There's been plenty of acknowledgement over the last many months that the Coast Guard's marine safety program is facing some severe challenges. Earlier this week, Thomas Jackson posted a provokative post at his Coast Guard Report: Did Coast Guard make Marine Safety any Safer with ALCOAST 194?
It's very easy to see the link between knowledge management and our current woes in marine safety. ALCOAST 194 merely hightlights the situation the Coast Guard finds itself in: we've lost our marine safety knowledge.
The ALCOAST notes,
THERE HAS BEEN AN OVERALL DECREASE IN THE EXPERIENCE OF COAST GUARD MARINE CASUALTY INVESTIGATING OFFICERS (IO).and
IN AN EFFORT TO STRENGTHEN THE MARINE CASUALTY INVESTIGATION PROGRAM, COMDT (CG-545) IS DEVELOPING AN ACTION PLAN THAT WILL ENSURE IO BILLETS ARE STAFFED WITH A CORPS OF WELL TRAINED, CERTIFIED AND EXPERIENCED MARINE CASUALTY INVESTIGATING OFFICERS.Reads to me like this is, in part, a knowledge management situation. Knowledge management can help the marine safety program, although it is still likely to take several years to get the Coast Guard to where it needs to be.
Are the Coast Guard's knowledge management folks involved in this CG-545 initiative? Where is the Coast Guard's Chief Knowledge Officer in all of this? Do we still even have a CKO?
Clearly, the service is doing something, as it must. Bringing more bodies aboard is only part of the answer. People without knowledge is not going to help the service meet the marine safety mandates. And, no matter if we have a great training program with a full PQS, that's only going to deal with the explicit knowledge, not the tacit. Tacit knowledge is what's been walking out the door after fermenting and growing for years... and that's what has brought us, in part, to where we are today.
This appears to this novice to be a textbook example of an opportunity for knowledge management to work with other disciplines to deliver organizational value and results for America.