“Knowledge management is not a shrink-wrapped thing in a box, it’s a discipline.”
–Scott Elliot, Lotus Knowledge Management
12 former Brigade Commanders with recent operational experience were asked what they wanted most in a Battle Command Officer. The three tasks that came up were “Understand the Tools,” “Leverage the Tools,” and “Teach the Tools.” Of course the tools are the information system that we use to conduct our business in garrison and while deployed, a further sign of this digital era. Those three tasks assisted in defining the roles of the Knowledge Management Cell (KMC) at the modular Corps, Division and Brigade headquarters, and helped in the development of new doctrine.
Knowledge Management (KM) has entered the Army lexicon and leaders are learning how to best leverage the capabilities of a new team of experts who focus on the “art” of managing an oft ignored asset…..knowledge. Some say knowledge is your last competitive advantage, and I am apt to agree when realizing that a smart and adaptive enemy is also looking for an edge. According to Doug Brockbank, President of CKO Magazine, that “while individual knowledge is important, collective knowledge is crucial.” It makes sense in this age of information operations that finally a team is resourced and committed specifically to this tasks.
So, once you get them, what do they do? Recently published Field Manual 6-01.1, “Knowledge Management Section,” describes the tasks and roles of the KMC throughout Army Force Generation. At a Corps, the KMC has two 2-person Battle Command Teams consisting of a Battle Command Officer (BCO) and a Content Management Specialist (CMNCO). They are capable of 24×7 operations working from two workstations in the Main CP, one near the Chief of Operations and the other near the battle captain. They have reach-back to the KM Officer (KMO), who will provide direct support to the Chief of Staff and other key staff, along with support to external organizations.
The four key functions of the KMC are to advise the staff on KM processes and enabling technologies, assist the unit create and apply KM processes, support unit learning, and help integrate information systems. The KMC works closely with other adjunct staff and technical specialists, and participates in a number of boards, bureaus, cells, and workgroups (BBCWG). In concert with other staff sections, the KMC assist with KM assessments and analysis, the management of content, tactical portal management and virtual communities. The capabilities are deeper than one blog edition, so ask your KM experts for more details on what you can expect from your KM Cell.