A case for raising standards: home and away

bir-sept-16The following article was published in Business Information Review Magazine.Summary

This article seeks to raise awareness of the moves by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to establish a set of Knowledge Management Standards. In it the author Paul J Corney will suggest that the adoption of such standards has the potential to become a game changer for Knowledge Management professionals providing a clear rationale for future KM Programs.

A case for raising standards: home and away.

Summer has finally appeared and visitors to London can be heard bemoaning the lack of air conditioning that is commonplace in their societies where 25c is the norm rather than the exception.

The political climate too has been hot enough the past month with the Brexit vote, the flurry of resignations that accompanied it and a slew of economic forecasters downgrading short-term UK growth predictions.

The brave new dawn promised by the Vote Leave campaign is predicated on striking bilateral trade deals quickly!

Yet as anyone involved with cross border negotiations will tell you, they take time to reach consensus.

I have previous (or current). I am a member of the British Standards Institute (BSI) committee providing input to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) working party responsible for drafting.

Invited to join the ‘great and the good’ of the UK KM world a year ago, I accepted as I’d seen in assignments and tender requests how important this was becoming. But I wasn’t convinced the process would be a speedy one since the ‘call to action’ from the Israeli Standards body who were behind the proposal for a set of international KM standards was already a couple of years old.

This is how the US standards body alerted its members in 2013:

The Standards Institution of Israel (SII), Israel’s member body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has submitted a proposal for a new international standard focusing on requirements for knowledge management systems.

As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) invites all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by Friday, February 14, 2014.

The proposed International Standard would set down requirements for organizational knowledge management systems, including the creation and maintenance of such systems, the nurturing of a knowledge management culture, measurement of organizations’ knowledge, and approaches to sharing knowledge management solutions.

The standard would cover businesses, nonprofits, government organizations, and other groups of any size and in any field.

An emerging KM driver?

Is this the game changer for KM that some are predicting? Potentially and here’s why.

I am co-authoring a book. ‘Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion’ will draw on KM programs of leading firms and practitioners. My co-author Patricia Eng was previously Head of KM for the US Nuclear Regulatory Authority so knows a thing or two about making sure lessons are fed back into processes. As part of our research we asked a wide range of practitioners were the impetus for their program had come from.

A couple spoke about compliance audits being the driver a few mentioned improving productivity but the vast majority said they were addressing a business issue or risk. None pointed to adherence to a quality standard.

So in the Keynote Speeches I have been delivering this year I have been suggesting that increasingly there will be four key drivers for KM programmes:

  • Strategic / Visionary
  • Risk
  • Process Efficiency
  • Compliance with Quality Standards

The ISO standard will provide impetus to practitioner requests for KM resource. The C-Suite understands Risk and Compliance so the door is already ajar!

‘In Search of Excellence’

Followers of Tom Peters will recall this seminal work from 1982 described in Forbes Magazine as “An essential book for founders and CEO’s”.

In an excellent review of the tome published by Forbes in 2014 Scott Allison notes:

Before company culture became a well discussed topic, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman urged readers that perhaps the single key piece of advice from their findings was “figure out your value system: what your company stands for. What gives people pride?”

And it describes how excellent companies have family-like atmospheres, make a point about being transparent with and sharing information widely, and insist upon informality in communications between workers.

There’s also more open doors and open spaces instead of corner offices and cubicles.

Why this reference? Well the UAE Federal Government as well as the Dubai Government has laid out a set of excellence programmes aimed at raising the levels of service provided by their government departments.

If you visit the offices of the Knowledge & Human Development Authority in Dubai for example (they are responsible for the quality and growth of private education) you will discover that they have made extensive use of open spaces and informality. It works for them and has improved service.

Broadly aligned with those in EFQM’s Excellence Model Dubai & UAE Federal Government have added specific clauses that make reference to the delivery of Knowledge Management especially Knowledge Transfer and Learning Lessons.

As a result government entities in Dubai face periodic reviews to assess the efficacy of their KM operations. Assessors are sharpening ‘green pens’* and setting out inspection timetables as I write this.

Recognition of superior KM performance by the Dubai Government Excellence Programme is highly sought after. Failing to meet the minimum quality criteria is not!

The certification conundrum

While adherence to UAE Quality Standards is mandatory the same does not apply with ISO or EFQM.

It will be the decision of the user as to whether they wish to be certified against it – it is not a requirement.

And yet if you are a manufacturer of locomotives for example you will need the IRIS Kite mark in order to sell your engines or rolling stock. To get / maintain that Kite mark requires certification and assessment. KM is included in their standards so implicitly the manufacturer needs to be able to demonstrate that they ‘do’ KM.

And finally

Gazing into my crystal ball I am prepared to speculate that others will follow Dubai / UAE’s lead and that ISO KM Standards when released circa 2017/2018 will have an impact on KM programs. KM’ers it’s a good time to start flagging this as a potential issue!

*The pen colour of choice for auditors in the financial services sector.

References

http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottallison/2014/01/27/an-essential-book-for-founders-and-ceos-in-search-of-excellence/#23f82b152062

http://www.khda.gov.ae/en/

International Organization for Standardization

Improvising in Oxford: techniques to change mindsets

Screenshot 2016-08-15 11.04.48

Keble College

I was back in Oxford last week staying at Keble College while attending the inaugural UK Improv for humanity event held at the Quaker Meeting House in St Giles.

Nancy White (of the KM4Dev community who’d collaborated with Mary Tyszkiewicz one of the Improv for humanity team) said it might be interesting. Trusting Nancy’s judgement, and always being on the lookout for ways to get out of my comfort zone while finding new ways to engage, I signed up.

The idea of using Improvisation in Humanitarian work is a couple of years old drawing on Applied Improvisation techniques described as:

Acting and responding in the moment without a script.

Applied improvisation uses the principles, tools, practices, skills and mind-sets developed in comedy, jazz and theatre and utilises them for non-theatrical or performance purposes.

With 62 delegates from over 20 countries it was well attended by Improvisation practitioners, many of whom were staying on for the annual meeting of the Applied Improvisation Network which followed, and humanitarian workers.  Falling into neither camp I was there to learn and assess its applicability for pro bono and consulting work.

