Tuesday, May 06, 2008

KM blogging: Looks like the Army is battling it out with State

I still have a slew of notes from last week to transcribe into posts here, but I wanted to highlight an article I saw over in World Politics Review, a foreign policy and national security daily, Internet Connects Future Army Leaders with Virtual 'Front Porch' by David Axe.

If I thought the State Department had skinned some of the KM cat, then it's for certain the Army is skinning the rest of it.

Here's the lede:

It was a decades-old Army tradition that junior officers would eat lunch together every day in Army-run dining halls. There they would trade ideas they'd picked up in their training. But in the last decade, to save money, contractors such as Kellogg, Brown and Root have replaced the old dining halls with civilian-style cafeterias, some boasting big-screen TVs. The officers stopped gathering . . . and stopped talking. That had the effect of isolating young leaders, preventing them from getting answers to life-and-death questions -- and from sharing their own answers they might have learned the hard way.
This is all about knowledge management, and how to suck that tacit knowledge out of one brain and transplant it into another.
Although they would never agree with the term, today [Lieutenant Colonels Tony] Burgess and [Pete] Kilner function as insurgents in the heart of the Army's intellectual citadel. To supplement a meager budget, they raise their own money by publishing books. Instead of just publishing forums, they have quietly taken on new projects, including interactive, video-based ethics training for cadets. Though their methods are unconventional, they stress that their values are strictly in line with the larger Army's. "If our values weren't in line with the institution's, we'd have been crushed -- and rightly so," Kilner said.

That the Army hasn't crushed the forums speaks to the service's comparative progressiveness when it comes to the Internet. The Air Force, a lead agency for "cyberwarfare," has taken a defensive stance, even blocking access on its official networks to many popular websites. One Coast Guard admiral in March blamed the Internet for unfairly spreading bad news about that service's shipbuilding programs. The Navy, too, has struggled with the democratic nature of sites authored by sailors. A blog published aboard the U.S.S. Russell destroyer several times has run afoul of the Navy public affairs apparatus.

West Point cadets, who grew up with computers as constant companions, stress that forums really aren't as new and strange as some in the military seem to believe. "Everybody tells stories. Everybody learns from stories," said Cole Moses, a senior who this year will enter the Army as an infantry officer. "This just makes it easier."
Encouraging ways to share knowledge... why, there's a novel idea.

No comments: