Speaker: Daniel W. Rasmus, Owner/Principal Analyst, danielwrasmus.com & Author, Listening to the Future and Management by Design. For a previous incarnation of this closing keynote, see 10 Lessons from Angry Birds That Can Make You a Better CIO.
[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, 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.]
Session Description: Colorful and fun, our closing keynote speaker and futurist discusses lessons learned from various activities. He then uses scenario-based work and other research to discuss what the future of KM could be under different social, economic, political, and technological circumstances. Be prepared to hear why good ideas don’t become viral, and be inspired to think of KM in new and different ways.
NOTES: What KMers Can Learn from Angry Birds
- You have to play to figure out the rules — in Angry Birds, you learn the rules by playing the game. In the beginning, you won’t play well because you don’t understand the opportunities and risks before you. As you play, your understanding and skill grow.
- Know your bird’s capabilities — People like to be recognized for their skills. In fact, they perform best when their unique skills are recognized. If you are managing a team, you have to know your people well. With respect to yourself, you need to ask yourself these questions: What skills do I have? What skills do I need? What skills WILL I need? Then, start training!
- You can’t recover from a really bad start — When you know you are not going to get a high score, STOP. Then start over. Try a different approach.
- The project dilemma = we start a LOT more big projects than we finish. We are really good at the project kick-off meetings, but not so good at project closure.
- We need to stop the madness, collect ourselves and then apply our energies in a way that is more rewarding.
- What you’ve learned in one place isn’t always transferable to another place — Different problems require different specialists. Mastery in one area doesn’t automatically qualify you to work in another area. You will need to build a diverse team of varied talent. And you need to understand that, as an organization, you may not always have the requisite expertise and will need, therefore, to find knowledgeable partners. Even if it appears that you are facing a situation that is similar to one you have mastered before, Rasmus advises every “organization to ask and answer the question: `what is different this time, and how are we planning for those differences’ before proceeding.”
- If you don’t practice complex actions regularly, you’ll forget how they work — This isn’t a fix-it-and-forget-it business. Practice and procedures are important. However, they aren’t always enough since things don’t always happen exactly as before. Scenario planning is a useful tool because it helps you practice thinking about the future. Once you’ve thought about it, you can plan for it. This helps your staff anticipate and respond flexibly to the inevitable changes in their environment and processes.
- Blowing something up isn’t necessarily felt everywhere — in your change management planning, make sure that your changes take effect everywhere. Otherwise, you’ll have to fight many small battles in various places, without actually winning the war. Rasmus gives the example of an email migration project he worked on: “Many little conversations led to a lot of commitment without action. It wasn’t until the team went to the CEO and convinced him change was necessary that change happened.”
- Early on the measure of success will be ill defined — you may not know what good looks like until you actually start doing it. You need a better understanding of the context before you can assign value. This is particularly the case today as we shift from an Industrial Age method of valuation to a 21st century approach to valuation:
- In the Industrial Age Economy, we measure everything as if it comes off an assembly line. So we measure time elapsed, productivity, etc.
- In the Serendipity Economy, it is hard to forecast future value. In the 21st century, the focus shifts to accounting “for the valued derived from seemingly random and unanticipated encounters and interactions.” Organizations now must monitor information networks so they can “act on serendipity when it occurs, and account for it as a part of their value.”
- Even if you are good, you don’t know. Keep trying to be best to get better — He likes the notion of good practices. However, he hates the concept of “best practice” since it implies that you have stopped trying. And be careful about benchmarking. Rasmus warns against using benchmarking as a way to establish that you are as mediocre as the other guy. Use it primarily as a means to compel your own improvements. In his view, you have to keep trying to be the best in order to keep getting better. (No resting on your laurels!)
- Most improvements are incremental — Lessons learned and shared can have important benefits across the organization. Even if you don’t see the obvious win from your own experiences and lessons, others in the organization may see opportunities in those lessons that lead to wins for the organization.
- You can never do the same thing exactly the same way — Circumstances change. Different contexts require different approaches
- Good strategy still requires good execution — It’s important to identify your execution components. How do you work? Do you have what you need?
- Context is important, but it isn’t always as important as you think — Be careful about your context. Sometimes, it starts your problem solving in the wrong place. Instead, think beyond the immediate context. Go deeper, challenge your assumptions.
- The Lesson Dan Rasmus learned from this presentation: Repackaging something you think you have mastered forces you to challenge your assumptions about what you know and what is important.
[For those of you who have read this far, I want to assure that neither I nor the speaker had a counting problem. He actually did deliver more than 10 tips.]