Anniversaries, reflections and the importance of why: in Bruxelles, Eastbourne & Khartoum!

Reflections, space and sabbaticals beside the sea in Eastbourne

I do some of my best thinking on my daily ‘walk to work’. It’s a ritual I’ve followed from my early days as a commuter and I’ve found that, no matter what I am working on (or where), this reflection time is vital. I’m fortunate; I live close to the sea (in Eastbourne & LIsbon) and today as the tide was going out the scent of moss on rocks and seaweed filled the air.

As seen on my  Feburary 13th ‘Walk to work’

It was a special moment and for some reason triggered a recollection of the scent of Bakhoor (wood chips soaked in fragrance oils) I was to discover on my first business trip to Jeddah 40 years ago. Then, as Business Class did not exist, I travelled in First on a Lockheed Tristar 1011 that landed at the old Jeddah airport close to the centre of the city. It was August and blisteringly hot just before the Hajj so the airport was full of people all in white arriving for their once in a lifetime pilgramage to Mecca.

I digress. As if by divine intervention who should appear as the sun made an appearance through the clouds but the Rev Giles Carpenter, Vicar of St John’s Eastbourne who was out for his morning constitutional with his dogs. Giles, a family friend, has a quiet yet persuasive manner. He has built a vibrant church community based on actions not words. His is a 24×7 role and interestingly his employer recognises the importance of a time out / reflection period. Giles is off on a sabbatical having just completed the 5 year mission of the church which has been a collaborative not top down process similar in style to many KM programmes.

Inside the EU in Bruxelles

Fast forward 40 years and I’m in Bruxelles with Chris Collison working with the Knowledge Management Community in the European Union. We are here, at the invitation of Marie-Veronique Lecomte, to run a Masterclass, on the ISO 30401 KM Standards as viewed through the lens of the KM Cookbook, then host a clinic on KM issues they are facing.  It’s been many years since I was here on Communities of Practice with Richard McDermott and though I’ve been to the city a a few times since its my first excursion via Eurostar from Ebbsfleet Int.

The event is extremely well attended (50+) and begins well with many favourable and welcome comments on the KM Cookbook. Throughout the day the group are enthusiastic and energetic. The stories we share from the book are particularly well received and relevant. Unsurprisingly, when we get to the KM Canvas and they start to work on some of the questions, what emerges is a community at different stages of evolution facing the familar challenge wherein KM strives to have a commonly understood identity and purpose.

Having followed the technology route using Yammer and Teams as a way of encouraging collaboration WHY KM I find myself asking? What problem is KM the solutiion for and how (if at all) does it map back to the strategic direction of the European Commission?

Like the International Olympic Committee (IoC), the European Commission faces a significant challenge to transfer and make use of knowledge: from consultants who come and go; from new and departing staff; and from relocating staff.  How does it build on what it knows especially in Directorates such as Joint Research Centre (JRC)?

So if that’s a ‘Why’ then, taking a deeper dive into the How, locating expertise across such a diverse organisation is a huge issue. I think back to a Masterclass Martin White and I held on Expertise Discovery 2 years ago. Ahead of that we ran a survey to see how prepared organisations are to tackle the challenge of locating and utilising expertise. Here’s an extract that illustrates a few of the areas that JRC might need to address if it goes down the technology route:

In reality probably 10% of employees leave each year and are replaced by a similar number of new employees. Your organisation will have taken a lot of care in selecting these new employees on the basis of the expertise and experience they will bring with them.

One of the surprising outcomes of the survey is that little attention seems to be paid to bringing this expertise to the attention of people who might need it or who relied on the employee who has now left. The newcomer will (hopefully) be asked to create a profile but remember that the expertise system has been tracking documents have been written and other contributions that have been made by the person they have replaced for perhaps several years. How long do you think it will be until  the system presents the expertise of the new employee as at least equivalent to their predecessor? A month, six months, a year? Until this point in time the investment in the employee in terms of their expertise will be minimal other than to their immediate colleagues.

