The Truth of Human Resources and KM #PracticalHR

Cohenstone.jpg

 

Visually Compelling Organizational Development

The work by Kevin Desmond was thoughtful and emotionally charged.      It is tough to be a leader in general, but the world today makes it even more difficult.

Leadership is something I care deeply about.   I strive to be a better leader in the same way that Jascha Heifetz said, “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”

It takes practice and clear commitment, but the results aren’t always as beautiful as a heartwarming tune.   It may result in tough decisions and failure, but you have to strive on and keep trying.

I have a team and they are geographically dispersed.  I care about them as a group and certainly care for them each as individuals.   I am lucky and honored to have this amazing team and I have a responsibility to honor them and give them time to learn more about each other, including building their own relationships.    Finding time is not always easy, but this was something that I chose to do with the support of my leadership.

The compounding factors in team dynamics and collaboration are always moving.  It feels as if we have to hurry to get something going in order to get this snapshot of a moment in time.    This is where Kevin was able to come in and get us started.

The answers aren’t always.. 

Right and wrong aren’t clear concepts as they used to be.  Some would argue that they are clear, but what I would say is that perspective and context are key to a shared determination of what is right and wrong.   In order to share common perspective or context, we must be able to communicate and share our ideas.    Our ideas are born from our knowledge or our perceived knowledge about something.    Regardless, we must level set and to do that “level setting” we must compromise.     In order to compromise we have to have a willingness to compromise.    We have to build trust.   Trust is a critical enabler.   It is THE critical enabler.

Kevin came down and sat in my office a while back, he looked right at me and told me that I may have to do some things that would make me uncomfortable but I would have to trust the process.    We went through some of the ideas and concepts he would use with a clear objective of helping the team baseline or “level set.”    He said, “Howie, you realize this is only the beginning, right?”

We set the objectives and goals,  built in some time for flexibility and discussion and included some primers for thinking.   There was clarity in the thinking and of course what we sought to achieve, but the results were emotionally compelling right from the start.   For the sake of privacy and respect for my amazing team,  I will only share my personal experience and my personal thoughts as part of a similar thought exercise not directly aligned or reflective of anyone other than my experience.

It is the reason for the Cohen tombstone at the top of this post.   If I am to choose a picture of what I want to represent who I am and I am given a controlled group of images, which would I choose?

For the sake of this posting and in practical consideration,  I chose a grave stone with my name on it.   I would preferred it to have said Howard Cohen, Father, Husband, Brother, Son, Time Traveler, Stunt Car Racer, Lover, Fighter,  Good Guy, Bad Guy, Hardworking Guy,  and on the bottom “Crack is Wack” because I think I am funny sometimes.     I mean to say that I consider my mortality.  I consider my life in that I am thankful for it and I am thankful for each day.  I think of death as I understand that it is an end or beginning and I don’t know which, but I know that it can come at any time and that I should be true to who I am and love hard, play hard, work hard, but mostly be the best person I can be.   Not so easy to pick a picture, but is something that we have to do.   Every moment in our lives is like the iPhone video application,  you can take movies, but every once in a while you have to push the button and get that single frame snapshot.

The exercise of taking this image and sharing it with you and potentially the whole world is a little embarrassing I suppose and a bit revealing of some of my weakness and maybe strength, butall  in all, it is important because it is part of building trust through sharing and revealing who I am.    One of my team said “there is the face you show and the face you hold close” the you that you are is a multitude.   Of the many, you are a person and what you choose to show or hide consumes energy.

With one act and one question,  Kevin started an activity that set a course for myself and my team to share and consider the multitudes in each of us.   In my willingness and/or the willingness of the team, we could begin to share start a process of “level setting.”

Measuring the Distance of Knowledge

How do you measure knowledge?   How do you measure trust?   What was the best team you ever had?   Who was the best leader you have ever known?    How do you measure success?  How do you define success?   What if success for you is failure for someone else?  Is that always the case?   Are you running a race?  Is this race with yourself or others?  Why do you jump out of airplanes?    What would make you better and how would you measure that?  How would you be sure that you were better?

