Date   

Re: Best practices on integrating KM, Training, and Product Documentation teams #learning #content-management

Bill Dixon
 

Hi Kala,
 
The way you describe the division of responsibilities for content generation into KM, Learning, and Product Documentation teams resembles the way these responsibilities are aligned in Americas IT at Ernst & Young.  However, what you refer to the "Product Documentation team" is what we call the Communications Team.  The Communications team is responsible for all Area communications including documentation associated with IT products in Americas IT.  The KM team is responsible for knowledge sharing tools, practices, and communications targeted to groups within IT.  There is a great deal of overlap among these three functions, which is why the three functions are aligned under the same Director, who works for the Americas CIO. 
 
I lead the KM function in Americas IT and chair the Americas IT KM Governance team, which includes representation from each functional group and Sub-area in Americas IT - 17 participants in all.  Because we have people in 29 countries in Americas IT, we established what we call the "Knowledge Process Network", which manages the logistics associated with validating the content across geographies.  We also have formalized the role of "Knowledge Champion" in the US, Canada, and South America.  Our Knowledge Champions are advocates for our formalized KM practices, promoting KM tools and strategies at the local level and providing feedback to our team on needs and what works and what doesn't.     
 
On the topic of a single portal, at least one member of the group that manages the enterprise portal at EY also participates in this community, so he may wish to clarify my observations, but here goes...
EY is a very large organization, divided in two four global areas, with four area CIO's, a global CIO, plus four area CKO's and a global CKO.  Our collective perspective on the single portal concept has matured as we came to realize "single" is very context sensitive.  A single portal that meets all the needs of a small workgroup changes significantly when it is scaled to meet the needs of an enterprise of 130,000 people globally.  A team aligned with our global CKO manages the enterprise portal, which accommodates subsidiary sites (called Community Home Spaces) to more closely match the customized needs of individual communities.  Consequently, we don't have "one organization that drives major content development efforts for an organization so users can access all information through a single portal regardless of the source/group that creates it."  Instead, the enterprise portal provides the backbone for a hierarchical framework from which individual communities can hang and manage their content.  You can navigate to any community from the enterprise portal.  However, as a matter of daily practice, most consumers of INTERNAL content get their content from a combination of the enterprise portal and their individual community home space.  (I place the emphasis on internal content because surveys in IT have shown that the vast majority of information consumed in IT comes from outside the firewall.)
 
Feel free to contact me directly at bill.dixon@... if you would like to discuss the pros and cons of our approach in greater detail.
 
Happy Holidays,
 
Bill Dixon
Americas IT, Ernst & Young
 
 

----- Original Message -----
From: k_pamula
Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 12:08 PM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Best practices on integrating KM, Training, and Product Documentation teams

Hello,

In taking a closer look at the different content generating functions
within an organization, it becomes obvious that the three main
functions responsible for generating majority of the content for
internal/external use involve the typical KM group (incorporating
troubleshooting tips, how-tos, best practices, white papers, etc.),
training group focused on both traditional Instructor-Led-Training and
e-Learning, and Product Documentation focused on generating user manuals.

I am looking for expert thoughts on best practices and pros/cons
(around standard taxonomy, governance processes, templates, single KB
source to store all developed content) to implementing a single group
that consolidates these functions into one organization that drives
major content development efforts for an organization so users can
access all information through a single portal regardless of the
source/group that creates it.

Appreciate thoughts from the community.

Regards,
Kala


Best practices on integrating KM, Training, and Product Documentation teams #learning #content-management

k_pamula <k_pamula@...>
 

Hello,

In taking a closer look at the different content generating functions
within an organization, it becomes obvious that the three main
functions responsible for generating majority of the content for
internal/external use involve the typical KM group (incorporating
troubleshooting tips, how-tos, best practices, white papers, etc.),
training group focused on both traditional Instructor-Led-Training and
e-Learning, and Product Documentation focused on generating user manuals.

I am looking for expert thoughts on best practices and pros/cons
(around standard taxonomy, governance processes, templates, single KB
source to store all developed content) to implementing a single group
that consolidates these functions into one organization that drives
major content development efforts for an organization so users can
access all information through a single portal regardless of the
source/group that creates it.

Appreciate thoughts from the community.

Regards,
Kala


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Nancy Dixon
 


I like what both Patrick and Allan are saying about heavyweights. The example Allan gave about geologists and engineers acting as change agents and therefore being able to influence the top around strategic issues was very encouraging.  Allan says, Ultimately the company was sold to Chevron…. which I believe was the right strategic decision.  And KM played a role in that decision.  This is an excellent example. 

I have a similar example at the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Knowledge Lab, which was initiated three years ago, has increasingly been able to move from tactical projects to being requested by senior managers to help them understand strategic issues they face. It is a function of the Chief of Staff’s office so is ensured protection as well as identity. Interestingly, to echo Steve’s point about sometimes needing an external to bring the message, the Knowledge Lab has never had an internal staff, rather it uses contractors to bring in ideas to address specific problems.  For example, I was brought in to create a way to help lower levels challenge the existing assumptions –without killing their careers.  The Knowledge Lab also has a very savvy marketing effort to promote its successes,  both  internally and externally. The Knowledge Lab strategy is to “Ask questions that have not been asked.” 

Nancy

We need more examples like Allan’s and mine to understand KM at the strategic level.  Are there others that have good examples of strategic KM?


Nancy M, Dixon
Common Knowledge Associates
www.commonknowledge.org
202 277 5839

"Ask better, learn more"





Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

albert.simard <simarda@...>
 

Two responses to the KM / GM dialogue.

