cotc18 300x250The 2018 Chiefs of Transformation Conference took place from Tuesday 11 December to Thursday 13 December 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018 Analysis Report has been approved and released. It is a record of the conduct, discussions and key takeaways of Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018.

The Conference remains the only venue where national Chiefs of Transformation from the Alliance and Partners have the opportunity to interact and collaborate with the senior leadership of Allied Command Transformation and many other senior leaders involved in innovation and transformation. Interest in Chiefs of Transformation Conference remains strong with over 500 registered attendees from 50 nations at this year’s event. In addition to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Military Committee and Mr. Camille Grand, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, representatives from over 20 industry and academic organizations provided diverse expertise, engaging demonstrations, presentations and insight into ways to enhance NATO’s future. Prior to the main conference Supreme Allied Commander Transformation met with the directors of 19 NATO Centres of Excellence for a discussion focussed on Allied Command Transformation’s Centres of Excellence Roadmap.

The stated aims of Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018 were to interconnect national transformation initiatives with those of Allied Command Transformation, particularly in the areas of innovation, longer-term capability development, and training. The national Chiefs of Transformation, along with the other senior leaders from across NATO, industry and academia, were invited to discuss and exchange innovative ideas and best practices, and identify actionable outcomes towards improving interoperability, cooperation and partnership.

The Young Disruptors Forum, a new addition during Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018, engaged top-level young professionals from NATO and Partner nations with the NATO and Partner Chiefs of Transformation, senior decision-makers and thought leaders. This provided a unique opportunity for the young disruptors to learn and understand NATO's innovation goals.

In his closing remarks General Lanata stated that NATO’s greatest strengths stem from the men and women serving within and alongside the Alliance.

“Closer cooperation among member nations and NATO’s partners, particularly with industry and academia, helps us to ensure the future of the Alliance. NATO benefits from the shared knowledge and competencies, opinions and experiences of personnel from 29 nations and [many] partners.”

He expressed his overall gratitude for the conversations on how the Alliance can remain responsive, relevant and ready. He also stressed the importance of experimentation and how failure can be a useful tool toward innovation.

Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018 Key Takeaways:

  • Human Capital. There was a consensus that talent management, leader development, and organizational effectiveness are key elements to address. NATO must consolidate and develop educational tools to help strategic leader development and decision-making. Recruiting, and more importantly retaining, innovative people is becoming increasingly challenging. A key recommendation was to modernize strategic leader development through virtual reality and other advanced decision-making tools.
  • Data, Command & Control and Decision-Making. NATO must improve its ability to identify and acquire data and then make it sharable for experimentation and analytics purposes amongst NATO and nations to support Command and Control and decision-making. Culture, Policies and Processes are the fundamental elements to address first, but the toughest to solve. Data science is iterative by its nature and therefore must be accepted in both development and operational arenas. In Experimentation, NATO and nations must resource, both people and money, the “fail, fail fast and try again” methodology of development utilizing the expertise and knowledge of the NATO Centres of Excellence. A key action item is the development of a NATO policy facilitating Emerging Disruptive Technologies, recognizing data as a strategic resource.
  • Future Partnerships. The future partnerships syndicate identified that most Partner Nations do not seek to embrace Adaptive Disruptive Advances; their levels of ambition focus on the implementation of more practical solutions. It was also concluded that some challenges with classified information sharing could, with nations’ support, be addressed by utilizing existing technologies.
  • Emerging Technologies. The need for greater agility in adopting / adapting commercial technologies rather than building military specific platforms was stressed. Several emerging technologies are in their final development phase and NATO will require a strategic plan to ensure appropriate policy, legal and ethical concerns are considered. The Multinational Solutions community will explore these insights in the near future.
  • Young Disruptors Forum. The Young Disruptors recognized the importance and relevance of NATO as a remarkable actor for international peace and security. However, they pointed out a lack of transparency and information sharing among nations, slow decision-making, and an organizational culture that does not accept failure. They proposed that NATO considers developing “Disruptive Innovation Units” that are organizations where people from diverse backgrounds gather for short periods to solve a NATO problem thus providing NATO an external alternative analysis.

Click here for the Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018 Analysis Report

Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018 Photo Gallery


Points of Contact

If you have any questions please contact one of the COTC Team listed below:

GBR NATO Civilian
Transformation Network Branch
Phone: +1 757 747-3706
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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