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DLA News Archive

News | March 20, 2024

Tech incubator helps DLA further innovation efforts

By DLA Information Operations

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Research and Development Technology Accelerator Team hosted the agency’s third Innovation Navigators Course Feb. 6-9 in Arlington, Virginia. The group of 21 leaders from across the enterprise formed a cohort focused on creating change and operationalizing innovation. Sabra Horne, entrepreneur-in-residence from tech incubator BMNT, led the course.

Participants learned the methodology, tool set and process to build a crucial innovation ecosystem as well as an organizational culture that fosters innovation. They discussed DLA’s unique innovation challenges along with strategies to overcome them.

James Johnson, DLA Information Operations’ program executive officer, challenged the team to focus on shared risk during the four-day event.

“My biggest hope is that you’ll see the challenges through an enterprise lens, not just from your particular directorate or major subordinate command. Each perspective gives greater efficiencies,” Johnson said. “We’ll require a level of thinking greater than what we’ve done in the past. It needs to be innovative and collaborative with shared risk for us to get beyond the problems we are seeing now.”

Johnson emphasized that innovation doesn’t always mean new technology. “You can give me a request for change to make something faster, quicker in the same system for today—I could probably do that. I’ll spend time, I’ll spend resources and at the end of the day, I may not be able to undergird with the right technology you need to solve tomorrow’s problems. But if we can get in the room as leaders and talk about the challenges you see here and what you anticipate, then we can have a better, broader conversation. So, it’s not just about roles and responsibilities, it’s about that collaboration point.”

Andre Hinson’s goal for attending the Innovator’s course was to search for ways to bring innovation to his organization. As the DLA logistics operations liaison officer to Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Hinson wanted to help DLA accomplish its mission from small improvements through interoperability, processes and policies.

 “A major takeaway was rethinking cross-functional collaboration between teams with diverse skill sets to bring together different perspectives and approaches in supporting allies and partners. The collaboration included DLA major subordinate commands, directorates and regional offices.”

Hinson plans to apply the skills and strategies learned during innovation training to complete the second phase of a Foreign Military Sales Dashboard. It will showcase real-time briefing metrics for DLA leadership that makes deeper analysis of underlying data quickly accessible.

Participants used the opportunity to connect with other innovators to expand their networks. As they moved through the course, each participant was able to apply what they learned to existing DLA programs and projects during group exercises.

Dee Dial, staff director, chief of staff, DLA Business Management Office, joined the course to expand on previous innovation work.

“In 2018, I developed the agile Inventory approach which allowed the agency to be one of the first to complete a full inventory of our real property assets,” Dial said. “The agile inventory approach allowed me to develop inventory sprints and continuously adapt the inventory methodology, resulting in improved quality each round.”

“Being allowed the creative space to solve a long-standing, complex problem using potentially unconventional methods, inspired me to join the Innovation Navigators for the opportunity to replicate this experience in other areas of our mission,” Dial explained.

DLA R&D Program Manager Miesha Spann encourages DLA thought leaders who seek to embrace change and new ideas to consider taking the Innovation Navigators Course.

“They will examine and tackle DLA’s high priority challenges while rapidly discovering leading-edge solutions,” Spann said.

Due to popular demand, additional Innovation Navigators Courses will be held through fiscal 2024. DLA government personnel interested in attending an upcoming course can contact Adam Price or Miesha Spann for more information.