When Scope Creeps Like Kudzu

1024px-Kudzu_field_horz2 Japanese arrowroot is the name of a group of plants in the pea family. Sounds innocuous, right? What if you learned that these plants are “climbing, coiling and trailing perennial vines”? Still sound innocuous? What if you were then told that these plants are more commonly known as Kudzu and are considered noxious and invasive? Now are you concerned?

You should be. On his website Jack Anthony has some astonishing photos of what happens when kudzu is left to creep unchecked. These photos are accompanied by equally astonishing commentary:

Kudzu vines will cover buildings and parked vehicles over a period of years if no attempt is made to control its growth. A number of abandoned houses, vehicles and barns covered with kudzu can be seen in Georgia and other southern states.

Even if you don’t work in landscape design, I am certain you have experienced the encroaching nature of kudzu at the office. It is most commonly seen in projects that lack firm direction and a disciplined team.  While the project may start out with a clear purpose and agreed budget and schedule, over time the budget, schedule and even purpose can get blurry as well-intentioned people start adding items to the project’s scope. In extreme cases, scope creep (like kudzu) can obliterate the landscape, while totally demoralizing team members and tarnishing their professional reputations.

If you are ever tempted to turn a blind eye as project scope creeps around you, consider the extreme case of the Bradley armored personnel carrier (see below) and think again. Would you ever want to be associated with a mess like that? If not, then be sure to curtail the kudzu around you.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Galen Parks Smith, Kudzu covered field near Port Gibson, Mississippi)

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Find Your Fool

389px-Jester-_Joker_Card001It’s April Fools’ Day. So keep your eyes open for the best jokes and pranks.  Typically, Google goes above and beyond by offering a variety of ways to mark the occasion. (For example, see how Google puts “the ‘real’ in ‘virtual reality‘” by creating Google Cardboard Plastic.) To keep track of Google’s 2016 efforts, VentureBeat has created a list of Google pranks that will be updated over the course of the day.

Not to be outdone, even normally staid news organizations will likely get into the act. In 2014 NPR pranked all those people who jump to comment on articles they haven’t bothered to read.  The NPR headline asked Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore? The comments that followed more than proved the point NPR was making.

If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate the day, may I point you in a different direction? Rather than looking for a clever prank to play, try looking for your own fool instead. What fool, you ask? A court jester kind of fool.

Let me explain. In earlier times, a court jester or fool was hired to entertain people of wealth. The fool might dress in brightly colored, eccentric clothing and would likely speak in a provocative or discomfiting manner. While many jesters entertained, others were hired for a much more serious purpose: they were required to speak truth to power. In fact, some were hired expressly for the purpose of criticizing their employer. According to the Royal Shakespeare Company, “Queen Elizabeth (reigned 1558-1603) is said to have rebuked one of her fools for being insufficiently severe with her.”

While criticism is not in short supply in some work places, consider the type of direct feedback you usually receive from your team. Do they feel comfortable telling you the truth? Are they willing to take a position that you do not endorse? Do they let you know when things are about to go off the rails? Are they able to point out shortcomings in policy or action, and do so in a constructive manner? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it may be time for you to find your own fool: a truth teller whose honesty will help you bring your best game every time.

Now do you see the value of a fool? If so, celebrate April Fools’ Day 2016 by finding your own fool. And then see what a difference a forthright, constructive colleague can make in your life.

 

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Have You Eaten a Child Lately?

knife-fork-1498188Regular readers of this blog will know that I am extremely interested in productivity. Along with my interest in productivity, however, is an even greater interest in impact. At the end of the day, if what we do does not make a difference, then why bother?

So why do we repeatedly allow ourselves to work on too many projects in the face of too little available time? The predictable result of this diffusion of energy and attention is diminished impact.

It was in this vein that I began to consider cannibalism. To be clear, I am not literally suggesting that each reader give expression to their inner Hannibal Lecter. Rather, the type of cannibalism I had in mind was product cannibalism.

