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Document created: 1 December 06
Air & Space Power Journal - Winter 2006
Maj Christopher Daniels, USAF
Maj Don Grove, USAF
Maj Ed Mundt, USAF, Retired*
In professional military education classes across the Air Force, the debate rages: “Are leaders born or made?” From the perspective of those being led, the answer might be more often than not, “Who cares?” The pertinent issue for these people is not whether nature or nurture produces leadership but how the organization ensures that those entering positions of authority are prepared to assume their leadership responsibilities. For newly assigned leaders, on-the-job training may be the least preferred course of study. Unfortunately, this is the norm in both the public and private sectors today. Civilian managers, whether promoted from within or hired from outside the organization, have to pass through learning periods in their new positions. This inevitably results in some level of trial and error, which can be difficult both for the managers and their subordinates. Despite excellent training courses, new Air Force commanders will experience a similar learning curve upon assuming command of their units. Regardless of the previous experience or training one has received, unanticipated personnel, financial, and operational war-fighting issues await every newly assigned commander.
Across industry and the military, leaders are turning to a new, unconventional approach to inquiry, innovation, and problem solving. They are creating or joining ongoing professional forums, which are groups of leaders connected through a social network and empowered to “ponder common issues, explore ideas, and act as sounding boards.”1 Through group interaction, the members can quickly assimilate information and create a knowledge base from which to practice the art of leadership. The group benefits by gathering and processing greater quantities of information more quickly than any single member could alone; the individual members benefit by being able to share in the collected wisdom of the group. This article discusses this new tool for professionals, called a community of practice (COP). It will address the theory behind the concept and then look at ways that the concept is being put to work to aid military leaders today. Specifically, the article will examine the Army’s effort to leverage its community of company commanders to accelerate combat effectiveness, address the Air Force’s new initiative designed to advance the art and practice of squadron command, and conclude by offering a vision for the future of military leadership in a global community of leadership expertise.
Organizations have resources. They have people, plant, and capital—resources that can be quantified and inventoried in an organization’s books. Another asset—one that is far more difficult to quantify and inventory—is knowledge. Yet without knowledge, all of an organization’s other assets are practically worthless. The question to consider then is how can leaders accumulate, harness, and expand this all-important resource for their personal growth and the growth of their organizations? To answer that, one must first understand the nature of knowledge within an organization.
Knowledge resides in every organization, both explicitly and implicitly. An organization’s explicit knowledge is readily available to its leaders and members. This knowledge includes published and catalogued organizational information, such as operating instructions, technical manuals, and other governing directives. It can also include personnel information, logistics data, mission-performance reports, and other historical data. One can think of an organization’s explicit knowledge as the accumulated knowledge one could amass about an organization from the documentation alone. But there is much more to consider.
Much of an organization’s knowledge is undocumented. It resides within the minds of its leaders and members, both past and present. This implicit knowledge combines with an organization’s explicit knowledge to achieve mission results. For example, two military units, both with similar personnel and equipment and identical missions, are facing operational readiness inspections. Both have the same technical orders and the same governing regulations. Both have access to the same manuals, logistics pipelines, training, and educational opportunities. Yet one unit soars through its inspection with outstanding results, while the other experiences major problems. The explicit knowledge was the same, but arguably there were major differences in the level of implicit knowledge between the organizations. One might argue that the failing unit was simply a victim of poor leadership, but the counter argument is simply that the failing unit’s leader did not possess the knowledge needed to be a good leader. Ultimately, the argument still revolves around knowledge.
One challenge for the aspiring leader is tapping into the implicit knowledge that already exists within his/her organization and expanding that knowledge for the benefit of all. Brian Lehaney, head of knowledge and information management at Coventry University, recommends creating “a bond between the social and professional links of practitioners in particular areas that enable them to share experience and understanding.”2 Within an organization, creating such a bond is relatively easy. The members typically enjoy physical proximity, share common interests and experiences, and are focused on similar organizational objectives. For the leader, however, the challenge is somewhat more complicated. The leadership resources he/she needs may not exist within the organization. On the contrary, the organizational members are very likely to turn to the leader for wisdom, knowledge, and guidance. To whom does this leader turn? The leader needs to reach out to a broader community, to tap into the wealth of knowledge that exists implicitly beyond the confines of his/her organization. How is this possible?
The answer may lie in the COP learning model. In their excellent work on the topic, Cultivating Communities of Practice, Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William Snyder offer this definition of COPs: “Communities of Practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and experience in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.”3
Through COPs, members with similar interests, responsibilities, and concerns can readily communicate and exchange information for their mutual benefit even if they do not belong to the same organization or serve in the same geographical area. Members share a passion for excellence and a genuine, altruistic desire to nurture the profession and help colleagues succeed. Over time, the community will develop a “body of common knowledge, practices, and approaches.”4
The COP aims to minimize redundant research efforts, enhance collaboration and exchange of ideas, and help leaders make timely and accurate decisions. The “virtual porch” provides a mechanism for individuals to keep each other current in the developments of a shared discipline; it also assists with better top-down communication by providing multiple and more-direct methods of disseminating information and ideas. Rather than being a detriment to individuality, this continuously updating baseline, once readily accessible, allows leaders to “focus their creative energies on the more advanced issues.”5 The key is the “socialization” of information dissemination; it’s the manifestation of a long-accepted truism: “The perception of and the management of social networks is intrinsic to the leadership role.”6 Managed efficiently, those social networks can lead to tangible organizational improvements.
Business leaders have taken advantage of this group dynamic for years, under such labels as distributed communities and knowledge management groups. Examples of enduring COPs reside in many organizations and are called “learning communities” at Hewlett-Packard Company, “family groups” at Xerox Corporation, “thematic groups” at the World Bank, “peer groups” at British Petroleum, and “tech clubs” at Chrysler. In industry, the stated objectives for these joined communities are to “enable colleagues to learn from one another through the sharing of issues, ideas, lessons learned, problems and their solutions, research findings and other relevant aspects of their mutual interest; and to generate tangible, measurable, value-added benefits to the business.”7 As depicted in figure 1, this common context is the basis for relationships with like-minded leaders, resulting in social capital that can be leveraged to accelerate the learning curve, prevent rework, and enhance organizational performance.
IBM Global Services began experimenting with COPs in 1995 by establishing a knowledge-management program. The company’s experience resulted in vibrant, global COPs that made intellectual capital accessible to practitioners who were connected to the domain, creating relationships and tangible business results (table 1). These managers discovered practical advantages to facilitating social networks to disseminate knowledge throughout a worldwide organization.
IBM and other companies discovered a new tool to advance knowledge management for leaders and practitioners. They found that these self-sustaining groups were “held together by common interest in a body of knowledge and are driven by a desire and need to share problems, experiences, insights, templates, tools, and best practices.”8 The question remained as to whether this type of virtual community had implications within the military.
Figure 1. COPs links to organizational performance through social capital. (Adapted from E. L. Lesser and J. Storck, “Communities of Practice and Organizational Performance,” IBM Systems Journal 40, no. 4 : 833
Table 1. COP advantages
US Army majors Nate Allen and Tony Burgess became friends as cadets at West Point and later found themselves commanding companies at the same time. Commanding is often described as the best job anyone will ever have. Nevertheless, the daily challenges a commander can face during peacetime and wartime are overwhelming—both Allen and Burgess felt the pressure. As captains, they lived next door to each other and spent many nights sitting on Allen’s front porch exchanging lessons learned. They quickly realized that their conversations were having a positive impact on their units and felt that this wisdom would be helpful to others. Therefore, the duo wrote a book in 1999 about command, Taking the Guidon, which was widely circulated on the Internet.
The book was a big success and spawned much energetic dialogue amongst other company commanders. This unanticipated reaction provided the motivation to create a venue where others could add to the conversation. As a result, in the spring of 2000, Allen and Burgess, with the assistance of West Point classmates, financed and established CompanyCommand.com, which over a period of two remarkable years evolved into CompanyCommand.army.mil (CompanyCommand). They were confident that a site designed for fellow company commanders would provide the cyberspace platform needed for uninterrupted, professional straight talk in a rapidly changing environment through nonattributive collaboration.
What started as informal conversations between Allen and Burgess on a literal front porch has turned into an invaluable tool, a virtual front porch, for Army company commanders. The site has taken those informal conversations that commanders were already having in an effort to learn and improve their leadership experience and transformed them into elaborately organized threads of discussion. CompanyCommand now has more than 10,000 registered users. Their collective expertise weaves through obstacles to provide solutions for a myriad of military issues. Beginning as a chat room prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, CompanyCommand’s popularity grew, so the Army decided to officially endorse the project and create a place for it within its formal training arena.
