‘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.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 15.34.04

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)

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 17.17.39

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 07.59.06

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.

IMG_4461

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.

IMG_4457

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.

IMG_4455

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.

IMG_4456

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.

IMG_4462

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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“Bringing the brain of the company to the field”

If ever there is a great justification for starting a Knowledge Management (KM) programme then the title quote from an interview with John McQuary encapsulates it. KM works when client proposals or solutions draw on the collective wisdom of an organisation.

It’s one of many superb quotes and stories, from the series of research interviews conducted with global practitioners: from Colombia to Australia by way of USA, Canada, UK, France, Belgium, Malaysia and Singapore, for the forthcoming book Patricia Eng and I are co-authoring. In all 18 interviews and more than 40 hours of audio material on KM in Energy, Shipping, Nuclear, Financial Services, Military, Engineering Services, Aviation, Health, Consulting, Manufacturing, Education, Food and Regulatory.

Patricia, who was previously Head of Knowledge Management at US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and my task is now to turn the material collected into, in her words:

” The book I wish I’d had when I started”

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Which is why she and I spent time in Henley-on-Thames last week analysing what we’d heard in the interviews.

Let me take a step back.

It all began when:

I met Patricia in 2014 while I was chairing KMUK and she was a guest speaker describing the KM programme she’d set up and run for the organisation that oversees the US Nuclear industry.  Learning from near misses and from good practices while improving the way ‘newbies’ are inducted into the business had saved her organisation an estimated US$37 million while she was at the helm of the programme.

About the same time I was running Masterclasses on Effective Knowledge Capture and Retention and seeing real interest from organisations who’d recognised the potential risk of knowledge loss from merging, downsizing and retirements or as a result of having specialist skills resident in a small number of individuals only.

After exchanging ideas post conference we felt we had sufficient synergy to begin collaborating on a book focused on “Proven Knowledge Capture & Retention: Between Theory & Practice.”

Though our combined experience is approaching 80 years of business with a significant slug in KM and related activities we wanted to draw on the experiences of great practitioners.

Establishing criteria / identifying interviewees:

We agreed it was important to approach people who’d actually done it and got their hands dirty: who experienced highs and lows and maybe also seen their programmes wither on the vine after they or their sponsor left.

We knew many global practitioners, from chairing and speaking at/ attending KM related events but we wanted to spread the net wider than our own sphere of influence so in effect conducted a virtual “Peer Assist’ with senior global KM’ers and these are the criteria we set for selecting interviewees:

  •  A KM professional that actually built a KM program for an organization they worked in, as opposed to a consultant who was brought in to work on a KM program and then left.
  •  Have spent at least 2 years on the programme.
  •  Primary person responsible for the KM programme – interfaces with executives
  •  Can point to a clear ROI, e.g., productivity or monetary
  •  A KM professional who can speak to what constituted the ROI:

Our thanks go to Patrick Lambe, David Gurteen, David Williams, Karuna Ramanathan, Shawn Callahan and Chris Collison for their recommendations.

Setting up the interviews, thinking about the questions:

In my Masterclasses I always stress how important the interview set up is.  Apart from thinking about the where its always vital to give the prospective interviewee time to think about the answers and to tell them what the process is. Here’s the questions we asked:

  • Tell me about the circumstances and the drivers behind the original knowledge retention programme and who was involved?
  • How did you go about determining what knowledge to try and capture/retain?
  • Give me a brief snapshot of how you went about capturing it.
  • What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
  • How did you convince your management to go for it? ‘Business Case?’
  • What difference do you think it made to your organisation?  What was the actual return on investment?
  • Is there a particular highlight you remember?
  • Having done this if you had to do this over again what would you do differently?
  • And finally what would you tell someone about to set out on a programme to capture and retain knowledge?

We also added:

  • If there is one book you felt helped or inspired you what would it be?

Conducting and recording the interviews:

We had a list which grew from 12 to 18. Patricia volunteered to do the interviews (she is good at it) as we felt continuity in style was important.

We thought about using technology to help with the cataloguing and analysis. Instead we agreed not to transcribe verbatim but to each listen to the interview and make our own notes / key points which we’d discuss face to face in January 2016.

We learned a lot (remembered a lot) about the importance of having technology back ups and also that many corporates don’t allow Skype.  We found that taping the conversation proved good enough for us to listen to and that DropBox was an effective and secure storage vehicle for the tapes.

Analysing & Sensemaking:

And so last week we found ourselves awash with flip charts, postit note, and marker pens. By Friday evening we had a structure for the chapters of the book and a pretty good idea of the examples, stories and quotes that would fill them. Here’s a snapshot of how we went about organising the material:

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What I found interesting, the varying drivers for starting KM across the interview base. Most were due to Risk, a lot were down to Innovation & Process Improvement, some were as a result of the CEO’s Vision and a couple because of Regulatory or Audit findings and a call to action.

And finally:

With an outline (and publisher) in place we can now set about writing to meet the deadline of having a good manuscript that does justice to the insights provided by the interviewees (e.g. KM Bonus Points, ‘Knowvember’ Award, Rock Lite, Adaptive Case Management,  XpressoX, ‘Pick a Problem’, SME Protoge Program…) ready before the summer.

 

 

What Turkish steps and an Iranian wrestler can teach us about learning during and learning after.

Its 00.15 on Monday morning and Turkish Airlines flight TK0898 from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport has arrived on stand 20 minutes late in swirling snow at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. To be fair the journey which started at London Gatwick at 11.55 on Sunday has been very good but with a busy day ahead, and a 60 Turkish Air Stepsminute drive to Hotel Niloo, the chances of being in bed much before 2am are receeding.  Then events take a turn for the worse!

The steps to dissembark have a fault and it will be a further 20 minutes before an alternative is delivered to offload a plane load of very grumpy passengers many of whom are Europeans on the first visit to Iran.

Fortunately I am at the front of the plane so able to converse with the Cabin Cheif.  She is looking at the manual of useful information to give passengers during the flight and there is no entry to cover this situation. So she declines to make a comment while passengers fulminate. It could have all been so different!

I am a great fan of checklists believing them to be knowledge enabled documents which should be, if they are regularly updated, the best practices of an organisation. And as I was to suggest during my client visit the best way to bring about a change in checklists often starts with an After Action Review (AAR) or a Learning Review.

I know organisations where after an event (like the end of a flight) the team would have held a quick debrief using the AAR template:

  • What was supposed to happen;
  • What did happen;
  • Why was there a difference:
  • What can we learn from this;
  • What can we do better next time;
  • What actions should we take; and
  • Can we celebrate success?

The AAR session would have surfaced all the issues about the lack of communication and (maybe) occasioned a change in operating procedures and their checklist – encouraging the cabin staff to keep people updated when things go wrong!

This is where the true value of tools such as AAR come in, they are precursors to a change in procedures or checklists. Many organisations’ Knowledge Management (KM) activity culmiates in the share and reuse step. I have come to realise while working alongside Ron Young and Knowledge Associates that the true value of KM comes from the step of Harvesting which involves turning what has been collected into learning’s and proposed process improvements which the process owner and subject matter experts review and accept or reject.  Checklists then get updated (or not) at that point and the organisation learns from doing!

Lessons Learned when ‘my knowledge is my soul’

For the Harvesting step to work effectively though there has to be an environment that recognises and values the process of capturing and building on learning’s from such tools as AAR. Too often this process throws up dozens of action points few of which get actioned. If you can’t count the actions on the fingers of one hand its unlikely anything will happen as a result.

A few years ago in Khartoum I was to discover that knowledge has a more spiritual feel/meaning in the Arabic and Farsi speaking world. ‘My knowledge is my soul’ is a good indicator of how personal knowledge is viewed and this (taken from a corporate Code of Ethics booklet) reinforces the view that a purely Western approach to the use of tools such as After Action Reviews, Lessons Learned Workshops and Pause & Reflect sessions will not work:

We believe the ethical confrontation with failures should be through awareness, consultation giving the subordinates the opportunity to rectify and compensate for mistakes and applicaton of regulations fairly,,,

So what will? Perhaps this gives an insight.

