Improving Capabilities for the Special Operations Community through Methods that Enhance Innovation/Creativity in the Product/System Design Process

Daniel Jensen,Michael Anderson, Cory Cooper, and Kaz Teope
US Air Force Academy, Colorado, United States

Keywords: Innovation, Special Operations, Creativity, Ideation, Concept Generation

Effective ideation (concept generation), is seen as the key step in product/systems development for enhancing innovation. At the USAF Academy, we have developed, implemented and assessed techniques that enhance ideation processes for teams designing improved capabilities for the special operations (Spec-Ops) community. These methods include the “Transformational Design Method” (TDM), “Design by Analogy” (DBA) methods and “Historical Innovation Principle” (HIP) methods. TDM, DBA and HIP methods have been assessed in multiple environments and are shown to increase the quantity, quality and novelty of ideas generated during ideation. These methods have been applied to the development of a new “fast roping” system, a new combat helmet that includes a cooling system and new technology for using additive manufacturing (3-D printing) to improve water charges used by Spec-Ops. Feedback from the Spec-Ops community indicates that our new fast roping system adds critical capabilities over the current system. Similarly, the cooled combat helmet also was evaluated as adding tremendous new capability. Finally, the 3-D printing capability for water charges allows for critical mission flexibility in the sense that the specific water charge needed can be created in real time as the mission parameters dictate.