Here’s a snapshot of the event and some of the techniques I found interesting.

opening & closing techniques

Screenshot 2016-08-15 11.13.18

Pablo Suarez leading a session

Most events of this type involve disruptive movement so people circulate and make early connections.  As an interesting twist: we all stood in small circles and said our own names as we pointed to another who then did the same. After a minute the process was reversed and we had to point at a person and say their name.  Was it useful? Yes, a different way of doing introductions.

“I am glad you are here” followed. This involved a lot of circulating, smiling and hand shaking as we all spoke those words to everyone we bumped into. This morphed into “Why I am here / What I bring to the event”; self explanatory phrases which required us to reflect and share with the person standing next to us.

Day Two saw us singing in a circle prompted by Gabe Mercado a typically engaging and enthusiastic Filipino from Manila: Gabe like everyone I’ve met in the Philippines has a great voice so “Bazimba” (the title of the chant) was delivered pitch perfect and we all joined in with both the song and accompanying body movement. Though great for an offsite event I don’t think it would suit a conference of finance professionals or lawyers.

The event closed with “I like, I wonder, I wish”. We all were gathered into a circle and asked to reflect on our takeaways. One person said, “I like working with such a diverse group” and took a step forward when doing so. Those that shared that view also moved forward. Following that we did one more “I am really glad you were here”.

facilitation techniques

Those who facilitate events are often challenged bringing the group to order and regaining the initiative. Some use a bell or tap the microphone (if there is one). When neither is available “one hand up all hands up” is particularly useful because it applies peer pressure and brings the room to order in a collaborative manner.

Keeping to time is an art. I did like Gobe’s idea of “The Time Hugger”, his description of one of his roles at the event. Every time someone overran the Time Hugger would intervene.

Debriefing

Debriefing

1>2>4>All describes a process wherein a question or topic is posed to the group. Each person reflects and then shares their thoughts with their neighbour. They then share with another pair and the 4 select the ‘best’ idea to share with all.

In a working group I attended we discussed how to enthuse and train a group of volunteers to then go and collect data and stories from the field. I was reminded of something I learned many years back (and don’t use enough) that for most impact in workshops the facilitator should break sessions into 20 minute segments. So some theory followed by practice and then reflections.

A couple of weeks back I commented on how Patrick Lambe and his colleagues at Straits Knowledge had used a case study show, tell and invite technique at their event in Singapore. Here’s the approach they used:

  1. Case outline to a common format in advance, in the conference programme
  2. Each case has a 6 min plenary pitch
  3. Three cycles of 25 min discussions on the cases at tables, in k-cafe style

A similar approach was used in Oxford based more on the Ignite Format. Each presenter had 4 minutes for 5 slides to showcase their case study.  Each participant was then free to wander and join the group they were most interested in. I lean towards Patrick’s approach with defined cycles rather than “Go where you want when you want”.

engagement techniques

Screenshot 2016-08-15 10.54.39

Yes And – the Pros

One of the techniques I previously used with my colleagues at Sparknow was Yes And. It was showcased in Oxford as a great way of shifting mindset. What I did like was the discussion around the danger of it becoming a self reinforcing scenario. If people don’t challenge constructively then its easy to go into a warm but negative spiral which in a humanitarian context can be fatal.

Screenshot 2016-08-15 10.55.13

Heroic Improvisation Model being shown by Gabe

Mary’s case study focused on the Heroic Improvisation Model she’d developed following a humanitarian crisis in the Philippines.  Heroic Improv recognises that most people are heroes and that communities follow these patterns of behaviour – it’s where community resilience occurs.

I see its potential business application in Disaster Recovery.

 

Pablo's throwing a frisbee in The White House

Pablo’s throwing a Frisbee in The White House

Everyone warmed to the Frisbees in the White House story provided by Pablo Suarez, from Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Change Centre, who has championed the use of Improvisation games in Humanitarian situations.

Participatory games are emerging as one approach that can facilitate linking knowledge with action in the Climate Change arena.

Perhaps my favourite exercise was Story from a Word. Working in groups of 4-6 we were asked to create a story one word at a time. We were given a topic (Haunted House). If I said “dark” then my neighbour might answer “cobwebs” and her neighbour, “deserted”. And so on. The twist: each word could be ‘challenged’ by the rest of the group and the person who said it required to tell a true story about that word.   A variation on It’s all in a Word it is a great way of getting a team to come together and learn more about each other.

listening & noticing techniques

Of the many techniques used during the two days 1-13 soft or loud provided a fascinating insight into how we align ourselves with people of a like disposition. Dr Barbara Tint asked us to pick a number between 1-13 and then having chosen it (and not told anyone else) to behave in the manner of that number.  1= quiet and submissive. 13= noisy and assertive. Obviously the 11-13’s tended to dominate the open space (we circled and spoke to each person we met) while the 1-4’s headed for the corners.

In a longer session outside I was allocated a score of 4 and asked to give a report to my boss who was a 12. His behaviour was very assertive and mine became defensive and submissive with a failure to challenge wrong statements.  We flipped roles but kept our personas so my subordinate presented his report in a very dominant manner.  Further examples served to illustrate the importance of having a balanced team making decisions and the ease with which we assume hierarchical stereotypes.

and finally

At the end of two fun days I was struck by 3 principles that underpin Improv interventions:

  • Foundation & Safety – ensure you know what the downsides are if the intervention doesn’t work out as planned. 
  • Explanation -participants should know why they are doing or have done the intervention.
  • Debrief – should be conducted after every intervention and ask these questions:
    • What? (Happened)
    • So What? (What impact did it have?)
    • Now What? (What happens as a result?)

Having recently coached a virtual group on the use of various KM techniques and knowing what a challenge that proved I was left wondering if Improv techniques which rely so much on physical movement are capable of being transferred into a virtual environment.

CILIP’s KM quandary in Brighton

This was my first Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) annual conference though I’d previously chaired events for them on outsourcing and participated in discussions on CILIP’s future direction.  Vice Chair Karen McFarlane, a fellow BSI KM Standards Committee member asked me to speak to the Managing Information stream which for the 3rd consecutive year featured ‘leading KIM practitioners and commentators’. After speeches and masterclasses in 2016 in Amsterdam, Lisbon and London, Brighton was a nice and close change.

