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..

 

 

 

When Giants Tip Toe #Leadership #Social

138H

Small Actions

We are all tiny giants walking through this world creating ripples with far reaching and unknown impact.

It is a struggle to know if the decisions we make will have a positive impact or a negative one.  We can’t predict the future, but we can realize that we are all giants.    The world is becoming smaller through technology and each of us individually is becoming larger.  Today we have more ability to reach and impact millions of people with very little effort.

In 4 minutes and 4 seconds Candace Payne made over a million people laugh by wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing throughout the video.  Not only did she do that, she set off a sales and marketing blitz for the retailer Kohls .

Of course this is a good news story for this family and Kohl’s.   It is proof that (if you need any) that social media, the internet, and interconnected media shrinks the distance between us.  It also means that we can get crushed by the same effect.

Big Mistakes by Big Players

Anyone with a connected device could impact millions of people with something interesting, funny, brilliant or otherwise compelling.   If this is the case, why do so many companies make critical mistakes with social media?

These companies are aware of the opportunities to the extent that they experience them but they aren’t aware of the opportunities in the sense of creating them.  Under these conditions they are trying to “tip toe” carefully while using the social digital space as a walking stick.   Under these conditions, they seek to “be social” but with carefully controlled messaging.   The underlying issue with this is that they are already social, but social can’t be controlled, it can only be influenced.   The influence occurs through natural human interaction.   How many CEO’s have I/O psychologists readily on hand?  Instead they look at data and what they call sentiment analysis.    This by itself is a mistake and it is akin to removing a splinter with a hatchet.   Giants think they need giant things and giant solutions, but the reality is they need small solutions and small tweaks.   The reason is that small things in a giant world have large impacts.

Retired General Stanley Mcchrystal said, “I would tell my staff about the dinosaur’s tail: As a leader grows more senior, his bulk and tail become huge, but like the brontosaurus, his brain remains modestly small. When plans are changed and the huge beast turns, its tail often thoughtlessly knocks over people and things. That the destruction was unintentional doesn’t make it any better.”

Carefully Well Thought Out Poor Decisions

How much did it cost Kohl’s for the four minute social wave of marketing?   In 2012, it is estimated that Kohl’s spent 1.16 billion dollars.  In 2014, they spent an estimated 1.9 billion.    The underlying reason they spent more on advertising was “weak profitability. It is too early to tell what the “Candace Payne effect” is, but it cost them around $5,000 (they gave Candace $2500, 10,000 reward points, and Star Wars toys for her kids) and that was by their choice.   In other words, Kohl’s was smart to respond but they didn’t have to because they were mentioned as a natural part of the conversation.

There is a lot to think about here.  For example, what if Kohl’s turned their advertising budget into enhancing the customer experience?   What if Kohl’s goal was to “create a shopping experience that made people happy?”    I am not knocking Kohl’s, I am just stating that they are solving the wrong problem precisely.   Another great example to consider is the Giant air carrier United Airlines.

United Airlines sent me a very personalized message signed by their CEO Oscar Munoz.

UA

 

There are many things wrong with this message.   The message could have been sent out generically without the personalized touch.   Marketing experts may tell you that x percent of people respond better when their names are put in a message, but that is nonsense.   People respond to kindness, honestly, integrity, humility and reality to start.   It is not reality to think that UA cares about my business.  If you think I am being too harsh, consider that United Airlines is ranked worst by a J.D. Power customer survey .   You see “all about the data” can go many ways.    What did Oscar say in his personal message to me that would make a difference?   Can I reach Oscar to respond to his personal message to me?   Let’s find out.. 

United Response “My name is NO.. my number is No”

CustomerCare@united.com <customercare@united.com>

May 20 (2 days ago)

to me
Dear Mr. Cohen:
I am truly sorry for any poor experiences you have recently had with
United.

I know in the past years it has been quite painful to travel with
United.  As an employee I agree with you, but Mr. Munoz has brought
great change. We have been improving the morale of all employees and in
turn have created a wonderful customer experience for all of our
customers.  We do hope you allow us to show you how we improved and
continue your loyalty with us.

Mr. Cohen, we appreciate your comments and look forward to serving you
again.

Regards,

Matthew Miguel
Executive Services, United Airlines
Corporate Customer Care
Case: 10376324

Original Message:
To: Munoz, Oscar
Subject: Message CX

Dear Oscar,

I received your message today and I don’t think your  message really means anything.  In fact,  I don’t know what you are doing to energize your employee base but I do know this.

Getting to the plane is painful.
Being uncomfortable while waiting for the plane is painful.
Getting on the plane is painful.
Sitting on the plane is painful.
Getting asked to pay extra at every turn is painful.
Moving reservations is painful.
The frustration pouring out of people in the airport and on the plane is
painful.

The whole experience together makes it simple for me to travel in that
since airlines don’t differentiate themselves any longer in any way, I
can just choose the lowest cost and be miserable for the duration of my
travel.
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.

Best Regards,
Howard Cohen

My Interpretation

 

Dear Mr. Cohen:
I am truly sorry for any poor experiences you have recently had with
UnitedI am sorry that we wrote you. 

