The Truth of Human Resources and KM #PracticalHR

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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..

 

 

 

How Can I Help? #Advocate

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Three+1 Things You CAN Do


Wake up in the morning, get my cup of coffee,  head to the office to start my day.  Open my email, it is full to the brim, I switch over to the calendar and see my schedule is full.   How did my day become consumed by meetings?   I go through my day,  I eat while I am working, it gets late,  I go home.  I tend to my family and then back to the email, maybe a little book reading and off late to bed to restart the whole thread.

Somewhere in the mix I have to hold on to my humanity.  All the work that I do is electronic and amounts to a pile of nothing, but electrons and virtual transactions.  How the heck can I help anyone?

Take Time to Listen

When someone writes, calls or knocks on the door, make the time to listen.   Sometimes you are standing between two connections and you are the bridge, you just didn’t know it.  Active listening is a great skill to have and it certainly takes practice. https://cohenovate.com/2015/02/22/understanding-conflict-and-knowledge-management/  Listening is good for them and good for you!

Share Ideas, but Don’t Share Answers

Sometimes the answers come easy, but the real solutions are difficult.   In other words,  having an answer on how to fix a problem may create more of a problem.  Sometimes we need to just talk through ideas and come to solutions on our own.  Offer up ideas or thoughts but, offer them as concepts and not answers.

Be a Shoulder, not a Boulder

Being there for a person and helping means you have your attention focused on their needs.  I have found that listening to people and helping them sort through their problems can help me with challenges that I face.   The best thing to do is to stay focused and help them and be strong for them as they need.  Adding your problems to the discussion is a weight added, not a burden lifted.

Recognize and Advocate for Others

They say that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.  Some suggest that this is not true, but that smiling may cost us less overall energy. http://zidbits.com/2011/09/does-it-really-take-more-muscles-to-frown-than-to-smile/

It may seem that it takes more energy to advocate and recognize others than it does for yourself, but if you practice recognizing others and advocating for others, it will take overall less energy and be helpful to you.  Realistically, we can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but our entire world is built on the foundation of relationships.   Recognizing a contribution or advocating for someone helps strengthen the bonds and the ties between us.   We are better together and we are better when we recognize each other.   It is simple to do.   Be mindful, be courageous and bold, advocate with intent and without fear, the costs are low and the results will always pay off.

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Thanks Wendy Woodson for your creative contribution

Everything on Demand #Instant Gratification

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The world is a place of amazing possibilities and more often than not, we have the ability today to do things we only dreamed of as kids.   Our children are growing up with the idea of “instant everything.”

If you want to purchase something and have it the same day or the next day, it is very possible today that you can order what you want online and get it that day or even that next hour.   Uber has become a household name beyond simplification for picking people up.   The reality is that instant gratification happens in multiple directions.   The people receiving a service, the people providing a service and the people that potentially own the franchise or organization that governs the service.

It is easy to do almost anything today and we the people are consuming these services in both micro transactions like in application purchases or services fees and in high quantities like Amazon.    Regardless of how we feel about these services, they are here in our world and changing the way we behave and do business.

Something that strikes me here is that a lot of these services have been around for a very long time, they just weren’t application based and they weren’t available to the general public.  One of the key factors here is accessibility in terms of affordability.   Limo drivers were around for many years, you would have required enough money to have them “be available” for you as an individual.   Take a look at the list below of “uberfied” businesses and think about who the target audience and accessibility was prior to application based availability.  (source: http://digitalintelligencetoday.com/the-uberfication-of-everything-master-list-of-uber-inspired-businesses/)

