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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Stan Garfield: 16 KM Myths Debunked #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: Join our breakfast tutorial led by longtime KM practitioner Stan Garfield, who discusses 16 views of KM that are widely held but not necessarily supported by practice. He debunks these myths and shares research to support the misconceptions.

Speaker: Stan Garfield, Community Evangelist, Global Knowledge Services, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited; Author, Implementing a Successful KM Programme; Founder, SIKM Leaders Community

[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.]

NOTES:

  • Download Stan Garfield’s Slides
  • Push.  Believers in Push say if only we publicize it, promote it, shove it into someone’s email inbox, they will participate in and use KM. The problem is that we all have learned to ignore this noise. It is far better to create Pull — demand — for the things you are offering. Make it appealing, make it easy to consume.
  • Someone else will do it.
    • This occurs when leaders initiate a KM project and then leave.  You also see this when leaders delegate participation in KM to someone else — asking someone else to fill in their profiles, write their blog posts, etc.
    • When KM professionals do not use their tools themselves.
    • When organizations benchmark their competitors in order to determine their own KM priorities and actions.
    • The misplaced belief that the KM systems will work perfectly without my contribution or my leadership. If you won’t supply the necessary content, how can you expect someone else to?
  • KM is Dead. Or it’s on life support. Or it’s irrelevant.
    • Even Tom Davenport wrote a recent article on this — proclaiming the death of the child he helped create.
    • Whether we call what we do KM, the need for what we do will never go away.
    • What is dead? Focusing on collections and document repositories, tracking intranet activity metrics.
    • The name, knowledge management, is often derided. Worrying about whether it’s a good name or not is a waste of time — it’s better to learn how to do the work better.
  • Incentives don’t work. Stan believes that well-designed incentives do work. While people will always be tempted to game the system, relatively few actually do.
    • The key thing is to signal the importance of the effort.
    • Incentives work well at IBM and Accenture.
  • Roll it out and drive adoption.
    • This approach focuses too much on a tool or function. “Rolling out” SharePoint doesn’t explain why or what it is for. Telling people to collaborate more is an equally open-ended and vague direction. People cannot act on this.
  • Social is frivolous.
    • People do not often use social tools to post nonsense (e.g., what I ate for breakfast).
    • If employees are being criticized for “wasting time” on social tools, you need to educate everyone regarding why these tools make sense and how they benefit the organization.
  • Don’t Control.
    • There are a variety of views on whether it is wise to control communities online.
    • In Stan’s experience, it is better to limit the number of communities. This makes it easier for the user to find their group. It also increases the chance of building critical mass.
    • This is not about top-down control, it’s about respecting your user and their time.
  • Eliminate Risk. This arises in security-conscious organizations. It is often expressed in the form of shutting down internal social tools or blocking access to external social tools.
    • It’s actually better to enable sharing in a common place where inappropriate sharing can be observed and corrected.
    • If the sharing is happening outside a common shared space, the organization will never know about inappropriate until it is too late.
    • Focus on educating people on appropriate sharing.
    • Hire well and then trust your colleagues more.
  • Be like Google and Amazon.
    • Google and Amazon functionality work best at scale. Most organizations do not have that scale.
    • Asking people to rate content is challenging. It is better to ask simpler questions.
      • Did you find this content helpful?
      • Are you likely to recommend this content?
      • Do you like this content?
  • We need our own. Often people ask for their own online community for comfort or convenience reasons. However, often they do not really need their own and would derive greater benefits from joining a larger group. Encourage them to join the larger group (perhaps as co-leaders) and bring their energy  into that larger group.
    • Beware of the narrow niche — where people are asking for a community/tool for a very narrow need. It is better to work in a larger space with a larger group.
    • If you do not achieve critical mass in a community, it is unlikely to be active.
    • According to Lee Romero’s research, an online community needs at least 200 members before it will be truly active.
  • I don’t have time. This implies that learning is not as important as more mundane tasks.
  • We should work ourselves out of a job. After all, knowledge management is everyone’s job so we should not need a separate KM department. What about finance? Is that everyone’s job? It is naive to believe that people will be able to lead and shepherd KM — this requires specialists.
    • Stan suggests a KM team that includes, at a minimum, someone to focus on people, someone to focus on process and someone to focus on technology.
  • Bigger is Better.
    • The larger the team, the greater the time required for administration and management.
    • More is not better. Google proved that simpler was better.
    • The exception to this rule is: the more active members of a community the better.
  • Make People Do It. It is better to work with volunteers rather than conscripts. If we make people do it,  the will comply — but only to the minimum extent possible.
  • Everything is a community. For Stan, a community is a volunteer group you choose to join because you  want to get something done. It is not an assignment based on a common trait — e.g., gender, ethnicity, etc.
  • Our IP will be stolen. Some companies say that specific content must be locked down or else another part of the company might use that content in the wrong way. Sometimes this is driven by risk concerns. Sometimes this is driven by a fear of internal competition.
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Talking About an Evolution

All healthy things evolve. According to the comedian, Jimmy Fallon, even “Mom Dancing: evolves. If you don’t believe him, take a look at the video above. (It’s Friday, folks!)

So if everything evolves, what’s happening to your knowledge management program? Is it moving on an upwards trajectory as it adapts to meet new and changing needs in your organization? Or is it stagnating like a fetid pond hosting malaria-laden mosquitos?

If you’re not sure, chances are you are stagnating. What are some signs of stagnation?

  • little introspection or analysis regarding your KM program
  • a lack of energy about KM on the part of your KM group or, worse still, your organization
  • a dearth of actionable new ideas for your KM program
  • your KM efforts are focused primarily on maintenance, without scope for R&D or innovation
  • you are stuck at one level of development (e.g., creating document collections or keeping the intranet functioning) and aren’t growing and stretching to explore new forms of knowledge sharing
  • malaria-laden mosquitos

What about some signs of growth and evolution?

  • you have established sensible and stable information management practices
  • the people in your organization recognize the pitfalls (and benefits) of knowledge silos
  • your organization has active communities of practice that facilitate knowledge sharing
  • your KM program is considered to be of strategic importance to your organization
  • the people in your organization conduct themselves as individual personal knowledge managers who also have a stake in the enterprise-wide KM effort

If you’d like a more structured approach to gauging your evolution, I’d suggest you take a look at one of the many KM maturity models that the wonderful Stan Garfield has collected. And, while you’re at it, see some of the articles he has included that question the usefulness of maturity models. As with many things in knowledge management, there is ample room for diversity and disagreement!

(For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a maturity model, it is a diagnostic tool developed to help assess programs or organizations against a common standard of accomplishment and development. If you’d like a further explanation of the concept see Consultant’s Tool: What is a Maturity Model.)

This may be more than you can think about on a Friday, but I’d strongly suggest that you set some time aside in the next week or two to go through these models and see how your KM program stacks up. It might give you some new ideas and new energy to move out of that stagnated pool into a more vibrant future for KM in your organization.

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For those of you who remember music from the 1980s, you’ll have recognized the inspiration for my title: Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.” Here’s a video of the song for nostalgia buffs.

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E2.0 Community Roles and Adoption Planning

Here are my notes from the second session of the Enterprise 2.o Black Belt Workshop:  Community Roles and Adoption Planning – A Critical Component of Org Change Management

Speakers:

  • Stan Garfield, Community Evangelist, Deloitte (@stangarfield)
  • Luis Suarez, Knowledge Manager, Community Builder and Social Software Evangelist, IBM (@elsua)

Background:

[These are my quick notes, complete with  (what I hope is no more than) the occasional typo and grammatical error.  Please excuse those. Thanks!

From time to time, I’ll insert my own editorial comments – exercising the prerogatives of the blogger.  I’ll show those in brackets. ]

Notes:

[This session was billed initially as a cage match between Stan (advocating the gently  controlled, more organized approach to community building) and Luis (advocating a more liberal, uncontrolled approach).  However, Stan and Luis assured us beforehand that they will still behave collaboratively — in the true spirit of Enterprise 2.0.]

