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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pattern language writeshops, gamification and the importance of passion: a chairman’s perspective of KMUK

“Very stimulating couple of days at – insights into gamification, perspectives on engagement & mulling over global individual concept”

This quote from one of the presenters was a great way to end what was a really enjoyable and rewarding couple of days at the 11th KMUK held a few weeks back.  Despite sharing chairing duties with David Gurteen I managed to capture much of the social media activity on Day One and publish a series of Storify accounts.  On Day Two I upped the informality and attempted to broaden the gamification debate with Andrzej Marzcewski.

A lot of ‘Operational KM’ activities emerged but I will focus on presentations from Alim Khan who outlined a very interesting technique in co-creating a report (writeshops), gamification session with Andrzej and an energetic performance from Patricia Eng on the US Nuclear industry’s knowledge capture and retention programme.

Knowledge Capture & Retention in the US Nuclear Industry – a story of passion!

So Ladies first, here’s a few of the comments Patricia made:Bp1_bVNIgAAwPu-

You have to make the exec management think you are serving them but you are serving the workforce

Don’t worry if you don’t have much money, what you need is PASSION, hang about the cafe. Replaces the old smokers room.

KM metrics? Ask the problem owner, help them develop the tools, go back and see if things are better

IMG_2171The slide that caught my eye though was this one. Apart from the fact that Patricia’s efforts save $37m she rightly focused on the pain points one of which was around departing knowledge. It was a theme that came back a number of times and Patricia’s work inspired a similar exercise at Lloyds Register.

Patricia believes people who leave have different motivations for sharing what they know before the leave even if their departure is involuntary.  I would group them into the following categories:

  • Legacy/Notoriety: I want what I’ve done in the organisation to be remembered and passed on;
  • Avarice: I want my cv to reflect what I’ve done and I see this process and the stories it generates helping me as a freelancer.

In fact this ‘What’s in it for me’ motivational issue is often overlooked by many KM’ers and is one of the core foundations of the work I am doing in Iran with Ron Young. And here’s where I disagree with many in the KM community who are convinced that if you get the culture right then knowledge sharing naturally occurs: There has to be something in it for people to be willing to share what they know.

A study in collaboration at the World Health Organisation

Dr Alim Khan is an incredibly well educated individual who thrives on complexity and with whom I had the good fortune of spending two weeks in Darfur as part of a mission to see how KM might be grounded in a humanitarian crisis. It was therefore not a surprise to see him presenting on the topic of how to accelerate completion of a project report and findings using a wiki based on Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language work.

The idea of a pattern language appears to apply to any complex engineering task, and has been applied to some of them. It has been especially influential in software engineering where patterns have been used to document collective knowledge in the field.

This was a great example of non routine content aggregation via the coordinating mechanism of a wiki -from workshop to writeshop. ‘Building a collaborative knowledge product at the WHO’ was a session that showcased new thinking.

It’s only a game!

The previous week Andrzej led a Knowledge Cafe session on Gamification in a KM Environment. Once again this was an entertaining talk focusing on the psychology behind the use of games and especially the variety of user types (stakeholders) an organisation needs to consider and their motivations (the ‘\what”s in it for me’ again) for participating.

IMG_2185Andrzej and I then led a working session where the delegates were asked this question:

what role (if any) do you see for gamification in KM?

The discussions were wide ranging: many were sceptical; some were Gamification Ideas KMUK 2014converts; others saw no role.  But when asked to note down their top  ideas this is what emerged:

I was particularly drawn to the idea of surfacing expertise (which is how CapGemini where Andrzej is the Intranet supremo uses the technique) and the idea of using Gamification to demystify KM.

My take: Gamification is a big leap to make for senior executives who have not grown up in an online interactive environment. As Andrzej points out each one of us who uses LinkedIn is engaged in Gamification; ditto those of us with loyalty point cards. Its about how the technique is introduced that matters and where it is targeted.