  • Uber for Liquor Delivery: SauceyDrizlyMinibar
  • Uber for Cannabis Delivery: EazeCanary
  • Uber for Errands: TaskRabbit
  • Uber for Odd Jobs: GladlyDo
  • Uber for Hotel Rooms: HotelTonight
  • Uber for Beauty Services: SwanStylebeeStyleSeatManicube
  • Uber for Home Cleaning: HandybookHomejoy
  • Uber for Car Repairs: YourMechanic
  • Uber for Babysitting: Urban Sitter
  • Uber for Pizza Delivery: Push for Pizza
  • Uber for Medical Equipment: Cohealo
  • Uber for Quiet Spaces: Breather
  • Uber for Vet (Home Visit): VetPronto
  • Uber for Dog Sitters: DogVacay
  • Uber for in-home Massage: MassageUnwindMeZeelSoothe
  • Uber for Doctor House-call: MedicastPager
  • Uber for Doctor (Remote) Consultation: Doctor on Demanddvisit
  • Uber for Courier Deliveries: DelivPostmatesShyp
  • Uber for locksmiths: KeyMeKeysDuplicated
  • Uber for Childcare/School Run: KangaDo
  • Uber for Dry Cleaning/Laundry: CleanlyDashlockerWashioFlycleaners
  • Uber for Hotel Dry Cleaning: Oliom
  • Uber for Mobile Repairs iCracked
  • Uber for Removals: Moveline
  • Uber for Lawnmowing: LawnstarterPlowz&Mowz
  • Uber for Restaurant Home Delivery: Seamless
  • Uber for Taxis: LyftSidecar: This ridesharing company, also based in the Bay Area, promises the “lowest prices on the road.” Available in 10 major U.S. cities, Sidecar aims to match riders with “everyday people” driving their personal cars. But unlike other services that rack up a fare as you go, Sidecar asks riders to enter their destination and offers a selection of pre-set prices, along with ETAs, which the rider can choose from. The company also offers a cheaper “Shared Rides” carpooling option like Lyft Line and Uber Pool.
  • Flywheel: Taxi companies are using apps like Flywheel to re-disrupt the disruptors. Currently in San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle, Flywheel allows users to order a taxi on-demand and have payments made automatically through the app. The ride likely won’t be as fancy as an Uber black car or as cheap as an UberX, but there’s no surge pricing and the company is brokering deals to allow scheduled rides to airports, places where ridesharing companies are typically non grata.
  • Curb: In August, Taxi Magic launched as the rebranded Curb, broadening their focus beyond providing licensed taxis on-demand to include fancier cars-for-hire (like Uber black cars) in some of the 60 markets where Taxi Magic was already working with fleets. Unlike most of the other app-based services, customers have the option of paying with cash rather than through the app. The refreshed company is also working on launching pre-scheduled rides, to the airport and beyond.
  • HailoAnother e-hail company that works with licensed cabs, Hailo is focused on the European market, having launched in London in 2011. (betrayed by their slogan, “the black cab app.”) In October, the company announced it would be closing operations in U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, shifting their eye to growth in Asia and, perhaps, re-entering the U.S. market in a few years. In September, the company launched an innovative feature that allows users to pay for the bill in a street-hailed taxi through the app.
  • SummonThe rebranded and overhauled InstaCab, Summon is an on-demand service that has a hybrid approach, offering both taxi e-hails and cheaper peer-to-peer “personal rides” with a no-surge-price promise. Summon is currently available only in the Bay Area, but the company said earlier this year they plan to expand to L.A., Boston and New York. The startup offers pre-scheduled rides through their Summon Ahead program, including fixed-rate rides to surrounding airports, with a journey to San Francisco’s SFO costing a mere $35.
  • RubyRide: Based in Phoenix, Ariz., and founded in 2013, RubyRide is a fledgling subscription-based startup that bills itself less as a taxi replacement and more as a replacement for owning a car. A basic plan that allows unlimited pre-scheduled pickups and drop-offs within certain “zones” like Downtown Phoenix costs $299 per month. The company offers limited on-demand service but plans to expand their options—including replacing rides to and from the dry cleaners, say, with delivering members’ dry cleaning—as they grow.
  • Shuddle: Dubbed “Uber for kids,” this San Francisco startup positions itself as an app for lightening Mom’s load. Parents can pre-book rides to take kids (who aren’t old enough to drive themselves) to sports practice or school. With safety the obvious concern, the company institutes layers of checks beyond thoroughly screening employees: drivers are given passwords they have to use before picking up kids; parents are given photos of the drivers and cars and can monitor the trip through their app. Drivers must have their own kids or have worked with kids. The company’s first 100 drivers, which they call “caregivers,” are all female.  (SHUTDOWN)
  • Uber for Home Maintenance RatedPeopleHouseCallRedBeacon
  • Uber for Home Decoration: PaintZen
  • Uber for Home Deliveries: AnyvanDoormanInstacartUberRUSH
  • Uber for Dog Walking: WortheeSwiftoUrban LeashTrottr
  • Uber for Private Jets: BlackJet
  • Uber for City Parking: ParkingPandaMonkeyParkingSpotHero
  • Uber for Language Tuition: Cambli
  • Uber for Storage [Valet]: CaddyMakeSafeBoxbee
  • Uber for Bodyguards: Bannerman
  • Uber for Tow Service: Honk

