Change Leaders |


“Change is easy for those driving it and hard for those being driven by it.” – Anyone but me


Change Leaders …

  • Understand change from strategic and tactical perspectives.
  • Accept short term failures as part of long term success.
  • Communicate through any and every channel.
  • Embed themselves into the fabric of the organization and become an active member of multiple communities.
  • Learn and Share.
  • Know when to stop.
  • Know when to push.
  • Understand the differences between collective intelligence and individual intelligence.

Change leaders can only be successful if the structure and culture of the organization is engaged in a change practice.

Structure being – Functions and organization in management hierarchy and responsibilities.

Culture being-  Interaction between people in peer to peer and/or relationships between manager / leader and staff.   Culture deals with human factors of cognitive, physical and social relations.

Jim says “You have to come to the realization that there are times, we must self-amputate.”    Organizational cuts are painful and sometimes needed but they become important when other options have been exhausted.  – Jim Knight

Change is hard.  

changes went well.jpeg

Change isn’t a program which can be handled by basic high level steps and initiatives. Change is much more fluid and adaptive.  Change leaders have to sense and respond to events constantly adjusting activities and behavior.   That isn’t to say that we don’t make plans.

Imagine for a moment that you are planning a road trip across the country,  you may decide on places to stop for fuel, food and rest.   While you are on the road, that 64 ounce bottle of water really got to you and you may have to alter your plans adjust and pull over for a bio break.   It is the same kind of idea.   Planning and goal setting is important but you have to be flexible.


In consideration of the same road trip,  it is possible that some family members didn’t want to go.   What would you do to help them accept and possibly even enjoy the trip?

Clarity and communication is a basic constant.   Clearly discussing and sharing the mission, vision, scope and objective of change.   Why is change needed?  What are the costs of keeping things the same?


What happens when you refuse to change?  What happens to the company if we refuse to change?

Change leaders work across an organization to connect ideas and people as part of a community.   Change leaders have to constantly change, learn, grow and adapt themselves.


The Real

The average time spent at a job is now 4 years.   Depending on your frame of mind and tolerance for risk,  this could be a good thing.   If we consider the personal benefits in our individual time to competency or time to mastery,  change or shifting roles / job in 3-5 years will increase our overall knowledge, skills and ability.  Staying in a job (may) decrease our ability.   In the chart below, educators are normally on the B curve.


Change Reaction

If you are reading this in Sept 2017,  you will note that Donald Trump is president,  we are on the brink of war with a few radical countries,  “Cash me outside” is a thing that is making millions of dollars by being rude and disrespectful,  massive hurricanes are becoming normal, earthquakes, volcano erupting, and a super planet was prophesized to hit the earth and cause the rapture a few days ago.

Wow..  seriously.. wow..  especially that “Cash me outside” nonsense.

So, the issue is  | change at a higher level whether it be organizational or other becomes personal.   When it impacts “me” is when change is an issue.

People deal with change (generally) in three ways.

1. Victims

  • Perceive themselves as independent of the facts.
  • Feel threatened with hostile situations they can’t handle.
  • Panic and respond with “fight or flight.”
  • Become fatalistic.
  • Oversimplify the world into good or bad, limiting their alternatives.
  • Are never happy and complain about everything.
  • Become pessimistic and cynical about management’s intentions.
  • React by waiting for change to overtake and crush them.

2. Survivors

  • Believe they are at the mercy of circumstances they cannot change.
  • Believe they can survive the change if they simply “hold on” or become competitive with other employees.
  • Convince themselves that “grasping” and “clinging” are necessary for self protection.
  • Respond with anticipation to what is coming and behave accordingly.

3. Navigators

  • Face the pain of change and take a proactive approach.
  • Create a vision of the desired future.
  • Gather pertinent information and assertively pursue the vision.
  • Manage the stress of change well by cultivating a belief in their own ability to deal competently with the situation.
  • Believe in being the cause and influences of events rather than the victim.

Point Being..  change sucks..  changesucks

Going through change and dealing with it or leveraging it may be difficult, there is a good chance things will be better at the end of the change story.   That being said,  I don’t want Niribu to hit the earth right now, that just wouldn’t be cool.

