AFWERX Spark held five Crossflow events at strategically situated locations throughout the world in 2023, all focused on the development, collaboration and growth of Spark Cells in each region. Spark is an AFWERX division that fosters and encourages innovation within the U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF) through a variety of cultivated efforts, including Spark Cells.
Spark Cells create a network of Air Force and Space Force personnel, Department of Defense partners, academia and industry experts, and government facilitators who are all focused on solving technological and tactical problems which impede the DAF. Through the personal and professional development of its members, as well as the collaboration of like-minded individuals, Spark Cells work to create a culture of innovation.
Spark Crossflow events are regional meetings of all the Spark Cells, during which the innovators can develop as a Spark Cell, expand the innovation network, and create partnerships through topic-based discussions and networking exercises. This year, there were five regions where these events were held: western, central, and eastern United States, Europe, and the Pacific. Each regional event provided attendees with several days' worth of curated curriculum of Design-Think and Liberating Structures Facilitation methods in an effort to help the attendees develop a better understanding of the DAF innovation ecosystem.
The 2023 series of Crossflow events has grown considerably when compared to last year. In 2022, the Spark team held three events with a total of 83 attendees from 23 Spark Cells. This year, the Spark team was able to grow their capabilities and reach more members and cells. The 2023 Crossflow event series impacted 60 cells worldwide and provided critical innovation teachings to 219 attendees.
The Crossflow events build inter-Cell communication by allowing people to make personal connections with other Cells in their area. This communication allows Spark to prevent duplicated efforts, leverage expertise efficiently, and learn best practices from each other. This makes the Spark Cells stronger individually, and as a collective.
“There were a lot of questions that were asked, like ‘why are we important in the grand scheme of things?’” said Major Ryan Pritchard, an attendee from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. “It helped clarify that and gave us a direction.”
As the Spark team continues to prioritize the development of the individuals and teams they support, these events will continue, with slight modifications to the format and focus areas, in order to best support the innovation network.