Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some lessons from the U.S. Navy

Knowledge sharing is deeply (though not nearly deeply enough for my liking) ingrained in the culture of the Navy.

Here’s how they do it so well:
  1. Training.  Every warfare specialty in the Navy has a school associated with it, whether it is assembling bombs, running the dining facility, or dogfighting in an F/A-18.  It all starts with training, which is constantly updated by new knowledge and experience from the fleet.
  2. Qualification Boards.  In order to advance in rank or earn a specific qualification insignia such as lead the watch team in the reactor plant, a qualification board is organized with a sailors superiors and qualified peers to test his or her knowledge. And not just the book or classroom knowledge matters; the subtleties, nuances, good judgment, experience count as well.  (what we call tribal knowledge)
  3. Practice.   Every hour of every day, each Sailor is constantly practicing their assigned role in every imaginable scenario.  Man overboard, fire, damage control, chemical attack, intruders, injuries, aircraft incident.  You name it, they practice it until it is second nature.
  4. Reviews.  Every exercise, getting underway from the pier or a coordinated Strike Group operation ends with a detailed lessons learned review, which is fed back into the system to improve the next time through.
  5. Progression.  The Navy has designed this ingenious system of enabling its Sailors with a progression of knowledge gained by a minimum amount of time in each job and rank with a required set of qualifications before they can advance in their career.  Relatively short assignments encourage broad experience and constant learning.
 Written by Craig Malloy, CEO of Bloomfire, an Austin startup that offers knowledge sharing applications for teams and organizations. Craig previously served as Founder/CEO of ViaVideo (acquired by Polycom), Founder/CEO LifeSize (acquired by Logitech), and is a former Navy officer.

The full post is HERE.

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