Adm. Scott Swift speaks to Sailors and visitors from fields in technology and innovation during an Innovation Summit Afloat aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22). (U.S. Navy/PO3 Troy Milburn)

SAN FRANCISCO - Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s “The Bridge” and DoD’s MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator partnered to host an Innovation Summit Afloat aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22) during the San Francisco Fleet Week on Oct. 7.

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that while cultural change in an organization like the Navy is hard work, the investment into that change must be weighed carefully and events like the Innovation Summit create positive connections and are a move in the right direction.

“The probability of (our) success is directly proportional to the probability of empowerment,” he said, stressing the importance of working together to find a way to yes when it is so easy at every point to say no. “We live in a risk-adverse culture, yet risk is inherently a part of innovation.”

The Bridge, spearheaded by Cmdr. Rich Lebron, director of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Strategic Initiatives Group, is built to address this issue. It is aimed at creating and sustaining a culture in the Navy that encourages collaboration and idea generation by advancing education, enabling empowerment, stimulating connections and spurring transition ... to ultimately get to yes.

The Innovation Summit Afloat supported The Bridge’s focus on idea generation by bringing technology industry CEOs and venture capitalists alongside Navy and DoD leadership to discuss how to best connect government to industry to solve technology-related problems.

Throughout the day, speakers from within and outside the Navy led discussions about different aspects of how procedures and relationships could be improved to enhance innovation.

Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, commander of U.S. 10th Fleet, emphasized the importance of those partnerships: “There are so many companies that are attacked by the same adversaries as we are. At Cyber Command, I can’t get enough reports from outside agencies about these attackers. We’re all facing the same threats.”

Jay Harrison, director of MD5, said one of the goals of the Bridge and events like the Innovation Summit is not only to make connections at senior levels, in and outside the Navy, but to also catalyze allowing Sailors on the deck plates to have a more direct role in problem solving.

“These are the people who have the most direct access to the problems we’re having day to day,” said Harrison. “We’d like to support The Bridge in bringing a culture shift, giving junior officers and enlisted personnel the permission to be the agents of development.”