November 14, 2011

I Need New Knowledge

I need new knowledge so I am going to use the BDAL (Business Driven Action Learning) process.

If you go back to my father’s generation, almost all of my extended family worked in the private sector. The picture today is however very different. Nowadays 76% of my extended family either work directly for the private sector or are in receipt of pension / benefits from the state. So in one generation we have gone from almost zero to almost eighty percent depending on the private sector / state for our income.
Now while I find this turnaround astonishing, remember I come from a traditional manufacturing area, a recent development stunned me and that’s the reason for having to acquire new knowledge.

One member of my extended family, now a young adult, never had the traditional teenager Saturday or part-time jobs. Not for them the rite of passage of the part time jobs in the supermarket or hamburger bar. I didn’t think much about it the time. That person, now a young adult, has decided that they don’t want to work. They have no intention of seeking work according to those who know them better than I do. This isn’t someone who can’t find a job but rather someone who has decided not to work. I don’t understand that.

In some parts of the world not working would not be a choice but in this case the state has given them a two bedroom flat and a weekly living allowance. It isn’t in the best location but essentially having never contributed anything to the economy of the country they are now being provided with accommodation and a living allowance. I don’t understand that.

I need new knowledge so I will use the BDAL process to acquire that knowledge.

I am about to head off to a part of the world where I won’t routinely be able to write a blog. I will write when possible.

Knoco Ltd

November 4, 2011

What Are You Teaching?

I need some space on my bookshelf so decided to move some books and conference proceedings to ‘storage’. While doing that I found this formal definition of Culture in a presentation given by Schein at the Society for Organisational Learning, Monterey, California, Nov 1997.

“Culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions

Learned by the members of a group

In solving their external problems of survival in the environment and their internal problems of integration

That work well enough to be taught to new group members

As the correct way to perceive, think about, and feel about all aspects of their daily life

Once shared assumptions exist, they function to provide meaning to daily events, make life predictable, and, therefore, reduce anxiety.”

One of the things that jumps out of this definition when I read it is the third line, “that work well enough to be taught to new group members”. This isn’t formal classroom teaching or even elearning but teaching by observing and doing. Remember back to the last time you were the newbie in a company. You looked, listened and observed. You saw how people did things, what they did and equally importantly what they didn’t do. I remember joining one company and was amazed when at lunchtime the people around me started emailing each other to see if they were ready to go to lunch. They could easily have turned to each other and asked but no they emailed each other. I very quickly learned the lesson (or was taught the lesson) that being seen to be busy was more important than actually being busy in that department. Speaking to each other was seen as ‘a waste of time’; working at your computer screen was productive and hence desirable.

What are you teaching the people around you?

Oh by the way, if you haven't been to Monterey, California, treat yourself, it's a delightful place.

Knoco Ltd

November 3, 2011

KM Plans Superceed Peer Assist

I have been conducting knowledge management master classes over the last couple of weeks and in common with previous such events the delegates asked for some advice. A question that I am frequently asked (in several different formats) is;
• What km process makes the biggest impact?
• What km process would you introduce first?
• If you could only do one thing what would it be?

If I was asked this question before about 2009 I answered ‘peer assist’ but since then I have been answering ‘km plan’. Why the change?

For me, peer assist is a wonderful process and one that will change the culture of your company. It allows staff to asking if someone knows a better, faster, safer, innovative way of doing what they are about to do. Details of the process itself can be found here.

My favourite peer assist at which I facilitated the session was one in which the home team were presenting their proposal to start up a production line for high technology components. One of the visitors was paying immense attention to what was being said, so much so that I just had to ask “Something has caught your attention, what is it?” To the amazement of the home team, he said “Nobody has been able to start up a line in that way, if you get it right it will change the industry!” Now to say that got everyone’s attention would be an understatement. I asked him to expand on the statement and he described how one of the machines in the line was very temperamental and very difficult to get to steady state. Each time that machine tripped the whole line went down and the whole process had to start again. I encouraged him to share with the home team what they did to get over this and he described how they put three machines in parallel (one out of the three would operate) which allowed them to get the whole line stabilised. Once the line was stable they removed the other two parallel machines as they weren’t required.
Importing knowledge in this way allowed the home team to reflect on what they were proposing, update their plans before they were locked into a set course of action.

So if this process is so good and it can add such tremendous value to the individuals and the organisation why would I now prefer knowledge management plans?

I guess the reason is that a knowledge management plan is a higher level and encourages the users to think through what knowledge we need and then how do we get it. A km plan template can be downloaded for free which you can use to structure the thoughts of your project or team. For me, the peer assist has become a component or vehicle that can help to deliver the km plan for the organisation.

I haven’t fallen out of love with the peer assist, I just think that the km plan gives you a wider perspective on what knowledge you need and how you will manage it.

Knoco Ltd