Development of a Shared Mental Model Management Tool

Award Information
Department of Defense
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
301 East Carrillo Street 2FL, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Alan Spiker
Principal Scientist
(805) 966-6157
Business Contact:
Douglas harris
(805) 966-6157
Research Institution:
This SBIR will establish the conceptual foundation for and functional requirements of a computer-based tool to facilitate management of shared mental models (SMMs) within an Army command & control team. A mental model is an internal representation of acomplex situation. Research has shown that teams having a greater overlap in their respective mental models perform better, particularly under high workload. Unfortunately, the Army's hierarchical order/report system is not always conducive to thissharing. There are principles, however, from fields such as organizational learning, negotiation, argumentation, and transactive memory that describe techniques for information sharing, reflection, inquiry, and other skill areas. Our tool will providescenario-based instruction in these techniques, and will include an advanced cognitive methodology for measuring SMM overlap.In Phase II, we will develop hypertext application software that will operate the scenarios, display SMM principles, and measure MM overlap. A formal evaluation of user acceptance and tool effectiveness will be conducted. The techniques, skills, andprinciples contained in the tool can be made applicable beyond the Army setting via development of more generic scenarios requiring collaborative planning, distributed decision-making, and time-constrained problem solving. The tool will be marketed as abusiness strategy game or team training method. We anticipate a number of benefits from the eventual development of a shared mental model management (SM3) tool. Improved sharing should positively impact a variety of team processes, including coordination, communication, and situation awareness. This,in turn, should enhance team effectiveness, as reflected in better plans (i.e., more robust, flexible, detailed plans), better decisions (i.e., more choices considered, more timely), and greater success in solving problems. A more successful organizationshould result, as indicated by greater mission success, higher team morale, and increased team effectiveness. As the Army moves toward its Objective Force, with a faster tempo and greater distributed decision making, access to a SM3 tool should helpensure that commanders can successfully share their vision and intent with their staff and subordinate commanders.The SM3 tool can be made commercially viable by revising its scenarios into non-tactical planning, decision-making, and problem-solving exercises. Regardless of the scenarios used, the underlying principles involving negotiation, discussion, reflection,inquiry and the like will still apply. The tool can be readily transformed into a business strategy game by awarding points to the team achieving the highest overlap in their MMs. As well, the SM3 tool can be distributed as a team training aid, therebyentering the lucrative government/industry training market (in excess of $25B annually).

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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