In 2002 West Point added CompanyCommand to its servers and began paying the activity costs. The Army also sent the founders to postgraduate school, and they have become professors at West Point where they operate the site as part of their jobs. CompanyCommand is building leadership skills and passing along nuggets of knowledge to maintain a strong Army at the operational level and defeat the adversary who wants to harm it. Gen Gordon Sullivan, 32nd chief of staff, US Army, credits CompanyCommand with “collectively raising the bar” in transforming the Army.9
How did this come to be? There may be a generational reason. Today’s junior officers, born in the late sixties and early seventies, are noticeably self-reliant and very confident in their abilities. Additionally, they grew up and have participated in peacekeeping missions in the post–Cold War era such as Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti, where the impact of their tactical-level decisions often had strategic-level effects. The Army has capitalized on this combination of factors, and CompanyCommand has been vital in junior officers’ development to accept and consider the enormous responsibilities current times have placed on them. This has worked out very well for the Army. Decentralized-execution taskings, such as directing close air support during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, demonstrated that company commanders had to possess the ability to make strategic-level decisions at the operational level with the same certainty and timeliness as ever.
Junior officers also grew up using the Internet, having optimized the sharing of information via the electronic medium. Because the community is Web-based, commanders with Internet connections have access from the most remote locations in the world and can talk to other commanders in real time on a daily basis. In the war on terrorism, these officers are teaching each other how to adapt to this type of fight, and the Army is encouraging them to do so. This is one example of how the Army has transformed to deal with a new kind of enemy—one that is agile, innovative, and constantly adapting.
To meet those challenges, commanders are hungry for lessons learned by others and real-time assistance from peers. The old mold is no longer sufficient. For instance, one of the US Army’s first post–Cold War experiences with peacekeeping operations occurred in 1993 during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. After the first rotation, nearly 18 months passed before the white paper on peacekeeping operations was published and disseminated. Had CompanyCommand been established then, it would have provided the opportunity for those at the tip of the spear to immediately share with others what they were learning. Thankfully senior Army leaders recognize this need and are encouraging their young commanders to participate in the company commander’s community.
CompanyCommandaccess is strictly limited to authorized commanders to protect trust and promote free sharing of information. The site is divided into 12 areas:
soldiers and families
unit of action
Each of those is broken into discussion threads on everything from mortar attacks to discipline problems, and from coping with fear to motivating and counseling soldiers. Commanders advise each other on how to kick in doors and how to protect their companies. Discussions are open and honest. The power of the relationship and trust factor cannot be taken for granted—this inspires participation.
CompanyCommandoffers connection to peers who are trying to take the same daunting hill with combat-ready units. Their stories prepare others mentally for what they will face when it is their turn. A prime example of the benefits of this preparation is the story of a company commander who routinely visited a classified sister site to research insurgent tactics in Iraq. He read a discussion thread expounding on how insurgents were wiring propagandist posters on walls to detonate improvised explosive devices (IED). The thread explained that as US soldiers marched into an area, they would rip down these posters. Insurgents knew this and took it as an opportunity to maim and kill the soldiers by wiring posters with IEDs. When this company commander’s unit was on patrol, one of his soldiers approached a poster to tear it down, only to be stopped by the company commander. Upon closer examination, the commander’s educated hunch was correct—the poster was wired. Fortunately, he was armed with knowledge that saved a young soldier’s life.10 This story and many others demonstrate that facilitating real-time information exchanges through a cadre of passionate CompanyCommand forum leaders and sharing from common experience can make a difference—even save lives! Company commanders have discovered that the incredible happens when dedicated leaders in a profession connect, share what they are learning, and encourage one another to improve.
CompanyCommand, which began as a grassroots effort, is now considered an appropriate model for the way professional-development needs of operational commanders are met throughout the entire US military—a new, critical, and immediate forum to get lessons learned to those who need them most, as demonstrated in figure 2. Learning is driven by experience, and the most recent component to adopt this strategy is the United States Air Force.
