Analyze Successes Instead of Failures

MITRE CEO Al Grasso recently testified to a Senate Subcommittee on Examining the President’s Plan for Eliminating Wasteful Spending In Information Technology:

“I am struck by the amount of attention paid to failures versus time spend analyzing successes for critically important lessons to be learned.  I observe a strong tendency to impose new policies, processes, and reporting requirements in an effort to avoid future failure.  These requirements, introduce an ever increasing burden that reduces agility, imposes costs, and delays the delivery of much needed capability.”

Instead of imposing hundreds of additional policies, we need to integrate a knowledge management culture and platform in the DoD to capture and share lessons learned (both successes and failures). These tools should be woven into our daily operations so that they’re not a separate database or report to check when you have time (rarely), but part of organization and enterprise websites structured for topic areas that cover policies, statutes, guidance, and lessons learned. They should be extremely easy for users to contribute to, not requiring lesson learned interviews, detailed reports, nor controlled by a policy gatekeeper. This enables cross-collaboration across the organization and enterprise, with the right folks monitoring the site to help organize, validate, and encourage additional contributions. A community that actively contributes to and leverages knowledge management platforms increases in the speed and reach of lessons learned and is vastly more effective than imposing additional enterprise wide burdensome policies.