CDX Training Symposium ignites innovation

  • Published
  • By Zion Dillahunt

More than 165 Airmen, Guardians and civilians committed to meeting the innovative needs of the Air Force gathered here May 16-19, for the Air Force Materiel Command Commander's Accelerated Initiatives (CDX) training symposium.

The event featured 30 speakers who spoke on topics including strategic innovation, the importance of the space domain, integrated capabilities, squadron innovation and momentum funds, coaching and development, and more.

The goal was to further educate attendees on the AFMC Strategic Plan and offer guidance to improve their innovation skills so they could become stronger catalysts of change.

“We want to accelerate change and take smart risks to expedite our enterprise to deliver today and tomorrow’s Air Force at a quicker pace,” said Lt. Gen. Carl E. Schaefer, Deputy Commander, AFMC, during opening remarks.

The overall theme of the event, and the opening day focus, was on Amplifying Warfighting Culture. This was driven by discussion and education on the importance of the day-to-day missions of AFMC Airmen.

“Our strategy is a step in right direction to not just think about what we do at AFMC, but how we’re responsive to amplifying the war-winning capabilities that are needed today,” said Col. Brian Moore, Deputy Director, Strategic Plans, Programs, Requirements and Analyses, Headquarters AFMC.

The highlight of day one was a keynote address by Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman. During his speech, he specifically addressed the importance of people.

"People, policy, process?  It's not even close. People are always the most important, and the most definitive advantage you have," said Towberman. "Policy and process are nothing compared to our people."

Day two of the symposium keyed on the importance of strengthening the team. Key topics covered include multi-capable Airmen, growing employees with Air Force coaching, and the installations of the future.

Kathy Watern, Executive Director, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, highlighted the importance of empowerment of one’s peers. She discussed the importance of giving team members a safe space to innovate, an active voice, the ability to make mistakes freely, and opportunities to make an impact.

“The most valuable resource you can give someone is not the tangible, but the intangible by saying ‘go do this on your own,’” said Watern.

Day three focused on delivering integrated capabilities, which emphasized the “what” of the AFMC strategy. Integrated capabilities create synchronized efforts across all centers throughout AFMC. Topics addressed included Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN), lighthouse integration, and artificial intelligence.

The last day of the event focused on the concept of revolutionizing processes. This targeted “how” innovators could best support the warfighter.

Attendees were introduced to various solutions and capabilities to expedite change within the command.

“We want to help you streamline your mission area and do away with bureaucracy you have encountered,” said Lorna B. Estep, Executive Director of AFMC.

Throughout the symposium, attendees had a chance to visit break-out rooms for focused briefings and opportunities to network on a smaller scale. This offered a collaborative learning environment where attendees were able to listen, learn, and connect amongst like-minded individuals while diving further into innovative topics.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize excellence among the innovators as awards were given out based on continuous improvement and innovation throughout the year.

Awardees include:

  • Process Manager of the Year: Spencer Jernigan, Air Force Test Center
  • Certified Air Force Green Belt of the Year: Doug Oettinger, Air Force Sustainment Center
  • Certified Air Force Master Black Belt or Black Belt of the Year: Anthony “Brett” Propst, AFSC
  • Improvement Practitioner of the Year: Joseph Suddarth, AFTC
  • Improvement Mentor of the Year: Denise Steele, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Large Team of the Year: Air Force Civil Engineer Center Strategy, Continuous Improvement, Management Plan, Metrics & Governance Team, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center
  • Small Team of the Year: Minute Man III System Directorate Spark Accelerator, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center
  • Fail Forward Leaders of the Year: 413th Digital Squadron, 413th Flight Test Squadron
  • Innovator of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Justin Spooner, AFIMSC
  • Enabling Leader of the Year: Dr. Patrick Kee, AFRL
  • Innovation Hub / Spark Cell of the Year: Defender Spark – AFIMSC/ Air Force Security Forces Center
  • Mentor / Pitch Coach / Consultant of the Year: Rachael Morse, AFNWC

The award ceremony exemplified the upward trend of CDX and their efforts to increase innovation across the Air Force.

CDX was established in 2019 under the AFMC We Need effort. Their mission is to help improve, innovate, integrate and inspire. CDX continues to make a positive impact across the enterprise and connects Airmen to strategy.