2022 UAF Summit: Transferring Tacit Knowledge from IT Tribes to a Digital Model

Presented by

Richard Wise, Senior Research Engineer (GTRI) & Michael Shearin, Assistant Branch Head – MBSE (GTRI)

About this talk

Abstract: There is an ongoing effort in both the commercial industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) to digitally represent Information Technology (IT) enterprise architectures. These digital models aim to capture and elicit the tacit knowledge of these architectures into a form that is precise and exploitable by systems engineers, software engineers, data scientists and data engineers. We wish to not only document the architecture in a more formal manner, but also to interrogate these models for insight and execute what-if scenarios. However, this only works if the models accurately address the needs of the stakeholders and are well-formed. The challenge in this knowledge transfer often lies in the broad spectrum of stakeholder groups (aka tribes) inherent in any domain that is categorized as a utility-minded infrastructure or support. Each of these tribes have their own interpretation of concepts within their domain that cause conflicting use and understanding of the same concept. For example, one person’s metadata is another person’s operational data model. How do you accommodate multiple stakeholder viewpoints where each is equally valid? How do you distill down tribal vernacular to the essential knowledge in a precise, coherent and multi-viewpoint consistent way? Having a form or lens (i.e., perspective or viewpoint) to look through is paramount in making an intractable problem tractable. Fortunately, the UAF established such a framework that brings rigor to the problem through numerous views and viewpoints and robust tool support. However, using the UAF can be like bringing a tank to a knife fight. Furthermore, the rigid framework can seem overly confining and limit expressiveness. This presentation will explore via a case study the good, the bad and the ugly of transferring tacit tribal knowledge within the IT domain using the UAF.

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