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.

In recognition of my Dad “a lovely man”: when knowledge capture becomes personal

John Corney, my Dad, died in August a month shy of his 87th birthday. Though not unexpected the timing of it was.  I was lucky in the sense I got to say goodbye and to reflect while he was still with us on his amazing contribution to and guidance for my own life.

Dad was a ‘lovely man’ a phrase / tribute we oft heard from those who knew him and a private man. I realised as he neared the end of his life that though we were close there were so many aspects of his background that were opaque to me.

He was of the ‘old school’ a meticulous senior banker involved in international trade who passionately believed ‘my word is my bond’ and that debt is a commitment to be honoured.  He was not loquacious or a natural storyteller; instead he eschewed the limelight though he was well read, capable of deep insight and eager to debate topics he found stimulating.

For him ‘social’ was a word associated with a gathering of people not an online activity.  Though he recognised the value of the internet, Apps, Smartphones and Tablets were alien concepts to him.

What you might ask has this personal story got to do with business? Here’s how:

  • As Executor of his estate charged with carrying out his wishes I wanted to understand the thinking behind his approach to investment.
  • I also wanted to understand more about his early life and how he made decisions.
  • Dad was similar to many senior executives who are often reluctant to acknowledge that their contribution has been significant.

Perhaps subliminally I drew on many of the techniques I encourage others to adopt when trying to capture critical knowledge from people about to retire or relocate:

  • I used a timeline to look at significant milestones in his life with photos as a prompt.
  • We talked about books he had read that had helped shaped his thinking.
  • We talked about people he most admired.
  • We went through his ‘blue book’: a transactional history and ledger of all assets.
  • We sat and watched something and used that as a neutral space for a conversation.
  • I spent days ploughing through his archives.

A big regret is that I didn’t record any of these discussions but the stories and artefacts remain and I am now their custodian with a duty to pass them onto his great grandchildren so that they too can appreciate John’s legacy.

And finally

When people leave organisations after a long period legacy is a word often cited as the justification for a knowledge capture interview. What many overlook is the step of thinking up front what is the critical knowledge they are looking to surface during the process.

This mirrors many of the stories emerging from the interviews my co-author Patricia Eng is undertaking for “Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion” book which we are aiming to publish next year. Often the driver for these initiatives has been a reorganisation, takeover or downsizing; in effect a firefighting exercise.

Setting up a programme to consciously capture knowledge is expensive and time consuming: it needs a clear rationale/driver and a set of measurements to track its efficacy and value.

Knowledge Capture EventI am looking forward to evolving my own thinking when I am in Lisboa next month running this masterclass with Ana Neves. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of critical knowledge: how to identify it, how to go about capturing it and how to go about making it available for reuse.

 

Out of austerity, growth of Social and a dose of Logical Minds: insights from working in Lisboa

Royal Bullfighting Club

Real Club Tauromáquico Português, Lisboa

I’ve just spent an inspiring couple of days in Lisboa. It started well: a wonderfully productive 3 hours in the company of Ana Neves of Knowman discussing SocialNow 2015 in Amsterdam, followed by a reunion dinner at the Real Club Tauromáquico Português, (Royal Bullfighting Club of Portugal) Lisboa with a former colleague I had not seen since 1986.

The prime motivation for my visit (apart from the 25c temperature) was providing advice to a business that helps children with learning difficulties as it thinks through its future options.

economic & business backdrop

Over dinner, my former colleague, an influential banker whose ancestor discovered an island in the Atlantic now named after him, shared his perceptions of the current state of play.  Here’s my take on what he said:

…the government is doing very well but the current political structure means decisions are taken very slowly. I am an optimist by nature and see great potential in our people but our media is always looking for mistakes and bad news and never tells us about areas we are doing well.

Taken at face value this gives grounds for optimism and yet in previous conversations I discovered that the Portuguese prefer to hear ‘experts’ from overseas rather than trust their own and go overseas to make their fortunes. So for young entrepreneurs the future is bleak.

Yet Portugal is a country that ranks 25th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking (ahead of Netherlands, France and Spain).

Portugal WBK ranking

Click to enlarge picture

It’s improving standing is due to a raft of measures many of which are currently subject to scrutiny and debate in parliament:

  • Portugal lowered its corporate income tax rate from 25-23% and introduced a reduced corporate tax rate for a portion of the taxable profits of qualifying small and medium-size enterprises.
  • Portugal made enforcing contracts easier by adopting a new code of civil pro-
    cedure designed to reduce court backlog, streamline court procedures, enhance
    the role of judges and speed up the resolution of standard civil and commer-
    cial disputes.

Since 2008 the government has made a number of changes to employment law. While these have resulted in increased productivity there is growing disenchantment at declining living standards and the young expect to leave when they graduate.

