KM Blog February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fuji Xerox - 'Creative Routine', Knowledge Management and Innovation

It was great to hear Naoki Ogiwara, Consultant, Fuji Xerox, Tokyo present a paper at the 'Technology for Innovation and Knowledge Management' Conference in New Delhi, 12-14th February 2008 entitled 'Knowledge Management for Innovation:- Embedding “Creative Routine” to Build an Innovative Organization'.

What's very interesting indeed about Naoki Ogiwara is that he is a Consultant "Ba" Conductor, based on his work with Professor Nonaka. He is also currently working, for some time, with Professors Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak at Babson College, USA until his return to Japan in July. So Naoki has a very interesting and rich perspective on KM indeed.

I enjoyed several discussions with him off and on-line and I guess the notion of identifying and embedding the 'Creative Routine' in an organisation is the most intriguing for Innovation. This came out of a very strong International collaboration over the years, and the work of a community of 60 Japanese companies sharing together.

The researchers looked for common characteristics of the best companies globally. Was it advanced IT?, Customer Knowledge?, Supplier / Partner Collaboration?, Strong Top Leadership?.

The answer was none of these were completely common, except one thing - they all had a 'Creative Routine' - a pattern of knowledge creation (called a Creative Routine).

It was found that in the best companies all systems (HR,IT, work process, work environment) supported the Creative Routine, which was shared by people throughout the organisation.

After presenting several case studies, Naoki concluded:

Find out your organizations own “creative routine”

- Look for “legends” or “stories” shared among the organization. It usually contains the essence of your own pattern of knowledge creation.

- It can be built on current one.

- It might need to be build from scratch.

Assess people’s ability and current systems if they fit your ideal creative routine

- Many systems (hiring, promotion, compensation, IT, workplace, business process) often conflict with each other.

Small Start, Achieve Success, and then Expand the Story

- The story has the power to change behavior of many people.

Over the three days presentations, panel discussions and individual questions and culminating in an APO workshop, I found that Naoki has this great ability to present some key messages in a very clear, very understandable, and very powerful way.

He has some good mentors / teachers too - Professors Nonaka,Davenport, Prusak.

Ron Young

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knowledge Management Solutions for the Graying Workforce

I hear increasing concern around the world, these days, about how to best capture and retain some of the critical knowledge that organisations are losing, following the loss of baby-boomers as they near retirement age - the graying workforce.

IBM Business Consulting Human Capital Management group have stated that "the aging population will be one of the major social and business issues of the 21st Century, and companies worldwide are starting to examine what this means in terms of skills, knowledge and growth" says Mary Sue Rogers, global leader of this group.

I say give everyone a blog! Teach them how they can help both the individual and the organisation! Teach them how to capture learnings, ideas and insights in a blog, and give them the worktime to write it daily, or at worst weekly!

Teach them how to capture these daily or weekly new learnings, insights and new ideas as a worthy habit. Show them how blogging actually helps them better create, organise, synthesize, and develop their knowledge, as well as capture and retain the rich tacit knowledge gems for themselves and others.

A year of blogging will simply outstrip any other techniques I know to capture, retain, rediscover and reuse this valuable knowledge. Two years, five years, ten years plus of blogging and phew....

I started this blog in January 2006 and I am already constantly amazed, when searching it, at some of the useful insights I have captured and have completely forgotten, concerning some of my professional km consulting activities.

One day, the blogging of personal learnings, ideas and insights will be recognised by the more enlightened organisations as a critical skill for the individual, team and entire organisation.

Blog on. I feel so much better now that I have got that off my chest.

Ron Young

Knowledge Management, leading KM organizations and leading KM countries

It was good to meet Rory Chase, MD of Teleos and founder of the Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE Awards), again at the 'Technology for Innovation and Knowledge Management' Conference in New Delhi, India on 12-14th February 2008.

I think he has got one thing very right. It's not necessarily about which Nation is leading in the global knowledge economy. What also really matters is how well an Organization is performing in the global knowledge economy.

