Be Agile Not Fragile #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: To be agile in knowledge management, and to innovate, Garfield suggests the following principles: identify three key business objectives, focus more on helping people use processes effectively, improve decisions, actions, and learning, connect people to each other so they can help each other at the time of need, implement, improve, and iterate. To avoid being fragile, steer clear of these traps: maturity models, best practices, metrics for the sake of metrics, certification, tool rollout and adoption, personality tests, corporate speak and more! Sure to spark an interesting discussion so don’t miss this session.

Speaker: Stan Garfield, Knowledge Manager, Author Implementing a Successful KM Programme; Founder, SIKM Leaders Community

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2016 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:

  • Fragile things typically are:
    • Large
    • Overly optimized — they are too smart for their own good; they are obsessed with standardization and efficiency
      • this works if everything goes according to plan
      • BUT things rarely go exactly according to plan — Randomness is the Rule (not the exception) — in the face of random errors or problems, the fragile system cannot cope with the variability
    • Brittle — they don’t have the innate ability to fend off stress
  • Fragilistas:  these are people who try to eliminate volatility.
    • Helicopter parents try to make life as safe as possible for their children but in the process they deprive their children of the ability to learn how to cope with variability and randomness.
  • How to avoid becoming a Fragilista? Avoid these behaviors
    • Maturity models and benchmarking: it’s good to learn from others but don’t try to conform to a rigid model.
      • Seth Godin: “Benchmarking against the universe actually encourages us to be mediocre, to be average, to just do what everyone else is doing.”
    • Best Practices suggest that the ideal has been achieved. Rather it’s better to look for (and then adapt for your context) “proven practices” that fit your environment.
    • Metrics for the sake of metrics — avoid tracking every random thing. Make sure there is a business reason for tracking something.
    • Certification — taking a one-week class in KM is not enough to be a KM expert. Focus on learning not on certification.
    • Tool Rollout and Adoption — don’t fixate on rolling out tools and then “driving” adoption. The better approach is to start with understanding the needs of the organization rather than finding a use for the tool you have purchased.
    • Personality Tests — each person is unique, not an oversimplified archetype. Why do we need this categorization? What is the practical use?
    • Corporate Speak — don’t use buzzwords, insider jargon, or corporate lingo. Refuse to use them —  use words and expressions that are widely understood if your intent is to communicate clearly.
    • Do as I say, not as I do — you must practice what you preach.  Your senior management must lead by example. (And the KM team must lead by example too.) People will closely observe the actions of leaders and mimic them. Therefore, model the desired behaviors.
    • Secrecy — don’t give lip service to transparency while continuing to operate in a closed manner. Communicate frequently, truthfully, and openly.
    • Mediocracy — man organizations have leaders have little (if any) talent and skill who nevertheless are dominant and highly influential. Leaders should serve their people and  treat them with respect.
  • Unfragile behaviors
    • people can’t find information
    • People are reluctant to ask for help in public
    • organizations want to push information out
  • How to Move from fragile to agile?
    • Make content easy to find
      • let users tag content to indicate “I reused this document” or “I found this document helpful”
      • figure out what documents are most important to your organization and force those to the top of the search results
    • Assist people when they ask for help
      • make it easy to figure out where to ask a question
      • train people to ask questions in community spaces
    • Use the power of pull
      • don’t force content on others
      • make your content/tool so attractive that people are eager to opt in
  • What would a “self-healing” KM system look like? (Question from Christian de Nef)
    • Simplicity
    • Mobility — easy to switch from one platform to another
    • Knowledge systems that do not rely on technology
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