Consider Apple. In a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose, Phil Schiller (Apple’s head of marketing) admitted that Apple often pits one of its products against another:

Charlie Rose: Is there danger of one product cannibalizing the other product?

Phil Schiller: It’s not a danger, it’s almost by design. You need each of these products to try to fight for their space, their time with you. The iPhone has to become so great that you don’t know why you want an iPad. The iPad has to be so great that you don’t know why you why you want a notebook. The notebook has to be so great, you don’t know why you want a desktop. Each one’s job is to compete with the other ones.

On the other hand, consider Bausch & Lomb. According to The Economist’s overview of cannibalisation,

Bausch & Lomb invented the soft contact lens but failed to launch it because the firm did not want to lose the lucrative business of selling the drops that hard lenses require. As a result, Johnson & Johnson swept into soft lenses, and the market for hard lenses (and their drops) disappeared.

The uncomfortable truth of strategic product cannibalization is that you have to be willing to grow some children at the expense of others. Bausch & Lomb responded to this discomfort by trying to protect their eye drop business. I’m sure it seemed like a rational decision at the time. By contrast, Apple deliberately refuses to protect its products. Instead of wrapping their products in cotton wool, Apple insists that each product earn its place by being strong enough and excellent enough to fight off the competition — including internal competition.

Each law firm support function offers a range of products and services. Does your support function demand such excellence from each product and service that you do not have to waste time worrying about competition from within your group, from other parts of your firm or from an outside vendor? If your product or service is not best in class, then the smart thing to do is engage in a little strategic cannibalization.  If you are not willing to do it, someone else will do it for you. And, if you abdicate this responsibility to someone else, I can almost guarantee that you will not be happy with the results.

So be sure to ask your team this question regularly: Have you eaten a child lately?

[Photo Credit: Simon McEldowney]

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A Leap Day Proposal

engagement-ring-1244468-1599x1066Legend has it that St. Brigid challenged St. Patrick to defy convention just one day every four years. What was her suggested break with tradition? She asked that on leap day women be permitted, for a change, to make marriage proposals to men. This opportunity for a woman to take control of her future was a rare one because the overwhelming norm of the day made it the man’s prerogative to choose if and when to propose, while the woman simply waited.

So what does this have to do with us? Your firm’s HR department will be glad to know that I’m not suggesting that we actively encourage an outbreak of marriage proposals at work. Nonetheless, I do think we can learn from Brigid’s audacity and Patrick’s flexibility. The audacity is found in Brigid’s willingness to speak up, to confront authority, to work to rebalance a system that tilts heavily in favor of one group at the expense of  another. She also cleverly sought the support of an influential person (Patrick) to accomplish her goal. The flexibility is found in Patrick’s willingness to listen to alternative points of view and to permit a departure from standard operating procedure in support of a good cause.

Channeling these two saints, perhaps we could re-examine some of our standard operating procedures.  Do they still make sense? Or are they traps of habit that leave us blind to the need for change? Do they create imbalances in the system? Could those imbalances lead to unhappiness, unrest or inequity?

As a manager, are you sufficiently like Brigid: willing to speak up, to confront authority, to work to rebalance an inequitable system?  Do you have (or are you able to get) the support of influential allies for your work? As a manager, are you sufficiently like Patrick: willing to listen to alternative points of view and to permit a departure from standard operating procedure in support of a good cause. Or, do you keep you head down and cling to the established ways of doing things — regardless of possible negative impacts?

While habits and standard operating procedures provide a measure of reliability, predictability, safety and comfort, they can in certain circumstances cloud our vision and stop us from seeing a problem or even a possible solution. These standard operating procedures also run the risk of falling behind the times, unless we rigorously and routinely examine them to ensure they respond appropriately to current realities.

If all you have the energy for today is micro-steps rather than taking on the system, consider the following incremental ways of following the model of Brigid and Patrick: seek out the input of people who normally do not have the floor, look to see if there are people in your department who could and should have the ability to exert more control over their work and prospects, solicit the advice of a person who has a different background or life experience from yours. I guarantee that you will be astonished by the insight that results — if you let it.

 

[Photo Credit: Bettina Schwehn]

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What KM Books Are You Re-Reading?

Davenport and Prusak Working Knowledge coverWhat KM books are you re-reading? No, this is not a trick question. You are, of course, keeping up with your professional reading, aren’t you?

If you are, please let us know via the comments below what is on your KM reading list.

If you are not, we need to talk.

When I first began to work in knowledge management, I eagerly sought out as many KM books as I could find and then dutifully read them. They were awful. It’s not that the authors did not have something useful to say. The issue was that I was not ready to listen to them.  In part this was because I did not have the vocabulary to understand what they were saying. However, the bigger problem was that I lacked sufficient experience in KM to appreciate the lessons those authors were trying to teach me. So I slammed those books shut, put them on the shelf to gather dust, and set about to be a knowledge manager.

After a few years of KM work, I noticed an interesting pattern. When I found myself dealing with one challenge or another, I would say to myself, “Surely someone else has encountered this issue and solved it already.” After this happened a few times, it occurred to me that those dusty KM books might contain some insights. So I pulled them down from the bookshelf, blew off the dust, opened the books, started reading, and discovered…answers! Not just answers, but amazingly useful answers.

What changed? I finally had both the vocabulary to understand what the authors were saying AND the experience to appreciate what they were saying.

So now I find myself reading and re-reading KM books, and find the time well-spent.

If you would like to replicate this experience, let me recommend Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know by Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak (affiliate link). Written by two of the early thinkers in KM, this book provides a great introduction to the discipline, as well some useful warnings about the mistakes we make when we do not learn from the experience of others. With the benefit of some KM victories and challenges under my belt, I now find that parts of their book that could have been written for me or for the organizations I have worked with. Here’s an example:

Too often, knowledge transfer has been confined to such concepts as improved access, electronic communication, document repositories, and so forth. We believe it is time for firms to shift their attention to the more human aspects — from access to attention, from velocity to viscosity, from documents to discussions. Obviously, firms need to exploit both the hard and soft aspects of knowledge transfer, but in the Western business culture there are usually too few advocates of the soft stuff. [p. 106]

It took me several months of working in KM to figure this out for myself, yet unbeknownst to me Davenport & Prusak had written about it a couple years before my own epiphany. Think of the pain I could have spared myself if I had only read their book earlier. For this reason, I go back and re-read their book regularly. And I find new gems hidden there every time.

So what KM book or books are you reading? Please share your recommendations in the comments section. You might inspire a colleague and save them a boatload of pain.

[This blog post was inspired by a discussion on the Leonard Lopate show (January 28, 2016) during which Jane Smiley, Philip Lopate, Leonard Lopate and several listeners talked about the books they re-read and the value they obtain from reading those books over and over again. If you are looking for some non-KM reading, I recommend that episode of the show to you.)

 

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Thanks for a great 2015

reflections-1402132Every year bring opportunities and challenges. And, if we are willing, along with those opportunities and challenges comes learning.

So what have I learned in 2015?

