Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dr. Kirby Wright on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)

On Friday I attended a presentation and discussion by Dr. Kirby Wright titled "Succeeding as a Knowledge Worker" where he discussed knowledge work from both the individual and the manager's perspective (how managers can support knowledge work). He described the nature of knowledge work, referenced working in simple, complicated and complex environments, and then outlined how improvement in knowledge worker competencies would improve knowledge work. Some of the competencies he touched on were sense making, creativity, searching, networking and reflecting.

I was impressed by how he's drawn on some key thinkers in knowledge management, blended it with some of his own perspectives, and come up with a relatively free strategy for knowledge workers.

When I think of the list of competencies Kirby presented, it would see a good idea for organizations to create developmental opportunities for knowledge workers in these areas - perhaps making them part of an "official" competency dictionary and curriculum.

You can download Rethinking Knowledge Work from Kirby's Blog that touches on his core PKM principles.

I also found a synergy between Kirby's competency list and Karl Albrecht's Practical Intelligence "macro-skills":

  1. Mental Flexibility
  2. Openness to New Information
  3. Capacity for Systematic Thought
  4. Capacity for Abstract Thought
  5. Skill at Generating Ideas
  6. Sense of Humor
  7. Positive Thinking
  8. Intellectual Courage
  9. Resistance to Enculturation
  10. Emotional Resilience

PS: I HIGHLY recommend Karl Albrecht's books Social Intelligence, Power of Minds at Work, Practical Intelligence. They contain excellent thinking, provocative & entertaining writing. For example:

Albrecht's Law: Intelligent people, when assembled into an organization,
will tend toward collective stupidity.

PKM references:
Stan Garfield's Weekly KM Blog lists a number of references - scroll down this page a bit.
Jon Husband's blog post "But I just don't have the time!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Principles for Good Presentations

I just stumbled across a SlideShare presentation titled Brain Rules for Presenters based on John Medina's book Brain Rules. It's very well done visually, and does a good job highlighting key points from the book. Bravo to Garr Reynolds who developed the presentation.

The author's web site is also a good source of background about the book and contents.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Look for Commonality Between Generations Not Differences

Since returning from the APQC KM Edge Conference in Chicago, I've been thinking about one of the themes that came out of some of the keynotes / presentations - differences between the "boomer" / older generations and the "younger generations" - such as millennials' ability to time-slice, their ease with technology, and focus on development rather than long relationships with a single employer. (60 Minutes had a provocative article titled on this titled The "Millennials" Are Coming)

There is no shortage of emerging research and commentary about differences between generations, and the challenges that could result. But, why not focus on the similarities?

Time to reflect seems to figure prominently in the learning process, whether the reflection is conscious or unconscious, conducted alone or in a group setting. The need for reflection would seem to be one thing that is important for all generations. Though we may do it in a few different ways, we all need time to need to let new ideas "soak in", absorb them and blend them with what we already know, and eventually act on them. Or in the case of a practical skill, we need time to practice to improve competence.

(By the way, Bob Wendover from the Center of Genrational Studies recently blogged about Generation Y: Do They Know the Value of Reflection? He also delivered a great keynote presentation at the APQC KM Edge Conference titled From OJT to DVD: Knowledge Management and the Emerging Generations.)

Finding time to reflect and learn in the corporate world, which we are all challenged with in today's constantly changing world, could be common ground for cross-generational work.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management

Prior to the launch of this year’s AQPC KM conference, I attended the pre-conference session titled Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management, led by Cindy Hubert. Quite a “juicy” session, but if anyone was looking for a magic bullet, they were disappointed. As in typical organizational performance management, which the session aligned well with, measuring KM impact is equally challenging and highly contextual to the business objectives and outcomes of the organization. As well, the conversations held during the process of designing and implementing measurement are as valuable as the final measurement and associated learning itself.

APQC has done a good job in exploring performance management in the context of KM implementation and through Cindy’s presentation provided:

  • Tips – such as “tie new KM measures to already accepted process measures and metrics,” align measures with stakeholder needs, “start thinking about measurement from day 1, KM performance management is a “thinking problem” not a “data problem, select few vital measures, align expectations with realistic outcomes, don’t establish metrics without a measurement process
  • Thinking models and frameworksAPQC’s Measurement framework, which leads to the positioning of KM activities in business process to impact business outputs and outcomes, the APQC KM Maturity Model, and most interestingly, a Value Path Analysis thinking model.
  • Tools – measurement alignment tool, examples of measures for KM programs, some case studies, and APQC’s Measurement Information Worksheet.

As well, Cindy had a few interesting observations from APQC’s work and research such as:

  • Best practice organizations do not include content management costs in measurement of KM effectiveness – a heavy up front investment takes a long time to prove value
  • Top five objectives for KM Programs across best practice partners are productivity, quality of products and services, increase profitability and cash flow, avoid redundancy and reinvention, and improve customer service.

The one thing I wish we would have had more time to discuss is the real tough part – attribution, and establishing causal links between KM activity measures and proxy measures to business outcomes when there are many other initiatives and activities underway that feed into those outcomes. And one final observation – through much of the language Cindy was using, I got the impression that “knowledge is an object” was an underlying assumption for much of what she presented. Unfortunately there was not enough time to explore this a bit to see if I was mistaken, and to look at some specific cases where the impact of tacit knowledge was being measured, which to me, would be as challenging as measuring the impact of learning and development.