JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
Innovation is a subject you might hear about a lot in today’s Air Force. Often, discussions about innovation get a bit complicated. So, the 363d Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing has found a way to simplify unleashing the wing’s most important resource, Airmen, and their great ideas.
“I'm excited to announce that we at the 363rd have begun conducting an experiment to see if we can figure out a way to provide every Airmen an opportunity to share their great ideas,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jon Rice, commander, 363d ISRW.
“We asked our Airmen to submit their ideas, big or small. Then, Airmen had the opportunity to pitch their great ideas to a board comprised of the wing's senior leaders,” he said. “This board, Launching Ideas and Opportunities Now, or LION Board, is every 363rd ISRW Airman’s opportunity to gain wing commander resources and sponsorship for their idea.”
“The Airmen of the 363rd ISRW are problem-solvers by nature and dynamically explore ways to make things better each day,” said Chief Master Sergeant Stefan Blazier, command chief, 363d ISRW. “Our goal is to remove barriers that stand between our Airmen and excellence. The ideas submitted for this initial LION Board represent the first sparks of a powerful cultural shift in which we give our people - who represent our most valuable resource - an elevated platform to be heard and have access to support their aggressive pursuit of what’s possible.”
There were 12 ideas submitted for the board’s initial gathering. Of those 12, three, Innovation Crowdsourcing, Classified Research Optimization Search Engine, and Post-partum Fitness, were pitched to the June board.
Innovation is a living process with multiple paths forward, Rice said. While only three ideators pitched ideas to the June LION Board, several other submissions have been vectored through alternative paths for maturation and exploration.
“Airmen were notified if their idea was selected for presentation to the LION board, and those not selected were provided direct feedback and, in some cases, the ideas were acted on,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tammy Coleman, LION Board facilitator. “In every case, an issue champion at the wing level or below was assigned to each submission in order to nurture ideas that need further development.”
For the Airmen and teams presenting to the LION Board, each presentation was limited to 10 minutes, and there was a question and answer period following the presentation. Pitches were to include at least a problem statement; a hypothesis or a summary of the approach to address the problem; the list of team members and any key partnerships needed to execute the initiative or experiment; what the Airman or team may have already learned; their 90-day plan for the way ahead; and what they needed from leadership, such as, money, commander advocacy, space to experiment, and so forth.
“At the heart of innovation are the ideas, passions and views of our people to make things better,” Rice said. “We will create opportunities for anyone within the wing, regardless of grade/rank, specialty, location or position, to express their thoughts on what might be possible to improve, what we do and how we do it.
“To maximize the success of these efforts, we will rapidly connect the diversity and intellect of our people to decision makers so resources, support and advocacy make progress on initiatives and projects for the wing’s Airmen and mission areas,” he said. “We will foster an environment of experimentation, iteration and adaptation that will allow us to learn from failure while bounding associated risks.”
The 363d ISRW plans to continue building on its Airmen’s ideas and innovations by holding LION Boards on a monthly basis.