When someone with significant expertise joins the organisation, what happens?

Not a lot if the responses to the survey Martin White and I ran are anything to go by. With most responses acknowledging importance of expertise to their organisation, and against a backdrop of reports suggesting that 1:5 of the workforce in the US will retire within 5 years and that 77% of employees are actively looking for a new job, it seems to us a good time to be taking a deep dive into the topic of Expertise Discovery.

How would you have answered this question? Your options are:

  1. We have a policy which values expertise sharing
  2. We have a Knowledge Management policy but there is no specific reference to expertise sharing
  3. We have a KM policy and are planning to include expertise sharing
  4. We do not have a KM policy but are planning to develop one
  5. We have no plans to develop a KM policy or a ploicy that values expertise sharing.

57% of responses ticked 4 or 5. There is much to discuss and yet the claims made today are that you can buy a product that will solve the issue at the press of a button. Maybe? Is your organisation like one I worked with a few years back who told a new senior employee that the knowledge they had acquired in previous roles was irrelevant as “we are unique”?

Those who attend our event on April 26th Expertise Discovery 2018 – optimising access to corporate knowledge will be able to

  • Appreciate how expertise profiling, expertise finding, expertise ranking and expertise sharing have to be integrated into an expertise discovery strategy
  • Understand the capabilities of the increasingly wide range of expertise finding applications
  • Apply the six crucial tests for evaluating these applications
  • Consider the respective roles of IT, HR, KM and legal managers in optimising the benefits of expertise discovery
  • Share successes and challenges with delegates under the Chatham House Rule

Over the past few years I have run a number of Masterclasses on the importance of effective Knowledge Capture & Retention and it was part of the thread that ran through “Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion” I co-authored with Patricia Eng last year. At the fulcrum of any organisational effort has to be a recogition that knowledge is not a commodity acquired at the drop of a hat. As a foreward to the chapter I wrote a few months back in “Knowledge Management Matters: Words of Wisdom from Leading Practitioners” I wrote:

As I was growing up and entering the workplace it was common for new joiners to have a probationary or apprenticeship period where you learned from watching then doing under supervision.

Depending on the profession that apprenticeship period could be anything from 6 months to a year and at the end rather like a pilot you were deemed competent to fly solo.

The assumption was that you were likely to be with that organization for a long period and that when you eventually did leave (or retire) your knowledge would have been passed on to those who would replace you.

Today employees are much more transient in nature and few organizations run apprenticeship programs: the c.v. is not about who you worked for, it is more about what you worked on (and achieved). It is highly likely that during their working life someone in their 20’s today will have worked for more than 5 employers (if not going solo as part of the ‘gig’ economy).

Organizations have to plan for this increasing turnover and changing demographics. Their systems have to cater for a transient workforce.

Part of that planning includes having thought about an approach to Expertise Discovery. I am sure you will be interested to learn why we are including this in our event.

What Lisbon, Eastbourne, Neil Usher’s book and Knowledge Management have in common: Importance of environment.

Hands up, I wimped out and decamped to Lisboa to work and write when winter (Inverno in Portuguese) hit Eastbourne last week. I had a few people I needed to catch up with, some reading I’d promised I would do as well as prepping for forthcoming masterclasses.

Since my teens I’ve found a change of scenery / the right environment often acts as a catalyst for generating ideas. Indeed one of the questions I ask when trying to determine how knowledge flows in an organisation is “where do you have your best ideas or conversations?” The venue/space is important.

Which rather nicely brings me onto one of the books I vowed to read while I was by the Tejo.

The Elemental Workplace: Everyone deserves a fantastic workplace

I first heard Neil Usher at the SocialNow Event run by Ana Neves in Lisboa in 2017. He gave an entertaining presentation in which he presented his hypothesis that there are 12 essential Elements (design principles) all good workplace designs require. Coming hard on the heels of research I’d conducted earlier that year and a Masterclass I’d run in Asia on Collaborative Knowledge Spaces this was music to my ears. I’ve always believed in the importance of planning for “Orchestrated Serendipity” when designing spaces that encourage the sharing of knowledge. Neil’s presentation struck a chord and I vowed to go and see some of his projects.

