DRUMInnovation program leaders seek creative ideas from Fort Drum community


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 7, 2021) – The Fort Drum Plans, Analysis and Integration Office (PAIO) launched a new initiative May 3 to encourage people with ideas and solutions to make their voices heard.

DrumInnovation flyer.jpgSonja Draught, Fort Drum PAIO chief, said that DRUMInnovation is the vision of Fort Drum garrison leadership to empower everyone in the community to take ownership of where they live, work and play.

“It’s designed to initiate innovation within our organization, and it is a way for us to see how we can do what we do even better for our customers,” she said.

Draught said that customer service is constantly evolving, and how they meet the needs of an eclectic community – from the newly arrived Soldier who is in-processing to a family relocating to a new duty station – is worth re-examining from different perspectives.

“This is an opportunity for us to take a different look at what works best for them and try to see how we can drive that change,” she said. “People have ideas and suggestions, but they had no clear way of getting those to people who can respond to them.”

One new way that community members can submit their ideas is through a suggestion program at https://www.research.net/r/FortDrumSuggestions.

The Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) program is another platform for feedback, which DRUMInnovation will leverage for recommendations.

“ICE is all about customer feedback, and through that we learn not only how well our services are but also how we can improve processes from a customer’s standpoint,” Draught said.

She said that the concept behind DRUMInnovation was to avoid taking the methodical Lean Six Sigma approach to problem solving. This would be more about encouraging creative thinking and making it easy for anyone to participate.

“When DRUMInnovation was first being discussed, the garrison command team wanted to make sure that the voice of the Fort Drum community is being heard,” said Rylan Walker, PAIO program analyst. “ICE is a great program, but people use it mainly to report a complaint.

“DRUMInnovation is a way for people with fresh ideas, or they have a suggestion, but didn’t know where to submit it,” Walker continued. “Now, we want them to know they can use the suggestion program or ICE to voice their thoughts and concerns.”

Additionally, focus groups, listening sessions and organizational meetings will be used to address process improvements or discuss any suggestions that need further development.

Draught said that there are no constraints as to what people can contribute – no idea, thought or suggestion is too big or small.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to provide a solution,” she said. “It could just be something you recognize that could use improvement, but you don’t have an answer to or know how to go after improving it. That’s what we can do through what we are calling The Workshop.”

The Workshop will identify best practices, solve problems, and create partnerships in a collaborative and inclusive environment. Meetings will be scheduled based on the amount of feedback generated.

“Everything we receive from the suggestion program, ICE, focus groups and meetings will feed into The Workshop,” Walker said. “That’s where we can look at a suggestion and see how we can bring it to fruition, or look at a problem and see how we can fix it.”

“Our intent is to bring subject-matter experts, volunteers and people who can bring different perspectives and look at an issue from all sides,” he added. “They will have to ask things like, ‘Can we fiscally do this, can we legally do this, do we have the manpower to do this and will the command be able to support it?”

Draught said this isn’t merely a revamped version of a suggestion box, and she hopes it will serve as a useful resource for people to contribute to the community.

“We’re really excited about this program, because it has the potential to impact the way we do business,” she said. “You are submitting your suggestion to a group of people that can really do something about it, and that’s a key part of DRUMInnovation.”

In addition to already receiving several suggestions through the website, a few community members also have called PAIO to ask about participating in The Workshop.

“The fact that people are responding so soon after this program was announced is very encouraging,” said Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum garrison commander. “It shows that at Fort Drum we are invested in the community where we live and work, and we are eager to have our voices heard.”

Fort Drum community members who have questions about DRUMInnovation or would like to be involved in The Workshop can call PAIO at (315) 772-8263.