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Lessons from the DIA Knowledge Lab Adrian (“Zeke”) Wolfberg Office of the Chief of Staff PowerPoint Presentation
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Lessons from the DIA Knowledge Lab Adrian (“Zeke”) Wolfberg Office of the Chief of Staff

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  1. MITRE Technical Exchange Meeting Lessons from the DIA Knowledge Lab Adrian (“Zeke”) Wolfberg Office of the Chief of Staff 5 December 2007

  2. The DIA Knowledge Lab – Introduction Knowledge lessons Stakeholder lessons Process lessons Program lessons Way Ahead Agenda

  3. Knowledge Lab’s mission: Help DIA become a highly networked, knowledge-based organization – imperative from 9/11 attacks “How do we become something we’re not?” No model or basis for the Knowledge Lab existed in DIA Emerged from the 2004 Strategic Planning process Key issue: Increase collaboration and knowledge integration to improve mission performance across DIA Realized that to become a learning organization DIA needed to: Change behaviors in order to improve results Reorient to “knowledge” as DIA’s primary “product” Knowledge Lab became a way to introduce change at DIA Linked to the Command Element, not to a line organization Focused on behavior change at practice level using pilot projects Networked volunteer operation with minimal staff and funding Introduction — Knowledge Lab Standup

  4. Strategy:Develop capabilities to address unmet “knowledge-related” needs by asking questions that had not been asked Knowledge Lab created a Process Model to reach its goals “Step 1” Identify Issues/Problem/Opportunities Discover important, unresolved, practice-level challenges Initial focus areas/opportunities gathered from internal and Strategic Planning documents as well as Leadership and Employee Discussions including: Analytic tradecraft Organizational boundary spanning Interpersonal communication Networking Impact of culture Knowledge integration Introduction – A Model to Achieve the Mission

  5. Identify Problems/ Opportunities Collect Best Practices Customize Solutions for DIA Facilitate Broad Adoption Introduction – Knowledge Lab Process Model(continued) • “Step 2” Search the commercial, academic, and government sectors for techniques that have been successfully used against similar challenges • Leveraged the knowledge management community for pointers • “Step 3” Evaluate and adapt a technique for application in the DIA culture • Find internal clients who want to use their people to test the technique • “Step 4” Iterate the technique and, where successful, institionalize it • Find the right process owner to transition

  6. Crossing Boundaries (18 completed to date) Purpose: To allow employees the opportunity to solve complicated agency-level problems by integrating knowledge across boundaries Lessons: Employees feel they are making contributions not otherwise able, and perceptions of leadership have improved. Organizations can take advantage of the knowledge all employees have to identify and solve complex organizational issues Critical Discourse (15 completed to date) Purpose: To improve the effect of oral communication on mission Lessons: Employees and managers have challenges listening to others, and they have challenges advocating and clarifying their position. Organizations should realize that the tactical small conversations that occur everyday have major impacts and should take intervening steps to improve communication Knowledge Lessons

  7. Full Spectrum Analysis (4 completed to date) Purpose: To unleash individuals and groups from existing frameworks and procedures to think and act anew to solve or reframe problems Lessons: As long as the group is protected from the norms of business processes, they will create new results and have consistently exceeded the expectations of leadership. Organizations faced with new external environments can benefit from creating and using employees who think and act differently Full Spectrum Leader (1 completed to date) Purpose: To orient the 1st or 2nd line manager to the value of creative problem solving (Full Spectrum Analysis) Lessons: The mid-level manager can benefit from this perspective in their relations with employees but also with their seniors Organizations should spend a significant amount of resources to make the mid-level manager a creative and collaborative part of the job. Knowledge Lessons

  8. Fast Learning (6 completed to date) Purpose: To empower teams or organizations to dynamically make necessary changes to be more effective Lessons: Assumptions become transparent allowing groups to assess what is working and what is not working while the work is happening; clear understandings allow for more accurate solutions. Organizations should empower employees to dynamically assess what is working and what is not, and make changes accordingly Smart Mentoring (1 completed to date) Purpose: To improve knowledge sharing across networks Lessons: By pairing individuals who excel at collaborating across boundaries with individuals who do not – as long as they share basic values – the latter individuals do become more collaborative Organizations should leverage this pairing approach to quicken a collaborative environment Knowledge Lessons

  9. Collaboration and Technology (2 completed to date) Purpose: To understand why some employees use collaborative technologies and why others do not Lessons: Conventional wisdom says age determines technology use but our analysis showed it is values, specifically how we value the role we have with our customers. Organizations can find value in using an ethnographic approach to understanding complex relationships. Voice of the Customer (2 completed to date) Purpose: To get a better understanding how customers/partners see us Lessons: Tremendous insights were achieved not previously understood: customers want products faster, and partners want to share in the knowledge creation process, not just receive final products Organizations need to spend the resources to understand what customers and partners think about you, not just about your products. Knowledge Lessons

