The Disruptive Collaborative Organization #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker:  Mark Alarik, President, Sales Overlays, Inc. Ariel Host Professional Services

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: Alarik focuses on enterprise system thinking and continuous collaboration.  He illustrates with real world examples how systems thinking can build bridges between organization silos to align all units, projects, processes, and personnel with the company’s true mission – to serve the customer better, and for the long term!


The Disruptive Collaborative Organization: How KM can lead innovation & transformation

  • Mark Alarik uses Systems Thinking to solve organizational challenges.
  • Silos are dangerous:
    • Most organizations are organized by silos. In fact, “silo-ization” is so bad that there are sometimes silos within silos. All of this makes sense if you are trying to support a command-and-control organizational structure, but it serves to preserve the status quo. It squashes innovation.
    • Silos cause us to constrain ourselves since we are limited to the information we have within our own silo.  All analyses of problems are based on a small group of decision makers, from a limited number of perspectives. This leads to far too many unintended consequences.
  • Complicated versus Complex problems: With complicated probems, there is broad agreement on the definition of the problem, range of solutions, etc. By contrast, when you have a complex problem, there may not even be basic agreement as to the definition of the problem.
  • Systems Thinking: Systems thinking recognizes that the value of the system is not in its parts. The value is in the interconnectedness of its parts. Therefore, you can’t introduce a new part without disrupting the rest of the parts. When Lou Gerstner arrived at IBM, he found not only silos, but kingdoms! So he forced collaboration across silos by basing performance management on the success of all parts of the systems. Cutting cost and waste is not a strategy. It is a benefit of systems thinking.
  • System of profound knowledge: it gives you freedome from trapped policies and mindsets. It gives you the freedom to pursue the Idealized Design (i.e., what your organization would look like if you built it tomorrow from scratch). It also creates a process of continuous improvement.
  • The boundary-less enterprise: This is an organization that looks outside its walls for innovation. It may even look beyond its industry to find that innovation. The Gutenberg printing press was based on a wine press that Gutenberg found on a farm. By going outside his industry, he found inspiration and innovation.
  • Theory of Constraints: What is the most vital thing this organization should focus on? And what should we stop focusing on? Once you’ve found your area of focus, identify the constraints and bottlenecks. In addition, find the waste in the organization. Once you eliminate that waste, you’ll surface excess capacity and resources that can be redeployed more productively.
  • Increase velocity of change: Build the ability of your organization to increase the speed of change from years, to months, weeks and even hours. This will make your organization extraordinarily responsive and adaptive. Alarik citing Jake Chapman: The whole organization learns only when everyone in it has access to the learning (and provides feedback).
  • KDSD Team: Knowledge discover, sharing and distribution team. This team should be made up of systems thinkers. They should work with right stakeholders. Then find the appropriate technologies that fit with your systems thinking approach.
  • To learn more on Systems Thinking: