When IT is Dangerous to Your Health

If you have worked in an organization, you have undoubtedly dealt with its information technology or information services department. On good days, they provide the technology platform that allows employees to work efficiently. On bad days, when the system is slow, your computer is acting up or the software you must use is not intuitive, the IT department seems unconcerned with the practical realities of employee life. That’s when employees talk about about their Information “Dis-Services” department.

Inevitably, these disruptions of service lead to employee stress. And we know that too much stress can be bad for us.

But there’s another type of stress that may be even worse: the stress physicians experience when dealing with uncooperative IT. Why worse? Because stressed out doctors cannot provide the quality healthcare we need.

How bad is this problem? A recently published longitudinal study of doctors in Finland revealed that they suffer from considerable stress related to their information systems. The reasons for the stress are predictable (and likely are similar to your workplace):

  • the information systems are slow and unreliable
  • they do not adequately support the physician’s daily work or the reality of multi-professional teams
  • usability problems
  • system failures
  • poor documentation
  • difficulty in retrieving data
  • time-consuming data entry
  • interoperability challenges

One might expect stress to decline over time as doctors became more proficient with their systems. But that is not the case in this study. A possible reason for this is that the information systems are constantly changing as part of an improvement effort. Unfortunately, the user experience during the transition can be challenging. Another possible reason for growing stress is that, in fact, the information systems are still too complicated and confusing.

Lest you think this is a problem only in Finland, a 2017 article mentions recent studies in the United States and Switzerland that indicate that electronic medical records are driving higher levels of stress and burnout among doctors. This is due, in part, to the growing burden these information systems place on doctors:

  • physicians spent 27% of their work day on patient care and 49.2% on electronic medical records and clerical work
  • physicians spent approximately two hours on clerical work for every one hour of direct patient care

When our doctors are increasingly focused on clerical tasks rather than patient care, then we know the system is broken. When that broken system ratchets up stress levels and burnout among medical personnel, then we have a situation that is dangerous to patients.

Strikingly, the advice in both the Finnish and US articles is the same: involve doctors more closely in the development and deployment of their information systems so they can help improve usability and stability. In addition, the US article recommends that doctors have a say in determining if the workflow dictated by these information systems makes sense. They should look for ways to streamline processes and push clerical work to people who do not have medical licenses. Finally, consider appointing dedicated scribes to relieve the clerical burden and computer liaisons who work directly with doctors to help them learn and practice smarter ways of working with their IT.

If you think you are off the hook because you don’t work in healthcare, think again. How many of these IT-related stressors exist in your organization? And what is your Information SERVICES department doing about them?

References:

[Photo Credit: Pixabay]

 

 

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Are You Choosing Change?

It can feel at times that others are foisting change on us uninvited. However, in our finger pointing, we do not always admit that there are times when we should actively be choosing change; we do not see that sometimes our actions get in the way of helpful change.

One of the great benefits of life as a consultant is that I have the privilege of working with a variety of clients across a range of industries. As a result, I am able to compare experiences and learning from each industry to see how unique or generally applicable they are. The more I do this work, the more I realize that humans in every industry behave in similar ways.

This realization was brought home to me again earlier this month while working with groups of senior executives from completely different industries. Both groups found themselves in very difficult situations at work. And, while new management kept saying that things would be different under their guidance, the executives found it hard to believe.

To be honest, they had reason to be skeptical. These executives had grown up in their organizations and seen several management teams come and go. The executives felt they were the only guardians of institutional memory and could cite chapter and verse regarding what had been tried before and what had failed. For them, there was nothing new under the sun.

For the new management team, this was incredibly frustrating. They believed they had promising plans for their organization but faced a brick wall of recalcitrance whenever they broached the possibility of change.

My question to the executives was simple: What will you do differently this time to ensure success? This began an interesting conversation about learned behaviors and reflexive actions that, in the aggregate, made it remarkably difficult to bring about change. It was almost as if through these learned behaviors and reflexive actions the executives were trying to preserve the status quo — no matter how dysfunctional.

For example, when management proposed an idea, the executives might say, “We tried that before. It failed.” That’s just another way of saying “No change now, thank you.” Or, the executives might say, “That won’t work because the system is too complex.” That’s just another way of saying “Unless you can change everything to my liking, I won’t help you change anything.”

As you can see, these responses helped the executives feel as if they were being honest and responsible while they were mainly digging in their heels.

So what’s the better approach?

  1. Ask yourself: is there some good in this proposal that would benefit our mission?
  2. Ask yourself: is my learned behavior or reflexive action likely to help or hinder this change proposal?
  3. Ask yourself: is there something I could do differently to improve the likelihood of success?
  4. Do that better thing.
  5. Share your thinking with your trusted colleagues.
  6. Rinse. Repeat.

When you face change, pause for a moment to consider as objectively as possible if there is some good in that proposal. Then decide what you will do differently to enable success for that proposed change. In this way, you will be choosing positive change over blind opposition in defense of a dysfunctional status quo.

[Photo Credit: Geralt]

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Create a Knowledge Marketplace

When our family travels, we often visit local marketplaces. It’s a great way to get a sense of what matters in that area. You can see what is (or is not) for sale. You can observe who is talking to whom. You can get a sense of what they are interested in. This experience inevitably provides insight beyond what most guidebooks can offer. In light of this, it is no surprise that in ancient Athens the center of civic life was the agora — the marketplace or public square.

While researching some knowledge management techniques, I came across an article by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind entitled “Leadership Is A Conversation,” which included the concept of sharing organizational knowledge by creating a knowledge marketplace. They give the example of Kingfisher plc, a leading home improvement retailer that used the power of “intentional organizational conversation” to turn their many and varied business units into one unified team. As part of this effort, they convened their retail executives in a gathering structured like a marketplace.

In this marketplace, the participants were divided into three separate groups:

  1. Sellers: the sellers wore aprons and stood in individual stalls, ready to provide information on successful business practices developed in their part of the organization. They were “purveyors of ideas.”
  2. Facilitators: members of Kingfisher’s executive committee circulated throughout the market, providing encouragement to the sellers and buyers.
  3. Buyers: most of the participants were buyers. Their assignment was to visit the various stalls in search of useful knowledge to “purchase” for use in their own business units.

The buyers were given special checkbooks with which they could write up to five checks to purchase ideas in the marketplace. While these checks had no street value, they did send the strong message that the buyer thought the seller’s idea was valuable.

In recounting this story about Kingfisher plc, Groysberg and Slind provide the following summary:

The essence of the marketplace was the peer-to-peer sharing of best practices in an informal, messy, and noisy environment. But the idea was also to treat conversation as a means to an end—to use it to achieve strategic alignment across a diverse group of participants.

While Kingfisher may have been using these marketplace conversations to achieve strategic alignment across the company, it was also using it in a classic knowledge management way to share recommended practices across the company. We know that conversation is one of the most effective ways by which to share knowledge. And face-to-face conversation beats most online interactions hands down.

There may be some organizations that believe that their intranets function like a marketplace of ideas. But I’d challenge them to prove that their intranet is as vibrant and dynamic a place for sharing information as the “informal, messy, and noisy environment” of the Kingfisher plc knowledge marketplace.

Consider hosting a knowledge marketplace event in your organization. The ability of these marketplace conversations to spread knowledge rapidly throughout your organization will impress you.

 

[Photo Credit: Fotoworkshop4You]

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From KM Treadmills to KM Windmills and Beyond

A treadmill in a gym can do you a world of good. A KM treadmill, however, can put you in a world of hurt.

What’s a KM treadmill? That’s a question Chris Boyd (Senior Director of Professional Services at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) and I addressed earlier this week during ILTA’s remarkable hybrid webinar session that linked simultaneous live meetings of ILTA members in eight cities: Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto. In our presentation (which reprised our highly interactive session at ILTACON 2017), we identified the following characteristics of a KM treadmill:

  • it takes dedicated attention and effort to run the program
  • it stops when your attention and effort stop
  • it often involves a great deal of manual labor
  • it usually requires nagging
  • your KM team dreads it

Does this sound familiar? When researching KM treadmills in preparation for our session, we discovered that far too many “traditional” law firm KM projects were, in fact, pure treadmills. Is it any wonder many law firm KM professionals are frustrated?

So what works better? We have a few suggestions:

KM Windmills

KM Windmills are not dependent solely on the efforts of your KM team. Rather, they find and use existing “energy sources” within the firm that others create and maintain. What types of energy sources do they leverage?

  • existing processes (e.g., new business intake process, pitch preparation process, etc.)
  • existing roles (e.g., having secretaries maintain practice group content)
  • existing technology (e.g., using experience-tracking database to augment precedent and expertise location, enterprise search that leverages existing knowledge stores, etc.)

Because they rely on energy sources that are prized and supported by other parts of the business, these KM programs can share the burden of maintenance and support with those other parts of the business. Of course, the more valuable that energy source is to the business, the less likely it is that your overworked KM team will have to shoulder the laboring oar.

KM Infinite Energy Machines

Moving from a portfolio of KM projects that are primarily treadmills to one comprised mainly of windmills makes a great deal of sense. It allows your KM team to do more with less by collaborating with other successful teams and projects within the firm. If you have managed to achieve this, pat yourself on the back.

Nonetheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t hold out the possibility of something even better: the KM infinite energy generator.  Extrapolating from the Buttered Cat paradox, a KM infinite energy generator is a KM system or project that produces such useful results that its main beneficiaries (outside the KM team) feel compelled to use it more and contribute even more to its continued success. And, the bigger it grows and the more it is used, the better it gets. Twenty years ago, this would have sounded like pure science fiction. However, we are seeing with machine learning the reality of computerized systems that learn from their own processes and then improve those processes.

Sustainable KM

If you are prepared to think differently about your knowledge management efforts, consider developing a sustainable KM program. Just like we have sustainability management in other sectors to reduce damage to the environment, a KM sustainability program aims to optimize KM efforts so that they achieve the highest benefits with the lowest collateral damage possible. For those interested in learning more about this healthier approach to KM, see my earlier article, Sustainable KM (in Thomson Reuters’ Practice Innovations, July 2016).

But wait, there’s more

During both this week’s hybrid webinar and last summer’s ILTACON session, the best part was the table discussions during which attendees shared their treadmill frustrations and their remarkable windmill successes. We learned of some innovative ways law firm KM teams have found to harness the winds of their firms in order to make their KM programs more efficient. This was a reminder that the oldest and most effective way to share knowledge is through conversation. We’re delighted that these sessions provided the impetus for some really helpful knowledge exchange.

[Photo Credit: Rhododendrites]

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The Case for Collaboration between Clients and Law Firm KM

In this session, clients speak to the senior law firm knowledge management professionals in the room about KM in client law departments and possible avenues for collaboration with law firms.

[This session is part of a private international gathering of senior BigLaw KM professionals. Because of the private nature of the meeting, these notes are not attributed to any particular speaker. I’m publishing these notes as quickly as possible so please excuse any typographical or other errors.]

Windows into the  Legal Ops World

  • Matter Management
    • for some in-house colleagues, matter management can involve a matter space, for others, it’s all about ebilling.
    • In-house counsel may not have a taxonomy to help organize the matter-related content. (The director of Legal Ops at your client may be glad to have a law firm help with taxonomy or metadata management.)
    • If we could standardize metadata across the entire ecosystem, and push that metadata into the ebilling systems and matter management systems, that would simplify thing enormously for in-house counsel. However, several attendees thought that a universal taxonomy to rule them all was highly unlikely (at least without significant concerted client pressure).
    • Many clients are unaware of the KM assistance that law firms are able AND willing to provide to their clients. One panelist suggested that the firms in the room create a master list of their offerings and then make that list available to the ACC and CLOC.
    • Law firms should not assume that a client’s legal ops director has complete authority to do whatever needs to be done. For some clients, their scope is restricted to ebilling and technology.
    • Law firms would be wise to get ahead of the curve. ACC and CLOC are driving change that you will see very shortly. For example, expect some significant tightening of outside counsel guidelines soon.
    • Having a shared platform between all clients and their law firms would make knowledge sharing much easier. But who would firms and clients trust sufficiently to provide the technology, with requisite security?
    • 10 years ago, the Banking Legal Technology group in London created a shared portal between law firms and clients on HighQ. There were some spikes in usage, but it never rarely gained widespread traction. There is a small handful of banks that use it, but not enough banks do use it on a sustained basis.
    • One of the problems with earlier attempts at this was that the clients wanted access to material in law firm document management systems. However, law firms were prepared to release only their typical type of “client publication” materials on this platform that was visible to other law firms.
    • One participant suggested that a “distributed ledger” approach with shared tokens of trust could be used to create a virtual shared platform.
    • From the in-house perspective, they want outside counsel to offer a service to retrieve the necessary information, not a product.
    • Panelist: The issue is not technology. The issue is that law firms do not really want to share their material PLUS there is no business model to support this sharing.
  • Forms  & Templates
    • the pace of improving/revising legal forms & templates is not fast enough to reflect the speed at which business terms and approaches change.
    • In-house counsel would welcome help from outside counsel on improving the legal terms in client forms and templates.
    • External counsel need to understand better the internal processes at the client regarding how the client updates its own forms and templates
  • Agile Project Management & Change Management
    • One panelist now approaches change in an agile rather than a waterfall way. They focus on producing a minimally viable product rather than the fully developed soup-to-nuts solution.
    • The challenge of change management in-house is that the pace is really fast. Things change radically by quarter and by month. Therefore, outside counsel who want to support their clients must first understand the methodology the client uses and the pace they experience.
    • One law firm is helping a client implement a document management system, including managing the change process.
    • While a law firm’s IT department or KM department may use an agile approach, law firm partners tend to be “anti-agile.” This is a reflection of their great risk aversion. There is a parallel in-house where the in-house lawyers are more risk averse than the business folks.

