Army or the Department of Defense. Read the post and join the discussion on Twitter #CCLKOW.


For this week’s post we will be discussing innovtation in the military. Last week a group that included faculty members from the United States Military Academy, Veterans, and local business leaders took part in the “Innovators Beer Call” at West Point, NY. This event was modeled on the “Think and Drink” that was hosted by Naval War College students this past February in Newport, RI.

The discussion focused on innovation in the Department of Defense (DoD) and some of the stories of success and obstacles that were barriers to innovation.

We started the conversation off by defining innovation, which is “the act of process of introducing ideas, devices, or methods

Here are some of the notes from the event:

-Processes for change are great; however, leaders must be willing to listen to subordinates ideas for innovation without being threatened by them.

-Do your subordinates place more value on innovating for the organization or themselves?

-We discussed TRUST on multiple fronts. Does the organization trust its subordinates to do the right thing? Are policies / procedures in place to allow employees to make on the spot decisions that support the companies overall mission? (Can employees deviate from an SOP/computer program/procedure?). Do employees/soldiers TRUST that the organization has their best interests in mind? Do seniors/leaders actually listen when subordinates introduce new ideas?

-When you are thinking outside the box, who decides what the ‘box’ is in your organization?

The following questions provided a guide and starting point for the conversation:

What is Innovation?

Is the DoD ripe for innovation? How do we promote innovation in the DoD? (subordinates to seniors)

How does the British miliary promote innovation? What can we learn from other organizations?

Are middle level leaders prepared to identify and promote changes? Do seniors dismiss junior leaders? Do senior leaders provide opportunities for junior leaders to introduce ideas?

DoD has been a good innovator in terms of producing stuff (technology, equipment, medical advances, etc). How innovative are we at improving processes?

How do we attract innovative thinkers to the military (civilians)?

How do we stifle innovation?

What are your thoughts? Reply here or on Twitter using #CCLKOW

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