The former commandant of the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College (ACSC), Brig Gen Randal D. Fullhart, initiated an effort to establish a COP for Air Force squadron commanders in September 2005. He chartered a team of 15 ACSC students to design, implement, and manage Commanders Connection (https://sqcc.maxwell.af.mil) as a COP to promote the sharing of squadron commanders’ capabilities, vulnerabilities, lessons learned, and best practices throughout the US Air Force. All 15 members of the development team had previous command experience and represented a wide array of specialties, including operations, contracting, acquisitions, personnel, and maintenance. They completed the project in just eight months, bringing their COP live to the Air Force in May 2006. The successful CompanyCommand.com became the benchmark for the Air Force because of its emphasis on military command. The group examined many other COPs as well in an effort to learn from others’ successes and shortcomings. From this benchmarking, the development team put together a COP designed for success.
|Figure 2. Learning process within a community. (Adapted from Nate Allen and Tony Burgess, Company Command: Unleashing the Power of the Army Profession [West Point, NY: Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning, 2005], 16.|
The published vision of Commanders Connection is to advance the practice of command by linking Air Force squadron commanders with a community of effective practitioners developing an environment responsible for the promotion and sharing of knowledge and lifelong learning. In short, the purpose is to facilitate collaboration throughout the Air Force squadron-commander community in order to hasten the learning curve and solve everyday challenges. In doing so, the COP develops and stewards the tools, insights, and approaches needed by members; provides a forum conducive to resolving issues through highly innovative solutions and ideas; and assists members with the stresses and challenges unique to squadron command in an academic, nonattributive manner. Membership is focused on former, current, and named squadron commanders, though exceptions exist for commanders of select detachments and flights.
Additionally, the COP provides an avenue for sharing best practices and policies for command. As a repository of information, this helps minimize redundant research endeavors, engaging all job specialties through collaboration and exchange of ideas. The squadron-commander COP also provides a mechanism for individuals to keep each other current in the developments of a shared discipline, providing multiple and more-direct methods of disseminating information and ideas. The combination of static and dynamic information can help commanders save time and make timely, accurate decisions.
Consistent with COP theory, the Air Force’s Commanders Connection has a well-defined domain, community, and practice. The domain includes current, selected, and former squadron commanders or tactical unit-level equivalents. The Commanders Connection community is founded on a Web-based knowledge-management system developed by Tomoye, a COP industry leader in enterprise-collaboration software solutions (www.tomoye.com). The practice, or knowledge taxonomy, consists of seven broad content categories or forums:
Airmen and families
tips for command
education and training
The seven forums are further broken down into specific topics consisting of static information shared with others and dynamic discussions between members, or a mix of both.
A key to the success of Commanders Connection is strong leadership and support at all levels. At the senior level, the ACSC commandant serves as the champion of the program, providing the “guidance, funds, visibility, [and] legitimacy.”11 The community manager, the distance-learning division of ACSC, holds responsibility for the overall operation of the community, to include budget, program oversight, and liaison with the community champion. A select group of former commanders attending ACSC includes community leaders who provide day-to-day leadership for community discussion, content, membership, marketing, and Web-site management. They also form the core group from which forum leaders are selected and are responsible for management of the seven individual forums. Community members arise from the community at large to lead specific topics under those forums. The topic leaders either volunteer or are asked by forum leaders to lead, based on demonstrated topic knowledge and involvement. Community leadership is not mandatory for membership and participation.12
Commanders Connectionis not a COP pioneer in the Air Force. Today, one can find a COP for just about any topic imaginable. The Air Force’s repository of COPs is on the Air Force Portal (www.my.af.mil), where there are some 3,000 COPs in existence. The COPs are categorized into 20 overarching topics, spanning from operations to foreign military sales, and from test and evaluation to security. Key metrics from the Air Force Portal indicate that 25 percent of those are thriving. Based on all 3,000 communities, the COP’s visitation rates (fig. 3) increased some 44 percent in calendar year 2005 to about 2.3 million per month, while e-mails exchanged among participants (fig. 4) rose approximately 35 percent to an average of 220,000 each month. Meanwhile, the number of documents uploaded for others to use (fig. 5) climbed 80 percent to 48,000 per month, and the number of documents viewed by COP members (fig. 6) nearly do maximum of 281,000 in one month. Though this is but a snapshot, it is clear from the positive trends in those metrics that participation in COPs is steadily growing. So what about the 75 percent of COPs that are not prospering?13
Figure 3. Number of COP viewers. (Compiled from US Air Force, Knowledge Now “Metric Entry” Web page, https://wwwd.my.af.mil/afknprod/ASPs/Metrics/Entry.asp?Filter=OO[accessed 16 January 2006].)
