Imbue strategic and tactical directions with R2O

With R2O posited as central to the evolution of an organization’s operations, the exact purpose of proving grounds and testbeds within a transition cycle is easily blurred beyond the immediate objective of demonstrating research in the operational setting. But make no mistake; senior leadership and managers are responsible for establishing strategic and tactical priorities and guiding all activities within the organization. It is not the place of R2O processes or actors within R2O to challenge the proposed direction, or potentially more detrimental, shallowly confirm them. Instead, activities that occur as part of a transition cycle should inspire new avenues for an organization to explore in achieving its mission.

This may seem like a fine line, but the core difference here is evidence. There are several forums within the R2O process that provide evidence about how practitioners are responding to new scientific research and technology. This evidence should be carefully collected and analyzed, with findings drawn directly from the evidence and presented in a final report that is shared with the leaders of the parent organization(s) of the R2O process. Those with oversight responsibility are best suited for making recommendations and implementing them on an organizational scale.

Hopefully the evidence-supported findings make the recommendations straightforward and easy to anticipate, but even if they do not, R2O functions as a way to evaluate and identify, not direct. Strong findings make for strong recommendations that are best able to sustain objections. Consider an example where the findings are not built on an evidentiary foundation. As part of a proving ground or testbed, the participating practitioners might exhibit signs of, or make comments outright about, their lack of comfort with some of the demonstrated research byproducts that are new to them. As their time using the new science increases, the general comfort level of the practitioners is likely to improve.

Provided that the early lack of comfort is less than ideal, albeit somewhat expected, the R2O-relevant finding should be that practitioners will need a set amount of time to increase their familiarization with new products prior to applying them confidently to a real operational setting. The finding is not that practitioners need more or better training (not to be confused with learning); that does not follow directly and the impact of training on the comfort level was not observable or examined. And what if the solution is not actually training? That is an assumption. Perhaps the better solution comes from altering the presentation of the research byproducts in the technological systems that the practitioners are using.

If the scope of forums within the R2O cycle is allowed to broaden beyond the transition at hand, R2O will become crowded with organizational controls, which subverts the sense of fluidity that is necessary for the types of activities that occur. In addition, broadening is more likely to occur downstream (in the direction of operations) than upstream (in the direction of research) because of how transition activities are generally arranged to occur in a practitioner environment, and the scrutiny with which researchers will review broad comments on their work. The risk of this broadening is that it draws attention and dialogue away from the R2O forums that are essential in providing operationally oriented feedback and evaluating certain research byproducts.

Reports from R2O forums should imbue strategic and tactical directions in R2O based on their veracity, not their presuppositions.