For starting up a KM initiative, a lot of information and collaboration is needed across the organization. Here is a comprehensive outline that may be useful to someone about to launch a KM initiative. An MS Word version is available if you will email me and ask.
You are currently browsing the archives for the KM category.
Archive for the 'KM' Category
There are many ways for customer communities to create value, including support products, up-sell services, entrench brand loyalty, save costs, improve operations, and generate new product ideas/improvements. Since strong communities can be a business game changer, knowing some of the factors that can make a business < --> customer community succeed is important.
I am discontinuing all comments on this blog, due to heavy spamming that I have to moderate manually. Please use the email link to contact me.
Great quote from Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams that sums up the challenge of KM.
thinking about the concept of questing as used successfully in a multiplayer online gaming context, like the one in World of Warcraft. For those who have been gamers for many years, this is an obvious application, and one that will appeal to and be readily accepted by the new generation of “wired” workers who have grown up with technology and multiplayer games. It might be more difficult to convey to non-gaming managers or executives, however, even though it’s just a variation on the carrot-and-stick paradigm. Here’s how it might work.
Part 2 of some thoughts about having fun with KM in the work place. This part includes premises and examples, as well as references to several good sites on the Web that offer fun ideas for the work place.
Fun provides a fresh and engaging way to reinforce the positive behaviors you want to happen in your KM program, and will result in many other positive benefits as well. Part 1 includes overcoming roadblocks to fun and measuring changes that result.
A suggested definition for knowledge intensive organizations (KIOs).
Although I am loathe to call KM a pseudoscience, making KM into a science continues to elude KM practitioners, although we are clearly some making progress over time. Patrick Lambe offers a 12-point KM scorecard.
It’s usually obvious that certain people contribute more to a group’s success than others. Perhaps there is a way that the KM contributions of individual or key participants could be measured using an “adjusted plus/minus” rating, such as used in professional basketball, for when they are active vs. not. Some people do have the ability to lift the participation in and effectiveness of an overall effort just by participating. This might be a way we could assess overall KM effectiveness, as well as reward the people who may not be the “big names” but are important contributors and tend to stay in the background.
Nicholas Carr’s article relates how different technological advances have changed (read “diminished”) the way humans process information, learn and develop new ideas. It was an eerie experience reading the article this morning, because he articulated things I have observed in myself and others, yet had not really stopped to analyze, thereby proving his point!
I decided to try again with wiki editing, and created an entry for “Connection Finders” software on the public blog on CPSquare. I’ve been researching new and emerging KM technologies recently, so I thought it would be fun to branch out a bit in that direction. Here’s what I have so far. The wiki is open to the public, so feel free to add your comments here or over there.
What an interesting experience it has been for me to participate in the discussion I referenced in my last posting! It started as a simple request for a distinguished group of knowledge management professionals, teachers and consultants to come up with a list of categories for the variety of activities people generally lump under the heading of “Knowledge Management.” It should have been a fairly straightforward exercise. We are now about two weeks into the task and it is falling apart. I’ve been thinking about why.
So how does one select the most appropriate techniques for a particular knowledge management situation? It starts with understanding all the tools available to use, and the approach or lens through which KM is being viewed. This working list is the first draft of a list that is moving to Wikipedia’s KM page, where anyone interested can participate in the attempt to refine it further.
Most of what business and professional people call KM is actually facilitated knowledge transfer. I suggest that knowledge “management” consists of both making information available for both person:information (asynchronous) search AND transferring information by story telling or narratives about personal experience in person:person (synchronous) search…One can envision a day when most human knowledge and experience is somehow codified and accessible on demand, and knowledge management as we call it today is no longer necessary. Maybe we will each have our own personal “Hal” or embedded microchip. But that is a topic for another day!
Just added a new long page of good KM related quotes. Look for the link in the right sidebar.
Perhaps standards for each major component of KM are possible, but I don’t think we are at a point where “KM standards” in a universal sense make any sense at all. Let’s not put it into a box before we know how big that box should be.
There’s a new master listing of KM certification programs and educational offerings on this site. (http://dove-lane.com/index.php/knowledge-management-training-programs-and-conferences/)
Frank Guerino, CEO of TraverseIT, offers some insights from 18 high level executives in large organizations as to why they don’t “buy” KM. Is he mixing knowledge management with information management, or are the executives? Read what they had to say.