 

Build Your Own, Be Your Own, Do Your Own

Another aspect of this on-demand concept is that we can do things on our own now more than ever.  The ability to build things, learn and do are in our hands.   Justin Bieber came from YouTube and many others emerged from everywhere.   In fact, today you can create your own music or raps right from an application.  I did one for you guys in 3 minutes called “Instant Gratification

The Struggle

Making things “easy” is why different businesses exist in the first place.   Think about it.  You do something and you are trading it with someone else that does something else so that you don’t have to do it.   I believe this gets lost in concept.   Now we are making things easy that shouldn’t be.  We are setting expectations for our children that everything is “instant” and “on demand.”     At this moment as I write,  we can’t get fat or fit in a day.  There are natural mechanisms that are intertwined with our humanity.   I have to ask,  when should we make certain things more difficult as opposed to easier.

The instant mentality resides in our corporate world today.  If something goes wrong we want immediate results to resolve the problem.  Even if nature doesn’t allow for instant results.    I suppose the Japanese would want Fukushima to be resolved immediately, but there is no app for that.   A recent story in the Japanese news talks about revival of some business in that area .   We should be cautious and temper our desires for easy, fast and instant.

Another aspect of this is the immediacy of a rise and fall in businesses.   The tale of Theranos comes to mind as Elizabeth Holmes became an instant billionaire and now she is becoming an instant example of how fast is too fast.

An Idea

What if we consider a dialogue on waiting.   In other words,  consider and focus on long term strategies with long term goals and long term considerations.    The need for immediacy is clearly important as well but not for everything.   I enjoy going to an online store and getting my shoes the next day.   At the same time, when I go to the doctors office, I don’t want to be placed on a conveyor belt and automatically diagnosed by the doctors mobile application.  Today you can be diagnosed remotely without even being touched.  That being said, my last doctor spent more time tooling around on his IPhone vs asking me questions.   I asked if I should pay him or WebMD.

We must consider that easy doesn’t always mean electronically delivered and lacking personal touch.   We should also consider that “on demand” should be tempered with “the right response”   To give the best response possible, it still takes critical thinking and human intervention.   We must strive towards balance as we digitally engage in that we should not digitally decouple.

 

 

 

 

Working Out Loud: Speaking to Leadership (Part 2 of 5)

anchoredSpeaking with Leadership and Working Out Loud

Part 2 “Speak Up”

  1. Show up whenever possible (Part 1)
  2. Ask to speak with senior leaders; chances are they will see you. 
  3. Advocate for yourself and others. (Part 3)
  4. Speak to the heart and mind. (Part 4)
  5. Have faith and courage. (Part 5)

“Senior leadership isn’t interested in what I have to say.”
“They (leaders) don’t care what we think.”
“We are just the hired help here.”
“I don’t have time and I am not really motivated”
“I have tried before and it didn’t work.”

I hear phrases like this often. I have heard people say what they can’t do and what leaders aren’t willing to do for most of my career. What I have found is that people make assumptions about leaders based on their personal perspective. The reality may be very far from a personal truth. In fact, there are many reasons why leaders want to hear from their staff. It is important to take into consideration that everyone is different and that organizational cultures are different. We have to be mindful of the approach in every organization but in my experience there are good people who are willing to spend time learning from their peers and staff.

