CILIP’s KM quandary in Brighton

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

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

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

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

poor communication = poor knowledge sharing

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

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

Screenshot 2016-07-19 10.57.26

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

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

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

KM in a library & information environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

accentuating the difference

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

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

Screenshot 2016-07-19 13.49.15

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

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

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

And finally

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

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

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

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

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

In a world of High Value Work the case for informed and empowered Knowledge Workers is becoming stronger

Whether Lisboa, London or Tehran the pace of change is gathering apace with increased pressure for improved performance, greater efficiency and reduced risk.

Over the last couple of months I have been working in all three of the above capitals. It has been a priviledge and an eye opener: Iran is eagerly awaiting ratification of the Geneva deal and Tehran is awash with foreign companies looking to position themselves post sanctions; in Lisboa they are feeling the effects of a ‘drawn’ election and in unchartered territory over the formation of a new government and whether to continue with a programme of austerity and; in London there is considerable angst about the impact of cheap Chinese steel on an already depressed commodity market and on local communities.

In each of these capitals the role and standing of the ‘Knowledge Worker‘ is different:

  • In Lisboa, many young innovative Knowledge Workers have felt the full force of the austerity programme and fled the country rather than face an uncertain future while the cadre of secure middle managers hang onto their jobs.
  • In London, consolidation (especially in the legal sector) is growing and the push to outsource a core part of the UK Government’s drive to reduce the role of the state. Further afield UK Manufacturing continues to be battered by cheaper cost centre imports with inevitable plant closures.
  • In Tehran, as they face an openiing up of their market place and an influx of of overseas competition, local knowledge is becoming much in demand and creating a sense of eager anticipation in a workforce that has traditionally sought overseas postings as a way of enhancing their knowledge and careers.

What are the implications? 

The role of the informed knowledge worker is going to become more critical and they will need to move up the value chain in order to do so!

If you have not already done so I’d encourage you to look at a recent blog post by Andrew Curry of the Futures Company. The Futures Company has been collaborating with the Association of Finnish Work for more than eighteen months on the idea of “High Value Work”. They define this as work that is productive (it creates new value); that is durable (it creates value over time); and work that is inclusive (it spreads value beyond the business — or the C-suite. This combination, based on the emerging post-crisis literature, also creates work that is meaningful, for employees and customers. They identify four routes to acheiving it:

These are service innovation, based on a full understanding of the customer and their needs; value in authenticity, based on on a full understanding of cultural context; resource innovation, based on a full understanding of material flows; and rich knowledge, based on a full understanding of the technical knowledge held inside the organisation and a method to capture and codify it.

High value businesses combine these; for example, mastery of resource innovation often creates new technical capabilities that lead to new forms of rich knowledge.

Finland is a great example of a country that is highly technological, expensive with a great education system. That it commissioned the work is unsurprising and the findings underpin the growing realisation across many organisations that people matter, are transient in nature and that processes need to be in place to recognise that.

The future role of the Knowledge Worker?

Much of my recent work has been about helping organisations to recognise that if Knowledge Management is to have value above its traditional tactical operational bias there has to be a way of measuring the output (the Intellectual Property ‘IP’ or Knowledge Assets) that is created as a result of the activity.  And generating Knowledge Assets is reliant on empowered and stimulated people. As Andrew’s findings suggest ‘Increasingly business research is finding that people drive value.’

Last Friday I hosted a Peer Assist with a group of senior HR thought leaders on People Stimulation an idea being promulgated by Dr Abdelaziz Mustafa of the Islamic Development Bank Group. A very experienced HR Director and core member of the Association of Development Agencies HR Forum he argues the need of a work enviornment that recognises and stimulates:

  • Human Imagination
  • Individual Discretionary Behavior
  • Deeply Embedded Interests
  • Self-Knowledge, Self-Accountability and Self-Development
  • The One Person Difference
  • T.E.A.M Culture
  • Happiness at Work

While to many this may seem axiomatic it is indicative of the shifting thinking around the way organisations manage and nurture today’s and tomorrow’s Knowledge Workers.

