Productivity, is that all there is?

We seem to have spent so much time in the last 100+ years trying to drive efficiency and effectiveness into our processes. How to do things faster, with more quality, with better outcomes, reduce waste, reduce re-work. These are not bad things, but in our push to be effective and efficient many of our organizations have removed time for reflection, for questioning, for considering alternatives out of the process.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the last 100+ years, there most definitely has been. Whole areas of study have been developed/discovered, new technology is being developed all the time, but what about the “smaller” things, everyday things. What happens when we take away the time to think and reflect? We do things by rote, not thinking about if that’s the right thing to do, we get tired and suffer burnout, we start to make mistakes and treat people badly because we have focused on efficiency and effectiveness to the detriment of the system as a whole (see United Airline’s complete failure to respect passengers  (http://fortune.com/2017/04/11/united-airlines-video/ and http://innovationexcellence.com/blog/2017/04/17/innovating-for-a-worse-customer-experience-insights-from-united-airlines/ and http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/27/united-airlines-bars-teens-from-flight-for-failure-to-meet-dress-code-social-media-erupts/)

How do we bring that space for reflection, for some humanity back into our activities? By introducing time. Time for reflection, time for learning, time for asking questions, time for talking to other people, time for doing things differently, time for experimenting. Time.

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The Art of Innovation Workshops

Innovation and creativity, powerful skills we need for differentiation purposes in business, and to which we are attracted as humans. Sadly, too often we let self criticism and anxiety hold us back from being creative.

What can you do about it?

Come to one of our workshops in London (June 8 and 9)  or in Berlin on July 4-5. In London we are doing 2 1-day sessions, and if you sign-up early you will get a ticket for an evening event on June 8th. In Berlin we’ve decided to delve a little more deeply into the ideas and experiences that are possible in this domain, so the workshop is 2-days, with an evening event on the first day.

Isn’t it time to do things differently?

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World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15-21, 2017): Everyday Creativity

I have posted a blog post about World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15-21, 2017) on the GfWM site, you can check it out here.

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Serious KM Game article published

Just in case you missed it in my social media activities, the World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development has published my article about Knoco’s Bird Island. The article is called, “Serious game: Knoco’s Bird Island, making the point for KM” and will be published this spring, but is already available online, http://linkis.com/emeraldinsight.com/ijdJ4

I am in the process of setting up a session to do with the KM Meetup Group here in Berlin and a virtual session with the KM group in Toronto that I used to co-facilitate with Connie Crosby and Martin Cleaver. Both sessions will happen in May 2017.

If you have any questions about it, would like to participate in one of the upcoming sessions or have something specially set-up for your organization, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Knowledge vs. Learning vs. Information vs. transfer

I just recently received an email about disaster preparedness, it contained a scan of a document that the person who sent it to me had received. What does this have to do with KM?

Nothing and everything.

The point the person who sent me the scanned document was making was that he had received this document in the middle of summer, while people were away on vacation, it was poorly produced, there didn’t seem to be an electronic version available, and he believed that if any of these floods, fires, earthquakes etc. ever happened (or maybe that should be when they happen), he wouldn’t be able to remember the information in the document (which was about 10 pages long), and if he remembered that he had received this document, he wouldn’t be able to find it again.

Again, so what you say? What does this have to do with KM or learning or information or anything at all?

Well, if we are doing knowledge management, or learning management or information management we need to be concerned about how knowledge/information gets transferred and shared. How do the users want to receive it? What is their environment like? What circumstances will they be using this information/knowledge in? Who is going to be using this knowledge/information.

If we don’t design our systems and processes with the users in mind, all of the users, not just some of the users, they won’t use the knowledge/information and then what good is all the effort we put into implementing our KM/Learning/Information program?

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Does Knowledge Management Really Make a Difference?

Yes, I still get this question or some variation on it, even though there are lots of case studies and examples of knowledge management activities having a significant impact on the results of an organization.

The quickest and often the easiest way of winning over sceptics is by having the opportunity to do Knoco’s Bird Island workshop (http://www.knoco.com/bird-island.htm), I have seen more “light bulbs” come on for people in doing this 2-hour workshop than I ever would have believed.