  • Reflection is critical for improvement. As I wrote earlier this year, studies show that regular, intentional reflection leads to improvements in productivity. So in 2015 I set about to build more time for reflection into my life. When I did it, I almost always was able to identify ways in which I could tighten my work processes or change my approach to improve my results. Without the reflection, I found myself repeating mistakes unnecessarily. Even still, I found it was a challenge to make and keep an appointment with myself for reflection on a daily basis — even when I knew it was for my own good.
  • Reflection requires discipline. Why do we need discipline for reflection? Because doing it right requires consistent and concentrated effort. If you have ever tried to stick to a diet or build a new habit, you understand the challenges of discipline. As a knowledge management professional, I have preached the value of reflection to myself and my colleagues for years. However, even if you believe in it and see the results, you still need to set aside time regularly to actually do it. That’s the hard part. That’s the necessary part. That’s where discipline comes into play.
  • Cognitive dissonance will bite you in unpleasant places. When things don’t add up, we often brush them off as aberrational. However, an after action review often reveals that the outlier data we ignored earlier were actually warning signals of an impeding disaster. So what’s the best way to address this? If you can do it, stop for a moment and ask yourself, if these data are not outliers but, in fact, warning signals, what are they likely to mean? Even if you cannot accurately predict the exact nature of the potential failure, this brief exercise will make you alert to other data that seem to be outliers, but that taken in the aggregate create an unwelcome pattern.
  • Show up. As a consultant, each year is only as good as the clients and assignments I’ve won. Thankfully, 2015 has been a very good year indeed. I’ve had the pleasure of repeat business with some of my favorite clients and I’ve also been privileged to work with some new clients. Interestingly, some of my  key projects this year have not come from specific marketing efforts, but rather from simply showing up. For me this has meant being present for face-to-face encounters and also being present online. It especially means staying in touch with people over the course of the year. As I have discovered this year, when you are top of mind, you are recommended when projects and opportunities arise.

Let me close this final blog post of 2015 by conveying my gratitude to my readers who ask the questions and provide the comments that keep me stretching, learning and growing. I look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2016.

[Photo Credit: Barry Vaughn]

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The Knowledge Supply Chain #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: The business value of knowledge is to enable the knowledge worker, and support them in making the most effective and efficient decisions. Knowledge is as much a raw material for the knowledge worker as parts and tools are for the manual worker. We can therefore think of KM as being the supply chain for knowledge, providing just-in-time knowledge to support  the front-line knowledge worker. This allows us to take models and insights from other supply chains in order to improve how KM works, including the “elimination of 7 wastes” from Lean Supply Chain theory, and the clear focus on the knowledge user.  Hear about the supply-chain view of KM, its implications, and ways to develop and/or improve a KM Framework.

Speaker: Nick Milton, Director & Founder, Knoco Ltd

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2015 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:

  • Slide Deck
  • Peter Drucker.  The biggest management challenge of the 20th century was to increase by fifty times the productivity of manual workers in manufacturing. The biggest management challenge for the 21st century is to increase by fifty times the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers.
  • Manual Work Productivity.
    • The manual worker. Nick’s grandfather was a blacksmith, a manual worker, a craftsman.  When he made something, he made every part of it. His workmanship was superb.
    • The manufacturing worker. Management achieved a productivity increase in manual work by moving from the solitary manual worker to the manufacturing worker who made only one part of a finished product. By dividing labor, factories could make products significantly faster.
    • Other causes of increased productivity in manual work:
      • mechanization
      • a ready and available supply of the materials needed to create the product
  • Knowledge Work Productivity.
    • The knowledge craftsman is the expert who knows it all
    • The knowledge worker.  Today, however, the knowledge worker no longer needs to know it all. Knowledge is held collectively by the community and the network. In fact, an expert is almost always outperformed by a network. This is the knowledge work equivalent of improved productivity through the division of labor. However, in this case, it is a division of knowledge.
      • this requires a cultural shift = a fundamental change from knowledge as personal property to knowledge as collective property
        • this is challenging to some people because they believe that knowledge gives them worth and security
    • Automation: The knowledge equivalent of mechanization is automation.
    • Knowledge supply change — if you no longer own/have all the knowledge you need, then you need a reliable supply chain that gives you the knowledge you need when you need it.
  • Lord Browne of Madingly
    • Lord Browne was a former CEO of British Petroleum.
    • In Unleashing the Power of Learning (an interview published in the Harvard Business Review), he stated that if a company wants to gain and keep a competitive edge it must learn better than its competitors and then must apply that knowledge faster and more widely than its competitors do.
    • In the same interview he also stated that anyone who is not directly involved in profit-making activities should be fully occupied in creating and sharing knowledge that the company can use to make a profit.

