Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Military Axioms for Knowledge Management

Courtesy of this linked-in blog post, here are some proposed axioms for KM from a military source.


The author of the post is Brett Patron, and Brett has taken a set of established Axioms for Special Operations Forces, and suggested how they can be applied to Military KM. The original SOF axioms are as follows:

  • Humans are more important than Hardware. 
  • Quality is better than Quantity. 
  • Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced. 
  • Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur. 
  • Most Special Operations require non-SOF assistance.

Brett's adaptation of these make for interesting reading.  With Brett's permission, here are his axioms with my comments - you can read his comments in the original post.


1. Humans, organized effectively, drive the processes and tools that get decisions made and achieve outcomes.

This is a reworking of the "Roles, Processes, Technology" mantra, with people at the heart, and with the fourth component of Governance implied in the term "organized effectively".

2. Quality is better than quantity. 

For this one, I would like to quote Brett's text, which is puts the point really well.
 "KM is the “demand side” of decision support; Information Management is the “supply side.” ...  Massive expenditures of money, gigabytes of information, and unwieldy programs are far less valuable than a focused understanding of the people in an organization, the organization's goals, and the choices people make to achieve those goals. Elegance comes from the useful joining of the demand and supply sides so the right conditions exist for quality, timely decisions". 
Regular readers of this blog will remember similar reminders to match supply and demand, and to favour quality over quantity.

 3. Trained KM professionals cannot be mass produced. 

Brett believes, and rightly in my view, that the most valuable way to become a KM professional is through experience rather than training, and to "learn by doing" how an organisation can function as a knowledge-based entity.

 4. Competent knowledge workers and effective policies cannot be created after emergencies occur. 

By the time the disaster happens, its too late for KM.  By the time the aircraft is in trouble, its too late to create the pilot's checklist. 

 5. Successful decision support through effective KM hinges on the efforts of every member of the organization.

This is our vision of the organisation as a knowledge factory as well as a product/services factory, with a knowledge workstream interwoven with the delivery workstream, with a knowledge organisation and knowledge outputs. This is a "whole company" matter.

So I think to a large extent these same Axioms hold true in other sectors, as well as the Military. 

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