Re: How KM can help combine or leverage subject matter knowledge from several different domains to address one problem #collaboration #expertise

Arthur Shelley

Thanks Susan,


This is great advice. I completely agree with your comments.


KM initiatives benefit form addressing priority issues and is it better to use the aspects of KM that accelerate the opportunities (problems waiting to be resolved), than to try to implement a while system. Over time as various issues get resolved in a strategic and sustainable way, you build the pieces of the KM matrix into the organisation. The more diversity there is in the conversations to solicit constructive feedback, the better the quality of the outcomes.


Regarding creative ways to solicit deep knowledge for wider sources:

I used to host a weekly conversation about the biggest mistakes each week. People would come along for the coffee and cake and share their “stuff-ups”  and get some feedback on how they could have been avoided. Although this sounds negative and reactive, it was actually a great experience as it highlighted the things that went wrong and enabled them to be avoided in future. We even had a fun “turkey of the week” trophy, that was appreciated by the recipients, because it came with a lot of free advice and knowledge in the conversation. The culture was collaborative and inclusive, and everyone knew it was all done in a positive developmental way. This actually developed a strong team culture and share many insights (but of course needs to be facilitated in a positive manner to ensure it remains professional and constructive).


Another example is built around the “Ritual Dissent” activity from Dave Snowden. When I have groups of learners (typically experienced managers and executives in formal postgraduate programs or Executive Education programs), they work on projects. At several intervals during the program each team has to Pitch to another team (who role play the leadership team of their client) what they plan to do next and why. The other team then challenge them on these actions. This is watched by the other teams, who then also provide their perspectives (as independent observers), which provides another perspective. This means that during the program, each team plays the part of the internal team member, a stakeholder group and an independent observer. This role playing gets them to see a range of ways of seeing their own project challenges as well. It is a lot of fun and the participants enjoy it a lot. Again, the whole process needs to be facilitated in a professional manner to ensure the experience is constructive for all. Learning this is also part of the professional development as too often this is not the lived experience of many. However, when they see this collaborative culture in action, they see the value of it.


You may also fond this document helpful for some cocreation of ideas into projects (free, no tracking 😊):


I observe such culture here in KM4Dev, which is why I encourage others to join, to learn how to share as a contribution member of a community. We come for what we can give and invariably leave with much more!


Arthur Shelley


Founder: Organizational Zoo Ambassadors Network

Mb. +61 413 047 408  Twitter: @Metaphorage


Author: KNOWledge SUCCESSion  Sustained performance and capability growth through knowledge projects

Earlier Books: The Organizational Zoo (2007) & Being a Successful Knowledge Leader (2009)


From: <> On Behalf Of Susan Ostreicher
Sent: Friday, 24 September 2021 12:07 AM
Subject: Re: [SIKM] How KM can help combine or leverage subject matter knowledge from several different domains to address one problem #collaboration #expertise


 Hello Robert, 


Thanks for posting. I don't have experience in your industry (or organization), but here are some thoughts based on what you've shared. 

  • First, I'm not sure I agree that the best answer is "implement the whole of KM capability". In real life, every organization needs to prioritize based on their needs and resources, and there's no one-size-fits-all KM model. I don't mean to say that some parts of KM aren't important. But prioritizing doesn't necessarily mean taking shortcuts.
  • For the first issue ("how to firstly be aware that there could be an input from a domain other than your own") - you said "Probably we should have some multi-domain forums." It seems like a forum in the sense of an online discussion board might run into the same problem of not knowing what you don't know - e.g. the fashion expert might not know yet what input he needs from the land use expert. I also think the online format is better for more focused discussion, and what you're describing sounds more open ended.

    But I wonder if a real-time forum where different groups share what they're working on might be helpful, in the spirit of "working out loud". The goal would be not to make formal presentations, but to prompt questions and comments that the presenter might not have thought of -- "Have you looked into x", "How are you planning for y", etc. I've seen this work as a cross-disciplinary meeting held once every 1-2 months, where each team took 5-10 minutes to share. Sometimes someone in the audience would raise a point they hadn't thought of, and it would lead to collaboration after the meeting. Other times there were no questions, but there was still the benefit of each team getting a general sense of what others were working on. Depending on your culture, if you feel people will hesitate to jump in, maybe you could offer some kind of recognition for the best question asked. 

    This all assumes the people you're trying to connect are internal to your organization. If you're trying to connect external experts, this would be more of a challenge, but maybe still worth pursuing.
  • It sounds like the second issue ("how to engage and access that knowledge at a deep level as and when needed") is more about staffing. Has anyone else seen any creative, flexible ways to staff projects that cross disciplines? 



On Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 5:15 AM Robert M. Taylor via <> wrote:

Tom, thanks. Take for example my fashion industry example. On the face of it, it's all about fabric waste. Independently other people are working on agriculture, land use, water use, social justice and energy concerns. My question really is - is there something beyond what I have imagined (but less than "do all of KM") that can make it easy for the different disciplines to know they have a connection, what that is, and to make it effectively? Ta/R

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