Figure 4. Number of e-mails sent among COP participants. (Compiled from US Air Force, Knowledge Now “Metric Entry” Web page, https://wwwd.my.af.mil/afknprod/ASPs/Metrics/Entry .asp?Filter=OO[accessed 16 January 2006].)
|Figure 5. Number of documents uploaded. (Compiled from US Air Force, Knowledge Now “Metric Entry” Web page, https://wwwd.my.af.mil/afknprod/ASPs/Metrics/Entry.asp?Filter=OO [accessed 16 January 2006].)||Figure 6. Number of documents viewed. (Compiled from US Air Force, Knowledge Now “Metric Entry” Web page, https://wwwd.my.af.mil/afknprod/ASPs/Metrics/Entry.asp?Filter=OO [accessed 16 January 2006].)|
There appear to be some key principles that determine how well a community will do, and designing the community around those principles from inception is vital. According to Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder, seven principles will create “aliveness” and opportunity for growth:
1. Design for Evolution. Design for evolution is rather self-evident. While it is important to have guiding goals to begin a community, the end state depends on where the members take it, and the design of the community must allow for this inevitable evolutionary process.
2. Allow an Outsider’s Perspective. Another ingredient is allowing an outsider’s perspective to generate growth. This includes community members evaluating other COPs to glean from them, as well as allowing others to offer input into their own COP.
3. Invite Different Levels of Participation. It is also imperative to invite different levels of participation. Individual interests in the COP will vary as much as the individuals, from actively helping others through message and document posts, to simply connecting with others and to just being a bystander watching the activity. The COP must accept and accommodate this variety.
4. Develop Both Public and Private Community Activity. Developing both public and private community activity is based on relationships. As Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder point out, “the key to designing community spaces is to orchestrate activities in both public and private spaces that use the strength of individual relationships to enrich [public] events and use events to strengthen individual relationships.”14 In a mass gathering, it is important to encourage relationship building, which will enhance effectiveness at both the communal and private levels.
5. Focus on Value. The importance of focus on value stems from the voluntary nature of community participation. Members will continue to participate only if they realize personal gains. While it is normally quite challenging to trace benefits of a COP, a simple method is to open up discussion between members and seek examples of how the COP has helped members. This will help current and potential members see the true impact of the community.
6. Combine Familiarity and Excitement. It is also important to combine familiarity and excitement in a community. As a community settles into routine events and topics, it builds relationships, trust, and comfort that promote candid discussion. The danger of this, though, is creating a stagnant or closed community. To avoid those pitfalls, leaders should introduce excitement through such avenues as inviting a controversial speaker, holding meetings between members that wouldn’t normally meet, and introducing new and innovative ideas or products from an outside source to spark creativity and diverse thinking and conversation. While familiarity is important to community health, so is occasional, well-thought-out excitement; balance between the two is the key.
7. Create a Rhythm for the Community. Balance is also important for a healthy COP. Creating a rhythm for the community includes regular activities such as meetings, conferences, Web-site activities, luncheons, and so forth. It also includes special projects and events. Too many or too few regular activities as well as too much change or too little variety are the challenges to finding this balance.15
The developers of Commanders Connection, determined to produce a thriving community, addressed these characteristics in their design. Still, several challenges face the infant group, and the first and biggest is convincing very busy squadron commanders that involvement is valuable and will save them time and energy in the long run. Focusing more attention on dynamic discussions rather than posting static information will help create a true community instead of just another Web site. At the same time, community leaders recognize that both static and dynamic content must remain relevant and that commanders need to regularly contribute both types. For this vibrant activity to occur, the large population of observers initially expected must quickly be turned into participants. Finally, since the community managers are ACSC faculty and not current commanders, it will be vital for the day-to-day leadership to remain a grassroots effort, that is, the former commanders of the current year’s student body. Those community leaders, in turn, must keep a focus on bettering Commanders Connection, not simply on their ACSC grade.