What does the immediate future hold?  Increased personal taxes, an increased disparity between those able to ride the continued wave of austerity and those who can’t and a desperate need for investment for young start up businesses.

Initiatives such as Cidadania, an event aimed at stimulating discussion in society around the use of new forms of communication, will help. This year’s event in Porto showcased numerous examples of how empowered citizens have interacted with NGO’s, Government and Public Administrations. Ana Neves has also been running a Community of Practice for COTEC and written a guide on helping its member organisations to choose KM Tools.   Ana would be the first to admit that Portuguese organisations are not yet big on Knowledge Sharing or Knowledge Management and that community involvement in social tools is in its infancy. But interest is growing!

LogicaMentes (Logical Minds)

Autism strikes without consideration of ethnicity, gender or financial background. It is a developmental disorder that affects the way people interact with the world and other people.

Each child or adult with autism is unique and, so, each autism intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs.

The UK’s NHS notes:

Some types of intervention can involve hours of intensive work, and this is not always possible for many families because of the practical, emotional and financial commitments necessary.

Treatment is based on the assessment of the physician carrying out the examination and frequent case assessments with the team thereafter.  Treatments now take place in the home, at school and at clinics like LogicaMentes.

Much is written and there are countless online sites providing guidance, advice and online collaboration to parents who often find this a very difficult condition to live with.

images.livrariasaraiva.com.brThere are a variety of treatment methodologies, LogicaMentes bases its on the book written by the clinic’s co-founder, Claudia Bandeira De Lima.

They also use a wonderful iPad application developed by a member of their team that enhances the learning experience for children. Already it has paid off: the app has facilitated communication between a mother and son where previously his condition has precluded any. Small but significant steps!

App

Resource management, records management and cash management are core competences as are the ability to share knowledge among the team and manage a diverse group of stakeholders (parents, schools, doctors).

It is a priviledge to have been invited to help the team and to be working in Portugal.

 

Does Gamification work in a Knowledge Management environment?

I spoke last week on the topic of gamifcation with Andrzej Marczewski ‏(@daverage) and Stephen Dale (@stephendale).  Both have more than a passing interest in this topic:

  • Andrzej is currently ranked the #1 ‘Gamification Guru’ (in a US online poll) who focuses on inter alia User Types, who blogs and publishes the Gamification News;
  • Steve who has a long and distinguished career in Knowledge & Information (and who has chaired Online for a number of years) is interested in how behaviours are influenced by gamification and recently ran a well received workshop for NetIKx ‘#Gamification strategies for incentivising knowledge sharing and engagement: http://slidesha.re/1iJIYxO

I first heard Andrzej at Ana Neves’ excellent 2013 Social Now event in Lisboa where many of the presenters described how they’d used gamification techniques. It occured to me then that as communicators and marketers are increasingly using Gamification for engaging with staff and external stakeholders, so why should Knowledge Managers be different?

Fast forward 12 months and Andrzej, Steve and I are talking about whether Gamification might work in a Knowledge Management environment, the topic of Andrzej’s presentation and a joint session I am running with him at this year’s KMUK event on 11th and 12th June which I have the pleasure of co-chairing with David Gurteen.

KMUK Presentations

This session will take a look at the technique through the eyes of one of its leading evangelists and delegates will then have a chance to discuss its potential application in a knowledge management environment. Here’s the ‘blurb’

Gamification: Past, present and future – Andrzej Marczewski

  • a review of the landscape and its evolution
  • a look at current practices and examples
  • how to decide when to apply it
  • identifying and working with different audiences
  • critical success factors
  • where will it be in 5 years time

Gamification in a KM environment – Paul J Corney

Paul will draw on research being undertaken in advance of the conference to lead a group discussion prompted by Andrzej’s presentation to examine:

  • has it caught on in KM – a review of adoption across knowledge workers
  • what are the barriers and how might knowledge workers might overcome them
  • where it can be most effective and with whom?

Seeking gamification examples in a KM environment

Over the next few months Andrzej, Steve and I are going to be trying to identlfy whether examples really do exist and if not why not!  In Steve’s excellent presentation to NetIKx he unearthered a couple of great examples from the world of health including Pain Squad – the App that gamified healthcare in Canada but he struggled to identify KM examples.

Perhaps its because we associate the phrase with technology?

In my book many of the experiential exercises my colleagues at Sparknow and I developed (and are written up elsewhere) such as:

  • A day in the Life
  • Future Story backwards
  • In their shoes

are all examples of gamification – that by doing and experiencing knowledge is shared, people are engaged and behviours shift.

More in the months to come.  Keep watching Andrzej’s excellent site for a chance to participate.

 

and finally (July 2014)

Here’s the outcomes from the group sessions at KMUK of where KM’ers thought Gamification might work in a KM environment.

