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NEWS | May 11, 2021

Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Culture Change Team Introduces Long Range Plan

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

To uphold Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) mission to repair, modernize, and inactivate the Navy’s warships and training platforms, it takes skillful workforce with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, viewpoints, upbringings, and skills to get the job done right. As part of the Strategic Framework, Culture has become a foundational block that to ensure the success of the shipyard and team – defined as an environment where people feel included and valued to do their best each and every day.


The Culture Change Team (CCT) was established to help change the culture of America’s Shipyard, building a more inclusive workplace that inspires, equips, and empowers one another to achieve excellence while creating an atmosphere where employees can thrive, learn, and develop continuously. With a defined set of focus areas to tackle, the team has introduced its Long Range Plan, which will help guide the shipyard into a future state where folks feel included and valued to do their best.


“The Long Range Plan is a tool to help guide our cultural efforts at large, assisting us in validating and ensuring we are working on the right things for NNSY,” said CCT lead Antonne Smalls. “Culture is an ever-changing cycle that is heavily influenced by what is going on in the world around us so we wanted to create something that could provide us with an ultimate end goal while also being able to grow and change depending on the needs of the shipyard at large. Think of the plan like a GPS for your vehicle. It is there to guide you where you need to go. Depending on the directions we take, the growth of the shipyard as a whole, we may reach our end goal much faster than anticipated. Our end goals, or focus areas, are defined but we are willing to change methodology if our data shows that we are going down an ineffective path.”


The Long Range Plan is composed of four major aspects: a write-up explaining six focus areas identified to tackle the biggest cultural roadblocks, a schedule that expands to 2026 and a resource transition plan (or initiative transition plan). These six focus areas are: resetting expectations of professional behavior, expecting accountability from our workforce, improving the way we communicate as individuals and as a team, improving in the development of our people to ensure they can take ownership of their career, making decisions that would make more positive impacts for the majority of the shipyard, and have more positive leadership engagement.


“The plan establishes those initiatives with dated actionable items, whether they are items we want to capture and process to a healthier stage for the shipyard, or initiate from scratch to bring to the workforce in ways to help establish a more inclusive workplace,” said CCT member Maria de Sande. “Some of these initiatives include our Collaborator Program, the Empowerment Series, and our partnership with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Office and the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).” 


“The write-up gives us a command level view of our goals and help us see our end goal in mind. As we aim to reach an end state of value system realization – which gives us a set timeframe and percentage where we are able to determine that culture is at a sustainable level of health for the shipyard, our team as it currently stands will dissolve and these initiatives will be taken up by the People Development team,” said Smalls.


The six focus areas each have their own Shingo Models, defining commanding principles, results, tools, and systems needed to be a success in those areas. “It’s important to have these models in place for our focus areas because we need to be able to see lasting results with what we are doing. If we don’t see results, that means we have to take a different approach or way of thinking in order to achieve our goals,” said De Sande. “We’re getting feedback from individuals throughout the shipyard at varying levels to determine how exactly we can measure success in the areas we’ve determined as our focus areas so that all levels have input on how we move forward for NNSY, utilizing inclusive decision making for our shipyard.”


Smalls added, “Inclusive decision making helps our shipyard feel like a team and gives those impacted by decisions a voice. It also helps drive innovation. Each of us can bring new ideas to the table. Everyone can be included in moving the shipyard forward.”


The Long Range Plan is currently being finalized with the CCT, including developing a foreword for their write-up to include support from leaders throughout the shipyard. Stay tuned for more information, including the release of the Long Range Plan in May.