Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong Knowledge Management conference 2010’

Making KM projects work

Before Patrick Lambe (the silver fox) and I launch ourselves into facilitating a panel discussion on 50 years of KM, we hear from David Gurteen. David is being introduced as a “KM legend”. I haven’t seen David for about 4 years, so looking forward to his session.

Wants to pull together his thoughts on what to do in your organisation to make sure your KM projects are a success – not so much focus on KM tools. Says he is not here to give answers but to trigger thoughts.

The potential of KM is enormous but many KM projects have failed to live up to expectations. Why?

  • KM projects are NOT focused on the business
  • KM projects are tough
  • KM project leaders are often inexperienced
  • KM projects poorly conceived
  • Lack of senior management support

Four key things we need to think about:

  • what are the business problems we are trying to solve?
  • how do we ensure support from senior management and how do we sustain that support?
  • how do we engage the people in our organisations?
  • how do we think and learn for ourselves?

In good times, KM means knowledge management; in bad times it means ‘kill me’ (his point being that in downturns, KM staff are often retrenched).

Some thoughts from David:

  • think for yourself
  • no substitute for thinking
  • no recipes
  • no simple set of steps
  • KM is very contextual
  • everyone of us is different; organisations have different cultures;
  • anything could influence a KM project in a negative way

You don’t “do KM” – meaning, you solve business problems and develop business opportunities using KM tools and techniques.  There are no KM initiatives or strategies – there are only business projects. KM people conceptualise the problem and don’t always talk about the business issues. We jump far too quickly to a “solution” without understanding the problem. People will not share their knowledge – this is not a business issue.

These are not business outcomes:

  • doing KM
  • improving K sharing
  • creating a learning organisation
  • creating a K driven organisation
  • setting up communities of practice

David advises – talk to CEO and senior business managers. What keeps them awake at night? Talk to the stakeholders – the sponsor, senior managers, employees affected, KM team. Who are the sceptics and opponents?

Key message – for KM to be successful, you have to work with people and not be “doing things” to people. David says you cannot motivate people to share knowledge; people have to find the motivation for themselves; attempts to motivate or manipulation and people see through it and this results in adverse affect.

What should you be doing instead?

  • listen to people and show respect
  • help them find their voice and have conversations with them
  • engage and trust them
  • given them responsibility and recognition

David says: do not reward people for sharing their knowledge. Research shows that giving rewards actually results in worse performance and undermines motivation. Points us to 2 books: Alfie Kohn Punished by Rewards and Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Always pilot a KM project and adopt iterative prototyping. Learn from small steps. Allow for change and emergence. He leaves us by asking us some questions:

  • is my KM activity focused on the business?
  • have I really understood the problems?
  • are senior managers bought in?
  • are employees and other stakeholders bought in?
  • how do I demonstrate value?
  • am I measuring business outcomes and not just activity?
  • what do I do in place of rewards?
  • am I really thinking for myself?
  • am I committed to my own personal learning and development?
  • am I walking the talk?
  • how can I take an active part in the global KM community?

March 30, 2010 at 8:38 am 1 comment

Leveraging Web 2.0 tools

I’m going to skip the presentations from the Gold Sponsors – interesting as they might be. Up now is Professor Eric Tsui, who I teach with at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. I’ve known Eric for over 10 years now – a knowledgeable chap, particularly when it comes to Personal Knowledge Management or PKM. PKM is the topic of his session today.

Opening slide is a tag cloud for PKM, which he calls “bottom-up KM”. You don’t have to be an IT professional to practice PKM. KM tools getting cheaper, free, ubiquitous. PKM has been an under-addressed area up to now. In 2001, Google retrieved a mere 18 searches for “Personal Knowledge Management” and now in 2010 – 39,400 references. Suggests that it might be more popular than KM.

Shows PKM research model – identifies Paul Dorset’s PKM model with its 7 skills (problem solving, communication, creativity, analysis, learning, mental agility, reflection).  His research student did a global survey on PKM and results show PKM skills and awareness plays important role in KM processes.  More focus should be made in “grooming” your knowledge workers.