I was delighted therefore when I learned Neil had ‘put pen to paper’ and written The Elemental Workplace” an easy to read tome that I imagine will become essential reading for people looking to create a stimulating enviroment in which to work.

Already my copy has plenty of dog ears and I found myself drawn to Part One – Why, and Part Four – What could possibly go wrong?

If you take nothing more away from the book than remembering these three quotes in Part One it will have been a good investment:

An effective workplace is one that is built on the principle of simplicity, an effective workplace is one that inspires and energises and an effective workplace is one that can facilitate learning and development.

Moving onto Part Four and this paragraph under the heading “Build it and they will come” stood out for me:

On your travels and in your research, you will discover amazing physical spaces that just do not work, because the creators believed that was enough. It is never enough. Change has to be nurtured, enabled, facilitated, continued. Build it and you will have just built it, nothing more.”

Perhaps my favourite sentence in the book is on on P36 under the heading “Ether”

A fantastic workplace can make a huge contribution to the customer advocacy of an organisation by creating a natural association with admirable values and looking after its people.

This is a book those involved in Knowledge & Information Management should read a few times. The checklists are great but you will have to work out who owns the collaborative knowledge space topic and where the idea fits in your own programme (if at all).

Murals changing society

And so to Lisboa where I spent a hectic Sunday morning out and about seeking examples of Street / Urban Art. Bear with me as I tell you why. Fortunate enough to live in Lisboa as well as Eastbourne I’ve been struck by the difference in the way some of the less salubrious parts of both cities have dealt with urban deprivation.

As the Head of GAU Lisboa  Urban Art Gallery (GAU) explained:

The Galeria de Arte Urbana of the Departamento de Património Cultural (Department of Cultural Heritage), from Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon’s City Council) has as it’s main mission the promotion of graffiti and Street Art in Lisbon, in a official and authorized scope and in a pathway of respect for the patrimonial and landscaped values, in opposition with the illegal acts of vandalism that harm the City.

The district of Padre Cruz is the largest Urban Housing development in Europe with some 8,000 homes. Violence, poverty, drugs and deprivation were rife in 2016 before the Municipality introduced the concept of Urban Art with the active engagement of the local community.  The transformation has been amazing: residents now have a pride in their community and the incidence of crime has decreased dramatically.

I am not comparing today’s businesses with Padre Cruz but I am posing the hypothesis to those who are skeptical about the importance of creating the right environment for collaboration, knowledge sharing and human interactions – Orchestrated Serendipity!

Rua da Gloria Lisboa.

Back in Lisboa I found myself surrounded by numerous visitors all marvelling at the murals that have been painted in various parts of the city at the behest of GAU.

It’s not a coincidence that the resurgance of a vibrant artistic and technologically gifted workforce has at its fulcrum a decision taken by the Municipality to set up GAU at a time of deep austerity.

That they curate the work providing a legacy for future generations is also farsighted.

And finally

Why is this relevant? Because as part of our commitment to our community Bees Homes (the business we set up some 10 months ago) is working with the authorities in Eastbourne to try and transfer some of the knowledge gained in Lisboa and create a version of Urban Art here. We all know that a house ‘staged’ properly with good pictures will attract more buyers and achieve a better price than one that is not. The same surely applies to the environments in which we live and work?