A word or two from Dave Snowden

A few quotes from Dave’s opening address which I thought were spot on:

Danger of Community of Practice – correlation doesn’t give rise to causation.

@snowded prefers to talk about ‘decision support’ rather than ‘knowledge management’ – it describes what it does

Understanding the history of the organisation is a key to understanding its culture.

The idea of creating a big database of lessons (identified) only works if those are then fed back into the workings of the organisation – then they can be described as ‘Lessons Learned’! Most aren’t which is why the idea of a pool of case studies is often also a waste of time.  Its rare for two cases in one organisation to be the same so why would you expect something that happens someone else to be a perfect fit for your own organisation.

And finally

Future of KM is facilitation, not management. Needs to be part of the how we natively work & relate.
The new world of the Knowledge Managers- moving from managing knowledge repositories to facilitating communities #kmuk

Exactly!

 

My chairman’s presentation looking at a decade of KMUK: the importance of managing for serendipity

It took me a while to think about what I was going to say to the first full house KMUK has enjoyed for many years as I detect a palpable sense of excitement among the organisers.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been at Social Business events in Lisbon and London and came away feeling that the phenomenal adoption of collaborative social technologies and the clever use of Big Data has the propensity to fuel the resurgence of Knowledge Management.

We live in a world now where: Philips have the ability to log when any light bulb is being switched on and where; testimonials and consumer recommendations (on sites such as Trip Advisor) are the most trusted form of advertising & marketing; the art of sales is about a long tail engagement (consumers publicly telling family and friends what they’ve done and bought); and in effect, performance improvements come from making the invisible visible. All of these characteristics are likely to be found in a knowledge driven organisation.

Its  reaffirmed in my mind: the importance of personal contact and facilitation; a  need to be clear about why this critical knowledge ‘stuff’ is being captured and harvested; the importance of the right environment (and culture); and the idea of focusing on Ambassadors / Champions especially in global organisations.

the address

Good morning and welcome to the 10th anniversary event of KMUK. I said in the event flyer that I thought there was a stellar speaker line up with MAKE winners and some of the most influential thought leaders in the Knowledge Management space.

Over the next two days you are also going to have the opportunity of spending time with your peers as well as engaging directly with the speakers in the breaks and at the speaker clinics. And for the first time at KMUK the opening Keynote will have two carefully selected respondents.

It promises to be an interesting and stimulating two days: a number of the speakers will be using KMUK as the launch event for ideas, techniques and groundbreaking partnerships.

There is a twitter hash tag KMUK and Ark will be consolidating all of the tweets into a Storify record of the event.

Back to 2003

It being the 10th anniversary, I want to take you back a decade to the last KM Europe held in the UK at Alexandra Palace in 2003. Many people wrote blog posts about the keynote speech. I’ve selected a few quotes:

  • …much of our current knowledge management practice is being locked into content management,
  • …we are all engaged in a constant process of sense-making, where we try to find the best available explanation for something based on previous experience rather than the perfect logical solution. This is why he favours “narrative management” and story-telling as more appropriate vehicles for knowledge sharing than replicating best practice
  • Conventional Knowledge Management has been too concerned with codifying explicit knowledge to aid replication, and with using categorisation (where we construct data around a framework), rather than exploration (where we construct frameworks around the data).
  • innovation springs from emergence in complex systems, which means that we should be “managing for serendipity” by creating the conditions for creative innovation to emerge.

Again it’s worth returning to what was said back in 2003

  • Too many people focus on managing knowledge rather than managing the channels through which knowledge flows. Just connecting or linking people can be a major knowledge management activity.
  •  … new tools now allow us to telescope five to six years of social networking down to five or six weeks, albeit with less  density. Such programmes aim to create linkages where no linkage currently exists and are particularly useful during re-organisations and activities such as merger and acquisition.
  • Attempts to engineer a network through design and allocation of staff to groups generally fail as they create artificial relationships that are not  sustainable. Self selecting social network stimulation replicates, but in a shorted timescale, a natural process.

