Goals and challenges for the co-evolution of social and technical defence capability

Thursday 20 November 2008

Professor Karen Carr
Head of Centre for Human Systems at Cranfield University

The threats and constraints faced by our defence capability appear to be increasingly demanding. The diversity of threats taking place in complex political, social and physical environments require defence mechanisms that are at once agile, accurate, global, minimal, rapid and sustainable. Network Enabled Capability, Effects Based Operations and the Comprehensive Approach are some of the initiatives that attempt to meet these requirements. 

The manner in which the MoD attempts to develop these aspects of defence capability is subject to many challenges, including the traditionally disjointed approach to the so-called 'moral' and 'physical' components: effectively equipment and personnel. A major part of the new initiatives across defence is the use of Information Technologies to support collaboration between distributed people from different national and professional cultures.

As is well known in many fields, successful collaboration of this sort requires an integrated approach to the development of supporting technology, process, organization and social factors. This lecture will review the obstacles and opportunities within the MoD organization for achieving this integrated approach.

About Karen
Karen Carr is a Chartered Psychologist, with degrees in Psychology (MA, Edinburgh) and Ergonomics (MSc, Birmingham), and has an MoD-sponsored PhD in Experimental Psychology. Before joining Cranfield University at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, Karen spent 21 years in defence industry, initially carrying out human factors research in the areas such as Human-Machine Interface, information management, design processes and tools, and synthetic environments. 

Karen was Head of the Human Factors department in BAE Systems before moving into the company's Head Office to take on a more strategic role as Director of Capability. In November 2006 Karen took up her present role to develop the new Centre for Human Systems at the Defence Academy, which takes a multi-disciplinary approach to developing and operating organisations of humans and technology.