  10. Social Network Analysis (4 completed to date) Purpose: To understand the details of how work actually gets done Lessons: The more diverse the person’s social network, the higher the performer. Organizations should encourage the development of network diversity Collaboration for Success (1 completed to date) Purpose: To understand the challenges in working together Lessons: The nature of one’s work defines their culture as unique and when different cultures co-mingle they must understand the other person before mutual work can become effective Organizations should sensitize employees that cultural differences exist within their organization and have nothing to do personal identities but with structure instead Knowledge Lessons

  11. Stakeholder Lessons Command Leaders Practice Level Line Leaders Line Leaders Internal Stakeholders Line Leaders Mid-lvl Mgrs Practice Level Practice Level Industry Academia Industry Academia Industry Academia Industry Academia Other IC Agencies External Stakeholders Other IC Agencies DoD Enterprise Planning Launch 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year Engagement Strategy

  12. Senior-level champions key to success Tremendously important during the first year “value-proving” stage Continue to be important nowto “sustain and grow” Minimal resource footprint important for initial acceptance In “zero-sum game” environment, Knowledge Lab minimized resource competition To accomplish its mission within resource constraints, Knowledge Lab relies significantly on its Agency-wide volunteer network Prove value by focusing on real-world working-level problems In crises, novel, networked approaches outside the process norm succeed; however, using such approaches in non-crisis situations was a novel experience To ensure success working in this novel way required great attention to detail Tackle important DIA-wide issues by identifying and successfully executing techniques and approaches to address them Stakeholders acknowledge Lab’s value when their problem is resolved These stakeholders will advocate Knowledge Lab’s contributions to their peers Process Lessons

  13. Build a Knowledge Lab “toolbox of capabilities” Concentrate on only one new problem at a time Managing all the variables involved with behavior change is too hard Document value-added results and lessons As techniques are proven, consider or combine capabilities from the entire toolbox that can provide maximum value against the issue Carefully and deliberately craft all communications For example, the names of Pilot projects “Socialization story” to engage stakeholders and participants Precisely articulate Knowledge Lab approaches emphasizing unique and distinctive characteristics differentiating Lab events from established agency offerings Strategic communications strategy to publicize opportunities and successes Use words that are familiar to culture, yet inspire new ideas and directions Process Lessons

  14. Constantly “listen” for issues and/or opportunities Often people are not aware they are describing a work-related challenge Careful listening and inquiry can identify both new Knowledge Lab challenges or potential pilot project venues “Walk the Talk” The Knowledge Lab member behavior should reflect Lab’s mission—to help DIA become a learning organization The Knowledge Lab must act like a learning organization so others can emulate Change is continuously ongoing; Knowledge Lab must respond and adapt The Knowledge Lab is a “long-term” strategy Recognize and accept that “baby steps” are a win Cultural change takes years or decades to accomplish Process Lessons

  15. Identify Problems/ Opportunities Collect Best Practices Customize Solutions for DIA Facilitate Broad Adoption Program Perspectives Collect Better/ Best Practices Identify Problems/ Opportunities Money Leadership Acceptance Facilitate Broad Adoption Customize Solutions for DIA Simplistic Model of the Knowledge Lab Realistic Model of the Knowledge Lab

  16. Money Government funding procedure requires a two year lead time to get “guaranteed” funding as part of organization’s “base” level If you don’t have base funding, you compete for “unfunded requirements” (UFR) funds which makes it hard to realistically plan The timing of UFR funds approval and distribution always changes, and sometimes they are split in two disbursements which makes the contract process a challenge The Knowledge Lab process model relies upon identifying and leveraging techniques in industry to solve problems; creative ways of leveraging the contracting process are essential. We have established two mechanisms where primes can sub-contract to others we need. Program Lessons

  17. Leadership Insuring consistent UFR approvals is one of the key roles for leadership Another role is to increase the Base funding limit so the Knowledge Lab is less dependent on UFR funding Leadership is often the first place where value is perceived of the Knowledge Lab contribution so great attention is focused on their support Our projects mostly target the practice level with the goal of solving their problems and thereby spread the word up to their leadership The last step of the Knowledge Lab process model (“institutionalization”) is the most difficult and leadership support in bridging that gap is important (more in “way ahead”) Acceptance Agency value and acceptance has grown through identification of early adopters External engagement and feedback to DIA’s leadership has been a key ingredient Internal engagement has been linked to identifying problems people want solved Program Lessons

  18. Becoming part of the institution We have begun to address the challenge of institutionalizing successful pilot projects When not transitioned, the Knowledge Lab continues to own the projects and becomes more operational and less exploratory What is happening is a shift in thinking to what needs to be first institutionalized: the Knowledge Lab itself first needs to be more integrated into the organization, then pilot projects will follow Viewed as “improving performance,” the agency is in the process of leveraging allcapabilities focused on improving performance creating a broader “toolkit” This shift should raise the importance and role of organizational effectiveness and the role that the DIA Knowledge Lab will play Way Ahead