My first impressions on arriving at The Dome Brighton were: the size (600+ delegates); the slickness of the organisation (including the ‘hydration’ areas); and the lack of people (I counted less than 10%) with Knowledge in their title among the delegates. Cilip speechI wondered how many might turn up to mine and Andy Bent’s session in The Courtroom.

In the event the session chaired by Sandra Ward was full (I counted 100) with some familiar faces in the audience including Sian Tyrrell who, despite not having ‘knowledge’ in her title, is doing great KIM work at Royal Horticultural Society.

My last bog post Future role of the Knowledge Manager: The Knowledgeur? described what my 30 minute address would cover so I won’t dwell on that here.

poor communication = poor knowledge sharing

Following me was Andy Bent, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, who sparked a lot of interest with his case study of an unnamed organisation who’d fallen foul of Ofsted and received a damming report which included censure about how they shared knowledge and information in the back office and how that translated to poor decision making at board level.

Inevitably the remedy included better communication and engagement and greater ownership of the issue at board level by the appointment of an officer to ensure changes are made.

Screenshot 2016-07-19 10.57.26

Perhaps the most important observations Andy made were contained in this slide:

It made me recall the time when I was the Chairman of a business and gave my CEO explicit instructions to introduce a “no surprises’ regime. Each week I asked her to let me have a list of the key issues from the week and how they were resolved. If any were outstanding they became issues for board discussion.

Knowledge Management is dependent on good communication and engaged people. Andy’s presentation was a good reminder of how by getting it right you can turn bad news into good. The organisation in question subsequently got a great Ofsted report.

KM in a library & information environment

Does KM and KM’ers sit comfortably within CILIP? If so how is that recognised across the membership and in its charter? Is it a broad enough church to accommodate, Librarianship, Information Management and Knowledge Management or is it a case of oil and water?

Obviously the CILIP team think it all voices can be heard. The opening paragraph of the leaflet I was given before I presented said:

CILIP is committed to embracing KIM (Knowledge and Information Management) fully within its work. It is part of our challenging Action Plan 2016-2020, recently agreed following a major consultation exercise with CILIP members and other stakeholders.

And CILIP has just launched a new KIM Special Interest Group starting in 2017.

Is there a natural synergy? I can think of a number of very good KM professionals such as Sian who have a Library & Information grounding.  Indeed KM is very much dependent on good curation of knowledge assets and the maintenance of effective knowledge bases.

I struggle though to make the leap from Public Librarian, those that work in institutions that seem to be under permanent threat of closure and who are often a great community hub, to that of a Knowledge Manager (let alone that of a Chief Knowledge Officer) who is often solving a burning business issue or mitigating a business risk.

Certainly there is a difference in perception and financial reward.  Last year a prominent law firm made 2 C-Suite appointments noting:

The roles of Chief Knowledge Officer and Chief Information Officer are increasingly important to a global law firm’s success.

A quick glance at salary scales reveal that a Director of Knowledge Management will be remunerated in excess of £100k. A more junior Knowledge Management Officer is likely to be paid £60k+ and be expected to perform these tasks:

  • The Knowledge Management Officer is responsible for capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organisational knowledge. This role is fundamental to continuous improvement in sales excellence and bidding in order to drive an increase in the bidding success rate across …..
  • By storing and sharing information effectively (e.g. case studies, exemplar responses, previously developed value propositions) and through the production of best practice processes, templates, how to guides and checklists, the Knowledge Management Officer will help … to win work more efficiently by enabling those involved in bidding opportunities small or large to harness the experience of others.

Few of the KM jobs specify a requirement for academic qualifications in Knowledge Management but most Library roles ask for MSc in Library & Information Management and it is unlikely that the Head of Library & Information Services will be remunerated as handsomely as their KM counterparts.

Where the ‘rubber hits the road’, and the overlap between Libriaranship, Information Management and Knowledge Management is most obvious, is in the health sector. Interestingly there is a Chief Knowledge Officer of Public Health England whose remit is:

The Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) is responsible for delivering an effective knowledge and intelligence service that covers research, statistics and know-how, to inform the practice of public health and public health improvement.

Knowledge for Healthcare can shape society, improve the wellbeing of people and save lives through the effective use of knowledge sharing which depends of the solid foundation that Library & Information Professionals bring. The use of checklists has transformed post operation mortality rates and F1 technology improved the monitoring of children’s recovery. Health informatics (and Open Data) are helping to improve global hygiene and reduce disease transmission.

accentuating the difference

The closing keynote from Lauren Smith took me by surprise.  Her tweet a good illustration of her key theme which was that Libraries (and Librarians) should be / are already political, providing a service for the good of the public.

Need to shift debate with stories and evidence to get public to see public libraries as institutions for social justice

Screenshot 2016-07-19 13.49.15

This tweet alongside from a delegate pretty much summed up what the audience heard.:

That is some way though from the mindset of the KM professional who (apart perhaps from Healthcare KM’ers) is focused on delivering business value to his / her organisation rather than providing a service for the good of mankind.

Therein lies the quandary and the challenge for peaceful and fruitful co-existence if CILIP”s future vision of being the natural Industry Body for Knowledge Management professionals as well as Librarians and Information Professionals is to be realised.

And finally

Contained in the ‘Surprises and Admiration’ Chapter of the forthcoming book I mentioned at the start we note:

… there is no recognized industry body promulgating KM setting universally agreed qualification or certification criteria that employers find acceptable for entry and advancement.

Instead global KM’ers are attracted to training programs run by private organizations in order to demonstrate knowledge through external certification. Experience is gained on the job and there have been few mentors or coaches to help a newbie KM’er take their first steps.

Engagement with the Government’s Knowledge and Information Management Group (GKIM) is to be welcomed as a first and critical step as I have long argued that Knowledge and Information Management are natural and synergistic bedfellows. Where better to start than with the Civil Service who have KIM as one of its Professions.

I wish CILIP well in their efforts to becoming the go to body for KIM’ers.

Future role of the Knowledge Manager: The Knowledgeur?

As the book Patricia Eng and I are writing takes shape – we spent a productive couple of days last week editing chapters and agreeing key points for those still to be completed – so my thoughts continue to evolve as to the future role (and skills needed) to be a Knowledge (and Information) Manager.