** I just started working for Booz Allen and was working on the floor of US Joint Forces Command Integration Directorate.    An old Marine was running part of the military architecture shop, he was a contractor himself but commanded the equivalent of a cell.   In other words, he had his team on lock down and he was no joke.    He called me over to speak with him, looked at me in the eyes (sorta scary) and said “son, what’s your CV?”   I really didn’t know what the heck he was asking me so I just stood there looking at him.  He said, “ok, were you in the service?”   I said “yes sir, I was a Damage Controlman.”    He looked around for a moment and literally stood himself taller almost as if I were to shrink down and he asked “How the hell does a DCMan get here?”    My answer..

“Well sir,  I went(s) to college”    In fact, by that time I had a Masters but it isn’t like you carry it around like a patch on your arm or anything.

We are judged by what we do or what we have done and that is in the realm of someones idea about us in which they (think) they know and/or make assumptions about us.   Even if there is a measure that exists or criteria, these are still open for discussion.    I went to school but maybe the school I went to wasn’t the top school in the nation.   What if I had the best teacher in the nation in one of the lower tiered schools?   Would there be a measure or some condition or factoid that would illuminate that as a fact?    The answer is of course “no.”    The point is that we have to measure what we can, and define success as we can but in order to do this we have to be clear about it in the scope of our activities and relative to a moment in time.

Throwing the fastest pitch consistently over time matters only if these measured factors produce the result that you threw that same pitch during a game and as a result won!

Kevin helped illuminate these points through a series of activities and discussions.   He talked about measures and what they mean’t and the importance of using them.   He also spoke of the context in which they apply.

The Human Resource to Knowledge Connection

I enjoy the thinking that Knowledge Management and Human Resources is tied at the hip and they are their own combination of many things that add up to one.   The idea that we have to be able to have a person in a mode to listen or receive,  and a person in a mode to transmit.   The active listener actually listening and not thinking to rebuke or over take the conversation.    It is the primary condition in communication.    The condition to be ready to listen, learn, read, pay attention and think about what someone else has said or is saying.     If you are reading this right now, you are allowing me the honor of sharing with you and I thank you for that.    It is the precondition for knowledge sharing and knowledge management.   It is also a condition provide though an act of respect.   It may very well be that after you read what I have written that you lose or gain respect for me but under this condition at this very moment, you are providing me a channel in which I can communicate with you.   This is where the organizational development begins but the preconditions and factors must allow for it.   Just as if you are growing something in a garden,  you need the environment, conditions, and factors to all come into play.   Human factors, human engagement and understanding of cognitive, physical and social conditions, are the preconditions for our knowledge connection.

 

Bring It

I am writing about this because I believe that OD doesn’t get enough recognition.   The words say “Organizational Development” but what it really means is “Factors, conditions and practices, to make people better.”  As a result of helping people, the organization will naturally become better and that results in a domino effect that spreads in multiple directions.   Why?  Because kind acts matter.

If you want the details of how to make all this stuff work,  you could reach out to my friends Kevin Desmond  or Tom Tiberia as they are actually the experts.  I am just sharing the results.   What were the results anyways? 

I walked away with a to-do list of things that I need to work on.   I also have a list of team goals aligned to my organization and organizational goals tied to myself as an individual.  I have a lot of questions that went unanswered but that is good because I never thought to ask some of these questions and I didn’t know how important they were.    I have ideas on measures that matter and I have homework for myself and my team.

Adam Grant Author of Give and Take recently said in a post “We love asking successful people for their secrets. But often, they’re not even aware of what they do differently from others.

Next time you want to learn from someone, instead of asking directly, go to that person’s collaborators. They have the clearest window into unique habits.”

What I had a chance to do here and what Kevin and Tom gave me was a window into my actions through the lens of others.   I can see a glimpse and take action on keeping my strengths strong and working on my legs..   <– that was a joke, you ever see those guys that just lift with their upper bodies?  They look top heavy.. I think you can look that way intellectually or emotionally as well if you don’t round out your work out.

gymguy

As usual.. questions comments, complaints..

