Mittwoch, 31. August 2011

First things first - organize for re-use

Have you ever started a journey? You type in the final destination in your navigation system, and then you check roughly the route. Hardly ever you start cruising: “let’s see where we end”.
However, if I speak about Knowledge Management that seems the default approach: We put the cart before the horse. And then later we discuss, why KM has failed.
And for Knowledge Management this means knowledge does not happen by accident, it shall be managed. First things first! You organize for re-use.
No, that doesn’t mean that you can plan knowledge to the very last detail. Isn’t that the essence of Learning? We define an expectation, a hypothesis, and then verify / falsify it. I alluded to this, when discussing Facilitated Learning. And don't trust the human memory: Mind the invisible gorilla and friend Alzheimer.
Okay, flesh to the bones, what does it mean to organize for re-use? Three ingredients: The re-use potential, modularization and the definition of what knowledge is creating value.
The re-use potential
I am aware that I am arguing against the long tail, but – believe me – not many managers sponsor your long tail! If there is no re-use potential, why should you bother to invest, respectively waste money? There is no prize for best KM, only for sustainable business. Do not produce what some KM guideline tells you to produce, but do create Knowledge Assets that create value. In order to do this not only for yourself, we are talking ‘sharing’, it needs mutual understanding and common context (see work patterns: learning, big picture)
But these are not to be comprised, neither by time pressure and nor by budget concerns, because you have got the ROI, the Re-use potential Of Investment backing you. Just on the contrary the re-use potential should drive meaningful creation of Knowledge Assets.


So in order to evaluate the re-use potential you need the mutual understanding and common context. Then you quickly come across people who in a second scrutinize the re-use potential to be zero, because the situation has been soooooooo unique, it never will fit. And they are right:
When you look in retrospective on Knowledge Assets, which have been produced for one, and one very specific purpose: Spagehtti. Hardly re-usable!
On the other hand, if you think in modules and create in modules, all of a sudden the re-use potential grows tremendously. Our business is most of the time too complex to re-use in a simple copy-paste manner, therefor it is vital to fillet modules to secure re-use. Which perspective to chose of course depends on the business, but a modularization in terms of commercial, fulfillment and solution e.g. is widely applicable.
Defined Knowledge Asset creation
So having got a re-use potential based on modularization, and with the ROI comes logically a budget, then define what Knowledge Assets to produce.
Well, from here it is downhill, you just look what you already have, what would create value (and is affordable according to the re-use potential) and you define and fill the gap: Value-creating Knowledge Asset production. Knowledge Assets created to serve a re-use potential have a much higher quality as those you find usually in knowledge bases (especially when “supported” by activity-based KM KPI), because the re-use potential does give meaning. Do you want to deliver crap under the eager eyes of your potential re-user. It’s already in the pipe; you can’t get away with poor quality – that is not the knowledge base black whole that you are cheating, that’s your peer.
Well that’s it, from here on you “just” need to manage: Some potential will not realize. On the way you realize you need some other Knowledge Assets. You document your Learnings. You might run After Action Reviews easily. And you write down your lessons learnt like icecream in summer.


Donnerstag, 25. August 2011

KMUK11 - hot and spicy, Facilitated Learning

Did it ever happen to you that you were sitting in an Indian restaurant and you could hardly breathe? Too spicy, the food? Not this time. Sofia Layton from the NHS had just handed over their KM framework in a very nicy-spicy postcard handout format, while we were waiting for the main course in this Indian restaurant (kind of KMUK11 conference dinner), and what I had in hand was really hot (at least for me).

Faciltated Learning as one of three building blocks (the other two and some other stuff, we have well covered in Ericsson). Facilitated Learning!
Okay, we have competence build-up as one of the reasons for KM, but that meant mainly the competence build-up effect that is provided by communities and knowledge assets in the databases – with all the challenges of KM described earlier.
But here Facilitated Learning had a different meaning. A meaning that explains, but does not excuses, why this was our blind spot.
The global corporate company, we always had the big picture in mind, the 90.000, not the personal KM, the knowledge exchange interaction between a hand of people.
Facilitated Learning here meant a frame of concepts that primarily look at the personal level, small units, teams. KM as people business by the word. Sometimes based on database resources (check the database on best sports shoes before you start running), the knowledge exchange appears within the team (or for Peer assist – in exchange with another team).
And some of you might have read that “often KM puts the cart before the horse” here the Before Action Review bears those precious spices that bring KM in the correct business orders: You start the project by evaluating and planning you knowledge and knowledge assets.
But to serve you the full plate:

NHS KM framework, via Sofia Layton

The NHS KM framework (I was reading here the Nick Milton’s handwriting) was composed of three blocks: Knowledge Assets, Collaboration and Facilitated Learning. All blocks were structured into “Learning Before”, “Learning During”,”Learning After”.
Thus Facilitated Learning included “Before Action Review” and “Peer Assist” in “Learning Before”, “After Action Review” in “Learning During” – as a informal short term activity for smull action junks and “Retrospect” – as more formal project closing activity in “Learning After”.
Especially the “Before –“ and “After Action Review” share common words and ground.
The “Before” has a defining character, sets the scene and formulates expectations (task, purpose, and end-state), this is essential for the “After” (as any retrospective analyis: Retrospect, Lessons Learned, etc.), as the earlier describes what was supposed to happen, the later comparing this with what really happened, analyzing the gap (why) and defining the learning.


There were more two presentations towards the topic (so it is not so exotic in UK, but rather main cuisine), which I was not able to join
Ditte Kolbaek: Proactive Reviews 
Chris Collision: showing the vital importance of After Action Review in military, surgery and Formulae 1

Dienstag, 23. August 2011

KMUK11 - delicious plain fare

What I liked perhaps most with the KMUK11 was it delicious plain fare deliveries (not the hype promises to the future)

When I looked through my notes, I remembered more clever things that Dave Snowden said: "You cannot be creative with expectations on utilization on 70%" (and he didn't mean the number was too low!!!), plain fare on the achievements and challenges (here and here), plain fare even on the personal consequences.
And also Jon Harman (syngenta) was exposed to a time without KM assignment. I found his statement interesting, that this time freed up his creativity. Perhaps it was in this time, when he categorized 7 Syndromes that hinder effective knolwedge sharing.
Anyway they are too true not to be shared, you even can use them as self-survey.

I recently thought a lot on the mutual understanding and common context, and - luckily for my theory - quite some syndromes have their roots not in knowledge sharing but in missing contextualization and missing mutual understanding. So my learning, many of the sharing hindering syndromes are not rooted in the sharing itself, but in the missing mutual understanding and common context.

Tall Poppy Syndrome:

via stockxchng, Poppy in wheat by johnnyberg

I'll get cut down, if I say we've got a good practice to share
  • I don't want to endure the scrutiny of others
  • I don't want to be inundated with questions
  • "Let's keep our heads down - we're busy!"
Shrinking Violet Syndrome:

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  • I don't think we are doing anything special
  • Actually, I'm not sure what 'special' looks like
  • Nobody would be interested in what we're doing
  • There are lots of real experts out there
  • Ignorance is bliss!
'Not invented here' Syndrome:

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  • We're different here
  • Nobody else really understands us
  • We have unique problems
  • And anyway, I like coming up with unique answer
Real men don't ask directions (TomTom Syndrome):

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  • I didn't get where I was today by asking for help
  • My colleagues might think I'm incompetent
  • Success is all about self-sufficiency
  • One I've solved my problem, I'll share what I've done
"Don't worry, it's documented" Syndrome:

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  • No time to talk, but let me email you a document
  • Of course I'll share my knolwedge with you - it's all in this report
  • It's all on the intranet
  • Haven't you searched on xxxdoc yet?
"Lock it away" Syndrome:

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  • If I share this openly, it might be taken out of context
  • Someone might make a decision without the full knowledge
  • I know where it is - people can always ask me
  • If I share this openly, it might weaken my position
Hamster-on-the-wheel Syndrome:

via stockxchng, Pipsqueak the Rat by pocheco

I just don't have the time to learn-before-doing 
  • I'd share, but I've got so much on my plate ...
  • I don't think it's worth waiting - I know, what I need to know
  • I know this knowledge-sharing is important, but my objectives are more important

Donnerstag, 18. August 2011

KMUK11 - the sweet taste of bitterness

By now, you all know, KM conferences are tough, too much sweets (desert & café), at a certain point of time it simply becomes a matter of digesting capacity. There were many inspiring contributions, which I one way or the other try to cover here from various angles, but the most touching for me personally came from Chris Shilling (Newhow Knowhow, formerly Novartis).

