ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (April 18, 2016) -- The U.S. Army Materiel Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, hosted a Joint Leadership/Innovation Lecture for the workforce at its Joint Satellite Engineering Center, here, April 5.The lecture was part of a CERDEC program, launched in 2014 by four directorates, consisting of the Command, Power and Integration Directorate, Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate and Product Realization Engineering and Quality Directorate, to create an opportunity for employees to participate in two interactive courses focusing on leadership and innovation."With the changing military operations and potential financial constraints, now is the time for CERDEC to come together and develop the future products and technologies for the U.S. Army," said Adam Bogner, senior engineer at I2WD and creator of the program. "Our goal with this program is to differentiate CERDEC from other programs within the Army and give our employees a platform to develop and refine their skills in both leadership and innovation."The guest speaker was Bran Ferren, a designer and technologist, and the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Applied Minds, LLC, where he invents and prototypes high technology products and innovative business concepts for the entertainment, media, aerospace, defense, intelligence, automotive, architecture, computing, and consumer products sectors.Ferren emphasized the importance of taking risks in the workplace, something attendees agreed was not as common in their environment."It is critically important to be innovative because our country is at risk and we are responsible for protecting it," said Ferren. "It's imperative we stay ahead of the curve and we can only do so by taking risks."Three takeaways from the lecture included:• Vision -- Your vision must be clearly articulated in order to be compelling. This is a great way to gain young talent in the industry.
• Talent -- Retaining the best and brightest people should be a focus, therefore the acquisition process should be made easier. Capture their ideas and move quickly with them.
• Trust -- We, as a society, are quickly losing the American trust, so our employees tend to shy away from unpopular decisions or ideas. Trust your employees and allow them to take risks.Other tips from the lecture included:• Storytelling - the most important part of innovation. Your ideas will not be compelling unless your story is told right.
• Network -- with industry and your peers. Think about what the entire customer experience is like from start to finish. (Every business is a relationship).
• Presence - create an atmosphere that's interesting for our youth. This includes bringing your family to work, speaking at local schools, and volunteering in the community.
• Benefits of Talent -- Don't ignore great ideas, even if they fail. Build your budget so there's room for failure, but allow for an idea to move fast.
• Contracts -- Be open to contracts for near-term ideas. Many great ideas are out there, but companies are unwilling to come forward because of the complex process of submitting them.Over 50 CERDEC employees were in attendance, all of whom were encouraged to take risks within their disciplines in an effort to support the Soldier.Attendee, Gary Blohm, CERDEC CP&ID director, noted the importance of talking with peers about competing ideas."More than ever, we should be taking risks in the Army," Blohm said. "Bringing in someone like Mr. Ferren opens the door to new ideas and a fresh outlook on what the future could look like at CERDEC and in the Army."Other students, like Ann Gonzalez-Yager, intelligence specialist at I2WD, said they felt recharged after the lecture and thought it brought a welcome reprieve from the day-to-day thinking at work."It's important to get an outside perspective and hear where we can improve our processes," she added.For additional information on Bran Ferren, visit his Wikipedia page or listen to a sample lecture here.