The expert who has left will leave a trail of knowledge behind but they will not appear on the list of employees or on the email directory. Even in small organisations it can take time for the disappearance of the expert to be common knowledge. Will people searching for expertise and find a name as a result of a document the expert wrote, a network they were part of, or a corporate presentation they gave, be directed to their replacement? This of course assumes that there is someone taking over a role and having the same expertise. Or will the search turn up the expertise equivalent of a 404 error? Managing this situation is not easy and in our experience there is often a difference of opinion as to whether it is the responsibility of HR, their business manager or IT as owners of the application.

Some of the EU’s ‘KM Chef’s’ with their certificates and hats

We all left with much to ponder on and a resurgent community keen to begin.

Knowledge Matchmaking in Khartoum

Concurrently I was ‘in’ Khartoum for the Sudanese Knowledge Society Symposium on Citizen Science. One of a series of events it was aimed at mobilising local knowledge on topics important for the development of a country undergoing significant political change.

I’d agreed with the organising committee that I would donate a KM Cookbook to the ‘project’ they deemed most worthy and I was delighted to see the list of contenders.

Unable to be there in person I did nevertheless record a piece to camera which I’m told was well received and I was delighted to learn that ‘Public Transportation’ was chosen.  I am hoping that the Transport for London Menu chapter of the book proves of use to them.

I owe thanks to Ana Neves and Ron Donaldson for their willingness to share their experience on mobilising citizen knowledge with Dr Gada Kadoda and the team in Sudan.

And finally

As President Elect I attend, but do not vote at, CILIP Board meetings and I attended my first in January. As a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter it is well placed to become a natural home for the Knowledge (and Information) Management Community. Over the coming months it will be unveiling an exciting programme of events and witnessing the first graduates of the KM Chartership Cohort.  This has gained a lot of support and generated much global interest: the latest enrollment was full in a day.

I remain on the Project Board overseeing the Chartership and Fellowship project and will be talking more on this in March at the KM Summit in London.

 

 

why networks (and meditation) matter in a virtual world

It’s been an effort getting back into the swing of things after a lovely Christmas spent in Cascais!  Maintaining a portfolio of activities as I have since 1999 requires a considerable amount of self motivation and a supportive network. So it was nice when ‘on cue’ a couple of my oldest friends / former colleagues (Martin, James and Victoria) got in touch to arrange catch up sessions and Tony Melendez of Saudi Aramco posted a picture (see below) of the 50 copies of The KM Cookbook his KM Team ordered for the management of the world’s largest oil company.

Importance of reflecting

Over the past few months I’ve been full on helping my fellow partners at Bees Homes LLP run our annual ‘Pride of Eastbourne’ campaign. It culminated in the donation of 5 hampers to deserving people/causes prior to Christmas. Apart from managing the logistics of the campaign and mobilising mayoral resource, there is also the media and a “pause & reflect” to run so that, following good KM practice, lessons are transferred back into process for the next campaign. Taking the time out to reflect on any campaign, event or project is essential irrespective of size and number of stakeholders.  Our session which included debriefing with the Chamber of Commerce yielded a number of learning’s that would not have surfaced if we’d have not met face to face. It enabled us to also reflect on why the campaign was a success. These were deemed critical success factors:

  • Clarity of roles / absence of hierarchy;
  • Clarity over timings / regular updates;
  • Willingness of everyone to pitch in; and
  • Clarity over budget.

And this is what the local paper (The Eastbourne Herald) printed:

 

President Elect (CILIP)

Some of you will be aware that on January 1st I was appointed President Elect of CILIP having been nominated by my good friend (former Chair and fellow BSI KM Standards Committee member) Karen Macfarlane. It took a few months to come to closure as for the first time I will be in a figurehead role devoid of executive authority.  Here’s why I said yes:

“In 2017 in ‘Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion’ I noted inter alia that to achieve corporate legitimacy, KM professionals would benefit from the introduction of a set of universal standards plus recognised practitioner led accreditation. I was pleased to have been a member of the BSI Committee that contributed to the development and publication of the ISO KM Standards 30401 and the CILIP project board overseeing the development of the Knowledge Management Chartership accreditation.  