The Wrestler’s story

During my recent trip to Iran I was taken to the landmark Milad Tower. Around the viewing gallery are a collection of silicon ‘wax’ works of some of Iran’s most famous and loved figures.  There are many poets, writers, a few politicians and one sportsman:

Iran Wrestler

Gholamreza Takhti

Gholamreza Takhti is one of the most, if not the most, loved sportsman in Iran. Here’s why: Takhti tended to act fairly when competing against rivals during his career, something which originated from traditional values of Zurkhaneh, a kind of heroic behaviour that epitomizes chivalrous qualities known as Javanmardi.

For instance, once he had a match with Russian wrestler Alexander Medved who had an injured right knee. When Takhti found out that Medved was injured, he avoided touching the injured leg and tried to attack the other leg instead. He lost the match, but showed that he valued honorable behavior more than reaching victory.

This act of chivalry and exceptional sportsmanship is seen as the desired way to behave and permeates a lot of business dealings.

And finally

Effective Knowledge Management relies on effective Personal Knowledge Management.  Appealing to the corporate good and the team ethic is not going to win supporters or make people feel individually empowered.

Addressing the  ‘What’s in it for me?’ question is vital: this is not purely about money but also recognition, self esteem and personal development.  It’s one reason why many senior corporate positions are filled by academics and people value certification as a way of demonstrating knowledge and expertise.

On the downside it can breed a culture of learning but not necessarily doing: ‘if I am to be punished for making a mistake then why would I try to do it in the first place and I certainly won’t acknowledge it afterwards.’

While we in the West think its quite natural to have an open and frank dialogue about what we could do better next time, its not always the case elsewhere. Our challenge is to find a way to surface learning’s and build them back into process while recognising its counter culture in a personal risk averse environment.

Never too young to start, never too old to learn: the art of public speaking and the importance of ‘knowledge enabled’ checklists

This week I was at a Public Speaking Competiton in memory IMG_4167of Ian Gow the former MP for Eastbourne and Northern Ireland Secretary murdered by a bomb some 25 years ago.  Ian was a vociferous opponent of the broadcasting of parliament so it was ironic he was to give the first televised speech in the House of Commons.  A great piece of oratory, its well worth the 15 minutes or so to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La00bV3I4q8

The MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell was inspired by Mr Gow and initiated this event for local schoolchildren aged 13-14. The topic they were given to speak on was ‘Democracy’ (an apposite topic in the light of the challenge to ‘our’ way of life posed by Da’ish) and the pupils from 5 schools had 10 minutes in groups of 3.  The judging panel included Broadcaster and Journalist David Dimbleby also a local resident. I decided to attend on the basis you are never too old to learn from others not matter how young.

The performances were hugely impressive and reflected well on the UK’s oft maligned education system. Well reasoned arguments were put forward by articulate youngsters often with humour and passion.  Of course there were the odd hiccup’s: one group who spoke without notes forget their lines; another group used stapled notes and got them mixed up; and when some groups used the lecterns they became a barrier between them and the 100 strong audience.

The 3 winners, from Gildredge House School, were well rehearsed, used small prompt cards (no lectern) and spoke with clarity, purpose and passion.

Here are my ten speech making recommendations (having heard Claire Carpenter, a speaking coach and the chair of judges, give her critique).

  • Think: about how you dress for the occassion; to blend in or to stand out?
  • Open: make a strong start; share the journey on how you came to be here.
  • Heart: show passion with humility as well as humour, if you believe then the audience will find your conviction compelling.
  • Pace: be constant, don’t go faster as you near the end.
  • Pause: for key points by looking up at the audience.
  • Knowledge: demonstrate by using stories and statistics to illuminate what you are saying; make the stories relevant to the audience.
  • Intrigue: pose rhetorical questions (and let the silence hang).
  • Notice: be aware of the audience; let them feel part of the speech.
  • Implements: ensure props and prompts do not become barriers.
  • Hold: your audience is likely to remember a maximum of three messages/points.

As someone who has delivered keynote speeches across 4 continents I am indebted to the training I received back in the 1980’s when I worked at Saudi International Bank. Each of the front line managers were sent away for a couple of days to work on presentation and speech making. Much of what I learned then has stuck, especially the need to use the ‘did you get that’ pause while looking up at the audience when making a key point.

Perhaps the greatest lesson was this, no matter what the technology or means of delivery: ‘Tell them what you are going to say, say it and then tell them what you said.’

