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MHQ with MOC lessons learned: a KM perspective.

"In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

--Eric Hoffer

The Maritime Headquarters with Maritime Operations Center (MHQ with MOC) concept of operations (CONOPS) is perhaps one of the most significant catalysts for change supporting U.S. Navy commanders today. With its prescribed actions derived from operational lessons learned, MHQ with MOC seeks to improve the ability of the Navy's "operational-level headquarters staffs" to "assess, plan and execute."

As the need to operate more efficiently and effectively in the joint arena becomes increasingly important, the MHQ with MOC construct requires Navy commands to become more cross-functional, allows them to streamline information flows and leverage organizational knowledge to speed and improve operational decisions.

By following and improving upon MHQ with MOC principles, warfighters will become better equipped to support commanders and be more efficient at transitioning operations from normal and routine (NAR) to the full operational level of war (OLW).

Where KM Fits

As a knowledge manager supporting the MHQ with MOC implementation and sustainment processes for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Robert F. Willard, the challenge has been a tremendously exciting one.

COMPACFLT excels as an organization in all areas, particularly in operations; however, MHQ with MOC requires a cultural shift aimed at breaking down traditional "stovepipes," creating crosstalk, and further "operationalizing" the staff.

COMPACFLT will be the first command accredited as an MHQ with MOC in March 2008. An integrated planning team (IPT), a core of bureau, board, center, cell and working group (B2C2WG) members and leads, and an executive steering group, under the direction of an exceptionally motivated commander, have led us to this stage of readiness.

The intent of this article is to share lessons learned, from a knowledge manager's perspective, with the hope that as the global network of MHQs with MOCs continues to take shape, we will continue to improve the concept and refine processes accordingly.

The Game Plan

My involvement in the MHQ with MOC project began just four months prior to the commander's preliminary accreditation ready (PAR) deadline of Jan. 31, 2008. The initial taskings from the IPT for knowledge management were as follows:

* Follow the guidance of the commander, the "spirit" of the MHQ with MOC CONOPS and Joint Publication 3-33.

* Build a SIPRNET MOC Web site modeled after JTF-519. JTF-519 is a fully deployable joint task force capable of planning and executing any contingency from relatively small-scale operations, such as noncombatant evacuations or maritime interdiction, to major theater conflict.

* Leverage the Collaboration-at-Sea (CAS) Web content management tool and the Enterprise Knowledge Management (eKM) collaboration tool.

* Establish a working group to manage the CAS site and address KM and information management (IM) issues.

Our entire approach focused on using existing joint and Navy doctrine and using tools that had been proven to work in both the operations center and in the fleet management element. Following IPT guidance and the advice of our JTF-519 counterparts, our plan of action and milestones during the planning phase consisted of the following:

* Establish a cross-functional, cross-directorate KM Working Group (KMWG).

* Develop a MOC Web Site.

* Build the MOC battle rhythm, complete with inputs, outputs, associated tasks and processes.

* Assess and develop Web tools for: training, manning, lessons learned, taskers and significant events, collaboration and decision making, and produce a KM plan and a Web site management plan.

An item of note that will not be discussed here in detail, but will be mentioned to open discussion, is that COMPACFLT chose not to establish an information management board or cell. This decision was necessitated by our current organizational structure which we will be reevaluating as the project moves forward.

The Challenges

Some of the challenges we faced revealed themselves almost immediately, the first being manning and organization. COMPACFLT is fortunate to have a flag officer in the position of chief knowledge officer (CKO). It does not; however, have an official billet for a knowledge management officer (KMO).

The COMPACFLT KM team consists of the CKO, Rear Adm. Joe Mulloy, and a small group of contractors, myself included, working throughout the COMPACFLT area of responsibility. Like most obstacles the staff encountered, issues that arose due to manning challenges in KM were overcome by Adm. Willard's clear and enthusiastic support for KM initiatives and the day-to-day support of the MOC Director Rear Adm. Tom Copeman, the CKO and the members of the IPT.



Additionally, the formation of a KM Working Group allowed us to reach out to all directorates via Information Management and Training Leads (IMTLs) assigned by each directorate to represent both fleet management and MOC interests.

The formation of the KMWG allowed us to collect information and share goals when developing our Web site, and it provided a vehicle for us to address all KM/IM issues in a balanced forum. The KM team went forward with the understanding that the knowledge management function would need to be further defined and honed at COMPACFLT, but that standing up the MHQ with MOC, maximizing the efforts of the KMWG, and fulfilling the immediate needs of the organization were paramount.

Time and its associated pressures proved to be another big challenge. With only a few months to support Adm. Willard's aggressive timelines, accreditation deadlines, rather than longer term change initiatives, became the primary focus of effort. This was not necessarily a negative aspect of the process because it allowed us to draw the lines around and highlight those areas we knew we would need to address in more detail later.

Some of the key tasks a KM hopes to perform earlier in the process, such as conducting assessments and developing a full information exchange requirements matrix, could not be accomplished due in part to the number of demands placed on the directorates, B2C2WG leads and the KM for a multitude of accreditation inputs.

Our KM goal was to assess, organize and codify the many processes that occur at our command daily; however, the more "visible" tasks (particularly the construction of the Web site) soon became the primary objective.

Now that we have met the deadline, the real detail work is beginning to take place. As we approach accreditation, our longer term organizational learning goals have moved back into focus, and we will likely begin to address how we will meet those goals as we go through the accreditation process.