And finally

On Monday I was at Chiswick for the first meeting of the reconstituted BSI KM Standards Committee established to provide inter alia the UK’s input into the global ISO debate on the need for standards for Knowledge Management. While hugely encouraging that KM is now being more formally recognised it was instructive to see how slowly the wheel of change turns.

Finally if I needed validation of the value of embedding effective Knowledge Management techniques I got it last night in an exchange with a Chinese mentee. In discussion over the knowledge capture interviews I’d helped him to conduct for the charity I am involved with. He said:

‘It is interesting how much good ‘after taste’ after the previous interview techniques and knowlege managemnet toolsconducted a few interviews for my research using the time line map, very effective tool!’

I have asked him to write a guest blog to reflect on some of the knowledge capture techniques we used. Watch this space!

Good Knowledge Drives Good Business

This is an article inspired by a session I ran with new businesses as part of Surrey University’s Investor Readiness Programme and my work with Plan Zheroes, It sets out to illustrate why good knowledge and information management matters to a new business.

A business is the sum total of its intellectual capital/property (‘knowledge assets’).  Drawing on examples from hospitality, renewable energy storage and third sectors, it will demonstrate the value of checklists, a technical backbone, the right cultural environment and feedback loops in identifying, nurturing and exploiting knowledge assets.

Here’s what Claire & Luke (Editors of Business Information Review) had to say about it in their Editorial:

Good knowledge drives good business

Another regular contributor to Business Information Review, Paul Corney shares his experiences of working with emerging enterprises and business start-ups in developing good knowledge and information management practices. Reflecting Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 09.16.05on the experiences of small and medium-sized enterprises in the business and third sector, Paul illustrates in his article why information and knowledge management matter to new businesses. As Paul notes, ‘ultimately a business is worth the value of its intellectual capital/intellectual property. These “Knowledge Assets” might take the form of patented products, an efficient process, a unique piece of software or brand and reputation built over time’. The lessons here for directors of start-up are obvious, but there are lessons also for those who work with information on a day-to-day basis within larger or more established organizations.

I’m glad Claire & Luke ‘got it’.  Well run and profitable business is about making effective use of knowledge and creating and enhancing its Knowledge Assets. So it follows that:

Putting in place effective measurement is key in order to demonstrate value. As KM standards get integrated into global quality and manufacturing standards so the drive for better KM will be felt. Young organizations can get ahead of that curve by putting some of these simple techniques in place today.
As a footnote I am particularly delighted to have been asked to serve on the BSI KM Standards Committee that is going to input into the to be publsihed ISO Quality Standards.

And finally

You can get the full article from here: Business Information Review Q3 2015

Helping businesses plan exit strategies and pitch for funds: “when I becomes we”

Ironically a day after the 144th Open Championship I am at the Surrey Research Park in Guildford helping a group of entrepreneurs practice their pitching though not on the golf course! Its part of the University of Surrey’s Investor Readiness Programme that brings together fledgling business owners seeking early stage funding.

The programme, spread over 3 days and featuring a range of accountants, lawyers, former CEO’s and government officials, is one reason why University of Surrey ranks among the top 3 incubator centres in the UK. I’ve been invited along to make the programme more interactive and will be using facilitation tools and techniques often found in a Knowledge Management Toolkit.

My formal brief for the afternoon on Day One is two fold:

  • Get the businesses to think about a possible exit strategy
  • Begin the process of pitiching to investors

My unstated and informal brief:

  • Create an environment that is conducive to sharing knowledge as a community in the future.

Planning for exit

Few businesses begin life thinking about how they might hand it over and transfer their knowledge.  But investors are keen to know what their exit strategy is likely to be and whether it will survive their departure.

Since many embryonic businesses are centred on a bright individual who often holds the key to the Intellectual Property ‘door’ it is essential that good Knowledge & Information governance practices are adopted from Day One so that it can withstand his or her departure.

