13_Nate Allen and Tony Burgess

Change Your Formation

“Combat is the ultimate team sport. The cost of losing is death. We knew that if Army leaders could share their ideas and lessons in real time, they would rock the world. These Web sites have sparked a grassroots movement that is changing the Army from the bottom up.”


Nate Allen and Tony Burgess
West Point, New York


What needed an overhaul?
The way that Army leaders share knowledge and learn from experience. Combat is the ultimate team sport; the cost of losing is death. It makes sense that Army leaders would be passionately committed to figuring out and sharing what works. And they are, but the organization has a lid on its learning that needs overhaul. Even though all Army officers–literally thousands each year–command a platoon or company, there has been no system that allows them to share what they are learning real time laterally across the entire organization. When they leave the job, so does their experience.

What was the single biggest obstacle?
Time and resources for a team of volunteers to create a solution. We knew that if Army leaders could easily share their ideas and lessons real time, they would rock the world. Because we were breaking new ground, we needed to create and demonstrate value by actually doing it. Pulling this off with no funding (other than our savings accounts) and on our free time has definitely been our biggest obstacle. Interestingly enough, the fact that our work is totally grass-roots has created a spirit of community that is downright inspirational.

How did you overcome it?
We ACTED! We pulled together the most incredible team (25+ people) whose inspiration in life is leading American Soldiers. The team created a way for Army leaders to share knowledge and experience laterally across the entire organization via two Web site — and The sites have sparked a grass-roots movement–fueled by word of mouth–that is changing the Army from the bottom up.

How have you seen results?
Army leaders from across the entire organization are participating in the platoon and company-level communities of practice that our team created–accessing knowledge, sharing ideas, and tapping into the experiences of others. The Web sites log over 23,000 unique visitors a month who download the data equivalent of 2-3 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedias. Army senior leaders have recently asked us to work full time to help develop online communities of practice throughout the Army. Check out the sites and see how we have captured not only knowledge but also the spirit of the organization!