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This section includes tools to help communities create, capture, and share knowledge. A tool, in this instance, does not refer to automated systems for transferring information. Rather, these tools are techniques or processes for thinking; for example, techniques for generating ideas and building relationships, or processes that promote knowledge flow and transfer.
Converting tacit knowledge or employee know-how to commonly held community knowledge can be resource intensive, but the gains can be extraordinary. To cite some industry examples, “…companies have saved millions by transferring knowledge from one part of the organization to another. Ford claims $34 million were saved in just one year by transferring ideas between Vehicle Operations plants; Texas Instruments saved from transferring knowledge between wafer fabrication plants to pay for building a whole new facility; Chevron reduced its costs on capital projects alone by $186 million. In fact, neither transferring common knowledge nor creating new knowledge can be neglected; the first is critical for current viability, the second for future viability.”1
Communities offer a mechanism to continuously grow and transfer knowledge as illustrated in the following diagram.2
Once common knowledge is gained, a second cycle would be to leverage this knowledge across the organization, taking gained knowledge, translating it into usable forms, and transferring it to others who can adapt it for their own use.
What technique should I use?
For guidance about choosing among some of the CoP Tools in this section, see Table 1. Suggested Techniques for Scenarios Matrix. For example, a community member would like to learn how to perform a particular task. The matrix would suggest two techniques: conducting interviews or action learning.
Table 1. Suggested Techniques for Scenarios
|No information is available on a subject||X||X||X|
|A practice performed differently by many with varying levels of success — seeking a best practice for adoption by all||X||X||X||X|
|A common problem with many alternatives — seeking a best practice||X||X||X||X||X|
|You want to energize the community with new ideas||X|
|A method to test or prototype alternatives to determine a best practice||X||X|
|One or more members need to learn how to perform a specific task||X||X|
|A new tasking from Command leadership — how best to implement?||X||X||X|
|A problem has been identified but is not yet clearly understood — root cause?||X||X||X||X|
|You need an answer in a hurry or you need to bounce an idea off colleagues||X||X|
|An exercise or event has occurred — was it successful?||X||X||X||X|
|Build consensus on a centeric with high levels of conflict or controversy||X||X|
|Need to generate and evaluate ideas||X|
|To prepare a group to derive lessons learned — think beyond the obvious||X||X||X||X|
Action learning is a new way of approaching learning. It is a very simple concept revolving around the fact that people learn by doing. Put simply, action learning involves the formation of a small group of people who share common issues, goals or learning needs. This group, called an action learning set, works to resolve issues and achieve these goals together, meeting regularly, about once a month, to reflect on progress, issues and solutions and refine the way forward. The team is able to brainstorm on alternative approaches or offer advice to an individual on how to proceed in achieving specific goals. Emphasis is on trying new things and evaluating the results.
Action Learning is task oriented and may be useful for approaching narrowly focused issues. However, a community is not expected nor encouraged to undertake large, task-oriented projects, e.g., reengineering, systems requirements definition, or policy overhauls. When the community recognizes the need for a major project, it should route the candidate project to leadership for direction. The community may wish to volunteer its subject expertise to a subsequent project team, if appropriate.
Identify Task and Learning Opportunity
Determine the objectives of the action learning program. Form the action learning set: Discuss with the team the development needs and job challenges that might be addressed by action learning. Not all of the members of the set will necessarily have the same development need, but these should be similar. It is important for the group to understand the development needs of the individuals within the group and any development needs of the group as a whole. An action learning set is ideally 5-8 people in size to allow for good discussion within the sessions. Assign somebody to facilitate the group meeting sessions, asking questions of the participants to draw out the key learning points. Define how often the group will meet and some ground rules for the meetings. Identify any subject matter experts who might be able to come and talk to the group.
The official start of an action learning program should be in the form of a start-up workshop. Ideally the workshop should be held off site to allow the participants to spend time away from the usual distractions of the workplace. Included in the agenda for the workshop should be time for the following activities:
- Developing personal learning plans and a common view of the purpose of the action learning set
- Declaring individual objectives for membership of this action learning set and identifying medium and short-term actions that can be taken to progress towards these objectives. In addition, set members should be asked how they will know when objectives have been reached or how will they be able to measure their progress?
- Identifying opportunities to apply new ideas and learning points in the workplace
- Introduction to the practice of reflection and keeping a learning log to capture key learning and progress
- Reviewing at the end, what went well and what could be done to improve the format for future sessions
This is time spent working on a task on the job. The members of the action learning set spend time experimenting with new approaches and testing new ideas developed during the action learning set meetings, all with the aim of making progress on a problem, project or issue of importance to them. The following should be referred to as instructions during this phase:
- Refer back to the action plans developed during the planning workshop.
- Before taking action, reflect on what you think the outcome of the action will be. If possible, record this in the learning log.
- Take action. Try out the approach as planned. This is where you do the work you do every day, but with the benefit of advanced planning and documenting your expectations before you act.
- Look for evidence of how effective you have been. What did you observe?
- Write down your observations in the learning log. This is where you create the opportunities to learn, by reflecting on your observations both by yourself and with the benefit of the perspective of others at the next set meeting.
This is a regular session where members of the action learning set come together to reflect on the progress they have made on their work issues. It is a time for challenging assumptions, exploring new ways of thinking about problems, and planning what to do next in the workplace. It is also an opportunity for set members to bring up specific issues of their work that they would like others to think through with them, as well as offer their thinking support to explore the issues and problems raised by others.
- Plan reflection sessions on a regular basis and as far in advance as possible, ensure maximum attendance.
- Book enough time to allow the thorough exploration of issues of importance. Try 30 minutes per person plus an extra thirty minutes as an estimate when planning reflection sessions.
- Make sure that participants have prepared for the reflection session by updating learning logs and notifying the facilitator of any key issues they wish to discuss.
- The facilitator should ensure that each individual declares what actions they intend to take once they leave the reflection session and what outcomes they expect from these actions.
This is where new knowledge, skills and experiences can be shared outside of the action learning set to allow other individuals and teams to benefit from the experiences. Capturing the knowledge that grows out of the action learning experience contributes to the intellectual capital of the organization. As new knowledge is added to the CoP knowledgebase over time, users will find more and more content that is timely and applicable to their current learning needs.
- Newsgroup and/or threaded discussion features can be included on the KCO web-site to allow action learning set members to collaborate on line. This can open up the set so that others can see what is being achieved.
- The CoP knowledgebase should keep a running list of all action learning sets. Each entry should list basic information about the members, the set’s objectives and the timing of the set’s meetings as well as the contact details of the set facilitator
- Some action learning sets may decide to create a learning history, a document that describes the day-to-day work of the team and also attempts to capture how the set’s learning evolved and changed during the project.
- At the conclusion of the action learning set, the team members, with the help of their facilitator, can select the information from their experience that others would probably find valuable, and post it to the CoP knowledgebase. Suggested topics would include objectives, conclusions, recommendations etc. as well as experts that were consulted and planning documents such as agendas.
The purpose of a closeout event is to ensure that the action learning set reflects on the time spent together and reviews the progress made against the original objectives. The closeout session is facilitated in the same way as the regular reflection sessions and includes the administrative tasks associated with disbanding the set. The most important of these tasks is to decide which resources and learning points are to be shared with the rest of the organization.
- Plan the event to allow time to reflect on both the task that the set has been working on between sessions as well as the individual and team learning that has occurred through the process
In advance of the close out session, all set members should be asked to prepare their reflections. The facilitator may choose to issue a structured form to focus this preparation. Suggested questions include: What has become clearer to you since the start of the action learning program? How has your perspective of the task or problem changed during the time you have spent as a member of this action learning set? What were the defining moments of the set – at what points did major breakthroughs take place?
A possible success criteria discussed earlier was the ability of the community to rapidly mobilize in response to a member’s call for help. Being able to quickly pull together a group for a 30-minute brainstorm or just as a sounding board is a priceless resource. Instant messaging is a great device for calling together a quick session. Instant messaging, email, conference calls, VTC, or chat rooms can also be used in lieu of a face-to-face session for rapid input.
In general, any or all of these technologies can be used inside a single network security domain without any problem. However if, for example, the instant messaging or chat room protocols must traverse one or more firewalls to include all desired participants, this situation needs to be investigated ahead of time to ensure that the firewall is already configured to pass the required protocols. If the firewall blocks these signals, further analysis is required to ensure that opening a firewall port will not create unacceptable security vulnerabilities in the network. Under such circumstances a prior consultation with the local Information System Security Manager (ISSM) is strongly recommended.
Tip: The community’s experience locator would serve as a useful tool when a member needs to quickly reach out to someone who “has done this before.”
what is either impossible, unthinkable, or dangerous to do in
real time. Then, it sometimes occurs that the line between
“pretend” and “real” is removed, and somehow the impossible,
unthinkable, and dangerous becomes common practice. This is
called innovation and creativity.
3 is used to collaborate on an idea or issue when sensitivities or conflict are anticipated; gather ideas and opinions in a non-threatening manner. The process is effective with a group of four to eight people who are focused on an issue or idea where wording is important. The group can be as large as 20 people if the intent is to gather ideas and opinions.
The estimated time to complete the process for four to eight people is 10 minutes. For a group up to 20 people, allow 20 minutes to write and 10 minutes to discuss. The only props needed are blank paper and writing utensils for each participant.
