KM Blogs November 2009 to October 2010



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

KM Singapore 2010 - my keynote paper and my learning's

The information and Knowledge Management Society of Singapore held their annual conference KM Singapore 2010 on 16/17th September 2010.At this website you will find full conference details and proceedings.

The theme this year was Knowledge and Innovation.

I had the pleasure to give the international keynote speech 'From Knowledge to Innovation' and a copy is available here

The accompanying presentation slides are available on SlideShare here

I greatly enjoyed the conference this year. The iKMS Awards Presentation for Knowledge Excellence was excellent and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) were the first to receive a Platinum Award, ever.

As the conference is well blogged and covered well on the iKMS Singapore and KM Singapore websites, I will just add my key personal learning's.

1. I was pleasantly amused in the workshop sessions when one facilitator suggested people could sms their questions to speakers if they fely embarrased. Nice.

2. Arthur Shelley said 'I don't teach. I have conversations with students'. Nice.

3. I am not sure I agree with the speaker from Shell Global Solutions who said Shell do not use the word knowledge management but use knowledge sharing instead. I think better knowledge sharing is only one component of effective knowledge management, and better knowledge protecting is the other.It's about knowing when to better share and when to better protect. But Shell now have knowledge advisors instead of knowledge managers, so let's see what happens.

4. I certainly do like Shells 'ASK, LEARN and SHARE'mantra.

5. One speaker/teacher said her students were too shy to speak so she got in to their world using Virtual Life to engage. Great. I don't think it is just shyness though. I think this is the way the young and future generations want to communicate. Avatars are certainly more fun for them.

6. The Supreme Court of Singapore say 'culture leads and technology supports'. It's interesting how they use wiki's to create legal knowledge repositories. A cautious nice.

7. I really enjoyed the facilitated '3 minute story session' from Nate Allen from the US Army. Each table delegate (4 to a table) tells a 3 minute story about personal experiences with Communities Of Practice. When all delegates have done this, after 12 minutes, everyone changes tables and tells the same stories to new people. After doing this for four rotations, everyone stands together in the room. people then have to go and put their hand on the shoulder of the person who's story was most interesting. A great engagement and a great idea.

8.Professor Eric Chan gave good presentations, as always, and I enjoyed some new perspectives from him on taxonomy and folksonomy. He and I also share the same views about the critical importance of personal knowledge management.

9. I do recommend the KM Aids, a set of KM Diagnostic Cards, Organisation Culture Cards, KM methods Cards and KM Approaches Methods and Tools - A Guidebook, from Straits Knowledge

I enjoyed Nate Allens final remark 'We all leave a wake, what do you want your wake to be?'

I do hope to participate next year in KM Singapore 2011.

Ron Young

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Understanding the Four Dimensions of Knowledge Management - personal, team, organizational and inter-organizational

Recently, I have been running Master Classes in London and Singapore in 'Understanding the Four Dimensions of Knowledge Management'.

By request, here is the paper I circulate before my Master Classes to explain the importance of all four dimensions, before deeper class discussions and knowledge sharing.

My next scheduled Master Class for this is at KM Asia in November 2010. You can download the brochure details here

Do you agree with this?

As always, I would be very glad indeed for any feedback.

Ron Young

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Similarities between KM and Quantum Physics

A few weeks ago, sitting in my home in the vineyards of South West France, I was thinking again about KM and Quantum Physics.It has been bubbling up inside of me over the past few years.

I have always been somewhat concerned about the polarity that exists between KM practitioners.

For example, the 'people approach' versus the 'process and technology approach' that still exists today. The 'complexity of systems and emergent properties approach' and the 'codified reusable kbase and best/good practices approach'.

I consider knowledge management: the art and science of both invisible knowledge flows and visible knowledge assets, to follow the same laws as classical physics and quantum physics.

The physical world of ‘what we can see’ follows the laws of Newtonian Physics, and we can rely completely on these laws of gravity, thermodynamics, aerodynamics etc.

The sub-atomic world of ‘what we cannot see’ follows the laws of Quantum Physics with both waves and electrons, infinite possibilities, entanglement, and total interconnection etc.

It is not either/or but both/and to give us a complete understanding.

Turning specifically to the area of KM. If you listen to a speaker who comes primarily from the more right brained ‘invisible’ world of complexity thinking, symbols, flows, emergent patterns, apparent fragmentation, you simply cannot disagree with this explanation of this world, because it is right. It follows quantum thinking at the sub-atomic level. Here, there is no real place for the laws and management and measurement of visible knowledge assets.

Actually, whenever I listen to such speakers, I get inspired because they put me in a predominantly right brain mode.

If you listen to other KM speakers, who comes primarily from a more left brained ‘visible’ world of knowledge bases, distilled knowledge from practices and lessons learned, knowledge managers and knowledge areas, you simply cannot disagree with this explanation of this world either, because it is right. In predominantly left brain mode I get equally inspired with good stories.

For example, as a pilot I simply love this eloquent story of the way BA discovered that ice can freeze fuel lines at high altitude and how, within 30 days of the BA crash landing at LHR, all pilots in the world had their flight checklists updated with a new procedure to strictly follow, to cover this learning. Although this distilled universal knowledge in the checklist came from a detailed ‘in context’ accident report, that led to detailed new knowledge creation theory and tests, and then lessons learned and best practices repositories, the pilots were not interested in access to raw source materials of what occurred at LHR, they just wanted the best applicable knowledge to apply now, for safety. A few months later, in USA, a flight had the same freezing occur. The pilots immediately followed the checklist and the passengers were none the wiser.

I see effective knowledge driven organizations needing both effective knowledge flows and techniques, and I see the absolute need for evidence based knowledge creation, knowledge bases, and application.

I see, this both/and approach for each key knowledge area, key knowledge communities/networks and knowledge bases.

So what is my conclusion? There is a key KM principle here:

‘Knowledge Management is SITUATIONAL.’

We need both 'quantum knowledge flows' and 'physical knowledge assets', to be able to understanding both worlds properly. If we live in just one world we may perish, or get mediocre results, at best.

A holistic approach to invisible tacit and visible explicit knowledge, supported by understandings like both Newtonian and Quantum physics, will ensure more effective knowledge management.

In 2003, a team of us working on a European Commission funded project project called Know-net tried to express this, as best we could, from our research and findings in our book Knowledge Asset Management - beyond the process centred and product centred approaches.

There is also another brain principle here, I think.

You will think or feel like you are listening to the truth, depending on whether you are predominantly in your left or right brain hemisphere, and its associated laws, but the whole Truth requires whole brain thinking .

That’s my vineyard inspired philosophy for today.

What do you think?