First, I am in complete agreement with Nancy's (and others) comment
about using knowledge strategically. We have to move beyond
the "production function" of KM as a technology / work process.
That puts KM in the same category as IM, IT, document management,
data management, and libraries. These are things for which senior
executives want to minimize the cost, expecially when confronted
with what, to them, is mumbo-jumbo that they simply don't
understand. KM is generally not seen as an investments in the
business (small km / big KM argument). That's the purpose of the
work that I've been doing on knowledge services and a knowledge
agenda - trying to raise KM to the level of an inversment in the
business.

Second - getting off my soapbox on saving GM, I came across "The
Innovator's Dilemma" by Christensen. I suspect that many of you
have seen it, based on the number of reprints since it came out in
1997. I'll start with a quote from his book: "There is something
about the way that decisions get made in successful organizations
that sows the seeds of eventual failure." (sound familiar?)

Now, let's rephrase the KM / GM question. What can KM do to enhance
a company's ability to identify disruptive technologies or
socioeconomic drivers early enough that a company can adapt early
and secure a share of a potential future significant market? Once
identified, what can KM do to facilitate a company's response to
disruptive technologies in small, poorly defined, high-risk markets
comprising non-traditional customers?

I don't have magic answers, but it seems to me that this is the real
KM / GM question.

Al Simard


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Rick.Wallace@...
 

All
The who of the organization may be the most important and least understood
through this entire conversation. A good friend of mine Rolf Smith has
done extensive work in the area of innovation and uses a combination of the
MBTI and the KAI to understand both the audience and the capacity for
innovation and innovative behaviors. If you present a disruptive
innovation to an ESTJ with a low KAI score the probability of he or she
looking at you like a dog watching TV is particularly high. That is not a
pejorative comment. It is just that they can not see or understand how
what is being proposed fits into the organizational scheme of things.
Their perspective and the perspective of management in general is how is
this going to fit between the lines of what we are already doing and how
does this solve any of my problems and not add work. Since the world is
85% + SJ then this is the norm rather than the exception. My guess is that
most of the KM community is predominately N and either P or F. That means
we already have a bias for seeing solutions that will not be perceived as
useful in the organization - not because they aren't useful but that they
are not an organizational "fit". Understanding the problem from the
organizations perspective is critical.






Rick Wallace | Chief Learning Officer | Schneider Electric, Critical Power
and Cooling Services Division


801 Corporate Centre Drive, O’Fallon, MO. 63368 USA | (Direct (.) +1 636
300 2300 ext 11641 | (Mobile È) +1-636-293-2684| *: Email:
mailto:rick.wallace@apcc.com


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"Stephen Denning"
<steve@stevedenni
ng.com> To
Sent by: sikmleaders@yahoogroups.com
sikmleaders@yahoo cc
groups.com
Subject
Re: [sikmleaders] Re: Could KM have
12/22/2008 03:18 saved General Motors?
AM


Please respond to
sikmleaders@yahoo
groups.com






Hi Allan,



That's a nice example. One interesting thing about it is that these change
agents acquired their credibility through years of experience in
operations, not in KM. By comparison, the acquisition of the KM toolset
seems to have been a relatively quick and easy affair. Obviously when
change agents have the good fortune to enjoy a relationship of personal
trust with the CEO, persuading an organization to change is very much
simpler.

Given the vagaries of politics at the top of large organizations, change
agents more typically find themselves in a situation where there is no such
trusting personal relationship with the CEO. Where the CEO is new, there
may even be a relationship of active distrust by the CEO of those with long
experience in the firm.

In such circumstances, the challenge for the change agent may be to find
people -- inside or outside the organization -- who are trusted by the CEO,
and persuade them to make the case for change.

In doing so, they are more likely to be successful if they draw on what is
known about how to make the case for change (http://tinyurl.com/9k9aa6) as
well as who they are making the case for change to (
http://tinyurl.com/7pslc3)
Steve Denning
http://stevedenning.com
steve@stevedenning.com
Telephone (US) 202 966 9392
Fax (US) 202 686 0591
Skype: stevedenning1


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Steve Denning
 


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Allan Crawford
 

Patrick’s clarification of what he means by heavy weights really resonated with me.  When I was at one of the mid size oil companies our KM team consisted of business managers with strong technical backgrounds (geology, drilling, petroleum engineering) all of whom had reputations as change agents…and all of whom were respected in the organization.  Each had been in significant mid management positions..and one had headed one of our foreign business units. In our organization these were both technical and management heavy weights…all had significant futures in the company.  And they were able to pick up and apply a solid set of KM tools in 6 to 12 months (CoP’s, peer assists, retrospects, AAR’s and the use of key collaboration tools).

 

As result of having this caliber of individuals on the team, with this experience, was that the team could walk into any office, including the CEO’s, and say “we have something that we think you should try, we’re pretty confident that it will have a significant business impact.”  After explaining what we were proposing, the initial response was typically a little skeptical, but because each of the team members had “business credibility” the line people would say…I’m not sure about this, but I know your track record and I trust your instincts… so okay let’s give it a try.” 

 

Our initial approach was to work with small teams that faced a significant business challenge.  And our promise was that after working with the team for a short period of time if we didn’t deliver significant business value…we would go away. 

 

We started by working on any problem that was presented to us.  After some initial success we approached managers about more challenging problems.  Within two years we were focused on the problems that were most strategic to the corporation.  Our criteria for assessing this was…is this a project that if it succeeded – or failed could move the stock price?  For this mid size oil company (it had a market cap of about $20B) there were a hand full of projects that meet this criterion.  By focusing on these we were able to have a strategic impact on the corporation.  Our efforts included both very tactical work…at the level of the working geoscientists and engineers, but also more strategic work where the outcomes of what we were doing with the lower level teams were shared vertically with management.  This allowed management to make better strategic decisions based on knowledge that was coming from the people that were doing the technical work as well as what we were learning from our partners and our contractors at the technical level.

