Understanding "understanding" flow for network-centric warfare: military knowledge-flow mechanics
Nissen, Mark E.
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Network-centric warfare (NCW) emphasizes information superiority for battlespace efficacy, but it is clear that the mechanics of how knowledge flows are just as important as those pertaining to the networks and communication systems used to transmit data and information. Unfortunately, with the strong presumption that knowledge is distinct from data and information, knowledge-flow mechanics in the warfare context are not well understood; even the term knowledge is used in conflicting ways (e.g., to describe information flows) by NCW experts, operational personnel and developers of military doctrine. Mapping key concepts from technologically enabled business models in which NCW is based in large part to the military, we substitute the term understanding flow when discussing the mechanics of how knowledge flows in the NCW context. In one respect, this mapping and terminological substitution enable us to move forward and model knowledge-flow mechanics in a manner that is consistent with the operational Navy's lexicon; in another respect, however, it is clear that Navy lexicon does not yet include the term understanding flow. Hence, naval conceptualization of NCW may be missing a vital element. Informed by recent advances in knowledge-flow theory, the research described in this technical report develops a four-dimensional model of understanding-flow mechanics. This multidimensional model enables a novel capability to recognize a variety of understanding-flow patterns found in the military enterprise, to distinguish such patterns from their counterparts pertaining to information and data, and to enhance the speed and efficiency of NCW understanding flows. Just as understanding the mechanics of electrical flow is critical to developing useful electronic devices, understanding the mechanics of understanding flow is critical to conceiving useful NCW systems.
NPS Report NumberNPS-GSBPP-02-001
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