Knowledge Supply Chain.

A supply chain is “a sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a commodity.” A knowledge supply chain is a sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of knowledge. In other words, a knowledge supply chain provides “the right knowledge at the right time to the right people, so they can make the right decisions.”

To have an effective knowledge supply chain, we need the following:

  • We need a set of knowledge processes:
    • Knowledge creation
    • Knowledge capture
    • Knowledge synthesis
    • Knowledge seeking
    • Knowledge application
  • We need the related knowledge roles.
    • Knowledge managers
    • Knowledge engineers
    • Practice owners
    • Knowledge workers
  • We need the supporting technology .
    • Lessons learned management systems
    • Community portals
    • Discussion
    • Knowledge bases
    • Search engine
  • We need Knowledge Management Policy = Governance for this set of processes, roles and technologies.
  • Attributes of good supply chains:
    • They are user-focused (focused on the profit-maker)
    • Everyone in the organization is committed to this system
    • The supply chain must be reliable — when someone seeks knowledge, it should be there
    • The supply of knowledge should be high quality
    • Efficient
    • Pull-driven
    • Lean
  • Lean = a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system, and a focus on value add
    • Waste #1 = overproduction:
      • Info overload
      • Technology complexity overload
      • Producing more than and /or ahead of demand = a massive oversupply of knowledge
      • Davenport & Prusak, Working Knowledge: “Volume is the friend of data and the enemy of knowledge.”
    • Waste #2 = waiting = clock speed = the speed of learning
      • Waste = knowledge that is waiting to be used
      • Huawei has the Rule of 3 Ones:
        • you should be able to find something in one minute
        • you should get an answer to a question in one day
        • you should circulate new project knowledge within one month of the close of the project
      • Read Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto
        • they use checklists to speed learning
    • Waste #3 = unnecessary transport = unnecessary steps or handoffs
      • This usually is the result of too much bureaucracy/hierarchy
      • You can eliminate this by allowing people to connect directly/horizontally with each other
    • Waste #4 = inappropriate processing = doing more work than is necessary
      • When knowledge is in a jumble, everyone who needs that knowledge will need to sift it and sort it every single time. The way to eliminate this form of waste is to sift and sort the content once on behalf of everyone.
    • Waste #5 = unnecessary motion = going to multiple places to get your knowledge
      • Some organizations have too many collaboration tools (e.g., yammer, jive, slack, etc.) — this is waste
      • In some organizations, every division has its own lessons management system
      • Schlumberger has provided only one tool for each knowledge function. They built a successful expertise locator. Later, when they deployed SharePoint, they turned off MySite because they believed it would function as a duplicate expertise locator.
    • Waste #6 = excess inventory
      • A lessons management system is helpful provided it has just enough lessons to cover the work being done. One lesson on an issue is good. Ten lessons may be better. However, 100 or 1000 lessons constitute an oversupply. A knowledge worker will never be able to read and apply all of them.
      • Don’t give users too much — give them just enough. Overproduction constitutes waste.
    • Waste #7 = defects = the cost of wrong knowledge
      • this arises when you fail to clear out of your knowledge systems old or outdated materials
  • Best approach to lessons learned
    • Complete the project or activity
    • Identify, document, store the new lessons learned, best practice, cases
    • Review, validate, take action >> update the practices and training
    • Access the database and apply lessons learned
  • The Knowledge Supply Chain
    • Raw materials = experience
    • Supplier = team members
    • Manufacturing = creation of lessons
    • Distribution = lessons management
    • Assembly plant = improved process
    • Consumer = knowledge re-use and application
  • How to incentivize knowledge seeking and re-use?
    • Make it easy
    • Promote success stories
  •  Questions:
    • If you view your own KM system as a supply chain, where is the waste?
    • How will you eliminate the waste?
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Transferring Critical Knowledge When Speed Matters #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: This session looks at the rate of knowledge (i.e., expertise) transfer as a critical KM issue and shares research which looks at expertise transfer through the lens of personas. The creation and perspective of knowledge worker personas provides a breakthrough in the identification, construction, and delivery framework for expertise transfer. Well-established methods of knowledge sharing and transfer, such as communities of practice, provide the capability for expertise transfer, but they do not always address the concept of speed in their structure. Similar approaches, such as the transfer of best practices, or self-service models, also do not take into consideration the need for speed based upon a specific situation, a specific knowledge need, nor a specific role. The persona lens on expertise transfer ensures that all three perspectives are taken into account when designing a knowledge management framework and methodology. Speakers describe the thinking behind the persona perspective, and give attendees an opportunity to test their expertise transfer needs through hands-on experience.

