Introducing the Community Advisory — Cohort 2

The Community Advisory Cohort 2 members have just been selected, but who are they, what do they do, and why are they important to DEF and the defense innovation community at large?

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What is the Community Advisory?

The Community Advisory is a program to culturally engineer enhanced collaboration between organizational leadership and the overall community. The first cohort served as a pilot of the program, with six members completing a 6-month stint from November 2019 through May 2020. Selected via application, this initial group was allowed to self-organize and self-select specific objectives within an overall goal of engaging the DEF community at large. With the diverse group of stakeholders that comprise the DEF community, organizational leadership faces a constant challenge to stay connected and remain aware of the needs of the community. The Community Advisory Cohort was envisioned to ensure the community’s voice remained loud and clear, ensuring that the organization can continue to evolve and act on its mission to positively disrupt, innovate, and enhance the National Security community.

Cohort 1 served as a useful pilot providing both some tangible benefit for DEF and much constructive feedback for the organization of the Community Advisory program itself. With these lessons integrated into the approach, Cohort 2 is envisioned as an independent working group set on a mission to tackle a specific, tough problem that DEF has prioritized and needs additional bandwidth and specific expertise to effectively accomplish.

The Community Advisory will expand its membership from six to twenty five DEF community members, selected from a pool of applicants, serving for at least two hours of their time per week, for a 5–6 month sprint (February to June, 2021). During their tenure, Cohort 2 members have DEF’s platforms and resources at their disposal, as well as additional access to weekly Zoom calls with DEF leadership and the national volunteer team.

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Mission: Diversifying Our Community

Diversifying the DEF community is a stated priority of DEF leadership, and one of the five core lines of effort articulated in the 2020 Vision statement:

“A culture of innovation is necessarily one with psychological safety and where diverse perspectives and backgrounds are valued. Both for DEF’s sake and in order to model what we wish to see in national security broadly, we value breadth in our community, and we strive to make diversity a signature trait and strength. Within the next two years, we will identify specific segments of the national security community that we need to engage, and we will bring those cohorts into the DEF fold. We will also institute an empirical process for continually understanding our community makeup, identifying gaps in diversity, and addressing them. We will take an active role in living up to our core value of Inclusiveness.”

One segment of national security that was identified at DEF2019 (and previously) as under-represented in DEF was the enlisted population of the armed forces. As both anecdotal experience and limited on-hand data demonstrate, the military component of the DEF community is historically and currently skewed towards the officer corps (by a factor greater than 4 according to recent analysis). We know that the enlisted community offers incredible talent for innovation and absolutely must be involved in the mission of promoting a culture of innovation throughout national security. Therefore, it is a leadership priority for DEF to better engage enlisted members across the armed services and bring them into the DEF community.

With this objective in mind, Cohort 2 of the Community Advisory is established to research, prepare, implement, and execute a plan to increase DEF’s engagement with the enlisted community and grow the percentage of DEF’s community that comprises enlisted members.

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 civil servant, military member, academic, entrepreneur, policymaker, or technologist (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.