Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 14 Issue 4
Accidentally on purpose
You may remember some of Dave Snowden’s observations in the November issue of IK, where he mentioned the negative effect of too many recipe books, as a metaphor. Everyone can read a recipe, but as chefs become more experienced and confident in their ability, and the complexity of the dishes increases, what do they do? Fill the kitchen from floor to ceiling with more advanced recipe books? Or throw them all out and let the chefs flourish through a combination of existing skill, environmental influences and learning by doing?
A family member has an entire room dedicated to her recipe book collection. From Delia, to James Martin, via around 700 perfectly indexed Good Food folders, and one particularly disturbing 1980s microwave cookbook (believe me, there is nothing that can’t be cooked this way, apparently). Every time I visit, I try to acquire a few through bribery, begging or even doubling the RRP, but each time I am turned away.
I like cooking to recipe. But I prefer to follow the mantra of ‘throw a load of stuff in the pot and see what happens’. I always think that as long as you bear in mind what does and doesn’t go together, you can’t go far wrong.
So, to this December/January issue. One of the toughest parts of this job is finding new and exciting people to write about new and exciting things. If I were really lazy, I could say ‘yes’ to all the technology companies offering articles about their latest product. But the regular columnists are all absolute stars and the magazine has built up a good external community of authors. What is strange about this issue is that my commissioning was particularly random, yet the articles that have come in as a result all go together like... hmm, maybe mozzarella and basil.
For example, Bernard Marr sent through his latest book for us to review – then offered to write a thought leader about its subject, intelligent companies. Great, I thought. For that reason, I was even happier when Robin Smith kindly referred to some of Marr’s theories in his article on… intelligent companies. All with no provocation from me.
Combined with a tasty radical management piece from Steve Denning; Chris Collison’s questioning of answers; as well as Tony Quinlan’s exploration of narrative, and a sprinkling of non-financial rewards from Jan Wyllie, we have a rather innovative and forward-thinking buffet of editorial this month.
The overwhelming themes: stop wasting time sifting through piles of useless, valueless information; start empowering your staff to think for themselves; harness the intelligence derived from the knowledge that your organisation already holds; and, not to sound clichéd, think outside the box (or recipe book).
Sounds like a delicious prospect to me! I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in 2011.
Knowledge gaming: Part II
Currency has two basic functions: as a medium of exchange, and as a store of value. There are two types of currency: public currencies regulated and backed by governments, and private currencies used for group peer-to-peer exchange and valuation. This article asks whether in times when public currency is very scarce, private currencies can be deployed to motivate productivity and increase economic value. And whether serious games can be used to make the process fun, as well as rewarding.
Intelligent organisations: Inflection point
There is a spectre haunting every major organisation. With every new e-mail saved and every new duplicated business record, the organisational knowledge system nears a point of fundamental change. The next year will see the next step towards a major information overload crisis for a number of ill-prepared organisations. Some will respond to the challenge; others will be taken down by it. This point could be a revelation or a collapse this is the inflection point.
With the continuing shift from semi-skilled work to what economists call knowledge work, hierarchical bureaucracy is no longer a good solution. Its consequences are well known. It results in the talents, ingenuity, and inspiration of the workforce not being fully tapped. Only one in five workers is fully engaged in his or her work.5 For the organization, this means that the energies and insights of four out of five people in the workplace are being needlessly squandered. When the firms future depends on what knowledge workers can contribute, leaving talent unused becomes a serious productivity problem.
Everyone has a story to tell
There is no better time to be championing new ideas and methods than now. Times are tough, budgets are tight, but the need for new ideas is more pressing than ever the perfect (if uncomfortable) conditions for innovation.
A crisis is too good an opportunity to waste. It shows that the limits of current thinking and business practice have been reached, that it is time for the next evolution in how we work. One of the great fallacies at these points is to do the same, but harder and more focussed: well get it right this time. If the environment has shifted, doing more of what you have been doing already will make matters worse.
The KM concepts series takes best practices from knowledge management (KM) and applies them to enterprise-wide solutions. What we refer to as KM is really fundamental business practices with an emphasis on building efficiencies, creating consistencies and mitigating risk. In the current business climate, centralising key processes to ensure that professionals have access to codified information and tacit knowledge goes beyond a vertical in a company it is pervasive across the enterprise. As KM professionals, we need to use KM as leverage to the bottom line and achieving goals.
Todays most successful companies are intelligent companies. Such organisations bring together and align knowledge management (KM) with other functions, such as enterprise performance management, business intelligence, analytics, management reporting and strategic decision making to generate real competitive advantage. They continuously collect and use the best available data to inform evidence-based decision making.
This makes a lot of sense, as each of these functions manages data and information with the ultimate aim of improving company intelligence and performance. Organisations like Google, Tesco, or eBay understand that there is only one reason why they are collecting, storing or reporting anything: to perform better.
Naguib Mahfouz was a Nobel prize-winning Egyptian author, who published more than 50 novels. He died in 2006, aged 95. I have to confess right now that I havent read any of his work but I often cite one of his quotes:
You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
Book Review: The Intelligent Company
Using the exponential growth in organisational information and data volumes as a backdrop, the latest book from Bernard Marr, author of the bestselling titles, Managing and Delivering Performance and Strategic Performance Management, promises five steps to success using evidence-based management principles.