U.S. Strategic Command

 

STRATCOMs J9 interns seek solutions for information sharing

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez | U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs | August 24, 2011

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Pete Nomenyo, a J9 intern program participant and Bellevue University Computer Information Systems major, introduces his team and kicks-off their presentation on information sharing Aug. 18 at the U.S. Strategic Command theater. Left to right: Kathleen McGlynn, Creighton University, International Relations major; LaLeesha Haynes, Creighton University, English major; William Lipovsky, Hastings College, Communications major; Katie Fenwick, University of Oklahoma, Zoology major; Laura Kraft, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Political Science major; and Anne Marascuilo, Creighton University, International Relations major. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez)
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Pete Nomenyo, a J9 intern program participant and Bellevue University Computer Information Systems major, introduces his team and kicks-off their presentation on information sharing Aug. 18 at the U.S. Strategic Command theater. Left to right: Kathleen McGlynn, Creighton University, International Relations major; LaLeesha Haynes, Creighton University, English major; William Lipovsky, Hastings College, Communications major; Katie Fenwick, University of Oklahoma, Zoology major; Laura Kraft, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Political Science major; and Anne Marascuilo, Creighton University, International Relations major. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez)
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - A team of seven college students chosen to participate in the Mission Analysis and Outreach Division's intern program presented their findings on ways to improve information sharing Aug. 18 in the U.S. Strategic Command theater.

The presentation focused on their data collection and research methods, current information sharing practices and challenges, and recommended courses of action - a compilation of approximately three months of research in which the results even surprised members of the team.

"It seemed like such a simple problem but there's definitely not a simple solution," said William Lipovsky, a Communications Studies and Political Science major from Hastings College, Hastings, Neb. "What we thought right away was 'technology's the problem. '"

Lipovsky said the team initially considered an internet based collaborative tool as a possible solution, but found the issue appeared to center on information ownership.

"I think people withhold information sometimes because if they have it, it makes them have the 'knowledge is power' mentality," said Kathleen McGlynn, a Creighton University student studying International Relations and Research and Design Analysis.

"I thought that was really interesting because I never really thought of it in the private sector or academia as much of a problem. "

A method they employed in their research included a command-wide survey where the results indicated 81 of 117 respondents consider information sharing a problem. One hundred and nine respondents agreed that enhancing the culture to support information sharing could help. They also got members of the command involved by inviting personnel to a poster session in the intern program work spaces. The session allowed STRATCOM members to share their personal thoughts and expertise on the subject and write it on posters aligning the walls. Supplementing their research, they read extensively on the subject and interviewed experts through video teleconferences, and visited others in Washington D.C. and Boston.

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Kathleen McGlynn, a J9 intern program participant and Creighton University International Relations major, briefs an audience on information sharing in the U.S. Strategic Command theater Aug. 18. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez)
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Kathleen McGlynn, a J9 intern program participant and Creighton University International Relations major, briefs an audience on information sharing in the U.S. Strategic Command theater Aug. 18. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez)

The team broke down their findings into seven challenges stifling information sharing and presented each with a list of recommendations during their presentation. Those challenges included vertical information sharing, attitudes and perceptions, horizontal information sharing, lack of incentives, ergonomics, employee development, and an overabundance of tools.

Some of their recommendations included reinforcing SKIWeb's intended purpose, trust-building activities, recognizing efforts made for collaboration and information sharing, and providing an innovation-fostering environment as part of the new headquarters design.

Dr. John Hudson, the J9 intern program manager, said the real benefit of the program is the fresh perspective the interns provide.

"Initially there was a single point of focus and that was to elicit unfettered thinking and bring to bear those 'outside-the-box' solutions to old STRATCOM or government problems," Dr. Hudson said.

He added that in the program's four years of existence, approximately 50 percent of the interns who've participated in the program end up working for the government.

"Along the way we discovered this to be a huge recruiting tool. We didn't realize how big it was going to be," he said.

Since 2007, the program has engaged 117 participants tackling a total of 21 projects. Teams are made up of about six to eight graduates and undergraduates in a variety of majors.

"This is a team effort … these interns are not afraid of the hard questions. And if they don't know the answer they're not going to lie to you either, they're going to seek to find an answer," Dr. Hudson said. "You have to perceive challenges that are found as an opportunity for improvement. We're all on the same team, and we should seek to help each other across the command. I think that has to be the most important thing. "

The final report on the intern project will be published later this year.