Posts filed under ‘Knowledge Management’

KM measurement

So you know I was recently in Taipei, Taiwan. I was invited to attend a KM Study Meeting. There were 24 participants from countries such as Iran, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Fiji and India. I was invited as a KM “technical expert”. We spent four days together talking about KM measurement and I promised I’d bring you a blog post summarising the discussion. I haven’t quite finished my report that I have to prepare but I can tell you that it was a wonderful opportunity to spend time reflecting on all facets of measurement and even explore the question – should we measure KM initiatives at all?

Some of the participants were university Professors, so they brought a lot of pointy-headed theoretical stuff to the meeting (including me I guess since I’m an Adj Prof). There were quite a few people who were just starting out on what we all seem to call the “KM journey”, so they had little idea of what KM itself was all about let alone measurement techniques. Some participants had implemented KM projects before. There was a mixture of Government, education and not-for-profit organisations taking part.

So guess the best thing to do is just summarise for you the key discussion and/or learning points. We also undertook a group exercise – trying to prepare a metrics template. I don’t have all the group presentations yet but can post an example of the sorts of metrics one group came up with. I was relieved (frankly) to see that other countries are struggling with KM measurement. Of course, in my KM work I produce qualitative and quantitative measurements but am usually so busy just implementing KM, that I don’t have the time to design a full-on KM measurement framework with bells and whistles.

Here’s what we talked about:

  • KM measurement (KMM) should not detract from the important task of KM implementation – there is a danger that too much time and energy can be spent on KMM at the expense of KM itself. This is a question of cost of KMM versus value of KMM. Is KMM part of the old organisational paradigm?
  • There is no clarity around what to measure exactly;
  • How does an organisation assess the readiness to measure KM? At what point in a KM implementation would the organisation and individuals be acceptable to using metrics? Should metrics be part of the Deployment phase of KM? Or should metrics (such as benchmarking) be used at the start of a KM project?
  • Any KMM framework must take into account People, Process, Technology, Content and Leadership domains – so that all facets of KM are being measured;
  • How can critical or new knowledge be identified? Measured?
  • Learning should be a key aspect of KMM;
  • KMM should take into account individual/team/organisational/societal capabilities;
  • What exactly is the OUTCOME of KM and what to measure? Innovation? Learning? Capabilities? Growth? Profit? All of these?
  • How can KM contribute to the sustainability of an organisation and how can this be measured?
  • Can consistent metrics be used across different industries and sectors? eg education, manufacturing, service industries.
  • What is the impact of trust issues?

Actually, trust (a topic I’ve blogged on before here and here) took up a fair bit of discussion time and a working group (which I will be part of) will develop a trust instrument to measure levels of organisational trust. Here are a few slides from one of the group presentations showing ideas around KM metrics. We also delved into Intellectual Property Rights such as patents but I don’t have slides for this yet.

We will now move to a site like Ning and continue our work on developing more specific metrics. It was a great meeting to make new connections. One of the Professors from Indonesia has asked me to help with one of his Masters students, who is doing a thesis on Social Network Analysis and trust networks. Looking forward to that.


November 29, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

The library as conversation

Are you going to get a Kindle? Have one already? I don’t get it because I prefer to hold the book in my hands. So what’s the future of libraries, stuffed full of wonderfully musty smelling tomes? Does the library have a future at all? Will it be full of Kindles that can be loaned out? If they eventually come in hot pink, I might be tempted 🙂

I came across this fantastic presentation and audio from R. David Lankes, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, which provides insights into the future of libraries and librarianship. He starts off with a fairly confronting statement:

“(Librarians) have become so busy and adept at keeping the library efficient and well-managed that we have lacked the space to step back and observe it from a high level”.

And then goes on to say that: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities“.  So it’s not about books and collections. I remember when I first started my career in knowledge management there was a lot of angst over whether librarians were information managers whilst knowledge managers were some sort of more evolved species dealing with knowledge (and some dudes even call themselves “wisdom architects”, which if you believe the twaffle of the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom pyramid, is the most evolved of all species).

But now I think we’ve reached the point in the debate where we can say that we are all doing the same thing, albeit concentrating on different aspects. So records managers, information managers, knowledge managers – we’re all attempting to facilitate knowledge creation, transfer and continuity. The fact that records managers concentrate on retention and compliance whilst knowledge managers may focus on collaboration and decision-making are simply different lenses looking at the same thing. In fact, my KM colleague, Baoman, has a well-crafted reflection piece on his blog in which he ponders this very subject, inspired by gentleman and scholar, Patrick Lambe.

