USAREC, HRC building an army of knowledge management advocates
August 22, 2013
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Volumes of data, dozens of information papers, hundreds of reports and board packets are produced across a command the size of USAREC or HRC in any given week. All that data and information "is of no use until it reaches somebody who can make a decision with it, and take their own experiences and make it useable," said Lt. Col. Andy Mortensen, director of the Army's Operational Knowledge Management Proponent of the Mission Command Center of Excellence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
About 25 Soldiers and civilian staff from Recruiting Command and Human Resources Command discussed how to tackle that issue -- what to do with all that information to get it to the right people in a usable format to accomplish the mission -- during the Knowledge Management Representative (KMR) course here Aug. 20-22.
Building an Army of Knowledge Management advocates within an organization is - in a nutshell - what the KMR course is designed to achieve. According to doctrine (FM 6-01.1 Knowledge Management Operations), KMRs contribute to successful implementation of Knowledge Management (KM) through advocacy, support and knowledge brokering. KMRs educate their co-workers and emphasize the importance of sound KM practices, they support the organization's KM initiatives and represent their own staff section's perspective across the command, and they link co-workers with information, resources and knowledge beyond their normal sources.
"The idea of knowledge management and the KMRs is really to help you do the job that you are tasked to do and connect you with the people inside your organization to get stuff done, instead of getting mad at the other sections because you never get the information you need from them," Mortensen said.
"People enable knowledge sharing inside the organization, not just the tools." Mortensen said that all too often people think of KM in terms of the tools used by an organization to share knowledge, such as SharePoint. "We often look to a tool to solve our problems, but KM has more to do with people than tools. Knowledge Management is a contact sport."
Mortensen and KM instructor Dustin Ashton travel to units across the Army training leaders and representatives on Army KM operations. Day 1 of the training focused on the people part of KM, and Day 2 delved into the KM process spelled out in doctrine. On the third day each organization's representatives engaged in a sticky note drill to identify their unique challenges and brainstorm potential solutions.
While here conducting the training, Mortensen also gave an overview of KM principles to key leaders in both HRC and USAREC. In USAREC, Mortensen spoke with recruiting brigade commanders and command sergeants major, and headquarters staff during a Fiscal Year 2014 planning session and Commanding General Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet was there to emphasize the importance of effective KM across Recruiting Command.
This training is about helping take KM to the next level, to talk about exercising mission command, empowering subordinates and getting knowledge to the people who need it, according to Col. George Sarabia, USAREC assistant chief of staff G5. Recruiting Command has an established KM section in the headquarters G5 and is making headway in expanding KM across its brigades and battalions. The 3rd Recruiting Brigade, also headquartered on Fort Knox, has a KM working group that has been successful in breaking information barriers and improving communication and synergy among the staff.
Human Resources Command has a large KM working group and is taking steps to increase awareness and better synchronize KM efforts across its many sections, according to HRC Knowledge Management Officer Larry Parson. "We want to ensure all HRC KMRs are speaking with one voice so they can further advance KM initiatives."
He added that the HRC KM working group strives to train all its KMRs to effectively wear their KM C.O.A.T: Create, Organize, Apply and Transfer knowledge.
"What our organization is trying to do is reward, acknowledge and empower knowledge management representatives," said Dr. James Baker, Knowledge Management Officer for The Adjutant General Directorate, the largest directorate of HRC. His directorate's KM goal is to advance the existing knowledge sharing processes and tools. He said they have established selective criteria for their KM representatives, including a desire to innovate and improve the organization, and ensure all KMRs share in organizational successes. "They must be able to tell the organization what KM does for them and make people want to take part."
People at every level of an organization need to know, "What's in it for me?" said Master Sgt. Michael Chann, HRC public affairs operations noncommissioned officer and member of the HRC KM working group. He said the application of KM is a challenge as both leaders and end users struggle to understand what it is and why it is relevant to them.
KM representatives are individuals who know their sections inside and out -- know the people and their needs -- so they can bring their issues to the KM working group in an effort to make the entire organization better, more efficient. They must also understand how the staff works, how to network and pass knowledge. Part of a knowledge manager's job is helping build trust across an organization, because sharing knowledge helps build trust, according to Mortensen.
"If we do our jobs correctly in all staff sections of any organization, if we understand the commander's vision and we've done a mission analysis for our section - if we've done that right, then it forces us to collaborate because we are passing information left and right," said Todd Breen, USAREC doctrine division writer/editor and member of the USAREC KM working group.
The key is choosing the right people on your staff to be knowledge management representatives, according to Ashton.
"Knowledge Management is one of those things you can't do without people … but it takes a skillful person to truly understand their section and processes, and be willing to learn, communicate and overcome resistance to change," Ashton said. "People who don't want to change 'the way things have always been done' can get in the way of the process. That is not the way to improve an organization."
For more about Army Knowledge Management, visit the AOKMP website http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/AOKM/.