Ron Young

Monday, May 31, 2010

My new KM learning's and insights in Tehran, Iran

It was certainly a great privilege and pleasure to be invited to Tehran, Iran, to present and facilitate a six day in-depth Knowledge Management programme during the period 8th - 13th May 2010. Whilst there, I gained some very valuable and new learnings and insights into KM which I believe are unique to Iran. This aspect I wish to share and discuss here.

The event was hosted by the National Iranian Productivity Center (NIPC), as part of an 'Expert KM initiative' organised by the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo (APO).

APO have National Productivity Centres in each of the 21 Asian member countries. Although I am based in Cambridge, UK, I have been intensively working with APO for three years, and this trip to Iran has now taken me to 11 Asian member countries, so far, in their mission to increase the productivity, quality and profitability of Asian organizations through effective knowledge management.

My greatest new leaning and insights came from an organised study trip on day 5 to the Iranian Research Institute for Scientific Information & Documentation (IRANDOC). IRANDOC is the main national and governmental center for accumulating, organizing, processing and disseminating scientific and technological documents. Its main activities are in Research, Training, Information and Knowledge Management services.

As a national organization, established in 1968, it has created and maintains a directory and database of all University theses in Iran. It is mandatory for each student to submit their thesis, through their University, to this organization.

To date, 126,000 theses have been captured, of which 110 are related to Knowledge Management. This is a systematic and collective process.

The first 15 pages of each thesis are freely available to all online in PDF format and, in total, up to 30 pages can be made available for a small nominal cost. IRANDOC maintain the national archive. A recent law in Iran is concerned with publishing all information and IRANDOC are currently discussing copyright with the students.

I am not an expert in such education systems internationally, but to my knowledge, I have not heard of similar national new knowledge collective systems in the USA, Europe, other parts of Asia and the rest of the world?

Through this blog, as a KM practitioner and consultant, I ask experts in government and education around the world if similar systems exist in their countries? To my knowledge this only occurs at a University level?

IRANDOCS advised us that there is not as much collaboration between Universities as they would like to see (as I have experienced also in the rest of the world) but I think this central archive and repository is an excellent inter-organizational infrastructure to help building increased collaboration across Universities.

So I was further impressed by the process whereby each University must make a proposal, at the moment by letter and later online, to ensure that each new thesis is non-repetitive and true new knowledge. (I have often doubted the existing University procedures around the world that just 'do a critical review of the literature' as I am certain that this could be error prone, on occasions, and this could lead to academically 're-inventing the wheel'.

Imagine, educational politics aside, a global repository of theses across all Universities, from a global knowledge management perspective.

The next initiative that greatly impressed me, at IRANDOCS, is how they also capture nationally a 'Who's Who' list of experts. Each University is the main input, and submits a bio and information which is indexed to affiliates, associates, advisors, readers, projects worked on etc.

Furthermore, from each national and international conference held, further keynote speakers, speakers and workshop leaders are added to this national expert locator and database. It is new and very popular.

Again, through this blog, I ask experts in government and education around the world if similar national expert systems exist in their countries? To my knowledge this does not occur, either? Please let me know.

I thought to myself that if you combine the national explicit repository of theses together with the national expert directory of tacit knowledge, and mix them together with robust collective and systematic knowledge processes, as they are starting to do, you have a very powerful national knowledge leadership and edge.

Finally, we were presented with an update of a new initiative to integrate all the libraries across Iran, to start with. There are no integrated systems as yet, and many are incompatible, but the vision and aim is clearly there, based on inter-library law to maximise the use of all documents. In this system, today, it is possible for an individual to ask IRANDOC for any book, which they will locate and send, on a temporary basis. I think this system of national library integration is proceeding across the world right now.

Politics aside, imagine a worldwide digital integration of libraries, which is a clear aim of organizations like Google, for example.

IRANDOC concluded by advising us that their next research project has gone beyond the Universities to 'Organizations'. The public sector must report, and gain full access, and the private sector is commencing with summary information, not as detailed.

Back in the KM in-depth workshop that I was leading, we discussed this new learning and KM initiative against the progress each participant organization was making in KM.

Of the 24 delegates, we had KM practitioners and representatives from 4 national banks. The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular, was well advanced over several years implementation, in developing 'learning objects' in the training division, and turning them into 'knowledge objects' in the organization as a whole. Other representatives, from other Banks, Industrial Development and Renovation, Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Mining Industries, Ministries of Science, Research and Technology, Education, Road and Transportation, Government Strategic Planning and Control, and NIPC, were embarking on their KM implementations. Many were using the APO KM Framework and KM Implementation methodology as central components of their KM strategies.

Towards the end of the 6 day event, inspired by my friend and colleague, David Gurteen, I introduced a Knowledge Cafe, which was most refreshing, successful, and gave us all the time and an opportunity to reflect and share more deeply, what we had all learned during the week.

The people I met during the trip were so kind and courteous, very inquisitive indeed, and a joy to work with.

If you have the opportunity to visit Tehran, Iran, make sure you try the ice cream too ... its beyond words.

Ron Young

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tokyo - the sunny pink cityHere are a few pictures captured on my iPhone on arrival in Tokyo.

1. Arrival at Narita Airport, 9.30am Tuesday 6th April 2010

2. I love this one. Could be the Japanese version of Beatles 'Abbey Road'Note the lovely avenue of cherry blossom :-)

3. Japanese taxis have lots of technology

4. More Cherry blossom on the way to the hotel

5. View over the Royal Palace from my hotel

More later ..

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is genius a natural gift or can it be developed?

In the pursuit of methods, tools and techniques for developing higher or 'extraordinary' knowledge, I came across this definition of genius:

'a person who has discovered how to increase the vibration of thought (consciously or unconsciously) to the point where they can freely communicate with sources of knowledge not available through the 'ordinary' rate of vibration of thought'.

There is a suggestion here of 'keying up' to higher rates of vibration, for example, when in highly enthusiastic states, intensive desires and passions, high levels of creative imagination etc.

Another definition of genius I have come across is:

'using the faculties of the left and right hemispheres to the full and in unison'

Both definitions suggest that we can all personally develop conditions that lead to genius, as opposed to the common belief that genius is natural for the gifted few.

We can agree that genius is exceptional natural ability, but what are your thoughts on this? Can genius be cultivated at schools, in the workplace?

Ron Young

Thursday, March 11, 2010

KM Principle: Be BOTH a learning organization AND knowledge driven

Having recently returned from a conference in Indonesia on the subject of learning organizations, author Ron Young, director and principal consultant of Knowledge Associates International, and founder of www.knowledge-management-online.com, considers how these entities differ from knowledge-driven organizations and asks whether the two approaches can coexist.

Learning is about the acquisition of knowledge, he says, while KM should be about having access to, and applying, that knowledge. So are learning and KM two sides of the same coin?

REAP THE REWARDS FROM COMBINING LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

Is yours a learning organization, a knowledge driven one, or both?

In June 2008, I had the great privilege and pleasure to be a keynote speaker and facilitator at a study meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, which focused on the subject of “Learning Organizations”. This event gave me an opportunity to critically review recent developments in organizational learning that have taken place all around the world, and especially throughout Asia, since the concept was popularized in the early 1990s.

But while reflecting on these developments from the luxury of my hotel balcony, I couldn’t entirely forget a prediction that I made back in 1995. As co-author of the book, Upside DownManagement: Revolutionizing Management and Development to Maximize Business Success1, I claimed, at that time in my thinking, that the learning organization, although vitally important, was merely the “warm-up act” for the “star turn” that was about to take the stage – KM for knowledge-driven organizations.

At the time, I saw the knowledge-driven organization as the natural evolution from the learning organization

So it was great to spend four days in Bali studying the principles and characteristics of learning organizations alongside those of knowledge-driven organizations – and to compare their associated concepts, developments and benefits.

As a management consultant who specializes in organizational learning and knowledge management, I’m often asked what the differences are between these approaches; what benefits they bring, both individually and together; and whether KM can help in becoming a learning organization? More importantly, I’m often asked, “Why should we become a learning organization and practice effective KM?”

In this article, I will attempt to answer these questions and draw some conclusions. Before I launch into that discussion, however, I have a word of warning on the subject of labels. As Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, said: “If you label me, you destroy me.”

In an age of holistic organizational development, we know that if we consider just one perspective, we run the risk of losing sight of the whole picture. The label “learning organization” is very useful to help us study and improve an aspect of our working environments, but most workplaces are far more than just learning organizations. So beware of making learning too much of a focus, to the point that you start to lose sight of your organization’s true meaning and purpose.

Getting back to basics

When this topic is up for debate in the boardroom, the first question should be: “Why do we want to become a learning organization?” The only answer should be: “To help us better achieve or exceed our objectives.”

In fact, I would go a step further and suggest that, unless it will make a significant difference to achieving your objectives, becoming a learning organization may not be worth the effort.

The case for becoming a learning organization must be based on value creation and measurable results.

Over the years, I’ve been taught some sound, evergreen business principles. For example, ask yourself the question, “For how long have senior management been interested in increasing productivity, improving relationships, developing quality, innovating and making better decisions?’

The answer, of course, is forever.

And for how long have they been interested in increasing sales or growth, reducing costs and increasing profits or value creation? The answer, again, is forever.

These are perennial items on the boardroom agenda. But what is it that fundamentally underpins productivity, relationships, quality, innovation, better decision-making, increased sales, reduced costs, increased profits and/or value creation?

The answer is the acquisition of knowledge and its wise application.

Organizations are, and always will be, as good as their knowledge, and their ability to transform that knowledge into valuable and successful competencies, products and services.

This knowledge might take the form of new and revolutionary ideas, or it could be knowledge of competitors and industry sectors. It could be process knowledge and good/best-practice knowledge. It could be knowledge of a change in the environment, or knowledge that demands a change in the environment.

The list goes on.

Knowledge fundamentally underpins everything we do in organizations.

Larry Prusak, a KM thought leader (and member of the KM Review editorial board), put it better when he said: “The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge, the only thing that is sustainable, is what it knows, how it uses what it knows and how fast it can know something new!”

And you may also appreciate the perspective of Jack Welch, when at General Electric, who said: “Learning inside must be equal to or greater than change outside the organization – or the organization is in decline and may not survive.”

What is a learning organization?

So what is a learning organization?

In simple terms, it is one that is able to effectively tap into peoples’ commitment and capacity to learn, at every level in its hierarchy.

At the recent Bali study meeting, Arnold Chan, chief learning officer for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, told me that his company’s learning agenda involved:

• Aligning learning and development strategies/initiatives to business strategies through the Bank’s “strategic people agenda”;

• Implementing a strong engagement model to solicit commitment from stakeholders;

• Integrating high-impact learning processes into the Bank’s people-development program;

• Creating a seamless learning portal to offer a wide range of learning opportunities, catering to different learning styles;

• Transforming to sustain the Bank’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

And Praba Nair, director of consultancy company KDI Asia, and my colleague and fellow keynote speaker at the event, defines some key characteristics of a learning and knowledge organization as one that is committed to:

• Lifelong learning;

• Creating a learning environment;

• Fostering a climate of openness and trust;

• Encouraging free exchange and flow of information;

• Learning & personal development.

The five learning disciplines

But an article on becoming a learning organization would not be complete without mentioning the five learning disciplines described by Peter Senge in his landmark 1990 book, The Fifth Discipline: 'The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization'.

The five learning disciplines outlined by Senge are:

1. Personal mastery – Learning to expand our personal capacity to create the results we most desire and creating an organizational environment that encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goal and purposes that they choose.

2. Mental models – Reflecting upon, continually clarifying and improving our internal pictures of the world, and seeing how they shape our actions and decisions.

3. Shared vision – Building a sense of commitment in a group, by developing shared images of the future we seek and the principles and guiding practices by which we hope to get there.

4.Team learning – Transforming conversational and collective thinking skills, so that groups of people can reliably develop intelligence and ability greater than the sum of individual members’ talents

5. Systems thinking – A way of thinking about the forces and inter-relationships that shape the behavior of systems. This discipline helps us see how to change systems more effectively and to act more in tune with the larger processes of the natural and economic world.

What is learning?

So what is learning?

Personally, I like simple definitions that are easy to understand. The best definition of learning for me came from KM specialist Hubert Saint-Onge who, at a KM conference in London in the mid-1990s, simply, but profoundly, said that “learning is the process of turning information into knowledge”.

There we have it:

Effective information management, together with embedding the best learning processes and culture throughout the organization, will inevitably lead to the much better creation of organizational knowledge.

But is it really that simple?

Whilst consulting with General Motors (GM) in 1993, I was struck by the company’s approach to transforming its culture into a more collaborative and knowledge-sharing one. Executives at GM asked themselves the question, “Is it possible to bring about a more ‘naturally’ flourishing knowledge-sharing culture?”

In other words, are there any natural principles that we can apply to learning and knowledge driven organizations? We concluded that:

• Trust is the lifeblood of any organization, and when sufficient trust is developed, people will “naturally” want to communicate.

• Open and frequent, two-way communication will develop even more trust and people will “naturally” want to collaborate and work better together.

• More open and more frequent communication of information “naturally” brings about more rapid, more accelerated learning.

• Increased and continual learning will “naturally” increase peoples’ levels of confidence and competence.

• Confident and competent people “naturally” want to share their knowledge.

• Sharing knowledge, naturally, is enjoyable.

Building a virtuous KM cycle

We also concluded that these principles all build on one another and interrelate to form a “virtuous circle” . That is to say that, if you improve in any one area, it will impact and improve all the others. Conversely, if any one principle is neglected, it will also impact all the others, to create a vicious circle of doubt, fear and distrust.

A virtuous circle, will lead to much better “knowing what we know”. A vicious circle, by contrast, leads to “not knowing what we know”.

So GM tried to implement the principles to naturally bring about more trust, improved communications, faster learning and natural knowledge sharing. They sent me and members of their senior management team, to outdoor experiential learning camps in Europe, Asia and the USA where we set about learning how to trust one another more through exercises such as “trust falls” and team activities.

Although we were all blood brothers and sisters in the bar each evening on these trips, that bonding didn’t last in all cases. After returning to work for just one month, it was “business as usual”.

Trust must be earned, not just learned. It develops over a long period, but can be destroyed in seconds.

The next principle was to improve communications by implementing the best communications and information technologies.

But if there is not sufficient trust, this won’t work either. People must want to learn and share knowledge. They cannot be forced to do this.

What worked best, and remarkably well, at GM were the initiatives undertaken to help people learn faster and develop their own personal competencies. And why did these work best? Ithink it’s because this approach answers the key question that most people involved in a KM project ask:

“What’s in it for me?”

Everybody, or certainly most people, want to improve themselves, to develop and grow and to become more marketable and successful. Capturing new learning and ideas as they occur (through both direct work experience and formal training) transforms an organization from an environment of 'episodic learning and innovation' to one of 'continual learning and innovation'.

People are also far more likely to naturally share their knowledge in that environment. As a result, making the principle of improved learning the primary focus was the most successful approach at GM.

Without doubt, learning organization initiatives can work extremely well and can reward individuals, teams and organizations handsomely.

So where does KM fit in?

I claimed earlier that the key contributor to organizational success is the acquisition of the best knowledge and its wise application. The two key words here are “acquisition” and “application”.

Learning is about the acquisition of knowledge, turning information into knowledge. KM should be about having access to, and applying, that knowledge.

So I see learning and KM as two sides of the same coin.

If we look at the roots of the learning organization, it is predominantly about enabling individuals and teams to learn. It began as a bottom-up approach and is primarily a people-centric one.

If we look at the roots of KM, it is predominantly about categorizing, storing, sharing and applying organizational knowledge in a collective and systematic way. It started as a top-down approach and was, initially, more technology centric.

Both complement one another. In fact, they’re highly synergistic. So much so that, over the years, the learning organization has made significant and natural inroads into KM, and vice versa.

Today, I look at mature and highly successful learning organizations, such as Standard Chartered Bank, and see the principles and characteristics of KM embedded throughout the organization.

There’s no doubt in my mind that organizations with strong learning-organization roots will wish to continue their initiatives and efforts in that direction, perhaps under the direction of a Chief Learning Officer (CLO). And organizations that have strong KM roots will similarly wish to continue their initiatives and efforts in their chosen direction, perhaps led by a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO).

Some organizations may wish to continue initiatives and efforts that embrace both disciplines. It doesn’t matter at all. These are simply useful labels, and maybe one day, someone will invent a new label that embraces both.

What does matter is that we constantly remind ourselves of the evergreen business principles that will naturally lead to organizational success and then apply the best strategies, processes, methods, tools and techniques available at any given time to bring those principles fully to life.

Summary Key Points

The case for becoming a learning organization must be based on value creation and measurable results.

Organizations are, an always will be, as good as their knowledge and their ability to transform that knowledge into valuable and successful competencies, products and services.

Learning is about the acquisition of knowledge. KM should be about the wise application of that knowledge. In that sense, both complement each other and are highly synergistic.

What do you think?

Ron Young

(The above was first published as an article in KM Review,UK, September 2009.)

Monday, March 08, 2010

KM Principle: Naturally trust, communicate, learn and share knowledge - it's a virtuous circle

One of the most frequent questions people ask me at knowledge management conferences, seminars, and workshops, all over the world, is ‘How do you create a knowledge sharing culture?

It’s a key issue and we are told that over 70% of the knowledge management effort is cultural. That is not to say that KM strategies, processes, methods, tools etc are 30% value, but to say that they are, relatively speaking, much easier to develop and implement.

In response to the question of creating a knowledge sharing culture, I developed a model in 1995 that I still teach, as an effective solution to this key issue. Many people find it to be of great value, and it has certainly stood the test of time, so I consider it to be a timeless principle of effective knowledge management. I describe it here and I welcome any feedback that you may have. I will certainly include all improvements in this article, so please keep posted from time to time.

This article proposes:

1. Seek 'virtuous circles'.

2. You do not start with trust.

3. You do not start with improved communications.

4. You start with learning.

5. Knowledge sharing naturally follows learning.

6. How to put the virtuous circle together.

Seek Virtuous Circles

There are four primary components to this model and I would like you to consider it as a ‘virtuous circle’. That is to say, like a spiral staircase, it leads to higher levels. But unlike a spiral staircase, the improvement of any step in the model will improve all the others, simultaneously. A virtuous circle brings about improvements, as diametrically opposed to a ‘vicious circle’ that is a downward and worsening situation.

You do not start with Trust

The four steps in this virtuous circle are:

1. Trust

2. Communicate

3. Learn

4. Share

But, interestingly, I recommend that you do not start with Trust. Rather, you will see how trust ‘naturally’ builds. I recommend that you start with ‘Learn’ but let me explain, first of all, how the virtuous circle builds, and then why I initially focus on step 3.

As far as Trust is concerned, there is much literature on the importance of this in a knowledge driven organization. Much has been said about Trust. I first remember Stephen Covey teaching me that ‘Trust is the lifeblood of the organization. People work together so much more effectively when they trust one another.’ That is so right, and, in our own private and work relationships, we know this to be true and fundamental.

So how do we build Trust? Well one thing is certain, you are very unlikely to build trust by telling or teaching or even, paradoxically, coercing people to trust.

Trust has to be earned.

Interestingly, trust may be built over a long time, many years even, and trust can be lost in just seconds.

My best personal example of this is when I was part of a team of consultants and facilitators engaged by General Motors in 1993. At that time, GM were very concerned indeed that, due to past management practices, the overall culture within GM and, especially, between GM and its Dealerships and Distributorships worldwide, was very ‘fear based’. It was considered to be very coercive. Generally, Dealers feared that if they didn’t ‘shift enough metal this quarter’ their franchises were at risk.

GM developed their own model to explain this. They called it, at the time, the 6C’s. Three C’s of fear and three C’s of Trust. They knew that people, if continually pushed too hard in ‘Conflict’, would eventually lead to ‘Confrontation’ and if that was prolonged or unresolved, it would end up in a state of ‘Co-existing’. That is to say, people would just ‘keep their heads down’ and get on with their work. This is the typical behaviour of a predominantly large fear based culture.

In a fear based culture, people are generally:

Protective of ideas & knowledge

No Loyalty

Short Term & impatient

Disrespect & political

Individual & isolated

Independent

Non communicative - and 'one way from the top'

Uninformed

Feel no responsibility

Disempowered

Scarcity mentality

GM also developed the 3C's of a trust based culture. That is, 'Cooperation' leads to better 'Collaboration', which leads to 'Co-ownership' (responsible partnering together). They knew that if the culture could be transformed into a ‘trust based’ one that they then could expect people to be more inclined to:

Open and sharing ideas & knowledge

High Loyalty

Long Term & patient

Respect & supportive

Inter-connected by networks & teams

Inter-dependent

Open, frequent communications and 'two way‘ feedback

Informed

Feel responsible

Empowered

Abundance mentality

As you would expect, the characteristics of a trust based culture are diametrically opposed to the characteristics of a fear based culture.

A trust based culture is a ‘win/win’ culture where people all work together for the benefit and common good of all.

A fear based culture is a ‘win/lose’ culture where people focus on getting the best deal as winners, regardless of others.

But GM was certainly not alone with this situation. At least GM became aware of the problem and constructively tried to do something about it.

The problem is simply that in large, dispersed, organizations people cannot possibly know everyone and everything. This will inevitably breed doubt, which is the first shade of fear. In small organizations, people tend to know everyone and everything of importance (not always) and this results in a far more trusting environment.

So, getting back to the importance of trust, and GM, what did they do about it?

It seemed a great idea, at the time, for GM to build several outdoor experiential learning sites. One was in South Spain, one in Indonesia, and one in the USA, to start with. Japan came later.

As a facilitator, my job was to welcome senior management teams, equally from GM and from car dealerships and distributorships, side by side, throughout the Region. My job was to work with them for several days, to teach some fundamental principles through experiential means and debriefs. Increased trust, better teamwork, increased enthusiasm and motivation, were key components of the training.

As a facilitator, I was also expected to complete the exercises myself.

I remember the ‘trust fall’. We had to stand on a six foot high wall and fall backwards, blindly, into our team members arms. Sounds simple, but it was incredibly hard for many of us. We could only do it if we trusted, and let go.

I remember the ‘trust poles’ that were 30 feet high. Harnessed and held by ropes from our team members, we had to climb the pole, stand on a small disc on the top, and jump off. We had to trust our team members completely.

I remember the 50 feet high ‘trust team wall’ which was designed for three people to be chained together and, again supported by ropes and harnesses from our team members, we had to ‘all together’ climb that high wall. No room for leaving any weak members behind. We had to help each other, or else we failed, as a team.

For every exercise, once completed, we had to go back to camp for a thorough debrief. This is where all the feelings and all the new learning’s surfaced. What could we learn from this and take back to the workplace?

I could go on with more descriptions of even more, very effective, experiential learning from team challenges, but I have described enough to make a fundamental point.

Back in the camp, at the evening pre-dinner drinks, the bar had an electric atmosphere that is difficult to put into words. We were all so glad to be alive, and proud of ourselves. We all agreed that we were now ‘blood brothers and sisters’ for life. It really seemed so at the time.

But one month later, away from the exotic locations and back in our normal office environment and routines, we realised that it was ‘back to work as normal’.

We ‘knew’ that trust was important but somehow it didn’t overpower the status quo. We learned that you couldn’t just teach a ‘trust’ course, however well intentioned, and expect sustainability. We knew that the answer was not simply ‘Trust one another! ‘. There was something more. That became clearer later.

You do not start with improved Communications

GM, like many large organizations at the time, could afford to deploy the latest communication tools and technologies. GM had an admirable global technology infrastructure for its time. I remember the enterprise deployment of Lotus Notes groupware, which was probably the most leading information communications technology at the time (I am still very fond of Lotus Notes). Many of us, who were early pioneers of knowledge management, saw Lotus Notes as our saviour, with replicated databases of ‘the whole’ on everyone’s desktop and laptop personal computer. We enthusiastically built nested discussion forums, networks and community spaces, collaborative virtual team workspaces, and key knowledge bases.

I even set up a company in Cambridge on the strength of these developments.

But we learned, over the painful years to follow, that giving people the best information communications tools at the time, discussion platforms, collaborative workspaces and knowledge bases, does not mean that they will use them! The mantra was ‘give them the best technology and tools to share information and knowledge’. Technology certainly provides the great potential to do things better, but we have to turn that potential into reality. And that is not as easy as it sounds.

At least, Lotus Notes can become the most expensive email system in the world, but going beyond that, in new extraordinary ways, was more of a failure than a success. Maybe it was because people were not taught how to properly use these tools, (many of them were left to discover how to use them for themselves) which is a key factor of course, but I strongly feel that the key reason was that people have to naturally want to share information and knowledge, to use these tools effectively, and that does not happen in a fear based culture.

You start with Learning

So, if you do not start the virtuous circle with trust or communications, why start with learning?

This is what I strongly believe. I am convinced that people have to ‘naturally’ want to do things. People cannot be coerced, however mildly, or however sophisticated the initiative to change may be.

I use the word ‘natural’ because I have discovered the following:

When there is sufficient trust present, people ‘naturally’ want to communicate more openly and more frequently and more two-way.

Following on from this, when people communicate information more frequently and openly – they cannot help themselves but to ‘naturally’ learn faster. Also, more open ‘two-way’ communications and better collaboration builds even greater trust.

A simple definition of learning for me, is to turn information into knowledge, whether it’s intellectual learning, or experiential learning, or a combination of both. The Japanese talk about ‘mind knowledge’ and ‘body knowledge’. This I like. Through all our external senses, of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting etc we are learning in the body (example: Don’t put your hand on that hot stove!). Through our inner sense of thinking, we are learning in the mind.

Knowledge sharing naturally follows learning

But learning is far more important than just gaining new knowledge and skills. When we learn faster, we naturally increase our confidence, our self esteem, and our competence, at least.

Now my main point in this article is this. People who are both confident and competent ‘naturally’ enjoy and ‘naturally’ want to share their knowledge with others. They have nothing to fear, but they understand that they have everything to gain by sharing.

It seems to me that people are wired up to ‘have to share’ what they know as part of their continued learning. I am a teacher. But I do not just teach to teach others. I teach to learn too!

To many, the real reward from learning faster, and from becoming confident and competent, is to ‘enjoy the sharing’.

I do recall a Japanese manufacturing company that had a competence system that only had, originally, three levels of competence as follows:

1. Aware of the competence to be developed

2. Able to demonstrate the new competence on occasions, but inconsistently

3. Consistently competent

To my delight, they introduced a fourth level of competence:

4. Consistently competent and ‘able to teach others’

This one level of competence, introduced, created a ‘culture of teachers’. It created a culture of knowledge sharing. And what’s more, people are rewarded and recognised for their levels of competence and teaching others. So it pays to become a level 4 teacher, for both emotional and financial well being!

Let me give you one more example of the importance of the ‘Learn’ step, and then I will pull it all together, and explain the working of the Trust – Communicate – Learn – Share’ virtuous circle.

I was called into the office of the CEO of a major UK Utility company. It employed over 10,000 people. The CEO had a problem. He had attended a breakfast session for CEO’s that I gave in London about building trust in a knowledge driven organization.

He said, ‘Ron, how can I possibly think about building trust when I am now having to downsize our organization considerably? How will people trust the organization again when we have to do that? What do we do?

We analysed the incredibly difficult situation the organization faced in order to survive. We first considered the survivors. That is, those people left, that would not be leaving the company.

We concluded that there would be an initial period of despair and lack of trust. We concluded that some people would lose loyalty to the organization, after so many years of loyal service. We concluded that some people would be looking around for more secure employment. We concluded that the organization would probably move into a ‘fear based culture’ until trust could be earned again.

We also knew that, because of this, people would be very receptive to new learning and competence development. Why? Because this is a ‘heads you win – tails you win’ situation. That is to say, if, at worst, the organization continued a downward spiral, at least the individual would be more marketable and employable elsewhere. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

In the best situation, if the organization invested in developing people’s confidence and competence, then the likelihood of growing again, successfully, would be much greater.

It’s a win / win situation. More importantly of all, it worked! The organization grew out of the crisis and into positive growth. It became, not only a successful learning organization, but it became more competent in applying its knowledge more wisely.

Putting the virtuous circle together

Getting back to the virtuous circle, I propose that one of the best starting points, that one of the best interventions, is at the ‘Learn’ step. This is because:

a) people will willingly welcome this investment in themselves, most of the time

b) as people become more confident and competent, they will naturally want to share more information and knowledge

c) this will lead to a major increase in trust

d) this will lead to a natural need to communicate better

e) This will lead to even more information exchange, faster learning, even more trust and more collaborative working

f) This will naturally lead to more enjoyment in learning and sharing…which will naturally lead to even more increased trust, more open communications, faster learning, sharing etc etc

It’s not just about teaching people the importance of trust. It’s not just about giving people the best information and communication technologies. It’s about developing new confidence and competence through learning, which will then increasingly spark and fuel the other steps in the process, simultaneously.

Can you develop a knowledge sharing culture? No.

Can you develop people to then develop a knowledge sharing culture themselves? Certainly yes.

This is the virtuous circle that will contribute significantly to naturally developing a knowledge sharing culture.

What do you think?

Ron Young

Thursday, March 04, 2010

KM Principles: Applying knowledge and effective knowledge management is 'situational'.

I received this key question from a reader in the USA to my article 'Knowledge Management - Back to Basic Principles' a few days ago.

"Great article. Like with many new technologies or ideas, we often get caught up in the novelty and forget the basics. This is a good reminder.

Question: Your point 6 on Using Knowledge is key. How do we ensure that people actually use and apply knowledge to their jobs?

Do you know of any research or examples of how people and organizations actually put the knoweledge to use? "

Here is my first quick response to his question. I would appreciate your comments too, and I will gladly pass them on.

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I agree. The essence is 'applying' knowledge. For example, for many years I have accumulated some great knowledge about the best foods to eat, and the right exercise, and techniques to relax and meditate. But after all this, I am still overweight and unhealthy and its a very slow improvement process.

I consider myself very knowledgeable in this area, but very 'unwise in applying knowledge'.

I have been a KM consultant since 1995 and I have worked across the world, in corporates, public sector and government, development institutions.

I see the same lack of knowledge application.

No one nation or culture stands out as being better at applying the best knowledge, although I am observing that those cultures that use strong ritual/habits in their daily lives may have a good advantage.

If you look at certain cases, they have to apply knowledge. I always talk in my KM seminars and workshops about the Air Accident Investigation Board. This is because I am a self confessed passionate ex-pilot and love to teach some principles through flying stories. Last year at London Heathrow airport, a British Airways flight crash landed due to both engines shut down on final approach. It was discovered that there was ice in the fuel lines, caused at very cold temperature flying over Russia. New knowledge, to solve this problem, resulted in reducing the power to zero, on engine failure for a few seconds. (The opposite of what a pilot would instinctively expect to do).

Within a very short period of time, this safety directive was with every same type airplane and engine in the world and every pilots checklist was updated for this emergency. This year in a flight in USA, exactly the same icing up happened. The pilots immediately applied the emergency checklist, the problem was immediately solved, and no passenger was even aware of the incident.

This is an example of applying new knowledge effectively because human life is at stake. So you would think that all areas that involve safety of human life would be the same. Not so.

I have been working with the National Health Service in the UK because, although they have very good creation of 'evidenced based knowledge' they are still repeating mistakes because they do not apply it effectively. Several hospitals in the UK are under constant attack for very bad application of knowledge that involved loss of human life. I am working with the United Nations International Disaster Reduction, to find better ways to 'proactively apply' knowledge beforehand to, at least, reduce loss of life and economic loss with better building laws, planning, poverty alleviation, early warning and evacuation procedures etc. But, time and again, we hear from many agencies that lessons are not being learned properly and transferred into readily applicable knowledge from past disasters, tsunami's, earthquakes, typhoons etc.

The daily news is constantly littered with political parties, institutions and organizations not applying knowledge effectively.

The legal profession are trained to abide by precedent. For each case, lawyers ask first 'what do we know about this' rather than much later. There is some good KM examples of effective knowledge application in Law.

But many organizations, teams, individuals are, to be polite, very bad at applying knowledge, even though they may be better at creating knowledge.

(I just read a blog that said Toyota knew about the problems with the car accelerator a year earlier in Europe. Allegedly, this was codified in a database but people didn't know where to find it? If this is true, this is a prime case of failed knowledge application, and car manufacturers need to review their KM systems and processes to include knowledge application practices, like the Air Accident Investigation Board, for example.)

I have strongly suspected, for some time, that it's because most organizations do not have the rituals/habits ingrained in their daily work. They do not have the knowledge leadership, processes and tools to help them do this.

They do not need/desire or have the equivalent of a pilots checklist for their work. Nor the strong need to comply to law.

And this is understandable to a degree. After all, in the daily office, these checklist procedures, for example, would seem very robotic and a deterent to natural creativity. (We want pilots to fly us safely from A to B based on the best safety knowledge and skills, and we want investigative journalists to seriously challenge apparent best practices).

So I agree with the question. It is 'the key issue', and it is the key challenge to KM practitioners. We need to help individuals, teams, organizations and global networks and communities, more effectively APPLY knowledge.

But I also propose that there is no one solution for all. There may be common principles but effective KM implementation is situational, depending on your industry sector, and very key factors like, life saving and human safety, healthcare, climate change etc to take just a few examples.

I wish the Financial sector would learn to apply best knowledge too!

What do you think about 'applying' knowledge?

Ron Young

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The East have a major advantage with Knowledge Management

My travels to the East continually reveal new knowledge insights to me. Whenever I am asked to speak in a country I have not visited before, I try to learn as much as I can beforehand about their culture and major religious beliefs, so that I can be more meaningful in my presentations about knowledge management, and so that I can be more open in my own learning.

Being a yoga teacher, over 25 years ago, I instantly took to the culture and religious beliefs of India in my five trips there over the past two years. I already knew that the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita etc are the basis of Hinduism, and are the oldest recorded books of knowledge. I have had some truly fascinating discussions with my Indian friends and we have reconsidered this 'timeless wisdom'in an age of global knowledge. In fact, in the last few years, I have enjoyed many more discussions with Asian friends also looking at the perspective of knowledge for Muslims, Buddhists and Christians too, across Singapore, Malaysia,Indonesia, Phillipines and Fiji. I have also had discussions with Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese about knowledge and Confusianism and the Tao.

What fascinates me about the East and Middle East is the very very high value that all religions and beliefs place on knowledge. There is divine revealed knowledge and the acquisition of daily knowledge of living a good successful life.

And in all of this, most importantly, there is no doubt at all about the value of knowledge.

This is why I am of the opinion that the Eastern perspective to knowledge management will develop much faster, and reveal much richer insights into global knowledge management than those of the West.

Don't get me wrong. I am still a great advocate and, hopefully, a good ambassador for the discipline of knowledge management, as developed in the West.

I do not wish to simplify, but for making the point that I am simply amazed at the major contributions that have come from the USA, especially, at least the openness, and the new enabling knowledge technologies we all enjoy across the internet. And I am indebted to our friends in Scandinavia and across Europe who are still, in my opinion, thought leaders in intellectual capital management, processes and reporting, but I am now really looking forward to the fresh developments and practices that will, undoubtedly, come from the Eastern perspective.

I have no doubt that, at this point in time, the East have a major advantage with knowledge management.

I take great comfort that absolute knowledge is the common unifier across diverse beliefs.

Ron Young

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Knowledge Management moves from the Corporate World to Development Organizations!

Naguib Chowdhury contacted me a few days ago and said, ‘Ron, what do you think is happening with Knowledge Management today, as there is much going on with KM in Development?’

That was a good and timely question to ask me as I was reading a report I had recently finished for the United Nations, Asia Pacific Regional office in Bangkok, when I received Naguib’s question.

Here is my reply to Naguib on his popular blog - KMTALK AsiaI hope it starts an interesting discussion.What do you think?

Ron Young

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and Socio-Ecological Transition

I am indebted to the European Commission, Directorate-General for Research Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities for allowing me to reproduce extracts from their report 'The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and Socio-Ecological Transition'.

In my work to better understand global knowledge management trends, current performance, and future scenarios, I find the research work from the World Bank, United Nations, Asian Development Bank, NASA, and the European Commission most informing.

Here are, from a global knowledge management perspective, some extracts that particularly resonate with me from this European Commission Report, 2009, ISBN 978-92-79-12485-3.

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The Asian Century

In 2025, nearly two thirds of the world population will live in Asia.

According to the UN, between now and 2025, the world population will increase by 20% to reach 8 billion inhabitants (6.5 today). 97% of this growth will occur in the developing countries (Asia, Africa).

In 2025, 61% of the world population will be in Asia.

In 2025, the population of the European Union will only account for 6.5% of the world population.

The European Union will count the highest proportion of people of more than 65 years old in the world (30% of the population).

The cities in developing countries will account for 95% of urban growth in the next twenty years and will shelter almost 4 billion inhabitants in 2025. The number of inhabitants of slums at world level will double between now and 2025 to reach more than 1.5 billion.

Asia, with increasing inequalities, becomes the first producer and exporter of the world

In 2025 world production will almost have doubled (in relation to 2005). The USA-EU-Japan triad will no longer dominate the world, even if the United States preserve their leadership. A more balanced distribution will take shape. The energing and developing countries which accounted for 20% of the world's wealth in 2005 will account for 34% of it in 2025.

The centre of gravity of world production will move towards Asia. The group made up of China-India-Korea will weigh as much as the European Union. With the addition of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia..., the share of Asia would in 2025 reach more than 30% of the world GDP and would surpass that of the EU, estimated to be at slightly more than 20%.

In 2030 the "global middle class" (with an income between 4000 and 17 000 dollars a year) could account for 1 billion people, of which 90% will be living in developing countries.

(In 2025)The positions of Asia and the European Union are reversed. The EU is no longer the first world exporter. The exports of the EU (39% of the world volume in 2005) could account for 32% while the share of Asia increases from 29% to 35%.

In an increasing knowledge society,a question remains on the growth of intangible assets (like human capital or use of ICT) and the share of these investments among the EU, US and Asia.

Asia catches up with (and overtakes?) the United States and Europe in the area of research

If the recent trend continues, in 2025, the United States and Europe will have lost their scientific and technological supremacy for the benefit of Asia. (China and India will have caught up with or even overtaken the Triad) even if they will still appear among the principal world powers as regards R&D.

In many crucial areas to Europe's future welfare, such as energy saving technologies, research on sustainable development and climate change, health and the spreading of diseases, food safety, security, social sciences and humanities, etc., it is the global access to such knowledge, the development of joint global standards and the rapid world-wide diffusion of such new technologies which is at stake. Ensuring access to knowledge in global networks also means being attractive for researchers and investment from abroad.

...one can imagine that we will move from today's "brain drain" (mainly towards United States and the Anglo Saxon countries) to a more balanced "brain circulation" of young researchers between regions of the world.

Asia will be the main destination for the location of business R&D.

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I simply love 'from brain drain to brain circulation' as this paints such a healthy picture for our collective planetary brains, and I am already seeing this brain drain reversal taking place in my work travels in Asia.

I may be over simplifying but I think we are slowly getting it - it's not just about competing for knowledge in a predominantly private and state capitalist society, as this will not produce the best results for the good of all, but its about a new order of global knowledge economics that better recognises and values the highly interconnected and collaborative knowledge society that has already emerged.

What do you think about these EU report extracts?

I recommend that you get the full report which discusses trends, tensions, and major transitions, all very interesting indeed.It's available as a free pdf.

Ron Young

Friday, January 29, 2010

Future Centres and knowledge hubs

On Tuesday 26th January 2010, I was given the opportunity to join a study tour, which had been organized by a team of Japanese companies, to visit two Future Centres in the UK. Actually, the complete study tour visited 5 Future Centres in UK and Netherlands, in total.

As a knowledge management consultant, I am particularly interested in ways to encourage knowledge creation and innovation.

I visited Innovation Works, part of the University of Reading, and Future Focus in London, part of the UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

My first impression was very good and I could easily see how dedicated spaces can encourage new, more open creativity and innovation. I was shown in Innovation Works how labs could be designed to take you away from work and think differently. Even the transition from an 'old outside/exterior' building to a completely different 'very new interior' was designed deliberately.

I could see, through the techniques used in both centres, how these centres help organizations to the next big thing. I enjoyed working on innovative white glass walls with 'rich picturing' and I especially enjoyed learning how this technique connects you directly to your feelings/emotions.

I was reminded in both centres about fun, smiling, being less judgemental and relaxing.

I was already familiar with the techniques of 'divergent and convergent' thinking to expand ideas and then focus them on particular areas, and in both centres I enjoyed working with 'anonymous software' for idea creation and even voting.

My japanese friends remarked how anonymous brainstorming etc was so powerful in an otherwise quite heirarchical japanese society.

Emphasis was placed on the importance of proper 'problem definition' in the problem solving process. Apparently, Einstein said "Give me 20 days to solve a problem and I will take 19 days to define it".

At Future Focus in London, we experienced how they had created future scenarios and presented them in films. They viewed this as a purpose built space in Government to explore the future and how this could influence Government and policy development.I also liked their desire to help Government turn problems, threats and key issues into opportunities.

In both centres, they underlined the importance of good facilitators, and how difficult it was to find them.

I was impressed by the desire to link Future Centres together in an international network and how Future Centres could become important hubs to encourage wider knowledge sharing. Maybe a global pool of facilitators would help.

I learned how there must be a proper balance between 'leading and pushing with new ideas' and 'properly responding to customers needs'.

I left with the impression from both centres/labs that even a Future Centre can have a lifecycle of, say, 7 to 10 years, and then it must renew itself. But I was left in no doubt that they will renew themselves, continuously, with new strategies, methods, tools and techniques.

After all, if a creative and innovative Future Centre can't renew itself - who can?

The day broadened my perspective on creativity and innovation and its fusion with knowledge management.

I thoroughly recommend you visit a Future Centre(s) if you get the opportunity.

Ron Young

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Key Knowledge Spaces in 3D - a new work paradigm

Following my last blog post on knowledge sharing in 3D workspaces, I am now developing further thoughts about this new experience.

To remind you, I have been experiencing virtual team collaboration meetings in Teleplace, a Software-as-a-Service that combines collaboration with a Second Life type interface.I have used this to conduct a virtual team meeting with members from Europe, Singapore, Tokyo and USA.

Now I am evaluating the experience of building workspaces. In just four hours, using the templates provided, I built a virtual Knowledge Academy. It contains, at least, a reception/lobby area to orientate new visitors, a training centre on three floors, with auditorium, private and public team break out rooms etc, as above.

These are standard templates based around todays work space paradigms, and I intend to demonstrate how they will radically increase the productivity of virtual knowledge working. But I also have the facility to develop fully customized work spaces myself. So now I am thinking 'What are the perfect virtual knowledge working spaces that can go beyond the limitations of physical workspace paradigms'.

What will they look like and can we now go into totally new ways of knowledge working? Should there be a 'knowledge asset space'for the organization or even a space for each key knowledge area and knowledge asset?

How can I better use these virtual 3D workspaces for 'knowledge asset management and reporting' in knowledge driven organizations?

It seems that we can now build, test and experience new knowledge spaces that are only limited by our imagination.

Ron Young

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Knowledge sharing in 3D virtual meeting rooms

Up until now I have been using videoconferencing tools on the desktop and laptop, like Skype and ooVoo, to communicate and collaborate with virtual team members. They are located in New York, Tokyo and Singapore. I still find these tools amazingly good.We are collaborating to write a manual, courseware, and a wiki of essential and highly desirable KM Methods and Tools for the Asian Productivity Organization.

Yesterday, Andy Burnett, a team member from KnowInnovation.com based in New York State and Cambridge UK, invited me to try a virtual meeting using Software-as-a-Service that combines collaboration with a Second Life type interface, from Teleplace.

It was awesome!! Immediately,I started thinking about how this could improve effective knowledge working, through its very rich environment.Even though it was meant to be a simple introduction and walk through tour, we started to look at and use project information, in new ways, handling more complexity more naturally.

Teleplace promotes this as a tool/service for collaboration in virtual meeting rooms. That it certainly is. It has an intuitive environment that, to quote teleplace "combines VOIP, Chat, Video, a robust Virtual Operations Command Centre, and can be deployed either behind a firewall or in the cloud."

In terms of effective knowledge management, at project, programme, team and organizational levels, I see much more.

For a start, knowledge working productivity could dramatically increase with faster and smarter decision making. And this should significantly accelerate knowledge transfer. And that is just the beginning, after a 30 minute introduction.

So, our global virtual team of 5 people, across Asia, USA and Europe, will take advantage of the 30 day evaluation period for our next virtual meeting, this Thursday 17th December.

I will share my learning's and experiences after that.

Ron Young

Monday, December 14, 2009

Capturing and sharing the best new Knowledge Management learnings

I have decided to start and publish a monthly 'Best New Learnings Digest' for me as a KM Consultant, and KM Practitioner for 2010.

As I work with my KM research and KM client engagements, I will capture the key new learnings in this blog, as they happen during the months. Naturally I will respect fully client confidentiality, but will distill all generally applicable learning principles. At the end of the month, I will send out and share this 'Best New Learnings Digest' as a free emailed newsletter, to all interested parties. It will link each new learning to the blog posts.

I will also summarize what are the most important new learnings for me.

I will then use this monthly digest to update my knowledge base on being an effective KM Consultant.

All feedback and further contributions will be most welcomed.

If you are interested in receiving this monthly free digest from January 2010, please go to the website and subscribe to the free newsletter.

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