 

Ultimately the company was sold to Chevron….which I believe was the right strategic decision.  And KM played a role in that decision.  It was clear to our CEO that based on the work that had been done with the teams, we did not have the depth of technical expertise that was needed to execute the significant number of very challenging projects that we faced.  Many of these projects were fairly high risk (big upside if they worked, but high cost and significant downside if they failed).  These high risk – high reward projects were ones that would fit well into a larger company’s portfolio, but were difficult to manage for a mid size company.  The result was a strategic decision to sell the company.

 

Bottom line for me, as a result of this experience, I agree with Patrick, Murray and Nancy; KM can and needs to operate at both the tactical and strategic level.  The processes are pretty much the same…but it does take a different focus.  One is horizontal and the other vertical.  I had never thought of it in quite those terms before but they certainly apply to the work that we did and the results that we obtained.

 

Allan Crawford

 


From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Peter Marshall
Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2008 10:58 AM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Re: Could KM have saved General Motors?

 

I've really enjoyed this dialogue, which I think has been more serious and realistic than most on KM...  Many dialogues in many CoPs suffer from bouts of incense-burning and self-congratulation, and KM, with it's abundance of smart people, can be worse than most.

I think the topic has produced this good result -- because in fact, GM is not dead yet, and it's very interesting to ask -- if we've got something which is REALLY useful as a practice or set of tools or body of expertise or whatever, why the hell wouldn't a rational buyer buy it when they face the need?  GM certainly is in dire need.  Are they actually irrational?  Has their culture and environment and complex barriers to change so warped their understanding that they are incapable of recognizing the value of KM to them?  And if so, doesn't that actually mean that large-scale, strategic KM doesn't exist or can't work?  After all, in order to have value, strategic KM would have to work exactly in environments where it wasn't already well practiced.  It has to be capable of being absorbed and realizing value in hostile, unreceptive environments, or else it fails at it's fundamental goal -- producing meaningful change.

I am worried that the situation may be something like another area I know something about -- speech recognition technology.  (I know, KM is not technology, but indulge the analogy for a moment).  Speech recognition has been around the corner and the obvious next big thing for 15 years... but it hasn't succeeded, because despite the obvious potential -- voice is the natural human interface -- it doesn't work well enough in practice.  It seems like a great idea, but doesn't produce the promised results.  The devil's in the details.  Do the real-work results of KM practice match the conceptual potential that smart people love?  Do they even produce positive results at all, often enough to be convincing to the un-converted?  If not, maybe it's because -- oops -- they really don't work yet.

Or to take a more mainstream analogy -- KM may be like green energy.  The coming thing? -- sure?  Worth investing in? -- sure.  Worth building a deep and broad and agile strategic program around? -- yes.  But don't expect miracles because it's really hard at the engineering and infrastructure and coordination of markets level.  It has to work well and cheaply and efficiently, and THEN it will be adopted organically, without the need of a massive bureaucratic and academic evangelism. 

Broadly speaking, I'm arguing that markets do respond to innovations that already work.  It's getting them there that's complex and emergent..  Is workable, strategic KM emergent or is it here?

Since GM isn't dead yet, and in fact has been told they better come up with a broad and deep and strategic and agile program of change and for change right quick -- who HERE is going to make the KM case?  Will it work?  In the messy real world?  It seems to me that evidence from Toyota on one end and Tesla Motors on the other argues yes, it could.  GM has all the resources to produce value.  What is their "better us of knowledge" roadmap?

Peter Marshall
CEO, Me-Me-Me (speaker-specific speech recognition for mobile applications)
"It's All About You"

On Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 12:59 AM, Patrick Lambe <plambe@greenchameleon.com> wrote:

Nancy, I must finish editing the video podcast of the conversation we had in Singapore, it's highly relevant to this discussion - maybe this weekend!

 

What I took away from that conversation was that our problems are not just located at the top of organisations, but are pervasive throughout organisations, specifically in how we support knowledge flows vertically along power-relationships. I think just focusing at the top is seductive in many ways - it might create an illusion of effect, it certainly feeds one's sense of importance, and probably fills the grocery basket more effectively than focusing lower down in organisations.

 

But in reality, organisations such as GM are a socially produced balance of powers held in tension each imposing constraints from many directions. It's a culture that produces and reinforces its incapacity to act at many levels - at least, that's my guess from working with many other very large organisations. Getting a change of heart and practice in the boardroom would not survive long if you didn't get changes of heart and practice all the way through the culture - the legacy culture would just spit the dissonant leadership team out.

 

I take Murray's point and I think yours too, that the "tactical" KM game appears to be a different game from the "strategic" KM game, and that many - most even - knowledge managers are much more comfortable at the tactical level. I take the point that KM needs to get more serious at the strategic level. But I don't think it will, at the end of the day, be a qualitatively different game, working with different rules. It's the same game, just oriented vertically.

 

This is why when I say we need more heavyweights, I mean heavyweights in KM practice, not just thought leaders commenting from the sidelines, invaluable though they are. We need knowledge managers inside organisations who can command the respect of their peers and superiors, who can figure out how to influence people more powerful than they are, embed the practices you speak about, who can show impact and outcomes, and who can share what they learn with their colleagues in other organisations. Otherwise all this is just chatter.