As we have said many times at COMPACFLT, we are building the plane as we are flying it. Learning the concept and executing it at the same time is a challenge, but certainly not one that will not be overcome as we exercise the concept and apply lessons learned.

As KM, my approach to capturing tacit knowledge has been more "anthropological" than technical. Observing processes in motion, having informal conversations, participating in and observing meetings and events occurring at all levels of the staff have helped our team gain further insight into MOC processes without putting the burden of understanding KM on the staff.

As Cmdr. John Hearne and Ms. Christine Carobine stated in a recent CHIPS article (available at archives/07_Dec/web_pages/KM_Guide. htm), "Organizations don't DO knowledge management; they attempt to improve their performance using the people and tools available to them."

In our experience, this is the best and least disruptive approach to take when attempting to implement and facilitate change of this scope.

Commander's Guidance

Much of how we approached organizing under the MHQ with MOC concept centered on the six phases of the commander's decision cycle, known as the "Willard wheel." B2C2WGs were challenged to think about and organize their information and processes using the six fundamentals of command and control (C2), as shown in Figure 1:

* Maintain Alignment

* Provide Situational Awareness

* Advance the Plan

* Comply with Procedure

* Counter the Enemy

* Adjust Apportionment

This task was first explicitly visualized on our Web site, but has evolved into the way that information is prepared and presented, whether or not it is explicitly labeled as such. Understanding this decision cycle is critical to understanding the commander's thought process, and organizing information flows to align with and support the cycle is another necessary cultural change for the staff.

Adm. Willard directed several critical events that helped the B2C2WG leads through the planning process and consequently helped the KM team achieve some of our fundamental organizational objectives.

At the first MOC briefing for Adm. Willard, the IPT leads provided a status report for their respective areas. Before we began, the admiral asked us to do two things. First, he asked us to identify "what is different" about how we were doing business prior to the MOC, and second, he asked us to be honest about the challenges we encountered in the process. He also emphasized that the MHQ with MOC was not an "exercise"--that it was indeed a new way of doing business, and that he expected all to perform accordingly.

This guidance not only set the tone for the brief, but for the entire implementation process. Certainly, to have a commander who is as engaged and open to dialogue throughout the process will be critical to the success of any MHQ with MOC concept implementation.

A day long Warfighting Processes Forum was organized, at the request of Adm. Willard, where the B2C2WG leads presented the commander their processes in detail. Following that forum, Adm. Willard directed us to conduct a battle rhythm tabletop to first construct our Major Combat Operations (MCO) battle rhythm, then our NAR battle rhythm.

These events were necessary for opening the lines of communication between B2C2WGs and to building an understanding of where we needed to be as an organization for accreditation and beyond.

Other crucial guidance from Adm. Willard included:

* Develop the Web site as a "one-stop-shop" for the warfighter.

* Be customer focused--find out what our numbered fleets need, how they need it and when.

* COMPACFLT may follow but not copy the JTF-519 model; make the Web site uniquely COMPACFLT MOC.

* Note the lines of demarcation between B2C2WGs, between fleet management and MOC functions, and between MOCs at other commands.

* Continue to look at how other commands are accomplishing tasks, evaluate other tool sets and maintain alignment.

Lessons Learned

Everyone who participated in the MHQ with MOC implementation will have his or her own set of lessons learned. Below are some of the most critical lessons learned from my perspective:

* Understand the evolutionary and experimental nature of the MHQ with MOC concept and move out accordingly. As difficult as it is, be open to change.

* As a KM, involve yourself in the IPT from the earliest stages of planning.

* Make efforts staff-wide, not just on the leadership tier, to promote awareness and understanding of the MHQ with MOC concept.

* Create opportunities for key players to build cross-functional relationships in open forums (tabletops) both during and after implementation.

* Build internal B2C2WG battle rhythms, identify inputs and outputs, and then consolidate.

* As a KM, influence the process at as many levels as possible as a participant, not just as an outside observer.


To date in KM, we have:

* Established an active KMWG;

* Developed a KM plan as part of the MOC standard operating procedures;

* Developed a powerful one-stop-shop Web site that is accessible to our commander and those who support him on all levels; and

* Procured tools to work within CAS 3.0 such as, Portal Pages, a lines of operation tool; eKM Actions Plug In; and a refined manning database and battle rhythm tool adopted from the JTF-519 tool set.


As a MOC, we have constructed NAR and MCO battle rhythms and identified an initial set of inputs and outputs. We are also working to further define and document the true relationships and inner workings between the bureaus, boards, centers, cells and working groups to feed that information back to the MHQ with MOC project team.

As we continue through the accreditation process and work to refine our organizational processes, our objectives remain to learn from our actions, improve collaboration across the staff and between commands, and to become an organization that is adaptive to change and always ready for the fight.

Knowledge management and information management will continue to play critical roles throughout the transition process and, if successful, our combined efforts will further enable all Navy commanders to make the best decisions possible and increase warfighter readiness throughout the Navy.

Ms. Jamie Hatch is the lead KM support specialist for COMPACFLT. Ms. Hatch holds a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master of science degree for information systems for professionals from Hawaii Pacific University.
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Title Annotation:Maritime Headquarters with Maritime Operations Center, and knowledge manager Adm. Robert F. Willard
Author:Hatch, Jamie
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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