I know in the past years it has been quite painful to travel with
United.  I have no idea what happened to you or your experience with United but I am just going to tell you that “I get it”  and hopefully that will be enough. 

As an employee I agree with you, but Mr. Munoz has brought
great change.   I agree with you.   I can’t say anything else beyond that because I am in customer service.   Mr. Munoz has brought great change and change is good because change means change. 

We have been improving the morale of all employees and in
turn have created a wonderful customer experience for all of our
customers.  We are improving morale through our efforts of change and we have created a wonderful experience for customers <– in past tense as if this was something that happened and not in present tense as something that is happening. 

We do hope you allow us to show you how we improved and
continue your loyalty with us.  You probably aren’t going to fly with us anytime soon. 

Mr. Cohen, we appreciate your comments and look forward to serving you
again.  Did you actually think in small giant feeble mind that Oscar Munoz the CEO of the company would read your message?  You aren’t even a very frequent flyer, why would you matter?   Thanks for the laugh and enjoy my generic response.  

Regards,

Matthew Miguel
Executive Services, United Airlines
Corporate Customer Care
Case: 10376324

Only Time Will Tell

In 2010 Forbes Lee E. Ohanian said that “Recent lessons indicate that once an industry starts to get big through mergers and acquisitions, it is hard to change course. And this may well be bad news for both travelers and taxpayers.”   (http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/11/airlines-merger-economy-opinions-contributors-lee-ohanian.html)

The reality though is that airlines are thinking about ways to cram more folks into the plane.   Flying me to Cuba in a box while I am hibernating or strapping my feet to the floor while I stand in the subway isle of the aircraft isn’t going to be interesting to me.    I predict more challenges for United.

Summary

Every connected person is part of the digital ecology.   We are giants and our small actions will have long lasting effects.  The days of leadership from the ivory tower are not over but we are moving more towards a complicated hive network topology between corporate employees and customers alike.   What does change really mean?   Consider that whether you walk with a flat foot or tip toe through the network, you will have an impact on the ecosystem, your presence will be felt and we are all “leaders from where we are.”

As an FYI, I did follow up with United after their response and never heard back from them.   I don’t have unreasonable expectations, but it is clear that they are struggling with their social strategy.

3ea600dd2131

 

Project Management Tips ON POINT #Quick Advice

struggle leads to success

PM Tips from a Master

Gopal Srinivasan https://www.linkedin.com/in/gksrinivasan  says if you want to be successful in project delivery consider these tips as you start your initiative.
Even with the best planning sessions and strategy the best projects can go off the rails without great leadership.  I have witnessed Gopal pulling folks together and getting projects right on track.   I asked him how he did it and what his thoughts were on the subject.   In kind, he responded with some clear thoughts on “getting it right” and on point with projects!

Keep these concepts in mind…

  • that process or methodology is not a panacea (people make the process work – remember people, process, technology)
  • things do not go according to plan – constant risk mitigation and contingency planning is key for successful execution
  • communicate and accountability – ensure ownership (usually single point of contact vs. groups) to bring items to closure

Additional points that help during any initiative:

  • be ready to course correct (use war rooms and deep dives to focus on the issues, bringing critical contributors together in addressing the issue)
  • assume positive intent – no one comes to work thinking “I am going to really mess up today…”
  • commitments delivered! builds credibility and track record

Gopal said “You have to always realize that people are the number one most important factor.”    It is amazing to me to see that a “people first” approach in all business and subject areas is the key to successful outcomes.   Delivering on promises and commitments while being open, transparent and honest will make for the best outcome.   This coupled with a kind hearted and sensitive approach that considers cognitive, physical and social factors will accelerate team, project and program success.

 

http://icsgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Quick-Reference-Guide.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gopal Srinivasan https://www.linkedin.com/in/gksrinivasan  says if you want to be successful in project deliver consider these tips as you start your initiative.
Even with the best planning sessions and strategy the best projects can go off the rails without great leadership.  I have witnessed Gopal pulling folks together and getting projects right on track.   I asked him how he did it and what his thoughts were on the subject.   In kind he responded with some clear thoughts on “getting it right” and on point with projects!

  • that process or methodology is not a panacea (people make the process work – remember people, process, technology)
  • things do not go according to plan – constant risk mitigation and contingency planning is key for successful execution
  • communicate and accountability – ensure ownership (usually single point of contact vs. groups) to bring items to closure

Additional points that helps during any initiative:

  • be ready to course correct (use war rooms and deep dives to focus on the issues, bringing critical contributors together in addressing the issue)
  • assume positive intent – no one comes to work thinking “I am going to really mess up today…”
  • commitments delivered! builds credibility and track record

Gopal said “You have to always realize that people are the number one most important factor.”    It is amazing to me to see that a “people first” approach in all business and subject areas is the key to successful outcomes.   Delivering on promises and commitments while being open, transparent and honest will make for the best outcome.   This coupled with a kind hearted and sensitive approach that considers cognitive, physical and social factors will accelerate team, project and program success.

 

http://icsgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Quick-Reference-Guide.pdf

 

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

5042953763_6ab5114e9b_z

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.

 

 

 

 

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.