ARLINGTON, Va.—The U.S. Navy’s first management advisory group — known as Naval Junior Officer Counsel (NJOC) — recently unveiled a new method for sharing ideas, insights and concerns with senior leadership.
It’s called the Acceleration Series, an online discussion tool that enables thoughts and suggestions from junior officers (as well as enlisted Sailors and Marines) to be hashed out constructively, refined and consolidated, and then delivered to appropriate senior leaders.
“The NJOC Acceleration Series is a mechanism for warfighters to express challenges, collaborate and come up with solutions in a faster, more innovative way than we are used to in the Navy,” said NJOC Director Lt. John-Rex Spivey. “I am also proud that our very own Lt. Craig Veech found and created this online platform through his network at the Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network — Unum. This goes to show that there are often resources available, you just have to actively pursue and find them.”
Formerly known as the Defense Innovation Network platform, Unum is a social media-style platform that connects members of the defense, academic and venture capital communities in order to change the way national security innovation works. This allows groups like NJOC (a partner organization of the Office of Naval Research) to create unique, personalized pages where members can discuss issues and challenges facing their industries or areas of interest.
“One of the many great things about Unum and the Acceleration Series is that they’re user-friendly, fast and can be accessed from anywhere,” said NJOC Deputy Director Lt. Craig Veech. “You don’t need a CAC or NMCI [Navy/Marine Corps Intranet] machine to sign in and provide your input to Unum. All you need is a .mil email address and be an O-4 or below.”
Established in 2021, and officially endorsed by the chief of naval personnel and chief of naval research, NJOC represents junior officers (ensign through lieutenant commander) across all naval designators (career fields). Its mission is to facilitate communication between junior and senior officers, put creative ideas by young officers into action, and empower senior leaders to access the ideas of younger generations to inform decision making.
According to NJOC’s charter, the organization comprises a core leadership team that is advised by a board of representatives. These representatives are junior officers from various naval designators (e.g., surface warfare officers, aviators, etc.) and serve as official liaisons between NJOC and their respective communities.
The new Acceleration Series plays a key role in NJOC’s mission. Users can access the NJOC community page on Unum at https://unum.nsin.us/njoc. From there, they can submit items to three discussion categories. Any topic is encouraged, including naval culture, personnel concerns, science and technology, or leadership and professional development.
- Problem Series — Designed to collect data on problems and challenges that warfighters face across the fleet. Such information is used to find solutions to these issues as well as inform the requirements needed to create the solutions.
- Solution Series — Largely built to provide solutions to the Problem Series, this Series allows users to submit answers to naval problems or concerns. The Solution Series also serves as a place where senior leadership, through NJOC’s board of representatives, can present current challenges and ask for solutions.
- Writer’s Series — Users can provide an essay-style submission or thought-provoking piece focusing on a particular idea, kept internally within the Navy and NJOC community, with submitters maintaining the rights to share their articles with other publications.
Once a warfighter submits an item, NJOC’s board of representatives will review the submission; offer advice on how to sharpen or improve it, if necessary; and identify the right command or senior leader to ultimately receive the submission. In many cases, NJOC also will craft a professional, compelling presentation and send it to the senior leader on behalf of the user.
“The Acceleration Series makes it easier for junior officers, Sailors and Marines to submit their inputs; have the opportunity for those inputs to be validated by ‘likes’; and have meaningful discussions through the ‘comments’ and other types of group feedback,” said Veech. “This is something that usually can’t be done using the Navy’s legacy collection techniques such as emails and surveys.”
Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.