Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Knoco comes to Dubai!

This blog has been relatively inactive in recent weeks, for which I must apologise. 

The thing is, for the last 2 months I have been discussing and planning and re-discussing and re-planning a big knowledge management (KM) project for a client based in Dubai.

It's taken a significant amount of time and effort, not just to clarify the scope of work, but to clarify what both client and consultant think that scope of work entails.

Well, I am now deployed and approaching the end of my first week in this busy city.  I'm still busy but closer to my comfort zone than before, so will make an effort to blog here, on some of the issues I encounter and the KM solutions we propose and implement.

For now, the kind of work I'll be doing includes:
  • Knowledge Management Assessment and Benchmarking - through workshops and interviews with staff from across the client organisation;
  • Designing a Knowledge Management Strategy - again through workshops and interviews with the client's senior leadership team;
  • Conducting a Knowledge Scan - identifying the critical knowledge areas and assessing the extent to which they are documented or within the heads of a few experts;
  • Running our Learning Culture Survey - to examine people's behaviour and attitudes towards learning and collaboration;
  • Designing a Knowledge Management Framework - to enable knowledge to be discussed, captured, organised and accessed in a systematic way;
  • Creating an Implementation Plan - to set out the sequence in which new elements need to be introduced, at what cost, and by whom;
  • Piloting and 'Quick Wins' - testing and proving concepts, to create value and build support for further implementation;
  • Training - providing the KM team and others with the basic skills needed to manage knowledge, such as interviewing, facilitating, and structuring knowledge.
So, I will be a bit busy!  But, as they say, if you want to get something done, give it to someone that's busy, and I would very much like to hear from anyone interested in KM, either for an informal chat or to explore ways in which Knoco can help ease their pain....

I'll be in Dubai until the end of September and if anyone would like a conversation about knowledge management - either out here or anywhere in the world! - please contact me direct, or via the Knoco website.

Monday, 26 June 2017

How in the world do you do KM?

Hot off the press, the Knoco 2017 Global KM survey is now available!

The survey revisited the topics first surveyed in 2014, such as:
  • Reasons for doing KM
  • Maturity levels
  • KM scope
  • Challenges
  • KM skills
  • Implementation and governance
  • Value created
  • KM budgets
  • Technology
  • KM processes
  • Best practices
  • Lesson learning
  • Culture
  • Communities of Practice
In 2014, we had over 200 responses - this time the number surpassed 400!

For a copy of the survey results, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website



Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Get together with fellow KMers now and then - it's inspiring!


For a few days last week, I swapped Wiltshire’s winding lanes for San Francisco’s frantic streets.  I’d been invited to speak at KA Connect – a Knowledge Management (KM) conference for the AEC industry (i.e. Architecture, Engineering and Construction).  More about my involvement in a future blog post….

The conference was attended by a little over 220 people, drawn from the 3 sectors, and focused on 2 key themes:

·        Critical knowledge – i.e. how to define, capture and manage it;

·        KM strategy – i.e. how to use KM to support a firm’s commercial strategy.

In the parlance of the moment, I took a number of ‘take-aways’ from the event, some of which I’ll explore in future posts but, to summarise here:

·        After so many years of battling the yet-to-be-convinced, getting together with other people that ‘get it’ is good for one’s KM mental health!

·        Twitter enables speakers’ insights to reach the wider world within seconds which, for most people reading this blog, will always be remarkable;

·        Larry Prusak remains the Godfather of KM, and deservedly so;

·        As with military operations, so with life – prior planning prevents piss-poor performance….

More to come….

For a conversation about how managing your knowledge can help improve performance, please contactme direct, or via the Knoco website.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Ignorance can sometimes help innovation....

A great little story in the news today with a couple of insights for those of us interested in knowledge management (KM).

This Telegraph news article here tells how a 16-year old schoolboy on work experience helped address the problems encountered when a heart by-pass surgery patient's records are unavailable and there is no way of knowing what work has been done before.

Observing his father (a cardiologist) dealing with a patient in this situation, he asked whether there was some way of writing a code inside the patient, so that future surgeons would have the information they needed straight away, enabling further surgery to take place without undue delay.