This week I am charged with delivering a provocative ‘wake up’ call when I speak to the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Libraries & Information Professionals (CILIP). Here’s the gist of what I am going to say,

Operational KM to the Fore: Strategic KM to the rear

  • The majority of KM programs appear to be operationally focused addressing a burning platform issue or an urgent business problem.
  • These tactical programs address risk (loss of knowledge due to downsizing, retirement, reorganization or acquisition). Some focus on being more efficient and meeting internal and external quality standards.
  • Few it seems are driven strategically as a result of visionary leadership and if you look at where KM is located most surveys reveal its part of an operations division or unit. Rarely is a Chief Knowledge Officer part of the C-Suite of an organization. Often KM is treated like a hot potato.
  • Less than 1 in 5 are strategically aligned.  Where they are its because Knowledge is perceived to be the core product of that organisation.
  • The downside of being operationally driven is that when the burning platform issue or business problem is resolved KM is often left looking for a rationale for being and a new sponsor.

Step forward the ‘Knowledgeur’

So what can KM’ers or KIM’ers’ do, how can they protect themselves and their programme? For some time I’ve suggested that the Knowledge Manager needs to have facilitation and social skills that make them the ‘go to’ person in an organisation. Someone who makes and nurtures connections. Here’s my definition of that person I call a Knowledgeur:

‘A Knowledge Manager (Knowledgeur) is someone who makes use of his/her/others’ knowledge in one activity or market and applies it for beneficial use in another.

Originally inward facing the role is becoming more outward facing with the rise of communities and the subsequent need to collaborate outside of the organisation.’

The Skills (‘…ates) of a Knowledgeur

Here’s what I think you will need to do to if you are to perform this role:

  1. Investigate: Are you putting a burning fire out / solving an immediate business need / addressing a risk (Operational KM) or is this driven by the vision from the top consistent with the organisation’s business direction (Strategic KM)?
  2. Navigate: Work out / Map the critical knowledge areas of your organisation and create a directory of the organisation’s knowledge assets.
  3. Negotiate: Agree the scope of your role with your sponsors and be tough negotiating what success will look like and how it’s measured.
  4. Facilitate: So much of what a KM Manager does involves facilitation. You will become a hub knowing who to go to to ask if you don’t know yourself. You have to facilitate connections, meetings, interactions, events and communities. This requires resilience, a lot of social skills and a real understanding of cultural nuances.
  5. Collaborate: You are in alliance with business areas and occasionally external suppliers or partners. You have to be capable of virtual cross border collaboration.
  6. Communicate: Senior KM’er’s tell you to devote 30% of your time to communicating what you do and getting feedback – its not just about broadcasting. Have your KM Elevator pitch always with you. Let all your stakeholders know what you are doing and why.
  7. Celebrate: The role can be a lonely one as reporting lines and sponsors change, yours is a cost not revenue line and the initial burst of enthusiasm fades. Collect stories, be prepared to acknowledge contributions and celebrate successes.

My address ‘The changing KM landscape, the future of KM and our role in it as KM professionals’ will look at each of these ‘…ates in more detail.

And finally

I am looking forward to seeing the response I provoke at Wednesday’s event at Brighton. Watch this space!

‘Probably the best PKM in the world’: KMUK 2016 uncovered

It’s conference season which means I get to go to nice places and meet and learn from interesting people. This week I was in London for the annual Knowledge Management UK event and a cracking good couple of days it turned out to be.

IMG_4774Well attended by 60 or so KIM professionals, it was chaired by Ian Rodwell @Irodwell of Linklaters who I’d recommended and who did me and Laura Brooke of Ark @LauraAtArk, proud.

From the ice breaker opener onwards Ian’s touch was light but assured and the delegates all participated with enthusiasm.

What surprised me?

  • I got something out of every presentation which might sound a bit arrogant but when you’ve been to many KM events there are usually a couple that don’t quite cut it. This time each speaker slotted in well with the next and the event flowed.
  • The number of KM ‘Veterans’ attending for the first time in a long while commenting how lonely the role can be (whatever it’s called) and how durable KM’ers have to be.
  • IMG_4786Learning that the Govt’s 5 year Knowledge & Information Strategy (GKIS) produced in 2013 is still not published and unlikely to see the light of day.  Yet work is still going on as David Smith explained to create career pathways for the cadre of professionals who comprise the civil service’s Knowledge & Information Management profession. I didn’t get the feeling that CILIP are integral to those competency framework discussions which is a missed opportunity on both sides as there is no current industry group that effectively represent the KIM global profession as does a CMI or CIPD in Marketing or Human Resources (Personnel).
  • Discovering that the average age of people in E&Y is 27 (hence generation Z to the fore). E&Y’s big challenge for is to move from a vertical to horizontal communications and employee engagement approach. Their Communities of Practice / Skills are a great way of cutting across silos.
  • Despite all the ballyhoo around technology search is still not cutting it for most and my recent musings on the continued need for Assisted Search valid.

What intrigued me?

  • The session on Artificial Intelligence whcih included the suggestion that it is ‘parked on the lawn’ of call centres and people who have to read long books for a living and are also engaged in risk management. Today AI does not do emotional intellience very well but that is changing despite reservations about the ethics of it.  Linklaters are a good example of an organisation experimenting with AI to improve efficientcy.
  • Nick Milton’s @nickknoco thoughts on adopting the 7 step Lean Model for a KM programme and the wastes of KM supply chain: excess production, delay, too many steps, excess hand-offs, defects etc.  By a strange coincidence 7 came up in my presentation when I talked about the 7 ‘ates of a Knowledgeur. A separate blog will be forthcoming to coincide with my address to the CILIP annual Confrence in three weeks time.

What delighted me?

  • IMG_4785Christopher Payne’s @cjapayne excellent account of the Knowledge Management effort that is embedded in the Olympics.  It is the most visible of all Project KM programmes (see alongside) with great potential to act as a benchmark for all big cross border multinational projects. Imagine the expertise they have developed (with quite a small team) in transferring knowledge from London to Rio to Tokyo all in the gaze of the global public. I know Chris is keen to share his IMG_4787knowledge with the greater KM community so contact him or hear him speak.
  • TfL’s approach outlined by @LemmerLutz to making great use of Lessons Learned and feeding improvements back into process.  The graph alongside illustrates the successful postings of lessons to their KM portal (up nearly 300% in 2 years).
  • The broad acceptance that you can achieve a lot with a little.  The Financial Conduct Authority presentation being a great example of how to make effective use IMG_4790of people by using communities and having an easily understood framework. I noted though that poor search is a real barrier to adoption and that the lack of a technical underpinning a constraint.
  • Hearing from a couple of people how Random Coffee Sessions can be effective. The idea is simple: develop a list of people who are interested in having short coffee meetings with peers on a 1:1 basis and pair them up on a periodic basis.