Adapting Neil’s strapline: “Everybody deserves a fantastic environment that inspires and energises”

 

 

A new way to share “old” knowledge & the launch of Expertise Discovery 2018

Its been a busy start to 2018 professionally and domestically. My mother turned 90 a few weeks back and we celebrated with a surprise event that involved her extended family age range 2-92 who braved the snow in the north to assemble in Eastbourne on the 20th.  Why you might understandably ask is that relevant. Here’s why:

Gatherings such as Mother’s 90th are usually characterised (like weddings) with people from both sides of a family / friends occupying different sides of the room with chance encounters at the food table or bar area.  So I used a technique I often employ to kick off events followed by a new way to share “old” knowledge.:

  1. Introductions: I invited people to assemble at the back of the hall and to go and stand next to someone they didn’t know.  At that point I then invited them to introduce themselves and say how they knew Mother. We did a couple of rounds and by the time Mother made her entrance there was a good feeling in the room and the 40 guests felt they knew more people than when they arrived.
  2. Paul reading out a question while Mother (and great grandchildren look on)

    Post dinner (which was an Iranian Buffet – quite an adventure for the over 70’s) I ran a quiz on Mother’s life. I’ve wanted to try this with someone who is leaving or retiring from a business so this was a dry run. Comprising of 5 rounds of 6 questions the quiz focused on: events; places; dates; likes; and true or false.

  3. I encouraged Mother to give the answers and where she felt comfortable to do so to tell a few stories that amplified the answer.
  4. It worked perfectly: everyone learned something about Mother’s life and we also got her take on some of the events we had only heard others speak about.
  5. Does it have a relevance for Knowledge Capture and Sharing? You bet. Imagine “An audience with…” session with someone who isn’t naturally voluble. A quiz based on a set of grouped questions is a fun yet insightful way of getting an insight into events, decisions or history.

and finally

I am delighted to be able to announce I will be participating in Masterclasses in Lisboa and London (x2) with Martin White and Eric Hunter in the coming months. The first of these “Expertise Discovery 2018” will be in the week of April 23rd and is expected to cost £395.

Here’s a few details:

Expertise Discovery 2018 – optimizing access to corporate knowledge

One of the major challenges for organisations is being able to find out who knows what. This is important when assembling client-facing teams, when facing a new challenge, when revisiting previous decisions, when acquiring or merging with another organisation.
Self-completed personal profiles are recognized as having relatively little value. Potentially the range of expertise discovery applications that are now available should solve the problem.
But do these IT solutions deliver?
This workshop will bring together consultants and practitioners to help you develop an expertise management strategy.
Attendance at Expertise Discovery 2018 will enable you to:

  • Build a business case for investment in expertise discovery applications
  • Assess the claims made by solution vendors
  • Understand the respective roles of IT, HR and KM managers in expertise discovery
  • Share experiences of specifying, testing and implementing these applications
  • Appreciate the potential impact of AI and machine learning on expertise finding

The workshop will be led by Paul Corney and Martin White. Paul started working with expertise discovery applications in the 1990s and is a leading authority on knowledge management good practice. Martin White specializes in enterprise search implementation and has written a recent report on People and Expertise Search. Both have published acclaimed works.

Martin and I are excited about how this is shaping up – we already have reservations despite not yet naming the venue or making it available on line for bookings.

More on the other events in my next posting.

Next wave is where KM is not even mentioned: a dive into KM Asia 17

The view from KM Asia 17

This was the first KM Asia event run by Ark Group I’ve attended in Hong Kong. Part of an Asian tour that also took in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and comprised Masterclasses and presentations, I was there to give a talk on Collaborative Knowledge Spaces and run the hour long closing session styled thus:

KM competencies: A day in the life of a knowledge manager in 2020 “This highly interactive practical session will use a timeline technique to draw on the emerging themes of the conference. Paul will look at the skills likely to be required of a Knowledge & Information Manager in 2020. He will then invite delegates to imagine the life of a knowledge manager in 2020″

No pressure then!

In prepping for the “future story” session I was indebted to Andrew Curry of Kantar Futures who I met to discuss one of the frameworks he uses to help clients imagine their future. Here’s how I used it in my presentation to paint a backdrop for the future.