I am delighted to be appointed as President Elect CILIP as it allows me to remain close to and promote the ongoing development of a global practitioner led KM Chartership and Fellowship while expanding CILIP’s global reach.”

Knowledge Matchmaking

My wife Ana was at a charity event recently where she bid for and won a morning’s session with someone ‘Calmer Self‘ who helps:

…busy, successful people who are struggling to find moments of calm in their day to day lives…

Ana gifted it to me so two weeks ago I spent a ‘morning on the couch’ much of it in a state of meditation. I found it insightful and thought provoking. Among a number of observations handed to me were:

…when you offer advice and help to others it’s ok to truly let it go and to know that it is ok for them to do what they want with what you have given them… that it is perfectly acceptable to protect yourself from people that take too much from you energetically.

This resonated in respect of my previous writings on Knowledge Matchmaking. Perhaps this is the missing #10 on my list?

KM Cookbook

Nick Poole CEO, CILIP  (who own the publisher Facet) told me a few weeks before Christmas that the book is now well on the way to being their best seller (in 4 months) which is great news. And that was before this bulk order from Saudi Aramco.

What’s been particularly pleasing are the reviews, the highly respected Portuguese KM’er Ana Neves said:

“The authors’ combined experience permeates every page: it is in the book’s concept and structure, in the useful artefacts they developed (like the KM Chef’s Canvas, for instance), and in the way they expertly led and made sense of the interviews to then compose the 16 core chapters of the book – the KM approaches taken by different organisations.”

My coauthors and I have been delighted too at the wilingness of people to send photos of their copy in some amazing venues to contribute to the ‘Chelfies’ Gallery.  How many of the faces do you recognise?

Forthcoming Q1 ‘Gigs’

My aim over the coming year is to build on the success of the KM Cookbook and specifically draw on the KM Canvas to help organisations review existing programmes, build a new one or prepare for a future KM Audit against ISO 30401.

Chris Collison and I are booked for an event at the EU soon and I will be helping the good folks at NetIKX at the end of January to consider: Virtual working and learning: is it working for you?

In March I will be running sessions at the annual KM Summit, a K&IM Professional Development Day and AGM (a CILIP event) plus addressing a group of award winning entrepreneurs in Brighton on the importance of Knowledge Management to SME’s.

And finally

2020 is here. I’d already mentally devoted the bulk of it to helping Bees Homes and Coastway Financial expand and take a step back from KM Consulting other than associated with KM Cookbook. A recent email from an organisation to me (among others) with a Request for a Proposal (RFP) convinced me of the veracity of the decision. Dated 19th December the email asked for a written response to be on the desk of the Procurement Team by mail on Sunday 22nd December.  And it gave 17th December as the last date for submission of questions of clarification. Having spoken to like minded people I trust I immediately contacted Procurement to ask if they’d had no luck with an earlier mailing to prospective consultants or whether this was a mistake.  I received no formal acknowledgement but I and others got an email within 4 hours saying:

“… received various requests for the extension from our potential bodies and the Consultant Selection Panel members for this assignment came to the consensus to provide the extension for the submission date…”

How can Knowledge Management possibly thrive in an environment where the conduct of an audit of work done is a ‘tick box’ exercise aimed at justifying spend?  Life’s too short!!!!

 

Combating the forces of fakism / Saucy dinner with Chefs Academy winner: Just 2 of the highlights from KM Summit 18

Last week was fun. It started with a Masterclass, jointly presented with Eric Hunter, and continued at the first combined KMUK / KM Legal event now styled the KM Summit expertly compiled by Nick Stone which I had the pleasure of closing.

I took away

  • A sense that KM’ers are becoming increasingly agile: despite the onrush of technological disintermediation there is still a role (especially around the 4 ‘ates – Facilitate, Collaborate, Communicate and Curate).
  • The need for KM’ers to take more ownership of such as Expertise Discovery and technological solutions. Failure to be in the centre will ensure you forever remain on the periphery.
  • The importance of Humanics: a technological literacy; a data literacy; and a human literacy; if you want to prosper in an AI environment. (See detailed comments below)
  • That ISO KM Standards are now in the final stages before publication end Q3 2018.

Preserving our history

“Never been more important to have reliable evidence we can trust. We are in an arms race with the forces of fakism” said John Sheridan, Digital Director of the National Archives, who gave the penultimate presentation at this year’s KM Summit. His topic:”Using blockchain to create trust in digital records” described their Project Archangel:

A two year project researching the long term sustainability of digital archives through new transformational DLT solutions that will ensure both accessibility and integrity of digital archives whilst maximizing their impact through novel models for commodification and open access.

As John noted, The National Archives, as custodian of a country’s past, need to have reliable digital records. Today it has never been easier to produce fake news or videos. Our past needs preserving in a secure environment so that history cannot be rewritten and laws ignored. This slide sums it up well.

So how might you well ask does that impact the Knowledge & Information Management profession?  Greatly I would suggest.  Organisations are not immune to fakism either and need trusted sources of content if they are to make effective decisions. I’ve banged on before about Curation (one of the 8 ‘ates – competencies – I suggest all good KM’ers need to have in their armoury) and this presentation underscored it’s importance. I shall be watching the outcomes with interest as the value of Blockchain (distributed ledger technology) apart from cryptocurrency is record keeping with significant potential as a receptical for Knowledge Assets.

I enjoyed

I missed

  • Much of the discussion around AI that took place in KM Legal where much of the automation of roles is taking place. The KM UK stream was noticeably quiet on the topic apart from a discussion around the replacement of call centres by chat bots. I did like one of Andrew Trickett’s tweets:
    • Is KMs role with AI to be like a Tamagotchi or in a few years time will it be completely different?
  • Any discussion about AI technology’s ability to mine and integrate with legacy systems. This, on the impact of AI and the discipline of Humanics, from AI expert, and the President of Northeastern University, Joseph Aoun, was in my mind having heard his presentation at Chatham House:
    • People are going to lose professions at all levels, not just blue collar or white collar. The AI revolution is colour-blind. Every profession that can be turned into a process will be turned into a process.

      Humanics is essentially the integration of three literacies: a technological literacy, a data literacy and a human literacy, and what I’m saying is that every learner should be – master the three literacies and integrate them. The technological literacy is the literacy that will allow the learner to understand computing, computers and how they operate. The data literacy is to understand how to navigate the sea of information that is generated by these artificial systems. And the human literacy is the literacy that is unique to human beings, that so far, artificial systems cannot emulate. And you know them, we practice them, it’s the ability to be innovative, to be entrepreneurial, the ability to be culturally agile, to work with people, to understand their body language when you work with them. To understand the global setting, to see opportunities to help people and to impact people. What I’m saying is that every learner should master the three literacies. That should be the base of knowledge.

I was surprised

  • EY have a giant ‘bucket’ (The Discover) platform for shareable content. It’s integrated with people profiles. But it was not clear to me whether or not Discover sits outside of the enterprise search platform.
  • That few people talked about how Social Enterprise Tools such as Workplace by Facebook are becoming “KM” in their organisations.
  • That KM’ers can still function in pockets of excellence in large organisations oblivious to others doing similar roles oftern called something different. It happened twice during the event (names witheld to avoid embarrassment).
  • That so few had considered the importance of ‘owning’ Expertise Discovery (see Martin White’s slide below)

From an Intranet Focus / Knowledge et al survey

I was pleased to see

A couple of really good opening keynotes from Kim Glover and Nicky Leijtens. These slides stood out as they descirbe in different ways how technology needs to enable good KM practices:

Technology in a KM World Kim Glover

“Why knowledge sharing initiatives fail” Nicky Leijtens

It was also interesting to see how KM is developing in the Middle East. Energy has always been a fertile hunting ground for Knowledge Managers with much emphasis on learning from doing. Hank Malik showed how PDO in Oman has taken Learning Before, During & After onto another level.

