Email Versus Wiki Collaboration Graphic a Big Hit

April 8, 2008

Pretty cool, the Wikinomics blog posted a blog about a graphic we (Intellipedians) have been using in the government to represent the comparative differences and advantages of wiki collaboration over email. 

Although the blog states Chris Rasmussen from the National Geosptatial-Intelligence Agency created the graphic, I created this graphic in a PowerPoint brief back in June 2007 to senior leadership at the United States Central Command to demonstrate how wikis could be used to more rapidly draft contingency plans, which Chris kindly noted in a later comment on a second posting about the graphic.

Several of us Intellipedians use the graphic when briefing and introducing new users to Intellipedia.  We find it useful for visualizing the inherent inefficiences of email when collaborating on a document since this former process creates multiple copies of a document which are normally edited separately.  This often causes headache when it comes time to integrate all the different edits contained in multiple versions scattered in one’s email inbox or finding the most current one if done sequentially. 

I am interested in what a more detailed visualization of document collaboration would look like if a formal graphic based on system dynamic modeling were used.  It would also be nice to compare Google Docs to a wiki, which has been suggested by others.  Anybody feel like creating one?

Email versus wiki collaboration


DNI Releases U.S. Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy

April 8, 2008

Last Friday, April 4, 2008, the Director of National Intelligence release the first ever United States Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy.  The document outlines the compelling need to transform from a “need-to-know” to “responsibility-to-provide” culture as outlined in the 2005 National Intelligence Strategy and sets out a stategy and implementation agenda with goals, objectives and initiatives.  Many of these initiatives mirror and incorporate those identified in the 2008 DNI 500 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration.

The strategy aligns with other existing policy, law and recommendations to improve information sharing following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, such as the 2007 DNI Intelligence Community Policy Memorandum 2007-200-2 dealing with responsibility-to-provide; 2007 National Strategy for Information Sharing; 2007 DOD Information Sharing Strategy; 2007 DNI 100 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration; 2005 Executive Order 13388; 2005 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies; 2005 WMD Commission Report; 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act; and the 2004 9/11 Commission Report.

All of these documents contribute to a growing policy foundation for creating and sustaining a more collaborative intelligence commununity.

DNI Releases the 500 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration

October 16, 2007

On October 10, 2007 the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released the 500 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration. This plan builds upon the 100 Day plan released back in April 2007. The plans focus on the following key areas: (1)  creating a culture of collaboration; (2) accelerating information sharing; (3) fostering collection and analytic transformation; (4) building acquisition excellence and technology leadership; (5) modernizing business practices; and (6) clarifying and aligning DNI authorities.

Each of the focus areas has a set of core and enabling initiatives:

1. Core: treat diversity as a strategic mission imperative; implement civilian IC joint duty program. Enabling: formalize National Intelligence University; improve recruiting, hiring and retention of heritage americans; develop an intelligence enterprise exercise program; improve foreign language capability; strengthen recruiting relationships with colleges and universities; complete design, begin development of an  IC performance-based pay system; catalog and connect IC human resource capabilities.

2. Core: enhance intelligence information sharing policies, processes, and procedures. Enabling: create a single information sharing environment; implement attribute-based access and discovery; provide collaborative information technology to non-IC partners; and establish a single community classification guide.

3. Core: create collaborative environment for all analysts; establish National Intelligence Coordination Center. Enabling: Develop common standards and guidance for HUMINT activities; strengthen foreign intelligence relationships; expand hard target integrated collection strategies; develop IC-wide collection management tools; strengthen analytic tradecraft across the community; improve and expand use of the National Intelligence Priorities Framework; and strengthen science and technology analysis capabilities.

4. Core: Implement acquisition improvement plan. Enabling: build an IC technology transition plan; complete the stand-up of the IARPA; establish a systems engineering and arhitecture group; and develop an agile acquisition requirements process.

5. Core: modernize the security clearance process; and align strategy, budget, and capabilities through a strategic enterprise management system. Enabling: analyze and improve IC relationships with clients; collaborate to protect privacy and civil liberties; identify a common core human resources information system; and improve the IT certification and accreditation process.

6. Core: update policy documents clarifying and aligning IC authorities. Enabling: Define Director of Defense Intelligence authorities, roles and responsibilities; update DOD intelligence agency charters; develop a capstone IC doctrine and lexicon; foster integration and collaboration in the IC legal community; harmonize IC policy on “U.S. Person” information; revise and enhance the national intelligence policy process; and submit annual intelligence authorization act proposal.

What stuck out to me was the creation of the National Intelligence Coordination Center (NIC-C). I am wondering how this will fit in with the Defense Joint Intelligence Operations Center (DJIOC) and Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JFCC-ISR) which seem to have a similar “integrating” function for collection operations.

Regardless, I like the plan, and the DNI’s continued focus on IC integration and collaboration is outstanding and beginning to make a real difference. If half of this 500 day plan gets implemented it would be great — I believe it will under DNI McConnell’s leadership.

USSOCOM and USSTRATCOM as Synchronizers

July 20, 2007

The reorganization that made the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) synchronizers and supported commands for the global war on terror (GWOT) and combating weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) missions, respectively, has advantages and disadvantages. Tension between functionally and regionally structured organizations has been a long standing issue. For the unified commands, a better model may have been developed by applying some fresher perspectives taken from organization theory and modern global business practices. Particularly important is a dynamic and networked structure that utilizes information technology to help knit the entire enterprise together.