 

 

 

Collaboration Tool Crazy

Digital Fix.jpg

Dazed and Confused -Hammer Blaming

Don’t blame tools for your confusion.   Companies are buying too many tools and trying to implement them thinking that tools will solve their problems.   This is nothing new.  The problem is exacerbated by software as a service driven applications available to everyone.  I heard this termed “Credit Card IT”  where individuals decide that they don’t like the tools their companies provide and they go buy their own.

The buzz today is “Digital” that is all I hear right now.    It is absolutely ridiculous for companies to continue down the path of buying new solutions without rationalizing what they currently have.   The IT spend is out of control in many companies and while they are trying to flatten their budget, they are only spending more.   The only way to offset this is to either lay off employees or “green” the landscape, meaning trade old folks for new younger ones that are cheaper.

With a total focus on tools vs people or actual business needs,  the tools keep getting bought, every one gets “all digital” and they wind up or will wind up with a digital spaghetti mess in the corner.

If you look at this “Elements of Modern Enterprise Collaboration”, it makes sense but most organizations only focus on the technologies portion.

 

Harsh Words for Dummies

Does this look cheap? Digi_Mktg_Map_Final_April_2015.gif

Came from https://www.gartner.com/marketing/.

Do you understand what the heck these things are?

Do you have any idea of how they relate to each other?

Do you have any idea of how much they really cost?

Do you have staff on site that isn’t trying to sell you something that honestly understands this?

Do you know how all of these are relevant for your business?

Do you have knowledge management practice of any kind?

Do you have enterprise architectures? (not solution but enterprise)

If you can’t answer these questions, you probably should stop buying tools.  Well.. stop buying tools anyway but…  They will wind up in the corner gathering electron dust right near your CRM system that no one cares about.

Stop Spending Money .. Now

Stop spending money… <– yes.. stop spending money.    The first thing that needs to happen is “stop the madness” in spending.

There is no perfect enterprise and their won’t be perfected enterprise collaboration but what is for sure, is that we can do better.    The world is really truly moving towards an application based enterprise.   This means that their will be an ecosystem of tools and capabilities in the enterprise.    There are patterns of collaboration and communication that have people working together through different applications under different contexts.   Just think of it as your smart phone.   The standard is the phone, the applications are put into the app store and you use what you need when you need it based on the needs of the moment.

This is really the way things are going.    When you see Microsoft SharePoint 2016, apps will be a big part of it.   Look at any of the tools coming out, all application focused.

Still, I am talking about the tools.  The real focus should be on the business.   The first three things to do are…  (if you are with a medium or large company)

Grab your best Enterprise Architect, if you don’t have one.. go get one immediately.

  1. Start with Vendor Management and IT security – Between these two groups, you can get a good start on what you have in the enterprise.
  2. Create an EA framework to understand the enterprise portfolio of tools.
  3. Start a formal Knowledge Management initiative.

The results of these activities will start to highlight the “best things you never knew you had.”

  1. The EA activities will highlight tools and spending, it will also help immediately lower your IT and business risk.
  2. The EA framework will provide a starting place to process enterprise capabilities, tools and find reuse.   Companies bleed out money because of a “lack of awareness.”
  3. A KM practice will get your organization focused on the business of knowledge.  Knowledge is your business.  It is that simple.

Of course there are successful companies that don’t have a formal knowledge management practice but chances are they have an informal knowledge management practice and it is part of their culture.

Contractors, Consultants and Experts OH MY!

If you are going to hire brilliant, expensive and knowledgeable consultants, ask to see their enterprise collaboration practices.    When I say ask, what I really mean is get a tour with real people not just partners and senior executives.   Senior leaders will talk a good talk but the truth is most of these companies including the big four don’t use their own collaboration tools well. They don’t generally speaking understand KM either.  The reason why is generally more associated with the business model and practices vs tools.  What I mean by that is large consulting firms don’t get partners in silo cost centers rich by sharing.

Bottom line here is we have to be honest about this whole thing.    Don’t spend the money on all the enterprise tools if you don’t care about the people aspect.  If leadership looks at staff as just a number and doesn’t truly believe in employee engagement, it will be a waste.

Too Much?

