It is often said that the best teams are more than the sum of their parts. In an age of austerity, the world’s best Navy must be more than the sum of its budget. As Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in his “Innovation Vision” suggests, the U.S. Navy has always been “agile, innovative, and adaptable.”1 Yet with dwindling numbers of ships, bloated programs of record, and an uncertain budget, sailors can no longer rely on Congress or civilian leadership to purchase the tools and publish the practices required to win the battle. It is sailors themselves who must become “agile, innovative, and adaptable.”
Innovation in the Navy will exist only as a buzzword until leaders can prove its value to their subordinates. Sailors see innovation more as nifty gadgets than as a daily operational principle. To change this culture, the Navy must define what it means by “innovation” and deliver a persuasive argument for the kind of innovation it seeks to foster in the ranks.