Example: The Indian Minister of Trade and Industry will say, quite rightly from his perspective, how important it is to bring India into the global knowledge society. However, WIPRO, headquartered in Bangalore, India, is certainly world class today in the global knowledge economy, and is leading in KM, compared to many other organisations around the world. In fact, WIPRO's two presentations at the conference, from Mr Ved Prakash on 'KM Initiatives in WIPRO', and from Mr Avinash Rao on 'KM for High Value Outsourcing', gave outstanding and quite leading edge presentations on their work with knowledge management. WIPRO are recognised as one the the 'Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises' by many around the world, whatever criteria you choose to recognise and measure this.

So its about developing both strong Nations and strong global organisations. Now this might delight you or horrify you, depending on your standpoint.

Ron Young

Monday, February 25, 2008

Knowledge Management and the UN 'Solution Exchange' for India

I was really taken aback by a passionate and highly credible presentation from Gopi N Ghosh – Assistant FAO Representative, Food & Nutrition Security Community, at the Second International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Knowledge Management in New Delhi on 13th February 2008.

What a pleasure it is to see some really excellent KM work being done in India in food and agriculture, aiming at improving literacy levels and life expectancy, as well as reducing poverty. However, despite the gains, Gopi Gosh stresses that still much remains to be accomplished in the key thematic areas under the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

With mounting enthusiasm, Gopi Ghosh described the launch of the UN knowledge sharing platform in India branded as ‘Solution Exchange’. Solution Exchange connects development professionals in similar fields from diverse organizations ranging from Government, bilateral and multilateral development partners and non-governmental organizations to academics, corporates, and the media. It is building ‘Communities of Practice’ through moderated electronic mail groups and also face-to-face interactions and a website. Solution Exchange seeks to empower practitioners by offering them “knowledge on demand” based on solutions from their peers.

Problems and challenges are put as a query and posted to all community members. Members offer advice, experience, contacts or suggestions, within a well thought out framework. A consolidated reply is prepared by the moderator team with a synopsis of original responses, additional resources and links.

True knowledge sharing!

These are available on the website

So far the group has 11 thematic Communities of Practice and 12,000 members, and growing rapidly.

This is a nice way to leverage the knowledge, experience and energies of development practitioners towards the common worthy objective of problem-solving in areas that could make a big difference.

I have never heard a speaker with such positive energy before! At one stage, Gopi was so enthusiastic that he sort of took off ! The success of his great presentation was evidenced by many people keen to exchange business cards with him immediately.

I simply had to join his Solution Exchange and I hope I can share some useful knowledge with the Community. Take a look at the website and please help if you can.

Related link: I had the privilege to be part of a KM and Innovation consulting team for the UN Agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) based in Rome last year, in the development of a KM Strategy, which followed on with an Innovation Strategy to assist in the eradication of global extreme rural poverty, within the context of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Free downloads of the KM and Innovation Strategies are available at links above.

Ron Young

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A very new and very old perspective on Knowledge Management & Innovation from the Timeless Wisdom of India.

Although I have much to say and write about the Second International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Knowledge Management held in New Delhi 12-14th February 2008 in New Delhi, over the next few weeks, I feel compelled today to immediately write about a new perspective and, especially, some new insights I gained from one paper presented by Dr Prem Saran, entitled: ‘Innovation and Knowledge Management: An Indic Play Ethic and Global HR Model’.

The main reason I feel compelled to write about this is that I have always intuitively felt that the spiritual heritage of India, the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita for example, are true gifts of timeless wisdom to the world, and it is really only during the last two hundred years that Western thought has been increasingly influenced by this. What I intuited about KM and Indic thought suddenly came together with a simple clarity.

Naturally, I do not wish to pre-empt the publication of this excellent paper in the Conference proceedings, so I will only broadly discuss my immediate thoughts about some of his proposals around Indic thought and my views on effective ‘personal knowledge management’.

Dr Prem Saran proposed that because the Indic is one of the five or six major civilisations of the world, with its own traditional knowledge systems, that by revisiting three of its main cultural traits or values, they would provide the building blocks for a new approach to Innovation and Knowledge Management.

He suggested that it would “open up the possibility that the Indic cultural ethos may actually subsume both modernity and post-modernism, and that it may also thus provide inputs for a pedagogical paradigm shift. In other words, by using certain liberal and humanistic themes of Indian culture, one may be able to promote learning that is contemporary as well as cross-culturally replicable”.

He talked about his simple adaption of ancient yoga and meditation techniques, albeit after he had personally researched and experimented with this over three decades, as functioning as a state-of-the-art tool for superlearning, a meta-learning tool that can promote “generative learning” or “learning how to learn”. I do like this, and again, I refer to the late Professor Peter Drucker who first introduced me to the notion of ‘proper education’ many years ago, by stating that it was not so much the content of what we learn, but learning the best process for accelerated learning which he thought was true education..

Dr Prem Saran’s presentation at the Conference resonated deeply with me because, twenty five years ago, I trained to be a Yoga and Meditation teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga. As part of the Diploma syllabus, all teachers had to become aware of the ancient Indian texts, not least, the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

It was then that I first understood that Veda means knowledge, and it was then that I first learned how the documented ancient rituals and practices, which were in the context of local customs and traditions, were turned into more distilled and universally applicable and timeless knowledge in the Vedanta.

So when Dr Prem Saran talked about yogic disciplines to bring about a much more relaxed state of mind, more receptive to accessing the right brain, more systematically, and very compatible with contemporary neuroscientific findings. When he talked about techniques that bring about mental states that are powerfully conducive to accelerated learning, and move towards greater ‘worldwide outreach’, he had my full attention.

Of course, what is still hotly debated by spiritual and philosophical thinkers, is whether new knowledge is there to be revealed and discovered, or developed through experience. I have never seen this as an either / or argument but a both / and situation.

That’s for another time. But for this blog post, I am so pleased, and excited to be able to say that the Indic traditional knowledge systems have revealed to us that there are some timeless principles and wisdom that can be applied to more effective personal learning and knowledge management.

I look forward to the publication of the Conference proceedings and more blogs. Let me know if you wish to know more about this, and Dr Prem Saran.

(He describes himself as a technocrat (i.e. Engineer-cum-MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, with HR specialization) and Indologist-cum-Anthropologist (with degrees from Universities of Pennsylvania and California) With about 30 years of experience in the Indian Administrative Service)

You can view a free video of this technique, by Dr Prem Saran, on the main server of the Government of India at

Ron Young

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why not become a 'Leading Collaborator in the Global Knowledge Society '

I do not wish to be disrespectful to any Nation that is seeking to become a key player in the Global Knowledge Economy, but whenever I attend International Conferences on KM, anywhere in the world, I hear the same, and somewhat disturbing, intentions. They are, to become 'Competitive leaders in the Global Knowledge Economy'.

The first work I did for the UK Government Department of Trade and Industry, in the late 1990's was to assist a team develop for the Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the time, to produce a White Paper 'UK Competitiveness in the Global Knowledge Economy'.

Then, whilst working for the European Commission in 2001, the EC declared its intention, through the Lisbon Summit, to make 'Europe Competitive Leaders in the Global Knowledge Economy'.

In 2000, The Singapore Government declared its intent to be the 'Leading Competitive Knowledge Hub for Asia'.

Then, especially at International KM Conferences all around the World, over the last ten years, I have heard every Nation declared its intention to become 'competitive' leaders.

Last week, in New Delhi, India, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Government of India, declared in the Inaugural Address at Second International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Knowledge Management the same intention.

As I said earlier, I do not wish to be disrespectful, especially to my hosts, and I certainly know that there are times when it is absolutely right to compete, but, for me, I have always felt that knowledge management is about successful 'collaboration' across teams, business units, companies, countries and regions across the world. The intention of knowledge management, of course, is to break down the silo's (business unit or country) and benefit from open global knowledge exchange. We seem to be missing this point, apart from John Lennon!

How nice it would be to hear a country or world region declare its intent to become the 'Leading Collaborators in the Global Knowledge Society within the next few years!

I haven't heard any country in the world declare that intention yet, have you?

Ron Young

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