**Note: When you are Working Out Loud, there should be a clear purpose articulated. It helps filter noise to signal as people try to gain clarity on your message.

Working Out Loud and Senior Leadership

A few years ago, my team was working on a project that would help grow business for our company. We were beyond excited and ready to get started. We had a client, a plan and support from our immediate leadership. Our team worked in a very specific business area; we were specialized to an extent. Our client / customer base was part of a specific practice in our company. When we discovered and developed this new opportunity, we thought that our company would jump all over it. We also thought that they had a process that we could follow or learn. We were wrong.

There wasn’t a process or practice we could follow and what followed was a series of rejection and overall negativity that could have stopped us in our tracks but that didn’t happen. Here is what we did.

  1. Read, Study, Learn, Write: Our team started working the 42nd hour in other words; we spent a lot of time working after hours. I don’t think we went Elon Musk but we met up, read books on the subject of interest, and we met with other industry experts and worked hard to write multiple aspects of a business case. On Sunday mornings I would blog about some of the things I learned but I would keep my writing generic to an extent. Our team figured that anything we were learning along the way could benefit others as well as ourselves. Writing also helped sharpen our understanding of the work and presented an opportunity for experts to help us.
  2. Shaping the Story: Who you are and what you do are important. Your company hired you for reasons beyond your knowledge, skills and abilities. You found a way to fit in and you are part of an organizational ecosystem. What does that mean? What is the story of you? We started by rewriting our resumes and we created multiple versions. We also wrote short biographies and created some high level presentations around our thinking.
  3. Learning Leadership: The corporate intranet is treasure trove of information. Every large organization I have worked with has a lot of information about their leadership in org charts but they also may have articles and biographies. The first thing I do is research both internal and external inter and intranet resources to learn about senior leaders. It is also general practice for me to know the people I work for directly. **note: Sometimes even leadership needs leadership.
  4. Schedule Interviews: Starting with my direct supervisor, we scheduled 10 minute phone calls or quick meet ups to discuss our ideas. In our case our supervisor was pretty excited about what we were doing. It was the next level up where we started to run into challenges but we scheduled meetings there too. When they didn’t want to meet, we scheduled meetings with their peers and folks above them. On one occasion, we scheduled a meeting with the most senior partner of our firm. When our peers and leaders told us that it would be impossible to reach him, we reached out to his Executive Admin and asked for help. We had an in person meeting scheduled almost immediately.
  5. Leverage the Network: We used our internal social network to build community connections. Our organization had over 22,000 people including a multinational presence. We used our understanding of community management and social networking to discuss our ideas. We asked for help in our communities and we were active contributors. We used the concept of “batching” work.

Nothing is Easy

Our team turned an opportunity into a great deal of money.  It wasn’t easy; it took hard work and a lot of writing. We also had a lot of rejection. Many folks in middle management rejected us even when we offered our work as part of a partnership. For every few that rejected us, we found friends and champions.

The most compelling aspect of this story is when we traveled to visit the senior partner. In hand we had a few slides talking to our thinking. We had sent some read ahead material that he didn’t have a chance to look at. We had a few discussions with his EA to learn about the best way to communicate with him. We sat down in his office and he asked, “How can I help you?” We were ready to answer that question. He listened intently, gave us direction and proceeded to help us. He also mentioned in our discussion that he had wished others would reach out to him. Most often, it is lonely place at the top with a lot of information prepared and filtered. We didn’t have a problem sharing our perspective and he used that perspective to help shape some of his strategic initiatives.

Part 3.. Advocate for yourself and others..

What is that story of you?

What can you do to advocate for yourself and others?

Why is it important to advocate for others at times over yourself?

What are tools that you can use?

How can this be applied to your business or organization?

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.

Summary

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..  