Simple steps such as cataloguing and storing of formal governance meetings are essential: Due diligence professionals will demand such documentation so better to have assembled it from the get go rather than incur cost later.

I begin by asking this simple question:Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 08.01.45

Regular readers of my postings will be familiar with this technique (Reverse Brainstorm) and the 6 step process I use to run it:

  1. Get into groups (4 is a good #)
  2. List how to make ‘it’ fail
  3. Go see what others have done
  4. Add what you like to your list
  5. Choose the most important 3
  6. Share in plenary

The aim of this session which I ran with the programme director James Macfarlane was to get the businesses to develop their own checklist and key performance indicators (KPI’s) to measure how they are progressing along their journey.

Here’s one of the team’s workings and below the 6 major issues likely to derail an exit prior to and including the due diligence phase:Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.55.51

  • Failure to protect their Intellectual Property
  • Lack of clarity among team over personal and organisation’s exit strategy
  • Failure to plan for departures and who will succeed
  • Failure to meet over optimistic targets
  • Misrepresentation of warranty information
  • Failure to develop testimonials and reference sites

Testing what others heard

Having recognised the importance of at least thinking about the exit strategy before making a pitch for funds James and I now challenged each business to present their proposition in 90 secconds using these headings. I gave these instructions:

  1. Break into pairsScreenshot 2015-07-21 09.00.20
  2. Take 5 minutes to plan what you are going to say
  3. Give the pitch to your partner
  4. Listen to your partner’s pitch
  5. Back in plenary: make your partner’s pitch to the whole group
  6. In 2 groups discuss what you liked about styles and content
  7. Debrief in plenary and vote for the most compelling proposition

IMG_3701Listening (and watching) well is important to presenting well and the title I heard you to say and understood you to mean’ is a pointer to the need to focus on different ways to tell the story of the business opportunity to different audiences.

We encouraged each presenter to think about how the message they are giving will be interpreted and left them with this metaphor.

Imagine you are writing a press release, this part of your pitch is the headline and the synopsis of the article.  The aim is to get questions (in more detail) from interested investors as a result of this (very) brief pitch.

And finally

As always when you work with bright people you learn.

  • The importance of revenue recognition in the software industry when buying or selling a business – for a good description see: SOP 97-2
  • The point at which you do a business plan is ‘when I becomes we’
  • A good strategy should be capable of being represented as a picture
  • When promoting your business remember to say ‘what it does not how it does it’
  • People buy you not the numbers and they buy the story you tell: if you can’t say what difference your ‘product’ will make then investors won’t be interested either

Quality, Standards & Risk: emerging KM drivers from Dubai

It was great to be back in Dubai last month for KM Middle East 2015 where I was running a Masterclass on Day One and giving the Keynote closing address on Day Two.

Chicago Beach HotelWhen I went there in 1984 the only hotel in Jumeirah was the Chicago Beach Hotel and that was an isolated spot some 30 minutes drive from Deira on empty roads and across desert. You went there for a bit of R & R after a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.

Today the emirate is home to hundreds of thousands of jumeirah_beach_resort-485x325expats and foreign workers all of whom are bringing knowledge to help Dubai develop into one the world’s premier tourist destinations.  Here’s how the same piece of coastline looks 30 years on and you can get there today via a metro system!

Few in 1984 predicted Dubai would grow to be such a diversified economy: limited dependency on oil, increasingly reliant on the knowledge and competencies of its expanding (predominantly foreign) workforce and having the world’s busiest airport.

The underpinnings of such progress are people, process (and of course) technology. The disparity in numbers of indigenous Emirati to Expatriates (who are transient by nature) means that there is greater relience on process and technology to ensure continuity.  It is no surprise that the Knowledge Management activity in the region should be more of an operational/tactical nature rather than strategic.  This was evident for me at KM Mid East.

 The Event – Day One

Held over two days at the very luxurious Park Hyatt Dubai the event comprised a series of workshops on Day One and a Plenary Conference on Day Two.  My workshop Unlocking the true value of Knowledge Management: identifying and assessing your organisation’s Knowledge Assets took place in the afternoon from 2pm-6pm.