New or Different?

All the cartoons and quotes won’t make any of this better.    It is hard work to go through a change practice and more often change initiatives fail.   The catch is that there really shouldn’t be a change campaign.  Change happens and should be communicated so that individuals have a higher level of awareness.   Companies hire people today on long term contracts.   This means that people for the most part are all contractors.   It is always a temp job.  The catch is how long can we as individuals maintain our relevance.   It is also important for the organization to maintain, grow and raise (organizational intelligence / competency).

It feels like a one way relationship to people because something is “happening to me” but really it is a multi-dimensional relationship.   Something is happening to the company and to all the people in it.  Something is happening to senior leaders.   Something is happening to managers at the mid-level and something is happening to subject matter experts.   The difference is “awareness.”

If I were to add anything to the ADKAR model, it would be “Transparency” because people simply want to be respected and informed.   In general, people just want to understand what the heck is going on and why.   Even if it is bad news, they can be better prepared to help as opposed to being in the dark.



We don’t know..

Change management and knowledge management go hand in hand.    Many companies survive change and many do not.   Even large companies fail to deal with change and wind up dying.   When going through change, everyone has to be open to possibilities and realize that a fixed destination is not a specific target as much as it is a range of possibilities.    Operational awareness, organizational transparency and clear relevant communication are the factors for success.   We can’t know what the end of the story will look like as it has yet to have been written.




Talking About Generations

This was a parody but it reflects a lot of discussion.

The Trouble with Kids Today


In Book III of Odes, circa 20 BC, Horace wrote:

Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more
worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more

In your face old man…  Our history says that each generation historically complains about the next younger generation.   We are no different with the millennials, generation c, z, next 2020.

The difference today is that we are now going well beyond complaints and into madness.

Of course there is a “comedy response”

While this all seems funny .. sort of.. the traffic keeps flowing on how we need to understand this generation and accommodate them.   We literally assign behaviors to generations.

I think this is a symptom of a larger problem.   We seem to have a strong desire to separate people into groups, it is almost as if we can’t help ourselves.   Our understand of individuals is overtaken by our belief about the group.    What we are failing to do is respect people as individuals.   It is true with no question that people in different age groups have different experiences during their time growing up.   It is true that due to environment conditions and other factor that people in these groups have perspective relative to their experience.   Isn’t that true of everyone?


Pull it Together..

We simply need to stop doing this and turn it off.  It is harmful to the people we work with, it is harmful to this generation and will hurt our younger generations behind them.   This is not helpful to anyone and companies generally spend money on these concepts only to find out that they got it wrong.    What we need to do, is focus on actions and activities to truly engage employees.

Dale Carnegie Tips and Guidebook is a good place to start

If we keep up the generation madness we will have to start sub types.

Millennial generation born between x-y , comes from the north east, mixed parents,  went to school in district 9…  then we can find common things about them to make videos about..




More on Whatever Happened to KM

RenderMeThis week I read an article in WSJ Whatever happened to KM by Thomas Davenport where he discusses some anecdotal and data driven evidence of a decreasing interest in knowledge management.   I found the article interesting but it felt a lot like Anne Thomas Manes 2009 declaration on the death of SOA .   The points that Thomas makes on the decline of interest in KM make sense but there are some hidden subtle areas of interest that he mentions that I believe we should talk about.   Below is the list of some of his ideas on why KM has faded.