 

 

Cluster Transfer Rapid KT Through Maps

Remembering 1 Thing over Many (Communication | Memory | Context)

“Never force anything, you’ll break it.” – Dad Cohen
  • What do we need to know and why? Memory
  • The right information at the right time. Value
  • Clusters in Context. (Maps and Links) Relationships 

MEMORY

STRATEGIES FOR REMEMBERING (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/200911/how-remember-things)

  1. Become interested in what you’re learning. We’re all better remembering what interests us. Few people, for example, have a difficult time remembering the names of people they find attractive. If you’re not intrinsically interested in what you’re learning or trying to remember, you must find a way to become so. I have to admit I wasn’t so good at this in medical school. The Krebs cycle (I provided the link only to prove how immensely boring it is) just didn’t excite me or relate to anything I found even remotely exciting (though I made myself learn it anyway).
  2. Find a way to leverage your visual memory. You’ll be astounded by how much more this will enable you to remember. For example, imagine you’re at a party and are introduced to five people in quick succession. How can you quickly memorize their names? Pick out a single defining visual characteristic of each person and connect it to a visual representation of their name, preferably through an action of some kind. For example, you can remember Mike who has large ears by creating a mental picture of a microphone (a “mike”) clearing those big ears of wax (gross, I know—sorry—but all the more effective because of it). It requires mental effort to do this, but if you practice you’ll be surprised how quickly you can come up with creative ways to create these images. Here’s another example: how often do you forget where you left your keys, your sunglasses, or your wallet? The next time you put something down somewhere, pause a moment to notice where you’ve placed it, and then in your mind blow it up. If you visualize the explosion in enough detail, you won’t forget where you put it. Remember: memory is predominantly visual (unfortunately, I can’t think of a good image to help you remember this fact right at this moment).
  3. Create a mental memory tree. If you’re trying to memorize a large number of facts, find a way to relate them in your mind visually with a memory tree. Construct big branches first, then leaves. Branches and leaves should carry labels that are personally meaningful to you in some way, and the organization of the facts (“leaves”) should be logical. It’s been well recognized since the 1950’s we remember “bits” of information better if we chunk them. For example, it’s easier to remember 467890 as “467” and “890” than as six individual digits.
  4. Associate what you’re trying to learn with what you already know. It seems the more mental connections we have to a piece of information, the more successful we’ll be in remembering it. This is why using mnemonics actually improves recall.
  5. Write out items to be memorized over and over and over. Among other things, this is how I learned the names of bacteria, what infections they cause, and what antibiotics treat them. Writing out facts in lists improves recall if you make yourself learn the lists actively instead of passively. In other words, don’t just copy the list of facts you’re trying to learn but actively recall each item you wish to learn and then write it down again and again and again. In doing this, you are, in effect, teaching yourself what you’re trying to learn (and as all teachers know, the best way to ensure you know something is to have to teach it). This method has the added benefit of immediately showing you exactly which facts haven’t made it into your long-term memory so you can focus more attention on learning them rather than wasting time reinforcing facts you already know.
  6. When reading for retention, summarize each paragraph in the margin. This requires you to think about what you’re reading, recycle it, and teach it to yourself again. Even take the concepts you’re learning and reason forward with them; apply them to imagined novel situations, which creates more neural connections to reinforce the memory.
  7. Do most of your studying in the afternoon. Though you may identify yourself as a “morning person” or “evening person” at least one study suggests your ability to memorize isn’t influenced as much by what time of day you perceive yourself to be most alert but by the time of day you actually study—afternoon appearing to be the best.
  8. Get adequate sleep to consolidate and retain memories. Not just at night after you’ve studied but the day before you study as well. Far better to do this than stay up cramming all night for an exam.

Mental Tree MindMaps and Remember Once.. And Knowledge Journey

There are differences in transferring long-term and short-term knowledge.   Today people are more likely to know less because of technology.   This means that the requirements to retain information and manage it have changed over time. What a knowledge receiver needs to know is the location of the information and the context of that information as applied once they discover or reference it.  Once they identify what they are looking for they also need the ability to understand and codify the information for it to be useful.

