Yesterday, it was The New York Times reporting on Fort Leavenworth's commanding general, Frontier 6, blogging again. Today, it's NYT's Noam Cohen reporting on (that same) General Bill Caldwell's group that has organized wikis for writing Army doctrine.
This is without doubt the most progressive thing we've learned about that the Army is doing. Anyone with a login to the Army's online network can now just click to "collaboratively rewrite seven of the field manuals that give instructions on all aspects of Army life."
The three-month pilot is being run out of Battle Command Knowledge System, one of the handful of units that General Caldwell brought together, known collectively as Combined Arms Center-Knowledge. The idea behind CAC-K is that there is synergy when a group of knowledge-related organizations collaborate. Among the groups comprising CAC-K is the prestigious publication, Military Review, the Center for Army Lessons Learned (the home of After Action Reviews), the Combat Studies Institute, the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, and Battle Command Knowledge System (which has been responsible for supporting the Army's famous "forums," aka communities of practice).
The Doctrine Directorate, known as CADD, and the Knowledge System group, known as BCKS, are collaborating to oversee the creation of the wikis. According to Colonel Chuck Burnett, who took over BCKS last October:
“For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki. The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.”
Clint Ancker, himself a retired colonel who heads up CADD, "Under the new plan, 50 or so capstone guides will remain field manuals and will not be open to collaborative editing...More than 200 other former field guides are likely to be consolidated or even scrapped."
Think about it. The Army is looking to its employees to develop policy. After all, the employees are the ones who have to carry it out. As I've said a time or two when companies resist some of these new-fangled ideas, if the Army can do it, so can you.
NB: Here's a link to Jeff Stamps's and my presentation at the last Army Operational Knowledge Management Conference in 2008, organized by BCKS.