Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 13 Issue 5
A change will do you good
Anyone who has contributed to the production of this issue will know that at four o’clock the Friday before going to press, I packed all my worldly possessions (and the office food stash) into a large crate and said goodbye to our old office. While the geographical distance to my new home isn’t significant – in fact, just two floors up in the same building – the difference in my day-to-day routine has been astonishing.
Any knowledge or change manager will understand how difficult it can be to persuade people who have worked in the same teams or job functions for a certain amount of time, to try something different. And following a restructure of our entire publishing division it was with some sadness – but a huge amount of excitement – that I left my former stable of publications to take on responsibility for a newly created team, operating in an entirely different industry sector. Suffice to say that if I peer over the top of my computer I can still see the editors that I used to work with so, again, this may sound somewhat melodramatic but there is a point to all this.
To say that I am now on a very steep learning curve would be an understatement – and it’s fantastic. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders; no doubt having shaken off a few cobwebs and thrown myself with great abandon into something completely new! It’s difficult, yes, but the atmosphere that has been created by moving a few people around has been incredible.
Individuals who have never spoken to each other before, let alone worked in close proximity have been bouncing ideas around and relishing the opportunity to learn from each other – there’s a real buzz and lots of happy faces. Not that I’m saying we all sat in our corners feeling sorry for ourselves and ignoring each other before, of course. But a new office and the ‘bringing together’ of core teams has breathed some fresh air into the business and opened the door to more innovative ways of working – we’ve got a bit more ‘va va voom’!
Environmental Resources Management has no doubt noticed a similar effect with the work it has been doing over the past 12 months, on its future strategy development. Rather than steaming ahead with decisions that would have an impact on its staff some time down the line, it has actively encouraged them to become involved in the process. The knowledge management aspect here has been the provision of a multitude of communication channels within which staff can share their ideas and insights – and speak directly to senior level management. And more importantly, that information is then considered during the strategic decision-making phase. Bonnie Cheuk talks about the entire process in detail in the cover feature on page 14. I’m sure that you will find it as inspiring as I did.
Here’s to a innovative and productive March, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of this issue.
A strategic imperative
Ensuring that fee earners and partners fulfill their responsibilities from a knowledge contribution point of view is a task that has traditionally proven difficult for knowledge management (KM) professionals.
Back in 2006, in KIM Legals launch issue cover feature, interviewees commented on the knowledge is power attitude, which was prevalent among lawyers at the time. This, combined with the constant pressure to complete billable activities, meant that updating a precedent or posting information to the knowledge repository were often far down lawyers list of things to do.
KM on a shoestring
One could be forgiven for approaching this subject with a degree of pessimism. However, it should not be seen in such a negative light. The current financial crisis has undoubtedly posed problems for the legal profession and those involved in devising knowledge management (KM) strategies for the short and medium term.
It has been argued in the past that KM has been too dependent upon technology; this approach has changed but in the current climate an organisations restrictions on spending money on IT will no doubt affect the ability of KM professionals to implement KM solutions.
Cover feature: Innovation co-creation
Our senior leaders do not want just another staff consultation exercise, nor an experiment in how to use online forums or blogs to stimulate staff interaction. Instead, the KM team has been asked to partner with the senior leaders and given the remit to be as innovative and creative as possible in finding ways to enable our staff to generate and share their best ideas to help shape the companys future.
Meet the board
Most of you will recognise the latest addition to the Inside Knowledge Editorial Board immediately, having read her ongoing Challenging preconceptions series, which is currently featured within these pages and those of our sister title, KIM Legal.
Cora Newell brings with her a wealth of experience gained from working as both a US and UK qualified lawyer and a knowledge management (KM) specialist, within the highly challenging City law firm environment. She is also the founder of KM Insight Consulting.
If theres one thing you can say about knowledge management (KM) professionals, its that were a flexible lot. We wear many hats as we endeavour to facilitate change often in uncooperative and, perhaps even, adversarial environments. Being successful necessitates pushing the limits of our flexibility and, true to the multi-disciplinary nature of our field, drawing inspiration from unlikely sources.
With the schools snowbound and closed for a few extra days last month, I persuaded my daughters to help me build an igloo. Its something Ive always wanted to do.
It took a lot longer than I thought and the pretence that this was Dad helping them began to slip after a while, as my co-labourers needed a hot chocolate break or two along the way. I improvised with Tupperware boxes to make my bricks, learned as I went, and bullied/bribed my girls to hold up the walls when we got to the tricky bits.
The Gurteen perspective
One of my frequent messages is that we need to stop doing things to people and start to work together. Let me explain.
People often ask me How do we make people share? or How so we make people adopt social tools? or, more generally, How do we make people more engaged?.
That little word make comes up time and again. Its really obvious when it does and I wince every time I hear it.
In the early days of Web 2.0, when the internet first became a publishing medium open to the public, people tagged their material with their own descriptive words. They discovered that this was a pain because people used different words to label similar items, or forgot which words they had used, so they could not use them effectively as search terms.