The Lab No One Ever Heard Of
Ha! Aha! Ahahahahahahaha!
DIA’s approach [to organizational change was] based on three principles. First, the agency discovered that any mechanism to facilitate change must be positioned outside DIA’s business units and must have the protection of top leadership. Second, it saw that structuring this mechanism should be done through raids – short-term pilot projects – instead of battles or sieges. Agency leaders insisted that the pilot take place where the work actually was being done – at the practice level. To overcome what DIA called the “zero-sum game constraint,” the mechanism could not occupy its own separate physical space, could not have resources other than one person and minimal funding, and should create a network of volunteers – revolutionaries – to spread new behaviors discovered through pilot projects. DIA named the new mechanism the Knowledge Laboratory.[…]
By the end of 2005, the Knowledge Laboratory achieved a reputation for excellence inside DIA as well as from intelligence colleagues, other agencies, academia and business. From DIA’s perspective, it earned this reputation by attacking the right problem and making small changes and improvements in core processes. The right problem was a lack of collaboration within DIA. The right solution was to allow seeking, creating and sharing knowledge to trump organizational impediments.
Aha, ha, heh . . . whew . . . man, sometimes I slay myself.
Having been there during the timeframe I have to say that this was either the blackest program in the SAP room or this report is some kind of cruel hoax. Since they’re talking about it, it must not be a SAP. Basing your change efforts on those of another government agency? That strategy is absurd on its face. Wild success in two years that broke down barriers and led to a magical world of sharing and collaboration? Either all my former colleagues are lying to me, or this is the world’s biggest puff piece. In the immortal words of Public Enemy: Don’t believe the hype.
Thinking you can’t go radical because the nature of the work is so special that you’ll end up losing the farm is a sucker’s game. You’ll still get the ulcer but it’ll all be for nothing. The farm has been bet for us and we’d better come up with the best hand we can fast.