What frustrated me

  • The continued reluctance to share thoughts / observations on Twitter, a stance at odds with the audience’s oft stated desire to ‘Work out Loud”.  How can you encourage others to do so if you don’t do it yourself?  I wrote more on this subject a year back coining this phrase: It was like throwing a dart into a vacuum.

What did I not hear I expected to?

  • Social Network Analysis: Despite a real focus on Communities Social Network Analysis was not discussed. Not knowing who people go to for answers or who knows what is a risk to many businesses if those key but often hidden people depart. To a large extent the risk from the sudden departure of the ‘Expert’ is diminishing with the rise of empowered and informed knowledge workers and processes that contain embedded knowledge.

And finally

My favourite quote (used in the content of maintaining focus):

Don’t be like a dog who sees a squirrel

 

Brexit, Bollywood and the need for ‘assisted’ search

As regular readers of this column will know, when in England I try to begin my day in Eastbourne with a coffee (a Decaf, Espresso is off the menu now) before walking back along the seafront to work in Meads Village where I live. I always take a notepad to capture the revelations that occasionally come to me.

Bollywood beckons

IMG_4727Today was a case in point. As I got to the seafront I was approached by an Indian man who looked lost.

His English was heavily accented and my command of Hindi is so poor that our conversation was a bit stilted.  He asked, “where is the fliming?'”  I replied, “what filming?” to which the response was, “The Bollywood Filming at the Tower” which I inferred to be the Wish Tower (a notable landmark with a view to the pier – see alongside) and showed him the way.

NB I didn’t hang around for a role as an extra since I am no longer supple enough to participate in the dance routines that often feature in Bollywood movies.

Brexit, Paramedics and the Patient Access System

IMG_4733My second strange encounter was to find two paramedics and an ambulance on the promenade by one of the thatched beach shelters which are used in good weather as overnight accommodation by those who have none.

I mention this since it became the talk of the promenade prompting the same sort of negative comment I heard at the previous night’s EU Brexit debate: “There’s too many people here, I can’t get a Doctor’s appointment when I call and yet those people get an ambulance and paramedics”.

Strangely enough this got the creative juices flowing –  a case of disruptive influences perhaps. Mulling over the (lack of) debate that took place at the EU Referendum event I attended the previous evening, same old non arguments about statistics that can be interpreted in multiple ways, it triggered a thought about the challenge of having too much information and knowledge and not knowing how to locate it or indeed what to do with it.

To explain. For reasons too many to go into I have become familiar with the National Health Service’s Patient Access System. It’s an extranet that enables a patient to communicate with clinicians, make appointments, renew prescriptions and review all results and examine the historical trends,  I can have a blood test one day and see the results online the following day. It works brilliantly yet only 30% of patients actively use it.

If I am overseas and need additional medication on my return to the UK I can organise it remotely. It allows me to manage any health issues and improves my understanding of diagnosis and treatment so that a visit to the doctor is much more effective for her and me. It’s a far cry from the promenader’s “…I can’t get an appointment” perhaps confirming that knowing where to find ‘stuff’ and how to interact with systems is beyond the ken of many.

It reinforces my view that stakeholder engagement is both essential and difficult. Few of us have the analytic mind or patience to dig beneath the covers. We live in a soundbite society where we are used to instant responses and expect technology to provide it.

AgesIn the case of Patient Access I imagine engagement is a bigger challenge due to its wider range of potential users than in a business environment where focus is on Baby Boomer to Generation Z .

For more on this topic check out What’s in it for me: The challenge of sharing client knowledge and broadening relationships.)

Finding ‘stuff’

The Patient Access System is a great example of consolidating information and data yet is the not success is could be as many people don’t know about it, feel overwhelmed by it or can’t be bothered to try it.  These what’s in it for me issues show themselves in business too.

Try as we might technology makes it impossible to switch off from work (unless we switch off) though French legislation making it an offence to send emails to workers outside of the normal working ‘day’ might contradict that statement.  Yet we are increasingly time constrained and swamped by ‘stuff’ and email.

So what’s the answer? Assisted Search? Tagging? Automatic Indexing on the fly?

Recently two fellow Knowledge & Information Authors have opined on how to overcome the challenge of making it easier for people to find what they are looking for.

Nick Milton’s blog tackles the subject of Knowledge Bases and I was drawn to (and agree with) his assertion that you should

Structure your stored knowledge based on what people will be looking for, not based on who created it.

even though its not always possible to imagine all uses people will make of the knowledge base when they add content. I also concur that there is considerable value in structuring Knowledge Bases to support Communities of Practice or Thematic Areas. To read more: http://www.nickmilton.com/2016/05/how-to-structure-knowledge-to-be.html#ixzz49rCe0MOL

To an extent Nick’s blog post is recognition that search is not working: if it were then why would you need ‘assisted’ search in the form of a Knowledge Base.  I need to declare prior interest here as 20 years ago I was President of Verity’s European User Group (Verity was the granddady of search). Verity’s Topic Search used to create collections which assembled like minded content into meangful groupings.

Martin White’s cms search blog  http://www.cmswire.com/information-management/enterprise-search-is-bringing-me-down/ backs up the search is not working view and Martin notes:

If you can’t find information, then in effect it does not exist.

Your search application may return 85,340 results for a query, but if the most relevant information was not indexed, or your security permissions inadvertently prevented the information from being displayed — can you trust your search application?

And finally

In Lisboa at last month’s SocialNow event which among other things aims to shine a light on workplace collaboration tools much of the talk was about tagging of content so that it was more easily found.  The danger of relying on Tagging like Taxonomy is that one man’s tag is another man’s conundrum.

Perhaps this example best sums it up. I reluctantly became a Mac user in 2010. Having grown up on Windows infrastructure I was wedded to the idea of Explorer to manage my documents and files.  I was assured that Mac Search would solve all my problems and had no need of a filing structure or Knowledge Base. It doesn’t and though I would never go back I still use an Explorer like structure to augment search.