I don’t want to give  away any of the surprise, but by using three different KM processes (After Action Reviews, Peer Assists, and Best Practice sharing) results of the activity go from abysmal to unbelievable, increasing  an average of 260%.

Even if you want to continue to be sceptical of the results that making better use of your organization’s knowledge can have and you think you can only attain a fraction of this, 10% of the result demonstrated in the workshop is still 26%. Isn’t that worth at least giving it a try?

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Guest Blog Post on Communities of Practice and Trust

I wrote a guest blog for Noddle Pod about Communities of Practice and Trust, you can check it out on their webpage http://www.noddlepod.com/2016/01/26/cop_trust.html?utm_content=buffer2ac25&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer 

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Knowledge Management and Finance/Accounting

Some of you, who know me, will know that I started out my career in accounting; I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and was going to be a Chartered Accountant.

This is also how I got my start in KM, although it wasn’t called KM then, it was just how you worked—checklists and reusing last year’s files, talking to the staff who had worked on the audit/tax last year. If you had worked on the engagement the year before you were expected to be quicker in the subsequent year(s) because you were familiar with the client and the file.

15+ years into my knowledge management career, I still run into organizations that think that in order to help them better manage their knowledge that I have to be a specialist in whatever their content is, e.g. if it’s a law firm, I have to be a lawyer, if it’s a manufacturer I have to be an engineer, if it’s a hospital I have to be a doctor or a nurse or some other medical professional.

This isn’t always true, there are lots of organizations that understand that KM is a series of processes and activities, largely independent of the content. Organizations that understand having a depth of experience in how to get people to participate in knowledge sharing activities is more important than knowing the knowledge that they are actually supposed to be sharing.

Accounting is accounting is accounting. Yes, there might be some differences from industry to industry or sector, but in the end you are still trying to keep track of the financial resources of the organization, using generally accepted accounting principles.

Knowledge Management is no different. You are just trying to help facilitate the knowledge lifecycle from creation to sharing and management to disposal using a set of generally accepted knowledge management processes.

In both cases it’s important to understand the processes and principles, not the content.

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Learning and Keeping an Open Mind

Back before Christmas, I tweeted about the necessity of keeping an open mind in order to learn, it was part of the #PKMChat, but it got picked up by several people who weren’t part of the chat, which is nice, because it means that people were reading my tweets even though they weren’t part of the chat that I was participating in.

It got me thinking about why I tweeted that, and how important it really is, to keep an open mind, and not pre-judge something or someone.

I was delivering a series of training sessions for a client a couple of years ago, and I said to them, “imagine if that’s not true.”  I was trying to get them to think outside of the box, to imagine that whatever they had assumed was the answer wasn’t. What assumptions were they making, why did they think that something was true when it might not have been?

Some of them had a great deal of difficulty with this notion, that there wasn’t a right answer, that what they were sure was true wasn’t. No amount of challenges from me was going to change their minds.

It got me thinking, there are a lot of people like this in the world, I have been one myself in the past, and there are some days I probably still am this way, but I like to think that I am more open minded now. I have travelled more, talked to more people, had more life experiences, and learned that there are lots of different ways to approach the same challenge because I’ve seen it happen and experienced it personally.

How did this happen for me? Somewhere along the line, I ran out of “answers” and had to go looking, asking questions, recognizing assumptions that I was making, recognizing that things people had told me were true and necessary, were not. It was a hard realization to come to, but I’m better for it.

Keeping and open mind and questioning is key to learning, critical thought is key to learning: don’t just regurgitate what someone else has said. It’s hard and it takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end.

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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 along the way?

A KM strategy does just that. It helps you figure out where you’re going, and the things you need to do along the way, the processes you need to support you and that need to be supported.

That’s not to say that you won’t make adjustments along the way, just like a friend of mine who drove from Toronto to Vancouver in September 2015, who ended up “detouring” through the United States, so that she could see some different sites, but she still knew where she was going and when she had to be there by—she made it with time to spare.

Isn’t that what you want from your KM strategy? To know where you’re going and how you want to get there, to meet the goals and objectives of the organization?

Why would you put a toaster over in the car for your trip, when you really needed a camp stove?

Why would you choose one technology because “everyone else is” when another technology is cheaper and better meets the needs of the organization because it requires less customization than the more popular software?

Isn’t it time you created (or updated) your KM strategy?

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