My mind was wandering, taken away by what I had heard on: “Weekly new digest, interactive E-library, global training course, dynamic authorities’ process map, fully integrated intranet site, pilot of innovative guidance analysis tool, re-purposed Brand PR manual, version 1 of key workflow process system – all Chris’ successful output.
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via stockxchng, chocolate by violator06

My mind was wandering, when the bomb exploded, so I heard it, but it took seconds, until it hit my nerve system:”And then I was without a job!”
“KM is about people” okay, it’s our mantra, “KM has failed”, okay, we coquet with it, but come on, we have never been that serious about it, we never thought it would hit us as Knowledge Managers. Okay, it is not rocket science, you can count it on your fingers, you could see it coming, but in Chris’ presentations it for the first time reached my heart: KM failure can mean my personal failure! (this was, what I took away for myself inspired by the presentations, from what I have seen in the presentation Chris failed to fail really, to him just shit happened).
And why was it so impressive to see this guy? Because it takes some courage to stand in front of the hungry – you learned it already, Knowledge Managers, at least me, are always hungry – with nothing but the bitter pill. Because he refrained from spilling poison. Because he seemed to have come out of the crisis stronger.

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Which directly leads to Nick Davies (The Really Great Training Company): “KM has failed?! What do you expect, if you sit down in the basement and talk to nobody” Again I am disgusting and put my words into others people’s mouth: KM comes out of the crisis stronger, only if it comes out stronger (of the isolation), that is e.g. gets more into the business, e.g. comes out of the KM pupation, leaves the old, lame name behind and creates value. Both topics must wait for another post, because Nick wonderfully played with some numbers: The 4 Big Mistakes, the 2 Essentials and the Big 6. Just in case anybody from university reads this, yes, the details I put into the footnotes.


footnotes, taken from Nick Davies, The Really Great Training Company
The 4 Big Mistakes:
1. Going in tough, with all guns blazing (Coll your jets big guy)
2. Regarding it as a single event (Good things come to those who wait)
3. Relying to much on logic ("Imagination is more important then knowledge." Einstein)
4. Worrying about addressing wants rather than satisfying the needs of others.
The 2 Essentials - you must have to get people to do something they wouldn't ordinarilly do
The Big 6 - We feel compelled to do things for one or several of the following:
Reciprocity - You scratched my back, so I'll scratch yours
Likeability - "I like Sally and she's bought one, so I'll have one too."
Social Proof - "How much have other people sponsored you for?"
Scarcity - "Ooh, well, I don't want to miss out!"
Consistency - "I signed the petition, so I really should give them a donation."
Authority - "Doctor knows best."

Mittwoch, 17. August 2011

KMUK11 - Knowledge Cafe

Having a cafe after the desert makes some sense, and the second good news: this time it was not in the virtual coffee-corner (here and here), we even had a beer at the end of an exciting KM day.
Participate in an inbuilt 70-minute David Gurteen knowledge café, with an opportunity to discuss where KM has failed and what can be done to change this” – this is how it was advertised.
3 very interesting points to cover: What is a Gurteen knowledge café? Where KM has failed? What has been done / can be done not to fail – Personal KM (which is only one strategy – but enough for this post!)

