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NavalX

Agility the Navy Way

Agility is more than a buzzword to the Department of the Navy (DoN), so after hearing the National Defense Strategy's call to accelerate the delivery of technology to warfighters, the Department has answered.

Designed to empower Sailors, Marines, and DoN civilians by giving them the tools to translate ideas into action, the new Naval Expeditions (NavalX) Agility Office was launched to serve as an incubator for agile thinkers. It is part of an effort by the Navy's research, development and acquisition team to drive a change in culture that will increase the Navy's pivot speed and provide for accelerated outcomes.

To start with, NavalX intends to give the Department tools that will include a hub for lessons learned, playbooks, mentor network, case studies, and training.

“The mission of NavalX is to find all the successful, proven ideas and all of the brilliant people who are producing them out in the fleet and make sure they get out to everybody who needs them as fast as humanly possible,” said Marine Capt. Jonathan Margolick, a facilitator for NavalX. “When someone comes up with a good idea somewhere out in the fleet — anywhere across the DoN — they fight to make it a reality. When they finally get to a place where it does the thing they wanted it to do, they're probably not the only person with that problem, and no one else should have to do that up-front work ever again to get there.”

The need to produce more agile-minded processes was echoed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson during a recent conference where senior DoD officials discussed the best way to enhance capabilities that support the sea services' operations.

“We've got to restore agility to the way we operate and think about warfighting,” Richardson said during his February 13, 2019, keynote address at the 29th annual WEST Conference. “As far as technological agility goes, we simply must be able to get capabilities, technology, tools, and weapons systems into the hands of our Sailors faster.”

Among other things, NavalX intends to improve warfighters' awareness of the resources available to them for overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of developing new technology.

To better develop and test emerging technologies, the DoN has established innovation laboratories to support prototyping and experimentation for accelerating technology delivery. NavalX will help Sailors apply “agility practices” wherever they face challenges such as finding the right engineers to prototype a new idea or test new technology. The office will also provide a network of mentors, training and playbooks to help transform ideas from Sailors, Marines, and DoN civilians into operationalized capabilities.

“What this really is, is not as much of a glitzy innovation store as much as a set of capabilities that anybody can access,” explained Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James F. Geurts on February 14, 2019, when NavalX was announced.

“So if you're a Sailor out there and you've got a great idea and you want to crowd-source something, what do I need from you? I need your idea.”