It seems Assisted Search is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

A book on the sunbed, KM Manager’s critical ‘ates and getting social in Lisboa

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks that began with a vacation in Cabo Verde on an island called Sal (Salt in English-which sort of gives away the terrain). Then a week in Lisboa at the annual SocialNow event, a unique gathering where social enterprise software vendors present their products to an invited evaluation panel representing the management of a fictituous company Cablinc.

a book on the sunbed

Cabo Verde was chosen as the vacation destination for two reasons: it is a former Portuguese colony and my wife (who is Portuguese) and I are trying to visit all of them to see how much of the culture and governance structures remain; and it seemed like a good place to wind down and catch up on book reading.

Without the necessity of a daily commute and the reading time a long journey creates I find the virtual world gets in the way of paperback reading though sitting under a sun umbrella reading a book on KM Strategy might not be everyone’s idea of relaxation on vacation!

Here’s a very abdriged review of my vacation reading list:

  • The Kind Worth Killing: A clever tale, well written with a twist that starts at an airport, the author keeps you Holiday Readingin constant anticipation and it kept my interest throughout.   Great for a 5 hour plane ride.
  • The Girl On The Train: Took a long time to get going (rather like the train system here) switching back and forth among characters.  Ending was well crafted if you have the patience to get there.
  • Relationology: Essentially a business book (101 tips) about managing relationships with stakeholders. Admired the discipline behind the networking approach and how the author has turned his theories into practice for the good of others but felt it devalued the human element of meeting people by making it a very structured process.  Did like suggestions about having groups of mailing lists and being upfront about why you are meeting/calling.
  • Engagement Manifesto: A book that triggered a lot of thought with good tips and approaches. Made the most notes (7 c’s of change, 5 elements of change and ‘The Five Monkeys’ experiment about resistance to change as its “the way things are done around here’).
  • Knowledge Management (KM) Strategy: The book sets out a good, structured and thorough approach and I liked the suggestion that organisations should give primary focus on critical knowledge and strategic knowledge areas when developing their strategy.  I felt though the chapter on KM Technology could have benefited from more visualisation of where the tools fit and what they look like (a picture being worth a thousand words).

KM Manager’s 4 critical ‘ates

While reading the Engagement Manifesto with its 4 of this and 7 of that my thoughts turned to engagement in a KM environment. I’ve been arguing for some time that facilitation is a core competence for all KM Managers. And I think there are 3 others. So my 4 critical ‘ates are:

  • Investigate: Are you putting a buring fire out / solving an immediate business need (operational KM) or is this driven by the vision from the top consisent with the organisation’s stated business direction (Strategic KM)?
  • Negotiate: Up front you need to agree what the scope of your role is and to be tough negotiating what success and hence measures will look like.
  • Facilitate: So much of what a KM Manager does involves facilitation and another sub ‘ate, Navigate. You will become the hub knowing who to go to to ask if you don’t know yourself. You have to facilitate connections, meetings, interactions, events and communities. It requires resilinace and a lot of social skills.
  • Communicate: Senior KM’er’s tell you to devote at least 30% of their time to communicating what you do and getting feedback – its not just about broadcasting it’s about collaborating. Have the KM Elevator pitch always with you. Let all your stakeholders know what you are doing and why.

Which leads me nicely onto Lisboa and the 5th edition of SocialNow.

getting Social in Lisboa

From left, Luis Suarez, Emanuele Quintarelli, Paul Corney, Ana Neves, Jaap Linssen and Marc Wright

5 vendors presented and they were interwoven with a couple of keynotes and presentation from Cablinc ‘consultants’ (see panel alongside) who focused on the business issues facing the organisation setting context for the vendor presentations. I was delighted that Eric Hunter was able to come over from San Diego to sit on the evaluation panel.

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My topic was Knowledge Capture & Retention and ISO 2015. Perhaps surprisingly few in the room were aware of last year’s ISO update which for the first time included this on KM:

A fuller account of the proceedings and the twitter chat can be found at eventifer.

subway_Graphic_2015_1280pxI was really taken by the closing Keynote from Tony Byrne of The Realy Story Group who gave an illuminating talk on the landscape of digital workplace and social enterprise tools and apps. His Technology Vendors Map is well worth a look.

If this is a topic of interest I’d also point you to an excellent article from Dion HInchcliffe on Social Collaboration Tools.

As in 2015 Nooq won the ‘coolest tool’ category. Its a great visualisation tool to show what’s happening in an organisation and sits above enterprise applications.

and finally

This year for the first time there was a day of Masterclasses after the event. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to work alongside Luis Suarez (@elsua) who is a #noemail evangelist.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 16.16.12Luis ran the morning and I ran the afternoon. His method and justification for lowering email usage are compelling and I loved this slide that shows how a social networking platform can be a lot more efficient than using email.

And now back in the UK I have a couple of week’s focusing on the next chapter of the book I am coauthoring with Patricia Eng before travelling back to the Mid East and Lisboa.

A ‘newbie’s guide to Tweet Chat hosting (on Knowledge Capture & Retention)

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I first worked in the City in 1972 as a summer intern in the cheque processing arm of Lloyds Bank Ltd.  We used machines that looked something like this. No typing, just machine minding!

15 years later I was sitting in the machine room of the Marriott Hotel in Jeddah faxing, over an encryted line, a confidential trip memo for my secretary to type up and distribute to selected directors.  Laptops were only just appearing on the market and as for typing, Managers in those days didn’t. If you wanted to communicate confidential information quickly it was the fax.

Fast forward to this afternoon and I am about to host my first TweetChat some 44 years on from my first immersion in technology.

Think about it: I can’t see who I’m talking to; I don’t know who’s ‘listening’; I have little idea whether what I am going to ‘say’ will resonate with the audience: and I have to type at lightening speed. It feels like ‘drinking from the fire hydrant’ to boot!

But there are huge advantages: I can reach a global audience without leaving my Home Office; what I say will have a very long ‘tail’; and it forces me to articulate my thoughts in a very concise way to an audience who may not speak English as their 1st language.

I know from many conversations I’ve had recently that everyone is expected to be up to speed with new technologies and few get trained adequately to do so.

