Knowledge management students see their profession through the prism of history
Randi Stenson/Mission Command Center of Excellence Public Affairs
What began as a simple sightseeing tour of the Kansas City World War I Monument and Museum has become an essential and motivating part of the Army Knowledge Management Qualification Course.
Today, students in each iteration of the course spend an afternoon immersed in World War I history and reflect on knowledge management practices that existed over 100 years ago.
“One of our classes in 2014 went (to the WWI Museum) on a Saturday, and the instructors went with them. In the end, we started comparing and talking – we saw the connection between knowledge management at the time,” said Martin Fries, Head, Leader Development, Education and Training, and instructor for the course of KM.
It wasn’t until 2018, however, that they picked up the idea and incorporated visiting the WWI museum and memorial as a formal course lesson.
“We determined that ‘Hey, this is something people need to understand,'” he said. “We always preach that knowledge management has been around forever, but we’ve never really ‘seen’ it. We thought this would be a good way to show students and then link to the course material. »
Upon arriving at the museum, students gather in the reception area. Here they can see a vast field of artificial poppies below the main atrium. Each poppy represents 1,000 soldiers who died in what came to be known as the “Great War”. With this solemn reminder of their reason for attending, students are given a list of questions to consider during their visit and are freed to explore the exhibits inside and outside the monument grounds.
When time runs out, the class meets with their instructors in an on-site classroom to reflect and discuss what they have seen and learned. The questions are broad and designed to spark conversation, ranging from a “What were the main reasons World War I started?” to more in-depth questions exploring more KM-specific topics such as “Has knowledge management aided in the development of weapons, tactics, industry, medicine, aviation, logistics, signaling and any other areas you have observed?” and “Comparing Command and Control in World War I with Today’s Mission Command Philosophy.”
“I think it was valuable,” said 1st Lt. Christian Williams, S-3 Assistant, 371st Support Battalion, Ohio National Guard. “We’ve all heard of the First World War, but getting into it and looking at it from KM’s perspective was refreshing in a way for me. It helped me rethink everything that happened in a way different.
Capt. Joanlyn Quinones, of the 335th Signal Command (Theater), underscored the teaching point that Fries and his colleagues recognized in 2014.
“It just confirmed that knowledge management has been around forever as we are constantly trying to improve our systems and processes,” she said. “And you could see how an event, for example the medical field, at the beginning of the war and how they ended it with a system for transporting the wounded to a home base – how that evolved, that process. It just shows you that KM has always been around, although we probably didn’t recognize it.
While the trip to the museum is a welcome break from the classroom, Fries said the three-week KM qualification course is rigorous. Students have evening homework most nights and homework due on Mondays. Despite this, student feedback consistently praises the course as one of the best the Army has to offer. The reasons vary, but a common theme stands out: products. More specifically, products that students can use immediately to act at their home station.
“The class logically built on itself,” said Master Sgt. Leander Outlaw, NCO Master of Religious Affairs at Fort Drum, NY is not really applicable. The reason we were doing some of the EPs and learning objectives was so you could physically take those materials, those tools, whatever you touched, and apply them in your unit. »
sergeant. 1st Class Melissa Gibbons, an S-1 Battalion NCOIC, said she felt the course prepared her well to make a difference when she returned to her Massachusetts National Guard unit.
“We came here to solve a real problem in our unit,” she said. “Now I come away with almost 100% of what I need to do it — with the assessment matrix, the strategy, the action plan, taking all the things we worked on. This is a problem that I have already solved; now I just have to implement it when I get back.
To learn more about KMQC and other offerings from the Army Knowledge Management Promoter, visit https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/mccoe/akm.