5—
Development and Maintenance of Human Performance

Invest more in people-centered research to support the introduction of new technologies and to increase efficiency.

A substantial number of new technologies will be available over the next several decades to help improve the way the Navy makes the most of its human resources. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies and the cost-effectiveness of different approaches for using them should be an important research objective; otherwise, the technologies will enter the Navy in a piecemeal and less efficient way. Research into the cultural and organizational implications of technological change will also be important because these factors are at least as significant for effecting change as the technology itself. Systematic review of the understanding of human cognitive processes, limitations, and workload constraints should be part of this research agenda. Periodic full-system analyses will also be useful to understand the interaction among technologies and the tradeoffs among the various means for developing and maintaining human productivity.

Research in these areas, especially applied research to help organizations make choices among technologies and adapt to using new technologies, is not extensive. Clear data about what is now spent on research in this area are hard to come by; a cursory look suggests that the amounts spent may be small. For example, in FY 1996 the Department of the Navy invested only $29 million in the two congressional budget categories associated with people-centered research relevant to training (education and training, and simulators and training devices), when the total amount spent by the Navy on residential training for individuals,



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5— Development and Maintenance of Human Performance Invest more in people-centered research to support the introduction of new technologies and to increase efficiency. A substantial number of new technologies will be available over the next several decades to help improve the way the Navy makes the most of its human resources. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies and the cost-effectiveness of different approaches for using them should be an important research objective; otherwise, the technologies will enter the Navy in a piecemeal and less efficient way. Research into the cultural and organizational implications of technological change will also be important because these factors are at least as significant for effecting change as the technology itself. Systematic review of the understanding of human cognitive processes, limitations, and workload constraints should be part of this research agenda. Periodic full-system analyses will also be useful to understand the interaction among technologies and the tradeoffs among the various means for developing and maintaining human productivity. Research in these areas, especially applied research to help organizations make choices among technologies and adapt to using new technologies, is not extensive. Clear data about what is now spent on research in this area are hard to come by; a cursory look suggests that the amounts spent may be small. For example, in FY 1996 the Department of the Navy invested only $29 million in the two congressional budget categories associated with people-centered research relevant to training (education and training, and simulators and training devices), when the total amount spent by the Navy on residential training for individuals,

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excluding the amounts spent on field and fleet training, was more than $5 billion. Also in FY 1996, Navy Department spending on all human resources research was about $86 million from a military work force account of more than $23 billion. This area might be examined further, with the aim of developing an overall investment plan; the return on a research investment of this type could be substantial. Develop a more integrated system for managing people in response to advancing technologies, in order to increase efficiency and improve readiness. Managing human resources to produce people able to do the variety of Navy jobs entails many separate activities, among them recruiting, testing and classifying, training, and assigning personnel to fleet and other jobs, as well as managing their careers, ensuring an adequate environment for them and their families, and retaining a high percentage of them in the Navy. Technology increasingly requires that these activities be synergistic to succeed, but organizational or cultural behavior can impede this synergy. Recruiting more highly capable individuals is efficient only to the extent that classifying, training, and assigning activities exploit their capabilities. Technological advances allowing more effective self-paced instruction are useful only if the process for assigning people can provide jobs on varying schedules and reward individuals for early completion. Investments in CD-ROM or embedded training possibilities are worthwhile only if the other facets of human resource management are positioned to take advantage of them. Technology advances over the next three decades will create opportunities to manage people more efficiently by taking better advantage of their skills, experience, and talents. For example, advances in information processing and communication technology will contribute in the following ways: Provide more specific, more useful, and more timely information, enabling people to be tested, classified, and assigned with greater accuracy; Create greater opportunities for distance learning, use of more effective simulators, more effective multimedia training, embedded training, and other approaches that allow tailoring of training to individual circumstances; Allow better measures of productivity to be created and make people more productive; Make more information available to both the Navy and the sailor for career management and provide sufficient communication capacity to allow managing careers on a more interactive basis; and Enable sailors to deploy and, except when in combat, to stay in close touch with their families and other loved ones.

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These changes in technology will allow more effectual management of people, to the benefit of both the Navy and the sailor, but they are likely to require greater flexibility in personnel and training organization and in decision making than currently exists. In particular, there remain serious gaps in our understanding of the tradeoffs among components of the human resource system. Research and analyses are needed to understand these possible tradeoffs and to determine how a new human resource management system might be created that exploits the advantages of the new technologies and results in greater efficiency in the employment of people and higher levels of readiness. Research and analyses of this sort are generally insufficiently funded, but information and communication technology are advancing in ways that will make the collection of relevant data simpler and less expensive, and planning for collecting and exploiting these data ought to begin now. The return on this small investment is likely to lead to better decisions and greater efficiencies in the future. It should be recognized that human competence is essential to every Navy and Marine Corps operation. Its presence will not guarantee the success of these operations, but its absence will most certainly ensure their failure. The availability of human performance at the highest practicable levels of competence is a matter of first importance to the Navy. Investments in human resources that are modest compared to other areas will yield substantial returns. They should be treated as significant issues that deserve both priority and high-level attention.

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