Squadron Leadership Toolkit

“Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new fighting technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting …Our response will be to prioritize speed of delivery, continuous adaptation, and frequent modular upgrades. We must not accept cumbersome approval chains, wasteful applications of resources in uncompetitive space, or overly risk-averse thinking that impedes change.” James “Mad Dog” Mattis, 2018

Why should you embrace innovation?

  1. Your job is to manage resources and improve your unit.
  2. Innovation is key to reform & lethality; two of the three NDS 2018 lines of effort.
  3. The Air Force is trying to reinvigorate your squadron.

What does SPARK offer?

  1. You will fund projects through non-traditional contracts you otherwise cannot access.
  2. Your Airmen will directly network with senior AF leadership.
  3. Your Airmen will gain breadth of experience by working with other agencies.
  4. Your Airmen will create base, MAJCOM, and possibly DoD-level impacts.
  5. Your Airmen will partner with AFRL, Kessel Run, DIU and other innovation giants.

2019 SPARK successes:

  • Dover: Four MSG, OG and MXG Airmen combined to procure and install red/green lane indication lights at the main gate. Original contract estimate: $125K. Final cost: $1.8K.
  • JB MDL: SFS and CRW combined SIF funding to invest $500K towards drone detection; received $1.2M fund matching from SBIR program.

How do you invigorate your squadron?

  • SPARK Internship Program
  • Dedicated whitespace
  • Support Airmen and their projects by giving them time to work on them.
  • Avoid “No” and Naysayers seek out “Yes but, “ or better “Yes, here’s how.”
  • Squadron Sprint Sessions ask us how!
  • We will teach your Airmen how to code, build, teach, pitch, innovate.

Innovation Definitions

  • AFWERX: Air Force Innovation Office, reports to VCSAF
  • SPARK: A network of 50+ base-level AFWERX hubs.
  • SPARK Tank: Yearly competition featuring SPARK-curated ideas, pitched to senior military and civilian leadership
  • SIF: A CSAF Squadron Revitalization program to: increase readiness, reduce cost, return time back to Airmen, and enhance the lethality of the force.
  • SBIR: Partnerships with small businesses & startups. Phase 1: What’s the problem? Phase II: Can we fix the problem? Phase III: Do you want us to keep fixing the problem?
  • CSO: Open call for innovative commercial solutions. With a Pitch Day, can have same-day payment, one page contracts for commercial products.
  • Whitespace: A percentage of time given to Airmen to pursue pet projects & innovation. Adopted by industry leaders Google (20%), 3M (15%) and others.

“Every idea starts with a problem; every project requires a project manager”