Lt. Ryan Kennedy – a member of the Navy JAG community, who currently serves as the deputy command judge advocate aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) – was named a 2017 Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Innovation Award finalist.
The SECNAV Innovation Awards highlight top innovators within the Department of the Navy. Finalists are celebrated for ground-breaking initiatives that inspire the Navy workforce to think boldly to solve entrenched, challenging problems. Kennedy received honorable mention in the award’s Automated Process Development category.
His efforts – which were nominated as “Adaptation of Microsoft and Adobe Tools to Improve C2, Training, and Delivery of Legal Services from Region Legal Service Office Southeast (RLSO SE)” – were recognized after a review of more than 200 award submissions. “Innovation is about being willing to make time to try new processes, even knowing they can fail,” said Kennedy. “I had an amazing team at RLSO SE who implemented new ideas along with me.” “My team succeeded because of excellent leadership who listened to ideas and would say ‘yes, try that, and then do this too.’ You need that, and you need teammates putting their own stamp on the proposals you have a hand in implementing,” he added.
As the command’s assistant knowledge management officer, Kennedy designed a SharePoint Portal that was crucial to RLSO SE’s preparation for an Inspector General (IG) inspection. His efforts saved hundreds of manhours by placing assessments on the Portal for action officers to populate and for reviewers to edit. The IG recognized his efforts, citing them as a best practice within Naval Legal Services Command. Also, as the sole legal assistance (LA) attorney at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Kennedy created a real-time LA scheduling Portal, which facilitated the immediate availability of attorney services at various locations. He also created a site to provide up-to-the-minute preventative law information to Sailors and for commands to obtain deployment and mobilization readiness services.
Additionally, Kennedy collaborated with the RLSO SE professional development officer to build a Portal page for monthly personnel reports. He teamed with the command’s administrative department to make a supplies and purchasing tracker. For the RLSO SE command services department, he organized a confidential collaborative online space to share resources. He worked with leadership to set up a comment box, and also acted as coordinator for RLSO SE’s Adobe Connect pilot program.
“One thing I’ve found useful is creating a ‘good ideas book,’” said Kennedy. “When you’re too busy for a good idea, write it down for later, and if you ever get whitespace on your calendar, days or months later, then force yourself to attack your ‘good ideas book’ like it was a to-do checklist.” “Try balancing your limited time across both big, audacious goals and smaller, quicker ‘wins’ that take less time and give your team fast but clear achievements,” Kennedy said.
As fleet special assistant to the Office of the Judge Advocate General’s LA division’s volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program, Kennedy also developed a SharePoint site for VITA coordinators across Naval Legal Service Command to share ideas, best practices, and questions. In Guantanamo Bay, Kennedy developed a flashcard application to be used by command duty officers to study for qualification oral boards. The application’s design allows it to be stored on a local share drive, avoiding publication of sensitive information on any public websites.
According to Kennedy: “Any time an office gains somebody new, that can be an opportunity to innovate. What matters most is how willing a team is willing to listen and try something out, or even retry an idea after a similar effort was done that had failed.”
Bravo Zulu, Lt. Kennedy on this special recognition!