This isn’t personal.  Companies have made that clear with the sheer amount of transformation, cost cutting, layoffs, restructuring etc.   They still find dollars to re-tool or add tools to the organization.   This makes little sense.   They let experts in their business walk out the door in exchange for tools they don’t understand.   The stock prices go up with the stories of how they are embracing technology and transforming but the fact remains that most people spend over 6+ hours a day in Email.

Go figure..  rolling all those heads and still email is the most used and most common tool set in the enterprise.    Try shutting that down..

So, lets not blame the tools for our problems or for that matter, the amount of tools that you have in the enterprise that you are allowing to accumulate.

Focus on the business, work with people and engage with them using best practices of Knowledge Management and Enterprise Architecture.   Let the story be told so that you know what actions to take.  Then once you “get it” you can “get all digital” but for now..

Stay analog my friends..

Thanks @Wendy Woodson for helping us “keep it real”

 

 

 

 

The People in the Middle #KM leadership

Congratulations! You just purchased a new social tool for your organization.

software-analysisIt only cost your company a few bucks to get licenses and there are very little infrastructure costs associated.  In only a few short months, your teams will break down silos faster than you could ever have imagined.

  1. Software
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Maintenance including Service Level Agreement
  4. Corporate Communications and Marketing

Ready… Set… Go…!    Click here pacman for result 

A social platform without community management is like a party without a host.   No one has any idea what the heck is going on and / or what to do.  They show up, see that everyone is confused and leave.

Many organizational leaders simply don’t know what they are buying and what it takes to make this successful.   When they are told what it will really take, they don’t want to spend the money they come to consider as “additional.”   The only reason why they consider it as an extra cost is due to poor understanding of the social space and poor planning for implementation, support, and on-going day to day operations.

They believe  “Not only will you get better collaboration, we will throw in cost savings, 100% ROI and you ..yes you … will no longer need email”!  As soon as a “TOOL” is purchased for the company it will be … “SOCIAL.”

Wait..what?…Where is the focus on the people???

-making sense-people

Story from the Trenches 

This story / discussion comes from a colleague Wendy Woodson @iaqtworld 

I was recently involved in a conversation related to this. I was sharing an image created to help the conversation. Nothing complicated.

One of the first comments I received was “you need to remove the people from the center of the image, it isn’t important and it makes it busy.” This is not the first time I have heard/seen this. All too often the people are left out of the equation.

I responded with that is the problem today. People are considered insignificant and left out until it’s too late. Leaders sit around wondering what happened, why aren’t they using/doing what we want?

I went on to explain it is important that the people are not only included but are the center or focus of it all. People are essential to it all. Remove them and there is nothing. No one to use the tools or to follow the process. Without them, who will manage the content who will use the systems? People are the nuclei and everything, we as knowledge managers do, is to provide benefit to them and the community they create. – WW

-making sense-

People in the Middle

This is very simple. Social media tools that are used for personal purposes are very different than tools used for a social intranet or social business.  Beyond this social internal and social external for business use is also very different.   The common thread is context and purpose.   If people are in the middle and they are the center based the platforms are used more.  Platform use does not by itself equal value.   This is very important to understand.   A page hit doesn’t mean anything.   Every aspect of the human interaction has a specific context and it will change over time.  That is why the community management aspect is so important.

Community

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Community management is a key critical function for a healthy social network.  Being connected can mean the difference between a new sale and a missed opportunity.  It can be a channel for innovation, information, observation, awareness and it can also be detrimental.    Placing social systems out in the wild without expertise is akin to running with scissors.

Summary

Whether you are building a social channel for your sales force,  a place for your whole company to meet at the water cooler, or simply enabling your work force to have additional channels for communication and collaboration, people need to be the central focus.   One thing is for certain as it stands today,  tools without people will not build, produce, sell, create, innovate, enable or protect your company.   The case for a social platform must include active community management, facilitation, leadership and communication.

 

 

 

 

Boundary People #KM Engagement

Our Town

A few weeks ago,  I had a friend visit my office.  As we were walking the halls of the building and passing the various business areas, I waved and said “hello” to the people I know.   My friend said “oh, you must be the Mayor.”   If anyone were truly the Mayor it would most likely be my Architect.

I wonder if it is still true in most organizations today that we can identify those people that we call “Mayor” or if this is something that is changing dramatically due to the global workforce or virtual teams.