The step-by-step process for Brain Writing is below:
- Pose or frame the question, issue, or problem facing the group. Ask each person to write on the top of the paper:
- An answer (if a question is posed)
- A resolution (if an issue is presented)
- An idea (if a problem is confronted)
- Proposed wording (if a statement is being crafted, e.g. a mission)
- Ask each person to pass their paper to the person on their left.
- Each person should then comment on the paper in front of him or her by either writing a rewording of the suggestion below the original or commenting on his or her opinion of the suggestion. When complete, pass the paper on.
- This should continue until the papers return to their originator.
- Discuss the findings. Most often, consensus will have built around a small number of suggestions, narrowing the discussion field.
A variation on this process, once ideas have been generated, would be to post each one on a sheet of flip chart paper and post them around the room. Give people a marker and have them travel around the room commenting on as many items as desired, as many times. When the activity dies down, review each chart to determine if the comments lead to a common conclusion.
Tip: Suggest people use a check mark to indicate agreement. This technique may be used to assess group opinion and to narrow the field prior to voting.
Collaborative Problem Solving
than the way we think about it.
An excellent approach to creating and sharing knowledge about best practices is to host facilitated, collaborative problem solving meetings. These forums serve many purposes:(1) solving relevant, day-to-day problems, (2) building trust among community members by actually helping each other, and (3) solving problems in a public forum thereby creating a common understanding of tools, approaches, and solutions.
Often during problem-solving discussions, communities will discover areas where they need to create common standards or guidelines. These areas may splinter to smaller, more focused work groups to develop detailed standards for incorporation into best practice recommendations. This is an example of how communities naturally trigger continuous process improvement.
A five-step roadmap for problem solving as a means to generate new knowledge is provided as a tool in this section. This roadmap works well for best practices that can easily be reused; for example, methodologies, analytical models, diagnostic approaches, case studies, and benchmark data.
The roadmap is a variation on an approach commonly used for problem solving. It may be useful to a community if it is trying to solve a problem shared by many members or to develop a best practice that can be adopted by members. The roadmap leads the community through a series of steps:define a problem, conduct analysis, generate ideas, select a best practice, or solution, and capture the knowledge in an explicit form. A group or an individual can use this approach. The steps remain the same.
Problem Exploration and Definition
Explore the problem and determine if additional information is needed. For example, members may decide to observe specific practices or research existing information on a topic. Other methods to collect more information might be to conduct interviews with impacted individuals or subject matter experts.
Jumping to a conclusion without understanding a problem can save time, but it could also waste time if you solve the wrong problem. Before jumping to the wrong conclusion, consider the following:
- Examine the problem from all angles-try to see it from the perspective of a Sailor, a customer, or a supplier.
- Separate fact from fiction-perception is important but it must be distinguished from fact.
- Identify key players-who are affected by the problem, who is responsible for solving the problem, and who has the authority to accept a solution.
- Dissect or decompose the situation-break the problem down into pieces.
- Determine plan for gathering information-surveys, interviews, observations, brainstorm sessions, benchmark reviews, if needed.
Clearly defining a problem-using clear, plain English-is like having your finger on its pulse. A clear definition builds a strong foundation for subsequent fact finding, communication, and analysis. A good definition:
- Distills the situation into a brief, concise statement
- Use key words to get to the bottom of the situation
- States what a problem is rather than what it isn’t
- States a problem in terms of needs, not solutions.
Typically, what you “see” is only the tip of the iceberg, or the symptoms of a problem rather than its root cause. It is important to distinguish cause from effect to ensure that you are actually solving the source of the problem, not just addressing its symptoms. Consider a medical analogy. You have many symptoms of the common cold, but in fact, you have a sinus infection that can only be cured with an antibiotic. While using over the counter cold medicines to alleviate your symptoms, your original infection continues to worsen. This is also true in an organization. By addressing only the symptoms, you miss the root cause and the condition persists and may even worsen.
Discovering the root cause of a problem can be tricky. Sound questioning techniques are a good start. Using your problem definition statement, answer the following questions.
- Why does the problem persist?
- Where did it start and where did it come from?
- Why doesn’t it resolve itself or just go away?
- What caused it in the first place?
- What changed right before it started?
- Why do we keep getting sucked back into the situation?
- Why won’t things improve no matter what we try?
Still not sure? Don’t move to the solution phase until you are sure you have found the root cause. Test your tentative conclusion using the following questions. The proposed root cause must pass the entire test to be the true root cause. If the results of these evaluations aren’t conclusive, continue analysis until you can answer yes to each question.
It is that they can’t see the problem.
- G. K. Chesterton
Success comes in many forms. Below are some of the indicators that you’ve found the root cause.
||You ran into a dead end when you asked, “What caused the proposed root cause?”|
||All conversation has come to a positive end.|
||Everyone involved feels good, is motivated and uplifted emotionally.|
||All agree it is the root cause that keeps the problem from resolving.|
||The root cause fully explains why the problem exists from all points of view.|
||The earliest beginnings of the situation have been explored and are understood.|
||The root cause is logical, makes sense, and dispels all confusion.|
||The root cause is something you can influence, control, and deal with realistically.|
||Finding the root cause has returned hope that something constructive can be done about the situation.|
||Suddenly workable solutions, not outrageous demands, begin to appear.|
||A stable, long-term, once-and-for-all resolution of the situation now appears feasible.|
Use of analytic techniques such as diagramming and process modeling can also be applied during the analysis stage. A few additional techniques for analyzing a problem are:
- Napoleon-imagine you are someone else to gain new perspective.
- Morphological analysis-systematically examine each attribute of the problem.
- Create a deadline.
- Sleep on it.
Once the root cause is identified, it is time to generate possible solutions. This is the time to be really creative. One useful way to generate a storm of ideas with a group is the brainstorming technique. The brainstorming process is useful in two ways:it enhances the flow of ideas and innovations and it builds consensus and commitment via a participative process. There are four rules that must be followed for a truly effective brainstorm session.
- Quantity versus quality-the more ideas, the greater the likelihood of a useful one
- Freewheeling-open the gate and allow ideas to freely flow. Build on the ideas of others even if they seem wild or outrageous
- Defer judgment-the surest way to shut down creative thinking is to judge each idea as it occurs. You are not deciding on ideas at this point, simply thinking imaginatively
- Hitchhike-if there is a lull in the flow, try making more out of what has already been said, changing it a little, adding to it. For example, if a client meeting was suggested, add ideas for how to structure the meeting. Voila, a new idea!
A useful process for
brainstorming is presented below:
- Frame a session with an idea-seeking question, e. g. , “what are all the ways…” or a general topic. Then, write the question or topic where everyone can see it.
- Clearly state that the purpose is to generate a storm of ideas and state the brainstorming rules.
- Establish a time limit-20-30 minutes.
- Try a round robin to encourage participation, allowing members to pass or “green light” participants to speak out in any order that naturally occurs.
- Encourage participants to build on others’ ideas.
- Post all ideas.
- Allow no evaluation, criticism, or discussion while ideas are being generated-look out for “stifling phrases. ”
- Allow participants time to think-do not let a lull in the storm stop the session
- After all ideas have been generated, reduce the list by questioning, categorizing, and consolidating.
Remember, the goal is to think creatively and view the problem from a new perspective. To quote Nobel Prize winning physician, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different. “Another creative genius, Albert Einstein, once said, “Problems can not be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them. ”
Before generating ideas, try some creativity exercises.
Roger Von Oech’s A Kick in the Seat of the Pants4 offers some good exercises to get the creative juices flowing. When generating ideas, avoid mental locks, for example, “I already have the answer. “The following table provides a listing of common mental locks and possible techniques to overcome them.
||There is often more than one right answer.|
||Excessive logical thinking can short-circuit your creative process – be curious, look for surprises.|
||Challenge the rules. “Slaying sacred cows makes great steaks” (Dick Nicolosi, Philosopher)|
||Ask “what if” questions. Use them as stepping-stones.|
||Use play to fertilize your thinking. Make a game of it.|
||Specialization limits you. Develop an explorer’s attitude. Leave your own turf.|
||Foolish thinking can get you out of a rut.|
||Too much specificity can stifle your imagination.|
||Don’t be afraid to fail. “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for” (Grace Hopper, Inventor)|
||Believe in the worth of your ideas.|
||You don’t have time not to.|
The goal at this point is to narrow the list of ideas into feasible, creative, and win-win alternatives. By using an objective, criterion-based method to select ideas, you will coincidentally make the decision-making process much easier in that you have defined the terms for reaching consensus. The process therefore becomes fact-based and less emotionally charged.
Establishing objective criteria is similar to judging a sporting event. Olympic judges use consistent, objective criteria to evaluate the performance of athletes to select winners. In addition to establishing criteria, you may want to prioritize criteria. For example, some criteria may be mandatory while others are optional. Another technique might be to set acceptable ranges. For example, if an idea meets less than 80 percent of the criteria, it will be removed from the running.
If a clear winner does not emerge, identify the best and worst outcomes for each idea and/or the pros and cons of each idea. Another step might be to validate the practice with stakeholders or peers. For a final check, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the best practice, or alternative, based upon good, sound reasoning and data?
- Were the right people involved in the problem solving process?
Following this roadmap will serve to create new knowledge that can improve not only your own job but also the overall performance of your organization as well as the jobs of Sailors, Marines and peers in other organizations.
The wise contradict themselves.
Dialogue is the capacity of members of a group to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine thinking together.