For example, the current model assumes a single synchronizer is needed to centralize and synchronize a mission or function such as GWOT. However, it may have been better to give the geographic combatant commanders dual-hats for executing this mission and make them mutually responsible for executing global GWOT operations with the functional commands supporting them. This way, the authorities are there for mutual responsibility and accountability, and action to degrade the network as a cohesive network. If operating off the same information networks, the planners, analysts and operators across the commands and organizations could self-synchronize at the global network level. But this would require these teams to all be operating off the same picture and interlinking and integrating their information with the same same networks and tools. Additional simple tools such as blogs, wikis, and tags could go a long way toward knitting the unified commands together.

This does not mean, however, that USSOCOM would not take a lead role in synchronizing the GWOT. In reality, the supported-supporting model needs to be abandoned in its current form and, instead, needs to imitate many-to-many and joint relationships that better reflect reality. Nevertheless, the real question is how do we enable the entire national security apparatus – the interagency – to rapidly and effectively integrate and synchronize their activity. In the future, it may be wise to consider creating interagency constructs which are networked and that can integrate, synchronize, and task across all organizational lines at the strategic-operational level.

For now, it may be prudent to begin taking a closer look at the current relationship structure of the commands. In doing so we should abandon old organizational assumptions and enable the development of a flexible enterprise fit for today’s age by applying new forms of interorganizational linkages and collaboration tools. Obviously, other elements will need to be addressed beyond structure such as technology, culture and performance.


July 16, 2007

Intellipedia is a wiki launched by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It is used by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and other national security-related organizations, such as combatant commands. Three versions exist on each of the networks by classification: Top Secret (JWICS), Secret (SIPRNet), and Sensitive but Unclassified (Intelink-U/NIPRNet). Unlike Wikipedia, all edits are attributable. It was launched with the intent of helping the entire Intelligence Community share information, collaborate, and integrate their knowledge dynamically into issue-based articles – essentially becoming a “community of analysts.” It has grown tremendously since I began using the tool in November 2006.

I have pushed very hard getting co-workers to use Intellipedia and adopt it into their daily practices, helping develop training courses, training users, and developing methodologies to use the tool for formal planning purposes. Suprisingly, I have had great success in getting intelligence planners to use it for formal planning efforts, such as developing requirements and CONPLANS. Slowly the national security community is beginning to use this tool and beginning to transform some of the ways business is done using it.

Originally, I was more active on the unclassified version, and recently became an Intellipedia Administrator. I have begun to use the higher class versions more which, oddly, remain far more robust.

Briefing and advocating its use to colleagues and senior leadership has had surprising variances in feedback. Colleagues are prone to the typical responses due to the culture shock asking:

“How can you control “your” page so others can not view or edit it?”; “Anybody can edit any page…what if somebody posts bogus information?”; “What about need to know?”; etc.

But surprisingly, many are embracing its use, particularly as the new “need to share” and “responsibility to provide” mantra, being advocated by the Director of National Intelligence, begins to trickle down. Also surprising, is higher-level leadership tend to be the most open to its use and understand its potential value in enabling the community as a whole to share what they know and discover what they don’t, and integrate and interlink their collective knowledge. To a larget extent, I believe this stems not only from their understanding of what our current collaborative capabilities lack, but also their closeness and greater familiarity to these higher-level policies demanding a more collaborative community.

A critical danger is that other agencies have begun to launch their own wikis. While among enterprises multiple wikis may potentially serve a purpose, no such rational exists for creating organization-centric wikis among the security community. This brings us back to the same stovepiping problem and detracts from the value of integrating knowledge from the entire community into a common wiki platform.

A number of security professionals, including myself, are beginning to tackle what and how exactly these Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs should be used for. We are asking the question, “What processes should they complement, supplant, or rid entirely?” “Should they be used for formal and informal efforts, and if so, in what way?” Defining this will be critical to getting more users to adopt these tools and more effectively achieve their mission. 

My Collaboration Journey

July 16, 2007

For nearly a year now, I have been trying to help the U.S. government make information sharing and collaboration a reality among the national security community. I have been studying this topic and pursuing this goal since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, counter to what one might think, my social software skills are minimal (except for wikis). As a matter of fact, besides at my work, I have only blogged a handful of times on the open internet.

From a research perspective, however, I have lightly perused the topic of information sharing the last five years beginning with my interest in the U.S. Department of Defense’s proposed theory called network-centric warfare (see Alberts and Garstka, 2001). It was not until a year ago, however, that I began to take interest in interorganizational collaboration from an academic perspective, studying the various theoretical concepts associated with organization and management science.

My more scholarly journey began after I drafted a paper on the United States Strategic Command’s (USSTRATCOM) use of SKI-Web, a blog-like tool advocated by the Commander, General James Cartwright. In this paper I argued the U.S. Intelligence Community and national security community at large could learn from USSTRATCOM’S use of blogs and decentralized organizational design. I sent this paper for review to my former boss and friend at the Pentagon that I had worked with as a summer intern in 2005. After reading the paper, he wrote back a scathing critique of my utter lack of knowledge on organization theory and various theoretical concepts. At the time, I was really angered by this. But the truth was my friend was right. While I had perused literature on the internet, I had no foundation in organizational studies from a scholarly perspective. At the time I was just graduating with a degree in political science. Following my friend’s critique, which I am now very thankful for, I began researching, from a scholarly perspective, how the U.S. intelligence and national security community could foster an environment of information sharing and collaboration. This research interest also includes studying the private and other sectors.

I am now a graduate student studying Management at the University of South Florida and am an analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense where I am continuing this journey. And for the first time, I have a high degree of confidence that the U.S. government is making significant progress in its desire to foster a collaborative community, particularly under the recent leadership of Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence. I hope to continue to help in this effort and apply my knowledge from my studies in organization theory and collaboration.

Hello world!

July 16, 2007

Ok, I finally got a blog to use outside of work. I had previously used Google’s Blogger, but after some convincing by colleagues, I made the switch to Word Press. So far, I am impressed and like very much!