So I very much liked Lankes’ vision for the mission of librarians (not libraries note) and that knowledge and learning is created through conversation and conversation theory. Conversation theory consisting of:

  • language
  • memory
  • conversants – exchanging language
  • agreements – between conversants (even if it’s agreeing not to agree)

So he’s suggesting that librarians are in the conversation business and need to be facilitators of conversations. Lankes uses the term “participatory librarianship” and says that participatory librarians “seek to enrich, capture, store and disseminate the conversations of their communities”. Further, he queries the rigidity of catalogues when users are now familiar with tagging and folksonomies and asks – how do we build systems that all users can use and he looks at social networking sites (where users build the system around themselves and their own language). Users now construct an open discovery space.

Lankes also emphasises that skills change eg cataloguing skills and that library education should equip a librarian for change. And this means librarians as activists, lobbying for change, innovating and proactively serving the community. He believes the best days of librarianship are ahead of us not behind us. To get maximum benefit out of the presentation, listen to the audio. Almost makes me want to go back into librarianship.

Also, check out Lankes’ website, which basically provides you with a Participatory Librarianship Starter Kit (articles, presentations and webcasts). Great stuff!

November 3, 2009 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Will you have the right stuff?

I often wonder what sorts of skills will be required of future workers. One can only imagine what whiz bang technology will be available that will require a whole different skillset; what new industries will be created; and what current jobs and industries will bite the dust.

So I found this article on 10 Workplace Skills of the Future very interesting. The Institute for the Future has identified the skills you and I need to develop to face the future. Some of the names of the skills are a tad odd but here they are:

  • Ping Quotient (what the?) – The Institute says this is about responsiveness and reach. Your ability to engage with other people and to work within a network and with others in the network.
  • Longbroading The ability of see the big picture, systems thinking, understanding how a network nests within wider networks.
  • Open Authorship We’re certainly seeing this skill on the increase – creating content for public modification; the ability to work with multiple contributors.
  • Cooperation Radar Seems this skill is almost an intuitive ability to sense who the best workers would be to have on a particular project or task.
  • Multi-Capitalism I couldn’t agree with this one more. Because of the global financial hissy fit, I think we will see different economic models being put forward as complements to capitalism and also different notions of what constitutes “capital” will need to be understood. So this skill will require fluency in working and trading simultaneously with different hybrid capitals eg natural, intellectual, social, financial, virtual.
  • Mobbability Again, I think we have seen this skill on the increase.  It’s your ability work with and simultaneously coordinate large groups.
  • Protovation This skill focuses on rapid innovation in iterative cycles and increasing the speed of failure. And not being afraid of failure. 
  • Influency I think this skill is one knowledge managers are already well-versed in, particularly when it comes to storytelling. Influency will require us to be persuasive and tell compelling stories in multiple social media spaces (with each space requiring a different persuasive strategy and technique).
  • Signal/Noise Management Pattern-recognition, filtering out noise, filtering meaningful information from all the stuff that we get hit with on a daily basis.
  • Emergensight This is not a typo. Emergensight is the ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity that come with coordination, cooperation and collaboration on extreme scales.

What do you think of these skills? Would you add to them?

May 18, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Leif: please blog!

Well, dear reader, back from my sojourn in Hong Kong. A wonderful time: speaking at a KM conference with the glittering gems of the KM universe, Dave Snowden and Patrick Lambe; running tutorials for students at Hong Kong PolyU; and delivering a full-day public workshop on knowledge sharing techniques, followed by an evening public lecture. Phew!!  You can read all about the conference proceedings on Dave Snowden’s blog. And speaking of Dave: aside from his truly wonderful conference session, I did think I’d come back home to find myself well and truly roasted by Dave for a slight mistake I made on the topic of his birthday. But since he hasn’t raised it, it’s a secret!

So onto the subject of today’s post – Leif Edvinsson. Unless you’ve been hiding on some remote island, you’d know that Leif was the director of Intellectual Capital at Skandia in Sweden; he’s a former Brain of the Year; he is a Professor of Intellectual Capital at the University of Lund, Sweden.  And of course, author of this great book on Intellectual Capital. I was aware of Leif’s work for years but did not have the pleasure of meeting him until last year when I spoke at the 2008 KM Conference, held by the Hong Kong Knowledge Management Society. Leif said he was inspired by my conference talk (seriously kind man!) and I went on to set up a blog for him because I believe he has some very important things to say.

But….Leif is a busy man, whizzing around the globe and alas has had no time to blog. So when I caught up with him again at last week’s conference, I put the pressure on him. His conference session started off with ginger essence being sprayed around the room and he went on to talk about some amazing stuff he’s been involved with and some great illustrative photos:

  • in the Skandia Future Centre – old technology (typewriter) is displayed as a conversation piece;
  • a globe of space triggers discussion around what is the shape of space (I could literally spend hours thinking about this!)
  • clocks showing different time zones (suggesting that you and your organisation may not be in synch).
  • a large chair with a computer integrated within it so it’s like a cocoon allowing for personal reflection and isolation from disruptive noise.