5 According to Senge and Ellinor & Gerard, dialogue involves gathering and unfolding meaning that comes from many parts, as well as inquiring into assumptions, learning through inquiry and disclosure, and creating a shared meaning among community members. The three dialogue tools discussed below are Left Hand Column, Balance Advocacy and Inquiry Protocols, and “The World Café.”
The left-hand column is the basic premise that during conversations there are actually two conversations taking place. One conversation is explicit. This conversation consists of the words that are actually spoken throughout the exchange between two or more persons. The other conversation consists of what the individuals are thinking and feeling but not saying. The term “left hand column” is derived from an exercise designed to explore what is not said, but thought about, during the course of a conversation. This “tool” offers a way to actually study our conversations so that we can re-design them to be more effective at creating the results that we wish to create.
People need an introduction to this tool before you can begin using it effectively as a community. Here is an exercise you can use to introduce it to the CoP.
Step 1: Choosing a Problem. Select a difficult problem you’ve been involved with during the last month or two. Write a brief paragraph describing the situation. What are you trying to accomplish? Who or what is blocking you? What might happen? Examples include:
- The rest of the organization is resisting, or you believe they will resist, a change you want to implement
- You believe your team is not paying much attention to the most crucial problem
Step 2: The Right-Hand Column (What was said). Now recall a frustrating conversation you had over this. Take several pieces of paper and draw a line down the center. In the right-hand column, write out the conversation that actually occurred. Or write the conversation you’re pretty sure would occur if you were to raise this issue. The discussion may go on for several pages. Leave the left-hand column blank until you’re finished.
Step 3: The Left-Hand Column (What you were thinking). Now in the left-hand column, write out what you were thinking and feeling, but not saying.
Step 4: Individual Reflection: Using your left-hand column as a resource. You can learn a great deal just from the act of writing out a case, putting it away for a week, and then looking at it again. As you reflect, ask yourself:
- What has really led me to think and feel this way?
- How might my comments have contributed to the difficulties?
- Why didn’t I say what was in my left-hand column?
- What assumptions am I making about the other person or people?
- How can I use my left-hand column as a resource to improve our communications?
Step 5: Discuss in pairs or a small group. The pairs or small groups review one or more of the left-hand columns written in step 3. The conversation should focus on exploring the assumptions behind both speakers’ words, discussing alternative ways in which the participant could have conducted the conversation so that he/she would have been more satisfied with the outcome.
Balance Advocacy and Inquiry Protocols
This tool is adopted from the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook
6 and the contributors are Rick Ross and Charlotte Roberts. In order to have more productive conversations it is helpful to consider the balance between quality inquiry and quality advocacy. The concept is that in order for clarity of meaning and understanding to emerge from a conversation the participants must continually balance quality inquiry with quality advocacy. In most situations, there is an imbalance towards advocacy and very few quality inquiries are made.
Four protocols are detailed below. These are:
1. Protocols for Improved Advocacy
Make your thinking process visible.
What To Do
- State your assumptions, and describe the data that led to them
- Explain your assumptions
- Make your reasoning explicit. Explain the context of your point of view that will be affected by what you propose, how they will be affected, and why.
- Give examples of what you propose, even if they’re hypothetical or metaphorical.
- As you speak, try to picture the other people’s perspectives on what you are saying. Publicly test your conclusions and assumptions.
What To Say
- “Here’s what I think, and here’s how I got there.”
- “I assumed that…”
- “To get a clear picture of what I’m talking about, imagine that you’re the customer who will be affected…”
What To Do
- Encourage others to explore your model, your assumptions, and your data.
- Refrain from defensiveness when your ideas are questioned. If you’re advocating something worthwhile, then it will only get stronger by being tested.
- Reveal where you are least clear in your thinking. Rather than making you vulnerable, it defuses the force of advocates who are opposed to you and invites improvement.
- Even when advocating: listen, stay open, and encourage others to provide different views.
What To Say
- “What do you think about what I just or “Do you see any flaws in my reasoning?” or “What can you add?”
- “Here’s one aspect which you might help me think through . . .”
- “Do you see it differently?”
2. Protocols for Improved Inquiry
What To Do
- Gently walk others down the ladder of inference and find out what data they are operating from. Use non-aggressive language, particularly with people who are not familiar with these skills. Ask in a way that does not provoke defensiveness or witness
- Ask others to make their thinking process visible
- Draw out their reasoning. Find out as much as you can about why they are saying what they’re saying.
- Explain your reasons for inquiring, and how your inquiry relates to your own here because . . . ”
- Compare your assumptions to theirs.
- Test what they say by asking for broader contexts, or for examples
- Check your understanding of what they have said. Listen for the new understanding that may emerge. Don’t concentrate on preparing to destroy the other person’s argument or promote your own agenda.
What To Say
- “What leads you to conclude that?”
- “What data do you have for that?”
- “What causes you to say that?”
- Instead of “What do you mean?” or
- “What’s your proof?” say, “Can you help me understand your thinking ”
- “What is the significance of that?” “How does this relate to your other concerns?”
- “Where does your reasoning go next?”
- “I’m asking you about your assumption concerns, hopes, and needs.
- “How would your proposal affect?”
- “Is this similar to?” “Can you describe a typical example?”
- “Am I correct that you’re saying…?”
3. Protocols for Facing a Point of View with Which You Disagree
What To Do
- Again, inquire about what has led the person to that view.
- Make sure you truly understand the view.
- Explore, listen, and offer your own views in an open way. Listen for the larger meaning that may come
- Out of honest, open sharing of alternative mental models.
- Use your left hand column as a resource.
- Raise your concerns and state what is leading you to have them.
What To Say
- “How did you arrive at this view?” “Are you taking into account data that I have not considered?”
- “If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that…”
- “Have you considered?”
- “When you say this, I worry that it means ”
- “I have a hard time seeing that, because of this reasoning ”
4. Protocols for When You’re at an Impasse
What To Do
- Embrace the impasse, and tease apart the current thinking. (You may discover that focusing on “data” brings you all down the ladder of inference).
What To Say
- “What do we know for a fact?”
- What do we sense is true,6 but have no data for yet?”
- “What don’t we know?”
- “What is unknowable?”
- “What do we agree upon, and what do we disagree on?”
What To Do
- Ask what data or logic might change their views.
- Ask for the group’s help in redesigning the situation.
What To Say
- “Are we starting from two very different sets of assumptions here? Where do they come from?”
- “What, then, would have to happen before you would consider the alternative?”
- “It feels like we’re getting into an impasse and I’m afraid we might walk away without any better ideas that will help us clarify our thinking.”
- “I don’t understand the assumptions underlying our disagreement.”
The quality of a conversation is often determined by the attitude of the people engaged in the conversation. If your intent is to learn, then your statements and questions will likely have high quality. If your intent is to “win” the conversation, that is have your point of view prevail, your questions and statements may be leading.
The World Café
The World Café
7 is a wonderful dialogue and collaboration methodology that was discovered when playing with an informal setting for participants involved in a global workshop on intellectual capital in the late 90′s. David Isaac and Juanita Brown set up small tables in their living room covered with paper tablecloths. Then, they added flowers and crayons. As people waited for the formal meeting to begin, they gathered around the tables with coffee and refreshments and engaged in conversation. Soon people were drawing their ideas. Then, they started moving around between tables to see the other ideas. People became excited with the results and over time a methodology evolved that builds on that core process. The development of this methodology is presented in the Resource section in an article entitled The World Café: Living Knowledge through Conversations that Matter.
The World Café methodology has been used with groups ranging from 12 to over 1,000 participants in settings all around the world. Five key operating principles have been identified for this process:
- Create hospitable space,
- Explore questions that matter,
- Connect diverse people and perspectives,
- Listen together for patterns, insights, and deeper questions, and
- Make collective knowledge visible to the Group.
As The World Café shifts from a process methodology to a broader metaphor, it is being used for such diverse purposes as designing office environments, redesigning a museum, and guiding strategic work in large systems. While the basic concept is an exciting tool for CoPs in face-to-face interactions, it is predictable that the methodology can be also adapted to on-line community activities.
Early in this century, Lloyd Douglass wrote a book entitled Green Light.
8 His story spoke to the rite of passage; how we as humans work and strive to create change with only slightly visible results. Then an event occurs which connects all the prior activity, the understanding of change jumps to a new strata of recognition, and the entire plain of behavior shifts upward to a new starting point.
This pattern recurs again and again through history. Event intermediation is a dynamic and rich part of the change journey. Event intermediation may also be used as a tool to facilitate this process in organizations. Planned and supported through communities, event intermediation is a tool for facilitating the horizontal and vertical sharing of knowledge..
A good analogy would be the growth of bamboo. For two years the bamboo plant is watered with relatively little visible evidence of growth. But during this time, out of sight, the roots are spreading, interconnecting and becoming strong. Then, in the third year, the bamboo plant streaks upward some 20 or more feet.
A working example of event intermediation is the DON Knowledge Fair. The first Knowledge Fair was held in August 2000. Using the above analogy, the DON KM Community of Practice provided the rooting system, growing and interconnecting over time prior to the Fair. The Community was also the conduit for communicating about and supporting the Fair. Some 80 DON-related knowledge systems were featured at the fair, and over 3,000 people learned about them and exchanged ideas during a six-hour period. To facilitate an even greater reach, camera crews captured information about the exhibits with some context from the exhibitors, then included small clips of senior leaders talking about the value of KM in their organizations, and included an information based about 120 other eBusiness and knowledge systems across the Department of the Navy, with points of contact included alongside descriptions of projects. All of this was captured on CD and distributed throughout DON worldwide.