 

Patrick

 

Patrick Lambe

 

 

Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/

 

 

 

On Dec 20, 2008, at 11:34 AM, Nancy Dixon wrote:



 

Over the brief history of KM we have had a number of shifts in focus, each one broadening how we think about knowledge and bringing us new practices. 

 

Early on we thought collecting explicit knowledge was the way to do KM, so we built large repositories.  Those were helpful, but did not give us the gains we hoped for.  Then folks like John Seely Brown and Nonaka broadened our perspective and we began to see there were ways to share tacit knowledge, and Wenger gave us a practice to do that with.  We broadened our perspective with the help of Pfeffer and Sutton, from thinking that only expert knowledge was useful, to recognizing that those who do the work have knowledge born from their everyday experience that can help the organization move forward.  Maybe these are the giants of which Patrick speaks, those who have helped us see a new perspective.

 

 




--
Peter Marshall
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: peter.marshall@gmail.com
Mobile: (949) 689-7000
Skype: ideasware
GTalk: peter.marshall


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Steven Wieneke <steve@...>
 

Peter,

KM isn't dead at GM. We are currently working with them to put the next generation of Technical Memory right in the design engineer's work flow in their design math data. There are many KM like activities just not called knowledge management.

Thanks,

Steve W



From: "Peter Marshall"
Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2008 2:05 PM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Re: [sikmleaders] Re: Could KM have saved General Motors?

I've really enjoyed this dialogue, which I think has been more serious and realistic than most on KM...  Many dialogues in many CoPs suffer from bouts of incense-burning and self-congratulation, and KM, with it's abundance of smart people, can be worse than most.

I think the topic has produced this good result -- because in fact, GM is not dead yet, and it's very interesting to ask -- if we've got something which is REALLY useful as a practice or set of tools or body of expertise or whatever, why the hell wouldn't a rational buyer buy it when they face the need?  GM certainly is in dire need.  Are they actually irrational?  Has their culture and environment and complex barriers to change so warped their understanding that they are incapable of recognizing the value of KM to them?  And if so, doesn't that actually mean that large-scale, strategic KM doesn't exist or can't work?  After all, in order to have value, strategic KM would have to work exactly in environments where it wasn't already well practiced.  It has to be capable of being absorbed and realizing value in hostile, unreceptive environments, or else it fails at it's fundamental goal -- producing meaningful change.

I am worried that the situation may be something like another area I know something about -- speech recognition technology.  (I know, KM is not technology, but indulge the analogy for a moment).  Speech recognition has been around the corner and the obvious next big thing for 15 years... but it hasn't succeeded, because despite the obvious potential -- voice is the natural human interface -- it doesn't work well enough in practice.  It seems like a great idea, but doesn't produce the promised results.  The devil's in the details.  Do the real-work results of KM practice match the conceptual potential that smart people love?  Do they even produce positive results at all, often enough to be convincing to the un-converted?  If not, maybe it's because -- oops -- they really don't work yet.

Or to take a more mainstream analogy -- KM may be like green energy.  The coming thing? -- sure?  Worth investing in? -- sure.  Worth building a deep and broad and agile strategic program around? -- yes.  But don't expect miracles because it's really hard at the engineering and infrastructure and coordination of markets level.  It has to work well and cheaply and efficiently, and THEN it will be adopted organically, without the need of a massive bureaucratic and academic evangelism. 

Broadly speaking, I'm arguing that markets do respond to innovations that already work.  It's getting them there that's complex and emergent..  Is workable, strategic KM emergent or is it here?

Since GM isn't dead yet, and in fact has been told they better come up with a broad and deep and strategic and agile program of change and for change right quick -- who HERE is going to make the KM case?  Will it work?  In the messy real world?  It seems to me that evidence from Toyota on one end and Tesla Motors on the other argues yes, it could.  GM has all the resources to produce value.  What is their "better us of knowledge" roadmap?

Peter Marshall
CEO, Me-Me-Me (speaker-specific speech recognition for mobile applications)
"It's All About You"

On Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 12:59 AM, Patrick Lambe <plambe@greenchameleon.com> wrote:

Nancy, I must finish editing the video podcast of the conversation we had in Singapore, it's highly relevant to this discussion - maybe this weekend!


What I took away from that conversation was that our problems are not just located at the top of organisations, but are pervasive throughout organisations, specifically in how we support knowledge flows vertically along power-relationships. I think just focusing at the top is seductive in many ways - it might create an illusion of effect, it certainly feeds one's sense of importance, and probably fills the grocery basket more effectively than focusing lower down in organisations.

But in reality, organisations such as GM are a socially produced balance of powers held in tension each imposing constraints from many directions. It's a culture that produces and reinforces its incapacity to act at many levels - at least, that's my guess from working with many other very large organisations. Getting a change of heart and practice in the boardroom would not survive long if you didn't get changes of heart and practice all the way through the culture - the legacy culture would just spit the dissonant leadership team out.

I take Murray's point and I think yours too, that the "tactical" KM game appears to be a different game from the "strategic" KM game, and that many - most even - knowledge managers are much more comfortable at the tactical level. I take the point that KM needs to get more serious at the strategic level. But I don't think it will, at the end of the day, be a qualitatively different game, working with different rules. It's the same game, just oriented vertically.

This is why when I say we need more heavyweights, I mean heavyweights in KM practice, not just thought leaders commenting from the sidelines, invaluable though they are. We need knowledge managers inside organisations who can command the respect of their peers and superiors, who can figure out how to influence people more powerful than they are, embed the practices you speak about, who can show impact and outcomes, and who can share what they learn with their colleagues in other organisations. Otherwise all this is just chatter.

