Army Knowledge Management: think outside the boxArmy Knowledge Management:
the Army's information revolution

by Miriam Browning

�The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people � this radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiment and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.�

-- John Adams, 1818
U.S. President, 1797-1801

In the early 19th century, President John Adams correctly assessed the will of the American people calling for change. While not as dramatic as the American Revolution, Army Knowledge Management nevertheless is a pioneering, strategic concept to transform the Army into a network-centric, knowledge-based force. AKM is the information revolution for the Army in the 21st century.

AKM has its conceptual roots in Army transformation, the global e-business model and the imperatives of electronic government. The germinating seed for AKM has been Army Knowledge On-line, the Army�s enterprise portal and gateway for information access. During the past year, AKM has been a change catalyst not only for the Army�s information-technology world but also for the functional and major command communities that use IT�s enabling power. A summary of AKM follows.

A dynamic concept

AKM strategy is the center of the Army�s information revolution. It�s the enabler for mission operations, knowledge generation, information delivery and technology innovation.

The AKM vision encompasses a transformed Army, with agile capabilities and adaptive processes, powered by world-class, network-centric access to knowledge systems and services, interoperable with the joint environment. It embraces Army and Defense Department imperatives for information dominance, and integrates technology, e-business and knowledge-management concepts.

The AKM framework consists of three interrelated components: intellectual capital, infostructure and change catalysts. Intellectual capital is the expertise, experience and insights that reside in the workforce � military, civilian and industry partners � coupled with new strategies for harnessing human capital. Infostructure is the hardware, software and communications information technologies and associated architectures and facilities that ensure universal access, security, privacy and reliability of Army and DoD networks. The change catalysts are the innovative policies, governance structures and culture changes that create a network-centric environment and a knowledge-based workforce.

AKM framework: the knowledge-based organization

Intellectual capital � individual, team and enterprise knowledge, systems, services and workforce strategies that are necessary to improve operations and decision-making;

Infostructure � the IT (computers, software, architecture, security, communications, programs and facilities) required to support the network-centric Army; and

Change catalysts � the policies, resources, management, culture, processes and education required to optimize an adaptive organization and enterprise network-centric environment

The AKM strategic plan, endorsed by both the Army�s secretary and chief of staff in August 2001, delineates five goals:

 Adopt governance and cultural changes to become a knowledge-based organization;

Integrate KM concepts and best-business practices into Army processes to improve performance;

Manage the infostructure as an enterprise to enhance capabilities and efficiencies;

Scale AKO as the enterprise portal to provide universal, secure access for the entire Army; and

Harness human capital for the knowledge organization.

As a strategic concept, AKM will continuously incorporate change. The AKM vision, framework and strategic-plan goals are constant guideposts, while the specific objectives associated with each goal will change as actions are completed and new initiatives are started.

Army transformation link

AKM is not your typical KM program. Its sweeping scope makes it a strategic transformer for managing information and IT at the enterprise level. Contrast this strategic focus with a traditional KM program that focuses on information sharing, the acknowledgment of tacit as well as explicit information, and processing. A classic definition of KM is the process of organizing, accessing, improving, sharing and benchmarking explicit and tacit information for mission results.

In many organizations, communities of interest evolve to share information to get the job done better. For example, in the late 1990s, the Army established many of these grassroots-level communities such as medical, personnel, acquisition and command, control, communications and computers. They developed websites and used collaborative tools to access, organize and share knowledge.

Communities of interest are incapable of surviving unless they are an integral part of the larger environment that sustains them. Thus, AKM was created as a strategic concept linked to Army transformation. AKM goals and objectives are integrated into the Army Transformation Campaign Plan. In addition, functional areas and MACOMs have integrated AKM concepts into their own transformation plans. The link between AKM and Army-transformation plans has brought energy and synchronized results across a broad spectrum of Army operations.

Participatory governance

Two critical governance aspects of AKM are the chartering of the Army Chief Information Officer Executive Board and the establishment of strategic partnering between the Army CIO and the Army�s functional and MACOM communities. Both of these governance mechanisms require strong, committed participation from all stakeholders.

The Army CIO Executive Board, composed of the CIOs from the MACOMs and a Senior Executive Service or general officer from each Headquarters Department of the Army staff agency, functions as a proactive decision body for all AKM matters. The board, chartered in April 2001, meets quarterly and is actively engaged in AKM policy, governance and investment decisions through working-level groups and virtual communication channels. A separate, access-protected website has been established for executive-board members and their action officers. Draft guidance and policies are coordinated through the website. Even though response times may be aggressive and at times the tasks are difficult, the basic philosophy is one of inclusion and collaboration to get the job done well.

