My Collaboration Journey

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.

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