Collaboration Opportunities

  • The ACC has promoted a Legal Operations Maturity Model that includes law firm collaboration. (See www.acc.com./maturity/)
    • general counsel know ACC and trust it
    • the maturity model creates an early stage, intermediate stage, and mature stage against which legal ops can benchmark themselves.
    • in-house legal departments are using it to help with their strategic planning
    • it includes Legal Ops KM Maturity
      • they are looking for sponsors for their 14 sessions (including webinars)
      • they will launch an RFP process: they are looking for success stories of collaboration between law firms and legal ops teams
  • In the UK, individual clients have been asking their panel of law firms to help them develop in-house thinking and systems.

[Photo Credit: Geralt]

 

 

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Who is Your Client Advocate?

Who is your firm’s client advocate?

(Yes, this is a trick question.)

Many years ago, I had the misfortune of finding myself in the hospital. One of the first questions they asked me was, “What do you do for a living?” When I responded, “I’m a lawyer,” the battle lines were drawn. They raised their defensive shields immediately, which naturally caused me to become extremely curious and highly observant. This, of course, just made them more anxious.

After I asked one too many questions, I was told that I was going to be discharged early. Just before my discharge, a person who called herself a “patient advocate” visited me. I vaguely recall a fairly pleasant person who seemed unable to take my feedback and cause any changes in the hospital’s approach. Coupled with the rest of my experience at their hands, I had no hesitation in telling everyone I met about my bad experiences with that hospital.

This is the wrong kind of word-of-mouth advertising.

Clearly, this was a suboptimal case. But before you start bemoaning the state of American healthcare, ask yourself these questions:

  • “Is there any parallel to client experience with my firm?”
  • “Is anyone in the firm even asking our clients about how they experience our services?”
  • “If they are asking these questions, what are they doing with the answers?
  • “What is changing because of the answers received?”

Now, let’s return to the initial question: “Who is your firm’s client advocate?” If you answered, “The relationship partner,” you fell for the trick. Relationship partners usually are good at staying close to the client, winning work, responding to client queries, managing client teams within the firm, and billing (and collecting!) in a timely manner. As a practical matter, not enough relationship partners have the time, training, or (frankly) nerve to actually walk in their client’s shoes and experience the firm’s service from their client’s perspective. In other words, relationship partners can be more reactive than proactive.

Seth Godin explains the difference between reactive and proactive client service: “Reactive client service waits until something is broken.” Proactive client service anticipates where potential problems might arise and plans ahead to avert or mitigate them. Reactive client service makes the bare minimum changes necessary to pacify clients. Proactive client service holds itself to a higher bar: it creates the conditions that make clients grateful for and vocal about their wonderful relationship with your firm.

So what might a client advocate in your firm do?

  • actively solicit client feedback on their relationship and experience with the firm
  • conduct after-action reviews with firm lawyers and staff to gain a more holistic view of what happened
  • advocate on behalf of clients for new practices and policies that help avert or mitigate negative client experiences
  • work with firm lawyers and staff to embed those new practices and policies in firm workflows

Now, let’s return to the initial question again: “Who is your firm’s client advocate?”

