The Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) recently developed a basic prototype for an information system that will promote more collaboration between sailors and commands during the job detailing process.
"Our goal is to build a process that is transparent, flexible and gives more influence to commands, so they can build better teams, as well as to sailors so they can have more say over their lives," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Mabrey, CRIC project lead.
Their clickable prototype represents the progress achieved after a two-day workshop with digital-services consulting group 18F, who strive to bring the best practices from top tech companies and startups to government systems.
"User-centric design is a huge tenet at 18F; we want to build technology with end users in mind," said Alex Pandel, a user experience designer at 18F. "We gathered as many of the end users in the room as possible for these two days to sketch potential interfaces for this tool to help align user needs and get something tangible that we could start building off of."
This initiative advances the Department of Defense's vision for all the services to create smarter, more collaborative detailing systems.
"We're going to launch LinkedIn-style pilot programs that help match up servicemembers looking for their next assignment with units who are looking for qualified people to fill an opening," said Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, in a recent interview on his Force of the Future initiative.
"Think of a (sailor) logging on, setting up a profile, seeing what they're qualified for, and selecting what they want to do, while the unit looking to bring someone on sees the profiles that fit their criteria, and chooses who they're interested in," Carter said.
This prototype and the CRIC's work are at the forefront of the Navy's early efforts to develop a system in line with the DoD's Force of the Future that also strengthens the Navy team.
CRIC Project Lead Lt. Cmdr. Rollie Wicks describes the platform as a "talent marketplace" and identifies three distinct user groups: sailors, commands and Naval Personnel Command (NPC).
In collaborative detailing, Mabrey said sailors will have the ability to see the same job opportunities that the detailer sees and will have additional information on the specific requirements of the assignment as provided by the command itself.
The CRIC team also aims to create a simpler platform for sailors to maintain and update their online record, so commands have the most accurate information on their skills, experience, and needs.
"Navy personnel records exist across more than one hundred different systems right now, and so it's very difficult to update the Navy on the profile of you," said Wicks. "We're trying to fix this so the Navy can better understand who you are, what your skills are, and can then recruit you into a job that's going to match those skills."
As a separate user group, Mabrey said commands will have the ability to search these profiles, reach out directly to sailors, and use this information to put together the most compatible team for their specific mission requirements.
As the final user group, NPC's role would be to reconcile the needs and wants of both commands and sailors with any broader Navy requirements and other manning considerations, said Mabrey.
Wicks added that the CRIC is also working to leverage the modern mobile functionality already familiar to most sailors.
"We grew up using computers," said Wicks. "We want to be able to take a picture of our awards from our smart phone and use that to update our record online. We want online cloud computing services and mobile devices that make our lives easier."
After further development, the CRIC will test the system by using the information dominance corps as a trial community in the fall of 2016.
"We're going to allow them to use this information platform and we're going to work with commands, sailors and NPC to pilot this new talent marketplace concept," said Mabrey. "From the information that we'll gain over one year, we'll be able to give some good data points to senior leaders and let them decide if we can scale this up to the broader officer pool and eventually the enlisted detailing process as well."
The CRIC was established in 2012 to provide junior leaders with an opportunity to identify and rapidly field emerging technologies that address the Navy's most pressing challenges.