And I like that Ipsos (Market Research) have built a Knowledge Centre for the firm headed by CKO Simon Atkinson and remain focused on being great publishers.

Ipsos’ publishing model

Favourite quotes

  • “We have to be digitally savvy” – be there front and centre, embrace automation to do the analysis – be agile! Be in different places all at once. Focus on those that activities that cannot be automated. Sue Mucenieks at EY
  • Liz Hobbs of TfL Quoting McKinsey – 40% productivity surge if we learn and apply lessons from projects! “What creates a good lesson?” It can impact our future operations. What can we do to make the next project better and improve our StageGate process?
  • ISO KM Standard will not tell you how to do KM. It provides a framework that hopefully will help organisations get a good start, that doesn’t take months to implement. No mandatory requirement, no need to certify, primarily for internal use until the time comes when you can be audited by external assesors. Nick Milton
  • “Personalization lifts the burden… creates the feeling of being special and cared for…ensures loyalty”. Nicky Leitjens
  • “Challenge is for technology to help by improving the analytics so we can personalise curated knowledge”. Andrew Trickett
  • The KM team needs to be the enablers, facilitating and training others to deliver value from lessons learned and continuous improvements. Hank Malik
  • Role of KM is connecting. Help Desk run by Center of Excellence allows Global 24×7 support. Kim Glover

‘The Chartered Knowledge Manager’

Nick Poole CEO of CILIP made an appearance this year at my suggestion. If you’ve read “Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion” then you might recall that in Chapter 7 What surprised us, Surprise #8 was: Few KMers have formal KM qualifications. Having taught on various MBA’s / MSc’s in Knowledge Management that come and go I’ve long argued the case for an independent globally recognised accreditation from an industry body. Marketeers have CMI, HR professionals, CIPD but KM’ers? CILIP being established by Royal Charter is well placed to plug that gap.

Is there a need? I’d argue most definitely since 2/3rds of those in the room for his presentation expressed an interest in being part of the initial trial. Having run Masterclasses in Africa, Asia, Europe & The Middle East in the past decade I know how many of the attendees require certificates of attendance and completion. Such certificates might be prized but they carry limited weight with Human Resources / Personnel or an organisation’s senior executive cadre.

The imminent arrival of the ISO KM Standards (albeit that adherence is voluntary) provides a framework against which KM Programs can be viewed. An independently assessed external accreditation is another key component of the KM practitioner’s path to corporate legitimacy.

My KM Summit Wordle

I thought it might be interesting to run the top tweets from #KMSummit18 through a wordle to see what stood out. Interestingly it did not surface any of the 4 words that arose from my conversations:

  • Agile
  • Digital
  • Informed
  • Opportunistic

And finally

“Looking back to look forward”

The closing plenary session “KM competencies: A day in the life of a knowledge manager in 2020 which I ran was lively with lots of great ‘takeaways’.

The value of the exercise is giving people the chance to reflect individually, in groups and then with other groups.

It’s amazing how we all see and hear different things and this exercise gives people a chance to share and absorb.

To conclude I want to draw on Ipsos again. Simon noted it had taken them 3 years to achieve what they have. His tips are worth airing:

Ipsos’ Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and finally

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

Here’s a few details:

Expertise Discovery 2018 – optimizing access to corporate knowledge

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

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

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

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

More on the other events in my next posting.