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.
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.]
- 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?
- 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.