Patrick

Patrick Lambe


Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 20, 2008, at 11:34 AM, Nancy Dixon wrote:


Over the brief history of KM we have had a number of shifts in focus, each one broadening how we think about knowledge and bringing us new practices. 
 
Early on we thought collecting explicit knowledge was the way to do KM, so we built large repositories.  Those were helpful, but did not give us the gains we hoped for.  Then folks like John Seely Brown and Nonaka broadened our perspective and we began to see there were ways to share tacit knowledge, and Wenger gave us a practice to do that with.  We broadened our perspective with the help of Pfeffer and Sutton, from thinking that only expert knowledge was useful, to recognizing that those who do the work have knowledge born from their everyday experience that can help the organization move forward.  Maybe these are the giants of which Patrick speaks, those who have helped us see a new perspective.
 




--
Peter Marshall
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: peter.marshall@gmail.com
Mobile: (949) 689-7000
Skype: ideasware
GTalk: peter.marshall



Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Peter Marshall <peter.marshall@...>
 


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Steven Wieneke <steve@...>
 

Jerry,

Not at this time.

Thanks,

Steve



From: "Jerry Ash"
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 10:06 PM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: SPAM-LOW: RE: [sikmleaders] New Venture

Hi Steve.

I love this Q&A between you and Allan Crawford. And I'd love to
publish it in the next edition of Inside Knowledge magazine.

So I'm asking, Steve, Allan, Stan -- may I have your permission?

Jerry Ash



Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Patrick Lambe
 

Nancy, I must finish editing the video podcast of the conversation we had in Singapore, it's highly relevant to this discussion - maybe this weekend!

What I took away from that conversation was that our problems are not just located at the top of organisations, but are pervasive throughout organisations, specifically in how we support knowledge flows vertically along power-relationships. I think just focusing at the top is seductive in many ways - it might create an illusion of effect, it certainly feeds one's sense of importance, and probably fills the grocery basket more effectively than focusing lower down in organisations.

But in reality, organisations such as GM are a socially produced balance of powers held in tension each imposing constraints from many directions. It's a culture that produces and reinforces its incapacity to act at many levels - at least, that's my guess from working with many other very large organisations. Getting a change of heart and practice in the boardroom would not survive long if you didn't get changes of heart and practice all the way through the culture - the legacy culture would just spit the dissonant leadership team out.

I take Murray's point and I think yours too, that the "tactical" KM game appears to be a different game from the "strategic" KM game, and that many - most even - knowledge managers are much more comfortable at the tactical level. I take the point that KM needs to get more serious at the strategic level. But I don't think it will, at the end of the day, be a qualitatively different game, working with different rules. It's the same game, just oriented vertically.

This is why when I say we need more heavyweights, I mean heavyweights in KM practice, not just thought leaders commenting from the sidelines, invaluable though they are. We need knowledge managers inside organisations who can command the respect of their peers and superiors, who can figure out how to influence people more powerful than they are, embed the practices you speak about, who can show impact and outcomes, and who can share what they learn with their colleagues in other organisations. Otherwise all this is just chatter.

Patrick

Patrick Lambe


Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 20, 2008, at 11:34 AM, Nancy Dixon wrote:


Over the brief history of KM we have had a number of shifts in focus, each one broadening how we think about knowledge and bringing us new practices. 
 
Early on we thought collecting explicit knowledge was the way to do KM, so we built large repositories.  Those were helpful, but did not give us the gains we hoped for.  Then folks like John Seely Brown and Nonaka broadened our perspective and we began to see there were ways to share tacit knowledge, and Wenger gave us a practice to do that with.  We broadened our perspective with the help of Pfeffer and Sutton, from thinking that only expert knowledge was useful, to recognizing that those who do the work have knowledge born from their everyday experience that can help the organization move forward.  Maybe these are the giants of which Patrick speaks, those who have helped us see a new perspective.
 


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Patrick Lambe
 

John: great post and reference, this is very much in tune with what I'm trying to express.

Murray: as my Moog reference to Steve indicates, I am very sceptical of any view that says KM can somehow magic away the capacity of people in leadership positions to make just plain bad decisions. KM can't "save" any organisation if the people themselves don't want to be saved. Only people can do that. And sometimes - often even - people get fixated on bad, unproductive paths despite the good advice and techniques at their disposal.

To that extent the "preachers" might be important, and the availability of techniques and practices to make it difficult for people to get away with bad decisions are certainly important. But KM should not be confused with the preaching and persuasion activity, and tools and techniques  will never replace the need to take responsibility individually and collectively. 

We need KM to get better at overcoming the oh so easy ways we make mistakes in coordination, remembering and learning at small and large scale - we ALSO need to get into the habit of taking more responsibility for ourselves and for our colleagues, because the availability of a technology (in the loosest sense) only goes part of the way, and will never account fully for the capacity of human beings and groups of human beings to be wilful.

P


Patrick Lambe


Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 20, 2008, at 9:50 AM, John D. Smith wrote:

It strikes me that "saving General Motors" is a pretty exalted reference
point for considering the health and development of KM. I think the stakes
in these times ARE high, and at least for the CoP parts of KM that I can
see, there is a long way to go. But we should also be looking at practice
fields that are more low key and less heavy-duty, too. Charlotte Linde (an
IRL alum) makes that point talking about how her study of how story-telling
is used (how it's "worked," as she calls it):



Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Nancy Dixon
 

Over the brief history of KM we have had a number of shifts in focus, each one broadening how we think about knowledge and bringing us new practices. 
 