This innocent question sparked an idea, which resulted in his father developing a system

Two observations:
  • The schoolboy was not part of the surgical team and had no direct or relevant experience that might have been helpful in this situation.  However, this 'ignorance' was to his advantage, as it meant he approached the problem with a fresh outlook.  In many day-to-day activities at work, there are times when a new perspective can help a team tackle a problem or improve performance and KM activities like a Peer Assist can help bring different perspectives to a team and new insights to a problem.
  • Thankfully, the surgical team did not suffer from the 'not invented here' syndrome, whereby people resist external initiatives or suggestions simply because they came from an outsider.  This is sadly the default workplace condition and all too often leads to 'groupthink', preventing or inhibiting innovation.  Teams that have developed a learning culture are more likely to be receptive to new ideas.
For a chat about bringing new perspectives to your team, innovation or knowledge management in general, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

These things don't happen on their own, you know....

At university, I read Politics and Philosophy, which included a module called, 'Space, Time and Infinity'.  It was awesome.  I loved irritating my housemates by pretending not to understand vague terms such as 'this morning' or 'tomorrow night'...

Various theories have been put forward to show that time is a real phenomenon, as opposed to a construction of human thinking to help us make greater sense of the world and our place in it.

One of these is the 'entropic theory of time', which I shall simplify, if only to spare my blushes and retain your attention.

Entropy means 'disorder'.  Most things in our world, free from outside interference, will become disordered, thereby showing greater entropy.  It is this direction, from order to disorder, that shows the passage (and direction) of time.  Think of the untended, increasingly weedy garden, the neglected, muddy car or indeed any room in the house recently visited by small children....

So far, so what?

Much of human existence has required our 'interference' in things, to create and sustain the things that enable us to live the lives we enjoy today.  The food we eat, the clothes we wear and the transport we take have all been developed through our deliberately choosing to do things and to continue doing those things.  Some discoveries have been accidental (e.g. some vaccines, hot air balloons, Post-it notes etc.) but our exploitation of them has only been possible through our continued, deliberate efforts.

As it is with human history, so it is with knowledge management (KM).

Without KM, organisations remain in states of entropy, to greater or lesser degrees:
  • New ideas don't take hold and spread without the energy with which (or the channels along which) to move them - which means innovations remain isolated;
  • Lessons don't get identified and DEFINITELY don't get learned, without people making the necessary effort - which means the same mistakes get made, over and over again;
  • Best practices don't get developed, let alone embedded, without a system of creation, review and update - which means performance is inconsistent and the quality varied;
  • Knowledge doesn't stick around when people leave without a system of retention and transfer - which means those left behind have to start from scratch, all over again.
Without a deliberate KM approach, far too many organisations resemble the unkempt garden, the dirty car or the sofa with crayon scrawled all over it:  mistakes are repeated, over and over again; business continues to be lost from failed bids; time is wasted tracking down the guy that did this thing before.

So, KM is not 'natural' and will not happen by itself.  It requires a deliberate decision from senior management to investigate, design, test and implement a KM approach.

We don't have inviting gardens by accident; we don't have clean cars by accident and we don't have tidy houses by accident (nor, for that matter, presentable children) - so why on earth would we expect our knowledge to be managed by accident?

If you'd like a conversation about deliberately choosing to manage your organisation's knowledge, contact me direct or via the Knoco website.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The last 10 problems that clients have asked us to solve....

At Knoco, we get queries of all sorts, with clients seeking our help in providing knowledge management (KM) solutions to a wide range of problems. 

I thought readers of this blog might be interested in a quick run-down of what these problems are, and how we have helped (or might yet do so).

So, in reverse order, they are:
  • A global consultancy, introducing a technology platform to a Chinese client, want us to provide the KM roles, processes and governance to maximise the benefits available;
  • A global law firm seeks our help in getting teams from different geographical and functional areas to talk to one another; we'll be running a short workshop for them, which will include the Bird Island game;
  • A Chinese manufacturing firm has numerous problems of quality, cost over-runs and also its staff take a long time to become competent and generate value; we're currently helping them to develop a KM business case, to justify the investment needed for the project that will help address these issues;
  • A UK-based defence consultancy is looking to introduce KM but is concerned about employee engagement; we'll be running a workshop (again, with Bird Island) to show the value of KM and help them begin their journey;
  • A Middle Eastern utilities organisation has introduced KM but its take-up is patchy, with isolated examples of good practice; they've asked us to conduct a KM assessment and draft an implementation plan;
  • A global jewellery firm wants to introduce KM but doesn't know how or where to start; we've been asked to design and implement a KM pilot project for them;
  • Another global consultancy has many employees spread far and wide, all of whom seek the advice and support of one or two 'grey beard' experts, which continually diverts these high-value staff members from 'big picture' issues; they've asked us to design and plan a KM pilot project for them;
  • A UK regulator has isolated experts, pockets of good practice and virtually no learning from experience; we've designed a KM framework for them, edited their KM strategy and are about to start KM training;
  • A UK consultancy to the healthcare sector has a low 'bid win rate' and fails either to identify or learn lessons from its bids; we've been asked to look at ways of using KM elements to help it win more business, and learn from each new engagement;
  • A global consultancy to the oil/gas sector is introducing KM; we've conducted a KM assessment, designed a framework and trained their 'KM champions'; we've now been asked to provide ongoing support over the next 12 month.
If any of these sound familiar, or you have a different problem, and think we might be able to help, please contact me direct, or via the Knoco website.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

How to identify, select and plan a KM pilot project

I've blogged before about using 'pilot projects' to introduce knowledge management (KM) into an organisation.  That post (here) explained their use in terms of building support for KM and thereby slowly changing the culture. 


Purpose
KM pilot project seeks to introduce and combine a number of KM elements to address a specific business problem.  This has two key benefits:
  • It enables the wider KM implementation effort to trial, test and adjust KM framework elements before rolling them out to the entire organisation, thereby minimising disruption and cost;
  • It alleviates problems and wins further investment from senior management, as well as creating 'good news' stories with which KM can be sold to the wider organisation as part of a communications plan.
Let's now look at how we might identify, select and plan such a project.  Since we at Knoco currently have 4 clients at various stages of this process, I thought this would be worth exploring....

Identification
First off, run a workshop at which current business issues can be discussed and a shortlist of viable pilots selected.  The following steps might come in handy:
  • Send out calling notice across the organisation, inviting functional leads and/or senior managers to present and discuss their current 'pain points' - a rough agenda at this stage;
  • Book venue, facilitator, workshop 'stuff' (i.e. flipcharts, post-its, pens etc.);
  • Send out confirmatory notice, with a finalised agenda;
  • Suggested workshop agenda:
    • Introductions - of one another
    • Introduction to knowledge management (KM) - to create a common understanding
    • KM tools, processes, approaches - to show what KM elements involve and achieve
    • KM case-studies - to demonstrate how KM alleviates problems and creates value
    • Presentations - each team or department describes their current issues 
    • Discussion - combinations of KM elements are suggested for each problem, for example:
Selection
Having identified a number of areas where KM might help, a system of voting and selection is needed to enable a KM pilot project to be planned.  This can happen at the above workshop or afterwards, based on written-up notes etc.  Methods may vary, but a number of criteria should be considered to enable each potential pilot to be judged fairly.  The following are suggestions only - there will be others:
  • Business impact
    • Is knowledge a key factor in delivering business performance?
    • Will the impact of the knowledge be demonstrated in a short enough time?
  • Business advocacy
    • Is there a local business sponsor?
    • Will there be a local person accountable for the delivery of the KM project?
  • Transferability and reach
    • Do cross-business customers exist for the knowledge gained from the project?
    • Will the knowledge and learnings from the project have strategic potential for growth?
  • Feasibility
    • Can we make time/space for people to work on the project?
    • Do we have enough skilled KM resources available?
Each potential pilot project can be awarded scores against each of these criteria, with the highest 3 shortlisted for further scope definition and a GO/NO GO decision from senior management.

Planning
Having selected a KM pilot project, we must now plan it.  This will require a number of in-depth conversations with key stakeholders, to understand fully the current business context and then formalise a planned response.

The output from these inter-actions will be terms of reference document and implementation plan, covering:
  • Context - why is this happening?
  • Scope - what is included?  What is not?
  • Stakeholders - who's involved?
  • Governance - who's in charge?
  • Approach - how do we do this?
  • Resources - who can help?
  • Costs - how much?
  • Schedule - when and in what order?
  • Deliverables - what will we have to show for our efforts?
  • Benefits - how much value will we create?
  • Metrics - how do we measure success?
The costs and benefits can be presented in a business case, which is a discrete activity in its own right and which I will examine in greater depth in another post.

For a conversation about knowledge management pilot projects, or about anything to do with KM, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.