A Cure for BOGSATs

by Bobby Hanvey

Disruptive Thinkers curates blog posts that promote a culture of innovation in the national security community, inspiring and connecting ideas that challenge the status quo. We welcome submissions that are in line with this mission.

illuminate Thinkshops allow Navy and sister Service personnel the opportunity to engage with ideas and projects in meaningful ways using human-centered design. They are tailored to unit and mission-specific needs and easy to request. This article is written from the perspective of a self-sustaining illuminate chapter.

BOGSAT. That’s the way the Department of Defense likes to solve its problems: “Bunch Of Guys/Gals Sitting Around a Table.” BOGSATs are no way to innovate. BOGSATs don’t empower our people to solve problems they see and innovate from the bottom up. So, the question is what should replace BOGSATs?

We found the answer and it creates excitement and catalyzes movement like nothing I’ve seen in over 25 years in the military.

illuminate Thinkshops were created in late 2016 by sailors (an E-6 and an O-3), for sailors. These workshops were later given financial support by US Fleet Forces Command and are now flourishing. We stood up a chapter in Norfolk using this model and saw the explosive excitement described above.

These workshops bring participants through a host of non-traditional exercises that expose a wide range of design thinking and human centered design concepts to include:

  • The iterative process, rapid prototyping, challenging assumptions, and paradigm shifts
  • Forming team unity, while building group improvisation and presentation skills
  • Demonstrating the power of diversity and ways to leverage it
  • Reinforced the concept that good ideas come from everyone, not just those at the top
  • Failures contribute to the revision of a better product / end result, while demonstrating the value of both effective listening and building consensus and shared purpose

Thinkshops have become a powerful spark igniting explosive creativity and problem solving in our headquarters, which we are now leveraging to the entire Navy Reserves. With the wide variety of individual excercises within the Thinkshop construct, we can mix and match to tailor the results and impact. We have used Thinkshops for brainstorming and idea generation, process mapping, the reduction or elimination of team friction, and to facilitate strategic planning sessions.

Thinkshops are not meant to be used as a sole solution; they are a catalyst for something bigger. That is the beauty of the illuminate Thinkshop model — adaptability to your specific organizational needs and it can change as your organization does.

Want to host an illuminate Thinkshop for your unit? Email the team!

Bobby Hanvey is a Navy Reserve officer, aviator and co-creator of the team platform for Empowering Perpetual Innovative Change (The EPIC Cube). He seeks innovative and new solutions to existing problems and is not afraid to dive in head-first. Mistakes and failures early in his career shaped his refusal to accept the statement, “It’s not possible.” This has led to exceptional results in recent years on major issues, problems and projects, and fuels his instruction and facilitation of illuminate Thinkshops.

The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that inspires, connects and empowers people by convening events, forging partnerships and delivering tangible solutions. Our mission is to promote a culture of innovation in the U.S. national security community.

If you are a military member or veteran, government employee, entrepreneur focused on national security, or just find the idea of helping solve tough problems enticing, we’d love to have you join the DEF Community!



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We inspire, connect and empower people to promote a culture of innovation in the national security community. More at www.DEF.org. Follow @ Disruptive Thinkers.