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Why stories matter for Knowledge Management: From Colombia to Iran via Portugal

A year or so back while I was in Colombia I was asked to do an interview for publication in Brasil.  It was about the role of storytelling as a effective technique for Knowledge Management and I thought I’d share (in English) some of the answers I gave then which I believe are still really relevant today. Here’s why:

Last week in Tehran as part of Stage 2 of an exciting KM project I have been invited to work on I was in a room with a dozen or so senior managers and engineers. We were trying to map a process to see where it could be enhanced / reengineered by embedding KM techniques.

There were flow diagrams, boxes and arrows.  The process (and the engineer describing it) came to life when he was invited to ‘tell us a story about what happened’. He opened up – it was as if I had given him permission to be himself and let go of ‘corporate or technology speak’. He then went onto describe what we styled ‘The Lube Oil Pump Incident’.

At the conclusion (and in the following day’s sessions) our sponsor and I encouraged everyone talking about a process to use narrative and to think of a title for their story.

It brought back two questions I was asked for the Brasilian article which I conducted while I was Managing Partner of Sparknow LLP:

Why stories? What is so special about them?

Hi Ana, thank you for this opportunity. Let me tell you why I think the use of narrative (storytelling) is a hugely powerful and insightful technique not merely for use in organizational KM.  Stories have the power to unhinge and unearth insights, experiences and emotions often hidden in the jargon and protocols of corporate world.

Sparknow’s tradition in using story in KM goes back to the late 90’s when the Founder Victoria Ward commissioned Carol Russell (a storyteller with origins in Jamaica and story roots in Ghana) to write and tell a story about the KM journey at one of the UK’s leading Banks.

Not long after ‘Corporania’ was completed and shared to much acclaim Sparknow was running a series of open sessions at the KM Europe conference held in Den Haag.  Among the attendees was a Geographer from Switzerland who had recently been asked to head up knowledge management at Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Bern.  Manuel wanted to explore story-telling tools as a way to increase knowledge transfer between the Agency and its partners, different places, and the edges of the organization and the centre; that began a 5-year joint exploration that culminated in the production of Building bridges, using narrative approaches to knowledge management still viewed by many as one of the most useful works on organizational storytelling, and tangible evidence of how effective the use of story can be in KM.

I digress. To illustrate the point a bit more clearly.  Everyone can remember their best teacher or professor and I’m sure they were good because they shared anecdotes and stories that brought a topic to life. My law teacher was brilliant at describing in a humorous way cases that illustrated the law of tort. Moreover great leaders tend to be adept at using stories to engage and communicate, its one of their core skills.  So sharing lessons, bringing strategies to life, getting messages out across the organization, getting buy in to new ways of working and perhaps most importantly hearing what people actually think and care about are all improved by the use of a story in whatever form it is told. I’ll talk more about that later.

For me a big turning point was conducting an interview as part of an inquiry on behalf of the UK Tax & Revenue.  We were asked to find a way of augmenting quantative surveys to identify among other things how clients (taxpayers) perceived them and the help they gave.  While the interviews were but 20 minutes they were constructed in such a way as to encourage the interviews to tell the stories of their experiences in seeking help.

This particular interview which ended up being called ‘tippex and the kitchen table’ helped paint a graphic picture (through the words of the interviewee) of what it felt like to be filling in a tax form which you had to keep correcting through a lack of knowledge while running your own business and bringing up two children.

How is this relevant to KM?  By playing back the interview (with permission) to a wider audience it set the backdrop for potential changes in the way the department worked with clients.

Stories are prone to misinterpretation. Is there the danger of that causing problems in communication? If so, how can that be prevented?

Context is key. What I takeaway from a story might be different to you because of when and where I hear or read it and what my knowledge base is.  The same though applies to every form of communication. How many times do organizations seize up because of poor email practices and verbosity? This is a real issue across continents and languages and I can recall how the knowledge transfer in an R&D function stopped purely because of a different style of email communication.

The way to reduce the potential for misunderstanding is to give people the skills, the confidence and the equipment to identify, collect and share stories. And to ensure they are targeted at the right audiences in a manner that can be understood. Here is how we’d go about tackling the issue of whom to target and what to share with them. This applies equally to a KM programme as to a piece of engagement or communications.

1 |  Develop a strategic story that explains the direction in which their organization is heading, the prizes, the pitfalls and what’s expected of them. Bring it to life through words, images, etc that can be used to explain it to everyone with an interest in your organization. This provides a context for more specific communications and discussions.

2 |  ‘Support the strategic story with a series of smaller, individual ‘stories’ – accounts of people’s experiences in parts of the organization. These smaller stories can be used to bring the strategy to life, generate enthusiasm, spark ideas, resolve dilemmas, spread thinking and initiate conversations.

3 |  Create resources and assets to enable leaders and managers to put the story to work. Deliverables could include an engagement programme or roadmap, communication materials and experiences to bring the story to life, a story database, workshop designs and agendas, toolkits, training and ad hoc advice.