KEYPORT, Wash. (NNS) -- The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport held a leadership forum March 4-5 in order to strengthen community leadership ties and maintain its place as a leader in naval innovation.
The forum was held in the Bangor Plaza Ballroom on board Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor, and was designed to not only expose NUWC Division, Keyport’s leadership cadre to new ideas and practices, but also deepen the leaders’ sense of solidarity and relationship. Gathering underneath the four sparkling chandeliers in the ballroom, NUWC Division, Keyport leaders quickly began filling the walls with colorful charts and waves of green sticky notes detailing categories and ideas for such major areas as readiness, innovation, an enabled workforce and finance.
“The Keyport Leadership Forum is an excellent venue to build those personal relationships that help to break down department and divisional barriers to increase collaboration and cooperation,” said Capt. Jon Moretty, commanding officer. “My role of Commanding Officer is to aid in removing road-blocks, promoting employees' new ideas, and be an advocate up the chain of command. Keyport must operate with urgency in our every action, and the commanding officer is the champion of this call to urgency.”
Paul Mann, technical director for the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme Division, was the featured guest speaker. He was invited after meeting several NUWC Division, Keyport leaders at an earlier conference because his ideas about attracting new talent through a “welcoming” culture mirrored the goals Moretty set for continuing to expand the culture of inclusivity among Keyport leadership.
“The fact I am here sort of personifies the willingness of Keyport leaders to accept alternative ideas and perspectives,” Mann said. “The fact they include differing opinions is the definition of inclusivity.”
Mann said the Navy must continue to adapt its outlook on creating a welcoming space because the needs of the nation and the security challenges of the 21st century are rapidly evolving. In order to attract the best talent form both the existing workforce and potential recruits, leaders must be committed to creating a culture that welcomes everyone.
“You’ve got to get new ideas from somewhere,” Mann said. “In many cases you get these ideas from the people on your left and right if you create a culture in which people feel welcome to share.”
The forum was not merely a series of panel discussions and keynote speakers. NUWC Division, Keyport leadership was broken up into color-coded, banner-waving teams for a series of activities and exercises that both showcased their talents, and built bridges across the cultural divide that can grow between vastly different work centers. The members of each team dressed to the code, creating an eclectic rainbow around the room. Blue, heraldic-style banners, looking for all the world as if they belonged in a medieval reenactment, boldly proclaimed the names of technical missions performed by NUWC Division, Keyport.
“Being a welcoming organization sets the tone for the employee's tenure and improves workplace effectiveness,” said Moretty. “Welcoming means that your input will be heard and valued. Having input from those with a diverse background leads to beneficial decisions and outcomes in accomplishing the Navy mission.”
Anna Long, NUWC Division, Keyport’s strategic planning officer, worked to maintain the fun, energetic tone of the leadership forum, and agreed that creating a welcoming environment is critical to NUWC Division, Keyport’s continued reputation as a well-managed, innovative leader in emerging technologies that is nimble enough to quickly change directions to meet emerging challenges.
“The forum is one of the ways we are developing our leadership cadre,” said Long. “We must start with relationship, and that takes time and requires that we are together. The leadership forum is focused specifically on leadership alignment, dialogue and meaningful decision making.”
Long and her team worked for weeks planning the forum and developing the games, team-building activities, and lining up the right speakers in order to create an event that would engage Keyport leaders whose professional skills range from engineering to business. Making sure everyone was engaged helped ensure they would accept new ideas and concepts while coming together to align their priorities, and even the command’s overall messaging strategy.
“Our leadership is intent on fostering a culture that is welcoming to the diverse array of people both working at NUWC Division, Keyport, and those we hope to recruit,” Long said. “By creating better alignment of messaging and priorities among our leadership cadre, we can even more effectively be stewards of our organization’s future and its purpose supporting the warfighter.”
Long believes the forum is an effective strategy for creating a sense of ‘calling’ among leadership cadre.
“We are working to continue fostering a deeper sense of community among our leadership so that we look at leadership not merely as an individual’s job, but as a team ‘calling’ and effort —that leadership is who they are, not something they do,” said Long. “By building that community, we can ensure all people of NUWC Division, Keyport are working in a high velocity learning environment, thereby supporting our workforce more efficiently and effectively, and ensuring a greater success in supporting the Navy mission.”
Mann said he agreed the forum was a great way to develop the community and alignment of the leadership team at Keyport, so they are better positioned to seek out and include new players with new ideas.
“Through inclusion we are a more capable team,” said Mann.
For more news from Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, visit www.navy.mil/local/nuwcd/.