Strategic partnering is customer outreach between the Army CIO community and the Army functionals and MACOMs. Fundamental to the success of strategic partnering is the idea that the Army CIO, as lead AKM change agent, can be counted on to assist Army communities with information and IT initiatives � ensuring a link to AKM and providing advice and counsel on a wide range of related issues. Similarly, Army functional and MACOM communities can improve the CIO�s effectiveness by including CIO community members and providing them with more in-depth knowledge of their areas.

The Army CIO has initiated a formal program called the Functional Exchange Officer Program. The immediate purpose of the FEO Program is for the CIO, functional and MACOM communities to work together to streamline and expedite the placement of applications on AKO by July. The long-term benefits of the FEO Program are to enhance customer relations between the CIO community and the rest of the Army and ensure that Army-transformation strategies are synchronized.

AKM guidance memo

The AKM guidance memo dated Aug. 8, 2001, signed by both the Army�s secretary and chief of staff, designates the Army CIO as the change leader across a broad spectrum of Army initiatives, many of which are outlined in the memo:

A fundamental change in the IT world to the enterprise (vs. MACOM or functional) management of systems, networks, and information access;

The centralization of IT dollars for Army CIO oversight and prioritization;

The designation of AKO as the Army�s enterprise portal and gateway for information access; and

The enterprise consolidation of the Army infostructure.

The memo includes the capturing of best-business and KM practices in the Army for collaborative use across the organization and the identification of innovative ideas and initiatives for reshaping to a knowledge-based workforce.

AKM set the bar high for change in the Army. The commitment of both the Army secretary and chief of staff to change rapidly translates into similar executive commitment throughout the Army. To effect change in their own organizations, MACOM and functional communities are using the memo�s concepts (for example, consolidations, central management of investments, streamlining processes and doing business on the web).

AKM accomplishments

AKM initiatives have resulted in many accomplishments to date. AKO, the Army�s enterprise portal and gateway to information, has built enterprise capabilities for universal email, robust search engines, personnel authentication, etc.

Three initial pilots demonstrated AKO�s value: the program executive office for command, control and communications systems� Acquisition Knowledge Center; the office of the Army�s deputy chief of staff for operations and plans Smart Office Knowledge Center; and the Military Personnel Command�s Officer Knowledge Center. The first two pilots built collaborative communities of interest, and the last pilot re-engineered and streamlined military-personnel processes for use on AKO. All three pilots demonstrated cost and cost-avoidance savings in areas such as reduced time spent on accessing and analyzing information, reduced travel dollars attributable to the use of on-line collaborative tools, reduced manpower requirements attributable to internal website consolidations and a reduction in software licensing costs attributable to applications sharing.

Other AKM results include:

 Establishing the Army CIO Executive Board;

 Linking AKM to the Army Transformation Campaign Plan;

 Establishing more than 35 AKM communities;

 Using AKO for electronic personnel surveys;

 Establishing the annual Army KM symposium, jointly sponsored by the Army CIO and Center for Army Lessons Learned;

Developing the Army Knowledge Leaders Program for outstanding scholar civilian interns; and

 Completing the Army Science Board study on KM technologies for the objective force.


Leading the Army�s information revolution, AKM is the strategy to transform the Army into a network-centric, knowledge-based force. AKM as a strategic transformer will improve Army mission capabilities, enabling the Army vision for the cyber age. That vision is �soldiers on point for the nation � persuasive in peace, invincible in war.�

Ms. Browning is principal director for enterprise integration in the office of the Army�s CIO and provides a full range of strategic and operational senior-executive leadership in the Army�s IT areas. She holds a bachelor�s degree in political science from Ohio State University and a master�s in IT from George Washington University.

This article reprinted courtesy of Army AL&T magazine, January-February 2002 issue. The issue features AKM, with several articles on the subject besides the ones appearing in Army Communicator. Access the magazine via

Acronym QuickScan
AKM � Army Knowledge Management
AKO � Army Knowledge On-line
CIO � chief information officer
DoD � Department of Defense
FEO � functional exchange officer
IT � information technology
KM � knowledge management
MACOM � major command

See also: Army Knowledge On-line brief in "Circuit check" and LTG Peter Cuviello's symposium speech.

dividing rule

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