LAS Presents Real Problems and Finds Real Solutions.
The LAS launched in 2013 with a primary mission: collaboration.
But getting professionals from business, government, and academia to share ideas wasn’t necessarily easy. How could the LAS improve the likelihood that collaboration would be productive?
Bev Tyler, Sharon Joines, and Jessica Jameson, NC State faculty from the Poole College of Management, the Design School, and the Department of Communication, and Kathleen Vogel, from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, are part of a multidisciplinary team that examined LAS research models, publishing their findings in a series of papers that culminated in a book released in May 2020.
“In the early days of LAS, all participants were trying to figure out their role and how they could make the best contributions to the LAS mission,” writes Jameson and Joines in Chapter 5 of Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration Among the Intelligence Community, Academy, and Industry. “A programmatic structure that required each contractor (faculty or industry partner) to have an independent deliverable, compounded by the zero history among most LAS members, reinforced a tendency toward working independently rather than in direct collaboration.”
The team cited several case studies from LAS that resulted in innovative and long-term outcomes; in fact, intervention from the team was no longer necessary after 2015. Some key takeaways needed to support strong collaboration:
- A group leader who understands the needs of various partners and can serve as a bridge across the cultures.
- Taking time to discuss and align language/terminology and identify key events and issues.
- Sharing case studies, examples, and stories to help create shared meaning and experiences.
These objectives were achieved over time through many events—from “kick-offs” to introduce goals to “sprints,” which challenged groups to two-hour work periods using design theory methods and techniques to explore specific analytic processes. These kinds of events led to more productive teams that were able to work together to achieve products and outcomes of interest to the intelligence community.
In May 2020, the team published its findings in the book “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration among the Intelligence Community, Academy, and Industry.”