We’re joined today by Rob Murray, the Head of Innovation at NATO

Author : houseaso112
Publish Date : 2021-01-09 10:28:27


We’re joined today by Rob Murray, the Head of Innovation at NATO

NATO was built for the cold-war, but a focus on innovation & interoperability is helping it adapt to new challenges in the 21st century. We’re joined today by Rob Murray, the Head of Innovation at NATO, to discuss his role addressing challenges across the NATO Alliance using creative organizational ideas, innovative policy formulation, and leveraging emerging technologies.
Rob, welcome! You’ve been with NATO now for just almost 8 years, but before that, you had a very successful career as an Army Officer with the UK Ministry of Defence. I’d like to start by asking what led you to NATO and your current role as the Head of Innovation?


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Hey, Tim, many thanks for that very generous introduction. My military career spans more than 20 years and started at quite a young age when I joined the British Army. I’ve always had quite a sense of duty and the desire to serve, and that’s what inspired me to join the military when I was 17. I spent the remainder of my teenage years and most of my twenties spent as an army officer serving all over the world in various operations.
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Rob Murray, Head of Innovation at NATO. (LinkedIn)
By the time I was 29, I’d been selected for the rank of major and was married with children and family responsibilities — and while I still wanted to serve, I felt it was time for a bit of a career change. I liked NATO, and having served on numerous allied operations around the world, I had a strong sense of the values that underpin the NATO Alliance. For me, applying to join the International Staff was an easy decision to make.
Now, I serve on the Secretary General’s staff at NATO, and our mission brings with it a sense of duty and purpose that’s very foundational. It was a big step leaving the British army and moving to Brussels to work for NATO, but the origins of this institution and the values that it’s built upon deeply resonate with me on a personal level.
Now, for a little background, NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American nations, so there are a lot of moving pieces involved. As I understand things, your role has a focus on technology, but also on organizational strategies and policy work. Can you tell me a bit about how you apply innovation to these areas?
The fundamental role of NATO headquarters is politically focused which means being involved with a lot of policy work across all Allied countries. This means that in every area we focus on, we’re always having to look for where that middle ground exists. We have 30 Allies who are members of NATO, and we’re always trying to find that sweet sweet spot that works for all of them.
Now, in terms of innovation, finding that middle ground is somewhat tricky, and in some ways, that’s because of NATO’s organizational structure. Keep in mind that NATO was created back in 1949 near the beginning of the cold war, and it could be said it was created to help maintain the status quo of that post world war two era.
Innovation is about change, and sometimes it can be difficult to shift the needle on various technologies & policies within a large, mature organization like NATO, but it’s not impossible. In fact, over the last few years, we’ve had quite a lot of success demonstrating that change & refinement is indeed achievable when all of the allies work together towards common goals.
So, in Brussels, our job is to craft policies that find that middle ground, and then put in place the various measures to implement them. This is a multi-faceted role that involves work with organizational and technological change, as well as refinement of the NATO operating model. We have a lot of goals, but there’s only so much the market can bear, which means that we have to be cognizant of the scope of our efforts and the timeline it takes to achieve them.
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