Web 2.0 influencing PKM models eg blogging, wikis, podcasts. Allow individual knowledge workers freedom to select and configure tools for their content and information and link people together. Shows PKM 2.0 model that covers personal information management, personal wisdom creation, inter-personal knowledge transferring.

Now talking about personal learning environment (PLE) versus traditional learning environment. Universities need serious examination and realignment he suggests.

Some challenges for a PLE:

  • information overload
  • sustainability and quality of contributions (ie into wikis)
  • knowledge classification and navigation
  • content authoring by the masses
  • development and tracking of personal competencies

Now talking about using RSS feeds and tagging to create a co-learning environment. A lot of online content but much of it is static – so how about we configure information to come to us, annotate it and share it. Shows how to use Google reader.

Sustainability of knowledge: shows an experiment with a clustered wiki. 9 or 10 people in 4 groups on Media Wiki – 60% of people in a small group are deemed as active contributors and average 5 edits per page. Smaller groups than Wikipedia.

Quality of knowledge – whether material is quality or not. Significant work still needs to be done.

Using social bookmarking and mashups to enhance knowledge navigation – shows us example of TaxoFolk (a hybrid taxonomy-folksonomy). This project involves inserting tags into site map aka real-time visual tagging of pages.

For massive authoring of material – using RAPIDS for scenario authoring (developed by HKPolyU). Can mix real scenes with imaginary scenes.

  • PKM values and competencies are directly related to organisational performance
  • PKM is rapidly gaining interest but most of existing frameworks based on traditional web
  • Web 2.0 and social software enable KM workers to set up PLE
  • quality of K, sustainability of contributions, mass authoring and ability to combat info overload need to be overcome
  • significant research is still needed for fusing personal and enterprise knowledge

March 30, 2010 at 7:02 am Leave a comment

Managing IC in the proactive enterprise

Karl Wiig up now. I had lunch with him yesterday. He told me he is 76 years old but my goodness, I’ve never seen such a lively 76 year old. And he skippered a yacht to the Caribbean recently. Lovely man. So his session at the 2010 Knowledge Management conference here in Hong Kong is Managing Intellectual Capital in the Proactive Enterprise.  He starts off with a slide about proactive and healthy enterprises:

  • manage IC assets deliberately
  • pursue vigilance to prosper
  • believe in constant preparedness
  • create opportunities
  • focus on priorities – ignore irrelevancies
  • maintain broad and long-term perspectives
  • emphasise critical systems thinking
  • renew goods and services repeatedly

Proactive enterprises are chaordic he says. He has struggled with over the years – learning about the two aspects of any organisation and he quotes Peter Drucker here:

  • societies ARE – subjective world, people interacting, culture, values, opinions
  • organisations DO – objectives and goals, artefacts and technology.

(Love Karl: he reminds me very much of Leif Edvinsson). Organisation DOES and Society IS model that he shows, the two must work together. The problem with KM is that it has consistently focused on what the organisation DOES and neglected the subjective world of the organisation. As a result, there is a dismal record of success in KM because we have ignored the most basic part of how an organisation works – that is, how people work to make the products and services that are delivered.

We need to deal with the dual nature of the enterprise in its social and objective dimensions. We do need to be able to blend these two worlds together in our applications and in what we deliver to the organisation and help it. We must match the business structure, operational practices with the people, culture and social needs.

Now talking on intellectual capital (IC) and how it has focused on structural, social and human capital. There are IC resources to PERFORM. We have been labouring under false assumption that world is stationary and that the knowledge we need already exists. But world is in constant change: and values and understandings we had yesterday, will not be applicable tomorrow. We have ignored a whole set of IC drivers: mindset capital (leadership – where is it that IC or people’s mindsets are taking this organisation?).

We need to introduce enterprise culture as part of IC, that is built through people’s intellectual activities as they work together, establish values systems etc. And it can be changed – if the enterprise culture is not conducive to good performance, you might start thinking about how you can modify the enterprise culture.

Is management the solution or the problem Karl asks (ah, let me guess: management!).  What model should we choose when dealing with management? Discovery model – informally searching for solutions. Planning model – formalising processes. Quest model – unstructured & goal oriented. Science model – operationally efficient. Karl says that management becomes efficient when it is open, innovative.

Back to IC:

  • every IC element affects enterprise performance
  • for best performance the entire IC assets portfolio must be balanced and elements must complement each other harmoniously
  • different IC elements support different enterprise functions – often we find structural capital supports product leadership in terms of R&D; social capital addresses customer intimacy; human capital addresses expertise, knowledge; mindset capital addresses WHERE the organisation should go and WHY.
  • strategy is a contextual vision that should change minute by minute if that is necessary and the mindset of the organisation will direct how well you achieve this.

And here is an issue with KM – KM focus is typically on enterprise IC elements (process capital, practices, IP areas, information capital, R&D programs). Other areas of IC remain untouched by traditional KM – doesn’t address all the things we need to pursue in the organisation.

Managing IC: management of IC touches on every aspect of the organisation; ICM considers strategic, tactical and operational needs; ICM integrates conventional KM and is informed by it.

Chaordic environments: how do we perform better in this environment? 5 different activies that are relevant: innovate, manage change, operate effectively, motivate, facilitate. And which IC elements are being touched on by the need to improve these 5 different areas.

The effective ICM consists of group and individual actions of knowledgeable and motivated people supported by broad capabilities ranging from enterprise culture and management philosophy to infrastructure and technology. Infrastructure is back-bone of behaviour and facilitation within organisations.  You need a thoughtful, energetic, proactive, broad-minded management.

Shows diagram of 119 different countries – you will find a cluster of advanced nations that are very successful innovators (eg Nordic countries, NZ, Hong Kong, Germany, Netherlands). These countries have opportunity to lead where societies will head.

March 30, 2010 at 4:33 am Leave a comment

Strategy in the age of uncertainty

Now we get to Dave Snowden’s session. I always enjoy listening to Dave. Very measured – theoretical yet practical illustrations. He goes over the 7 basic principles of KM:

  • * knowledge is a voluntary act – cannot be compelled
  • * we only know what we know when we need to know it. We are pattern-based intelligences not information processors. People will know things in the right context but not independently of that context. KM has thought its role is to summarise, aggregate and reduce. But summary etc is specific to your context.
  • in the context of real need, few people will refuse to share their knowledge. But no-one will share it in anticipation of that need. So if you reward, you are rewarding info sharing only.
  • tolerated failure imprints learning better than success. Human brain pays more attention to failure than success.
  • the way we know things is not the way we say we know things. Embodied knowledge of experts is not something that can be transformed into decision rules.
  • we always know more than we can say and we will always say more than we can write down
  • everything is fragmented.  Fragmented micro-narratives. True KM is about creating conditions for messy coherence and not orderly “filing cabinets”. Humans do best when trying to make connections in exciting, novel ways.

Now Dave moves onto – thinking differently and ways we think about our organisations. Talks about S curve – new idea or concept comes into play and gets little traction. Slow acceptance. But then becomes dominant way of thinking before it declines due to excess use. Very few people see the new things until they are already present. First S curve we lived through was scientific management (dominant narrative). Then new paradigm comes in; old paradigm suppresses adoption of new. Organisations that don’t make the switch to the new paradigm never get a second chance. Example: IBM dominated IT then failed to see switch to distributed computing and nearly went down.

Systems thinking 1980s: dominant metaphor being engineering. BPR, Senge’s Learning Organisation. It says things are joined up and connected but we can still understand connections, model them and define where we want to go. This is where KM came from. Nonaka is firmly in this dominant metaphor.

Now moving into third based on complexity and cognition. Future is inherently uncertain. So two or five year organisational plans are useless. We are dealing with a complex ecology – requires new methods and ways of thinking. Technology role = can provide cognitive augmentation, augments human decision-making – does not replace it.

3 ways of thinking: deductive (scientific mgt, control of function); inductive (systems thinking, control of information); abductive (complexity and cognition, cognitive augmenation). Abductive processes facilitate novelty.

Question for organisations: will you continue on an upturn or will you fall down because you dominate? New way of thinking now: natural sciences, complexity.

Uses example of London taxi driver – novice spends 2 years of life driving around streets of London until he knows name of every street. In exam, has to describe London street by street, landmarks etc on a given route. There is a 40% pass rate. This two to three year process changes structure of the brain. Then we have a map of New York – public transport system –  codified knowledge and deeply symbolic. But map didn’t tell Dave that muggers and whackos lay along the route he was taking. But everyone who lives in the area knew not to go where Dave did. So….the narratives that people tell are important.

Now Dave goes through his projects:

  • cultural mapping – micro-narratives of day to day living
  • Inzalo in South Africa- education – learning diaries and look at patterns of behaviour based on day-to-day and not on questionnaires.
  • understanding customers – real time feedback and disintermediation
  • staff engagement in strategy – micro-scenarios, real time construction
  • decision-makers need to sense/see patterns as early as possible
  • ethical and safety auditing in South African mines – attitudes to safety, moving from compliance to attitudes.
  • innovation across silos – gathered stories about what people like about their gardens, lights – 5 new service offerings. Brought knowledge together in real-time.

Key lessons for management:

  • technology and original vision of KM are now aligned. And technology is largely free, low cost. You change your software to match your needs.
  • applications co-evolve within architectural constraints with changing software components in varying forms to adapt but also exapt
  • constraints are key, shift from compliance to attitude and from outcome to impact
  • context is everything – it’s the big word that everyone forgot in KM
  • risk and outlier detection – most risk is assessed on Bell curve. Everything else is an outlier I can ignore. Problem – this is an abnormal distribution. What happens in nature is Pareto distributions. So Bell curve is crap.
  • our ability to detect failure early is paramount and a resilience strategy is necessary.

Another great Dave Snowden talk.

March 30, 2010 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

Managing knowledge strategically

So here I am at the Langham Place hotel in glittering Hong Kong. About to start the 2010 Knowledge Management Conference: Making KM Productive. I’ll also be tweeting using the hashtag HKKMS10. I’ll be live tweeting – I’m @kimmar or you can watch the live tweets on the right hand panel of this blog. So far I’ve met up with various KM luminaries – Dave Snowden, David Gurteen, Max Boisot, Karl Wiig and the “silver fox”, Patrick Lambe (since I last saw Patrick, he’s sprouted a rather spiffy beard thingo and has very distinguished silver grey hair).

First up, in the speaker line up is Max Boisot – opening keynote – his topic is Managing Knowledge Strategically: The Challenge of Selectivity. He’ll be followed by Dave Snowden (I always enjoy meeting up with Dave – although he’s a bit miffed that the Welsh didn’t do well in the Rugby Sevens).

He will look at 3 questions re KM aims to help organisations make good use of their knowledge assets;

  • how does an organisation discover which of its K assets are strategic?
  • how should an organisation then deploy its strategic K assets?
  • how might an organisation then extract value from its strategic K assets?

Boisot presents a conceptual framework. There are 3 types of knowledge: experiential, narrative and abstract symbolic. You move towards abstract symbolic representations to speed up K sharing. Abstract symbolic = codified & abstract. We can own it, sell it, store it – but you lose the context that formulated the message.

Knowledge flows and it evolves as it flows. Shows knowledge creation cycle –

  • proprietary knowledge (codified and abstract)
  • public knowledge
  • common sense
  • personal knowledge (uncodified and concrete)

Scanning is process of picking up available data; problem solving process works it up into something structured; diffuse and internalise. Once it’s internalised it is knowledge.

How do we extract value? it’s not just utility. Knowledge becomes more useful when it is codified and abstract.

Looks at Boston Consulting Group business strategy framework – how competitive you are compared to competitors. How do I allocate scare resources to compete in business?  He suggests that we look at the knowledge base that underpins the business. Let’s call codification and abstraction the “attractiveness” of the business. The extent to which knowledge is diffused defines my competitive position.

Lots of talk in business of core competences. Can we identify that kind of knowledge in a firm that defines competitive advantage? Core competences are hard to imitate – so it’s uncodified and concrete.

Key takeaways:

  • map/represent knowledge assets that are strategically relevant
  • decide what to sell, licence
  • within the knowledge assets, identify your competences and gaps
  • identify where you have learning strengths & weaknesses
  • use the maps to build external value-adding networks
  • map is a guide to strategic use of your knowledge base
  • examine how cultural processes blocking the learning cycle – this cycle needs to move faster than your competitors.

March 30, 2010 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

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