Author Archives: sbarnes

Importance of a KM Strategy

Why do I need a knowledge management strategy? Why can’t I just implement some technology and be done with it? Why can’t I just implement Communities of Practice or Lessons Learned and be done with it? I hear this sometimes from managers who want a quick fix, who are under a lot of pressure from time and resources (money and people). The answer is, you can. I have worked with many organizations that have done just that, jumped in with both feet and “just done something”. I am usually there to fix it. Fix the technology because no one understood what it really needed to do to support knowledge work within the organization; fix the process because no one understands it and it’s not aligned with the rest of the activities in the organization and it’s created extra work for already over-worked staff. Why do you need a strategy? Would you jump in the car and set out on a journey of 5000km/3000miles without having some idea of where you were going and how you going to get there? Making sure that you had selected the right vehicle to get you there in time and a map to help direct you … Continue reading

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January 2016: The Story so Far, KM and Creativity

[Note: I originally wrote this article for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Knowledge Management wiki, which can be accessed here:] Creativity and Knowledge Management Introduction, definitions, background Knowledge management and creativity would seem to be two completely different ideas and disciplines, but in fact they can and do enable and enrich each other and in the process of doing that enhance innovation. Knowledge management is defined as: the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. It refers to a multi-disciplinary approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge. Creativity is defined as: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts. Another definition says that creativity is the reorganization of experience into new configurations: a function of knowledge, imagination, and evaluation. Innovation is defined as: a new idea, more effective device or process, it can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. The term innovation can be defined as something original and more … Continue reading

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What we can learn from Van Gogh for KM and Innovation

On November 11, 2015 I participated in a #PKMChat called, “Van Gogh on Learning” it intrigued me as both a knowledge management professional and an artist and definitely gave me something to reflect on over the last week. (Note: the #PKMChat was based on work that Ger Driesen is doing, he facilitated the #PKMChat along with Bruno Winck, more about Ger’s work can be found by clicking on the link in #2 in the references listed below) I have been investigating the linkages between/among creativity, innovation, and knowledge management for more than three years, picking up ideas along the way, and experimenting and talking to people. Informally, there seems to be an agreement that there is a connection among the three things, but it’s in the background, below the surface, not immediately obvious to a lot of people. The #PKMChat helped shed some light on these linkages for me, so I am sharing them with you. There are three main ideas that we discussed in the #PKMChat, Thinking inside the box Practice Reflection As well as some secondary topics, like qualities of an artist, and how to balance social vs. solo learning. One of the first things I noticed about … Continue reading

Posted in Art, Community of Practice, Creativity, Innovation, Knowledge Management, Lessons Learned, Social Knowledge Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Second KM Silver Bullet: One isn’t enough

As a friend of mine pointed out, it’s not enough to just create a strategy, it’s about the execution of that strategy. And he’s right, strategies can sit on shelves, certainly I have had more than one client, that for various reasons did not implement the strategy we had developed together. So what does it take to successfully implement a KM strategy? A bunch of things, senior management buy-in and budget among them, but I would argue the most critical component, and the one that my friend posited, is Change Management. There are many good books on Change Management by authors such as Peter Senge and John P. Kotter, to name two of my favourites. But what it all boils down to for me, is communication. Not just some manager decreeing, “thou shalt do knowledge management,” but a real conversation between the KM team and the rest of the organization. What do they need to be able to be effective in their jobs? How can the KM team help them? What do the users of the KM activities need to know about how to use the technology and the processes? What will aid them in their decision making and other … Continue reading

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The KM Silver Bullet

KM is a lot of things to a lot of people. It seems everyone wants the silver bullet, the one “right” answer to the question of how to be successful in KM. Or they want the one “right” answer to the question of what is KM and what’s included in KM. Well let me save you a lot of time and heartache, there is no one right answer, the answer is, it depends. It depends on your organization’s strategy, objectives, culture, industry, regulations, size, budget, risk profile, staffing profile, technology strategy. Figure out what KM is to your organization and create a strategy that supports that definition, that’s the silver bullet.

