Human Resilience in the 21st Century

What does human resilience or Sailor “toughness” mean for a 21st century Navy? This was the question that forward-thinking Navy leaders of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet were asking. To help find an answer, the U.S. Navy leadership reached out to the multi-organizational team called TANG (Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation) led by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory reached out to Akin to uncover the foundational elements of human ”toughness.” As a key member of the TANG team, Akin embarked on a 7-month journey to uncover the foundational elements of “toughness” by exploring the sailor experience and the challenges that may prevent them from thriving personally and professionally throughout their career.

We observed and interviewed sailors throughout the ranks to understand the demands and influences of their daily experience and the impact they have on themselves, their teams and their loved ones.  We also spoke to analogous organizations and influencers in the Akin network that also relied and weighed heavily on an individual’s personal grit and resilience. 

 
 

It Takes A Tribe

 

We interviewed groups such as the NFL, the NFL Players Association, NASA, FDNY, NYPD, and U.S. Special Operations Forces, as well as leading experts in behavior change, resilience and grit to explore how they manage to stay “in the game” and remain focused on mission and team success.

Our findings: The three main pillars of individual and organizational toughness are Fitness (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial), Belonging and Identity. The interdependent relationship between these pillars is crucial.

We brought our network together for a three-day workshop, where we immersed ourselves in sailor life by visiting ships and engaging with sailors across the waterfront. We then rolled up our sleeves to brainstorm and rapidly prototype concepts ranging from tech-enabled physical fitness to radical brand messaging, leadership and team development.

 
 
 
 

Toughness By Design

To make these pillars actionable, we brought our network together for a three-day workshop, where we immersed ourselves in sailor life by visiting ships and engaging with sailors across the waterfront. We then rolled up our sleeves to brainstorm and rapidly prototype concepts ranging from tech-enabled physical fitness to radical brand messaging, leadership and team development.

The project culminated in a larger workshop of 40+ sailors. They were tasked with designing tools and experiences that they believed would support individual grit and resilience, with the ultimate goal of fleet readiness and mission accomplishment. We then co-created concepts ranging from tech-enabled physical fitness to radical brand messaging, leadership, organizational adaptation, and team development. The concepts generated throughout the project focused on development of a human-centric Navy force to optimize the unique competitive advantages inherent in the diverse, dedicated, and innovative American Sailor. 

 
 
 
 

Creating Value In-Stride

Akin custom teams not only bring inspirational talent and relevant experience but also an adaptive ability to seamlessly assimilate into existing client structures and behaviors to maintain coherent effort, catalyze early progress, and minimize the organizational friction and time demands typically associated with new projects.