COMLOG WESTPAC Fosters Innovation with "Unthinkables" Focus Group

Story Number: NNS170511-08Release Date: 5/11/2017 10:21:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton, CTF 73 Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Personnel from Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific/Task Force 73 (COMLOG WESTPAC/CTF) came together, May 11, to begin a focus group called "the unthinkables," which seeks to develop innovative thinking in junior enlisted sailors, civil service employees and junior officers.

The focus group is in line with the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson's call for innovation to maintain maritime superiority in the 21st century.

"The purpose of 'the unthinkables' group is to draw out the innovation from individuals," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Keith Stephens, the focus group coordinator. "We are looking for junior personnel, both officers, civilian, and enlisted, as they often see the world and our Navy differently from the older group that has been around the military for a while. We're looking for their ideas and creative approaches so we can seek ways to improve efficiency and innovation while reducing complacency."

The unthinkables group was inspired by the U.S. 7th Fleet's Illuminate thinkshops, which bring together personnel stationed throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to focus on devolving strategies for improving day-to-day operations at the unit level and encouraging Sailors to engage in the process of improvement. Local attendees of the recent 7th Fleet workshop returned to their commands to inspire their shipmates to seek ways to innovate their organizations.

"The thinkshops taught us about ways to get a group to think outside the box, or as if there was no box," said Stephens. "The focus was on how different ideas in the Navy could be implemented, getting the new generation of Sailors involved with exploring new ideas and avenues to solve problems and how we can get the senior leadership to listen to their ideas and the input they have."

The unthinkables group was originally intended to be a COMLOG WESTPAC/CTF 73 specific group, focusing on command-specific issues and developing new solutions to these issues. The uniqueness and potential of the group soon attracted interest and inspired service members from the various commands in Singapore, as well as DoD civilians, to join the group, soliciting a broad scope input, backgrounds and experience.

Stephens encourages all commands Navy-wide to create their own version of the unthinkables focus group and harness the diverse talent, skills and imagination found in the newest generation of Sailors.

"I think it is something that all commands should have these groups, because it opens up possibilities," said Stephens. "There is vast variety of cultures in the Navy, people from all different backgrounds, races, religions and upbringings, all of which bring different thoughts, viewpoints and ideas to the table. Any command can benefit from that inherit diversity. This is all about exploring why we do the things we do and discovering if our current methods are the best methods or if there is a better approach."

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