Method of Loci

 The method of loci is a method of memorizing information by placing each item to be remembered at a point along an imaginary journey. The information can then be recalled in a specific order by retracing the same route through the imaginary journey. Loci is the plural for of the Latin word,locus, meaning place or location. The method of loci is also called the Journey Method by Dominic O’Brien, and the imaginary journeys are often referred to as Memory Palaces or Memory Journeys. See also Mind Palace, the term used in the TV show, Sherlock. (http://mnemotechnics.org/wiki/Method_of_Loci)

Rapid KT..  A Mind Map is a ROAD MAP of associations..

The map is a visual representation of the interlinkages of nodes (objects or concepts) and their relationships.   To transfer knowledge rapidly (the secret sauce) is for a—> mentor or SME (Subject Matter Expert) to take the knowledge receiver on a trip through the map.

Example:

It all started..(element of time and location) (HERE at this place) and this turned into the (X), where X = an outcome and (X) is related to (A,B,C) —> It is objects and concepts in story on a map that can account for time and events.   As a result of an event on (this date or timeframe) the object or concept of (x) turned to (X1).  All of this contained in an explicit map.

 

The key is that you don’t have to remember to “Bake” or “Bake In Oven” individually,  you need to remember the map as a whole.   (Even though this map is simple)  The person that is transferring knowledge creates the map or walks the map with the person receiving knowledge.   The story comes with the map.. the story is that TACIT information …  “When I first started here and I was learning how to bake a cake, I didn’t know to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.”  The knowledge receiver can adopt the concept / mind / knowledge map and put their own notes or stories.  It is their investment, it is personal to them.    There are things the receiver may already know and not need.   The image or map is the cluster of relative and relevant knowledge.  In the process of KT, it can be tied to one event.  There are elements of Personal knowledge, Team knowledge and Enterprise knowledge here.    The lower the fidelity of information the higher the knowledge resides.  The map shown above can be linked to in an enterprise repository to team or personal maps.   During the process of knowledge transfer all of the maps and information associated is identified as one clustered object.   The knowledge receiver learns about the process, methods, tools and any links to people who may have existed in the past and exist today.

When I was a young man working on a car with my father, he said “Righty tighty, lefty loosy” and in the same instance “Never force anything, you’ll break it.”   He only told me one time and I have remembered and applied this my whole life.  These two concepts were shared in one event, the relationship of the information is tied to my father, a Dodge Scamp Silver, any given Sunday and working on cars at the top of an open air garage in Coop City.     That is how we remember things..   When looking to transfer knowledge, we have to address the environment, condition, time, sentiment and ability to cluster information and create relationships with the data for purposeful recall.

How do I create a “clustered package” for KT?

Please be clear that I am not inventing something new.   This is a simple outline for steps you would take on a high level.

  1. Identify who, what when, where and why.
  2. How- This will be the process and the methods.
  3. What is important to know today? How much of this information is still relevant?  Can I throw some of this away or do it better?
  4. What is the business case for this information and what historical measures have been used?
  5. What are the stories that are tied to the information?
  6. What can we automate (where it makes sense)?
  7. What changes should be made moving forward?
  8. What is the risk? (From the SME’s perspective)
  9. What is value? (From the SME’s perspective)
  10. How is any of this tied to assessment criteria? (if not, why not?)

These are some of the steps and questions that we may ask.  We must understand (WHY) and we must seek to keep all of the information and content tied through the understanding of relationships.   My good friend and mentor Ron Batdorf will say that this is all tied to Enterprise Architecture.   It is an explicit expression of a moment in time relative to what is important (NOW).  Effectively a best effort to get the right information at the right time.

 

bakemap1

Advanced Map of Context

Alzheimer’s Map <—PDF larger viewAlzheimers_Map-440x264

 

What do you think?

Memory Forum –>http://mnemotechnics.org/

 

 

Practical Knowledge Management in a Strategic World

covercomm

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Planning for Knowledge Management

Why do organizations need a structured KM initiative or program?

Most organizations at a very high level seek to do three general activities:

  • Reduce Risk
  • Identify and Execute on Opportunity for Cost Savings
  • Identify and Execute on Revenue Generation Opportunities.