Early on we thought collecting explicit knowledge was the way to do KM, so we built large repositories.  Those were helpful, but did not give us the gains we hoped for.  Then folks like John Seely Brown and Nonaka broadened our perspective and we began to see there were ways to share tacit knowledge, and Wenger gave us a practice to do that with.  We broadened our perspective with the help of Pfeffer and Sutton, from thinking that only expert knowledge was useful, to recognizing that those who do the work have knowledge born from their everyday experience that can help the organization move forward.  Maybe these are the giants of which Patrick speaks, those who have helped us see a new perspective.
 
Each shift in perspective has allowed us to make use of a greater amount of the organization’s knowledge and of more types of knowledge as well. With each shift we have continued to benefit from the existing practices, but we have broadened our thinking about what knowledge is and added new practices to support our new insight.
 
I am suggesting it is time to broaden our perspective again. We have been thinking of knowledge as tactical and using practices such of COP’s, AARs, content management systems, lessons learned, people finders, etc. to move that tactical knowledge laterally.
 
It is time to broaden our understanding of knowledge to also think of it as strategic.
 
As I wrote earlier, strategy is a product of knowledge. It involves making sense of data, that is, analysis and interpretation, and includes visioning and even hope. It is a different kind of knowledge than we have been dealing with – but knowledge none the less.
 
 In most organizations, a very small percentage of the collective intelligence is applied against this ambiguous knowledge task. The small group at the top may be very smart people, but even very smart people have blind spots, biases they are unaware of, and are sometimes tempted to build self-serving strategies - as perhaps GM teaches us.  As KM professionals, I believe we are ignoring the people at the top of our organizations and the processes they use to create the strategic knowledge they employ.
 
We have viewed the top primarily as a source of funding and support – not as a part of the organization that has a critical need to deal with knowledge more effectively. We have not asked, “Where is the top getting the knowledge they use to make strategic decisions? How are they exploring and accessing diverse views? What processes do they use to make sense of the knowledge they acquire?  How do they insure that the knowledge that filters up from the bottom is not distorted or diluted?”  I believe we need to turn some of our attention to this part of the organization and use our KM knowledge to build practices that use the collective intelligence to create more effective strategies.

Nancy

Nancy M, Dixon
Common Knowledge Associates
www.commonknowledge.org
202 277 5839

"Ask better, learn more"





Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

John D. Smith <john.smith@...>
 

It strikes me that "saving General Motors" is a pretty exalted reference
point for considering the health and development of KM. I think the stakes
in these times ARE high, and at least for the CoP parts of KM that I can
see, there is a long way to go. But we should also be looking at practice
fields that are more low key and less heavy-duty, too. Charlotte Linde (an
IRL alum) makes that point talking about how her study of how story-telling
is used (how it's "worked," as she calls it):

"Finally, I would like to acknowledge briefly the contrasts between the
subject matter I am writing about and much of the subject matter of the
literature on institutional memory or collective memory. I use an insurance
company as my main example. Much of the research on collective memory has
considered appalling events such as the Holocaust, the suppression of
colonized people, ethnic cleansing, etc. In some ways, it is almost
impossible to hold these topics together in the same mind, let alone in the
same book, and it is possibly offensive even to try.

"However, studying the way an insurance company works its past allows us to
see structures and patterns in an environment that does not break the heart.
My hope is that this can be of value in learning to understand how the past
is worked in situations where there is much more at stake, and where the
heat of the situation sometimes obscures the light that would make it
possible to see more clearly." -- p 14

I'm just digging in, but this is a really excellent book:

Charlotte Linde, Working the Past; Narrative and Institutional Memory (New
York: Oxford University Press, 2009) http://isbn.nu/9780195140293

It's not a "how to" in 5 easy steps kind of book. But it digs deep, which
is what we have to do to get to be any good, right? The way Linde uses the
term "institutional" would include the stories we tell each other about how
we did or did not help save GM, save our own jobs, help any given
organization or group be more effective.

John
*
* John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
* Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net
<http://www.learningalliances.net/>
* "Adaptability is the province of critique." - Christopher Kelty


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Murray Jennex
 

I agree Patrick and unfortunately in a short post I don't go into the details but I fully believe that there are many differences in culture, perception, use of knowledge, etc. between KM in the small and KM in the large and thus was implying that the KM in the small mindset was the real issue of why KM couldn't save GM...murray
 
In a message dated 12/19/2008 9:29:28 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, plambe@... writes:
John: great post and reference, this is very much in tune with what I'm trying to express.

Murray: as my Moog reference to Steve indicates, I am very sceptical of any view that says KM can somehow magic away the capacity of people in leadership positions to make just plain bad decisions. KM can't "save" any organisation if the people themselves don't want to be saved. Only people can do that. And sometimes - often even - people get fixated on bad, unproductive paths despite the good advice and techniques at their disposal.

To that extent the "preachers" might be important, and the availability of techniques and practices to make it difficult for people to get away with bad decisions are certainly important. But KM should not be confused with the preaching and persuasion activity, and tools and techniques  will never replace the need to take responsibility individually and collectively. 

We need KM to get better at overcoming the oh so easy ways we make mistakes in coordination, remembering and learning at small and large scale - we ALSO need to get into the habit of taking more responsibility for ourselves and for our colleagues, because the availability of a technology (in the loosest sense) only goes part of the way, and will never account fully for the capacity of human beings and groups of human beings to be wilful.