The following interview guidelines are a tool for conducting interviews to gather information. The steps for conducting effective interviews are divided into three sections: Preparing for the Interview, During the Interview, and After the Interview
Preparing for the Interview:
1. Determine the purpose of the interview and the associated types of information that will be collected.
2. Identify the categories of questions to be asked during the interview, for example, knowledge requirements, knowledge sharing and interaction, and knowledge exchange.
3. Specify the areas of data necessary to meet the objectives of the interview.
- Attempt to conduct interview in their workspace in case you need to access info and data located in their office.
- You should notify them in advance of the interview of your data requirements.
4. State questions utilizing the following techniques:
- Ask open-ended questions. For example, “How can the process be improved?”
- Ensure clarify of meaning by eliminating ambiguity. For example, “How would you rate the professionalism of your staff?” Professionalism can have various meanings to different people.
- Keep questions simple. For example, Rate agrees or disagree with questions like “Our staff was both fast and friendly.”
- Watch out for biased questions, which can be difficult to detect and hinders obtaining insight. For example, “Do you wish me to pass on any complements to the CO?”
During the Interview:
5. Introduce yourself, your objective and the agenda of the interview, specifically:
- Find out if interviewees have any objectives of their own for either the interview or the CoP. Their objectives are important because you can use this information to motivate or enable the implementation of the CoPs in the organization.
- Ask if they have any general questions pertaining to the project.
- Explain how information will be used.
6. Put the interviewee at ease about the note taking by explaining that the notes are to be used as reference of what is discussed. Try to capture their exact words, particularly if you think it may be of high importance. Ensure understanding throughout the interview and paraphrase back to them what you understood that they said.
7. Utilize the Funnel Technique to move from general ideas to detail. For example:
- Initially broad: “Tell me about…” “Describe…”
- More detail: “Who? What? When? Where? How?”
- Very detailed: “Yes” or “No” to verify information
After the Interview:
8. Document your finding as soon as possible and follow up on areas of uncertainty with interviewees.
9. Consider sending them a summary of their comments to confirm what you heard and how you interpreted their statements.
The following tools, Ladder of Inference, Left-Hand Column, Balance Inquiry and Advocacy may be used to aid effective conversations both in interview and group discussion.
It is recommended that all new knowledge, or best practices, generated by the community be presented with at least the following pieces of information. Members are encouraged to call either the point of contact (originator of the best practice) or other members to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
- Date Prepared
- Point of Contact (include name, organization, and contact information)
- Members who participated in development of best practice and contact information
- Problem Statement
- Background (note any research that was conducted during the exploration phase and a summary of significant findings. Include findings from root cause analysis)
- Alternatives Considered (list significant ideas that were considered and explain reasons for non-selection).
A best practice for recording best practices is to provide sufficient information to clearly express best practice. If additional materials such as models and business rules were developed, include them. Consider how graphics could be used to enhance knowledge transfer. The content of the document will look something like this:
Part 1: In this section, describe the theme and any related practices of successful organizations.
Part 2: In this section, present the quotes that describe the theme in the right column. The quotes presented in the learning history are not inclusive of all the quotes received; rather, the quotes selected are designed to be representative of the various perspectives of interview candidates and representative of the information gathered throughout the interview process.
The left column of the document does not list questions asked during the interview, but records commentary and questions posed to the reader by the author for further consideration when reading the document. The commentary on the left relates to the adjacent quote or quotes. The commentary is presented to provide the reader with ideas for reflection. The reader is encouraged to record their own thoughts and questions as they read.
Part 3: The final section of the theme is a summary of the key points from the quotes in Part 2. Questions for further consideration relating to the theme are presented at the end of this topic.
The format of each section (following the Theme Title) is depicted below.
Part 1. Overview of the theme.
Part 2. Commentary, conclusions and potential questions to be asked that relate to the adjacent quotes.
Part 3. Brief summary of quotes, as heard by the learning consultant. Additional questions for the purpose of providing more clarity to the theme.
The purpose of this topic is to provide a framework for building your community’s knowledgebase. The expected outcomes of this roadmap are:
- Establish knowledge inventory and folder structure
- A process for capturing documents
- A framework t continually improve business processes leveraging lessons learned and reusing best practices
- Identified target efficiencies in mission related measures such as: cycle time, customer service, and total ownership cost
A CoP’s knowledgebase endeavor requires several community specialists to be involved in the entire initial process. These roles include Community Leader, Coordinator, Cybrarian, Q&A Tracker, and Technologist. These roles are discussed in the Building CoPs section under the Roles and Responsibilities topic.
The following products are developed as part of the knowledgebase:
- Matrix of groupware functions that the community will focus on for its first release of the knowledgebase
- List of identified community media (documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.) that includes specific documents
- List of folders used for organizing community media
- Graphical model and supporting narrative of “AS-IS” media flow between the community and stakeholder organizations
- List of community members and the folders that they have been assigned to for life-cycle development
- Groupware electronic repository that features all of the functions listed in the RTM, all identified media, and a completed folder structure. Media will have been migrated to the groupware application under the given folder structure
- List of asset rules that ensures all groupware transactions are done in a manner consistent across the community
- Graphical model and supporting narrative of “TO-BE” media flow between the community and stakeholder organizations. Includes list of business performance measures and expected efficiencies (e.g. cycle time = 8 weeks; goal 4 week reduction)
The Key Tasks to develop a Knowledgebase are the following. Each key task is first introduced and then discussed in greater detail below.
- Requirements: Map identified collaborative tool functions to business requirements to simplify deployment, narrow training scope, and ensure more efficient use of the groupware.
- Inventory: Define knowledge assets in a business process context and identify whether created by the community or borrowed from other business owners.
- Taxonomy: Develop a business context classification structure for organizing inventory. It should provide an intuitive navigation scheme for members and other interested communities
- Flow Model: Model AS-IS business processes based on the flow of inventory assets to and from customers. Focus on how assets are created and disseminated.
- Migrate: Provide necessary technical support to migrate inventory assets that exist in legacy repositories. Inventory should be organized, classified as relevant, and mapped to a classification owner. Owners are typically subject mater experts from within the community.
- Map: Identify owners of the Inventory folders and designate life-cycle responsibility at a folders structure level.
- Asset Rules: Establish business rules for the use of the groupware to maintain consistency while performing business transactions. Designate which groupware functionality will be used to process specific transactions.
- Transformation: Identify, in priority order, High Value – Low Risk business processes that provides the group with the highest value in terms of Customer Service, Cycle Time Reduction, and Total Ownership Cost. Members should focus on measures that correlate to related business performance measures.
- Training: Secure computer-training facilities to allow “hands-on” training for members. Transformed business processes will be simulated in a training environment for user testing and acceptance.
Key Task 1: Requirements
This task is aimed at narrowing the functional scope of the selected groupware application to only those functions that enable the achieving of mission related measures (e.g. reduction in cycle time). Given a groupware application, conduct a functional analysis of the application. At minimum the analysis should include:
- Function Name
List all of the functions that the groupware application is capable of performing (e.g. Add a new document). This list should not include any extended or custom functionality. Focus on the base functionality of the groupware.
Once a list has been prepared, convene the community members to review the list. Leaders should aim at obtaining consensus over which functions meet the general requirements of the community’s needs within the first release of the knowledgebase. Enter 1 for Release if the community requires the function in the first release. Enter 2 or 3 respectively if the community feels as though the particular function can be postponed to a later release. The community is expected to base its function decisions on lessons learned and past experiences.
Work Product: Requirements Traceability Matrix – Excel spreadsheet containing the following elements: REQ ID, REQUIREMENT (or Function Name), DESCRIPTION, RELEASE (version of the implementation that will contain the corresponding function), NEW or EXISTING, FULL/PARTIAL, COMMENTS, DOCUMENTS
Key Task 2: Inventory
Inventory offers community members the opportunity of identifying all media associated with established business processes. With the help of a facilitator or community leader, convene a session of community members and conduct a brainstorming session on media that are either inputs to or outputs of the community’s business processes.
Once the list has been developed, assign each member the responsibility of reviewing the baseline list and adding media not captured during the community session. Compile the baseline list along with the individual input from community members. This will become the baseline inventory for the community.
Work Products: Inventory List — Excel spreadsheet containing the following elements: ASSET ID#, NAME, DESCRIPTION, BEST PRACTICE, RECORDS MANAGEMENT META DATA (SSIC data)
Key Task 3: Taxonomy
The objective of taxonomy building in the community is to provide an intuitive structure for users who are interested in obtaining information from or contributing to a community’s practice.
Convene the community to brainstorm a list of categories based on the prepared inventory list. The objective of the taxonomy brainstorming session is to develop as complete list as possible. Disregard the length of the list. The actual list can be finalized during a separate community session. See Taxonomy under the Methods and Resources Section.
Tip: Limit consolidated list to ~9 categories
Tip: Limit sub categories to 3 levels
Once the group has developed a list, distribute the list to group members and have them conduct a personal assessment of the list. Community members add, consolidate, or recommend deletions to the list. Community leaders will consolidate the group and individual lists into a single group list. Once completed, begin assigning inventory items to their respective categories.
