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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. 


Design Challenge for Class 19G (JUL-AUG 2019)

The challenge for 19G is to reimagine how officers are introduced to strategic and operational issues (e.g. strategic thinking, joint planning, operational design, etc.). The primary customer for this challenge is the Pilot Training Next (PTN) program as they prototype a new student pilot experience. Note, however, that NO EXPERIENCE WITH FLIGHT TRAINING OF ANY TYPE IS REQUIRED. If successful, the results of the design challenge may be scaled to other AETC programs. Therefore it is critical to the success of this project to include a wide variety of perspectives.  

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.  Follow the instructions for the Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator (ISPI) assessment. This will be used in a later workshop for Think Tank students and is not a criteria for selection.

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. What is the single most valuable skill you'll bring to the team?

b.  On the other side of the card, sketch some ways to creatively reframe the issues raised in the design challenge statement above. In other words, offer ways to look at the problem space from different perspectives. Do not address possible solutions.

c.  Turn in your card to Room 208 NLT noon on 15 July.

Notifications will be made COB on 18 July 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