P


Patrick Lambe


Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 20, 2008, at 9:50 AM, John D. Smith wrote:

It strikes me that "saving General Motors" is a pretty exalted reference
point for considering the health and development of KM. I think the stakes
in these times ARE high, and at least for the CoP parts of KM that I can
see, there is a long way to go. But we should also be looking at practice
fields that are more low key and less heavy-duty, too. Charlotte Linde (an
IRL alum) makes that point talking about how her study of how story-telling
is used (how it's "worked," as she calls it):






Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Murray Jennex
 

Reading these posts it strikes me that we are discussing two views on KM.  My research shows that there is KM in the small, which tends to be bottom up driven, focused on improving work groups/projects/teams/etc. and while very important to the productivity of the groups using it, not all that strategic.  Then there is KM in the large which is focused on organizational wide KM and tends to be top driven, strategic in nature, and expected to improve organizational productivity/effectiveness.  Our discussions on saving GM would of course focus on KM in the large while the discussion on what GM was doing with KM seems to me to be KM in the small.  My research does show that KM in the small can eventually lead to KM in the large but they don't necessarily exist together.  This may not be all that earth shaking but I have noticed that many postings are addressing one or the other KMs instead of us all focusing on KM in the large.  Personally, I think both KMs are necessary but after all this discussion I am beginning to think that GM hadn't moved to the point where KM in the large was accepted and was still focused on KM in the small.  That said, it may very well be that while KM could have saved GM, it couldn't have at this time.  So now I'm wondering if the question is really what could have been done to move GM to a position where KM in the large could have saved it?  I'm fascinated that apparently top GM management did not see value in KM for them.  I posted earlier about measuring KM, could this have helped?  Anyway, I'll stop here rather than keep musing, any other thoughts?  .....murray
 
In a message dated 12/19/2008 5:50:57 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, john.smith@... writes:
It strikes me that "saving General Motors" is a pretty exalted reference
point for considering the health and development of KM.  I think the stakes
in these times ARE high, and at least for the CoP parts of KM that I can
see, there is a long way to go.  But we should also be looking at practice
fields that are more low key and less heavy-duty, too.  Charlotte Linde (an
IRL alum) makes that point talking about how her study of how story-telling
is used (how it's "worked," as she calls it):

"Finally, I would like to acknowledge briefly the contrasts between the
subject matter I am writing about and much of the subject matter of the
literature on institutional memory or collective memory. I use an insurance
company as my main example. Much of the research on collective memory has
considered appalling events such as the Holocaust, the suppression of
colonized people, ethnic cleansing, etc. In some ways, it is almost
impossible to hold these topics together in the same mind, let alone in the
same book, and it is possibly offensive even to try.

"However, studying the way an insurance company works its past allows us to
see structures and patterns in an environment that does not break the heart.
My hope is that this can be of value in learning to understand how the past
is worked in situations where there is much more at stake, and where the
heat of the situation sometimes obscures the light that would make it
possible to see more clearly." -- p 14

I'm just digging in, but this is a really excellent book:

Charlotte Linde, Working the Past; Narrative and Institutional Memory (New
York: Oxford University Press, 2009)  http://isbn.nu/9780195140293

It's not a "how to" in 5 easy steps kind of book.  But it digs deep, which
is what we have to do to get to be any good, right?  The way Linde uses the
term "institutional" would include the stories we tell each other about how
we did or did not help save GM, save our own jobs, help any given
organization or group be more effective.

John
*
* John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
* Portland, Oregon, USA  http://www.learningAlliances.net

* "Adaptability is the province of critique." - Christopher Kelty


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Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Patrick Lambe
 

Steve
It's a young practice, and a very complex one, where the relationship between interventions and outcomes is not well understood. It's also a practice where belief in magic formulas/bullets (and the claims of charlatans to easy answers) seems widespread.

This is a situation very similar, it seems to me, to the practice of medicine at the beginnings of the renaissance. Asking an early sixteenth century surgeon how medical practice might improve in coming generations would be a little silly, it seems to me, and I don't think you or I or anyone particularly could answer with confidence exactly how KM will improve and have a hope of being accurate.

But if we learn anything from our history, it is that good people, smart people and very determined people, are needed to worry away at problems, learn from each other, and take positions that can be validated or invalidated. Then we have a chance of progress. Of course, somewhere in there, people like you and I and many others have a role. But to claim we have the answers and can follow them now is sheer hubris.

As for your last question, I just don't get the relevance. Would Nero having a Moog synthesizer have saved Rome from burning?

P

Patrick Lambe


Have you seen our KM Method Cards?   http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 19, 2008, at 8:14 PM, Stephen Denning wrote:


Hi Patrick

You say that "KM is a practice, but it's just not a very good practice yet". You suggest that KM should be "recruiting more heavyweights into the practice of KM", and "keeping them there so that they can grow in effectiveness and confidence" and "pushing the agenda on accountability and performance". This will lead to "a future generation of KM practitioners who will be better than we are".

These are interesting ideas. Could you say more? For instance, who are these "heavyweights" that KM should be recruiting? Do we know how long it would take for these "heavweights" to grow (even heavier?) so as to achieve the requisite effectiveness and confidence"? And do we have any idea as what would be the eventual KM practices of these "heavyweights" once they achieved the requisite effectiveness and confidence? What would their KM practices look like? How would they differ from today's "not very good" KM practice? And would the future KM practices of this new breed of "KM heavyweights" have actually saved General Motors if they had been in place earlier? If so, how?

Steve Denning
http://stevedenning.com 
steve@stevedenning.com
Telephone (US) 202 966 9392
Fax (US) 202 686 0591
Skype: stevedenning1


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Steve Denning
 


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Lee, Jim <jlee@...>
 

At the risk of extending this conversation beyond its value, I will still weigh in on the subject because I find the topic fascinating both personally as well as professionally. As a matter of background for my interest, I was a GM employee for 19 years before moving on to consulting. From the ‘70s through the early ‘90s I enjoyed time as an industrial engineer, benchmarking strategist, and project manager at a stamping plant. The parallels from that experience still help me today.