The backdrop:

  • The world’s working age population (especially in the developed world) is shrinking
  • Big disruptive technology platforms emerge every 50-60 years or so. The current ICT (digital) wave is slowing down because the leading companies are no longer able to grow easily by adding more users; they need to find innovative ways to grow revenues per user, and this is challenging.
  • Global growth is slowing: its a combination of demographics (how many people are working) and productivity (how much they are producing). Fewer people of working age means fewer people to support an aging population.
  • Societal values are changing and the newest entrants to the workplace place less value on individual financial success and security, and more value on good work done for a good cause.
  • Climate scientists suggest that by 2050, the average global temperature will have increased by anything between 0.8 and 2.8 degrees above levels in 1990. The implications for the world’s resources are significant and will in the shift to nationalism precipitate conflict.

A good crowd at KM Asia on Day One

So, what emerged from 2 very full and well attended days at the Royal Pacific Hotel Hong Kong and my closing session?

what surprised me?

  • The group takeaways (3 highlights from each day) revealed how dfferently we see things and thru our own lenses.
  • How few people had focused on the idea of curation being a role that the “Knowledgeur” (Knowledge Manager of the future?) might be required to fullfill.
  • That one organisation who focuses on inspecting others did not have a process for feeding process enhancements and learnings back into their own.

what intrigued me?

  • That those who’ve offshored functions are looking to bring them back in house as they now recognise the danger of critical knowledge loss.
  • That the chat bots being used for basic ‘stuff’ cannot handle difficult complaints which are then passed over for human intervention.
  • The thirst for accreditation: people and organisations want recognition for their knowledge and a KIM career path.
  • That Hong Kong is still going through a massive building boom fuelled by demand from the mainland.

what delighted me?

  • Rudolf D’Souza’s opening exercise with ‘Knowledge’ money
  • Three of the best presentations I’ve seen at a KM event on morning of Day Two from Eric Chan, Vincent Ribiere and Rudolf D’Souza. Set the bar high for my closing session!
  • Meeting up with a former client and friend Olivier Serrat (formerly of ADB).
  • The response to the closing session. Forget the scoring (6.4/7) and the nice feedback comments, the big plus was the enthusiastic way the delegates engaged with the exercise and were willing to ‘grab the mike’ at the end to tell the story of why their team had won a 2020 KM Award. More on that below.

what frustrated me?

  • That few knowledge partnerships deliver according to Olivier Serrat. The majority of time is spent sharing news about the partnership.
  • Jet lag: despite getting to Hong Kong early I was still tired from lack of sleep 5 days into the triip.
  • That the ‘facilities’ were on another floor accessed by stairs and quite prescriptive in their use!

what was missing?

  • Representation from the 3rd sector many of whom practice Knowledge & Information Management on a shoestring yet have developed some of the most effective tools and techniques.

quotes I took away:

Km has gone thru peak of inflated expectations which AI is now going thru (Les Hales)

Every company should have an anti strategy (Dave Aron)

Explore, Learn, Share, Ask, Incubate! (Ricky Tsui)

Technology should support not lead, it can’t understand rituals of people (Rudolf D’Souza)

and finally: what the delegates took away?

As part of the closing session I asked delegates to get into groups of 5-6 with people they had not met during the event.  I invited them to then reflect as individuals on the 3 “takeaways” they had from the morning and afternoon on both days.

Though simple it none the less brought to the surface ‘stuff’ or presentations that had made an impact. I further invited them as a group to consolidate their own findings.

And when that was complete to circle the room and see what others had noticed.

One group’s highlights from each session

It proved to be an entertaining as well as an insightful session.

Looking forward to 2020 was the last exercise of the event. Having drawn on Kantar Futures research and brought to life my thoughts on the future role of the “Knowledgeur” (KIM’er of 2020) I asked the groups to imagine they were the recipients of an award and to describe what they had done to win it!

The ‘stories’ were brilliant and this (with grateful thanks to Nick Stone who captured the recording) was one of the best: KM Asia 17: KM in 2020 Future Story

If you want more on the event I was among a number who provided regular tweets and those can be found here: KM Asia 17 Twitter Stream

 

Sophia, AI and the importance of curation: KIM is safe (for the time being)!

I’m lucky. I get to travel to some of the most interesting places on the planet and experience different cultures. These last few weeks for example I’ve been on a book / Masterclass / conference trip to Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and SIngapore.

