Thursday 20 March 2014

KM team roles - 4 US Army examples

Maj. Larry Mix by 316th ESC on Flickr
It is always instructive to see role descriptions for Knowledge Management Roles.

Here are 4 such role descriptions from the US Army, published in their 2012 report "Knowledge Management Operations", representing roles within a "KM Section".

A KM Section is a KM team at brigade level or higher (a brigade representing several thousand troops), reporting directly to the relevant chief of staff. The KM section can have up to four roles depending on the size of the unit in question.
  • The KM Officer (head of the KM section), responsible for deriving KM policies and plans
  • The Assistant KM Officer, responsible for executing KM policies and plans
  • The KM NCO, responsible for KM tactical coordination
  • The content manager(s)
The KM section is supported by, and supports, a whole set of KM Representatives in the fighting units within the brigade. So in industry terms, we could see the KM section as being the KM team for a division or a region, supporting (and supported by) KM champions in the individuals countries, projects or business units.

The picture here is "Major Larry Mix a resident of Farmington, N.M. and an alumnus of Arizona State University, and the Knowledge Management officer-in-charge for the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). Knowledge Management is responsible for ensuring best practices are collected and used throughout the command. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Adam Stone, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary))"

Here are the role descriptions

The KM Officer role is described as follows;
  • Help the staff perform internal and external knowledge gap analyses. Create techniques to bridge gaps. 
  • Recommend creating an organizational knowledge network and provide metrics for evaluating its effectiveness. 
  • Create a unit KM plan and execute it through the unit staff. Ensure the KM section fully supports this plan. 
  • Continuously assess KM as it applies to staff readiness, unit infrastructure, and unit performance. 
  • Advise the commander and staff on integrating KM practices and procedures throughout the organization.  
  • Monitor emerging KM trends for incorporation into unit operations. 
  • Monitor formal and informal social networks that transfer knowledge (that is, who the subject matter experts are, who goes to them, and what connects seekers with subject matter experts). 
  • Facilitate achieving greater knowledge creation and transfer across the organization. Seek feedback to evaluate the progress of knowledge sharing initiatives. 
  • Show staff teams how to develop knowledge sharing within their areas of expertise. 
  • Develop KM policies and procedures and ensure command-wide dissemination. 
  • Develop effective techniques and procedures for organizing, applying, and transferring observations, insights, and lessons from after action reviews into unit operations, standard operating procedures, and training. 
  • Oversee planning and implementing KM activities across the unit by communicating with other commands’ KM officers, both horizontally and vertically. 
  • Establish and chair a working group made up of staff representatives and KM officers from subordinate units. 
  • Plan the creation, management, and monitoring of active participation in a knowledge architecture within the unit’s organizational structure to facilitate operational synchronization and operational adaptability. 
  • Coordinate and oversee the unit’s KM training using Army professional forums training assets. 
  • Oversee the unit’s content management efforts. 
  • Serve as the chief architect for the KM structure. Understand the functions of its information systems in order to provide advice on integrating their products into the common operational picture. 
  • Coordinate with the signal staff officer to ensure that the unit’s information systems network supports knowledge creation, organization, application, and transfer across the unit. 
  • Help subordinate units without KM sections apply KM.

The Assistant KMO role is described as follows
  • Coordinate and integrate the creation and organization of the common operational picture. 
  • Initiate, coordinate for, and maintain a virtual right-seat ride capability. 
  • Execute KM policies and plans within the KM section. 
  • Improve knowledge sharing and overall unit effectiveness by continuously assessing the unit’s KM program, infrastructure, and readiness. 
  • Develop, organize, and supervise implementation of the unit’s content management effort.
  •  Help the staff perform knowledge analysis to answer the commander’s critical information requirements and create solutions for closing persistent gaps. 
  • Seek techniques to incorporate experiential learning into organizational learning
  • Map the unit’s KM network among personnel. Develop metrics for evaluating KM effectiveness. 
  • Identify operationally relevant trends; observations, insights, and lessons; and significant actions. Ensure they are distributed vertically and horizontally. 
  • Ensure processes for directing requests for information work efficiently. 
  • Coordinate with the signal staff officer to ensure connectivity to the Global Information Grid and application of its capabilities. 
  • Oversee KM-related roles and responsibilities as directed by the KM officer. 
  • Establish procedures to monitor the appropriateness of Web site content and eliminate redundant data and files. 
  • Develop the unit’s KM training and certification program.

The KM NCO (non-commissioned officer) role is described as follows
  • Help staff sections organize the command post’s layout to best facilitate staff interaction. 
  • Coordinate appropriate audiovisual displays of the common operational picture and other operationally relevant KM products in command posts and other areas.
  • Monitor collaboration sites and knowledge networks and advise the staff on relevant content. 
  • In coordination with the protection staff section, address KM aspects of operations security. 
  • Advise on designing briefings and text documents. 
  • Help design templates and formats for recurring knowledge products to increase standardization and reduce redundancy. 
  • Participate in the KM working group. 
  • Ensure the unit’s content management plan meets Department of Defense requirements and is fully understood and implemented across the unit. 
  • Review the unit’s file management techniques. Direct adjustments as needed. 
  • Remain abreast of current and future trends in KM and content management. Integrate them into unit operations as needed. 
  • Supervise training in knowledge transfer procedures. 
  • Serve as the unit’s expert for KM tool and system training, design, and use. 
  • Coordinate with the operations officer and signal staff officer to incorporate KM tools, systems, and information system architecture into the common operational picture input design and display.
  • Coordinate with signal staff officer technical teams to identify and implement KM initiatives.

The content manager role is described as follows;
  • Support implementation of the unit’s KM policies and procedures. 
  • Search for and capture observations, insights, and lessons from other units and individuals via non-secure and secure Internet protocol router networks (NIPRNET and SIPRNET) sites and forums. 
  • Facilitate knowledge transfer between units and leaders.
  • Develop comprehensive document naming conventions, data tagging policies, and data organization for the unit. 
  • Train staff members on how to obtain explicit knowledge stored in knowledge networks, databases, and information systems.
  • Help review the unit’s databases and Web sites to determine the security and relevance of content.
  • Help the KM noncommissioned officer design briefings, text documents, templates, and other recurring knowledge products.
  • Help the KM officer and assistant KM officer provide expertise and training in using KM tools, processes, and systems.
  • Remain abreast of current and future trends in KM and content management. 
  • Coordinate with the signal staff officer (through the KM officer) on incorporating current standards to improve information search and retrieval across various data sources. 
  • Supervise and conduct KM process training, including content management procedures for staff members.
  • Coordinate with signal staff officer technical teams to identify and implement effective solutions in content management.


Unknown said...

Nick, Great post as always. I've been working with US Army KM programs for some time and even with this structure there's a tendency for KM to slip into IT/Portal management. Fortunately this strategic level guidance allows units to self-assess, and "adjust fire" as they'd say. I don't believe Army KM would have been so successful without this formalized structure to keep the program on track.

Nick Milton said...

Thanks John, that's a really valuable insight.

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