Creative Networks Inspire Innovation in the Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy is one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the Pacific region. Consisting of nearly 50 commissioned vessels and more than 16,000 personnel, their presence is significant worldwide. In the most recent episode of the IdeaScale Nation podcast, Lt. Commander Stephen Delo discusses his role as the Innovation Engagements Manager with the Royal Australian Navy.

Delo implements processes and networks to assist entrepreneurial activity across the entire Navy. During his 29-year naval career, he developed strong communication and collaboration skills that led to numerous promotions. He began developing people-oriented programs, and subsequently formed an innovation space where ideas can be discussed and cultivated.

Encourage innovation

According to Delo, innovation starts with the confidence and competence to communicate an idea to others. This is an essential part of innovation and can lead to success.

Recent corporate innovation research reveals that 98% of the economy is influenced by modern digital innovations. The goal is to be open to new ideas and develop creative skills for carrying them out.

The Australian Navy encourages leadership through development programs. Participants are able to hone their skills in a variety of areas.

As a part of the Naval coaching program, Delo helps coach individuals through the innovation process from idea conception through execution. The Navy offers this service for individuals and groups in the form of promotion courses, special workshops, and other training sessions.

Make a difference

The Navy provides a positive, constructive environment that promotes strong values. They challenge the status quo through innovation to implement change.

As Delo explains, adversity creates opportunities for innovation. “It’s a new behavior for people to innovate and take ownership of ideas from a military perspective, which may affect people other than themselves. They operate on the slogan ‘start from a position of yes’ and work from there.”

Begin by looking at the problem from an unbiased perspective. Find the positive aspects and ask constructive questions that begin with how and why.

Nurturing a good idea involves working with innovators to shape it. Delo compares this process to rolling out dough with a rolling pin. As the dough stretches and becomes thinner, you can examine it and touch the edges.

Nurturing an innovator is about helping the person develop the confidence and skills needed to implement an idea. This reinforces the positive Navy culture and leads to crossing boundaries that make a difference.

Influence team building

Go beyond tradition to innovate. Figure out how an idea would look on paper, then work to develop it.

Present the idea to team members and supervisors who can provide support.

As a coach, Delo helps innovators develop their ideas by looking at their capabilities. This enables individuals to create a community of supporters who can get behind an idea and make it happen. Naval entrepreneurs are recognized for their innovations, which can lead to promotions.

What is innovation?

According to Delo, innovation is looking for opportunities and examining the default position, then working to improve it. “Innovation is a social word that requires interaction and collaboration to become a reality.”

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