[Photo Credit: Paul Mercuri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

 

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Happy 10th Anniversary!

On January 21, 2008, I tried something new. I blogged for the first time.

My reasons for starting this blog were fairly simple. I realized there was an interesting conversation happening online about technology, knowledge management, innovation, and collaboration; however, I did not have any way to be a part of it. At the time, the best way into the conversation seemed to be through blogging. So I started blogging.

Over the intervening 10 years, I’ve had more than my fair share of fascinating conversations thanks to this blog. I’ve also discovered that my approach to blogging provides the collateral benefit of really expanding my education. This is due in large part to my tendency to be a knowledge broker. According to Professor Andrew Hargadon (UC Davis), brokers learn from domains outside their own and then bring that new learning back to their own domain. For him, this is a critical element of innovation: “…revolutionary innovations do not result from flashes of brilliance by lone inventors or organizations. In fact, innovation is really about creatively recombining ideas, people, and objects from past technologies in ways that spark new technological revolutions.”

Understanding that information for information’s sake is not as powerful as information put to use, Hargadon has identified the powerful role brokers play in creating social networks that can spread new information and put it to work: “…brokers simultaneously bridge the gaps in existing networks that separate distant industries, firms, and divisions to see how established ideas can be applied in new ways and places, and build new networks to guide these creative recombinations to mass acceptance.”

Tracking just one idea shows the power of combining brokering with a network. Take the example of the Failure Party. I learned about the failure party phenomenon through conversation with someone in the pharmaceutical industry. Further research turned up a 2004 article in the Wall Street Journal. Given the clear benefits of failure parties, I was surprised that I had never heard of them in the legal industry. So, putting on my knowledge broker hat, I wrote: “Host a Failure Party” in 2009. While I’m not willing to claim cause and effect, I will note that since that post the International Legal Technology Association’s annual conference has included several failure party sessions and one city-wide group of law firm KM professionals hosts an annual failure party.

Blogging is an inherently social practice for me. It is an opportunity to share information, shape debate, and expand horizons. In the process, I’ve been truly grateful for the response of my readers. Some of you retweet my posts or email them to colleagues. Others send me private messages letting me know when a particular post struck a chord or was helpful. One friend and colleague sent me the following text message in response to my blog post, “Pick a Fight in 2018“:

Happy New Year Mary! Once again I am inspired by your blog. I definitely have a few fights to pick in 2018! Thank you for your generous inspiration! All the best to you and your family.

This message arrived out of the blue and is one I will treasure. When I write I have no idea sometimes if any of it helps anyone else. So I truly appreciate hearing from my readers and seeing ideas from this blog gain traction.

Let me end where I should have begun — by thanking my readers. You have been amazing partners on this journey. I look forward to the adventures the next 10 years together bring. Thank you!

[Photo Credit: Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash]

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Pick a Fight in 2018

In the last few days of a year, it’s natural to review the year that is slipping away and consider plans for the year that is about to begin. If you are lucky, you will have cause for some self-congratulation and not too much regret. Inevitably, this annual review results in promises of change for the new year. And so we begin the perennial cycle of wishful thinking known as New Year’s Resolutions.

While I’m not planning to make any major resolutions for 2018, I think I might commit to picking some fights instead. For those of you who know me in person or through my writing, that statement may seem a little out of character. But please bear with me. Here are the battles in which I intend to engage:

Fight the delusion of rational decisionmaking

Having grown up in the legal industry, I am used to dealing with people who take great pride in their good judgment, critical thinking, and rational decisionmaking. So it was a revelation to read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He opened my eyes to the ways in which our minds trick us into making questionable decisions time and time again. We are not nearly as objective or rational as we believe. For example, we too often make decisions out of emotion or instinct and then dress those decisions up with “supporting data.” At the risk of disappointing you, I must tell you that this happens in all human spheres —  including the legal industry. Just because you have confirming data does not mean you are right.

To understand more about the pitfalls of human decisionmaking and how it is affected by our well-intended but sometimes unfounded belief in our own objectivity, I’d encourage you to read Thinking Fast and Slow. If you don’t have time right now for this fairly large tome, watch the following brief videos to get a sense of the scope of the issue:

Fight the opacity of numbers

As the world becomes more complex, some of us take an ostrich-like approach by burying our heads in the sand. Others seek to understand what is going on by gamely trying to master as much of the relevant data as possible. However, even this more responsible approach has its own hazards. Among the biggest are that we aren’t all sufficiently numerate to understand what those numbers are saying (or not saying) and we cannot always see what is behind those numbers. For example, when you see survey results do you also spend some time to understand the survey methodology and the implications of the choices made in how the data were collected and interpreted?

