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.]


  • 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.”

Carla O’Dell Keynote: Transforming the Way We Collaborate #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speaker: Carla O’Dell, CEO, APQC Author, The New Edge in Knowledge

[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: External forces are transforming how knowledge managers formulate strategies and value propositions for their programs. New technologies and disciplines are constantly influencing the portfolio, use, and value of available KM approaches. Based on 20 years of KM leadership by APQC, O’Dell discusses how to harness these forces while also dealing with the consumerization of IT, how and when to apply social media tools to collaborative work, and how to use analytics to set the KM agenda.


  •  KM Needs to Start with Business Needs
  • Why KM Exists
    • We need to find experts and expertise
    • We can’t find the knowledge we need
    • We are not transferring best practices
    • We are not using lessons learned
    • We work in silos: we don’t know what the organization knows
  • There is a pressure to Accelerate
    • Be more like Google and Facebook
    • Turn “next-perts” into experts faster: reduce time not competency
    • Sync with competency frameworks (see convergence of learning, talent management and KM)
    • Don’t pull employees away from their jobs
    • Less face to face knowledge transfer
  • Trends that are transforming the way we collaborate
    • The Consumerization of IT: people want to bring the great functionality they experience on the web into their organizations and work lives
      • Cell phone trends are influential
        • 96% of the world’s population has cell phone subscription or access
        • 60% of mobile devices of smartphones
    • Social Media Goes to Work
      • People use for opinion and clarification
      • Helps share expertise
      • Helps locate resources
      • For more information on the power and uses of social media, see Groundswell. In her view, it is still one of the best books written on the subject.
        • This book noted that “Lurking is Learning.”  Less than 3% of visitors to a site will contribute. Therefore, tracking the number of comments is a limited measure of success.
      • See great IBM video: Stop talking, start doing — it’s time to bring the power of social media to work!
    • The Age of Analytics
      • Big Data buzz — but there aren’t many applications of this yet. However, Big Data represents a huge opportunity for KM. Within organizations, our daily activities generate a load of breadcrumbs and “digital dust.” Big Data sweeps all of this up
      • APQC’s Knowledge Analytics Process:
        • Understand business needs/drivers and then develop a hypothesis about what might address that need
        • Align KM strategy and investment to test that hypothesis
        • Deploy KM approaches — be sure to identify the measures you will use
        • Collect Observations and Data
        • Conduct analysis and identify patterns
        • Exercise insightful judgment and critical thinking — applying human understanding/intuition to the data
        • Engage the business with your findings and recommendations
      • Rockwell Collins has shown how you can trace the value path from participation to business results: they have data that show a perfect correlation between participation and the number of lessons learned implemented. Better still, the number of lessons learned implemented is perfectly correlated with the number of defect-free products produced.
    • What approach do you need? It varies depending on the type of problem and the related risk. For example, if the issue is small, you can use a simple, fast, lightweight approach such as internal microblogging. If is a bigger problem, you may need to use methods/tools that recognize quality, expertise, etc.
    • Build your KM capabilities: Strategy > People > Process > Content and IT.
  • “Culture is KEY. But you change it through behaviors NOT posters!”
  • “Knowledge is sticky. People don’t hoard knowledge — they hoard their time and energy.” Therefore, you need to adopt processes that help them to let their knowledge flow.”