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NEWS | July 13, 2017

NNSY designates $2M for Innovation Fund in FY18

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY

NORFOLK—Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Continuous Performance Improvement and Innovation Executive Steering Committee announced July 13 it is setting aside $2 million to fund workforce innovation in fiscal year 2018.

The Continuous Performance Improvement and Innovation Executive Steering Committee, founded earlier this year, is paving the road to a vital future at the shipyard by helping it keep pace with technological advances in ship repair and modernization.

The committee is comprised of subject matter experts throughout the shipyard who seek to implement the next generation of improved tools, work processes and knowledge sharing to create a high velocity learning environment.  

Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) innovation fund supports both Naval Sea Systems Commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s challenge to accelerate the pace of learning and incorporate new technologies and operational concepts.
“The point of the whole effort is to figure out strategically where to apply our resources to the innovation effort to make sure [ideas] get implemented in the workforce,” said Dave Wall, NNSY Performance Improvement Branch Head.  

While the shipyard previously had pockets of innovation and performance enhancement, such as the Rapid Prototype Lab (RPL) and its Performance Improvement department, the committee now aims to be an umbrella for all these efforts to maximize awareness and effectiveness while minimizing redundant efforts. 

A central component of high velocity learning is removing barriers to enable sharing of ideas across all levels of an organization.
“We’re trying to tap into the power of the workforce,” said NNSY Process Improvement Program Manager Rob Bogle.  “We’re trying to get that energy of 10,000 people and find the game changing ideas that are out there and make us more efficient—whether it’s a little bit at a time, or a lot.”  

“We’re really trying to stir up the creative energy and make sure they have one place to go and all the tool sets are at their disposal when they go to that one place,” added Dan Adams, NNSY Technology and Innovation Community of Practice and Laboratory Lead.  “Now we’ll all row in the same direction instead of stepping on each other.  That’s really what this is all about.”  

In many cases, high velocity learning can merely be the combining of existing resources and capabilities to increase overall efficiency and workforce access to these resources.

One example of smartly combining resources is the plan for the RPL to physically relocate alongside NNSY’s Technology and Innovation Laboratory, which has an impressive array of additive manufacturing (3D printing), metrology (the scientific study of measurement) and laser ablation (the process of removing unwanted material from a surface) tools.  “The Rapid Prototype Lab is merging underneath the innovation lab because it’s a natural fit,” said Bogle.  “Some different ideas, they might need a prototype or they might need robotics or they might need metrology.  Some may even need a combination of those.  The lab takes the day-to-day innovators, who may not know all the pieces and parts, to go and do something by pairing them up with the right people to turn a good idea into a great one.” 

Efforts to create a high velocity learning environment at the shipyard also tie into Naval Sea Systems Command’s focus on a culture of affordability through resource and process management.

“We do have a lot of great things happening in the shipyard already, but there’s no central repository of all those things coming in, so there’s the possibility of duplicating some efforts,”  said Myron Wynn, Performance Improvement Industrial Engineer and Master Black Belt supporting waterfront operations, production and shipyard communities of practice. 

 “I’m hoping what this committee becomes is that central repository that keeps the arms around facilities, innovation, all the things that tie in together . . . to help us make better educated decisions about all the things we want to go invest in.”