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  • BOXARR Marketing

Capturing Latent, At-risk Knowledge in the US Navy

Updated: Mar 16

CASE STUDY | United States Navy


Complex organisations often have highly trained and experienced people with in-depth knowledge about how to do their jobs, but 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,” much of which may be unrealised. In engineering settings, this has been called the “greybeard” 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.

However, the problem is 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

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

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

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

Our Customer

The United States Navy Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the Navy’s five system commands with 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, builds, buys and maintains 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 Navy has experienced a gradual loss of its design expertise to the shipbuilders they employ to construct their most vital assets. This loss of knowledge is problematic, given that recent ship build projects have often exceeded cost and delivery time estimates, with some well-reported examples where costs more than doubled.

Why did US Navy had this problem?

They simultaneously face the challenge of technologies developing at a pace faster than design cycle time, 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.

The BOXARR Solution

How did BOXARR approach the challenge?

For knowledge extraction workshops, BOXARR was provided on multiple laptops across several rooms at a conference facility. The backend of this network was then installed on multiple permanent servers that could be used after the workshops for knowledge exploitation by numerous users. A copy of the model was also provided on a web-based online Navy network.

How was our client involved in this stage?

In the workshops, approximately 100 Naval architects worked in about ten groups, based on specific areas of expertise. Through facilitated manual capture of knowledge with nearly zero training they created a preliminary ship design model with on the order of thousands of ship design activities documented.

What was the solution?

After the workshops, Naval personnel and principal contractors employed the model as a starting point for ship design project plans, using BOXARR visualisation and analysis as the basis for critical design meetings that resulted in the custom project plans for four new ship projects

Annualized Return on Investment

If you would like to know more about the Case Study please contact us.

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