  • It was too hard to change behavior. Some employees weren’t that interested in acquiring knowledge, others weren’t interested in sharing what they knew. Knowledge is tied up in politics and ego and culture. There were methods to improve its flow within organizations, but most didn’t bother to adopt them. Perhaps for this reason, the Bain survey (for example, the one from 2005) suggests that corporate satisfaction with KM was relatively low compared to some other management concepts.
  • Everything devolved to technology. KM is a complex idea, but most organizations just wanted to put in a system to manage knowledge, and that wasn’t enough to make knowledge flow and be applied.
  • The technology that organizations wanted to employ was Microsoft’s SharePoint. There were several generations of KM technology—remember Lotus Notes, for example?—but over time the dominant system became SharePoint. It’s not a bad technology by any means, but Microsoft didn’t market it very effectively and didn’t market KM at all.
  • It was too time-consuming to search for and digest stored knowledge. Even in organizations where a lot of knowledge was contributed to KM systems—consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture come to mind—there was often too much knowledge to sort through. Many people didn’t have the patience or time to find everything they needed. Ironically, the greater the amount of knowledge, the more difficult it was to find and use.
  • Google also helped kill KM. When people saw how easy it was to search external knowledge, they were no longer interested in the more difficult process for searching out internal knowledge.
  • KM never incorporated knowledge derived from data and analytics. I tried to get my knowledge management friends to incorporate analytical insights into their worlds, but most had an antipathy to that topic. It seems that in this world you either like text or you like numbers, and few people like both. I shifted into focusing on analytics and Big Data, but few of the KM crowd joined me.

How *Some* Consultants and Vendors Make Money

My job as a contractor or a consultant was to find pain points, clearly identify them and work to either provide solutions or partner on finding solutions for my clients.   Pain points always exist and there are always opportunities to help organizations do a better job in management of people, process, methods and tools.   The questions around knowledge management through consulting are specifically around a clear realization of benefit through a short-term engagement.  That being stated, “you can’t get fat or fit in a day” and that is key to understanding how and why knowledge management is a hard pill for companies to swallow.   My experience as a consultant and through discussions with industry experts is clear and consistent, the client wants “a result” in a specific period of time.

The only way to demonstrate results with some level of assurance is to provide a technological capability or clear consistent organizational trends proving that the knowledge management exercise is working.   The price of waiting for results on the latter is too high.  From a profitability perspective, it realistically makes sense to implement a technological capability because we can prove and demonstrate  capabilities.   As the old saying goes that is “solving the wrong problem precisely” aka type III error .    From a sociological standpoint this challenge is not limited to this area of concern, it is pervasive.  Doctors are prescribing pills to lower cholesterol because it is “fast acting” and “easy” as opposed to going to the gym and changing a diet.   If consultants or vendors want to succeed they need to have a new pill and “Ted Talk” to go along with it.    The only difference is that you don’t see the pharmaceutical disclaimer at the end of the talk.

Notional Disclaimer

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using Sharepoint to help them quit their siloed thinking behaviors. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking Sharepoint, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping Sharepoint. If you, your organization, or partnered consulting firm notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop using Sharepoint immediately and call your Knowledge Manager right away. Also tell your consultants about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking Sharepoint, as these symptoms may worsen while taking Sharepoint.

Some people can have serious reactions while taking Sharepoint, some of which can become life-threatening and overly costly to an organization and/or a person’s career. These can include rash, swelling, redness, and peeling of the skin and many trips to the unemployment center and/or a technical recruiter. Some people can have allergic reactions to Sharepoint, some of which can be life-threatening to an organization and include: cost overruns, cost underruns, poor results in knowledge transfer, mass exodus, performance failures, higher overall costs to infrastructure and support, poor or uninformed change management, lack of governance, decrease is sales, decrease in operational funding, decrease in margins and overall liquidation of departments or teams. If you have these symptoms or have a rash with peeling skin or blisters in your mouth, stop taking Sharepoint and get medical attention right away.


As a consultant,  I knew going into an engagement what would happen based on my experience of watching organization after organization take the same actions over and again.   That is why my team and I started with talking about why KM fails.   Sometimes it didn’t matter to clients why others failed because they had end of year money to spend or other reasons that they didn’t care.   Vendors and consultants can capitalize on organizational change and lack of knowledge around what it takes to make knowledge sharing practices successful.   Enough of this has happened over the course of the past x amount of years to give KM and other areas of work that deal with human behaviors a bad rap.    The pill is the quick fix and the quick sell but it only works if there is a health plan in place that encourages organizational recognition of the importance in human factors.

This is not a referendum on consulting or vendors as I would not knock a doctor for prescribing a statin.  This is about an understanding that until Ray Kurzweil realizes his dream of uploading his soul into the grid, knowledge management will be a part of life in organizations whether they choose to fund a practice or not.   Consulting firms and vendors will simply create solutions or leverage old solutions with new names and sell the capability or services under a different set of words.

