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Think Tank

"Adapt or die..."

Please watch the introductory video first: "Play at Work"

Think Tank is an opportunity for a select group of students to tackle a major issue and present creative solutions to senior leaders.  It is physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging and students are expected to work well beyond the SOS curriculum.  The rewards for both the students and the USAF, however, can be enormous.  Team members receive intensive coaching on design principles adapted from the best practices in industry, academia, and militaries from across the world.  What you will learn and practice are directly applicable to the strategic thinking skills that are highly valuable to leaders at all levels.  In the past, this approach has generated innovative ideas at all levels of the Air Force.

The specific challenge for the next class and application instruction are below.

*Note: the Advanced Research (AR) elective is a separate program with a separate application process.  Please only apply to the one that interests you the most.  Both are rigorous efforts that will be noted on Training Reports (AF Form 475) and both will expose you to different areas of Air University.  The main differences between them are captured in the graph below.  As noted in the Think Tank application instructions, there is an opportunity for 1-3 students to craft the topic for the next Think Tank challenge.  If interested in this, please apply to Think Tank - not to the AR program - and note your research interest on the application.


Design Challenge for Class 19F

The challenge is to curate problems for the newly created USAF-MIT AI Accelerator program.  Specifically, what operational or organizational issues lend themselves to "AI Now" (i.e. current Artificial Intelligence capabilities); what effects should be created using this tool in the near term (within 2 years)?

Application Instructions

  1. Review the following resources:  

a.  Introduction to Design Thinking video Stages of Design Thinking ALL STAGES

b.  The power of reframing (i.e. "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at start to change Reframing Problems

i.  The following videos are optional, but may help explain the skill of creative reframing (which is part of the application): 

1.  Reframe: how to solve the world's trickiest problems: Eric Knight at TEDxMongKok 

 2.  (Re)framing - The first step towards innovative ideas (start at 4:20)


2.  Under Jeff Degraff click on Content, select Resources, and click on How do you Innovate? 2-minute quiz (must be on a non-NIPR machine)

3.  Complete the application:

a.  On a 4" x 6" card (blank cards and an example are available outside Room 208), write the following information on one side:

  1. Name, AFSC, Flight #, Cell #, Personal Email
  2. Results of your Innovation Genome quiz
  3. What is the single most valuable skill you'll bring to the team?
  4. Are you interested in conducting research for the next Think Tank topic? If so, do you have interest/expertise in a particular issue?

b.  On the other side of the card, sketch some ways to creatively reframe the issues raised in the DoD AI Strategy (i.e. offer different perspectives of the same topics).

c.  Turn in your card to Room 208 NLT 0730 on 9 May.

Notifications will be made on Friday through your SOS squadron chain of command.

Thank you for your interest in playing with wild ideas!

-The Think Tank Coaching Staff

25 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112