Speakers:

Darcy Lemons, Senior Advisor, Advisory Services, APQC
Jim Lee, Senior Advisor & KM Practice Area Lead, APQC

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2015 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:

  • Slide Deck
  • Sustained focus on knowledge transfer
    • Their 2015 KM Priorities Survey results show that
      • knowledge capture/transfer is among the top 3 KM approaches to implement in 2015, with 37% of survey participants saying their organizations plan to create new processes to capture and transfer critical knowledge over the coming year.
      • approximately 48% already have knowledge capture/transfer processes
  • Known approaches to knowledge transfer.
    • knowledge capture/transfer approaches can range from systematic (formal, structured) to organic (informal, unstructured)
      • Formal KM approaches
        • knowledge elicitation interviews
        • knowledge mapping
        • retiree knowledge ransfer
        • knowledge continuity processes
        • after-action reviews
      • Learning & Development approaches:
        • lunch-and-learn
        • webinars
      • Content repositories:
        • content portals
        • wikis
        • blogs
        • Internal videos
        • lessons learned databases
      • Network-based approaches:
        • communities of practice
      • Person-to-Person approaches
        • forums
        • meetings
        • conversations at the watercolor
    • 3 key questions
      • Explicitness: How easily can the knowledge be captured?
      • Audience: Is the knowledge recipient known?
      • Stability: How fast is the knowledge evolving?
  • Techniques to support knowledge transfer.
    • APQC’s 8th KM Advanced Working Group
      • this group addresses new issues for which there are no established best practices
      • the group is made up of organizations and top KM experts
      • member organizations
        • ConocoPhillips
        • Phillips66
        • EY
        • Praxair
        • Intel
        • NASA
      • These organizations want to know about speed — how to transfer knowledge quickly
      • Setting the Scope
        • Who: when needs the knowledge? what role do they perform? What do they do?
        • What: what knowledge do they need? How complex is it?
        • How:
        • When: when do they need it?
    • They recommend a knowledge mapping approach
      • start with a known/agreed process
      • follow with a knowledge map (a simple spreadsheet)
      • They started with a process-centric knowledge map: 1st column is process steps, 2nd column is activity, 3rd column = what knowledge is needed, 4th column = who has the knowledge, 5th column = is it tacit or explicit…
        • chart the knowledge that is needed for each step of the process
          • what knowledge is needed?
          • who has it?
          • when is it needed?
      • Then they developed a role-centric knowledge map — defining the following items by Who  (person, group, team) and What (type of knowledge). Here are the column headings:
        • type of knowledge needed
        • rate of speed
        • created by whom
        • identified by whom
        • collected by whom
        • reviewed by whom
        • shared with whom
        • accessed how
        • used by whom
  • Determining HOW to transfer knowledge.
    • If you need it immediately
      • Methods: Yammer, Communities of Practice, videos, discussion groups
    • If you need it in the mid-term
      • Methods: Wiki, SharePoint library, webinars, lunch-in-learns, search and find
    • If you need it in the long-term
      • Methods: formal training, conferences, knowledge elicitation interviews
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Insights and Innovation: The Light Bulb Moment #KMWorld

 

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: As a researcher, writer and practitioner, our speaker discusses five ideas for increasing discoveries, describes the insight stance-a mental set we adopt for encountering new ideas and events, and looks at how it might help organizations improve their level of innovation.