While designing strategic business plans most organizations do not plan for KM activities.    Further, most KM activities are not tied to business strategies.    In 2001, Ronald Maier and Ulrich Remus published an IEEE paper on this subject.   They made a case for a “process-oriented KM Strategy.” This provides an integrated view of resources and market based orientation.

ProcessOriented

 

As a KM practitioner, this view makes a lot of sense, but it is still very strategic.   The key to a successful KM practice is centered in two areas that aren’t often identified as part of the strategy.   These are:

  • Organization Awareness
  • Organization Conflict Management

To plan for Knowledge Management in an organization, the planners must understand the landscape.   Planning to delight clients and customers with goods and services is not enough.    Even if you are planning for an industry of consumers that have few choices, understanding the landscape of the business is key to profitability in margins.     Knowledge Management is essentially about getting the right information at the right time to the right people.   This sounds a lot like logistics.

What is Awareness?

a·ware·ness
əˈwe(ə)rnis
noun knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. “we need to raise public awareness of the issue”

More often than not we are unaware of what is going on in an organization.   When we go to the doctor to get a check up, we are seeking to raise awareness of our health.  Often times we don’t know and we can’t know without some diagnostics what is going on in our organization.  We need a “check up” to find out what is going on.   This check up needs to be performed with a frequency that makes sense and one that it minimally disruptive.

 

 

 

 

process-tree

 


 What activities can we perform to raise awareness?

One of the first practical activities is to start with a communication campaign.   (Internal Communications) <-see the post from  for more details below are Shel’s words.

1. Mobile

Employees are using their personal devices for work simply because they’re better than the devices distributed by the company (if, that is, they were among the employees who actually got company phones) and they’re able to use those meatier features to fuel their own improved efficiency.

Regardless of the motivation, however, there are opportunities to reach employees who were relegated to the have-not class when companies abandoned print for the cheaper (but not necessarily more strategic) intranet.

2. Video

According to one study, 72% of internal communications teams are planning to increase the use of video as a means of communicating with employees. That dovetails nicely with the mobile trend, since YouTube recently revealed that mobile devices account for 40% of the videos consumed on its site.

More and more companies are adopting a YouTube-like approach to video, introducing video libraries that let employees search for videos, comment on them, tag them, embed them and (importantly) upload their own as a means of sharing information and knowledge.

3. Communicating for engagement

Employee engagement has always been the province of Human Resources, but research from the PR Academy supports the notion that good communications contributes to higher levels of engagement.

The focus on engagement is being accelerated by articles in communication publications and sessions at conferences from communicators who have been able to connect the dots. The mandate is clear as alarmingly low engagement levels lead executives to wonder why their communications departments aren’t doing more to correct the problem. Gallup, which more or less invented the whole concept of engagement, found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

There are ample opportunities for communications to bolster engagement. One is to improve the channels through which employees’ collective and individual voices are heard. Another is to recast communications based on the stakeholder groups with which employees self-identify: work groups, project groups and the employee-supervisor relationship. A lot of executives believe employees don’t care about the issues that keep them up at night, but employees do care—deeply—when those issues are articulated in the context of these stakeholder groups.

4. Social software adoption

While social software has been deployed in many organizations, employees generally haven’t adopted it. Adoption is critically important, since businesses that don’t migrate to social software as a conduit for day-to-day business will be mangled by their savvier competitors. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees, and the potential for revenue amounts to $1.3 trillion per year.

Yet, according to Prescient Digital Media’s 2013 social intranet study, only 13% of employees participate in the social intranet on a daily basis while 31% rarely or never do.

Given the focus on engagement and some other key internal communications trends, communicators will take a more active role in promoting the adoption of internal social media, which will require a strategic pivot away from the vice-like grip email has on most employees’ communication practices.

5. Activity streams

Nothing succeeds like success. When organizations focus on adoption of social software, the tool that attracts most employees is the activity stream (the equivalent of Facebook’s news feed on your intranet). With employees able to see instantly what their work team peers, project peers, bosses and other employees are doing, they feel more connected and, as a result, get more engaged.

