December 31, 2009

Managing Old Knowledge

The New Year is almost with us here in Scotland but as I type this it has already arrived in Australia. I can watch the video of the fireworks in Sydney, Australia and it brings back wonderful memories of trips to that tremendous city. Not least of those was my wife walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. She had been looking forward to it for a considerable length of time, indeed I think it was going to be the highlight of her trip to Australia but on the day of the big walk it was raining. She did the walk over the bridge wearing wet weather gear! She described it as a mind blowing experience and one that everyone should everyone should experience.

What have you done with the knowledge you had this time ten years ago?
I was reminded earlier today that it is ten years since the great Y2K computer scare. Do you remember the sense of doom when we thought computers were all going to stop at midnight? Lots of effort was put into understanding what might happen and how to counter act the worse case scenarios. Remember the scenario planning and contingency plans that were developed. What have you don’t with it?
A happy and prosperous New Year to all.

Knoco Ltd

December 27, 2009

Delivering Value From Your Lessons

I spent the last couple of days with my colleague, Nick Milton’s latest book. It is now ready to be sent to the publisher and this was a last chance to go through it before it gets sent to the publisher.

Creating a text book is an iterative process. You write text and then reflect on whether it clearly describes the point you are trying to get across. You produce a diagram to illustrate a model or concept but does it clearly illustrate the point. In some ways putting the book together is like working with a jigsaw puzzle, you have all the pieces but have you put them together in the right way.

The process that I like to use is to read the book ‘cover to cover’. I find somewhere quiet, settle down with a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits. I read it at one sitting if possible. I don’t make any comments on the text but just read it cover to cover. I am trying to see if the whole thing hangs together. Does it work as a work rather than a series of chapters?

I then go back and read it line by line, but this time i annotate the text where required. Sometimes it is just a question of style. I have worked with Nick for about fifteen years now and we each have our own style of explaining things, sometimes even at this late stage I might suggest that a point has to be expanded in order to make it crystal clear to the reader.

Nick’s book is entitled The Lessons Learned handbook, Practical Approaches to Learning from Experience

For those looking for a book that describes how to get value out of lessons learned, this book is for you. I think it is clear, provides real insight as to how to create a system and process that allows an organisation to learn from its experiences. It’s now available to pre order from Amazon.

Knoco Ltd

December 18, 2009

Structuring The Knowledge

I would to thank Mark Gould for reading my blog and writing about it in his. It’s always get to get feedback.

I forgot to mention in previous posts that one of the things we did with the BP Operations Excellence toolbox was to create a hierarchy of ‘advice’. Thus at the top of the page was the most validated, supported advice and at the bottom were the un-validated, personal opinions of any member of the community. At the top was what we titled ‘BP Way’. It would be tempting to write that this was the mandated way of doing something but that would be inaccurate as very few things are mandated in BP, lets rather say that this was the expected way of doing something. As it was the expected way of doing something that was the way that it was normally done. There was a route to suggest innovations (I won’t go into that in this post) and improvements.

Below that were ‘good practices’ from around the group. The icons were colour coded to indicate whether they came from exploration or refining etc as typically people would look refer to the part of the organisation they were currently in (the context was closer) before reviewing what was deemed to be good practice in other parts of the organisation. Again there was a mechanism to keep these up to date.
Below that were examples of practices from around the group.

Below that (not to indicate it was less important) were any communities or networks that people could contact or consult with for advice.

Below that were the questions previously asked on that topic and the responses. In this case it was placed at the bottom to indicate that these were the personal opinions of individuals and that they had not been vetted or verified by subject matter experts.

There is also a ‘question and answer’ to allow the question to be sent to the community.

Compliments of the season to all.

Knoco Ltd

December 7, 2009

Value Adding Knowledge Management Training

I am a great supporter of colleges and universities; they did after all provide the foundation upon which my career has been built.

I was conducting a one day workshop for a mixed audience at the end of which one of the participants made a comment which troubled me.

The first part of the day had been based on Bird Island. As normal the exercise was a huge success and extremely impactful. The second part of the day allowed those present to use our self assessment tool to better understand where their organisation is currently in terms of knowledge management. After that we used the risk calculator to better understand the degree of risk that knowledge management potentially faced in their organisation.

During the wrap up at the end of the workshop attendees were invited to share their thoughts on the day. One attendee mentioned that they thought they had wasted a year of their time studying for a qualification in knowledge management as they had learned more during this session than they had during their formal education.
Now at one level I was very pleased that they had got so much value out of the day but at another I was disturbed that their formal knowledge management education had failed to deliver for them. I can’t share any more details as immediately the session ended someone asked for some advice and by the time I had finished speaking with them the person who had made the comment had left.

All of us involved in the delivery of knowledge management services have a duty to ensure that our experience is transferred to those seek that knowledge.
Of course this could be an isolated incident, unique to one person or one institution but perhaps all of us who are involved in deliver of training and education just need to pause and reflect and verify that we are providing a value adding experience.

Knoco Ltd

December 2, 2009

Spiky Earth

David Gurteen and I have known each other since the birth of knowledge management and while most of our conversations are virtual nowadays it was terrific to catch up with David again during the Intellectual Assets Centre conference in Edinburgh this week. The downside was that the organisers had David running his excellence Knowledge Café at the same time that I was chairing sessions reviewing and contrasting the challenges facing a small organisation and a multinational when it comes to knowledge management. The dialogue we had during the sessions was superb and it was interesting how the perception that there would be nothing in common between the two organisations changed as the dialogue progressed.

Two of the presentations in the morning session were given by economists, one of whom spoke about ‘spiky earth’ and how organisations gather in clusters. I need to do some more research into this because it struck me that there were interesting parallel with communities of interest and these ‘spikes’.

Knoco Ltd