Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 13 Issue 8
From the editor
I’m a huge fan of Charlie Brooker. I’m actually not a very nice person, so I always feel slightly better about myself – and my rather acerbic sense of humour – when I see him directing his venom and special form of sarcastic wit at whatever unfortunate programme happens to be gracing our TV screens at the time. Having watched his late night programmes on BBC 4 and enjoyed his Guardian column for many months, I was therefore ecstatic when his show ‘You Have Been Watching’ got a prime time slot.
In a recent episode, Charlie and his guests had a jolly old time ‘reviewing’ a documentary called ‘The Naked Office’, in which behavioural change specialist and leadership guru Seven Suphi encourages the staff of various organisations to release their inhibitions (and their clothing) in order to promote a better working environment. As Charlie pointed out in his Screenwipe column1 Suphi doesn’t actually get naked herself, “She’s not stupid.”
Once I’d contained my huge guffaw at the concept, it actually got me thinking. While I wouldn’t relish the prospect of seeing anyone from my office in the buff, surely any efforts to remove hierarchical barriers and promote equality in the workplace should be commended.
More importantly, happy, motivated and committed staff are less likely to write something unsavoury about their employer on whichever social networking site – or combination of – they happen to be using. You wouldn’t think that this would be such an issue right now. When I read about individuals who have been sacked because their manager saw something they didn’t like on Facebook, I always find it a bit nonsensical. From my own perspective, I do not befriend any professional contacts on Facebook and there’s a good reason for it. But even despite this, I would never be so stupid as to write something defamatory about my company on my profile. Even if I had the worst working day since time began.
But it’s still an issue that is keeping senior management awake at night. Recent research by search technology vendor Recommind (see page 17) found that a relatively high proportion of organisations were more concerned about the risks associated with the use of social media tools than those for new technologies, such as cloud computing. Of course, appropriate use of social media can be trained and advocated at the organisational level – but is it too simplistic to suggest that companies shouldn’t let their staff reach ‘boiling point’ in the first place?
Whatever the reasons, social media is just one of a myriad of information risks facing KM and IT today. Whether its regulatory inspection, fear of legal discovery, security breaches or simply bad publicity, organisations have a lot to deal with. And confusion around whose responsibility it is to handle such risk policies isn’t helping.
In that vein, I hope that you find this somewhat ‘risky’ edition of the magazine useful. Of course, if you have any experiences or anecdotes that you would like to share in an article do get in touch at the usual address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least, I hope to see lots of you at this year’s KMUK conference!
The low-ceilings of The Thistle Westminsters conference suite belied KM Legal 2010s high ambitions to help delegates achieve the positioning of KM as the efficiency engine of their firms. The joint speakers for the first presentation, Is KM fundamental to the future of the profession? gave listeners a trip down memory lane as to what life was like in City of London firms in the prehistoric days of knowledge management and professional support, followed by anecdotal evidence of how professional support roles in their firms have developed over time into large teams and very mature functions.
Organisations face a range of threats, including information risks to business assets, so are therefore seeking to mitigate risk and deliver value in the face of such threats during turbulent economic times. At the same time, every organisation has a vision and objectives that it needs to deliver in the face of such issues.
Information is the currency of the modern organisation. It should be valued and managed as carefully as any other corporate resource. But what happens if the value of information is not recognised by the organisation? What if the risks and threats arising from the poor management of information are dismissed as unimportant? What risk does this present to successful service delivery?
Agile and flexible workforces driven by clear corporate goals are the surest way to consistent, sustainable and profitable growth. Developing the capabilities of frontline teams in core performance competences makes it possible for organisations to drive down the need for externally driven change programmes and drive up performance through systemic capability that facilitates rapid responses to change.
When it comes to IT-related buzzwords, the concept of information risk management is nothing new. Organisations have been tightening their security issues and spending a lot of money on technology in the process for years. Prominent drivers that immediately spring to mind for the initial influx include the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002, and the emergence of e-mail as the de facto communication method for the forward-thinking organisation.
The Gurteen perspective
Clearly identifying and articulating the business issue or problem that you wish to respond to is the first and most fundamental step in any project but strangely it is one that is often skipped. People jump far too readily to the solution they already have in mind.
Doing KM, social networking, Enterprise 2.0 or undertaking a project to improve knowledge sharing, create a learning organisation or create a knowledge driven organisation as a starting point is not only meaningless, but dumb! You need to identify the business issue first.
Digging up the metaphors
The main theme I want to explore in this short piece is the way that the worlds of knowledge economy, knowledge transfer and knowledge management (KM) all seem to have grown up rather independently of each other. I want to start the argument for taking a long hard look at the muddle of metaphors that the discipline has wrapped itself in, and suggest that in the next phase of KM we should move from KM as control to KM as surrender.
As I write this column, spring is very much in the air as evidenced by the tissues and anti-histamine tablets dispersed around the Collison household. However, as the only member of the family unaffected by pollen allergies, I can safely offer up a suitably floral theme for this edition: tall poppies and shrinking violets.
Id like to touch upon two syndromes which have the power to prevent the flow of knowledge, good practices, lessons and ideas in organisation.
The first of these is tall poppy syndrome, for which I had to revert to Wikipedia to find the provenance of the term.
Once upon a time, I used to tell the tale of Stan, the go-to man as a witty, too-simple example of the applications and benefits of knowledge management (KM). Stan is an everyman, who Id describe as having been with his company for many years and who is regularly sought out when people needed answers or help with some critical project, even though he has responsibilities which have nothing to do with being a human wiki.