Discussion boards are like the fast food drive through restaurants of KM. On some days they may choose to go into the restaurant to eat, and may participate/contribute to the discussion. But most days workers are usually on their way to somewhere else, they drop in for some nourishment, they scan the menu and choose items that appeal to them that day, they take the items they want (prepared by someone else), and they drive away.
The process of creating my own taxonomy of information made me think again about information silos, and think about them differently — not as rigid organizational structures, but as a dynamic way to make sense out of chaos.
After having had several good months to think about and delve into theoretical KM, I had a breakthrough last fall about what KM is and how all the components work together. I decided to put it to the test, so I started looking for a “real” job. It’s interesting to note that despite the efforts of many capable, thoughtful and talented people in my network, for me finding a job came down to finding an open posting.
Doesn’t this get it? “Knowledge management is a discipline that uses a variety of methodologies to connect people to people and people to information to improve decision making.” What KM activities are not covered by this definition?
As I’ve said before, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned about the long-term value of Wikipedia. It’s widely cited, but is it good? How do we know?
Here I go again. The fact that so many capable people cannot seem to define…and agree on a definition of…knowledge management bothers me. How can we solve problems if we can’t even define what’s in scope or out of scope? How can we use a tool we don’t understand? Here’s what I mean…
For a while now, I have observed the ways in which KM practitioners and consultants conceptualize KM, its components and their relationships. The most popular ways to represent KM are “four-blockers” and Venn diagrams with three interlocking circles. I’ve wondered why. Perhaps the language of numbers can help us finally to define what KM is and what the model really looks like.
Everyone in the KM field has different favorite texts that they use or cite as sources. Here are the ones I value for various reasons and have recommended to others.
I need names for a KM initiative! Here are some from various sources. Give me some to add to it!
There is a fallacy in all discussions of ROI for KM. KM is not a manufacturing process with people substituted for widget inventories in a financial spreadsheet. As long as accounting systems (and financial managers) reject the so-called “soft” or intangible values of KM and treat KM like they treat software or a new piece of equipment, the true ROI of KM will never be shown or appreciated. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to determine its value!
Intellext’s personal search bot Watson looks like it could be a researcher’s dream come true. I can’t wait to try it!
Recently I was talking with a friend about knowledge transfer, and he made the comment that in his organization, the management team seems to be trying to create “plug and play” people. Their goal is to be able to move people from one job to another seamlessly, assuming that somehow employees will be able to adapt to any new role because there is documentation. While I can understand management’s goal to bring efficiency to the organization and create a more agile work model, this approach is counter-productive and demoralizing. Even if exiting employees attempt to write everything they know about their jobs and processes, research shows that they will probably capture only 3/4 of it. When business process flows are well-defined and have predictable results, how do you capture the “intuitive” knowledge that differentiates what an expert knows from what a newcomer knows?
After two very heady weeks of discussions about information, knowledge, data, reality, applied knowledge, personal knowledge management, tacit/explicit knowledge, and a wide range of other related topics, I came away with new insights about KM and what it is. But I haven’t given up on believing that knowledge requires a knower” and that knowledge is not the same as information, and it can’t be “captured”. This short musing about data, knowledge and information pulls it all into focus.
Knowledge transferred to another person can be called education. Knowledge that is transferred to a database can be called data. Maybe I’m missing something here, or maybe we need to create a new term for expressed or explicit knowledge. To me the definitions all resolve to “all knowledge is information, but all information is not knowledge.” Maybe it used to be knowledge, or maybe it continues to be knowledge in the heads of the people who know the information, but explicit knowledge/information itself — is it just another type of data or something more?
KM thought leader Joe Firestone recently posted a message that supports my recent rants on the need for definitions in KM before meaningful conversation can occur. His point is KM cannot be captured by a definition, and I disagree, but it’s all part of an ongoing dialogue that we should be having.
Internal links that were broken are now fixed, and the site should work properly.
Spam is a four-letter word!
Part 2 of my risky look at a wild and wonderful way of working! This part describes the 3D interactive environment that could change everything about online learning and knowledge management.
Looking ahead is always fun, wrong, fascinating and ridiculous, but I’m going to give it a try anyway. Here’s my own vision of a wild and wonderful place to work 10 years from now…assuming there are still such things as corporations and we don’t all work from home! If you’ve been wondering what an immersive learning/knowledge management system might look like, read this!
