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Get yourself into a ‘frenzy’ of innovation

December 22, 2017

Written by Loretta Haring, Office of Strategic Planning and Communication

Do you have an idea on how to improve the Coast Guard? Would it stand up to a panel of sharks?

The Coast Guard Innovation Program is hosting its version of the show Shark Tank, called Idea Frenzy, in February. All Coast Guard personnel are eligible to compete for a spot on Idea Frenzy; ideas must be submitted through [email protected] by Jan. 9, 2018.

The Idea Frenzy challenge is open to all active, Reserve, civilian and Auxiliary personnel. Ideas can be submitted by individuals or teams; contract personnel can participate as team members. The Innovation Council, which is coordinating the event, will select from the challenge entries five ideas that will be pitched to a panel of senior Coast Guard leaders at the Idea Frenzy event, to be held at 5 p.m., Feb. 8, 2018, at the Crystal City Sports Pub in Arlington, Virginia. The Innovation Program will handle travel orders for presenters coming from out of town.

The Innovation Council developed the Idea Frenzy concept after Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, deputy commandant for mission support (CG-DCMS), and Rear Adm. Michael Haycock, assistant commandant for acquisition (CG-9), mentioned their interest in a Shark Tank-style exercise, explained Cmdr. Andy Howell, Innovation Program manager (CG-926). The Navy has its own grass-roots version of Shark Tank called Athena. “We’re going to pretty much co-opt their idea, with some fun tweaks,” Howell said.

Once the five ideas are selected, Innovation Council representatives will work with presenters to refine pitches, which will be limited to four minutes, with five minutes of questions from the panel and the audience. Presenters are free to bring props, posters and flip charts, but PowerPoint presentations and videos are not allowed.

The ideas will be ranked at the event, but the main goal is not to choose winners but to follow Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft’s direction to foster an organization capable of continuous innovation and learning as well as to reinforce that senior leaders are interested in the workforce’s “creativity and brain power,” Howell said.

“The secondary goal is to find some cool solutions ripe for implementation,” Howell added. The five ideas pitched at the event will be considered by the Coast Guard programs that may benefit from them, and all ideas submitted will also be entered into the service’s annual Innovation Awards.

Howell noted that the Innovation Council is trying to keep the event format and atmosphere as informal as possible. “It takes an insane amount of courage to get up in front of a panel of experts and a room full of peers and talk about an idea,” he said. “We want to foster and support that level of creativity and that personal ‘give-a-dang factor.’”

The Innovation Council is already working on future “seasons” of Idea Frenzy, said Howell. “Our notional plan is to hold this one here in D.C., and then hold them at the Pacific and Atlantic areas as well. Stay tuned for more on that!”

For more details, visit the Idea Frenzy page on the CG Portal or email [email protected]. Submit ideas at [email protected] ; you will need to create an account if this is your first time using the Coast Guard’s crowdsourcing site.

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