Book launch hosted by Petronas KL

More on the issues that arose around KIM accreditation and the outcomes from KM Asia in separate blogs.

Over dinner in Hong Kong I got to talk about “Sophia” the locally based Hanson Robotics model that controversially has been given citizenship of Saudi Arabia. While hugely impressive and a major advance in sensory technology two quotes about Sophia stuck with me:

Why are we humans obsessed with creating life forms in our own image?” and

“Dogs are able to sense what their master’s mood is. Imagine if we could replicate that in Sophia?”

“Km has gone thru peak of inflated expectations which AI is now going thru”

This was one of KM Asia’s Day Two Chair Les Hales opening remarks.

It’s a good backdrop to focus on the ever increasing clamour I sense around the use of AI / machine learning technology to improve effiiciency and outcomes, reduce headcount +/or free up time for more added value work. In the Masterclasses and presentations I suggested AI is addressing 3 questions on expertise, transactions / news and process:

I noted there has been a lot more in the way of measurable progress on transactions / news and process enhancement than on expertise. In his presentation at KM Asia, Eric Chan of Hutchinson Global Communications showed examples of a couple of regionally based organisations who now used Chat Bots

His examples above which focused on the process question confirmed the widely held assumption that many industries are ripe for disintermediation by AI technology. I noted a couple of his comments:

“Replacing customer service agents by chatbots powered by AI. Achieves 9/10 satisfaction and not subject to selective memory and

1/3rd of work can be done by machines = disruptive stress”

What was really interesting about the Chatbot example? How the difficult customers (the ones who shout) get routed thru to a human!

So where does this leave Knowledge & Information Management? Actually not badly if Eric Hunter’s comment is to be believed:

“The rise of newer forms of technology is challenging the way codified knowledge is managed leading to the need for KM professionals to work with new types of colleagues such as business process improvement specialists and AI providers.”

Note the use of the phrase to work with not be replaced by. Here’s why I believe this to be the case.

The importance of Curation (…ate #7)

One of many positives to emerge from every stop on my Asian adventure was a reaffirmation of the importance of curation, a term Patricia Eng and I described in our book thus:

#7 Curate: So much of what passes for Knowledge Management is about creating and storing content and making it available for reuse. It’s more than the role formerly undertaken by Information Professionals and Librarians, here we are talking about being a custodian of organisational knowledge and organisational knowledge bases.

Technology has for some time been knocking at this door.  Indeed companies like Profinda have made significant strides so it was fascinating to read this very well written piece on Microsoft’s evolving Yammer strategy by Antony Cousins, Director of Customer Success which reflects my ongoing concern that Technology is not Knowledge Management:

Lost knowledge. With the same room structure as Yammer, there will be popular generic rooms where far too much is shared, too little is relevant to users and, should they ever want to find that document or that chat thread which was relevant to them, good luck. It’s lost in the never ending deluge of chat never to be seen again. If we can’t easily find previous answers and solutions or reference points, we’ll be as doomed on Microsoft Teams, as we were on Yammer, to ask the same questions over and over or worse, repeat the same mistakes…. So, in general, well done Microsoft for making things that were quite easy about 6% easier. Now can we please focus on the really big problems still faced by those of us trying to resolve the collaboration problem for big business?

I continue to argue that one of the key aspects of the role of KIM’ers is acting as Curators of organisational knowledge as well as signposts / navigators. In fact this was the premise behind my Masterclasses in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and the need for those skills:

KIM’ers have to be good at understanding technology and its implications for the business. But they are one of the few groups organisationally who see across silos and should be able to analyse business needs!

And finally

My concern is that organisations increeasingly see technology in its new guise as KM and are jumpiing on the bandwagon to put social tools behind the firewall expecting staff to find the expertise / historical knowledge automatically. In previous pieces I’ve argued that assisted search is still important.

I can also see a shift towards HR / Talent Management as the logical resting place for the discipline where the driver is one of mitigating the risk of knowledge loss when people leave.

But I still see in the short to medium term at least a need for what good KIM’ers do.