Things are complicated enough when reviewing a relatively small survey. What happens when you are dealing with thousands or millions of data points in this era of big data? Then you rely on algorithms to help you sort and interpret the data. However, we are learning that those algorithms are not necessarily neutral or objective. Rather, they encode the assumptions and biases of the people who created those algorithms. When you don’t understand those assumptions and biases, you put yourself in danger of making decisions based on algorithms that may not, in fact, serve you well.

To learn more about how to make numbers more transparent and meaningful, start by watching these two videos:

Fight the corrosiveness of certainty

Despite impressive advances in human development, individual omniscience is still not possible. However, there are lots of people in denial about this. They believe they know all the answers and, therefore, rarely ask the key questions that can upend their certainties and unlock new stores of understanding. If we had a little less certainty and bit more curiosity we would reduce the occurrence of “unintended” consequences. Ultimately, excessive certainty corrodes our critical thinking abilities.

So in 2018, I’ll be asking more of the following questions:

  • What don’t I know?
  • What is missing? What hasn’t been disclosed?
  • What if my understanding is not correct?
  • What disconfirming evidence exists? And how persuasive is it?
  • Would I reach a different conclusion if my goal were generosity rather than self-protection?

Fight the comfort of complacency

Humans are creatures of comfort. However, that comfort can be a dangerous gift. It provides temporary respite but may blind us to potential opportunities and dangers. Sometimes this is because we assume that the current situation will continue indefinitely or that a better (or worse) event is unlikely to occur. And what is the source of this false assumption? Often, it is our lack of understanding of the actual root cause of the current situation or our failure to observe and properly interpret ambient information or patterns of behavior that may indicate an imminent change. This blindness leads us into imprudent complacency.

So how to fight complacency? First, learn how to identify a root cause. This analysis is a staple of many business school courses. It should be a staple of every high school’s curriculum. Until we identify the root cause, any conclusions we draw and any interventions we propose will be flawed.

The second way to fight complacency is to turn up your own antennae. Start noticing what is happening around you. The old adage that we see what we are looking for is true. So start looking for more, start looking for different.

  • What surprises you?
  • What patterns do you observe? Are they similar to or different from prior patterns? Why?
  • What is the likely outcome?
  • What could change that outcome?

In these next few days, I’ll be preparing for my chosen battles. I hope you’ll consider joining me in at least one of them. At a minimum, we will have a clearer understanding of what is and what isn’t.

Wouldn’t that be a good start for the new year?

[Photo Credit: By kris krüg from Vancouver, Canada (Malloreigh – Retouch) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

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How KM Enables Innovation #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: 

Most companies struggle to find ways to embed innovation into their business. This talk shares the journey of establishing a grassroots movement—a journey fueled by innovation, knowledge sharing, and learnings, and the critical success factors discovered along the way.

Speakers:

  • Wendy Woodson, Director, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Kim Bullock, #innovation Catalyst, ExxonMobil

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • How They Approach Innovation.  There are multiple kinds of innovation — not just transformational, game-changing innovation. Instead, they use the following model [see Managing Your Innovation Portfolio]
    • Transformational Innovation
    • Adjacent Innovation — taking what you do well and moving into a new market
    • Core Innovation — improving your bread and butter functions — this area is ripe for smart KM
  • Brutal Truths:
    • Culture & Behaviors. These beliefs and behaviors are so deeply ingrained in the organization that they can be extremely difficult to identify and excavate, much less reform.
    • Politician & Magician. We are always selling (politician), we’re always performing (magician).
    • Art not Science. There is not a single best approach to innovation. The key is to find business problems worth solving and then working with the affected group to improve their situation. The speakers spoke about a project they did to reduce the burden of exception reporting from  70% of the avaialble time to 30% of available time. This translated into a significant improvement in the quality of life.
    • Warrior. We have to be very thick-skinned and ready to fight for attention, for support, for successful projects. KM often is considered a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.”
  • Opportunity. For all of the brutal truths, the speakers believe that there is tremendous opportunity in KM for rewarding work.
  • Critical Success Factors.
    • External Network. Just as you create your internal network within your organization, intentionally create an external network that can be the source help, information, and commiseration.
    • Brutal Truths. Be honest about the Brutal Truths discussed above. And be very forthright about your projects and progress. And be very honest with your leadership. They need to know.
    • The Middle Matters. We usually tend to start by looking for support from senior champions or at the grassroots level. However, the middle managers are influencers who often are ignored. The speakers focused on the middle managers — they were explicit about exactly what they expected in terms of influencing up and influencing down.
    • Attention, Attraction, Adoption.
      • Attention — use standard marketing tactics to get their attention
      • Attraction — explain what you are offering and how you can help
      • Adoption — get down to brass tacks, find an issue you can work on with the business, get it done, and then repeat.
    • Tell the Story. Rather than just insisting that KM is good, collect and share the success stories. Capture them in an article, record videos. Both of these are more contagious that assertions by KM.
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Industry Leaders Conversation: Change, Culture, and Learning #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description:

Former head of KM with the BBC, Semple believes in conversations and leads our panel on a far-ranging discussion of change, culture and learning as we all aspire to an outbreak of common sense on our journey for knowledge sharing and creating sustainable, high-functioning organizations and communities.

Speakers:

  • Euan Semple, Director, Euan Semple Ltd
  • Jean-Claude Monney, Former Chief Knowledge Officer, Microsoft, Columbia University and Digital Transformation Coach
  • Kim Glover, Global Manager of Knowledge Management, TechnipFMC
  • Nancy Dixon, Principal Researcher, Common Knowledge Associates

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Why knowledge management?
    • at Microsoft Services, Jean-Claude Monney was given responsibility to get 100% of Microsoft knowledge to 100% of Microsoft’s customers, 100% of the time.
    • Best of the knowledge = relevant (in the context of the work) and trustworthy
    • For Nancy Dixon, knowledge management helps the organization learn better and faster.
  • What is the pedigree of knowledge?
    • if the knowledge comes from a person, is that person reliable/trustworthy?
    • if the knowledge comes from a document, is the source of the document reliable?
  • Knowledge management should focus on the issues that matter.
    • Nancy Dixon worries that KM focuses too much on the tactical (how to be more efficient) but misses the issues that can really bring down the organization, such as ethical issues.
    • General Motors once had a terrific KM group. However, they were unable to help the company prevent bankruptcy. What if there were a KM group at Volkswagon that could shed light on ethical issues? Would that have prevented the emissions control disaster? Would there have been a different outcome at Wells Fargo if there were a KM-organized forum for employees to express their concerns about business practices that did not align with the company’s mission statement?
  • Conversation is Consequential. 
    • Conversation is something you enter with the realization that you might be changed.
    • Conversation in an organization creates a culture — it is important to notice what is talked about AND what is not talked about.
    • An organization that wants the benefit of consequential conversation must first create an environment of psychological safety.
  • We Make Culture.
    • Culture is not just something that is something that is done to us. We make culture by everything we do (or do not do).
    • We learn culture in the first instance from our experiences with our direct managers.
  • How to Start a KM Program.
    • If you are lucky, the CEO comes in one day and says we need a KM program.
    • More likely, find business problems that KM can help solve.
    • When you are asked to “show them the money,” don’t assume the responsibility for the numbers. Instead, partner with the business first, find out what KPIs are important to them, and then figure out the value KM adds to achieve those KPIs.
    • Before you mention KM to anyone, collect stories of instances when one unit helped another unit (and how much money was solved). Then suggest to management that you create an organizational strategy out of this collaboration.
  • What’s Next for KM?
    • Monney:
      • We are experiencing a massive change due to digital augmented knowledge. The reality of AI and augmented reality is extraordinary. The key is to use AI to improve a human’s ability to make better decisions.
      • We need to figure out to digitally transform our business — or someone else will.
      • We need to develop empathy
      • We need to harness the source of knowledge — but what if the knowledge is the heads of contractors or people who do not want to be handcuffed to the organization.
    • Glover: As technology gets better and easier to use, KM professionals can go back to being “people people” rather than reluctant technologists.
    • Dixon: There is an erosion of cognitive authority. We have stopped trusting CEOs and other people in positions of authority. KM’s role is to make things more transparent so that we can operate without omniscient authority figures.
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