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Here, with grateful thanks to Luis Suarez (@elsua), Ana Neves (@SocialNowEvent) and Ana Aguilar-Corney (@aguilarinteriors) who provided the wise words and tips I show below, is how I went about it.

Set up

  • Use http://www.tchat.io/ to handle the chat. Load that on the browser and forget about everything else.
  • Focus on the tweet chat for the entire time, even if it looks like things may be a bit slow with tweets coming through, don’t go elsewhere. That way you are free of interruptions and focused on the chat.
  • Have a look into the questions of the tweet chat ahead of time, and write some potential answers ahead of time that would fit in tweets, within the 140 character limit. That way when the answers come in you just have to copy and paste and focus on what people tweet for potential responses, faves, RTs. etc. etc.
  • As you see tweets coming through, don’t think about responding to them all. Think about peppering out the interactions: some responses, some RTs, some faves, to balance your interactions without demanding you to type too much, so you can focus on the conversations themselves.
  • Enjoy the tweet chat under the notion you won’t be able to read and respond to everything while the chat lasts and that’s just fine! You can always come back at a later time if you feel you’d need to. Enjoy the flow as if you were reading a fast paced news tracker skimming through and stopping where you feel you can and want to contribute.
  • If you are going to refer people to blog posts or articles make sure you condense the URL’s as you ‘cut and paste’ into your Tweets.
  • Establish a live back channel with the facilitator while you are conducting the chat.
  • Be clear about who is performing what role and ensure someone is producing a Storify of the event that can be circulated later.
  • Don’t be afraid to let the virtual ‘silence’ hang.

Conduct

So armed with the above and a set of thoughts for three questions off I went.

And if you are up for reading an account of how it went go to the Storify Account of the discussion which is here

And finally

The hour (the optimum time) flew by. Armed with the checklist above it was plain sailing.  It did however reinforce the veracity of the ratio I use for physical workshops namely 3-4 x times preparation vs. the length of the event. I spent 3 hours on potential answers and it paid off.

Would I do it again? Yes tomorrow provided there is a clear mandate and set of questions to be addressed.

 

Great illustrations: valuing Knowledge, Orchestrated Serendipity & Immunity Management

I’ve been in Iran and Dubai. And as often happens when working collaboratively great ideas emerge.

Valuing Knowledge

Firstly to Tehran and an issue which so many organisations struggle with: how to describe the true value of Knowledge to an organisation?  We are good at valuing fixed assets but poor at applying similar criteria to intangible Knowledge Assets or Intellectual Capital.

bluetooth-keyboard-for-htc-evo-4g-lte

This story, the keyboard and the patent, might change perceptions:

A few weeks back a new keyboard costing $20 was delivered to the Director. After a couple of days a lady from premises appeared to place a sticker on it to denote it was an asset of the company and henceforth will appear on the company’s register of assets. The asset is managed!

Coincidentally the same day as the premises lady appears the Director gets notification of the award of a US patent which costs in excess of $20,000 to acquire.

US Patent

US Patent Certificate

The patent will need to be protected and if necessary enforced yet in most organisations that patent is not shown as an asset of the company on its balance sheet even though its value (in terms of future revenues) is very significant.

By way of a further example, if I lose my Macbook I can replace the hardware (at a cost) but the value of the intangible ‘Knowledge’ stored on it (documents, emails, presentations, videos, contacts) can’t be replaced instantly unless I’ve taken steps to back it up on an external hard drive or in the cloud in which case I have managed my Knowledge!

Orchestrated Serendipity -creating a physical Knowledge Sharing environment

On my way back from Tehran I stopped in Dubai to catch up with a number of old friends which is why on Wednesday I spent a couple of hours at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) located in Dubai Academic City who:

… is responsible for the growth and quality of private education in Dubai. We support schools, universities, parents, students, educators, investors and government partners to create a high quality education sector focused on happiness and wellbeing.

Having arrived at my hotel in the early hours I was not at my best when some 5 hours later the cab dropped me outside KHDA’s offices.  I was early for my meeting with Luke Naismith Director of Research so thought I might see if I could find a coffee shop.

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KHDA’s Reception

I was warmly greeted by two very affable Emirati who ushered me to a seat whereupon coffee was served. Over the next 15 minutes my whole demeanour changed.

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Luke demonstrating the presentation ‘lectern’ in the boardroom.

‘Abdullah’ one of the Excellence Team responsible for ensuring adherence to the  Dubai Government’s Excellence Program showed me around as Luke was in a meeting.

I saw senior people conducting meetings in very transparent meeting areas; the Head’s PA was arranging appointments from the lobby. There was a relaxed yet professional atmosphere despite the presence of budgerigars flying around.

What caught my eye (apart from the boardroom) was the merging of the old and the new.

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The Clipping Service

Each day KHDA compiles a clipping service of relevant news that it sends to all employees.

In addition it houses them in its downstairs work area so that all visitors and employees who choose to work in the communal area can keep up to speed.

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Boardroom

Luke emerged and showed me around. I noted the layout promoted an environment of transparency so that people share and can find others.

The boardroom was an eye opener. Everyone can see what’s going on and the strategy appears as a set of diagrams as the picture shows.

PowerPoint presentations do take place and Video Conferencing but the emphasis is on brevity, agile working and rapid empowered decision making.

Paper is absent from most areas, people are treated like adults and act like them.  And staff turnover is low though if people leave the collaborative team working nature of KHDA means their loss is covered.

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Upper floor: Collaboration and Training Area

Interestingly Enterprise Social Networking Tools such as Yammer have not yet had the impact I thought they might even though the whole physical environment is geared up for collaboration.

Immunity (Risk) Management

The most visible illustration of KHDA’s positive approach shows in how the board manages risk (often the driver for KM initiatives).  One of the team coined the term Immunity Management as a way of anticipating future ‘bumps in the road’. So they have an Immunity Register not a Risk Register that is reviewed regularly by the board. The simple act of taking a positive view has resulted in very innovative ideas.

And finally

In Dubai the imposition of quality standards permeates organisational thinking and sets a blueprint for organisations to follow. At its best (Emirates Airline) service is exceptional; at its worst strict adherence to standards can stifle creativity. KHDA is an illustration of how the pursuit of customer service excellence can change the way an organisation delivers it.

Where the above examples meet is in the need for identification and maintenance of Knowledge Assets or Intellectual Capital. More on that in future postings.

