The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022
10 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Knowledge Management I was thrilled to see knowl- edge management featured so prominently in the October Speaking Out (“Knowledge Management @ State: It’s not the technology. It’s the people”). I am glad to see that the Secretary’s Leadership Seminar [at the Harvard Business School] is tackling a problem so close to my heart. More than 10 years ago I was a speaker for incoming office management specialists (OMSs) on this very issue, and it was part of a Speaking Out I wrote for the Journal 16 years ago (“Micromanagement and the Culture of Fear,” March 2006). I enjoyed the idea of a template for handover notes that would be stored “in the cloud.” This is an excellent idea, but I must caution against making it more complicated than necessary. A simple library of folders, one for each position at post, would be easy to main- tain globally. Wherever we go with this, we must keep it simple. Remember, we will have to duplicate this, for surely your classified handover notes would also be useful. While I am glad that OMSs were called out one time in the October Speaking Out (in reference to know l- edge management being part of someone’s work requirements), I wish that my specialty had been even more prominent. OMSs have been tasked with knowledge management for years now, and it has been a struggle. As Ambassador Eric Rubin notes in his President’s Views column, we have been making do with less for decades. One of the primary reasons OMSs have not had a chance to really tackle the issue of knowledge management is that there are fewer of us being asked to do much, much more. It’s hard for us to set up a strong, well-organized filing system when, for example, so much HR and travel work once done by management has been given over to us. Another example of this shifting is the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ recent decision that chief-of- mission OMSs are now responsible for keeping track of our principal’s time away from post, something once done by desk officers and post management officers. I would love to know what percentage of a reporting officer’s day is spent on vouchers and travel arranging. Your office manager wants to be the knowledge maven, but with the economic section OMS on home leave, three new staff to onboard and a new ambassador to prepare for, the typi- cal OMS just doesn’t have the time or energy. Finally, as I have bothered my friends and colleagues about for years, we are not all officers. When an article such as yours refers repeatedly to “transferring officers,” you are leaving out the tens of thousands of Foreign Service specialists serving overseas— although, admittedly, most of them have officer in their job title. Llywelyn C. Graeme OMS U.S. Embassy Copenhagen Kabul, Tehran Revisited A letter in the October Journal ( “Kabul, Tehran: The Helplessness We All Felt” ) described the death of Ambas- sador Adolph “Spike” Dubs in Kabul on Valentine’s Day 1979. On that same day, Iranian militants attacked U.S. Embassy Tehran and held Ambassador William H. Sullivan and about 100 staffers hostage for several hours. They were freed by actions of the new Ayatollah Khomeini. In what turned out to have been a dress rehearsal for Nov. 4, 1979, two Iranians were killed and two Marines wounded. We came close to losing two ambas- sadors in one day. n Fred Donner Former FSO Falls Church, Virginia Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: email@example.com CORRECTIONS • Two inaccuracies appeared in the In Memory department of the November 2021 FSJ . In the obituary for Thomas (Tom) J. Wallis, Mr. Wallis is wrongly identified as a retired Foreign Service officer; he was an active-duty Foreign Ser- vice officer when he died. In the obituary for Lola Sybil Cooper, Ms. Cooper is identified mistakenly as a former Foreign Service officer; she was a Foreign Service secretary. • In JimGoodby’s “The Odd Couple and the End of an Era” (December FSJ ), the succession from Leonid Brezhnev to Mikhail Gorbachev has been inadvertently mixed up.When Brezhnev died in 1982, KGB chief Yuri Andropov was chosen as his succes- sor. Andropov died in February 1984. He was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko, who died in March 1985. We regret the errors.