The fact that we are still struggling with explaining KM is a testimony to the complexity of something that seems on the surface to be so simple. In order to simplify it, since most of us can’t agree on a definition, we use metaphors when describing it to co-workers or customers or funding managers. Here are a few.
It looks like the knowledge management “profession” is not the only group to have definition problems creating confusion in the rank and file. Game developers face the same problem.
I know a lot of KM practitioners are excited about blogs and wikis and such, but, practically speaking, I just don’t see it working. There are too many organizational issues around them (privacy, control, guidelines and standards, ownership of content, etc.). Most organizations rightly will see them as a lot of extra work for very little, if any, additional value and a lot of potential risk…no matter how inexpensive the software is.
Right now the planning is on for the big fall conferences. I hope that the organizers for all of them can rise above the competition of proprietary interests, and the demands of financial backers to have sponsors, and put the best people on the podium to talk about the real issues and the creative solutions. The way to make the KM field grow and gain meaning and respect is collaboration — building upon what others have contributed. It doesn’t take a Wiki. It takes a willingness.
Is it possible to predict whether a community of practice will succeed before it is started? Here’s a quick check Shawn Callahan suggests that can be a good predictor.
Part 2 of a three-part series on the relationship between knowledge management (KM) and learning in organizations.
Reprint of a conversation I had with a good friend about the difference between knowledge and learning. Part 3 of 3.
KM value comes from the narratives of credible business people. Quantifying hard benefits is not easy, since KM is one of multiple contributors to business growth or efficiency. Business leaders who have stories to tell about how KM has helped them succeed will be listened to and believed throughout the organization. Let the people with the story tell their story, and it will enhance the KM program.
I’m intrigued with the human dynamics of knowledge management. One of the fuzzy areas to me, and I think to many people in the field, is how learning and knowledge are related. Everyone has a subjective view based upon their own personal experiences, and thinks they know the answer, until asked to define them. To move KM forward, we need to be able to build upon a base of…knowledge…we all share. That base needs some definitions, and I’m offering some here.
Why, after nearly 15 years of more or less organized thinking, debate and studying of KM, haven’t we collectively been able to define what knowledge management is, create an unassailable model of how it works, and perhaps more importantly, sell the KM value proposition to organizations that clearly need it? Here are some penetrating insights into the state of the profession.
This list by L. Fahey and Larry Prusak from 1998 gets a lot of replay in KM circles, but I find it confusing. I believe it was a straw man, and not a rosetta stone for KM eight years later. Here is my suggested revision.
Before you begin a KM program, it’s helpful first to understand the context of the KM challenge you are attempting to master. Is it content, collaboration or process? Your own organization will have its specific barriers and challenges; however, some barriers are universal. Here’s a list of some.
I believe the concept of knowledge hoarding is largely a myth. We’ve all heard stories about how some go-to people in organizations refuse (overtly or covertly) to write down what they know in order to make themselves indispensible to the organization. So-called knowledge hoarders are strong indicators of other organizational issues that need to be resolved for KM to be successful. We need to understand the root cause of any hoarding behaviors and how widespread they really are in order to elevate the problem to the organizational level where it can be addressed.
This morning I reread an article by Don Moyer I first read nearly two years ago called “In Favor of Messing Around.” Moyer’s messing around means working with freedom. Playing with a purpose. Exploring a topic with no rigid goals, no particular agenda, no clients, no deadlines, and no specific deliverables in mind. It can lead to what some educators call an “ah-HA!” moment. To knowledge and innovation. And you own it!
One of the most difficult challenges I faced in trying to establish a new KM initiative was the lack of understanding among the managers and executives I worked with about KM and what it could do. Using a systematic approach, we educated them individually about why KM is useful, what it is, and how others were benefitting from it. During the course of these meetings, we made extensive notes on their comments, reservations, concerns, interest and ultimately, their understanding of what we were suggesting. Many interesting things emerged, including what managers perceive the risks of KM to be — both business related and personal.
A 50,000 foot view of knowledge and why it can’t be “managed.”
A while back I participated in a “branding” exercise to help define the purpose, describe value, and create an approach for a new KM initiative. These are my notes and the results of the session. Perhaps it will be helpful to someone else!
In a knowledge management initiative where communities of practice are used to create and validate best practices, it’s possible to use a lifecycle approach to formalize the process, using something along the lines of peer reviews used in science. A single person, however, needs to have the final editorial authority over each best practice written, and that person is also responsible for distributing the final document to all interested parties.
