A few weeks back I wrote a post Future of the Internet and Legal KIM in an artificial world ahead of an interview I was giving to the organisors of January’s KM Legal Europe Amsterdam. Here’s that interview which includes a snapshot of the sessions I will be facilitating.
Last week was fun. A couple of enjoyable dinners, an interesting day at the BSI KM Standards Committee helping to shape the UK’s response to the latest draft of the emerging ISO KM Standards and a thought provoking day at Quora Consulting’s flagship Smartworking Summit. I will focus on the latter as it impacts the former.
Why are you here?
As I said in answer to that direct question posed to me by one of the speakers during his address:
Because John invited me for which I thank him. I am also here as the discipline I focus much of my time on (Knowledge Management) relies heavily on the right environment to facilitate the sharing of knowledge. Also as a member of the BSI KM Standards Committee which is looking at ISO standards for KM I am keen to seen something in there that reflects the move towards smarter working.
I coud have added that, following the lead of Professor Clive Holtham and Victoria Ward, I have been banging on for a long while about the importance to Knowledge Management of an effective physical environment, it’s one of the indicators I look for when performing a Knowledge Audit or Assessment at any organisation.
The very well attended senior level event (of the near 200, 75% were C-Suite Directors) was held near St Paul’s and had as it’s focus in the morning “unlocking the full potential of women at work”.
The afternoon comprised a series of breakout sessions. I went for the “Creating productive workplaces” session facilitated by John Blackwell, Quora’s founder and CEO.
As an aside it was nice to see Euan Semple again who was cofacilitating a round table session that draws on an interesting piece of work he is doing and was entitled “Building Bridges, dismantling siloes”.
Interesting fact of the day from Wednesday’s Smartworking Summit – collectively, the registered delegates interact with over 80 million employees on a daily basis – impressive!
Smartworking in context:
Statistics released by the Department of Work and Pensions and The Office of National Statistics are terrifying for the future of the UK economy which has already seen productivity fall by 17% over the last 10 years. These stuck out:
- The UK will need to fill 13.5 million job vacancies in the next ten years but only 7 million people will be leaving schools and universities during that same period. And further, 70% of those graduates will be female.
The Summit’s premise was:
“…there are only two realistic ways of plugging this 6.5 million job vacancy shortfall – encourage people to remain in work beyond the conventional retirement age and crucially, attract far more women into the workplace.”
The morning speakers drawn from some of the UK’s largest employers shared their stories.
- The ‘Come Back’ returnee programme for a 12 week period which helps Mums rejoin the organsation after pregnancy leave.
- The carers work programme wherein flexible working hours (often in chunks of 30-60 minutes) are offered to remote workers who look after those incapable of doing so themselves.
- The bottom up shadowing programme wherein senior staff are mentored by young employess on the use of Social Media.
- Anytime, anywhere, any device. The strapline of a programme at a financial services firm who are faciliting a blend of working practices and estimate that 40% of their work will be done flexibly.
- That Cabinet Office and BSI recently launched a Smart Working Code of Practice. PAS 3000 gives recommendations for establishing good practice for the implementation of Smart Working, against which organizations can be benchmarked. It covers changes to working practices, culture, working environments and associated technology.
- The following quotes:
On expecting staff to focus for 8 hours a day: “You can’t leave your life at the door”
On the imposition of a dress code for the office: “How about we trust you to do the right thing? If you look in the mirror and ask whether you can get away with wearing this it’s probably wrong”
On the need to change mindsets: “What the boss does gets copied”; “It’s great to talk, its better to listen”; and “Climbing the greasy pole to reach the corner office”.
I was surprised by:
The results of Quora’s recent survey. Here’s what they said:
We have just released our latest research publication titled “Creating today’s workplaces for tomorrow’s talent”. This study engaged with just short of 3,000 people to explore the correlations between productivity, employee engagement and retention, and amongst its stunning findings are;
- In 1990, 10% of the workforce was over 55. By 2010 that had risen to 26% and, by 2030 the proportion of workforce over 55 will exceed 50%,
- Just 21% stated that the impact of changes at their organisation are tracked and measured.
- Only 33% regard their workplace as optimised for productivity,
- Less than half trusted their manager to do the ‘right thing’ by them,
- 66% stated the main reason for leaving their job was because they ‘found their managers dull and boring’.
Among the conclusions are that workplace design needs considerable fresh scrutiny into the productivity impacts of light intensity and spectrum, daylight, sound amplitude and direction, air quality, air temperature, odour, and occupant location and activity, and provision of quiet space.
Lastly, given that the brain takes 30% of all energy input into the body, the provision of nutrition needs a complete rethink. Considerable attention needs to be given to eating frequent, portion controlled small meals focused on nutritional value.
I am concerned about:
- The rate of commercial redevelopment that is taking place in London. If the workplace of the future is so uncertain and large organisations are consolidating their sites, making workspace more collaborative and shared, who is going to occupy the offices being developed now?
- The scarcity of skilled British workers to fill the impending void at a time when the authorities seem to be making it harder for overseas workers to come to the UK.
- A survey that found only 1:5 believed their leaders would do the right thing.
I took away:
- The notion that the future cv will evolve from being a list of employers to a list of interesting projects and that 75% of new graduates today are predicted to leave within 2 years due to dull management and an unproductive environment.
- The revelation that we now have 4 generations working at the same time so personalisation of approach is really important. Generation Rent employees have vastly different value sets from the Baby Boomer employees.
- The suggestion that the leaders of the future will be Influencers with a focus on outcomes and that some organisations are using Social Network Analysis to identify who they might be.
- The need to manage nutrition as well as the physical and virtual environment of the workforce. Better nutrition and conditioning = better performance in physical activity so why not in the workplace?
- A desire to visit The Edge the greenest most efficient ‘smart’ building in the world when I am in Amsterdam in January. The Edge has proved a big attraction to prospective employees of the building’s tenants who include Deloitte’s.
- The importance of effective knowledge capture and retention to ensure that, whatever technique is used, knowledge from skilled elders gets passed on.
Fast forward two days and I am at Chiswick for the BSI Meeting. The first person I meet is someone I heard speak a few years back in Amsterdam at SocialNow.
Dana Leeson is a Digital Workplace Architect at BSI helping to transform their working practices and environment. One metric they are using: reduce occupancy levels (from 100% usage of the office by their staff to the mid 70’s).
Theirs reflects similar initiatives across UK government who are reducing the number of buildings they occupy and introducing co-working hubs for many departments.
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
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”.
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.
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:
- Case outline to a common format in advance, in the conference programme
- Each case has a 6 min plenary pitch
- 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. I 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Learning 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 (AI) 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?
- Christopher Payne’s @ 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 knowledge 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 of 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.
My favourite quote (used in the content of maintaining focus):
Don’t be like a dog who sees a squirrel