Digital Pentagon – Defense AT&L Magazine

Thanks to DAU for publishing Digital Pentagon in the Nov/Dec edition of Defense AT&L Magazine.

Digital PentagonThe time has come for the Pentagon to retire its Industrial Age management model and invent a radically new approach for the Digital Age. The Department of Defense (DoD) faces an increasingly complex operational environment at a time of decreasing defense budgets. The DoD would yield better results if it harnessed its strategic initiatives to enabling innovation instead of strict cost-cutting measures. The enterprise that more than 40 years ago helped invent the Internet for research and development collaboration must leverage the Web as a platform to network its acquisition workforce. See the full article in Defense AT&L Magazine.

Radical Openness


radical-openness-coverDon Tapscott and Anthony Williams are brilliant thought leaders on how business, government, and society in the 21st Century can leverage technologies to achieve exciting new opportunities. Radical Openness is the latest in a series of books filled with real world examples to convey an insightful vision of the future. This quick read is broken into four parts:

  1. Why smart organizations embrace transparency with customers, stakeholders, and society to foster trust and accelerate business progress.
  2. Innovative and successful companies are dissolving corporate boundaries.
  3. How companies who tightly guarded their IP transition to a shared IP model, managed like a mutual fund portfolio.
  4. How the proliferation of global freedom and justice movements are shaking up the global balance of power.

They describe how digital technologies slash transition and collaboration costs allowing new ecosystems of companies and organizations to work together in new ways and tap a global pool of talent. Enabling users to participate in innovation improves company success rates and customer satisfaction. Focusing on dynamic platforms to provide opportunities for partners to contribute and collaboratively innovate. The advancement of IT in the Digital Age provides societies powerful insight into massive amounts of information. This access enables freedom, openness, integrity, and collaboration where everyone can participate in a sustainable global economy.

Radical Openness is a great read for those who want to develop strategies and leverage digital technology to effective lead an innovative enterprise.

Army Doctrine via Collaborative Web Based Tools

The Army plans to have a new, easy-to-use method for Soldiers to access manuals and other military publications by 2015.

The new 10-page Army Doctrine Publications will be available on videos. The more detailed Army Doctrine Reference Publications will be on interactive computer-based training. The Army Training Publications will be on a MilWiki site, a collaborative website that enables Soldiers to participate in doctrine development. The system will allow Soldiers at any level to access Army doctrine, references, field manuals and technical publications through various different digital outlets. These outlets include DVD videos, interactive multimedia instruction videos and a wiki site allowing Soldiers to participate in doctrine development.

Integrating doctrine with digital applications will allow doctrinal resources to be readily available to Soldiers and provides a new approach to how doctrine is used to support education, training, and operations, he said.  Users can locate Army publications specific to their jobs from an easy-to-use hierarchical process.

The redesign focus was based on guidance from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who directed “a Doctrine Strategy to categorize our manuals differently, reduce their length, and number, and leverage emerging technology to make them more collaborative and accessible,”

By 2015, the Army plans to have only 50 field manuals on tactics and procedures. The rest of the doctrine will be in various pubs. The end result of Army Doctrine 2015 is to provide the user an easy way to access military publications via mobile devices, and other non-tradition methods, but the physical hard copies will still be available. It is expected the new streamlined system for delivering Army doctrine will be complete by 2015.

For more information, see Army Doctrine 2015

Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet

In this new age of networked intelligence, collaborative communities are enhancing and even bypassing crumbling institutions. We are innovating the way our financial institutions and governments operate; how we educate our children; how the healthcare, newspaper, and energy industries serve their customers; how we care for our neighbourhoods: and even how we solve global problems.

From their latest book, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet, co-authors Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams present groundbreaking innovations from every corner of the globe: how businesses, organizations, and individuals alike are using mass collaboration to revolutionize not only the way we work, but how we live, learn, create, and care for each other.

Collaborative Leadership in Government

The Partnership for Public Service study Best Places to Work Snapshot: The Federal Leadership Challenge highlights: “Leadership is the most important factor when it comes to driving employee satisfaction and commitment in the federal government.” While there has been positive trends over the last decade, only 50% of government employees are satisfied with their senior leaders.

  • 48% were satisfied with the information they receive from top management about what’s going on in their organizations
  • 43%  felt their senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment
  • 46% felt personal empowerment with respect to work processes

The survey broke out leadership rankings by 30 federal agencies. The Army finished 11th (T), Navy 12th, Air Force 13th, and OSD/Joint Staff 15th.  The Top 5 were the NRC, FDIC, NASA, State, and OPM while DHS finished last.

Leaders who focus on communication and empowerment will yield significant results from their workforce.

Senior leaders – how do you communicate to your organization?  How do you share your vision, assessment of the organization, industry trends, priorities, key programs, and initiatives?  If your employees wanted to learn more about these areas, how would they go about doing so?  What about your external stakeholders?

This is where collaborative web-based tools should play a central role to enable your communication strategy, beyond your weekly staff meetings and monthly/quarterly all-hands meetings.  Public websites, internal collaboration platforms, and a suite of tools should be part of your daily operations.