Pay Now or Later

Knowledge Management won’t fade or go away or die because the concepts of KM are fundamental to an organizations ability to perform.   Consultants, vendors, academics, industry experts and others can call KM something else or stick the concepts in a different bin but water is water or a rose is a rose.    Agree or not this is a simple concept,  organizational knowledge is a generally replaceable intellectual asset in the form of capabilities, services, process, tasks and associated methodology the more an organization knows about “how” to do something the better the organizational ability to optimize performance, agility, productivity and innovation.    In the end, an organization will pay for “ability to execute and perform.”   If you lose the knowledge and the “how to” you have to pay to replace or substitute with some “like” knowledge.   That may or may not get the organization to the required results but then again that is very much like a fad diet or pill to solve the problem.

A Fish Can’t Whistle

Davenport says “Any chance that this idea will come back? I don’t think so.”    I think the question is upside down.   Is there any chance in the next 20+ years that concepts under the knowledge management umbrella will go away? I don’t think so.   Ask an Oil and Gas company what they would do if all of their engineers were replaced by robots.  Ask doctors and nurses what they would do without lessons learned, best practices, fresh information on current medical news or journals.   Hand a classroom of children all the classical instruments of our history and ask them to play the 5th symphony.     Organizations need people, process, methods and tools.   KM by any name is the “right information to the right people, at the right time for the right purpose.”     Watson can’t teach people how to feel or provide immediate feedback on “am I doing this right”?     Learning and development itself is part of the equation in KM but useful feedback by someone who knows and understanding of time to competency relative to an organizational requirement for competency is where the rubber meets the road.

Forgetting Practice

Shake and Bake Medical Center has decided to convert all of their hospital services to a flexible workforce urgent care center.  They have invested in all of the latest technologies and the finest most up to date infrastructure.   The medical center uses big data and Watson like technologies to perform analytics on each patient.   They converge data provided from a patients history, labs, DNA, feed from public google content, paid for data from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social outlets, data from purchases on food and buying habits through an agreement with banking systems, data from Fitbit or like devices  and data from government sources as part of a sanctioned data exchange program.    On arrival, a doctor or nurse practitioner could run thousands of queries and sift through petabytes of data to come up with a comprehensive profile about a person.    If we consider moving forward with a homogenized and pasteurized flexible workforce augmented by big data and emerging futuristic technologies what could go wrong?    One of the greatest challenges in healthcare today is communication.   Surgeons make critical mistakes and errors due to many factors but communication is one of the top.

In this great articleConnecting with Patients: The Basic Ingredient of Care,” written by Colette Herrick, published on the Six Seconds website, Colette discusses the reality of diminishing time for the patient provider relationship. – HLBlog

The financial reality of modern healthcare creates a relentless pressure to reach a swift diagnosis and treatment plan, to get the billing codes captured, and to move on to the next patient. These objectives are not conducive to empathy.

In her experience seeing the struggle to find enough time to apply the nuts and bolts of medicine, many professionals have difficulty using empathy and emotion in their encounters and decision-making.

When I raise this topic … there are typically two objections:  “I don’t have time”; and, when they are really being honest: “I don’t know how.”

With the pressures of applying the medical science we’ve been taught, using the art we’ve learned along the way, and facing the administrative burdens that go with the territory, we can find time to learn and effectively apply Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to our work. Colette explains:

The reason real empathy takes no extra time is that true empathy is not about an action it’s about a feeling.

How do we get there? How to we learn Emotional Intelligence and synchronize that with our skills, our science, and our time pressures? One of the keys is to know that using EQ results in real, positive changes for the patients and clinical outcomes. A study of diabetic patients in Parma, Italy concludes:

 [The] results suggest that physician empathy is significantly associated with clinical outcome for patients with diabetes mellitus and should be considered an important component of clinical competence.

The question isn’t about what the doctor knows about the patient as much as what the doctor knows about how to interact with a patient and others involved in patient care.

Knowledge alone is not enough..

The notion of a knowledge management program is great but in consideration of ROI or TCO or strategic investment, innovation, research and development etc,  the focus must be on gaining the basic information required in order to perform tasks that serve business requirements.   This drives a need to focus on areas that can return great value through analysis.    The concept is logically sound but flawed by humanity.    Google is showing great promise in AI which lends itself to fears around the singularity concept.   In our business world, we are forcing ourselves to be desensitized and emphatically stating that “it is just business” and that we should focus on facts.  If we base all of our decisions on facts we will still find ourselves with undesirable and costly results.    Imagine that you are using only data to make decisions without any consideration for morals, values or ethics, would that be a business that you would want to be a part of?  Would that be something you are proud of?   We balance our knowledge by experience, facts, and other data points to make decisions that have positive outcomes.   There are many occasions that someone would make a seemingly illogical business decision at that moment in time.  Those aren’t decisions that would convey well coming from a best practice through a Sharepoint repository.  In fact,  storytelling is an important part of KM but the stories have to be meaningful and be in relative context.    There are many tacit factors that have to be considered.   These become very clear when a gap is created from their lack of existence.

A young doctor tells a family “Your grandmother is very sick and dying, we are going to do nothing for her because statistically speaking, she doesn’t have long to live anyway.”   It’s just the facts…

Solving the wrong problems with great rigor

If we leverage the doctor consultancy or “Nurses R Us”  model for healthcare how could we ever know to gauge emotional intelligence?  The concept of EQ or RQ is addressed in knowledge management and can’t be ignored until the rise of the machine.   If organizations seek to switch people and/or technologies to create cost savings and efficiencies these will simply shift costs.  History says, it will increase costs overall because organizations will need to hire consultants to fix the new more challenging problems they created.   Will the machine now tell the doctor as part of the checklist

  1. Present facts to patient.
  2. State facts in kind manner.
  3. Create sense of emotional connection.
  4. Hand patient overall diagnosis.
  5. Enter information into billing system.
  6. Have patient sign in 17 places that they understand their rights, the facts and that you doctor_____<–fill in.. have been emotionally sufficient.
  7. Collect payment and refer patient for funeral services. ** Please Note: Shake and Bake will get 7% of all funeral service dollars with doctor allocation of .07%


KM is not dead.  KM is not dying. Knowledge will continue to be shared.   Organizations will have to deal with knowledge management and they may call it something else but it will still have the same properties as knowledge management.    As companies get closer to the non technical Y2K of our time known as “crew change” we will gain more insight as to how important knowledge sharing is.   I am confident that between now and 2020 companies will spend a lot of real dollars on knowledge transfer.   Maybe they won’t call Mr. Davenport for help or call it KM but they will call for help until 2030 when the machines take over or Ray has us all sharing our hopes, our dreams and bottled tacit knowledge in the Matrix.


Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors as I outsourced my blog to Google's AI ChatBot.

Boiling the Frog – Human Factors around Sharing

The parable of the boiled frog is told to create a shared understanding around the key challenges in coping with change.

Frog in Hot Water

The story as told by many over the years is that if you put a frog in hot boiling water that it will immediately jump out as a natural response to the environmental conditions.   If you put a frog in a comfortable temperature and slowly heat the water, the frog won’t notice the changes over time and won’t respond to the temperature change until it is too late.

The frog tale has been debunked but the science behind it was never the point behind the story.  That is the focus of my thinking today.

When Facts Matter or Not

When I worked for a consulting firm, it was often stated that we should “focus on facts” or “facts are friends” but not unlike the tale of the boiling frog, the facts are not really facts, they are facts of convenience.   The personal and political agendas get in the way of sharing and the focus on self-centered and selfish behaviors is highly prevalent.  These behaviors make it very difficult at best to build trusted relationships.   The lack of trust makes it difficult to share information and knowledge.   People wind up feeling like they are in survival mode.    All the while information and knowledge does change hands but it seems to be a lot of noise and little signal.

More often than not, organizational sharing appears to have increased over time but has mostly decreased in effective or relevant content.  The fact is that content generation has dramatically increased but one has to question the sheer amount of content usefulness.