David has done an excellent presentation skill job, which makes it easy for me: I only sum up the titles of his intro slides, and you end up with a very good idea of a Gurteen knowledge café: “Business is a conversation”, “Conversation is a meeting of minds”, “KM is about understanding”, “Dialogue”, “Conversation is our most effective KM tool”, “Conversation is a learning technology”. Everything other detail you find at Gurteen Knowledge Café.
The subtitle for the event at KMUK 2011 was: "KM has not lived up to its expectations over the past 15 years …” Of course with 80 Knowledge Managers in the room, there were 120 strong opinions, but my summary of what was discussed is along the following lines:
A there was a hype of Knowledge Management, and the character of a hype is that you can never live up to its expectations
B Knowledge Management mean the technical implementation of an IT-tool large-scale.
However Knowledge Managers seem to be positive people (or is it the fact that we make a living on KM) and thus quickly went on to what can be done to change. One tendency I have encountered at the KMUK11 was what I call “Personal KM”.
The Knowledge Café itself is a good example. Can you imagine the 90.000+ Ericsson employees all participate in a knowledge café? Just only a considerable fraction? No.
And many other speakers showed remedies, where knowledge interaction takes place on the size that can be facilitated with personal interaction (that is not to be confused with Dunbar's number, it is not about knowledge sharing of one person, but the KM approaches for the company).
Away from IT-based tool implementation large scale to conversation on the personal horizon: Michael Kelleher (De Norske Veritas) was “Using knowledge markets to support business-led KM at Sellafield Ltd”, (1 day in 1 huge auditorium). Purpose: Designed as a marketplace with traders and buyers, this event often opens up opportunities for participants to identify potential collaborators and helps to establish the principles of knowledge sharing as one that has a collective benefit – between companies. Succesful size: 50-300 companies/persons.
Linda Davies, (Mars, Incorporated) was “Sharing knowledge in a global corporation”, but not targeting 60.000 Mars Inc. employees at once, but with the principle “Keep membership small, focused and relevant” (12-15 members, globally spread).

So basically we had a nice café (beer / whine) seeing the dinosaur-like and dinasaur-size IT-based KM extinct as paradigm and the rising of small-size, warm-blooded mamals of personal KM from the KM catastrophe of failure.


Dienstag, 16. August 2011

KMUK11 - Let's start with the desert

Being a Knowledge Manager at the KMUK11 I thought it would be a good idea (however not a real innovative one, I admit) to mingle around to share some knowledge.

I was very early since this sunny morning the walk from the hotel to the conference, which took in yesterday’s rain for some reason 45 minutes, was just a piece of 15 min cake. “Hi, my name is …” My consulting teacher would have been really proud of me, as I made a real good introduction of myself and was sure to leave a good impression, only to learn from the name sign in this minute that my radar with 100% accuracy had spotted between 80 other people the only Ericsson person in the room. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to get to know each other. Happy to have met you, Ranu!
But later on I have met of course some interesting people not from Ericsson and heard some interesting things about KM, and I want to share some of it in some posts.

I on purpose did let get some distance inbetween to really focus on the big hits.
And the next punch really hit hard on my ego. I don’t attend too many conferences, so I decided to wear the pride-of-my-wardrobe-tie – apparently just to learn from Dave Snowden (blog: The Cognitive Edge), one of the big names in KM: “If you want to be taken seriously as Knowledge Manager, you can't wear a tie, real Knowledge Managers don’t wear ties”. Well, at least this was something I could take away from his presentation, because most of the other time he spoke about a fancy Sci-fi movie that no one else had ever seen, and at least I did not get too much of a clue.

But I was still alive and kicking and devouring a wonderful lunch, so Dave decided to go for a final kick, when joining our table: “Why are you here?” Well between his beard and the lines, and in context of the situation, this meant: You should have been here 7 years ago, then KM was hot, what kind of loser are you, still to flog the dead horse, KM has failed.
Haha, I was prepared for that by my blog post: KM is dead, long live KM, but somehow he was not listening, maybe because of all the sweet desert in my mouth, so I let him do the talk, and – quite some interesting came as a third desert so to speak (yes, I took 2 physical sugary ones): Sorry guys, storytelling doesn’t work (that’s what he said, but now I knew the pattern), now micro-narratives is hot; the brain structure changes with age, which gives explanation to the fact that many scientific disruptive innovations come from people before they share my age; KM has been taken hostage by consultants, and they are not worth a dime, but doing worse; inspiring thoughts for KM come from reading neuroscience and ethnology  blogs. A lot to digest!

via stockxchng, Cakes by runrunrun

Of course there have been more interesting aspects on the conference, e.g. to include facilitated learning in KM, After Action Reviews, KM in crisis discussion, should we name it KM, the reduction towards the personal KM, but all these interesting topics have to wait, because now I was going for another desert.