Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 13 Issue 9
Working the room
This week, having escaped the shackles of my desk and fled down the Jubilee Line, I spent a day at KMUK (formerly KCUK) in
In a move away from the ‘usual’ KM conference agenda, the morning and afternoon presentations were bridged with a couple of sessions on networking, led by Nick Davies, of the Really Great Training Company. I had secretly been looking forward to these as I find networking petrifying, despite having absolutely no problems when ‘off duty’. So, as Nick joked about people pretending to send text messages and admiring the ambient surroundings to avoid having to engage a stranger, I could feel my cheeks burning.
I hope that even the most seasoned networker – one of those frightening individuals, who can hold a plate of food and a wine glass, while shaking someone’s hand and passing on their business card, without breaking sweat – has experienced some awkward moments in the past. Trying to join a group deep in discussion might be one such example, or wandering over to someone standing on their own, just in time for them to walk away in the other direction.
What rapidly became obvious, and made me feel much better, was that these were all common problems and Nick provided some great advice on how to overcome them. While many of them were tried and tested, such as a good, firm handshake or offering someone a drink while queuing at the refreshments table – “it works with any form of liquid” – it was refreshing to be walked through the process.
As a result, everyone seemed to make a real effort to mingle during the breaks that followed and the energy levels during the ‘graveyard’ part of the day were surprisingly high. By the time it came to the KMUK Awards towards the end of the conference, the atmosphere was almost excitable, and people were still sat at their tables chatting for a while after the proceedings finished. Although this may have had something do with the wine that accompanied the ceremony. But seriously, I don’t ever remember a conference where people weren’t starting to flag towards the end – perhaps I’ve been going to the wrong ones! Either way, bring on KMUK 2011.
Before the IK team heads off to enjoy the summer break, I’d also like to say a belated ‘Happy Anniversary’ to David Gurteen, who published his 120th Newsletter this month, marking 10 years in KM. I hope that you enjoy the commemorative supplement we have produced to mark the occasion.
As always, if you have a KM story that you would like to share in an article do get in touch – and we’ll be back with the August issue.
Appealing to the senses
Since the beginning of time, storytelling has been used to inspire, communicate, and transfer knowledge. As a narrative technique, storytelling has been popularised1 by academics, consultants, and, increasingly, by KM practitioners seeking ways to persuade their fellow workers to communicate. The books out there on storytelling for organisations tell us that it is a natural and flexible delivery approach for learning, performance, communicating leadership effectiveness, and change management.
KMUK Awards 2010
Hosted by the change studios Dillon Dhanecha, Arks inaugural KMUK Awards provided an opportunity to celebrate the successes of those individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to knowledge management (KM) in business.
The ceremony and drinks reception was held at the end of the first day of KMUK in Londons De Vere, Canary Wharf.
Introducing proceedings, Dhanecha paid tribute to some of the fantastic names that had appeared in the nominations, saying that KM has come on leaps and bounds. The awards, therefore, would set the standard for future KM initiatives inspiring others and providing a fitting memento to the category winners.
View from... KMUK 2010
Not to be confused with KM Legal, the newly rebranded KMUK had some pretty high expectations to meet. In a nod to the global acceptance of social computing, the organisers had also ensured that the conference was Twitter friendly, so had to make sure that every single element was spot on or risk an influx of less than positive tweets. Fortunately, this didnt happen. In fact, the Twitter stream that bubbled away throughout both days has since been mentioned to me by a number of the heavyweights who were in attendance and makes for interesting reading (#KMUK10).
Knowledge management (KM) began its life in the military and private sectors in the late 1990s and quickly developed a reputation as being a strong enabler for the development of an effective organisation. In the early 2000s, it took hold in the development sector, and since the mid 2000s, the private sector has taken an interest. In many ways, the private sector needs KM. The trend for reduced budgets and greater efficiencies calls for a way of developing and exchanging improved practices, and avoiding duplication of work through collaboration. The cuts in public spending will result in knowledge loss, as older public sector workers take early retirement, unless KM can help stem the leak. The constant cycles of government and policy change require public sector bodies to become agile learning organisations. But how well is KM doing in the public sector?
The pilot project had three key objectives. First, to establish how Airbus is retaining its competitive edge through employee knowledge transfer in manufacturing engineering; second, to establish and analyse which strategic knowledge should be maintained; and, third, to establish mechanisms that will minimise the loss of strategic knowledge in a structured and efficient manner.
Masterclass: Spinning the web
Is your companys website merely an after-thought? Is it always playing catch-up or is out of sync with the rest of the organisation? Despite it being the first port of call for most audiences, does it still receive a meagre budget compared to other areas?
These are all typical scenarios for many websites and quite a few organisations still position their website and the associated budget for it too far down the list of priorities. While it is recognised that the intranet or internet sites now play an important role in communications, customer and employee servicing and moving work online, somehow they often dont match up with the other areas of the business. This is likely due to the lack of an online strategy.
Supply and demand
In the last edition, I wrote a flowery article about two cultural hindrances to the flow of knowledge. First we looked at tall poppy syndrome where people are reluctant to share for fear of getting cut down by their peers. Then we explored shrinking violet syndrome, where people are overcome by a sense of corporate humility, and dont believe that they have anything worthwhile to share with others.
But what if we could nurture our organisational garden such that the poppies felt safe to grow and the violets stopped shrinking and started flourishing? Would that solve our knowledge-sharing problems?
The power of struture
My last article, When two worlds collide identified the two principal characteristics of the emerging forms of knowledge as flow rather than documents, and as user generated, and user curated content, rather than professionally generated and managed content.
The core assumption behind the design of software tools to help people to cope with these new forms of knowledge is that algorithms, typified by Googles relevance ranking, are the best (indeed the only) means to deal with the unimaginable quantities of information available. Without these sorts of powerful algorithms and the immense processing power of vast server farms, people would drown in the torrent of information, or be lost forever in a huge and uncharted sea of data.
Game, set, match
As knowledge management (KM) professionals, its easy to get so caught up in the design of strategies, systems, processes, taxonomies and a host of other tasks associated with managing knowledge-based activity and resources. In this way, the term manager in KM is used more often as a verb than a noun. But, regardless of whether you are the sole KM resource in your organisation or part of a team, it should be both. An upper case Knowledge Manager is a change agent; a lower case knowledge manager is a functionary.