  • Leaders who blog regularly can effectively communicate across their enterprise and enable employees to ask questions, provide feedback and ideas, and collaborate among each other.
  • Wikis are powerful tools enable everyone to effectively contribute to and access their collective knowledge. From drafting a simple memo to compiling an enterprise-wide knowledge repository, wikis are rapidly taking hold within business operations.
  • Collaboration sites enable discussion forums and employees to self organize into groups based on areas of interest to engage on the organization’s challenges, projects, and innovations.

Leaders should aggressively explore how these sites and tools can transform your processes, policies, and culture to get your employees more actively engaged and committed to the organization’s mission, priorities, and outcomes.

Kindle Highlights and Collective Intelligence

As an avid reader of books, blogs, and articles, I’m always looking for ways to capture the key nuggets of knowledge to organize, apply, and share in the future.  I currently use Google Docs to capture my notes from these various sources, but it has been a challenge to keep my research organized.  My Kindle is loaded with business, technology, and innovation books, with many highlights throughout.  Kindle has a great feature of sharing the most popular highlights from all Kindle readers, a crowdsourced collection of the most valued points from the book.  As Amazon publishes the popular highlights of all their Kindle books on each product page, that has truly opened up a powerful knowledge source.  They even publish the most highlighted passages or books of all time.

People can go to Amazon and pull up a book, say MacroWikinomics by Don Tapscott and read the 10 most popular highlights.  They can then click on many of the related books like Innovator’s DNA by Clayton Christensen and read the 10 top highlights there. You can spend hours learning the most valuable points of countless interrelated books.  As there are dozens of books on my Amazon Wish list to eventually get to, reading the highlights provides a succinct digest of all the books in the time it takes to read a chapter or two.

Ideally pulling the top highlights and the network relationships of the books to a separate site would save you from scrolling through the Amazon pages and better present the knowledge for readers.  As Amazon built these features to get users to their site and buy more books, they would oppose that approach.

As you learn new nuggets of knowledge, how do you capture them so they’re not forgotten tomorrow or a month from now? How do you organize your knowledge repository to sort, expand, and retrieve that knowledge as an external hard drive to your brain? How do you share and integrate your knowledge with others in your team, company, or enterprise?

Wikipedia is a fantastic tool to capture and share human intelligence.  Many companies and enterprises have leveraged related tools for their knowledge platforms.  Some of these tools are still difficult for the average user to properly create or edit a Wikipedia like page.  The cultural resistance to this new approach is also limiting our full potential.

If every day people took the time to add the knowledge they gained to a central online repository, it would instantly become a company’s most valuable resource.  The platform needs to be able to present the most popular highlights for others so they don’t have to read through 50 page reports or long winded emails.  Much like the Borg in Star Trek is organized as an interconnected collective, adopting this strategy enables every individual to be vastly more effective in their daily work and the organization as a whole to gain a huge competitive advantage.

MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence poses the research question:  How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?

Mastering the Fundamentals: RSS Reader

Two years ago I had the opportunity to brief a room full of Air Force executives (and another 20 on video teleconference) on Enterprise 2.0.  I only had 5-10 minutes at the end of a staff meeting to make the pitch and I wasn’t successful in achieving broad adoption.  I knew their awareness of blogs, wikis, and social networks was limited, so I felt the need to cover the basics.  The point in the meeting that I knew it was a lost cause was when I said: “So you’re all familiar with Wikipedia…” and see a room full of blank stares.  Oh boy.

In hindsight I realized my pitch was all wrong. I should have lead more with the benefits to their daily operations and less on the 101 details.  With such a complex message I should have pushed for a separate venue with more than a few minutes to convey the ideas.  But it did remind me that before I can go into the advanced concepts and applications of digital technology to redefine Pentagon operations, we must educate the community on the fundamentals. There are so many great tools out there to transform their daily work, but they simply don’t know which ones and how to apply them.

Over a series of posts I’ll cover the fundamentals of these digital tools to provide novices a foundation to build upon and spark ideas to improve their operations. I’ll start with RSS and RSS Readers.

RSS is Really Simple Syndication  is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.  RSS feeds can be read using software called an RSS reader, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking a feed icon in a web browser that initiates the subscription process. (Source: Wikipedia)

Google Reader is the leading RSS Reader.

Google Reader is a critical part of my daily routine to stay current on dozens of sites.  It has proven invaluable in knowing and sharing the latest industry news with colleagues and sponsors. It also recommends related items and sources that I otherwise would have never found.

I strongly encourage all knowledge workers to setup an RSS reader like Google Reader.

  • Add the feeds of your regular newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Add the links on my Blogroll and Defense News sites (see right)
  • Setup news alerts for key words (e.g. C4ISR, Cyber), leaders, and organizations
  • Program and portfolio managers should establish alerts for their program names

Instead of reading newspapers, magazines, or individual sites, you’ll read the same material in half the time or you can cover 2-3 times the material in the same amount of time. You’ll gain knowledge, time, and a step ahead of others. What are you waiting for?