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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 24, 2020

Operation Innovation: CG_Ideas@Work 101

By Contributed Column from Loretta Haring, CG-925

CG_Ideas@Work is not just an icon on your Coast Guard standard workstation, it’s a tool to empower the Coast Guard workforce through the exchange of information. The site facilitates the Commandant’s call to lower barriers to innovation, strengthen service innovation initiatives, and accelerate the process of moving the best ideas to service-wide implementation.

“CG_Ideas@Work provides every member of the Coast Guard an opportunity to share their ideas and solutions on how to improve our service,” says Cmdr. Pedro Vazquez, the U.S. Coast Guard Innovation Manager with the Office of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation. “And what is truly powerful about CG_Ideas@Work is that it allows for greater diversity of thinking as members comment and contribute, often providing additional insight that can build on the original ideas.”

The platform provides opportunities for both targeted and open discussions. The targeted discussions, called challenges, are used to gather solutions to specific problems or research questions.

“The Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Program has greatly benefitted from the CG_Ideas@Work initiative,” says Wayne Danzik, deputy of the Waterways Operations Product Line at the Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center. “One project evaluated innovative mooring systems for buoys that would be safer for the underwater environment, and a second project is identifying and testing advanced buoy designs available on the worldwide market. These projects will result in improved service to the mariner and enhanced stewardship of the environment.”  
CG_Ideas@Work offers a way to connect with colleagues throughout the Coast Guard, creating a massive team working toward a common goal. “Additionally, Coast Guard senior leadership is actively engaged on the site, so you never know when you’ll receive direct feedback from one of our flag officers or senior enlisted members, and how cool is that!” Vazquez says.

Here's what you need to know to get started.

What is CG_Ideas@Work?

CG_Ideas@Work is a web-based crowdsourcing platform sponsored by the Innovation Program (CG-926). It was developed to provide an opportunity for the Coast Guard workforce to easily share ideas, best practices and lessons learned. It can be accessed through the icon on a Coast Guard standard workstation, or through this link
Why should Coasties care?

CG_Ideas@Work is an easy way to:

  • Rapidly communicate ideas to improve Coast Guard mission execution.
  • Gather information on how an event (e.g. COVID-19 or hurricane season) has affected operational and support functions, and solicit ideas on how the Coast Guard can adapt to new working conditions.
  • Capture, analyze, and integrate ideas and feedback to increase service readiness and resiliency.
  • Energize workforce expertise and ignite creativity to identify new ways to make the organization better.
  • Support the Commandant’s call for service-wide innovation.

Who can participate?

CG_Ideas@Work is open to all Coast Guard military, civilian, auxiliary, and contract personnel with a email address.

New users need to create an account and password using their email address. Users then need to access their Coast Guard email for a one-time account verification. Auxiliarists should register using their email address.

How do I submit an idea?

There’s a handy how-to guide here

What is a challenge?

CG_Ideas@Work organizes participation in the form of challenges, which are created with specific mission statements tailored to meet each sponsor office’s needs.

Examples of challenges currently underway:

  • 2020 Hurricane Lessons Learned Challenge – Submitting to this challenge will allow leadership to better understand the on-the-ground situation and requirements for rapid, effective response efforts. First responders can also use it as a platform to communicate with other members in the field about their situation, challenges and solutions for improving contingency operations. Available here
  • From Strategy to Impact Challenge – This forum is where you should submit your best ideas to attack long-standing challenges and turn the Coast Guard Strategic Plan into positive impact for the service. Available here.  
  • COVID-19 Challenge – Coast Guard Leadership has opened this discussion area to capture the lessons learned from the Coast Guard's experience with COVID-19. Available here.    
  • Open Idea Forum Challenge – This forum is a place to share unique ideas that Coast Guard members have developed to address a problem at their unit, or to seek innovative solutions to an issue in their world of work. Ideas submitted here will be recorded and discussed with appropriate programs, but because this is an unsponsored area, ideas may not be further developed. Available here

Added bonus
All CG_Ideas@Work submissions are considered for the Innovation Program’s special activities, such as the annual Capt. Niels P. Thomsen Innovation Awards and Idea Frenzy pitch events. A great idea might get you recognized by the Commandant!

Want more info?
Contact or visit our webpage.