Within organizations that have adopted the activity stream as the dominant homepage feature, communicators are giving up their magazine-style approach to sharing news and simply injecting their articles and other content into the stream. At least three organizations I know have seen this approach result in three or four times the views of their content. That’s right: Getting employees to “follow” or “like” the communications profile leads to more consumption of communications content than the traditional approach of listing headlines on the homepage.

7. Social visual communication

Images are dominating shared content, and with good reason. Engagement levels and interaction with images are significantly higher than narrative text as content consumption shifts from fixed desktops and laptops to mobile smartphones and tablets. While I’m hesitant to call this an internal communications trend—I haven’t seen it manifest yet inside any organization—it is inevitable. Smart communicators will get ahead of the trend and innovate ways to use images to tell stories and deliver messages, along with the channels for delivering them. I wrote a post recently suggesting six ways communicators can use images for internal communications.

8. Digital signage

These devices are activated by touch or motion, incorporate video, and can be tailored to deliver relevant information to employees based on their location, even floor-by-floor. Here’s just one case study from a freight company.

9. Gamification

Gamification, stated simply, makes it fun to do things that usually are mundane and tedious by applying one or more of the elements of game-play. These typically include badging, leveling, leader boards, and completion bars.

Communicators who acquaint themselves with the principles of gamification will be able to apply it to communication challenges.

10. Print

The simple fact is that employees don’t use the intranet the same way they used the company publication. While the periodical all-employee publication isn’t making a comeback, niche uses of print that are based on achieving measurable objectives are making a comeback in many companies. Hospitals, for example, are returning to print to get messages to nurses and other staff who don’t have access to the intranet. Yes, it’s costly. Yes, it has long production lead times. But it also works.

11. Employee influence measurement

As employee-to-employee communication moves into the jurisdiction of internal communications departments, identifying and tapping into those employees with high levels of influence will grow more important. The folks at Microsoft recognize this; it’s why they’ve done a deal with Klout to have an influence score appear on their Yammer profiles based on their internal Yammer activity. I have little doubt that Chatter and other internal networking tools will follow suit, but in the absence of such automated scoring, communicators will find other ways to figure out which employees to tap for advocacy and ambassadorship roles.

 ___

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.. – Cohen

As your organization gains momentum in communication, feedback and open exchange the ideas around social constructionism – (Social constructionism, or the social construction of reality, is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world.Wikipedia start to emerge.     What this means on a basic level is that WE are smarter than ME.   Strategic communication through a matrix approach facilitated and orchestrated (INFORMS) the organization.   This information … converts in context to KNOWLEDGE and feeds strategy.    Communication is a basic and practical way to turn a KM strategy into an effective KM practice. 

What about organizational conflict management?

Yes.. it is again tied to communication.

 

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Keeping it Practical

1) Position our organization for learning.   We do this by learning about ourselves, our people, our process, our methods, and tools.  What are the best things we never knew we had, including our who, what, when where and why?

2) What level of awareness do we need in our organization to be successful?  What does awareness mean to us?

3) What are our current activities and how do they tie to our current business, mission, vision, scope and objectives?   What questions do we need to come up with to understand OUR landscape.   

4) Does our current Knowledge Management practice align with our business objectives?   Do we work in siloes?  Is that ok for our kind of business?   What information needs to transfer between individual performers and groups? How do we deal with personal, team, and enterprise knowledge?

5) What areas do we need to practice an approach to organizational conflict management?  What are the costs associated with conflict management?  What are the benefits and innovation potential for conflict management?   Inter and intra-department transformational and adjacent innovation?

6) What are we doing well today?  What do we need to reenforce and what do we need to resolve?

Most of the tools are already in our organization.   The key is active communication, facilitation and attention to people our most valuable and precious resource.

 

Leadership has the tools, the process and the methods of communication in hand today.  With a well thought out strategy, leadership can start communication early and often. They can create opportunity for employees to engage and provide feedback.   This communication will inform the strategy for business which includes KM.   The well informed organization lowers risk, increases opportunities for cost savings where it makes sense and increases the opportunities for revenue generation.

Communications