Speaker: Dr Gary Klein, Senior Scientist, MacroCognition LLC

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2015 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 to improve performance?
    • The initial impulse is to simply reduce errors. However, you also need to increase insights.
      • reducing errors = playing not to loose
      • increasing insights = playing to win
  • Where do insights come from?
    • Insights = unexpected discoveries about how things work. Typically, they come without warning.
    • His methodology: he created a set of articles, interviews and other
    • He found three common themes:
      • Creative Desperation: insights we get when we are stuck and trying hard to find a solution
        • finding the solution is tough because we often are hampered by our unconscious assumptions that narrow our thinking improperly
      • Connections: these insights arise when we put different things together.
        • for example, Charles Darwin put his empirical information together with Malthus’ theory on population growth and then realized that competition for resources drove the patterns he was observing in nature.
        • this is more than “just connecting the dots.” It is not as simple as it sounds.
        • this about realizing pieces fit together
      • Contradictions: these insights arise from observing something that does not make sense.
        • these pieces do not fit together
        • you notice them because they do not fit the pattern you expected
  • How can we get more insights? The ShadowBox Approach.
    • this is a scenario-based approach that helps the trainee see through the eyes of the expert
    • in the middle of the scenario, pause: say that this is a decision point, so please identify the possible responses and rationale
      • rank-order your possible responses and see how they stack up against experts
      • compare your rationale against those of the experts and learn what the experts saw that you did not see
  • Why do some get insights and others don’t?
    • the person who had the insight had an active, curious mind — they loved to puzzle about things, play with things
    • the person who did not have the insight had their head down, trying to get the work done
  • How to increase the chance of getting insight? Develop an insight mindset.
    • Make insights a habit
      • celebrate your insights
      • create the expectation that you are capable of insight
      • observe what works or doesn’t works and then try to figure out why in hindsight
    • Use your curiosity
      • explore anything that strikes you as interesting
      • be curious about problems
      • be curious about coincidences
      • be curious about anomalies and contradictions
    • Encourage others
      • ask others if anything has surprised them since the last time you spoke with them about a common project
    • Take advantage of confusion and conflicts
      • when things don’t go as planned, ask what the other person thought they were supposed to do
  • Over-emphasis on reducing mistakes can interfere with insights
    • Distraction : the effort at reducing mistakes (document and tracking) gets in the way of seeing new patterns.
    • Passivity: critical thinking may lead people to view their jobs as not making mistakes
    • Why do organizations continue to overemphasize the reducing error?
  • Why do organizations fear insights?
    • Insights are disorganizing — they disturb things, they create bumps
    • Distrust of creativity
      • Mueller says: “The settlers get the land, the pioneers get the arrows.”
    • Predictability allows effective management
    • Perfection enables effective management
      • managers prefer error reduction to making discoveries
    • Effort — insights often cause extra work
    • Loss aversion
      • we feel twice as much pain about we are giving up than pleasure about what we are gaining
    • Goal fixation
  • How can we help organizations ward off insights and innovations?
    • Make sure your organization has a clear chain of command in order to reduce confusion and ambiguity.
      • this will block out unusual or disturbing ideas
    • Gather all the relevant data before making decisions so as to reduce uncertainty.
    • Before starting, conduct a thorough review to reduce the chance of error.
      • if you insist on perfect methodology, you will not have innovation
    • Establish a firm project goal and schedule.
      • this is a great way to reduce insights and innovation that are yet to be discovered
    • Ensure you a harmonious team
      • Rely on consensus decision making (i.e., each person on the team has a veto).
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Learn It! Do It! Share It! #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: Knowledge management is in the business of helping organizations learn, use, and remember-the antidote to corporate amnesia. O’Dell shares APQC research aimed at helping organizations get smarter. She talks about the need for speed and ways of accelerating learning-not only for individuals and groups but for organizations themselves. Get KM best practices you can use to nudge people in your organization. Grab O’Dell’s nuggets of information for those who are at the beginning of their KM journey, those who are in the messy middle of their efforts, and those who are operating in mature KM marketplaces. Good tips for all!

