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Complex organisations will undoubtedly have highly-trained and experienced personnel with in-depth knowledge about how to perform their roles, but have little understanding of how their jobs affect the work of others and the impacts on the organisation as a whole. In such situations, there is extensive “key person risk,” where key experience and knowledge lie within veterans of the industry, much of the risk may be unrealised. In engineering settings, this has been called the “Grey Beard Problem”. 

This Case Study is the capture of ship design knowledge in the US Navy. Therefore, the particulars are relevant to the government, defence, and marine sectors. 

The problem is, actually, generic across many products, services, and verticals, but is particularly acute in industries with an ageing workforce with extensive expertise, given that this expertise was mainly gained and utilised in a pre-information-age environment.

In This Case Study You Will Learn

  1. How the BOXARR Platform is making it possible for virtually untrained users to capture their knowledge

  2. How BOXARR can be used for knowledge elicitation, in a collaborative way.

  3. How the knowledge captured in BOXARR can be utilised to improve collaborative productivity.

Our Customer


Capturing Latent At-Risk Knowledge




The US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the Navy’s five systems, commands a fiscal year budget of nearly $30 billion, accounts for nearly 25% of the US Navy’s entire budget and is the largest naval fighting force that has ever existed. 

With a force of 74,000 civilian and military personnel, NAVSEA engineers build, buy and maintain the Navy's ships and submarines and their combat systems. To accomplish this, NAVSEA manages 150 acquisition programs and foreign military sales cases that include billions of dollars in annual military sales to partner nations.

Their Challenge 

The US Navy faces a critical and escalating crisis: a substantial erosion of its internal design expertise, which has shifted alarmingly to the shipbuilders they commission for constructing their paramount assets. This profound knowledge drain isn't just problematic, it's dire. Recent shipbuilding endeavours haven't merely seen cost overruns; they've witnessed budgets that have skyrocketed, with costs in some cases more than doubling from initial estimates. These aren't minor discrepancies; they're catastrophic financial haemorrhages that compromise the Navy's fiscal sustainability and threaten its operational readiness.

Such massive inflations in cost don't just strain the Navy's budget; they imperil national security. Extended delays in ship delivery not only weaken the Navy's tactical preparedness but also expose vulnerabilities in potential geopolitical flashpoints. Diminished design expertise within the Navy isn't just an internal concern; it has become a pressing national emergency. The immediate challenge? To swiftly bridge this widening knowledge chasm and reinstate robust oversight to ensure the delivery of cost-efficient, timely, and strategically vital naval assets.

Why did the US Navy have this problem?

They simultaneously faced the challenge of technologies developing at a pace faster than design cycle times, and an ageing population of expert Naval architects whose knowledge is critical to successfully bringing ship project management inline. 

The Navy wished to capture a model of the preliminary ship design process from around 100 Naval Architects. This model would be used as a starter for new ship design projects, facilitating more effective collaborative work on customising this general plan for specific new ship projects.

Nowhere to store knowledge and no tools to help facilitate its capture.

The Navy had already begun workshops to capture design knowledge from their Naval Architects, but they found they had nowhere to store that knowledge and no tools to help facilitate its capture. Upon hearing about us, they cancelled projects to develop an in house tool, because BOXARR provided a collaborative, networked knowledge extraction tool, effective storage of the knowledge captured, plus visualisation and analytical capabilities to exploit the outcomes.

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Capturing Latent At-Risk Knowledge | US Navy

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