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Hanyok’s NISE rotation at NavalX

By Kelley Stirling, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs | March 24, 2020

Lauren Hanyok was one of the first Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division employees to jump on the Fusion bandwagon a couple of years ago. Now, she is a “plankowner” at NavalX.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts announced the standup of the Naval Expeditions (NavalX) Agility Office in February 2019. But, Hanyok and a few other innovators have been working for a few years already to get to this point.

Funded through Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE), Hanyok has been on a rotation to NavalX in Alexandria, Virginia, for about two years, with another six months remaining.

“I think NavalX, before it became NavalX, the idea was that we would be breaking down barriers for people. But, what I’m finding is that we’re not breaking down the barriers themselves, we are helping people think about how to break down their own barriers,” Hanyok said, adding that that is a much lighter lift on the limited resources they have at NavalX and has a much larger impact on the people they serve.

The NavalX offices are located at “The Garden,” which is a warehouse-type maker space owned by Building Momentum. NavalX is temporarily using some of their co-working office space and larger meeting spaces on a regular basis, but there are other businesses that take advantage of what The Garden has to offer, which are basically meeting or design spaces that are not physically located on a military installation. NavalX is currently building out a warehouse space that will be open to The Garden facility, making it easier for collaboration opportunities that include multiple stakeholders, such as industry and academia. Navy and Marine Corps personnel will be able to reserve anything from offices and conference rooms to the whole facility for events in the new space.

In her first year at NavalX, Hanyok helped people to set up and plan their event at NavalX. Initially called launch platforms, the endeavor strives to help people be more agile, empowering them to think differently and go faster. Launch platforms has transformed somewhat, and NavalX now offers “collider space” at The Garden.

“We provide an out-of-the-fence place where people can bring their team,” Hanyok said. “We get them thinking faster, trying to work through a challenge, learning some things, and the process that they can take back to their home commands.”

Hanyok’s role at NavalX has shifted dramatically over the last few months. They’ve stood up what they are calling Centers for Adaptive Warfighting, or CAW, which is an agile-training platform using elements of human-centered design, lean start-ups and agile scrum.

Hanyok said the NavalX team developed training specifically for Marines that would help them think differently about solving a problem, allow them to get to a solution faster, and get back to what they need to – the business or warfighting.

“Marines will not be enticed by ‘human-centered design’ – it sounds too fuzzy,” Hanyok said, adding that they are calling it “warfighter-centered design” to help the Marines feel better about the class. 

Focusing on Department of the Navy units right now, these CAWs are working to establish a native agile community.

“It’s not only teaching people how to teach it when they get back or when we are not there, but it’s also teaching the idea of it, allowing people to come with their challenges and problems; and actually go through some facilitation to come up with their problem statements,” Hanyok said.

Right now, there are CAWs set up in Camp Johnson, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The CAW headquarters is at NavalX. Hanyok said that while there are existing physical CAW locations, the classes can be brought to anyone wishing to set them up.

With innovation cells at every Warfare Center, Hanyok said they want to take advantage of those and work with the groups that are already formed. That’s what she plans to do with the remainder of her rotation.

“It’s nothing new. Scrum is not new. Lean start-up, trying to figure out your stakeholders, is not new. Human-centered design is definitely not new,” Hanyok said. “The difference is we can provide it at relatively no cost. We are pulling together best practices from those industries and passing them along.”

When Hanyok returns to Carderock in the fall, she will be working full time for the Additive Manufacturing Branch. She wants to bring the CAW concept back to not just Carderock, but also other Warfare Centers.

In one of her first attempts at teaching a CAW course to the Warfare Centers, Hanyok facilitated a very modified one at the Naval Innovative Science and Engineering Technical Exchange Meeting at Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic in Charleston, South Carolina, in February. A class that would normally be two days was given in two one-hour sessions, one on each day, where she worked with participants to get after specific problems. Even though it was a reduced course, she said that the two separate groups were able to manage the data they produced to come up with actionable results even though not all the same people were there for each session.

In talking to some of the NISE engineers, she discovered that all of them, like herself, wish they had better access to the end user.

“I haven’t interacted with a warfighter, except being on this detail,” Hanyok said. “Now, I’ve met hundreds of Marines, and I’ve had conversations about what it’s like on a boat; I’ve never actually been on one.”

Hanyok said that time and money could be saved if the researchers and engineers developing products for the warfighter had easier access to the warfighter, effectively closing the loop. Hanyok thinks these CAW classes will be a helpful way to get these folks in the same room.

“My main goal is that we are working with them side-by-side, in cooperation,” Hanyok said. “My other goal is to have one here at Carderock, so when I come home I can nurture it as a NavalX alumnus.”