Why it Matters

If you throw the frog in the boiling water, there is a really good chance it won’t get out.   We have an expectation that we can place people in high intensity, high velocity and high stress conditions with an expectation that they can manage it or get out in a reasonable time.   Frankly, that is non-sense. We want these people to learn fast and suck the knowledge through a technical straw and become an expert within moments.  News flash, this isn’t the Matrix and Neo isn’t working for you.  We also are looking in many organizations to find ways to share information, data, and knowledge in an open and transparent way but not really.    For the past 5+ years all I have heard about is crew change concerns and subject matter expertise worries but they sort of equate to the boiling frog in the sense that we are watching the temperature rise a degree at a time.   Ultimately, it really “boils down to” the same things we recognize as true over human history.  You can fill your desk with the greatest books of all time but without the mastery of language and an understanding of the subject, you will still know nothing.   It doesn’t matter how smart you are either because you are dealing with unknowns.   If there is no trust,  you cannot transfer knowledge.   If someone thinks you have an agenda, they won’t teach you and they won’t listen.   All of the content and sharing that may come from you the learner or the teacher would be for nothing, just a number or artifact but potentially useless.

One must recognize that if we do not consider how we treat people who at the end of the day whether the frog was thrown into a boiling pot or it was trapped in the pot because the heat snuck up on it, both instances result in something bad for the frog.   Companies will spend millions of dollars on technologies to solve the problem of sharing but few will spend the time <– the time in understanding the behaviors.   If you don’t understand the behaviors and the human factors and they are left unattended, the result will be very bad.

Knowledge Driven

A trust driven organization will tell us that the frog story is a parable to help us think about the dangers of rapid change and our lack of awareness in change.  It would also say that the frog story is just a story.    It is that simple difference of being open and transparent that creates an environment that allows people to share.   If there isn’t a trust driven organization, there will never be a knowledge driven organization.


What we know is the frog story is told to help us understand and be careful in many situations, ultimately it is about awareness.  Gaining awareness is gaining knowledge.  We can only gain knowledge with trust.  Finally, just because we have content generated and information sharing occurring as an activity doesn’t mean that the information or knowledge is useful.   It can only be found useful from an authoritative source, authoritative meaning “trusted.” Additionally, if we don’t have trusted relationships, we may not even understand what we are looking at.

The answer..  start and lead with honesty, truth as you understand and clear intent.   All other roads will see someone boiled.


This post was written for my friends in consulting..  



Project Black Box – 1 -2 -3

Team to the Center..

It isn’t exactly what it seems..  About 10 years ago, my team implemented one of the first fully virtualized computing environments on a defense oriented platform.   It was a pretty complex system with a 4 tier architecture.  The software that we were sharing for end user productivity was called TeamCenter Requirements.

When our team realized what it was going to take to make this system work as an enterprise level capability that was available worldwide to users as far as Korea, we knew that our plan to get us the capability we needed were going to take imagination.

We needed a robust operating capability that had a good responsive speed of service, available to DoD architects, planners, and engineering oriented teams.    We needed to meet DoD security requirements and function on DoD infrastructure.   We were constrained by budget and we had an aggressive agile like schedule.  At the time, the concept of Agile development was not even something we heard of.

Fast Forward

AND.. We did it!  Our team pulled it off! … But what happened next is why this story is important.

Now that it works.. Take it all apart..

We had to transition the whole enterprise solution to a cloud based platform and as we moved all of our software and licenses, we quickly found out that the IaaS platform that we were moving our software to was not going to be enough to hold up the building.

We had to transfer equipment and licenses and…

After months of work it was done but the level of effort was so great that the team supporting the cloud platform was fed up and frustrated and they left.  Yes, they quit!  Our team had to essentially take over the work which mean’t they all had to shift to other companies and  it was a mess.

After a while.. they got frustrated and they left.. and what they left was explicit documentation (limited in scope and instruction).  The systems and support services were lacking and there wasn’t enough man power to support their capabilities no less the system that we brought in.

 Last man standing..

I went from a team of over 12 people down to just myself.  During the transition process I was pulled into a different project and I was no longer managing the system work.    I watched as the team left for other projects, one by one.  Now leadership came to me at the end when they had no one else and said “what do we do?”   When they initially asked me to work on the other project it was for a good business purpose and I understood, although I loved my team and I felt close to them.    Now they had shed everyone for one reason or another, they still needed the capability and they needed help.