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KM, Continuous Improvement, Process Re-engineering, and Six-Sigma

Last week (January 28-29, 2015) I was in Amsterdam for KM Legal Europe, I provided some thoughts on that in my previous blog. Also in that blog post I mentioned that the subject of where KM fits with Continuous Improvement, Process Re-engineering, and Six-Sigma came up. We had a discussion about it, but we ran out of time and I’m not sure that we really came to any conclusions. First lets start off with some general definitions/explanations. While Continuous Improvement, Process Re-engineering, and Six-Sigma are all different activities and initiatives, and there are books and courses on each of them separately for the purposes of this blog post I am going to group them all together because for the purposes of this discussion their touch-point with KM is the same. So what are they? They are activities that have the objective of aligning organizational processes with the needs and objectives of the organization. They seek to remove inefficiencies and streamline work processes; they aim for standardization and the reduction of variability. Knowledge Management, on the other hand, is about learning and sharing, and making sure people have the knowledge they need to do their jobs. On the face of it, … Continue reading

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Notes from KM Legal Europe January 2015

I attended KM Legal Europe last week in Amsterdam; I enjoyed the conference very much. I got to talk with many of the speakers and attendees and learn more about what the law firms and corporate legal departments in Europe are doing in the KM space. I was impressed by their thoughtfulness and recognition of the fact that KM can bring them efficiencies and effectiveness as well as innovations and competitive advantage. They were a passionate group of practitioners. While KM in law tends to focus on documented knowledge because of the nature of the sector and the need to track matters and precedents, there were discussions of lessons learned and sharing tacit knowledge too. One of the things that (pleasantly) surprised me, was the discussion of automated document creation, when I have spoken with other organizations (not just law firms) about this technology they haven’t even known what it was, so to sit in a room where many were enthusiastic users was refreshing. Other things that I found refreshing were the discussion of continuous improvement, six sigma, and process re-engineering. Again, all things that utilize an organization’s knowledge and especially, at least in my mind, the use of lessons … Continue reading

Posted in Change Management, Collaboration, Information Management, Innovation, Knowledge Management, Law Firm KM, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 2015–KM Legal Europe

My latest blog post is actually over on the LawFirmKM webpage, check it out there

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Published: Designing a Successful KM Strategy

Advance copies of our book, Designing a Successful KM Strategy are now available from our publisher, Information Today, Inc. It will officially be published in mid-January, so if you buy it before that, you get 40% of the regular price. I did a workshop based on the book at KM World, on Nov 4th, that was well received, as well as a couple of book signings–it was great to talk to everyone about the book and how it can help them regardless of whether they are just starting with KM or at a point where they are re-evaluating their strategy after implementing KM for a few years. Information Today has also made a chapter available for preview, you can access it here Nick (my co-author) also has some helpful links up over on his blog at I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to get in touch if you have any comments or questions.  

Posted in Business-IT Alignment, Change Management, Collaboration, Community of Practice, Decision making, Knoco, knowledge by design, Knowledge Management, Organization models, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing a Successful KM Strategy

I guess I have been busy, it’s been 6 months since my last post. One of the things that I have been busy with is finishing the book that I have co-authored with my Knoco colleague, Nick Milton. Nick and I have written and book called, “Designing a Successful KM Strategy,” it’s being published by Information Today, Inc. Advance copies will be available at KM World, where I will be doing a workshop based on the book (Workshop W4) and a book signing. I’ll post a link to their website once it’s available for order. Also, I’m doing a second workshop at KM World called, “W14: Sparking Innovation: Creative KM,” in case any of you are interested in that.

Posted in Business-IT Alignment, Change Management, Collaboration, Community of Practice, Creativity, Decision making, Knoco, Knowledge Management, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment