Building Smarter Networks #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speaker: Jeff Stemke, President, Stemke Consulting Group, formerly at Chevron

[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: Operational excellence—the systematic management of processes, systems and behaviors—drives an organization’s productivity, safety and reliability. Expert knowledge is struggling to sustain continual performance improvement as work grows and the new generation workforce is less-motivated to spend years of concentrated practice to replace retiring thought leaders. As described in David Weinberger’s book Too Big to Know, collaborative networks harnessing their members’ diverse skills and experience are emerging as an important problem-solving and decision-making resource. KM practitioners have developed effective methods to create these networks. Their next challenge is finding ways to help network members become smarter— learning how to “think” as well as how to “do.” Learn about several smarter network systems including a SharePoint social learning system based on an expert’s mental model that cuts time to competency while enhancing the network’s performance capability.


  • Workforce Competency is his primary concern. 
  • Forces shaping the “Too Big to Know” Workforce:
    • The education system is not doing well in developing critical thinking
    • Retiring thought leaders
    • Contract workforce: where’s the loyalty
    • Millennial’s work on 2-3 year gigs
    • Skill gaps: STEM, critical thinking, business behaviors
    • Low interesting sending 10-20 years in one discipline. Therefore, it is harder to replenish thought leadership
    • In a complex world, it’s hard to see and understand the big picture
  • Where are the positive factors?
    • Networked knowledge = information + context
    • Good knowledge transfer, retention and recovery
  • Engaging Millennials
    • They want meaningful work more than money
    • They want to use their skills and learn more
    • They want communication, teaching, transparency
    • They want flexibility in the work (time, place, channel, etc.)
    • You need to set expectations, provide more frequent feedback and recognition
    • Managers need to be more actively involved in guiding millenials
  • How to accelerate competency?
    • Based on a survey by Schlumberger company
    • They focus on how different learning methods affect the rate at which an employee achieves autonomy. (The point of autonomy.)
    • They have shown that the right learning approach can cut in half the time it takes to reach the point of autonomy.
    • Innovative methods to accelerate expertise
      • teach functional knowledge (how we do things here)
      • participate in communities/networks
      • ask questions
      • share experiences
      • mentoring/coaching
      • master classes
      • create knowledge assets (processes, template)
      • learn to think like an expert
  • Smarter Networks: Learning and Performance Support
    • An expert begins by documenting topics in their area of expertise: e.g., preferred operating procedures
    • Put this on a platform that is available throughout the organization
    • Give edit access widely: then others can add information at will
  • To Demonstrate the Value of KM, Align Metrics with Your Business Strategies. Focus on what the business managers care about:
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Quality
    • Innovation
    • Revenue
    • Costs
    • Productivity
  • The smarter room relies on the collective intelligence of the people in that room.
  • Shaping Knowledge Transfer Behaviors
    • The role of the experienced worker
      • Give your subordinates more hands on responsibility, but coach from the sidelines
      • Close the loop on knowledge — once you have solicited advice, contribute back to the knowledge base by letting everyone know what you did and how it worked
    • The role of tomorrow’s workforce
      • ask questions. ask to go along. ask for details
      • develop your network
      • seek out temporary assignments
    • The role of the manager:
      • Be accountable for developing people and transferring knowledge
      • Have learning and development plans with specific objectives and measures
      • Provide the time and tools to transfer knowledge
      • Recognize contributions to knowledge transfer
  • The Value of Smarter Networks
    • Business value is created mainly by workforce capabilities
    • Leveraging the collective expertise of the workforce to handle complex issues is important as experts retire
    • Mental models and operational know-how accelerate learning
    • Learning to think like an expert and participation in vibrant networks can reduce time to competency by 50%
    • Knowledge transfer metrics can clearly demonstrate the value

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