Unfortunately, this project was under budget constraints that did not allow for new hires.. and they needed to maintain a capability for as long as possible without bringing in new people.   That is 12 down to 1 in support.  We did have a few people left on the cloud side of the house supporting virtual technologies but no one that understood TeamCenter except for me.


Black Box –> End of Life

  1. Created a virtual set of appliances using the existing software.
  2. Created documents to support the effort.
  3. Defined some operating guidelines.
  4. Set expectations on performance.
  5. Came up with a transition plan.

Eventually,  the capability was replaced.  The work was able to continue and all of the staff involved had a successful transition.


Lessons Learned

  1. People are not as replaceable as advertised.
  2. Knowledge Management must occur over the long term and the life of a project.
  3. When shifting project ownership, the incoming PM should maintain and grow KM.
  4. Trust is key and when it is broken, your staff will leave you.
  5. There are methods to convert and maintain a “Black Box” solution but they are all stop gap measures.  (Triage over a long term resolve)

If you have questions on specifics, please reach out!






Health Insurance Rates Make Early Retirement Appealing #CrewChange


Unforeseen Crew Change

In an article written by The Motley Fool a study by the (CBO) Congressional Budget Office which I will include here projects “a drop in hours worked equivalent to having 2 million fewer full-time workers in the workplace in 2017.”

“You may be eligible for deeply discounted health insurance
Insurance premiums for older men and women are expected to drop by 19% and 32%, respectively, under the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent study. This will decrease the amount of out-of-pocket premium dollars this population will need to spend on health insurance, meaning they will need less money to cover health expenditures.”-Motley Fool 

Don’t gloss over the study.. 

The CBO study says ” Because the supply of labor is responsive to changes in compensation, the employer penalty will ultimately induce some workers to supply less labor.”   What this basically means is that as costs for employers go up, they will pass these on to their labor force by increasing the burden on labor.

The combination of cheaper health insurance if you are unemployed and burden on the labor if you are employed increases the opportunity  for retirement age workers to leave early or as planned.  The Affordable Care Act itself is an enabler for crew change.

There was a time not long ago.. when retired workers would take jobs just for health insurance.   They don’t have to do that anymore either.  It actually may be more expensive for them to take a job just to get health care as opposed to going to the government.   What impact will this have on the system relative to jobs older workers would normally take (Walmart Greeter)?

The study tells us that the demand for labor will increase and that the supply will decrease starting in 2015 except in the case where

employers of 50 or more full-time equivalent workers that do not offer health insurance (or that offer health insurance that does not meet certain criteria) will generally pay a penalty. That penalty will initially reduce employers’ demand for labor and thereby tend to lower employment.”

Double Whammy!

What do you think?  How will this impact your business in the next year or so?  Are you ready for your older workers to leave early?  I have heard that it is happening already..


Knowledge Transfer / Continuity , Crew Change (May not be a problem after all)

Don't worry.. I am making money today!
He can’t hear you over the sound of all that cash…

What if I told you that in the next 5 years, the water in your pipes would stop flowing at some point.  What you will need to do is build a backup pipe to the street and then divert the flow of water to make sure you have continuity of service.   There will be a lot of costs around this and, in fact, you may actually have some disruption of service while we are working on your pipes.  Would you spend the money now?   What if I told you that it was in the next 5 years but most likely in the 5th year?  Would you want to take care of it now or later?  What if I told you there was a chance that even if the water stopped flowing that we may be able to do some things when the water stopped to make it flow for a little longer without replacing the pipes, would you do it now?

What if the water pressure was degrading over time?  What if water stopped or slowed at random?  Would you do it now?   What if everyone in your neighborhood is having water problems except you at the moment, would you consider your situation?

Pay now,  pay later or pay never?

Need a Catastrophe

It seems to take a catastrophic event (something real and compelling) to force companies to respond to an emergency that could have easily have been avoided or prevented.

An article about BP suggests ( that the disaster in the Gulf could very well be tied to a failure of knowledge management “We are not saying (we’d like to, but we can’t prove it) that there is a causal relationship between the dismantling of a knowledge management program and the subsequent missteps that culminated in the Gulf disaster. ”

Nick Milton had a different perspective<–just bringing in other thoughts.