Is there any research that proves there are benefits to problem solving in a group, rather than individually or in pairs? What especially intrigues me at the moment is the actual value we can ascribe to having additional people help answer a question, and the parameters around getting the optimum answer from a group. How do we quantify the value of having additional people engaged in solving a problem or making a decision? What’s the right number of people to involve in the discussion? Do you hit a point where the incremental value of new thoughts is so low that it becomes too costly to add more voices? It’s an interesting topic.
Here’s an interesting analogy between knowledge management and party planning. The point is that KM is not a new social science. It’s not new and it’s not science and the social component is like party planning. There’s some truth here.
If we don’t know how ‘knowledge work’ is defined, then how can we know if we are successful at it? Yet, if a knowledge worker’s boss says they are doing a great job, does it matter whether what they do qualifies as ‘knowledge work’ at all? The more important question is whether improving worker effectiveness and the bottom line are the purpose of KM or whether they are potential outcomes of KM. It’s an important distinction.
Here are some citations for how much knowledge management can save an organization. I like to keep track of claims like these, because they are valuable when talking to financial people in an organization. There are probably some newer ones around, and if you know of any that aren’t here, please do comment or send me a message, and I’ll add them!
Can grassroots KM work? Does it work? Here are some learnings from my personal experience, presented at KMWorld 2005.
Communities of practice, communities of interest, and any other type of online community have basic rules to keep them functioning well. Here are some of the things I believe about communities.
Based on my own experiences, here are a few of the things I believe to be true about KM.
A very nice paper by Irish authors called “Theory Building in Knowledge Management” discusses the implicit and explicit assumptions that guide theory and practice, and analyze the major schools of thought within KM. They define KM as being in a “pre-science” state…which certainly explains the differences of beliefs, values and fundamentals expressed by practitioners.
The closing keynote presentation by Dave Snowden of the Cynefin Centre was thought provoking. Whether you agree with his point of view or methodologies or not, he is always an interesting presenter who challenges the status quo. This presentation echoes others who say KM is about sensemaking that can be used to improve decisionmaking in organizations.
Human Systems Dynamics (HSD) applies complexity science and chaos theory from math and physics to the interpersonal challenges that plague individuals, institutions, and communities today in an attempt to make them more coherent and facilitate organizational change. Like HSD, KM is a relatively new field, with a growing number of tools, models and techniques that can be confusing. A matrixed taxonomy of KM tools could be helpful to practitioners.
KM World 2005 reinforced two important points for me: we are a profession crying out for a new name, and we need to be looking for our next generation leaders. Surely there are some new thinkers out there, some risk takers, some people who are trying new things, and cobbling new thoughts together for the next evolution of KM. Who are they? Where are they? We need to continue to evolve the field or be permanently brushed aside as irrelevant to the real issues of complex organizations.
Verna Allee’s keynote presentation discussed various pieces of “the KM puzzle” and asked, What are you missing? Her background in social networks, value networks and living systems theory provided a background for comments on the need to integrate knowledge into the business language, the need for transparency in organizations, the high cost of not finding information when needed, the role of communities of practice in centralizing knowledge, and the need to initiate conversations that enable knowledge networks to form.
Tom Davenport delivered a fine opening keynote presentation at KM World on his current pet topic “Thinking for a Living: Keys to Knowledge Worker Productivity.” Knowledge workers have a high degree of education or expertise, and their *principle* objective is the creation, application or distribution of knowledge. Knowledge workers are at the core of our economic competitiveness. They are at the core of value creation and top-line growth. They drive the future. It’s important to make them more productive with tools and measures that help the organization to assign value to what they do. Different types of knowledge workers should be identified and treated differently (i.e., a segmentation scheme is needed). Any thoughts on knowledge work and knowledge workers?
It’s always interesting to hear what Richard McDermott has to say about communities. This time he spoke instead on the the latest buzzword in KM — knowledge work, and the need to make expertise an available resource. Experts solve problems through seeing patterns. They almost instinctively match the current situation to stored situations in their own brains, and can then see options for actions in the current environment. Knowledge transfer is so difficult because no other person has the same set of experiences against which to evaluate the current situation and determine appropriate actions. So how do we communicate expertise?
Established guilds in MMOGs share the features of healthy, mature communities anywhere. These are described by Richard McDermott. What’s often overlooked, especially in gaming communities, is the importance of charismatic leaders.
Why do multiplayer game systems get so much energy from participants, where knowledge worker systems don’t? Here are my notes and thoughts on an interesting session by Steve Barth and (in absentia) his colleague Celia Pearce. Work structures us, but games let us be free to be and do anything. Millions of people are playing MMOGs, and most express strong passion about them. Many gamers put in more than 20 hours per week in virtual worlds. That means there is something of value there, and we can apply this to knowledge management. But how?
KM is a relatively new business process, yet it’s changing before our eyes. The early attempts to understand the role and value of knowledge in organizational longevity and productivity are already being supplanted by creative new approaches. KM has to change. Look how organizations are changing! Here are some statistics…
About a year ago, I read about a very interesting approach to knowledge management called “Operation Brain-trap” by a consulting firm in Barcelona, Spain. The company’s rule is “keep nothing valuable on paper.” It requires all its consultants to funnel any knowledge of the company’s clients, methodology, or business operations into a single digital repository available to all staff. Any papers left on employees’ desks are routinely pushed into a trash can and recycled! They believe forcing everyone to use the repository for all information gives them a critical advantage in a competitive market.
When organizations first consider creating thematic interest groups or communities, most make the mistake of treating them like any standard, heirarchical business activity. Surprisingly for them, this standard approach often results in failureâ€”for a lot of reasons. Communities are by nature egalitarian. The members are either experts in the community’s knowledge domain, or aspire to be. In knowledge management, there is a strong parallel to guilds in the gaming world (see this post).
Overall, the conference was good–the keynotes alone were worth the cost and time! But the breakouts were a little uneven. Some were very good, but some were poor. I’ll publish my notes on a few of them here.
What excites me about the confluence of gaming, learning and knowledge management is its potential to reignite the enthusiasm of workers and open their eyes to a new way of interacting as they work toward shared goals. What I discovered from the interest shown at the KM World conference was that business executives are interested now. More than interested — excited and even hopeful that a more game-like approach will increase the effectiveness of and participation in KM and learning systems.
As is true in communities of practice, multiplayer online game members do not start off with social rules or agendas programmed into the software. An environment for interaction is created, there are rules for interacting correctly with the system, and there is a stated purpose for being there. There are no rules of leadership, so leaders emerge on the basis of their actions and knowledge. Both KM systems and game environments are complex social systems where unexpected events can happen and previously unknown people can rise up to be leaders. There is an opportunity for gaming to influence KM systems once the complex social interactions of online multiplayer gaming become more widely understood.
Torill Elvira Mortensen wrote that multiplayer games are “secluded, exclusive arenas of play, which represent themselves as places rather than non-places. They demand the same manner of identification as crossing the borders of countries – they ask for a name and a password – identification unique to the player. ” All this security around identity gives members of the gaming community confidence that the people they think they are interacting with are, indeed, the people they think. It makes characters/players accountable for their actions, and ensures they receive the rewards or blame incurred by their styles of participation. The parallel with knowledge management systems is obvious.
Today’s session on Collaborative Learning & Games hosted by Steve Barth was one of the best sessions of the conference so far. Yes, it does dovetail with my own personal interests, but it was obvious from the participation of the audience- and that we all stayed over for more than 10 minutes–that the topic struck a chord beyond just me.
Collaboration is a way of working with others, and it is supported by the same functionalities that enable KM. According to the Gartner Group (2004), the percentage of individuals whose work depends on collaboration is rising and will rise significantly from 2000 (28%) to 2010 (70%). Here are some important considerations.
The quality of the presentations this year at KMWorld seems less than in prior years. While many of the sessions have interesting sounding titles, there have been a number of last minute speaker substitutions, and the overall quality of at least half of the presentations has been less than expected.
There is currently a lot of corporate activity in the KM arena. What do the experts forecast for Knowledge Management? The following projections are compiled from a variety of research and consulting organizations, as well as respected individual practitioners in the field. What did I miss?
Studies by independent researchers have shown that culture change within organizations requires 3 to 5 years of constant and consistent effort. Changing workersâ€™ behaviors is the most challenging aspect of knowledge management, and will take the most effort and time if the KM initiative is going to succeed. A committed sponsor and a communication plan are two of the most important.
Commonly misused terms defined. Don’t let your management call information knowledge and get away with it!
San Jose! KM World 2005! Great place to inaugurate this site.