A typical DI journey for DSTA officers begins with the aforementioned DI course, which includes interactive discussions, followed by live demonstrations by facilitators. The teams then apply these learnings to their projects, where they develop and pitch their prototypes to a panel.
While similar DI workshops have been customised for other organisations, SUTD-IDC’s DI course with DSTA includes an additional day, where teams reflect on and reframe the opportunity they’ve worked on during the course and apply what they have learnt to their own DI projects.
“We then mentor them over the next few weeks or months,” says Prof Wood. “It’s a long-term commitment.”
Previously, the teams were formed based on specific areas of work. But as challenges get more complex, they now cut across disciplines to deliver solutions that better meet users’ needs.
SAF counterparts are also invited to provide user perspectives. This not only helps validate the proposed solutions but also engages them to co-create DI strategies.
DSTA staff brainstorming during a DI workshop
To implement DI on an enterprise level, senior staff responsible for capability development attend a specially curated strategic workshop on how to frame issues at the enterprise level and guide their teams on DI.
But introducing new principles and processes had its challenges.
“When we first embarked on our DI journey, some thought it was a buzzword for brainstorming; others saw it as just another process,” says Cheng. “But as we gained a better understanding of how to add this perspective to our systems engineering approach, we started to develop better solutions.”
Prof Wood is a firm believer that an organisation that commits to bringing DI into its culture must have both top-down and bottom-up support. “You need visioning from top leadership, as well as champions who are inspired and want to drive it from the ground. If not, it’s primed for failure.”
Strong management support was key, affirms Cheng. “Our Chief Executive Mr Tan Peng Yam started our DI journey to encourage innovation and tech-push ideas from staff. He takes ownership of DSTA’s DI journey, and is involved in the workshops and reviews to inspire and motivate staff.”