He asked some great questions along the way:

  • how do we reshape spaces for the flow of our thoughts?
  • how do you shape space to add energy?
  • how do we create healthy spaces that add oxygen?
  • how do we create spaces that are about mind satisfaction and not mind control?

A question I keep asking myself (and Leif and I had a quick chat about this) – how can you take the concept of poché and carve space that facilitates knowledge flow? In architectural terms, poché refers to solid, dense structures that can be shaped into meaningful space. And even more interesting, is the concepts of positive/negative space (positive being solid structures and negative meaning areas around and behind the positive spaces) – how can they be combined and what is the result?

Leif’s session was so jam packed with goodies that I found it hard to take notes and not just drool over the photos he was showing or the seriously interesting questions he was asking. He talked about the Ice Hotel in Sweden (I find this fascinating) – it melts every summer and so has to be rebuilt. It is recycled into different shapes and rooms but lots of knowledge tools are embedded within this concept.

So…I found myself telling Leif “you must get your blog going” and I promised him it is a painless procedure. He doesn’t need to churn out long essays like I do. He can do a quick blog post of a few hundred words, once a week. As conversation starters, to whet the appetite, to disrupt normal patterns of thinking, to simply show how Leif thinks and asks such stunning questions.

And so here are the top posts I would like to see Leif blog on – I promised I’d send them to him but better yet, why not blog on it here on ThinkingShift and REALLY put the pressure on! So here Leif are the themes to kick-start your blog, in no particular order, but they are concepts or questions I think people will find truly intriguing:

  • the concept of the knowledge cafe, the Vienna cafes and origins in the Muslim world
  • trust as the bridge on which knowledge travels in between people
  • the concept of “knowledge cities” – an overview
  • Nordic Leadership program
  • a number of posts about the shaping of space, for example, the design of a chair (without arm rests) and its impact on knowledge exchange; the colour green and its roots going back to 1490.
  • specific examples of psycho-social landscapes – Dialogue House, Mind Lab, floating centre in Denmark
  • a blog post about why the Swedes are so creative (your answer to that was about knowledge importation, which was extremely interesting)
  • how do we nourish smell and sound?
  • the notion of “contactivity”
  • the health space terrace concept
  • mind zone – how do we shape from an architectural perspective?
  • the Ice Hotel and knowledge tools
  • Japan and next generation of knowledge workers
  • Intelligent regions

This will give Leif 14 posts to kick off with – once a week. And I’m sure you’d find what he has to say as fascinating as I do. Once he gets going, I’ll post a link to his blog. So Leif: please blog!

April 7, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

CoPs 101

Once again, I find myself in need of explaining CoPs (communities of practice) to people I’m working with. I’ve been working with CoPs since 2002 in the same organisation. There’s been the usual ups and downs – a couple of CoPs bit the dust (really because they’d reached the limits of their purpose); senior management have tried to get their claws into the CoPs or grilled me over ROI on the CoPs; and the CoPs have survived a recent restructure.

In fact, I now have an explosion of CoPs on my hands due to a recent announcement by our top dog that CoPs are an important part of our KM initiative. All good. I’m still surviving! But I’ve run across a whole heap of people new to the organisation or in another related area (like L&D or IT) who don’t really understand this CoPs business. So I have a mix of people on my hands: some old warriors who have been in a particular CoP for 5 or 6 years and some new people who are excited by the whole concept but haven’t had the “CoP experience” so don’t quite know what’s up.

It’s actually getting quite interesting now – finally, I have an L&D crew who want to (gasp!) work with me (KM) and we are approaching credentialling via learning pathways (formal and informal curriculum, with CoPs being the informal part). Anyway, I trawled through YouTube to see what I could find in the way of organisations and CoPs or people explaining CoPs.

The first one is CoPs 101 (I’ll be using it!) – Communities of Practice Explained – within the context of the UK Government.

And this led me to the following website – Communities of Practice for Local Government. I found tons of CoPs, including a valuable Facilitator’s Community for facilitators to share tips about online facilitation.

Then I came across this video about Caterpillar’s sharing culture and their 4,000 CoPs.

There were a couple of things in the video I don’t agree with but hey, I’m in a good mood so I’ll lay off!

December 9, 2008 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Network citizens

Demos has recently published a very interesting paper entitled Network Citizens: Power & Responsibility at Work. You can download it here. It focuses on social networks and takes the interesting slant that networks can use organisations for their own ends.

Six organisations are showcased and the paper looks at the key fault-lines that people and organisations will have to address in the future world of work. I was particularly intrigued by this statement:

“Networks have a darker side that can make power, influence and dynamics less visible. They lead to difficult questions of influence, innovation, meritocracy and, fundamentally, loyalty, and the relationship between individuals and organisations.”

November 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm 1 comment

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