AgendaThere were 20 people, a nice mix of gender, age and experience.  This was the agenda for the afternoon:

My aim was to get the participants to think about why KM mattered and to begin to develop an understanding of the Knowledge Assets they had in their business.

I was also keen to look at a few different ways to identify and assess their value and what might they then do to mitigate potential loss.

Team A at KMME Workshop

Team A at KMME Workshop displaying their ccompleted Analyser.

Session 6 An exercise in mapping was particularly revealing.

Focusing on a recent decision ‘Team A’ used the Event Analyser to describe how they had saved a substantial amount by drawing on the internal knowledge of their organisation which they were then able to pass on for others to use.

It was an enjoyable afternoon (the opening Ice Breaker helped to

Everyone got involved

Everyone got involved

lower barriers) and I made sure each session had a mix of informing and doing with plenty of interaction, stories (and humour). And we finished at 6pm with a full contingent!

The Event – Day Two

IMG_3109_2

John Girard and Dave Snowden in the foreground

The slide deck has been made available for each presentation by the organisers and can be found here. There was also a twitter feed #kmme with a few interesting comments thrown in as the day proceeded.

The event was well attended and the presentations informative. Being at the end of the day I had the opportunity to hear everyone.  My attention was stimulated by some of the local presentations especially since so many focused on measurement and frameworks.

IMG_3113

EFQM Model adopted in Dubai

One which caught my eye which was how Quality Standards such as EFQM are becoming the drivers and measurement yardsticks for KM implementations.

This adherence to standards of excellence fits with the way Dubai and the UAE are measuring progress across a wide spectrum of activities. It was even evident in the surplus food discussions I had while I was there.

IMG_3123

Cascading the EFQM model – KM Business Results

People understand that to win environmental and sustainability awards you have to be able to demonstrate effective reuse so the measure is based on sustainability and environmental impact not on the social impact.

Here’s just one of the slides by way of an example of how the framework is being cascaded down in KM.

While entirely logical It poses a number questions for me:

  • are the evaluators experenced KM Practitioners?
  • the start point would seem to be critical – yes an organisation might make great progress but where is the benchmarking element?
  • where do the frameworks cater for increasing the value of an organisation’s Knowledge Assets?
  • is there a danger of being in love with the process rather than the results of the process?

It’s a great start though and similar to work done in Singapore where EFQM and ASQ measures have been combined in some organisations as a way of cascading down operating values and standards (SOP’s). Where organisations start to make progress is when competencies are built into the framework.

My Takeaways

So apart from a number of very interesting discussions with the other speakers over dinner and with the delegates at the event what else did I takeaway?

  1. KM is increasingly being driven by issues of Quality, Standards & Risk.  These are operationally focused but provide tangible measures that organisations can point to as a way of demonstrating value. EFQM is the predominent standard in UAE and KM programmes need to align with it.
  2. Standards organisations are introducing criteria that include being able to demonstrate technical competence in KM including the provision of a KM strategy.  If you want the award (and often you need it to sell what you produce) then KM is a must do.*
  3. Risk (of individual and collective Knowledge loss) in a society that is still essentially transient places great importance on ‘knowing what we know’ and so Knowledge Assets Audting (identifying and assessing) is likely to grow in importance.

IMG_3344The final takeaway: my speaker ‘award’ (presented by John Girard along with the Deputy Director, Dubai Chambers of Commerce)

 

 

 

* as a footnote to this I came across this:

The Standards Institution of Israel (SII), Israel’s member body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has submitted a proposal for a new international standard focusing on requirements for knowledge management systems. As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) invites all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by Friday, February 14, 2014.

The proposed International Standard would set down requirements for organizational knowledge management systems, including the creation and maintenance of such systems, the nurturing of a knowledge management culture, measurement of organizations’ knowledge, and approaches to sharing knowledge management solutions. The standard would cover businesses, nonprofits, government organizations, and other groups of any size and in any field.