At that event horizontal km software vendors were much in evidence as they had been at all of the previous ones.

  • Intranets were into their 2nd wave, people were struggling with enterprise search, decentralized publishing and SharePoint, some 2 years on from its launch, was competing with other document management systems and had yet to achieve the ubiquitous enterprise status it has today wherein in many in senior management say ‘we do km, we have SharePoint!
  • Android Inc was being founded and would become the largest mobile operating system inside a decade mirroring the dramatic growth of mobile smart phones.
  • WordPress too was launched bringing self-publishing to the masses. It has recently been the beneficiary of an exodus from Tumblr following its acquisition by Yahoo – more of them and Marissa Meyer later.
  • IBM were undertaking a 72 hours ValuesJam, for all employees in a debate about the very nature of the company and what it stood for.
  • The 2nd Gurteeen Knowledge Management conference was taking place – its themes: ‘knowledge, networking and communities’. And it was all about conversation. One delegate’s key soundbite: “Knowledge is not something you keep in your head, it’s a behaviour”’
  • In 2003 the book Knowledge Asset Management was published. It recognized critical knowledge as an asset to be nurtured.
  • Also that year my colleagues and I at Sparknow were using the traditional techniques of a postcard as a prompt to ask delegates at KM Europe about their work spaces and what the new virtual world would do to the traditional office and ways of working. We collected but never published a number of very insightful comments.

when space matters – looking at workspace

So since in my view worPostcard front coverkspace (physical and virtual) plays a critical role in all things Knowledge Management we decided to repeat the exercise a decade on and asked the speakers if they’d take first stab at answering the same half a dozen questions.

 

Postcard page oneI’ve collated their responses and contrasted them with some of those we had in 2002/3.  The report is available on line along with the conference proceedings. It would be great if you could add to the body of work by filling in your own and putting them up on the wall.

KMUK 2013

Social vs. Knowledge Management

You are going to hear a lot about community, collaboration, culture and change. Also context, champions, conversation and communication. Your challenge over the next two days is to work out when and how to harness the array of social tools and use them in context/ tandem with other initiatives. Here’s a really interesting and recent extract from a Gartner blog post:

  • Knowledge management is what the company tells me I need to know based on what they think is important.
  • Social media is how my peers show me what they think is important based on their experience in a way that I can judge for myself

Knowledge should be like water — free flowing and permeating down and across your organization filling the cracks, floating good ideas to the top, lifting everyone in the organization.

Knowledge management, in practice, reflects a hierarchical view of knowledge to match the hierarchical view of the organization.  Knowledge may originate anywhere in the organization, but under knowledge management it is channeled and gathered together in a knowledge base (cistern) where it is distributed based on a predefined set of channels, processes and protocols.

Social media looks chaotic in comparison. There is no predefined index, no prequalified knowledge creators, no knowledge managers, ostensibly little to no structure.

Where an organization has a roof, gutters and cistern to capture knowledge, a social media organization has no roof allowing the rain to fall directly into the house collecting in puddles wherever they happen to form.  That can be quite messy and organizations abhor a mess.

Last week I was an invited guest at the Dachis Group’s Social Business Summit.  A month previously I’d been helping to run a similar event in Lisbon at which social vendors presented their wares to a fictitious company.

Both events threw up so many crossover points with Knowledge Management and I shared a number of the tweets on the #KMUK twitter site. Here are a few sound bites to reflect on as you are thinking about it

  • Social interaction accounts for 50% of the performance of the team We are now consuming more content generated by each other than generated by media companies
  • Brands are a natural community of people identifying with each other, with a shared set of belief /Advocates are the ‘tribe’ who need motivation/incentives. – Employees are the most important and need empowering to do so
  • social helps to drive savings where knowledge management comes in’

The two that stood out for me and reappear as a theme this afternoon

  • A dead sale is one that’s not shared.  People must be incentivized to share.
  • Who can add value to the data?  Data will tend to migrate to where it will be most effective.

Paul J Corney

For KMUK June 2013