  • Disclaimers:
    • Focus:  Building communities of practice behind the firewall
    • The slides contain more than they can cover today, so checkout the deck on Slideshare
  • What is a Community?
    • Not everything is a Community
    • Just because you have a group of people, you don’t automatically have a community
  • What forms a Community? The members share a particular passion
  • Stan Garfield’s Community Manifesto (10 principles) – set out below is an excerpt from the Manifesto:
  • Communities should be independent. Participation should be voluntary.
  • There’s a difference among Communities, organizations and teams
    • Communities share passion, interests, expertise
    • Organizations are not voluntary
    • Teams are not voluntary (usually they are assigned); they are closed not open; often have a fixed mission and time period
  • Communities should span boundaries
    • The most dangerous thing you can do is to limit the scope of the community.  They should be as free form as they can reasonably be. [Luis prefers to talk about “facilitating” a community rather than “managing” a community.]
  • Requires a special level of engagement – providing the tools is not enough. The communities need to be nurtured constantly – every hour and every day.
  • Targets for managing communities
    • Types of communities
    • Activities should be used to explain to community members what it means to be a member and how they should participate
    • How to determine if a community really exists
    • What the community expects of its members
  • Community Circle of Life = as a community’s knowledge base grows, more people become members > a membership grows, the knowledge base becomes richer > as you connect members to content, you also help members connect with each other and build relationships > the easier it is for members to connnect, collaborate and grow, the richer they are and the more engaged they are.
  • Community Road Map
    • There’s a lot of work to be done before you can launch a community.  In fact, launching a community is the easy part. You need sustained effort and good leadership to nurture it.
    • Identify what content you want to provide.
    • Offer documentation and training for community members.
    • Begin developing a community site.
    • Once this is done, launch the site, build it out, add content and stimulate collaboration.
  • Stan and Luis have different experiences with community building.  Stan has found it helpful to gently control what communities can be formed to avoid redundancies and a loss of efficiency.  You can try to manage what communities form and how they build their community support.  The role of KM is really to assist and train rather than to control Luis says that communites are free-form and emergent.  They start as soon as a core group decides to launch one.  Over time, communities that cover similar topics tend to merge voluntary.
  • IBM has many community leaders who are willing to help other community leaders.  This peer training improves overall quality of communities.
  • Primary Community Roles
    • Executive sponsor – should lead by example
    • Community Leader
      • This is a critical role
      • This person should be a few steps ahead of the members
      • This person should be a real evangelist – they should help “lurkers” become active community members
    • Community Council
      • Advise the community leader in launching and sustaining the community
    • Community Members
      • Help provide content and recommendations regarding community development
  • How to build a community
  • Choose the topic around which the community will be form
    • Keep the topic broad so that it can span boundaries
    • It must be a compelling topic – enough to energize community members and keep them engaged.
  • Review existing community before creating a new one
    • This helps consolidate the knowledge base
    • It also tends to reduce the work for the community leaders
    • It brings new membership to an exisitng community
  • Select a communite moderator/facilitator
    • Watch the group carefully to see who has the right attributes to be the community moderator/manager
      • Who is a natural hub in the group/network?
      • Who is a subject matter expertise?
      • Who has the requisite passion? [But doesn’t have an axe to grind.]
      • Who has the energy to nurture the community?
      • Who encourages the engagment of members?
      • Who leads by example?
    • With a planned community, the executive sponsor should choose the community manager
  • How does the community manager regulate the content?
    • Most of the time, the community itself self-regulates and encourages members to do the right thing.
  • You can never communicate enough within the community
    • Continue to publicize the community’s existence.
    • Continue to recruit new members.
  • Keeping the community active
    • Have a regular call or other activity
    • Look for ways to bring within the community any sidebar discussions/activities
  • Q&A: What are the biggest challenges to Community Building?
    • There is a maximum number of communities a single person can follow.  How do you manage this to reduce information overload?
      • Encourage similar communities to merge
    • Alternatively, start with a broad community and let sub-communities emerge to focus on specialized topics.
  • Presentations:  www.e2conf.com/boston/2010/presentations/workshop
    • User name: Workshop
    • Password: Boston
  • Presentations also on Slideshare: http://slideshare.net/20adoption
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