Work Product: Taxonomy List – Excel spreadsheet consisting of the following elements: FOLDER ID #, CATEGORY, LEVEL, OWNERS, STATUS, DESCRIPTION, and REVISION NOTES.
Key Task 4: Flow Model
The purpose of flow modeling is to graphically illustrate how inventory items are transferred between organizations as business transactions are conducted. The model will present a view that allows for easy identification of As-Is business processes. See the section on Facilitating Flow for a discussion of the concept and value of flow.
To begin, model the organizations involved in the inventory exchange as depicted below.
Sample Flow Model
Using the baseline inventory list, illustrate how each item travels between community and organization. In some cases, an inventory item may traverse several paths between organization and community until the business process cycle is completed.
Sample Flow Model w/ Path Example
The As-Is flow model is complete when each of the inventory items has been illustrated on the model.
Once the graphical model has been completed, the leader will write a narrative that describes the path of community inventory items. The general community member should write the narrative in terms that are easily comprehensible. Within the narrative, incorporate details that are not readily apparent within the model.
Work Product: As-Is model and narrative of the business process and the knowledge assets transacted during the identified processes. Illustration of community, stakeholders or customers and the direction flow of assets between services and customer.
Key Task 5: Map
Mapping provides a means for the community to maintain its data. Community members will be designated as the point of contact for a particular category of data within the knowledgebase. As with any community, all members must participate in the maintenance and upkeep of its locale. Likewise, the groupware community will also share the responsibility of maintaining its community.
Mapping is a relatively quick and informal process. Convene a meeting of community members. Using the established Taxonomy list, have community members volunteer for folders that fall within their area of responsibility. Record these assignments in the ASSIGNED OWNER column of the taxonomy list. Additionally, have members volunteer for folders as an alternate point of contact. Therefore, each folder will have two community members who are familiar with the folder structure, content, and access privileges granted the folder.
Work Product: See Taxonomy List – Excel spreadsheet of ASSET CLASSIFICATIONS and ASSIGNED OWNER.
Key Task 6: Migration
Migration of data is important to demonstrating the capabilities of the groupware application. It also provides a means of validating what has been accomplished in terms of data organizations. Finally, it provides a context for discussing how Inventory and Taxonomy contribute to the community’s business processes
Migration begins with validation of both Inventory and Taxonomy lists. This ensures what has been gathered thus far accurately reflects the needs of the community. Convene the community and conduct a quick review of both lists. Pay particular attention to those Inventory items that a) are not associated to a business process and b) are not products of the community. Items that are not associated to a business process may be considered for removal. Items that are not a product of the community may exist as parts of an adjacent community. If so, eliminate redundancy by cutting out “borrowed” items.
Once the lists have been validated, begin populating the project workspace according to the Taxonomy. Data can be populated manually or in batch. Tools are available for large-scale conversions.
Work Product: Tool user accounts for all Core Group members and operational prototype of current release of the collaborative workspace.
Key Task 7: Asset Rules
Asset Rules provide members with groupware guidelines for moving data in and out of the knowledgebase. It also designates which groupware function will be used to support specific transactions in a business processes. An example of an asset rule is using a compound document instead of a folder to collect and present periodic volume releases of a newsletter. In this case, two different groupware functions could be used to achieve similar results. Establishing asset rules provides a consistent means for interacting with the knowledgebase.
Sets of asset rules exist for each business process supported. Regardless of the size, rules must be put in place to avoid difference in practitioner usage. Asset rules will most commonly be identified with a business process. However, in some cases, specific documents may have an asset rule associated to it specifically.
Begin with listing the different processes or documents that will require an asset rule. Remember, all transactions conducted within the groupware application will require a set of asset rules that provide guidance to the community members. For example, a particular community maintains a community calendar within its groupware application. The document format of the calendar is a Microsoft Word file. To provide guidance to the community on the use of this document, the following asset rules have been created:
- Calendar only maintained by assigned owner
- Community members who need to add a date to the calendar will use the groupware’s document Check-in / Check-out function
- The community will maintain three months of its calendar. One month of past events and two months of future events
- All community members will create a change notification on the community calendar thus allowing them to receive email notification upon calendar update
Again, a set of asset rules should be developed for each process or document involved in a community business transaction. Asset rules should be reviewed periodically to ensure applicability and effectiveness.
Work Product: Asset Rules – Excel spreadsheet including BUSINESS RULE NUMBER, BUSINESS RULE, DESCRIPTION, REVISION, STATUS, and COMMENTS
Key Task 8: Transformation
Transformation is key to achieving value from the knowledgebase. The use of the knowledgebase process implies communities will undergo a transformation in how they do business. If transformation is not achieved, the community has done nothing more then increase its burden and develop another data repository.
To transform, begin by selecting “High Value – Low Risk” flows of inventory identified in the flow model stage. The flow selection should be based on that which the community believes would bring the highest value at the lowest risk to the community’s mission. List and prioritize which flows will be transformed into the groupware application such that all future transactions relating to the selected process will be conducted via the groupware.
Once processes have been listed and prioritized in terms of value and risk, prepare an assessment or “gap analysis” of the “AS-IS” process and the “TO-BE” process. The analysis should include:
- List of stakeholders who will be affected by the process change
- Changes to the process in terms of steps required to complete the process – Are there any changes to the process? If so, document the changes.
- Measures and metrics for assessing the value achieved by transforming the “AS-IS” process to the groupware application environment
- Document asset rules associated to conducting the process in the “TO-BE” environment
Work Product: TO-BE model and narrative of the business processes transacted. Includes a Gap Analysis identifying changes to AS-IS model and documented asset rules.
Key Task 9: Training
Training ensures that all community members possess the necessary skill to function within the collaborative work environment. Community leaders should not assume that its members understand and can operate within the knowledgebase without training and support.
Training in this context includes more than just application training. It includes context-based training that is rooted in business process. That is, members are trained in both the use of the groupware application and the business processes it supports. This way, training has relevance to the community member and has immediate application.
Training can be accomplished within the community by identifying a training lead for the community. Typically, this person will possess an above average aptitude for Information Technology and has a good grasp of the business processes.
The trainer will use the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) developed earlier in the process to design a course for community members. The RTM provides the basis for the training. That is, it lists what groupware topics the trainer will cover. It is up to the trainer to select the business context of the functional topics. The trainer should develop a group of use cases or scenarios that illustrates to community members how the groupware will be utilized within the community’s business environment. An example of a use case is:
- Update group calendar
- Login to groupware
- Check-out calendar
- Add new calendar entry
- Check-in calendar
There is no replacement for hands-on training. Where possible, utilize a training center to deliver training to community members. Training should be designed to be brief and specifically geared towards business processes. Long training session greater than 1.5 hours has proven to be ineffective. If training seems too long, scale back on the coverage areas. Keep it manageable, applicable, short, and enjoyable for your community members.
Ladder of Inference
notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice,
there is little we can do to change, until we notice how failing
to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
The ladder of inference is a model that describes an individual’s mental process of observing situations, drawing conclusions and taking action. When we say “the fact is …” what we are actually saying is the fact, as I understand it based upon my data selection process, cultural and personal background, judgments, beliefs and assumptions is …” Why is this important? This is important as there are a lot of steps in between the data and the actions we take based upon that data. By allowing others to explore our thinking process, we may reveal more effective and higher leverage solutions.
Directly Observable Data
After an event takes place our mental processing immediately screens out a certain percentage of the data. In other words, our vision is naturally blurred and only absorbs a certain amount of the data that represents the life events. Here is the ladder. We …
- ADD: Meaning (Personal and Cultural). When we look at the data we have collected, we attach our own personal meaning and cultural biases to the data that we observe. No data, therefore, is pure–it is influenced by whoever analyzes the data.
- MAKE: Judgments, Conclusions and Inferences Based on the meaning we attach to the data collected we make inferences or judgments and arrive at conclusions which influences our behavior. Therefore one piece of data could lead to as many different conclusions as there are people analyzing that particular piece of data.
- BUILD: Beliefs, Assumptions, Mental Models Over time, and the conclusions we reach from an event or pattern of events develop our belief system. We become fixated on certain ways of viewing how the world works, creating our own mental models that reoccur each time an event takes place.
What value is there in checking your assumptions? All too often, people fall into what may be termed “competency traps” — a routine of problem solving that provided initial success and is used over and over with little regard for how accurately it fits with the current problem. The ladder of inference helps us break out of that trap by providing us an easy tool to ask, “What assumptions am I making about this particular situation that may limit my deeper understanding of the problem?” As we work to more clearly understand the problem, we may actually be able to reframe the problem.
What value is there in being more aware of your own reasoning? The ladder of inference helps us understand why it is important to make our reasoning steps explicit. By consciously reviewing the data that supports our conclusions, we can improve our ability to explore complex problems and reduce those instances where we “jump” to conclusions based upon data that is incomplete.
What value is there in making your reasoning clear to others? People often employ defensive behaviors such as trying to control situations that we have little control over, always acting as if we’re in control, and never saying “I don’t know.” By having a tool which provides us an opportunity to say, “As I understand what you’re saying, x leads to y which results in z. . . am I on track with your thinking?” we don’t have to resort to trying to defuse complex issues on our own or end up attempting to cover up the fact that we don’t have a clue.
What value is there in inquiring into others’ reasoning? When people in organizations jointly practice skilled incompetence, the result is the formation of defensive routines. By having a mutually acceptable tool, we can inquire into each others thinking without resorting to rudeness.
A very powerful application of the ladder of inference is to introduce it at the beginning of a project. When team members commit to individually and collectively examine their beliefs and assumptions and making them explicit, a great deal of time spent arguing and going around in circles can be eliminated.
Learn from others – Share Relentlessly
Growth among those who don’t.
Not all learning is derived from reflection and analysis. Sometimes the most powerful insights come from looking outside your realm or industry to get a new perspective. “Organizations stop changing when people stop learning and get stuck in the knowing.”
Consider benchmarking to identify better ways of doing business; site visits or tours to “see” how a practice is applied in a specific environment; and interactions with customers to better understand their problems, preferences, and feedback on service/products.
Tip: The American Productivity and Quality Center offers a benchmarking methodology as well as a wealth of information about best practices on its website
Not only should your community learn from external sources, it should leverage existing knowledge resident in the organization. Seek out existing sources of knowledge, e.g., work products from other services, Commands, and communities, exhibitors at knowledge fairs, commissioned studies, or shipbuilder specifications. One of the objectives of KM is to make these resources easily available to both the individual and the community.
not what they think;
The wise reject what they think,
Not what they see.
A learning history is a very useful tool to capture tacit knowledge resident in the minds of individuals. A learning history is a retrospective history of significant events in an organization’s recent past; described in the voices of people who took part in them. Researched through a series of reflective interviews, the learning history uses feedback from employees at all levels to help an organization evaluate its progress.
While a learning history is a technique to capture tacit knowledge resident in individual minds, organizations can learn by reviewing their successes and their failures, assessing them systematically, and recording the lessons in a form that employees find open and accessible. To quote the famous philosopher, George Santanya, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Learning from our mistakes can lead to subsequent success – failure is the ultimate teacher.
Recording staff members’ experience with technical projects, war time operations, change programs, technical conferences or symposia, leadership conferences, workshops, site visits, etc., can help to ensure that useful knowledge is shared and that mistakes are not repeated. In debriefings, interviewees recall their experience, in their own words, in a way that reflects their collective learning experience. The interview can then be transcribed into a question/answer format, a standardized document format, or preserved as a video. Regardless of the medium, “the important feature is to ensure that a record is made while events are still fresh in the mind, and, ideally, before a project’s conclusion. In effect, this allows access to accumulate hindsight, as opposed to hindsight that has been tempered by poor memory recall and defensive reasoning.”
At Ford, learning histories are used by a car parts division, an assembly plant, and in product design and development. In the assembly plant, Ford attributes “quality improvements of 25 percent per year since 1995, compared with less than 10 percent achieved for the two comparable factories.”
A learning history is a retrospective history of significant events in an organization’s recent past; described in the voices of people who took part in them. Researched through a series of reflective interviews, the learning history uses feedback from employees at all levels to help an organization evaluate its progress.
A learning history goes beyond simply gathering best practices and other lessons learned. A learning history:
- Provides the time and space for participants to openly reflect on the learning from the initiative or exercise,
- Enhances the reflection process so that team members begin to make new connections and see how their actions ultimately produce final outcomes,
- Gathers information from a variety of perspectives to reduce bias,
- Analyzes data to draw out key themes,
- Contains accurate, validated information,
- Is written in the words of those involved, not paraphrased in the words of consultants, and
- Provides a vehicle to promote discussion among participants in the initiative
The Six-Step Approach to Creating a Learning History
A learning history is a structured process for gathering information related to a project, mission or initiative. The steps to create a learning history are:
Step 1. Select Interview Candidates. Interview candidates are selected to give a variety of perspectives on the process. The selection of interview candidates in a thorough learning history should include those who initiated, participated in, or were affected by the project in any way.
Step 2. Conduct Interviews. Interviews can be conducted in-person, or by telephone when in-person interviews are not possible. The interviews generally average about 45 minutes in length and are conducted by the same interviewers whenever possible to maintain consistency. The interviews are designed to be reflective, to allow the interview candidate to speak freely without the constraints of a structured interview. No more than six general questions are prepared in advance. Additional questions are asked during the interview based on the responses of the interview candidates to gather more specific information. General interview questions might include:
- What was your role in the exercise/ initiative?
- How would you judge the success of the initiative?
- What would you do differently if you could?
- What recommendations do you have for other people who might go through a similar process?
- What innovative things were done or could have been done?
Step 3. Record and Transcribe Interviews. Interviews are recorded to ensure the quotes used in the learning history are accurate. The recorded interviews are transcribed to enable analysis of interview data.
Step 4. Analyze Data. The interview data is analyzed and sorted to identify like themes and sub-themes. Quotes are identified to support the major themes from a balance of perspectives.
Step 5. Document Key Themes and Supporting Quotes. In this step, assemble and record the themes and supporting quotes into the right-hand column of the document. The quotes should be in no particular order but are designed to provide a picture of the theme from the different perspectives of the interview candidates.
Now develop the left-hand column of each section, which includes commentary and potential questions for consideration that relate to the adjacent quotes. The left-hand column commentary does not reflect the questions asked during the interview process but rather comments, questions, and conclusions posed by the author to the reader for further reflection.
Step 6. Validate Quotes. In the final step in the process, validate the quotes that are used in the learning history document with the interview candidates. Although interviews were recorded and quotes are anonymous, quotes are validated to ensure they were not taken out of context and truly represent the intent of the speaker. Quotes are sent to each interview candidate for correction and a signature of approval.
Locator of Expertise
but knows that he doesn’t know is a student;
A person who knows
but who doesn’t know that he knows is asleep;
But a person who knows
and knows that he knows is wise;
With today’s technologies, e.g., email and the Internet, knowledge can be rapidly transferred. Only how does someone know whom to contact if they want to learn more about a specific topic? Consider the following true anecdote:C
I joined the organization on March 16, 1998 without previous experience. After one week of training, I joined a project team. After one day of training on the project, I was assigned a task to learn a particular technology that was new to everyone on the team. I was given a bunch of books and told that I had three days to learn how to create a project using this technology.
In my first week of training, I remembered learning about the company’s expertise database. I sent an e-mail to four people I found in the database asking for their help. One of them sent me a document containing exactly what I wanted. Instead of three days, my task was completed in one-half a day.
So how do you connect knowledge seekers with knowledge holders and facilitate knowledge exchange? One method seen in industry today is the use of experience locators or “corporate yellow pages.” This trend should be adapted for your communities of practice. Each community should post a CoP descriptor on the corporate web site. The descriptor should be easily accessible by employees and should provide the following types of information.
- Name of community
- Purpose of community (purpose and scope)
- Name of Functional Sponsor (organization, location, phone number, email)
- Name of Community Leader (organization, location, phone number, email)
- Name of Core Group members (organization, location, phone number, email)
- Member contact information (organization, location, phone number, email) (or direct link to members)
- Member profiles (could include key information about members’ experience, e.g., top three jobs held, field(s) of expertise, project experience, education, training, certifications, and publications)
- A listing (or link to) of community knowledge assets
Some interactive play could enhance the usefulness of a CoP’s Locator of Experience: key word search capabilities and the ability to conduct an instant messaging session with a community member identified as a subject-matter expert or alternatively contact experts via email if that person is not online at that moment.
Congratulations! The community has met and begun to form, working together to develop a practice. Now, how do you keep the community moving in a forward direction? How do you keep members coming back for more?
The progress review tools below are designed to help community leaders assess CoP activity, recognize the natural evolution of community interactions, and continuously foster innovation and growth. Expected outcomes include process adjustments and the continuous infusion of new knowledge.
First, is the CoP still in sync with strategic objectives? As the community evolves, so may the strategic objectives of its members’ organizations. A community should ask itself these questions: Have we satisfied our highest priority knowledge needs? Do remaining needs still reflect strategic objectives? Have the knowledge needs changed?
To address these key questions, member feedback should be solicited. Community members should be polled periodically to gain insights into how they believe the community is performing. In other words, is the community serving its members, the organization, and the enterprise?
One relatively simple method to gauge the status of a CoP is to gather feedback from the members. A generic
Community Member Satisfaction Survey is provided for this purpose. The survey should be tailored to the community’s identify and purpose. It could be conducted in real time meetings, through email or through a Web-based survey tool. A good person to obtain and aggregate the input could be the CoP Facilitator.
“Yes” or “No” Questions
1. Is there a common purpose that galvanizes community members to contribute to the knowledgebase?
2. Are you likely to recommend the community to your professional colleagues?
3. Does your manager recognize and value your involvement in the community?
4. Are community activities part of your job?
5. Is there an acknowledged member base?
6. Does the community share a mutual understanding of its identity?
7. Does the community sustain a common methodology, process, and language?
8. Does the community scan external sources for new ideas and innovations?
9. Is the community free of the “not invented here” syndrome?
Rate the Following 1 – 5
Ranking: 5 = exceeds expectations, 1 = does not meet expectations
1. Technology is leveraged to support collaboration.
2. The community serves as a reliable source for workable solutions and/or best practices.
3. Needed information is quickly accessed and easy to apply.
4. Community members enjoy open channels of communication.
5. Community participation contributes to your individual success.
6. Members enjoy continuous learning.
7. Resources and effort are invested in developing a supporting infrastructure for the community.
8. The community quickly mobilizes for ad hoc discussions.
Communities should periodically conduct more in depth assessments. The
Community of Practice Progress Checklist provides a way of assessing community development. This checklist may either be used in individual interviews or in a group assessment process. This checklist may also be distributed through email or by means of a Web-based survey tool. A good person to obtain and aggregate the input could be the CoP Facilitator.