Interesting that the HBR article also said that BP had a severe case of “Exxon Envy” which led to bad decisions in regard to their knowledge management program.  That is a pretty strong statement by HBR. What does that say about Exxon?

If something costs money and leadership doesn’t see the cost convert directly to savings, revenue or the reduction of risk, they won’t spend the money on it.

Some thoughts on why crew change may not be a problem after all!

When a catastrophic event occurs it may be cheaper to pay later.    

How many times have we heard or read about organizations KNOWING something and not sharing or KNOWING something and not having a level of awareness about what they know?   The government has changed its KM practices since 9/11

It took a terrorist attack. We still don’t know what we know and we still don’t share enough. 

I don’t have to make a list of companies or situations because it is so common that everyone has a story or common knowledge of knowledge sharing failures.

All this being said, the concerns of crew change may not be an issue at all!   Here is why:

  • People are retiring at different times and the failures associated with their retirement can be overcome by brute force.
  • People that are of extreme value are coerced into staying or coming back.
  • People that are retiring may know how to do something today that is of value, but may not matter in the long run.
  • In a lot of organizations, people are being replaced by automation
  • Crew change may be akin to Y2K.
  • If companies cared about it they would do more than they are doing.  They would invest but they don’t, they essentially throw pennies at a problem that needs dollars.

It MAY take an event in an organization like a mass exodus to create enough of a concern in knowledge loss to make a difference, but the likelihood of that is ?.

When is too much enough?  Experts say to work this problem now, companies say they worry now, but will work it later.

Sales People

Who is raising awareness on the issues of crew change?   An article back in 2011 asks if this is a wolf cry or reality?  Once again, this is about paying now or paying later.   If a company pays to start a knowledge transfer and continuity program, they will see it as a cost and their capability will perpetually remain flat.

What would you buy?

1) I am offering you a process and tool that once licensed will guarantee your organization can find and process energy resources 5% faster.

2)I am offering you a process and tool that once licensed will guarantee that you will continue your current operations at the very minimum as-is and at the very maximum with few disruptions.

You could take a position as I often do that knowledge transfer offers additional opportunities for innovation.  To decision makers this means nothing.  Innovation is something that you look back at and say, “wow”.    If you plan for innovation, you never get what you plan for because innovation itself as an activity is rarely targeted.  (see


It is estimated that Y2K cost over 1 trillion dollars to prevent or mitigate.   Was it worth it?  Was it really an issue?  Did the money spent prevent a major meltdown?   What new capabilities came from the Y2K expenditures?   Do you remember how much a Cobal programmer could make at that time?  Was it worth it?  They had valuable explicit and tacit knowledge!


In terms of knowledge on the job, if you can’t do what you did, you either pay to get someone who can or you do something else.

  • What you knew may not matter.
  • What you know may not matter.
  • You can do something better if you reinvent a capability based on the need and current requirements not on old ways. (Refactoring the workforce)
  • There is a reason that business isn’t worried.

Please Disagree

I hope that you have an argument that blows this post out of the water!  I have seen in my own practice the cost of ignoring knowledge transfer and continuity.  It isn’t a knowledge issue, it is a business issue.   I was on a program that once spent over 30+ million dollars on technology that was shelved in the long run because knowledge transfer did not occur.

When organizations believe there is value in knowledge transfer, they pay for it.    More often than not they talk about it, but they view it as a cost.   It is essentially viewed as a maintenance activity when it could be and I said COULD BE an opportunity to do things better, save money, add value and lower risk.

Until there is a direct impact on the bottom line that exceeds a corporate pain point, my position is that they WON’T invest the time and the money.    Frankly there are a lot of people in leadership roles that don’t think their staff is anything more than a resource or a corporate asset.   Do a short history check and see who the best leaders in our past century were “Neutron Jack,”  “The Peoples Tycoon,” etc.    What about the leadership books?  Art of War and others like this are touted.  You have to kill and be an asshole.   You have to make the shareholder happy at all costs.    You are thinking about now and the near future as opposed to investing in the long-term.