Knowledge Management Directorate: Connecting those who know with those who need to know
October 14, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- More than 400 years ago, English philosopher and statesman Sir Francis Bacon uttered the immortal words: "Knowledge is power."
In the 21st century, it's the capture, transfer and reuse of knowledge that powers the Knowledge Management Directorate at the Army Medical Department Center & School's Medical Capabilities Integration Center.
Established as a discipline in the business world in 1991, the Army Surgeon General appointed the commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School as the AMEDD's Chief Knowledge Officer in June 2007, making the KMD the proponent for knowledge management.
"We're like a think tank that does more than think," said Lynne Conklin, KMD deputy director. "We have different services, depending on what is needed. It all revolves around using technologically-based applications to assist organizations to be more efficient with their business processes."
"Knowledge management efforts can help individuals and groups to share valuable organizational insights to reduce redundant work, to reduce training time for Soldiers, assist new employees, to help the AMEDD retain intellectual capital as Soldiers and civilians are deployed, reassigned, and retired from the AMEDD," added Col. Frederick Swiderski, KMD director. "Knowledge management is a tool that helps us to better be able to adapt to an ever-changing AMEDD environment."
There are two organizational components to KMD. The first is Knowledge Management Consultation. This team provides support to AMEDDC&S and other Army Medical Department activities which are focused on improving business processes through the use of knowledge management tools and strategies.
The second is Systems Integration. This team supports KMD customers through Internet application development, database management and hosting services.
One of the most commonly used parts of KMD's online presence is the Medical Warfighter Forum. Found at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/131414, it is a globally linked network, offering access to key resources. It provides users with a one-stop shop to collaborate, share best practices and link to any and all valuable AMEDD resources and information.
"The Medical Warfighter Forum provides a comprehensive environment to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate across the whole of the Army Medical Department," said. Maj. Gen. David Rubenstein, commanding general of AMEDDC&S.
"As the Chief Knowledge Officer for the AMEDD, I encourage Soldiers to use this resource to support their efforts, their organization's mission, and our support to the Army and other stakeholders. Using the MedWfF allows us to rapidly disseminate discussions, best practices, and lessons learned, all to enhance our support of Soldiers, other war fighters, and Families."
"KMD's goal is to provide timely, relevant information by sharing lessons learned, implementing best practices, and collaborating at a global level," Swiderski said.
The KMD can also provide custom application development, hosting, and database support for select AMEDD users. Standardized collaborative tools are available for use by any AMEDD activity. Internet tools include community of practice formats, survey tools, centralized document management and storage, and discussion areas.
Additionally, KMD provides technical and consulting support for the AMEDD Issues Program. This Internet-based application allows any AMEDD member to ask a question or describe a problem which will be answered promptly by a subject matter expert. Since its inception in 1998, the issues program has received more than 3,600 issues.
"A Soldier in Afghanistan may have a tactical question about bandages, medical supplies or medical evacuation, but there is no one around with the knowledge to answer the question," Swiderski said. "The Soldier can use the AMEDD Issues Program to simply ask a question and have it answered by one of our staff."
"The question will first come to me, and I'll make sure there's no sensitive information in it and then I'll assign it to one of our Process Integrators," Conklin added. "They will provide an immediate answer if it's available. It may require extensive research and consultation with multiple experts to determine the proper answer. If we can't get the answer internally, we'll go to our external experts."
"Some questions might be very limited in scope, such as from someone who trained as a medic in 1973 looking for their transcript. It may also be very general, such as what is the doctrine surrounding the deployment of a combat support hospital in theater," Swiderski said. "Our role is to answer the question ourselves, using knowledge we have in house, or getting it quickly from an external source."
"The issue and answer are then placed into the database repository, so if anyone wants to come into the system and conduct a search, they don't even have to send in a question," Conklin said. "If they type in 'transcript,' they can see how we answered the last question and see if it also applies to them. This process demonstrates the 'reuse' of information."
"The feedback from customers about this program has been overwhelmingly positive over the years," Swiderski said.
"It is of great importance to us when we receive issues from deployed Soldiers and commanders in need of assistance," the colonel added. "Providing them with a fast and accurate response can provide them with critical decision-making tactical information when their access to information and people can often be limited."