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Team 7 Week 5 Progress Report

Interviews (10/62)

MSG Tom – Future Concepts – Subject Matter Expert

  • Not sure what his most common search terms would be to find people who visited a given vendor or worked on a given capability.
  • The information that eludes him, and that he’s most interested in, is identifying previous colleagues that had visited a specific partner, whether that’s another government agency, lab, or vendor.
  • Would also like to know about what any previous colleagues had discussed but would rather find out with a quick phone call than by going through piles of documents. Going through piles of documents is what he does now and he’s never confident that he has all the information he needs.

Rob – CDD Operations

  • If he’s going to search for something, it will probably be by vendor, category of equipment, and/or timeframe.
  • It can be helpful, for example, to know who talked to a given vendor in the last 6 months. He should be able to easily distinguish the timeframe he cares about from no longer relevant entries.
  • The categorical search helps when he wants to know what vendors people are talking to about a given type of product.


  • Emphasized the value of a system that is both simple and able to put information right in front of people’s faces. Felt our email subscription solution checked those boxes.
  • Wished that it could somehow use the data collected to show who is due to provide a trip report. Noted that similar products are briefed all the time in the military and can be a good motivator. Did not provide an example of a time when such a system proved effective.
  • It would help to have some basic templating to help folks who are totally unsure what to say to write something. Stuff like date, participants, products, conversation, and the ability to attach a file.

John – Squadron R&D Specialist

  • Has experienced both visiting a vendor only to find out that someone else had already made contact and finding out that someone visited a vendor he was already working with.
  • Planning on a trip next week – would absolutely search a database to see if anyone else made the same trip. Trips cost time and money.
  • Believes problem can extend beyond duplicated and is reflected across other government agencies – individuals can spend years working on a capability only to find out that another agency already developed it.
  • Warned of a slight distinction between how civilian employees apply to go on a trip compared to enlisted employees. Each form includes the same basic information but may require looking in different places.

MSG Darrell – R&D Section Leader

  • Estimated he spends about 10-20% of his time interacting with CDD but it depends on the project. For some it’s 100% involvement, for others they might not need any.
  • Value’s CDD’s understanding of the acquisition process; suggests they may sometimes overstep their bounds in shops that are not part of the units core competencies (which he considers to be the more traditional development teams like such as guns, breaching, etc.).
  • Suggested a willingness to share information about his projects at an early stage with two caveats. First, this already happens among the more tech savvy people and CDD is not often a part of it due to lack of right personnel or passion. Second, people in his position would worry about CDD using such a platform as a way to wield oversight over them and shut projects down.

Brian – R&D Section Leader

  • Noted that his team primarily receives new capabilities and has to figure out how to make them work with all the existing systems.
  • His problem: with the increasingly complex layers of networks he has to work with, it becomes increasingly difficult to cope when he suddenly finds out he needs to implement a capability that’s been in development for years.
  • He wants to know anything new happening with ATAC (their primary software interface). For example, when someone uses or integrates a program in a new way, right now they’ll write up an AAR saying what they did, what they’re going to keep doing, and what they need to improve on. He doesn’t know where they go. Once they get emailed if he doesn’t see them right away they might as well go in the trash.
  • What he would REALLY love is to be able to put the content of webpages onto a program where people could comment with their work related details. He follows a number of national labs and believes they provide the best info about capabilities, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to get that type of information on the classified network where they do most of their work.
  • Indicated that he tries to keep CDD in the loop on his projects and generally sees CDD as helpful in making the money work for various projects.

MSG Tom – Future Concepts – Subject Matter Expert (MVP Feedback)

  • Liked that all the data would go to one place, but noted that his problem isn’t finding data, it’s finding the most relevant data. He can go through a squadron’s trip reports be he has no way of telling which one is relevant to his needs.
  • Clarified that he wants to be able to call people because he’s also interested in knowing what was left off the trip report. Finding the people who talked to a specific vendor or agency is a 10/10 score in his book. If he gets a name, he can make a call and know what he needs to know in five minutes.
  • Sees further value in attempting to categorize the capabilities they are working on and search by initiative type. Sometimes teams with completely different specializations wind up working with the same vendor.
  • Values the ability to find no results and as a result say with reasonable confidence that nobody else is working on a similar capability.

Rob – CDD Operations (MVP Feedback)

  • Only cares about 4 categories of trips: visits to vendors, visits to trade shows, visits to demonstrations, and visits to test capabilities.
  • The majority of trip reports are useless to him and he does not want to have to sort through them to find relevant ones.
  • Would want the ability to do some level of filtering by type of trip in order to use such a program.


  • Unit has 12 full time staffers and as many as 100 people working on different platforms nebulously working as part of organization.
  • Thinks traditional KM solutions like Salesforce need an admin to be sustainable.
  • Primary communication challenge is uncertainty over who to connect new entrepreneurs to within organization.
  • Suggested the problem in USASOC is also present in AFWERX, DIUx, and Cyberworx. Believes AFWERX would take notice if one of those organizations could successfully address it.


  • His job right now is essentially to solve our sponsor’s problem on a small scale within his team at AFWERX. Believes the next great challenge is finding a way to scale tech scouting effectively.
  • They are currently working on the problem from a user adoption side and from the side of pulling data they want not just within the unit but across DoD.
  • In a perfect world they could see all the thing in the pipeline not just within their unit but across other agencies and the commercial sector.
  • Primarily believes this is an issue in the burgeoning venture capital space within the government (AFWERX seems to function more like a VC group than USASOC).

Hypotheses Confirmed/Debunked:

  • Confirmed: Beneficiaries within R&D and CDD want to be able to easily discover and contact people who are working on similar projects. Respondents suggested they already take time to do this and would gladly use a system that shortened the process.
  • Debunked: Beneficiaries know exactly how they would search for technology relevant to them. Only one respondent suggested a specific type of capability he would subscribe to. Another suggested that the challenges associated with searching undermines his confidence that he has the best information available.
  • Debunked: If all relevant data is in a central location, people will more easily be able to find it. Tom’s testimony suggests that if the tool cannot reasonably parse through a large volume of data and identify the most relevant results to him, it wouldn’t necessarily matter that he was able to do it all in one place. He still wouldn’t have confidence in his findings.
  • Confirmed: If we build a program that benefits USASOC, that program can provide similar benefits to other tech-centric agenci
  • Confirmed: The gap between R&D and CDD is more than a failure to communicate. After weeks of reading between the lines, we finally heard some testimony indicating that some parts of R&D see CDD as intrusive and potentially threatening to their projects. Now that we have some evidence that this tension exists, we will need to better understand each side’s perspective so we can better account for it implementing any solution.

Questions for Next Week

  • MVP applications: Given the desire to find a point of contact through our system and assuming we can provide this point of contact, what other information would be helpful to see right away?
  • Unit Dynamic: In what instances has CDD ‘overstepped its bounds?’ Does R&D’s recollection of these actions align with CDD’s justificaton? Is CDD capable of providing some kind of assurance that it won’t directly interfere with R&D efforts?
  • Dual Use: Are other tech-centric government agencies similar enough to USASOC to effectively implement a USASOC solution? Is its value broad enough to generalize to government as a whole? To commercial industry?

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