Which brings me to the related item I’d like to raise.

‘A tool to make experts better’

Instead of watching TV I often spend some of my leisure time looking at TedTalks. Recently, thanks to a recommendation by Dr Dominique Poole-Avery of Arup, I viewed a thought provoking lecture ‘How do we heal medicine’ given by Dr Atul Gawande and seen by more than a million.

Author of The Checklist Manifesto, Dr Gawande charts the expenential growth of knowledge in medicine contrasting the experience of entering hospital in 1937 with that of today. Then, if your symptom didn’t fit one of the main areas of clinical expertise, your survival was questionable whereas today the problem is not too little but too much knowledge (of the tens of thousands of conditions a human can contract) and being able to pinpoint the symptom and prescribe the right medication or surgical procedure.

Then, autonomy and independence were the prized values. Today there is a recognition that we cannot know everything and everyone is a specialist with a piece of the care pathway but the constraint now is cost not knowledge.

He pointed out that there is a limited correlation between the cost of care and the effectiveness of the treatment. Having great components isn’t enough, it has to be about how it all comes together and used the anology of how pulling together the best parts of the best cars wouldn’t make the best car – it would be a piece of expensive junk!

The drive for cost management has meant health care has to become more process driven. In surgery people are very well trained with great technology but often it isn’t joined up with repeatable processes like aviation as an example.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 13.19.03He spoke eloquently about the how the use of a 19 item 2 minute checklist (process – see alongside) helped to bring about a 47% reduction in surgical mortality rates in 8 hospitals across the globe during a World Health Organisation sponsored initiative.  It was bigger than a drug!

What I found compelling is the recognition that surgical team set up (and introductions) are just as important as anticipation of critical events.

The checklist forces people to confront the fact they are not a system and to work with humilty, discipline and teamwork.

Having visited Darfur as part of a WHO mission in 2010 and then Khartoum in 2013 to  help Sudan’s Health Industry to look at what Knowledge Management might do for them I have seen the importance of checklists as a Knowledge Transfer tool.

My message to the young speech makers (and to all who read this), we can all learn from others no matter what age or profession. Dr Gawande’s TedTalk ticks most of the good speech boxes while also making some memorable points about the importance of a tool that has become a life saver and shows the power of Knowlege Management.

So what is a checklist?  A tool or process that consolidates best knowledge and needs constant updating to reflect new experiences of practioners, organisations and communities.

And finally

The keen eyed among you with a gift for scrabble may have worked out that the ten observations above form ‘THINK HIPPO’.cartoon-hippo-06

 

Knowledge, elephant and innovation: a Chinese PhD Candidate reflects on KM and knowledge capture techniques

Introduction

To set the following discussion into context, my name is ‘Jonny’ Jiang, I am a PhD candidate on service design and service innovation at a design school in London.Jonny I am working part time with Paul at a start-up charity Plan Zheroes to deliver services to make better use of surplus food and help people in food poverty.

Thanks to Paul, I have been given opportunities to learn from his expertise in knowledge management and practice some of his methods to capture knowledge and insights in that charity.

As result, I am able to reflect upon my journey of knowledge management at the charity and my research in service design.

Interestingly, by comparing these two distinctive fields of practices, it gives me some thoughts around the importance of how we can generate new knowledge and insight around innovation.

KM tools for learning during and after

Let’s talk about some of the knowledge management methods I learnt in this process. Before jumping into these practices, I should tell you I had very little understanding of knowledge management apart from my general reading around business journals.

Paul sat down and demonstrated to me one of the previous knowledge capture sessions he ran with one of employees at the charity. He explained the rationale of capturing and sharing knowledge among staff through interviews with employees before their leaving and during their life cycle with us.

As I understood, it is very important to understand each individual’s experience and perspectives on his or her journey here and on specific events in particular in order to spot and improve the internal and external operation.

One of the other rationales I understood very well at the end is Paul’s point on the element of constructively building a better relationship with interviewees even after their leaving to help them reflect upon the personal growth and learning during the period of working inside the organisation, which I realise is very important to each party and helps nurture Alumni Networks.

Later on, I have been given an exercise to listen to Paul’s recording on his interview and using his knowledge management toolset (e.g. brief, time map, experience circle, questions) and conclude my findings based on those.

Then a few days after, we sat down again to compare our capture of knowledge based on the same interview and reflected together on some of my questions and learning’s. This was an incredibly effective session with Paul because I am able to learn by practice from Paul’s expertise to help equip a newbie in knowledge management with knowledge, practical tools and confidence.

I took the lessons and tools from this exercise and conducted an interview with employee who was about move to another city and leave the charity. Once the interview has done, I sat down with Paul again to reflect on my interview and report of this knowledge capturing practice.

Most of Paul’s methods have been already described and explained very well in this blog, so if you want to figure out what tools and methods I have used, please click on this post ‘Going not forgotten: knowledge capture in a hurry’.

Check out the timeline tool as a way to effectively reflect the knowledge and insights accumulated along the journey. It is a powerful tool because

  • It gives a common language that visually displays our thinking’s and provokes thoughts around the highlights and lowlights of the journey. In my interview it helped us to reflect on interviewee’s expectations at the start of job, which gives us lots of insights on how we manage the expectation during staff induction.
  • Mutually, it also gives an opportunity to help the interviewee consolidate the learning from the job that can be transferred to future careers.

My elephant and the correlation between design and knowledge management

As Paul invited me to write down my reflections after this exercise, I was fascinated by how similar and powerful the practices around knowledge management and design as a source for organisational innovation can be. As many of us  interpret the word ‘knowledge’ with a connection to ‘science’ ‘scientific’ and ‘objective’, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the value in ‘subjectivity’ and ‘social artefacts’.

As we all come from different experiences in life and become who we are because of those experiences, we all develop very distinctive perspective on the world based on the things we learnt and have done in the past.

It is like one of fables I learnt as a child which described four blind people who gave a very different description of the elephant by touching it from their own positions.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/climateinteractive/13944682478Each seems to be fully convinced by their ‘objective’ interpretation and deny others’ views of what the elephant ‘truly’ is. It is obvious, in the fable, that each of them only ‘sees’ their part of reality.

The elephant and social facts. source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/climateinteractive/13944682478

In real life, this fable maintains a sense of inspiration too. We all experience a building differently from where we look at it. It can look small from a bird’s eye view or intimidating if standing alongside it.

In organisational management nowadays, particularly large organisations, operations can be highly siloed and lacks ways of detecting those subtleties in perspectives. It means each department may have their very own budget and competing agenda and develop their very own ways of understanding and doing things under the cover of ‘specialisation’.

Those silo operations based on ‘the only one way’ present danger of neglecting the values in perceiving or doing something differently that is at the core of innovation.

As such, knowledge management is becoming increasingly critical to recognise subtlety in each individual’s interpretation and map them in order to spot opportunities in the gap of our personal knowledge and experience.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 14.46.57In service design, this idea of interpretation has been very important in user research.

By mapping extensively, designers can understand better the users’ perceptions and behaviours and gather deep insights on where the opportunities can be for designing better customer experience and services.

One example of customer journey mapping. Source: (https://www.flickr.com/photos/97823772@N02/15410073995)

In Knowledge Management these interpretations can often reveal opportunities and strengths as well as failures and weaknesses.

And finally

The advice I can give to someone who is about to do the same exercise and interview a colleague who is about to leave is to take the default position of ‘he-or-she-knows-much-more-than-me’ rather than being judgemental on what you believe as the ‘truth’ or ‘reality’.

As many as we are coming from this global village, there is a great value in the diversity of perspectives and this is where I believe is the infinite source of innovation.

And of course, definitely check out those knowledge management tools on Paul’s shelf. They are really effective and surprisingly practical.

A comment from Paul

I have had the pleasure of mentoring ‘Jonny’ for the last couple of years during which time he has participated in board meetings, helped select a project management tool to act as store for the knowledge and documents on the various projects we’ve undertaken and conducted knowledge capture sessions. He is also the curator of our digital library.

I invted Jonny to be a guest contributor as I felt his experiences might be of value to others. Indeed his comments about the ‘give, get’ component of a knowledge capture process is particularly perceptive as often the drivers for such programmes are downsizing and layoffs where there is little positive feeling.

I am delighted he has contributed and would encourage you to join in with your comments.