For today, at least where I work, it is like a small town with the various town folk representing their areas of business.   I think of this as work-town.

The Boundary People

Today, I considered looking at my network in the context of multiple towns.   I considered all those folks that I know about but generally don’t interact with and the opportunities that they represent.

Socilab   LinkedIn Social Network Visualization  Analysis  and Education

I used the Socilab LinkedIn network analysis tool located here 

Here is another view ..

12me LinkedIn Social Network Visualization  Analysis  and Education

It looks like I may have to get out more..

The  tool only allows for 500 people, so this is a sample size but I think it is a good representation of my connections.

It would be interesting to have this in the office for all of our folks to see individually.  I am well aware that tools exist for this but we would have to consider the practical implications for people.  http://www.kstoolkit.org/Social+Network+Analysis

436285097_5c39aeeb74

Basically,  I have my work-town relationships, my hometown relationships, my current town relationships and some that live between the hometown and the work-town.

Looking at the “social network” as informed by a technical system would not be enough to apply the personal context of what the relationships mean to me in context.    This aside,  there is an opportunity to measure operational effectiveness or “connectedness” in some context through looking at the boundaries.

Why do they (boundary people) exist at the edge of my network?

What town are they in?

Where are they relative to me and in what context do we have a relationship?

Relationships are “for purpose” and often times, this is represented as a negative but I see it as a positive.  For example,  I enjoy getting a cup of coffee in the cafeteria in the morning.  I see Toni every morning and share a brief exchange with her.  I enjoy that relationship and the coffee.   If the coffee were not there, I honestly don’t know how often I would simply find myself wandering down there.  That being said, I often walk away from the cafeteria with a lot more than just coffee.

Mindful Boundary Person Engagement

In life you’ll realize there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you, and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you. – unknown

Social tools seek to introduce technical capabilities to address these boundaries.   LinkedIn now shows you that someone is having a birthday or an event change that you can see.  This presents the opportunity to reach out to that person living at the edge of the network or town.   This kind of capability generally doesn’t exist in the workplace and even if tools like Jive are in place for this kind of notification, work-town engagement is much different and results would be heavily impacted by work-town culture.

The intent here is to work on our level of awareness without the benefit of these social tools in our network.

I must admit that I do use tools though..   I use “The Brain” Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 10.52.13 AM

The process I use .. is

Person –> Context—>Date—> Organization—>Group—>Applications—>Events

It isn’t a perfect system but it allows me to determine who I know and in what context I know them beyond a relationship in a CRM tool.    I can see many to many relationships.. but I digress.

The point is to understand the boundaries and find ways to turn them into a relationship of deeper meaning or better context.   The benefits are consistent with good community management.   In my case, it is data about a person converting to dialogue with a person.. and gaining the opportunities to share and grow with new relationships.

Who lives in your town?

Maybe you could get out and meet up with some of your boundary people?

Thoughts?

More information on networks and connectedness can be found here https://netmap.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/how-to-get-strategic-insights-from-net-map/

 

 

 

 

 

Start with a Narrative #EasyKM

Shorteststoryevertold
Shortest Story Ever Told 

Effective Knowledge Management should aim to lower costs and shorten time to execute and solve business challenges.  A narrative approach can  bring relevant and organized highly contextual information to business stakeholders very quickly.  A narrative should be easy to find, well tagged and easy to understand. It should tell a short story quickly that can lead to a project charter or create an opportunity for project or work deflection and cost avoidance.  It can also lead to a pipeline for Enterprise and Solution Architectures which will result in a great deal of cost savings.

Knowledge Management should be tied to business.   Business is tied to people, people are tied to stories..

People->Process->Product->Profit 

The KM team helps determine who, what, when, where, and identifies person/group for solutions.

All of the narratives:

  • have a potential saving outcome criteria, defined by the user story, as an initial estimate.
  • are self contained and have associated estimated or actual cost savings and are validated through a process with the KM team.
  • use a content management or social system to document, share and map information to relevant people and content.