The rise of Legal ‘Lean’ and its impact on Knowledge Management: looking back at KM Legal Europe 2016

IMG_4381A year on from the Breakfast Breakout Martin White and I ran for Legal Knowledge & Information Management professionals in London I found myself back among them in Amsterdam at KM Legal Europe.

My brief was to provide a stimulating opening to the conference (I went with In at the Deep End – an Icebreaker I used at KMUK) and then give a presentation on the second day on Working Virtually. I was delighted with the enthusiastic response and the level of interaction that occured over the two days expertly led by Chairman Raffael Büchi.

Opening

So what did I see and hear (and learn), and where is Legal KM a year on?

Who or What’s driving KM in the Legal Sector?

Firstly, clients are becoming more sophisticated and insisting law firms are better. And new offshore firms are emerging that are making legal advice more a commodity product that can be disintermediated through technology. That’s having a knock on effect as firms bow to pressure for greater transparency, more efficient processes and better use of technology.

Some firms have also recognised the risk arising from the potential loss of knowledge when people and teams leave or the need to do more effective due diligence on the knowledge they are acquiring when people and teams join.

They are responding by ‘offshoring’, adopting established process improvement methodologies such as Lean/Six Sigma and integrating that into continuous proces improvement,  combining CRM with EDRM, building Legal Project Management capability,  attempting to get into their client’s shoes and using horizon scanning to take a look at the future.

From a Quality & Standards perspective, ISO 9001 certified firms and their Quality Managers are also casting a watchful eye on the emergent standards having noted the introduction of the amended regulations in September 2015 which for the first time made mention of Knowledge Management (Clause 7.1.6. Knowledge) noting: “The concept of organizational knowledge introduced to ensure the organization acquires and maintains the necessary knowledge”

The early KM adopters on dsplay in Amsterdam had visionary leadership to thank for embarking on their initiative, their challenge is sustainability when their sponsor departs.

These categories I find useful as a way of identifying the drivers behind a KM initiative:

  • Innovation / Process Efficiency
  • Risk Management
  • Quality & Standards
  • Vision

What trends did I see?

The ‘big’ trends for me were:

  • Rise of Continuous Process Improvment initiatives supported by Process Mapping and Automated Document Assembly,
  • Increasing use of Predictive Analytics “law has talked billable hours for ever. Clients using Artifical intelligenceI to cross check time sheets and identify duplicate effort”
  • A recognition that billable time can be apportioned to KM related activites. I noted, “big change happens when lawyers can charge billable hours while working on KM. some tried contributor of the month rewards.”

What surprised me?

The number of partners who are known as Knowledge Partners which illustrates a career path now for Legal KM’ers.

We use Social Media to recruit but not to collaborate. In a good open discussion it was clear that the majority were sceptical about using Social Tools citing confidentiality. I was drawn to this comment from Erik Hunter who in his opening to Day Two encouraged the audience to: “think about the science of social media, the thoughts behind it, not just as push tools for comms & sales.

Offshoring – where is my knowledge? Few of the people I spoke to had considered or made attempts to mitigate the risk of knowledge loss from outsourcing operational activitives.

The idea of a “call outs for know how” by the KM team. A tailored process based on deal flow. Looking for nuggets from across the firm.

The establishment of a Corporate University in a legal firm who have a competency framework that includes a metric of min 50 hours per year commitment to KM.

Continuous Process Improvement supported by Enterprise Search that can look across Matters Directories.

Despite recognising the importance of good project management training for the changing world the training was described as being too generic.

Use of the Knowledge Assets phrase in a couple of presentations.

Quotes that stuck (or got retweeted)

“KM means bringing the brain of the organization to the client” Paul Corney

“The value of a flexible and evolving strategy cannot be underestimated.” Andrea Alliston

“Active collaboration leads to better communication leads to more innovation.”Contract Express

“To get collaboration right you need to have good community management and know what your knowledge is” “Don’t let the collaborative tool lead the effort” and “Good stories drive good collaboration habits.” Andrew Pope

What Good Looks Like

“what good looks like: demonstrating value” (of KM)

What advice would I give Legal KM’ers?

  • Fix something for someone quickly.” A great quote from a panel session to which I’d add, focus on a maximum of 3 issues, adopt a pilot approach and show results in first 6 months.
  • Embrace the ‘Barbarians at the Gate‘: Legal KM’ers are getting their accreditation as Green or Black Belts. KM’ers have the facilitation skills needed to get lawyers to do process mapping and need to learn the language and practices of Lean / Continuous Process Improvement supported by Enterprise Search or change the dialogue at the senior level so that KM interventions are embedded into process. I noted: “continuous improvement can reinvigorate KM importance of process maps and fishbone diagrams” from a session by Arjan Krans.
  • You need to be seen as a contributor to the delivery of the service to the client: During one of the sessions looking at turnover this statement was made: “Knowledge teams tend to be stable in Law firms”  prompting this question ‘Why?”  The reply: ‘A KM role is lifestyle decision with predictable time”.  The point was made that Legal KM’ers are less inclined to do the unsocial hours associated with Lawyers. In plenary I made the point that in all organisations those who are seen as ‘support’ or ‘operational’ rarely get the recognition rain makers do.
  • Become skilled at facilitating virtual meetings and collaboration. Communities (inwards and outwards) will continue to grow in importance. Firms are not spending enough equipping people with the social skills to make virtual encounters work effectively.
  • Get in front of the client. A quote that really struck home. A lawyer was asked if he had run the proposed Application past the prospective client base. His response: “No I have a clear ideal of what they want.”
  • ‘Get the squeaky wheels on side’.  Have a One Pager (preferably with a visual) that summarises what you do (and don’t) do.
  • “We (legal) use scattergun approach to sharing knowledge. Use social media or die!” Nicky Leijtens

And finally:

I heard this from the two legal counsels pleading for a change in the way the client / firm dynamic works: “collaborate not push, it starts to rain newsletters all of which are the same”.”Clients don’t want exclusive portals with law firms. Don’t think me & my client, think in terms of communities”

Law firms need to ensure the knowledge circulated and shared w/ clients differentiates, distinguishes & sets them apart.

I left with this, a slide captured by Lorna Louisa Cropper: “Innovation: Traditional law firms need to stay aligned with .”

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