Robert Damashek


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This was a presentation from the November 2009 workshop in the Open Government Directive Workshop Series.

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  • The fundamental equation of Open Government is to enable both effective transparency and participation in Government change despite profound complexity. [Based on our work with DoD and large Government organizations over the past several years, we believe there are five steps to this equation: 1. understanding the change lifecycle 2. fusing and harnessing the knowledge that supports it 3. understanding the consequences and dependencies 4. applying open, collaborative technologies to enable participation 5. creating the social dynamic to engage and enhance participation] Step 1 – Understanding the Change Lifecycle a. identify needs and gaps, and define goals to focus change b. plan and decide a course of action c. enact the plan d. measure the effects throughout implementation This cycle is simple, but the knowledge involved quickly gets complex as the cycle iterates and scales. Furthermore, it must operate at an ever accelerating pace and with ever greater consequences. Introducing transparency without understanding these consequences could actually be more harmful (due to bolder yet uninformed decisions) than a lack of transparency.  Click to show scales – it’s necessary to balance the depth one can analyze/understand with the required pace of changes. [DoD Examples – Iraq, Afghanistan, asymmetric warfare, global terrorism, cyber-security, etc.] Step 2 – Click to show Knowledge Knowledge about this lifecycle is essentially the architecture of the enterprise – how it’s been organized to do business. More simply, we call this the enterprise architecture or EA. Understanding EA is necessary for understanding the 2 nd and 3 rd order effects of potential changes and for avoiding unintended consequences/risks. In our work for the DoD, we have used this lifecycle knowledge for achieving a balanced, objective, non-partial understanding of current Government architecture and planned changes [without getting bogged down either by too much detail or by specific organizational or personal opinions]. EA serves as a knowledge scaffolding from which to dive into details [such as mission/vision/goals/objectives/tasks, principles/rules/capabilities, services/processes/technologies, analyses of alternatives, risk/consequence modeling, balanced scorecards, earned value management and cost analyses, etc.]. In reality, most Government decision makers don’t yet have ready access to this full span of knowledge. Step 3 – Click to show Analysis Of particular value to the DoD has been objectively examining its plans and processes through making process modeling and simulation tools accessible to non-specialists. Step 4 – Click to show Technologies We have also applied many Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 (Semantic Web) technologies to help enhance sharing of architectural knowledge, collaborative design and analysis. Leveraging these tools has been made more difficult because the DoD knowledge base spans many functional and organizational disciplines, and existing technological support is consequently fragmented. For example, some good specialized tools exist for complex program/project performance management, business intelligence and design/analysis of complex architectures, but these were never designed to be used by or made accessible for generalized audiences. Another challenge is the general immaturity of these technologies and the need to orchestrate and integrate them to create an experience useful and accessible to non-technologists. Step 5 – Click to show Participation Where we’re headed is to greatly increase the accessibility of this enterprise knowledge and the willingness of non-specialists to contribute in the deliberation leading to important decisions.
  • For the Army, we are currently working out strategies for applying EA as a foundation for facilitating the Army’s overall change cycle, ARFORGEN – generating and delivering new, enhanced and ready personnel and materiel into Army operations. But this demands a new social dynamic that includes broad participation of all impacted parties in the decision making process, including soldiers and industry. So, how do we design an environment that maximizes and fairly balances information sharing, participation and real deliberation? The Obama administration’s Open Dialogue experiments were a good start, but did not allow either for shared understanding of an EA knowledge base as an analytical foundation for decision making, or for ensuring that quality deliberation actually occurs. So we are currently looking at how to merge softer, social sciences with our technology-centric approach. One social scientist who has scientifically studied the criteria for this environment is James Fishkin, Chair of Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford. In his book from “When the People Speak – Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation”, Fishkin outlines four additional criteria beyond shared information for ensuring that a representative set of participants achieve quality deliberation about alternative decisions for change. With respect to information sharing, Fishkin reinforces our findings that it’s impractical to rapidly achieve shared understanding of a great depth of existing EA information, even in a fairly narrow or specific area, but it’s also unnecessary. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are needed to help synthesize and share this effectively only to a depth sufficient to enable deliberation by non-specialists. To achieve balanced decisions, SMEs cannot be the decision makers. Given the geographic and social distribution of participants, effective use of Web 2.0 and 3.0 collaborative technologies will be essential to ensure maximum participation without incurring prohibitive costs. I hope that I’ve given you a quick glimpse of how this practice might be extended beyond DoD to participatory Open Government involvement by the citizens themselves, the ultimate treasure protected by the DoD. Click to last slide.
  • Please contact me if you would like a copy of a more detailed white paper we are preparing. Here’s my contact information.
  • Robert Damashek

    1. 1. Open Government Support for the Department of Defense Developed under Contracts W912DR-08-F-0272, W912DR-09-F-0141, HC1028-08-F-2779 November 16, 2009 1911 N. Ft. Myer Dr, Ste 300, Arlington VA 22209 571.480.4444
    2. 2. Enabling Transparent Change Lifecycle, Knowledge & Technology Need for Change (Gap) Assess Performance Analyze Alternatives Pace Depth WIKIs Blogs Semantics Portals Workflow Dashboards
    3. 3. Next Steps – Social Dynamics <ul><li>An environment for participatory deliberation </li></ul><ul><li>Criteria for quality deliberation*: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Substantive Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of Viewpoints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conscientiousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Equal Consideration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need Subject Matter Experts to simplify and synthesize for shared understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to be integrated into an Open Government process with online social media support </li></ul>* ” When the People Speak”, James Fishkin, 2009
    4. 4. Contact Information Robert Damashek Chief Architect Binary Group, Inc. 1911 Ft Myer Dr, Ste 300 Arlington, VA 22209 (o) 703-602-7287 | (c) 571-221-3914 [email_address]