Process
Identify / Collect:

Capture, document and submit stories that convey an activity or activities that create an opportunity for cost savings and/or the business process efficiency or effectiveness.  These stories can also be used to show value in reuse of tools through portfolio management or portfolio rationalization.

Subject (context) of Who and What 

Body 

  1. Problem Statement (Where)
  2. User Suggestion (Person or group initiating a request)
  3. Team Suggestion (KM)

As we are thinking about the narrative, we want to frame it similar to the process of asking 5-why.  Want to learn more about 5-why?

5-why Process Flowchart

Leads to /or = HOW

Validation/Ranking: 

  • Problem Validation – KM team validates narrative
  • Criteria for solution – KM team coordinates and proactively define option sets.
  • Cost Savings Potential –KM team seeks estimated cost benefits
  • Ranking –KM manager ranks narrative to optimize cost and savings benefit potential.

Leads to /or = Value 

Document Outcome / Value Statement:

  • Effort to Risk Reduction by taking these actions.
  • Effort to Cost Savings / Supports “Flat to Down” efficiency models by taking these actions.
  • Opportunity for revenue by way of core, adjacent, trans-formative innovations.

If any mechanism exists to map or tie the story to a revenue generation opportunity, the narrative should seek to show these connections.

 

If you want to learn more about how narratives work.. just ask! 

Knowledge Managers #Build From Scratch

Walk a Mile

If  you go to a fitness center and sign up for spin class would you trust your instructor if they looked like this?

spin

All too often Knowledge Management “experts” and “consultants” have a great deal of academic experience, theories, data and knowledge but they may lack practical experience and wisdom to understand beyond words the challenges of starting, implementing, maintaining and managing a KM practice.

The broad scope of KM is covered well by Stan Garfield in his posts  on LinkedIn.  The simple thought that KM covers so many areas of thought and practice is fairly astounding.

  1. Best Practice Replication
  2. Best Practice Transfer
  3. Business Improvement Services
  4. Collaboration
  5. Collaboration Systems
  6. Collective Learning
  7. Communities
  8. Digital Enterprise
  9. Digital Transformation
  10. Enterprise 2.0
  11. Enterprise Collaboration
  12. Enterprise Content Sourcing
  13. Enterprise Learning and Collaboration
  14. Enterprise Social
  15. Enterprise Social Network
  16. Insights
  17. Intangible Asset Plan
  18. Intellectual Capital
  19. Intellectual Property
  20. Knowledge and Information Management
  21. Knowledge and Information Sharing
  22. Knowledge and Learning Processes
  23. Knowledge Development
  24. Knowledge Enablement
  25. Knowledge, Engagement and Collaboration
  26. Knowledge Exchange
  27. Knowledge Flow Management
  28. Knowledge Management
  29. Knowledge Processing
  30. Knowledge Publishing and Curation
  31. Knowledge Retention
  32. Knowledge Science
  33. Knowledge Services
  34. Knowledge Sharing
  35. Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration
  36. Knowledge Transfer
  37. Learning and Knowledge Exchange
  38. Learning Communities
  39. Learning from Experience
  40. Management
  41. Organizational Effectiveness
  42. Post-Industrial Knowledge Age Transformation
  43. Performance Management
  44. Radical Connectivity
  45. Social Business
  46. Social Collaboration
  47. Social Learning
  48. Social Media
  49. Social Networking
  50. Tackling Wicked Problems

The number of thought and practice areas are further complicated by the context of “where used.”   In other words,  if you are an “expert” in KM are you a generalist or do you specialize in something like CX (knowledge centered support), knowledge transfer, community etc.

Are you a “polymath’ of KM?

Practical Practice for Practitioner Preachers

The US Navy has a training device called the USS Buttercup 080226-N-4515N-138by the time these sailors found themselves in this very cold and challenging training exercise, they spent a considerable amount of time learning about “Damage Control.”  The navy starts teaching sailors about damage control right from the start at boot camp.   The instructors are generally from engineering fields and are highly trained and experienced with shipboard firefighting, flooding, pipe patching, emergency operations.

Knowing what to do.. is different than doing … and for knowledge management this matters just as much and even more than other fields.

 

How does this apply to KM?