 

For example, the end goal of knowledge managers/brokers/change agents is (or at least should be) the same as that of industrial engineers: to work themselves out of a job. When everyone in an organization has the skills and the organization provides the infrastructure (culture and technology) to share knowledge “effortlessly”, then the role of knowledge manager should become practically extinct; just as much as when assembly line workers or teams can change their environment on their own, that the industrial engineer go the way of the industrial age. Simply put, when everyone in an organization is a knowledge manager, we won’t need that as a defined role any longer.

 

During the late ‘80s when GM recognized that it needed to understand the “external” world of auto manufacturing (meaning other than the Big 3 at the time), it created a benchmarking team known as the Organizational Competitiveness Program. One might argue that the OCP was one of GM’s first visible KM efforts. We toured competitor plants attempting understand their best practices and to apply them back at our locations. The idea was fine of course; the execution not so much. Our mission as stated was too granular—we looked at techniques and tools—far down the line from the strategy required to implement them. So while we could see what Toyota was doing on the plant floor, and try to mimic them, we could not see how those outcomes were a result of the Toyota Production System, not the cause of the gap between us and them. Not having a holistic approach to our knowledge needs scuttled the benchmarking efforts.

 

My project management experience leads me to believe that while PM allows one to gain experience at viewing situations holistically, senior leaders rarely come from the ranks of project managers. The parallel with KM is that PM is often termed “managing the white spaces of projects”, in much the same way that KM is responsible for ensuring the “white spaces” of knowledge flow within and across organizational functional boundaries. So while the KM community may recognize the need and value of KM, senior leaders gain their visionary prowess and set objectives based upon other metrics.

 

That last point is what is most valuable to me today and into the future. A discussion regarding whether or not KM could have “saved” GM can only be an academic one at this point. What I will be most interested in will be whether or not GM (or the others) will turn to KM to help lift them from this point forward. Like many organizations I come across, when business goes south, KM efforts tend to be shed, not embraced. As Steve Denning pointed out, will the demand be there?

 

 

Jim Lee, PMP

APQC

123 North Post Oak Lane

Houston, TX 77024

O: +1.713.893.7790   C: +1.216.338.3548

email: jlee@...

Yahoo, AOL, Skype IM: jimpmp2000

Windows Live Messenger: jimleesr@...

text messaging: 2163383548@...

 

 


Re: Could KM have saved GM? #case-studies

Valdis Krebs <valdis@...>
 

Ditto on what Patrick says.

Happy Holidays All!

Valdis Krebs
http://orgnet.com

On Dec 18, 2008, at 11:37 AM, Patrick Lambe wrote:

Nancy's challenge is an important one, asking us to take more
responsibility than we have been so far.

Steve's response typifies the rhetorical approach which assumes it's
just a matter of getting senior managers to take KM seriously, as if
KM were a slogan backed up by resources for unspecific "change",
"innovations", or worse, "leadership" (whatever any of those things
mean). Rhetoric doesn't solve business problems, KM is not a slogan
and it's not an idea... it's a practice or collection of practices, we need to be looking at the many concrete things that need to be
done, not motherhood statements, personality cults and formulas.

KM is a practice, but it's just not a very good practice yet,
because (a) it's still populated by individualists who compete with
each other on differentiating "their" approaches from others
(rhetoric outweighs reality, clever language substitutes for
results) and (b) we haven't had long enough to build up a body of
collective knowledge about how to do this practice well and
sustainably (we still treat it like an engineering problem where
problems and solutions are generic and have mechanical measures that
can be applied, we are intensely incurious about the many
frustrations and failures we and our peers face every day, we give
each other very little opportunity to learn from each other, and
people move in and out of KM practice so fast very few people get
the chance to learn the practice in depth).

So I don't think this is as facile a matter of reading Steve's
books, or of becoming more persuasive, or even of "getting a seat"
at the senior management table. It's about getting better,
collectively at our practice, which will take time and hard work and
commitment and a sense of responsibility which looks beyond the
mantras we too frequently spout of quick wins and easy fixes. And it
means we need to be recruiting more heavyweights into the practice
(not the preaching) of KM, and helping to keep them there so they
can grow in effectiveness and confidence. And pushing the agenda on
accountability and performance , even when it seems hardest to do
so. That, to me, is what "responsibility" means. Recognising how
poor we are at all of this, and committing to building a probably
future generation of practitioners who will be better than we are.

P


Patrick Lambe

weblog: www.greenchameleon.com
website: www.straitsknowledge.com
book: www.organisingknowledge.com


Have you seen our KM Method Cards? http://www.straitsknowledge.com/store/



On Dec 18, 2008, at 6:15 AM, Stephen Denning wrote:


Nancy writes: "Steve says there is a lack of demand [for
knowledge]– well we could create that demand?"

As Barack might say: yes, we could.

That's what I spend almost all my time doing these days: showing
organizations how to create the demand for new knowledge. The
activity is not usually called KM, which these days is generally
associated with less strategic questions. It tends to proceed under
labels like "leadership" or innovation" or "change management" but it's basically about inspiring people to want to do things
differently and creating a demand for new knowledge.

And there is no lack of knowledge as how to do it. I've written a
number of books spelling it out in detail and I hold regular
workshops on the subject.

It's a question of learning how to do it and then having the
courage to do it.

Steve Denning
http://stevedenning.com
steve@stevedenning.com
Telephone (US) 202 966 9392
Fax (US) 202 686 0591
Skype: stevedenning1

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