If you are familiar with the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), you know that keeping up with all the information, or finding the right information can be a challenge. We found a different way to communicate NMCI information to our workforce - we held an NMCI "Knowledge Fair."
The Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR) is one of the first claimants to transition to NMCI. The uniqueness of NAVAIR's transition is that we are transitioning as an enterprise. NAVAIR has organized an enterprise "NMCI Transition Team," that is responsible for all efforts pertaining to NMCI implementation. A major aspect of the transition efforts has been communicating the right messages at the right time to the workforce. On December 13, and 15, 2000, a division of NAVAIR, the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD), which has sites at China Lake and Point Mugu, California, decided as part of their overall communications plan to take the information directly to the workforce in the form of an information exchange.
The information exchange format provides for one-on-one interaction with people who are knowledgeable on the particular subject presented. This interaction helps to reduce concerns on any issue and avoid any sense of worry or embarrassment that can occur during a large, all-hands meeting. In this type of setting, information is displayed in "poster stations" or booths. The information is in the form of simply phrased messages and graphics and is targeted by areas of concern or question. The format is designed to enhance credibility of the message giver, and also allows for two-way communication and for feedback to be collected.
The planning for the "NMCI Knowledge Fair" began approximately two months before the activity was to transition to "Assumption of Responsibility" (AOR) by the Information Strike Force (ISF). The Transition Team at NAWCWD felt that a knowledge fair would level the playing field of knowledge about NMCI, build credibility for the Transition Team, and enable the Team to gather as many concerns and questions as possible so they could better focus their communications efforts.
During a serendipitous meeting at Connecting Technology Fall 2000 in San Diego, California, NAWCWD participants met Captain Jerry Peeters, DON CIO Team Lead for Communication and Outreach, and invited him to participate in the NMCI Knowledge Fair.
In addition to the DON CIO and PEO-IT/NMCI booths, NAWCWD set up three booths at the Knowledge Fair. One NAWCWD booth presented the messages "What is NMCI? How Will it Affect Me?" and focused on the benefits and impact to the employee. The second booth presented information about what is included in an NMCI "seat," introduced the local Transition Team members, and gave a description of the projected outline. The third booth contained information about the ordering process, and the proposed organization, beginning with the activity's Customer Technical Representative (CTR) up to the Government Management Office (GMO). This was the first time that DON CIO had set up a booth at a field activity, and they were pleasantly surprised at the interest their presence generated.
A major focus of the NAVAIR and NAWCWD Transition Team is communications. We want to make sure that we create a foundation of knowledge for our employees. We want to make sure they understand what NMCI means to them, our activity, and the Navy.
Nearly 1,000 employees came to gather information about NMCI during those two days in December. NAWCWD enlisted their Transition Team members to take turns manning the booths. A "roadmap" of the room was given to each visitor, in addition to handouts containing the booth information. The DON CIO, PEO-IT, and NAVAIR Transition Team members had an opportunity to answer a multitude of questions and collected other questions via comment cards, which are being answered either directly or via their Websites.
A total of over 350 comment cards were collected, which asked the questions, "Did you get the information you were looking for?" and "Was your time well spent?" Of the cards that were completed and returned, a stunning 73 percent were positive. The Transition Team was very proud of the fact that their hard work and preparation had paid off. This one event in the overall communications effort has been a critical factor in "smoothing" the transition to NMCI for NAWCWD. Additional information exchanges are planned throughout NAVAIR, and are proposed for use by the Navy as an effective means to get information to employees in a consistent and constructive way.
We feel that we really accomplished a lot by having this fair. Our employees received critical information, they know who to ask for assistance and our transition is progressing smoothly. I highly recommend to any Navy activity - use this method during your NMCI transition and communications efforts. You won't regret it.
Debby Young is the NAWCWD Deputy Transition Team Lead and Communications Team Lead. Captain Jerry Peeters is the DON CIO Team Lead for Communications and Outreach.