Anatomy of an RCN Innovator

Innovation means the introduction of a new idea, device or method that generates an improvement, benefit or solves a problem.

Director Navy Innovation has a mission to drive a culture of innovative thinking within the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Defence Team. Innovators will help the Navy to retain a war-fighting edge, be a rewarding and agile organization, and be ready to face any challenge. Every member of the RCN can be an innovator, and many already are.


The main objectives of the Director Navy Innovation include:

  • Driving an infectious culture of innovative thinking and problem solving.
  • Maximizing RCN participation in government of Canada Innovation Programs.
  • Leveraging industry, academia and allies in order to facilitate innovation collaboration.
  • Finding new pathways to solve existing and future problems.
  • Initiating change through new technology and processes.

The anatomy of our innovators

All RCN innovators have traits and skills that contribute to their success in identifying innovative solutions to known and future problems.

High perceptivity

Innovators are scouts, keeping a sharp eye on the horizon of new technology, techniques and ways of thinking. They are able to recognise in something that is abstract a potential benefit to the Navy.

Good storyteller

Successful innovators have strong communication skills that enable them to tell the story of a use case that can solve a need, and show that the risks and challenges of disruptive innovations will be worth the benefit.

Knows the sailor’s needs

Knowing the sailors’ needs requires a range of listening and other interpersonal skills which are rooted in good people and naval leadership. They are able to empathize with end-users and keep focus on what will benefit their needs.

Confident to fail

Innovators understand that failure is a part of success. James Dyson said that he failed hundreds of times before he designed a successful vacuum. An innovator can embrace risk and seek opportunities to learn from failure.

Self-propelled curiosity

Innovators have an eager mindset ready to embrace the disruptive, conduct rapid tests, seek new ideas and drive to understand the quickly changing horizon.

Bright imagination

Innovators are often tech savvy, independently stay up to date with emerging trends, and apply non-linear design thinking techniques to problem solving.

Big collaborator

Innovators recognize the strength of teamwork and how it leads to greater opportunities when working closely with the other teams in our Department of National Defence Innovation Ecosystem, with our Allies abroad, and with industry and academia.

Arch advocate

Innovators can match the opportunity to the problem that needs solving. They stay up to date on the latest trends, and this helps them to identify the benefit to the people and areas of Defence known well to the networking Innovator. Put simply, they can influence.

High volume reader

An innovator needs to read, listen and consume huge amounts of data and literature. Perhaps they have recently read ‘Black Box Thinking’, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ or listened to the ‘Defence Deconstructed’ podcast.

Innovation activities

RCN innovators participate in a number of activities that keep them aware of current and future needs as well as emerging trends and technologies. These activities include:

  • Design Thinking
  • Participating in basecamps
  • Attending Creative Destruction Labs
  • Mentoring
  • Scouting
  • Inspiring
  • Seeking and overcoming challenges
  • Embracing Risk
  • Innovating
  • Championing ideas

To learn more about how you can drive innovation within your team, contact Director Navy Innovation at