posted 1 Mar 2011 in Volume 14 Issue 5
Eight questions: Part III
In this issueís final forward-thinking interview, David Gurteen reminds us that KM is about people and behaviour, not just technology
What do you think have been the biggest developments in KM during 2010?
Itís been about fostering a better understanding of the people and behavioural sides of KM. There are two books that are a must-read for anyone in this area. The first is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. In a nutshell he says that we need to be careful about how we reward people because, by and large, rewards donít work.
The other book is called The Power of Positive Deviance, by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin. Its subtitle is How Unlikely Innovators Solve the Worldís Toughest Problems. I spoke about positive deviance as a (non-technology) social tool in the September 2010 issue of IK .
The main principles in the book are based around human nature. In positive deviance people arenít coerced into adhering to a process. They frame the problem and then create the solution themselves Ė the whole process is owned by the stakeholders.
Itís those sorts of behavioural aspects that I think KM has been missing up until now and weíre starting to realise itís where a lot of problems lie and where the focus needs to be. Itís not about the technology; itís about people and their behaviours.
How will such developments affect the work of knowledge managers and their teams?
If this new knowledge is acted on it will make a major difference. But I donít think it will happen quickly Ė some of these new ideas will take five or ten years to make an impact. Change takes a long time. For example, the paradigm of rewarding people is so deeply ingrained in our culture, even though psychological research shows it doesnít work.
What do you think are the technology buzzwords for the next 12 months?
Thereís no question that the Ďbuzzwordí of 2011 will be social business. Some people will say itís a new name for
How do you think management approaches will evolve in response to these developments?
Very slowly! Thereís a wonderful quotation from William Gibson: ďThe future is here. Itís just not evenly distributed yetĒ. Lots of organisations have picked up on the behavioural issues and applied social business, but few do it well. There isnít much we can do to accelerate it.
What are your KM-focused New Year resolutions?
I always say I donít make resolutions as I never keep them. But I think if thereís one thing that I always keep in mind, itís to make more of an impact on the world for social good. I have no idea how Iím going to do that, but itís the direction Iím going to move in and weíll see what happens in 2012.
What will be your primary focus over the coming months?
Nancy Dixon once said that conversation is the most effective KM tool we have and, of course, Iím a great believer in that so it will shape much of my work.
Which organisations do you think are the ones to watch Ė and why?
Ditte Kolbśk is doing some interesting work with after-action reviews at Oracle. She calls them proactive reviews and sheís using them as a fundamental face-to-face KM tool at very high level in the organisation.
Oracle makes dozens of acquisitions a year, often large organisations. If you think of all the problems associated with acquiring another company and absorbing the people, culture and technology, itís a huge KM challenge. So, Oracle is using the proactive reviews after each acquisition.
That said, itís almost impossible to keep an eye on KM organisations as the work is continuous (or not labelled as KM) and isnít necessarily in the public eye.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to any knowledge manager?
Thatís an easy one: focus on the business, find out what keeps the CEO awake at night and use KM to give him or her a good nightís sleep. In other words, put the CEO to sleep.