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How NavalX Director Capt. Casey Plew is Cultivating Naval Innovation Culture

NavalX, the innovation cell serving the Department of the Navy, is emerging from a five-year “culture campaign” during which top leaders took a hard look at how to foster an environment for rapid, meaningful innovation to support the nation’s sailors and Marines. Now, it’s moving into a new era: NavalX 2.0.

“In 2018, Secretary Geurts asked us, ‘How do we empower and inspire our Navy and Marine Corps team to be more innovative?’ It was a question of culture,” Captain Stephen “Casey” Plew, director of NavalX, said Wednesday at the Potomac Officers Club’s 2023 Navy Summit.

“We first started with Centers for Adaptive Warfighting and workforce agility teams and a program to train and educate our naval workforce on the practices of innovation,” he explained. “Specifically, how do we use design thinking practices to define problems? And then how do we get those problems out to technologists?”

Through these efforts and programs, NavalX has trained approximately 3,000 members of the Naval workforce on “how to think differently.” Now that the organization understands how the culture is coming together, it’s focusing on translating that culture into action.

“We’re actively searching and scanning for new technologies. We’re building relationships with our university, local government and the finance community, and more importantly, we’re operating at the speed of relevance. We understand that speed in business is key. In business, as in, in our world, if you miss the market, you lose everything. Schedule is everything to us,” Plew said.

One key milestone of progress for NavalX is its work on the Navy’s Unmanned Task Force. NavalX comprises about two-thirds of the Unmanned Task Force — Plew said, “we’re supplying the manpower and the labor behind the work that they’re doing.”

“Right now, they’ve now selected, through a couple of different sprints, two prototypes we’re preparing to get ready to go through incubation — that experimentation phase on how do we take that out, prototype and commercialize and make the product to where we can scale,” he added.

If you’re interested in learning more about military innovation, join the Potomac Officers Club’s 2023 Annual Air Force Summit on July 18! Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, the Honorable Andrew Hunter and Dr. Derek Tournear headline this highly-anticipated in-person event. Register here to save your seat before the event fills up!

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