Speaker: Dr. Carla O’Dell, CEO, APQC Author, The New Edge in Knowledge

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2015 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:

  • The Velocity Challenge.  Speed of execution has increased, but so has speed of learning.  There are three different speed challenges:
    • getting new employees up to speed quickly
    • helping “Nextperts” learn more rapidly
    • absorbing knowledge, which is growing faster and faster
  • What is driving the need for speed in your organization?
  • People and organizations learn differently.
    • Start by reading How We Learn by Benedict Carey.
    • We can said to have learned something if we can recall it at the appropriate time and put to use.
    • Focus attention and reading does not enhance learning.
    • Space and recall enhances learning. Walk away from the reading and ask yourself what you learned. Then go back and fill in the blanks.
  • People learn better when they realize that something is missing. They learn better when they are trying to solve a problem.  This is when they are most motivated to learn. It is a key teachable moment. That is why Googling at the moment of need is so important. It is a valuable mode of informal learning.
  • Forgetting is the Brain’s Spam Filter.
  • Primacy and Recency Effect. People remember the first thing you tell them and the last thing you tell them. That is why onboarding is so important.
  • People remember how you make them feel more than what you say. Therefore you need to create a rich tapestry of emotion.
  • KM is how organizations learn. Just because I know it doesn’t mean we know it. Therefore, KM is critical to help overcome organizational amnesia.
    • KM can alert people when something has changed in business rules and practices.
  • Avoid dead ends, empty shelves and desert islands. There must be a human being watching to make sure that people get the answers and resources they need. Otherwise, they will never come back.
    • Desert Islands = expertise location. People don’t want to be alone, they want an expert to help them.
  • What does it mean to say that the group has learned something?
    • The power of a group is the power of the collective. As long as there is trust in the group, members are assured that if one person knows it, everyone knows (or can know) it.
  • Communities are KM’s killer app. My allegiance to this voluntary group makes me willing to contribute and learn. According to MIT, the most productive and creative groups do two things:
    • the members of the group seek new ideas outside the group and bring them in
    • inside the group, they vet the new ideas and use them to improve their own ideas and work
  • What is the best way to learn?
    • The people approaches to learning make the system approaches work. In-person or virtual training, mentoring/apprenticeship are far more effective than remote efforts such as content management and document repositories.
    • The technology matters, but what matters more is the change management processes we use to help with technology adoption.
  • Making the Business Case for KM
    • see www.apqc.org for information on their maturity model
    • There is a correlation between KM maturity and financial performance. As KM maturity increase, the financial performance increases (in terms of sales and assets).
    • When making a KM business case, it is important to explain clearly what the payoff for the organization will be. You will be 3 times more likely to get a KM budget and 5 times more likely to expand it.
  • Why conduct financial analysis and documentation of benefit to show the value of KM investments? It secures and expands the budget, you get senior leadership support, it gives you traction to grown the KM program.
  • Cognitive computing and machine learning are on the horizon for KM.  What will this look like for us in the near future?
    • We are on the Gartner hype curve, so expect lots of expensive failures until we learn how to use these tools.
    • We will be able to give better and more customized search results.
    • With narrative tools, machines will be able to write up our lessons learned. (See NarrativeSciences.)
  • If we in KM do not get ahead of the cognitive computing curve, things could end badly for KMers. (Spoiler alert: the computer almost never loses.)
    • “Not since ‘2001 : A space odyssey’ have things ended badly for the computer.”
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