Monday 29 October 2018

Piloting my way to the Gulf....

It’s been a while.  Too long, in fact…

Since I last blogged I have started a new job as a Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist at a large utility organisation.  I began in May and have 2 main roles:
  • To provide KM input and advice to senior managers and others running various initiatives
  • To help introduce new KM capabilities and improve existing ones
To support this latter role, we are running a complementary initiative, which is taking up the majority of my time at present – namely, the planning and execution of KM pilot projects.  
The aim of KM pilot projects is to generate quick value, win senior management support and maintain momentum for longer-term capability development.  They are also valuable KM training opportunities and will teach us what kind of KM will work in our organisation, and what won't.

What does 'quick value' mean?  Simply put, it's about achieving one or more of the following benefits:

  • Working faster
  • Working more cheaply
  • Working more safely
  • Working better
Focusing primarily on the core, technical divisions, we have run a series of exploratory workshops with management teams, to understand their work and identify any challenges or opportunities where KM interventions could help.
This produced a shortlist of potential pilot projects, which we then assessed against a set of criteria, including:
  • Impact
  • Senior management support
  • Feasibility
  • Transferability of knowledge
This enables us to prioritise and sequence the pilots, and then allocate one each to different KM department colleagues for planning and execution. 
We have identified the training requirements and divided these up amongst ourselves, with each colleague researching, and preparing training material on, a different topic.  These training modules include:
  • Introduction to KM pilot projects
  • Knowledge capture
  • Knowledge organisation & synthesis
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Access & retrieval
  • Performance management
We will deliver this training to ourselves, offer one another feedback, then revise and improve the materials.  Then we will train the relevant Divisional colleagues who will be involved on each pilot, including both Knowledge Champions and those from the business teams within the pilot scope.
The plan is for us to begin the first pilot project together, then for others to follow on a rolling basis, with each department colleague peeling off to initiate and run their own pilot project in turn.  The idea is that after 18 months or so, we will have completed 5 or 6 pilots in the core divisions and the KM skill and experience levels will be greatly improved.

I will update on our progress over the coming months.  Obviously I won’t share confidential details but am happy to discuss what I’m learning as we go along – what is working and why, as well as what isn’t and what we are doing about it.

In the next blog post, I'll explore some of the potential pilots in detail, and explain what a KM response might look like.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

A new chapter....

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life....and I'm feeling good etc etc.

Time to share some news - namely that I have very recently finished working full-time for Knoco and am now champing at the bit to get my teeth stuck into some KM work as an independent consultant.

I am free, ready and available for any consultancy work in the wonderful world of knowledge management (KM), either under my own steam (or as a Knoco affiliate, whichever works best).

How can I help you?  Let me count the ways....

  • KM capability assessments
  • KM gap analysis
  • KM strategy development
  • KM framework design
  • KM implementation planning
  • KM technology design, development and procurement
  • Lessons capture, analysis and management
  • Knowledge retention
  • Knowledge asset creation
  • Executive coaching
  • KM training
  • Best Practice development
If your organisation needs help in any of these areas, please do get in touch.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be blogging about recent KM experiences I've enjoyed/endured recently.  Feel free to share your own, either as a comment or send me an email and we can talk them over.


Friday 5 January 2018

You wish to point and sneer? How will that help, precisely?

There have been recent news reports about leaks on-board the new British aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.  The ship is currently undergoing sea trials, during which all systems and crew will be tested before being declared fully operational.

The purpose of the trials is to check that the ship is fit for purpose, and to familiarise the crew with both it, and each other.  In knowledge management-speak, this is part of what is known as 'learning before'.

High-performing organisations invest time and resources in deliberate learning before (i.e. through KM planning), during (i.e. through Peer Assists) and after (i.e. through Retrospects and Knowledge Harvesting Interviews) key activities, to identify key knowledge that can be reapplied in the future, thereby saving time, money and improving performance, quality and safety.

Is the ship meant to be fully operational yet?  No.

Are the crew meant to be fully trained on it yet?  No.

Have time and resources been allocated to enable this 'learning before' to take place? Yes.

Are these so-called 'leaks' normal in ships at this stage of their life?  Yes.

Are they attended and reduced so that the risk is as low as reasonably possible? Yes.

Is highlighting a so-called leak like this helpful in any way?  No.

Does the media care?  Of course not.

In his book, 'Just Culture' (reviewed on this blog here), Sidney Dekker sets out the tensions between learning and accountability and reminds us that the clamour for 'heads to roll' after each and every mistake and oversight almost always has the opposite, unintended effect.  Instead of encouraging others NOT to make mistakes, such caterwauling merely warns others to cover up their errors, thereby ensuring learning does not take place and performance does not improve.

Pointing the finger when things appear to go wrong, finding someone to blame, using words like 'fault' - these are all evidence of a workplace culture that is anything but 'just'.  In such places, learning from experience is all but non-existent and performance way below where it could be.

For a chat about how to develop a workplace culture where learning from experience, before, during and after key activities, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Knoco comes to Dubai!

This blog has been relatively inactive in recent weeks, for which I must apologise. 

The thing is, for the last 2 months I have been discussing and planning and re-discussing and re-planning a big knowledge management (KM) project for a client based in Dubai.

It's taken a significant amount of time and effort, not just to clarify the scope of work, but to clarify what both client and consultant think that scope of work entails.

Well, I am now deployed and approaching the end of my first week in this busy city.  I'm still busy but closer to my comfort zone than before, so will make an effort to blog here, on some of the issues I encounter and the KM solutions we propose and implement.

For now, the kind of work I'll be doing includes:
  • Knowledge Management Assessment and Benchmarking - through workshops and interviews with staff from across the client organisation;
  • Designing a Knowledge Management Strategy - again through workshops and interviews with the client's senior leadership team;
  • Conducting a Knowledge Scan - identifying the critical knowledge areas and assessing the extent to which they are documented or within the heads of a few experts;
  • Running our Learning Culture Survey - to examine people's behaviour and attitudes towards learning and collaboration;
  • Designing a Knowledge Management Framework - to enable knowledge to be discussed, captured, organised and accessed in a systematic way;
  • Creating an Implementation Plan - to set out the sequence in which new elements need to be introduced, at what cost, and by whom;
  • Piloting and 'Quick Wins' - testing and proving concepts, to create value and build support for further implementation;
  • Training - providing the KM team and others with the basic skills needed to manage knowledge, such as interviewing, facilitating, and structuring knowledge.
So, I will be a bit busy!  But, as they say, if you want to get something done, give it to someone that's busy, and I would very much like to hear from anyone interested in KM, either for an informal chat or to explore ways in which Knoco can help ease their pain....

I'll be in Dubai until the end of September and if anyone would like a conversation about knowledge management - either out here or anywhere in the world! - please contact me direct, or via the Knoco website.

Monday 26 June 2017

How in the world do you do KM?

Hot off the press, the Knoco 2017 Global KM survey is now available!

The survey revisited the topics first surveyed in 2014, such as:
  • Reasons for doing KM
  • Maturity levels
  • KM scope
  • Challenges
  • KM skills
  • Implementation and governance
  • Value created
  • KM budgets
  • Technology
  • KM processes
  • Best practices
  • Lesson learning
  • Culture
  • Communities of Practice
In 2014, we had over 200 responses - this time the number surpassed 400!

For a copy of the survey results, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Get together with fellow KMers now and then - it's inspiring!

For a few days last week, I swapped Wiltshire’s winding lanes for San Francisco’s frantic streets.  I’d been invited to speak at KA Connect – a Knowledge Management (KM) conference for the AEC industry (i.e. Architecture, Engineering and Construction).  More about my involvement in a future blog post….

The conference was attended by a little over 220 people, drawn from the 3 sectors, and focused on 2 key themes:

·        Critical knowledge – i.e. how to define, capture and manage it;

·        KM strategy – i.e. how to use KM to support a firm’s commercial strategy.

In the parlance of the moment, I took a number of ‘take-aways’ from the event, some of which I’ll explore in future posts but, to summarise here:

·        After so many years of battling the yet-to-be-convinced, getting together with other people that ‘get it’ is good for one’s KM mental health!

·        Twitter enables speakers’ insights to reach the wider world within seconds which, for most people reading this blog, will always be remarkable;

·        Larry Prusak remains the Godfather of KM, and deservedly so;

·        As with military operations, so with life – prior planning prevents piss-poor performance….

More to come….

For a conversation about how managing your knowledge can help improve performance, please contactme direct, or via the Knoco website.

Friday 21 April 2017

Ignorance can sometimes help innovation....

A great little story in the news today with a couple of insights for those of us interested in knowledge management (KM).

This Telegraph news article here tells how a 16-year old schoolboy on work experience helped address the problems encountered when a heart by-pass surgery patient's records are unavailable and there is no way of knowing what work has been done before.

Observing his father (a cardiologist) dealing with a patient in this situation, he asked whether there was some way of writing a code inside the patient, so that future surgeons would have the information they needed straight away, enabling further surgery to take place without undue delay.

This innocent question sparked an idea, which resulted in his father developing a system

Two observations:
  • The schoolboy was not part of the surgical team and had no direct or relevant experience that might have been helpful in this situation.  However, this 'ignorance' was to his advantage, as it meant he approached the problem with a fresh outlook.  In many day-to-day activities at work, there are times when a new perspective can help a team tackle a problem or improve performance and KM activities like a Peer Assist can help bring different perspectives to a team and new insights to a problem.
  • Thankfully, the surgical team did not suffer from the 'not invented here' syndrome, whereby people resist external initiatives or suggestions simply because they came from an outsider.  This is sadly the default workplace condition and all too often leads to 'groupthink', preventing or inhibiting innovation.  Teams that have developed a learning culture are more likely to be receptive to new ideas.
For a chat about bringing new perspectives to your team, innovation or knowledge management in general, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.