“Yes” or “No” Questions
1. Does our community have a common identity?
Is our identity compelling to leadership, prospective members, and their functional managers?
2. Is our identity aligned with the organization strategy?
3. Do we have the right champion in place-a respected leader who is willing to contribute to the community?
4. Does the Functional Sponsor agree with the community’s scope, purpose, and membership?
5. Are Core Group members and the Community Leader strong content experts, enthusiastic, and able to develop the community?
6. Do our members’ functional managers agree that time away from the job is valuable?
7. Do we have the right content experts to provide perspective and meaning in our membership?
8. Do we have a shared space and context for dialogue, advice, and work?
9. Are collaborative tools in place? Are members set to use them?
10. Do we have enough members to keep the community alive?
11. Are needed resources, for example, meeting rooms, VTC, participation in conferences, travel dollars, conference fees, etc., available?
Written comments please
1. What do you like best about the community?
2. What do you like least about the community?
3. How would you improve the community?
The following list of community behavior standards address effective community interactions. This list will be useful for considering against the results of surveys and interviews.
- “Identify important issues to address that can help in day-to-day work and add value.
- Update purpose and activities on a regular basis to reflect the defined issues. The agenda evolves.
- Sift through the best of existing materials and search for new resources that can be shared with others.
- Organize and publish these resources in a way that makes them accessible to all. In some cases, CoPs establish a physical resource area, such as a library, but increasingly the web is used to publish and share knowledge.
- Contribute to discussion groups. Ask questions of others and collaborate in solving common issues.
- Interact with other members in a number of ways, depending on the need. Use any, or all, of the following to collaborate and build professional relationships: email, event reports, internal conferences, newsletters, face-to-face meetings, luncheons, workshops, personal visits, video-conferences, web-site and telephone.
- Share and apply knowledge to make progress in individual taskings and advance the purpose of the CoP.
- Create and publish new knowledge when the challenges faced cannot be met through the application of the existing knowledge pool.
Also, using the Community of Practice Development Model, which is presented in the Development Model section, will provide guidance about progress the CoP has made, where it is at a given point in time, and what it needs to attend to as it moves forward.
It’s what you who you know knows.
The strongest communities are built upon strong relationships. Relationships typically form naturally from working together over a period of time. It wouldn’t hurt to occasionally work a relationship-building exercise into community forums. Two exercises are discussed below: Connecting with Community Members and What’s the Moral of the Story?
Connecting with Community Members
This exercise is designed to help build personal relationships between members and to begin to answer the questions: What do we know? What do we need to know? Who knows it? It can be effective with groups from 5-40, and takes from 20-60 minutes depending on the group size. Needed props include: a set of blank, individual, member factoid cards strung together on a loose ring – perhaps a community key ring! Each member should have a blank set with a blank card for each member.
Cards have Community Name and Member Name on one side. On the other side they have the following outline:
Best way to contact:
Best time to call:
Previous interesting job or organization:
Top knowledge need:
Follow the step described below:
1. Organize participants into groups of four to six. Adjust according to total number of members.
2. Explain that the goal of this activity is to learn about each other’s unique backgrounds and perspectives as well as getting to know each other better.
3. Give each participant a set of blank factoid cards.
4. Explain the directions:
- Subgroups should convene for 10 minutes to complete factoid cards.
- Each member completes own factoid cards.
- After 10 minutes, disperse subgroup members and regroup into new subgroups – be sure that everyone hears from each member in one of the subgroup sessions. Note: Rotations should last just long enough for members to gather information, but still want more time — whet their appetite!
5. Repeat subgroup formation until each member has completed a card for each member.
Tip: Provide complete set of blank cards to new members as they join and encourage them to complete them, one-on-one, with each member.
Tip: As new members join, provide new factoid cards to existing members and encourage them to complete new cards informally and add them to their rings.
What’s the Moral of the Story?
An exercise called What’s the Moral of the Story? can be used to practice sifting through information and deriving lessons learned. It is effective in a group of 8-20 and takes approximately 8-10 minutes. The only props required are fables.
Follow these easy steps:
- Ask participants to pair up.
- Distribute fables.
- Explain that fables and folk tales are short fictional narratives that illustrate a moral, or a lesson. They are an indirect means of telling truths about life. Thus they have a level of meaning beyond the surface story.
- Tell pairs they have five minutes to read two fables and add a humorous moral to it.
- After five minutes, ask members to discuss possible morals to the story.
A variation on this theme is to use fables without known morals and ask the group to develop some.
Some suggested Fables from Aesop are
The Cock and the Jewel,
The Crow and the Pitcher, and
The Ass and his Shadow.
The Cock and the Jewel. A Cock, scratching for food for himself and his hens, found a precious stone and exclaimed: “If your owner had found thee, and not I, he would have taken thee up, and have set thee in thy first estate; but I have found thee for no purpose. I would rather have one barleycorn than all the jewels in the world.” Moral: The ignorant despise what is precious only because they cannot understand it.
The Crow and the Pitcher. A Crow perishing with thirst saw a pitcher and, hoping to find water, flew to it with delight. When he reached it, he discovered to his grief that it contained so little water that he could not possibly get at it. He tried everything he could think of to reach the water, but all his efforts were in vain. At last he collected as many stones as he could carry and dropped them one by one with his beak into the pitcher, until he brought the water within his reach and thus saved his life. Moral: Necessity is the mother of invention.
The Ass and His Shadow. A Traveler hired an Ass to convey him to a distant place. The day being intensely hot, and the sun shining in its strength, the Traveler stopped to rest, and sought shelter from the heat under the Shadow of the Ass. As this afforded only protection for one, and as the Traveler and the owner of the Ass both claimed it, a violent dispute arose between them as to which of them had the right to the Shadow. The owner maintained that he had let the Ass only, and not his Shadow. The Traveler asserted that he had, with the hire of the Ass, hired his Shadow also. The quarrel proceeded from words to blows, and while the men fought, the Ass galloped off. Moral: In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.
For additional ideas, the following readings are suggested: A Kick in the Seat of the Pants
13 and Team Games for Trainers
Social Network and Knowledge Flow
The following describes the value of recognizing existing social networks and knowledge flow. It provides a useful tool for identifying prospective community members.
Many companies and organizations invest a considerable amount of money in restructuring organizational charts and reengineering business processes only to be disappointed with the results. That is because much of the work happens outside the formal organizational structure. Often what needs attention is the informal organization, the networks of relationships that employees form across functions and divisions to quickly accomplish tasks. These informal relationships can cut through formal reporting procedures to jump-start stalled initiatives and meet extraordinary deadlines. However, informal networks can just as easily sabotage the best laid plans of companies by blocking communication and fomenting opposition to change unless leaders know how to identify and direct them. Learning how to map these social links can help you harness the real power of your organization.
Using social network analysis, it is possible to translate a myriad of relationships and ties into maps that show how the informal organization gets things done. In the simplest form, these maps consist of a series of named dots (or “nodes”), each of which represents a person, and lines or arrows connecting the dots to represent the existence of relationship between people.
Some useful networks to understand within your organization might be:
- The advice network, which shows the prominent players in an organization on whom others rely to help them solve problems and provide technical information
- The trust network, which shows which employees share delicate political information
- The communication network, which reveals the employees who talk about work-related matters on a regular basis
Information to build these networks may be usually gathered by means of a simple questionnaire.
Looking at a network of relationships can help you to identify the integrators, or the employees who are seen by many as experts or who are trusted as an information source. Recruiting such individuals to be involved in the implementation will make your communication effort easier, as these people have a wide reach in the informal communication network of the organization.
Storytelling can be used to effectively transfer knowledge. An organizational story is a detailed narrative of management actions, employee interactions, or other intra-organizational events that are communicated informally within the organization. A research paper exploring the unique relationship of man and his stories, looking at various aspects of storytelling and differences between written and oral stories, and reviewing the use of stories in organizations is included in the resource section. See
section to download Storytelling: The Thread of Humanity (PDF).
A variety of story forms exist naturally throughout organizations, including scenarios, anecdotes, and fictional stories. Scenarios are the articulation of possible future states, constructed within the imaginative limits of the author. While scenarios provide an awareness of alternatives – of value in and of itself – they are often used as planning tools for possible future situations. The plan becomes a vehicle to respond to recognized objectives in each scenario. An anecdote is a brief sequence captured in the field or arising from a brainstorming session. To reinforce positive behavior, sensitive managers can seek out and disseminate true anecdotes that embody the value desired in the organization. The capture and distribution of anecdotes across organizations carries high value. Dave Snowden, a consultant and author in Great Britain who has investigated the use of storytelling in organizations for the past dozen years, has discovered that once a critical number of anecdotes are captured from a community, the value set or rules underlying the behavior of that community can be determined. Understanding these values has allowed the utilization of informal as well as formal aspects of the organization.
Conveying information in a story provides a rich context, remaining in the conscious memory longer and creating more memory traces than information not in context. Therefore a story is more likely to be acted upon than normal means of communications. Storytelling, whether in a personal or organizational setting, connects people, develops creativity, and increases confidence. The use of stories in organizations can build descriptive capabilities, increase organizational learning, convey complex meaning, and communicate common values and rule sets.