To this end, they will need to focus attention on evaluating Commanders Connection for viability. Their evaluation must first look for signs of self-sustaining, that is, evidence that the community is not staying alive solely on the efforts of the community leaders but on community participants at large. They must then develop metrics that measure the community’s “health” and identify areas requiring change. They should also look for signs that the community is ready to branch off into other communities, such as specific functional areas like maintenance, munitions, contracting, and operations. Encouraging relationships beyond the Web site will also be vital, as will maintaining the correct balance of familiarity and excitement. This level of effort will ensure that Commanders Connection builds upon the solid foundation established in its infancy and grows into a mature community advancing the practice of command.
These examples of knowledge management and the use of COPs demonstrate that mentorship and collaboration have become an enduring aspect of effective business and military leadership. Today’s fast-paced lifestyles make communities relevant, and technology makes them possible.
As stated above, due to the unique, challenging nature of their mission, Air Force commanders can benefit from both mentorship and peer-to-peer collaboration. It is up to the commanders to support the COP, both from advocacy and contribution. In addition, many other groups have unique and demanding specialties that could benefit from a vibrant, engaged community in which all members frequently contribute to the body of knowledge and access information relevant to their daily needs. Professional centers of excellence (professional military education courses, technical schools, Air Force Institute of Technology, etc.) should assess the value of COPs for their populations. Further, as the Air Force expands its expeditionary role, the Army model, focused squarely on war fighting and combat practices, takes on greater significance and relevance.
The US Air Force continues to distinguish itself as a world-class organization in many ways. An important element in maintaining organizational excellence is mentorship, both formal and informal, which passes on tradition and technique from one generation of leaders to the next. Throughout their careers, Airmen learn from others and incorporate ideas and practices into their own distinct leadership styles. Until now, social learning groups have been limited in number and size due to technological and practical constraints. However, online communities can now instantly link every member of a large group and provide real-time access to the collective repository of information, knowledge, and experience. By expanding the pool of “peer mentors,” Air Force commanders can access every member of the community, seek out specialized skills or experiences, and submit questions or solicit opinions in a collaborative environment.
The ultimate goal for leaders at every level, especially participating members of vibrant COPs, is to nurture “a set of common approaches and shared standards that create a basis for action, communication, problem-solving, performance, and accountability” while maximizing teamwork, collaboration, mentorship, and synergy.16 Through social contacts using online collaboration, the Air Force has a good start with Commanders Connection. It is up to other communities to follow suit.
*Maj Christopher T. Daniels is an Air Force Secretariat contracting staff officer for the deputy assistant secretary for contracting, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Headquarters US Air Force. Maj Donald B. Grove is the search and rescue representative for Current Operations Division, Kenney Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces. Maj Edwin L. Mundt is retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
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1. W. M. Snyder, “Communities of Practice: Combining Organizational Learning and Strategy Insights to Create a Bridge to the 21st Century” (paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Boston, MA, August 1997).
2. Brian Lehaney et al., eds., Beyond Knowledge Management (London: Idea Group Publishing, 2004), 46.
3. Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William Snyder, Cultivating Communities of Practice (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), 4.
4. Ibid., 5.
5. Ibid., 11.
6. Prasad Balkundi and Martin Kilduff, “The Ties That Bind: A Social Network Approach to Leadership,” Leadership Quarterly 16, no. 6 (December 2005): 941–61.
7. Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder, Cultivating Communities of Practice, 1.
8. Lehaney et al., Beyond Knowledge Management, 47.
9. Nate Allen and Tony Burgess, Company Command: Unleashing the Power of the Army Profession (West Point, NY: Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning, 2005), 200.
10. Ibid., 189.
11. Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder, Cultivating Communities of Practice, 214.
12. Becoming a member of Commanders Connection is straightforward for current and selected commanders. Simply visit the Web site (www.maxwell.af.mil/sqcc) and select “Send us an email” to request an account, or visit https://wwwmil.maxwell.af.mil/sqcc and select “Request an Account.” Once you submit the short application, someone will respond within 24–48 hours. If you do not readily fit the mold for membership but wish to join, simply provide your rationale. Each situation is considered on a case-by-case basis.
13. US Air Force, Knowledge Now “Metric Entry” Web page, https://wwwd.my.af.mil/afknprod/ASPs/Metrics/Entry.asp?Filter=OO (accessed 16 January 2006).
14. Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder, Cultivating Communities of Practice, 59.
15. Ibid., 57–62.
16. Ibid., 38.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
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