If you work for a company that sells knowledge management, the expectation is that you practice what you preach.   If you are writing books about knowledge management, the expectation is that you have experience beyond the case study.   If you have a desire to become an knowledge management expert, start “working out”  or better yet “working out loud” and seek out ways to actually practice the trade.

Lead by Example

I personally started on the road to KM through learning about collaboration and collaboration patterns in project management with large geo-dispersed teams.  It wasn’t easy and I think there were a few days that I would have traded for some time in the USS Buttercup.    The reality of asking people to work together, reduce conflict and find ways to communicate, collaborate and cooperate under high pressure, high stress, and and high demand was no easy task.   My team was learning along the way and more often than not we felt there wasn’t enough time to be academically astute.   What we came up with was an agreement and understanding that we needed to work past the 42nd hour .   We had to do the work but also learn the concepts behind it in order to master it.

For every area in the broad umbrella of knowledge management I would find something practical.   I found through some pain and frustration that persistence and clarity of thought and vision (and faith) the most difficult challenges could be overcome.  Here are a few examples of actions you can take to move towards mastery.

  1. As part of my practice, I realize that what I currently believe as “fact” is fungible and may no longer be a fact.
  2. Building trust is the key to success but without having context or purpose around your work, you can’t build trust.
  3. KM should always be tied to business and business should always be tied to people including employee engagement.
  4. If you want to learn about “how to” perform knowledge transfer build something from scratch that you may have some knowledge about but not be an expert in. IMG_0943I built an arcade system with a mix of old parts, new components, hand made pieces and customized software and operating system.   I had to learn how to do some of the work and I had to find experts for software and hardware that is over 30 years old.  In some cases I had to “make stuff up” because what I needed, I couldn’t find or it didn’t exist as I needed it.  (Helps in Knowledge Transfer/ Crew Change / Community)
  5. Always study and learn, I read often and I work hard to take both old and new methods into practice.  John Stepper talks about Dale Carnegie as part of his working out loud concepts.
  6. Practice in house at every level.    When I was an Associate at Booz Allen, my peers would always tell me that I (can’t do) certain things and that what I was working on was not accepted by leadership.   They were thinking about how they felt about their own boundaries not mine.   Knowledge Management as a practice should come from multiple directions, it is an “omni channel” area of thought and business.   Parts of it are viral and parts of it need leadership buy-in and ownership.   It is up to you to make it work and become a leader from where you are.

Summary

Knowledge Management is a lot of things to a lot of people but with clarity of thought and context it can be the right information, to the right people at the right time.   It is more than an academic exercise and you don’t need anyones permission to become a master of one or more areas in this field.    At the same time, if you don’t practice what you preach, you may find yourself in the same boat as the 350 pound fitness trainer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Knowledge Management #Make

Make Something

One of the most discussed topics in KM is knowledge transfer.   There are all sorts of methods and frameworks or tools available for knowledge transfer but it all boils down to practical experience.

I believe the best way to learn about knowledge transfer is to take on something new and learn about how you learn.   For example, if you are interested in learning how to play a musical instrument, take this on as part of your work in knowledge management.  Block out time to learn for yourself.

I always keep at least one or two basic projects going that will push my abilities to the edge.  I look for something practical at work or at home to build or produce and I try to keep the project small.

As I enjoy technical projects I have built picture frames from old computers, television controllers from small computers,  video game controllers and most recently a video game retro-machine.   Actually, the video game machine is still not finished but this project has been frustrating and a great challenge.   This is good because it has forced me to think about ways to learn under difficult conditions.  I will follow up with a more detailed post about the game machine but the project is well worth the time.

I would suggest looking at Pinterest, Instructables, or Make to find a small project to start.   Choose something that you have some comfort level with in the beginning and make the project achievable.   Think about how you are learning and developing the skills to get you to your goal.  As you are learning and building think about your work in knowledge management and find ways to challenge yourself to bring practical experiences to your work.

There are plenty of times that I have been told that something is not transferrable and that may in some cases be true but sometimes a different approach is warranted to achieve the same outcome.  As you learn and experience your projects, you will be forced to find alternatives and this is absolutely critical for practical knowledge management and knowledge transfer.

If you have questions or comments, let me know.  I am happy to share.