First, stories have the ability to increase our descriptive capabilities, a strength in this age of uncertainty where we must be able to describe our environment and have the self-awareness to describe our individual capabilities. Description capabilities are essential in strategic thinking and planning, and create a greater awareness of what we could achieve. Fictional stories can be powerful because they provide a mechanism by which an organization can learn from failure without attributing blame. Some organizations actually create characters from archetypes taken from a large number of organizational anecdotes. These characters are used over and over again. Once established, they become a natural vehicle for organizational learning and a repository for organizational memory.
When well constructed, stories can convey a high level of complex meaning. The use of sub-text can convey this meaning without making it obvious. Sub-text is a term that refers to an unstated message not explicit in the dialogue of the story. Analogies are often used to aid in the transfer of particularly complex information and knowledge to give the human mind something to relate to. This form of learning has been used throughout human history to transfer complex concepts and core values.
Finally, because stories communicate common values and rule systems, they provide a mechanism to build organic organizational response to emerging requirements. This means that as new situations and new challenges arise in response to an ever-changing world, a common set of values will drive that response at every level of the organization. Snowden explains that to operate in a highly uncertain environment, we must have common values and rule systems that support networks of communities self-organizing around a common purpose. Stories provide just such a catalyst. Snowden states that in this world, old skills, such as story and other models drawn from organic rather than mechanical thinking, are survival skills, not nice to haves.
The World Bank has used what they call a Springboard Story over the past several years to move that organization to a knowledge organization. The Springboard Story, a powerful method of communicating knowledge about norms and values, is a transformational story that enables the listener to take a personal leap in understanding how an organization or community or complex system may change. The intent of this type of story is not to transfer information, but to serve as a catalyst for creating understanding within the listener. Steve Denning, a senior leader for World Bank, states that these stories enable listeners to easily and quickly grasp the ideas as a whole in a non-threatening way. In effect, they invite the listener to see analogies from their own histories, their own contexts, and their own fields of expertise.
These Springboard Stories were told from the perspective of a single protagonist who was known to the audience and actually in the predicament being told in the story; there was an element of strangeness or incongruity to the listeners which could capture their attention and imagination; the story had a degree of plausibility and a premonition of what the future might be like; and there was a happy ending. Denning states that happy endings make it easier for listeners to take the imaginative leap from the explicit story to the implicit meaning.
The Undersecretary of the Navy used stories to help Congress visualize the value the Navy Marine Corps Intranet would add to the mission of the Department. One story conveyed how Petty Officer Storm, deployed aboard the USS San Jacinto, was able to reachback via the Navy Marine Corp Intranet (NMCI) to the telemaintenance expert at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana, to quickly resolve an equipment failure. Another story tells about the possible presence of a biological agent detected by forward-deployed Gunnery Sgt. Jackson. Jackson uses NMCI to link back to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and Ft. Dietrick, Maryland, to contact the experts who analyze the threat and download appropriate procedures. A downloadable formal White Paper on Storytelling in the Department of the Navy is in the resource section. See
Attachments section below to download
Storytelling White Paper (PDF).
With the advent of the Internet and Intranet, there is a larger opportunity to use stories to bring about change. Electronic media adds moving images and sound as context setters. Hypertext capabilities and collaboration software invites groups, teams and communities to co-create their stories. New multiprocessing skills are required to navigate this new world, skills that include the quick and sure assimilation of and response to fast-flowing images and sounds and sensory assaults.
In summary, when used well, storytelling is a powerful transformational tool in organizations, one that will work well for sharing of knowledge in a CoP.
Systems Thinking provides an approach for managing complexity. It is a tool to help decision-makers understand the cause and effect relationships among data, information, and people. It identifies archetypes (or patterns) that occur over and over again in decision-making.
15 In short, it expands individual thinking skills and improves both individual and group/team decision-making. This work derives from MIT’s Learning Organization work. Also, the Department of the Navy (DoN) has developed a virtual Systems Thinking course available online and via CD for Department of Navy employees.
Systems Thinking has been described by George Richardson, former Chairman of the Systems Dynamics Society, as the “mental effort to uncover our behavior and the design of the system itself can account for the performance we observe.”
17 Keep in mind that there are always compelling explanations about how results are due to EXOGENOUS forces, however these explanations offer little leverage for change. From the perspective of organizational learning, we need a method of collective inquiry that helps us see the whole relative to our aspirations. We also need models about how disparate parts of an organization can better coordinate their strategic choices and action to achieve desired results.
As a tool for collective inquiry and coordinated action, the purposes of Systems Thinking are:
- Foster team learning and collaboration.
- Tell compelling stories that describe how the system works.
- Discover the system structure behind problems.
- Describe our own mental models and those of others about why the system performs as it does.
- Test possible strategies against intended results and for unintended consequences.
- Identify higher-leverage interventions.
As a result, Systems Thinking enables us to:
- Understand how organizations and other complex systems really function.
- Change our own thinking to match the way such systems operate.
- Change our behavior so that we are working with these complex forces instead of against them to create what we want.
- Develop greater appreciation for the impact of our strategies on others in the system.
- Be aware of the impacts of time delays and the need to balance short-term and long-term objectives and strategies.
- Anticipate unintended consequences of well-intentioned strategies.
The Systems Thinking Model looks at the process through events (What’s happened?), patterns (What’s been happening?), structure (Why has this been happening?), and finally asking: How can we improve the performance of the system?
Methods of addressing this process are discussed below:
1. State the Issue & Tell the Story: Begin your inquiry with the evidence. What are some of the facts that make you or others think that there is an issue?
2. Graph Performance Patterns Over Time: What are the trends?
3. Establish Creative Tension & Draft a Focusing Question: When the trends are visible, we can state how this reality differs from our vision. A good focusing question describes the patterns in the context of what we want. For example: Why, despite our efforts to improve quality, do we continue to miss deadlines?
4. Identify Structural Explanations: What are key causes and consequences of the trends we observe? How do the consequences, particularly our own responses to the situation, become the cause of more problems?
5. Apply the Going Deeper Questions: What are the deeper structures that keep this set of causes and consequences in place? Is this system successfully accomplishing a purpose other than the stated one? Are beliefs and values causing the situation to persist?
6. Plan an Intervention: Based on our understanding of the structure, what is our hypothesis about how to change it? What general approaches are needed? What specific actions?
7. Assess the Results: Since our intervention is based on a theory of the situation, the results of our attempts to improve things provide new data, allowing us to continue through the steps again, if necessary.
Systems Thinking usually adds value when situations are problematic, long-standing, and resistant to change interventions. It is also often helpful as a planning resource. In particular, a systems view can help you plan for growth, anticipate limits to growth, predict and avoid actions that can undermine partnerships, and avoid shooting yourself in the foot (by producing a worse situation than you already have).
In general, Systems Thinking rarely helps us find the single right answer; other problem-solving tools are more efficient in cases where there truly is an answer. Systems Thinking provides the most value when it illuminates the possible choices embedded in complex, divergent problems, and their likely consequences. The final choice is ours. As a general consideration, the do’s and don’ts of when to use Systems Thinking are:
Do use Systems Thinking to:
- Identify or clarify a problem.
- Increase creative discussion.
- Promote inquiry and challenge pre-conceived ideas.
- Bring out the validity of multiple perspectives.
- Make assumptions explicit.
- Sift out major issues and factors.
- Find the systemic causes of stubborn problems.
- Test the viability of previously proposed solutions.
- Explore short and long term impacts of alternative or newly proposed solutions or actions.
Do not use Systems Thinking to:
- Impress people or win an argument.
- Validate prior views.
- Hide uncertainties.
- Blame individuals.
A comparison of Systems Thinking versus Traditional Approaches is included to aid in building an understanding of the benefits of using or not using Systems Thinking.
1Dixon, Nancy M. (2000). “Common Knowledge, How Companies Thrive by Sharing What They Know,” pg 20, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts.
3Brain Writing is adapted from Bernd Rohrbach and discussed by Deborah Harrington-Mackin. (1994) The Team Building Took Kit: Tips, Tactics, and Rules for Effective Workplace Teams. New York: AMACOM, 1994).
4Von Oech, Roger. (1986) A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, Using your Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior to be More Creative, New York: Harper Perennial.
5Bennet, D. (1998) IPT Learning Campus: Gaining Acquisition Results through IPTs. CD available in part on the Navy Acquisition Home Page at http://www.acq.ref.navy.mil or from the DoN CIO Office.
6Senge, Peter, et.al. (1994), The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday.
7Brown, Juanita and Isaacs, David. (June-July 2001). “The World Café: Living Knowledge Through Conversations that Matter,” The Systems Thinker Vol 12, No. 5. Waltham, MA: Pegasus Communications
8Douglas, Lloyd C. (1935). Green Light. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.
10Arnold Kransdorff and Russell Williams, “Swing Doors and Musical Chairs,” Business Horizons, 31 (May-June 1999):BH026.
11Ibid., pg. 30
12U.S. Dept of Navy CIO. 2001. Metrics Guide for Knowledge Management Initiatives.
13Von Oech, Roger. A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, Using your Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior to be More Creative, New York, NY, Harper Perennial, 1986.
14Nilson, Carolyn. Team Games for Trainers, New York, NY, McGraw Hill, 1993.
15An online Systems Thinking Course is scheduled to be available via the Navy Learning Network (CNE runs this) by 4th Quarter FY01. Web Address for the NLN is www.navylearning.navy.mil. This course is only available to Department of the Navy employees.