Knowledge Management in Organisations

Knowledge Management - Hunter Dean

The field of knowledge management is about how organisations can use specific methods to capture, store and retrieve the core information, intelligence and expertise of their people. It includes the ability to identify, represent, create and adopt the specific experiences, core capabilities and insights held by high performers. Some of these assets may already be captured in formal explicit procedures, while many others remain informal or tacit. The field of knowledge sharing and knowledge management enables organisations to set up frameworks for capturing the most important lessons learned on projects and in the field.

1. The purpose of knowledge management

The purpose of knowledge management is to improve the performance of organisations and teams in order to provide greater leverage of the knowledge and experience held internally. Progress may come from the way an organisation manages projects, uses new technologies, mentors and trains new employees, and how people at all levels of experience learn to improve. Ultimately, knowledge management is about creating cultures of continuous improvement that are supported by the most senior leadership while often being led from the bottom up.

Organisational Change Collaboration and Learning

Organisations embarking on serious organisational change may start out by asking questions about the process and benefits of internal improvement like.

  • If a team currently learned something of value today, how likely is it the team would still be using it in 6 months?
  • How might new recruits on other projects learn those same things?
  • How do organisations embed know-how for the long haul?
  • How do they ensure lessons learned stay learned (for as long as they remain useful)?
  • Who inspires, empowers and energises knowledge leadership within the organisation?

Progressive organisations understand that being able to transfer learnings significantly increases performance, lowers risk, reduces costs, saves time, develops people faster, and provides higher quality, swifter innovations.

2. Successful knowledge management strategies

What makes a knowledge management project successful? The answer has changed a lot over the years as technology itself has changed.

Keys to successful Knowledge transfer projects:

In order to roll out a successful knowledge management project, standard factors need to be present. These include:

  • A clear purpose and set of objectives
  • A focus on improving performance and value in the organisation
  • A formal technical structure
  • A knowledge-friendly culture that is motivated to change and improve
  • Different channels that can be used for transferring knowledge
  • Senior executive support
  • Methods enabling the organisation to capture tacit or informal knowledge assets.

Organisations that have the ability to capture context-specific knowledge held by its experts and that can transfer these key project learnings across large populations of employees can create significant competitive advantages in their industries. In most cases, organisations can use technology already existing in their business or online to significantly enhance current operating methods. Other areas of significant value include new methods of running toolbox meetings, workgroups and case studies. A world-class knowledge management system today is a hub for formal and informal business intelligence.

3. Understand your knowledge objectives

What are your objectives?

  • Is your program going to be focused on the creation of more collaborative work practices? The better use of lessons learned?
  • Continuous improvement methods?
  • Knowledge sharing systems and social networks?
  • Other kinds of know-how and expertise?

Who are the internal champions pushing for change? Are you working with the CEO, CIO and/or COO or is the program being driven by specific project managers? The areas listed below are contributing factors to any organisation’s success in building a strategy for knowledge management.

  • Use of lessons learned
  • Ability to upskill new employees quickly
  • Capture of major project learnings
  • Use of informal workforce conversations
  • Older workforce
  • Codifying and capture of knowledge
  • The use of technology
  • Finding and searching for answers/findability

In your organisation, you will currently have:

  • Project management systems
  • Learning management systems (LMS)
  • Document / Knowledge management systems
  • Intranet capability / Social media and add-ins
  • SharePoint platforms

If these systems are used strategically and effectively, they can completely transform the way business processes occur within an organisation.

4. Capture organisation experts intelligence

One of the toughest problems faced by organisations changing the way they do business is the ability to capture the key intelligence or “know-how” of its best people. Over the past 20 years, smart organisations have realised that cultures focused on continuous improvement create significant business value.

Toyota’s use of knowledge sharing and performance improvement techniques have led to extraordinary advances in production facilities. Toyota have managed to consistently decrease the number of defects coming out of their factories and have also created knowledge sharing techniques, across their organisation and suppliers.

Organisational knowledge distinctions

Some knowledge is explicit and/or documented procedurally. Most knowledge, however, tends to be tacit – informal ways of doing things that people have been told or learned over time. If an organisation has powerful methods of collaboration and innovative learning processes, and if informal learnings can be captured, stored and used on other projects and teams, these methods can quickly then be transferred into more formal procedures.

NASA are taking this into consideration now with their rocket launches, it really is Rocket Science. This 3 minute clip will make you think about your own business and what Tacit Knowledge may not be known about.

5. Understand your current environment

It is important to understand the current status of where your organisation sits. Understanding the current landscape with regard to leadership, systems, people and culture has a large impact on the kinds of objectives that can and should be set.

  • Is your environment one that encourages learning and the dynamic flow of information and know-how?
  • Do you work in an environment that is collaborative or authoritative?
  • How are mistakes dealt with? Are they swept under the carpet and kept quiet or are they used as lessons? Is the organisation focused on continuous improvement?
  • Do you use collaborative toolbox meetings that always facilitate what went wrong, what went right, and what can be changed immediately to improve on the current project?

What level is your organisation at today?

  • Level 1Fragmented or ad hoc type structures with regard to knowledge.
  • Level 2 – Content-based structures with some position descriptions with regard to knowledge ownership, but only a little training.
  • Level 3 – Process-based view where knowledge is a process and systematic efforts have started to identify and share knowledge within the organisation.
  • Level 4 – Capability-based structures where the organisation uses knowledge for capability development and demonstrates an understanding of simple, complex, tacit, explicit internal and external knowledge, with diverse knowledge flows between external and internal parties. Demonstrates the use of and implementation of reward systems, involvement at all senior management levels and training across all aspects of knowledge management.

Almost all major global organisations are changing the way they operate to better share knowledge through some kind of peer groups, cross-unit networks often based on shared interests. Large organisations are focusing more and more on the transfer of best practice and improved decision-making by seeking advice from peers across the business.

6. Conducting knowledge systems audits

Many people generalise about how things work within their own organisation. Therefore, the ability to conduct a formal knowledge systems audit can be a valuable method of understanding exactly how people learn in your organisation. This process may take the form of online surveys, face-to-face question-and-answer sessions, and group facilitation on key projects.

Its purpose is to find out what kinds of methods, processes and systems are being used within the organisation and how these functions are enhancing or obstructing the ability of internal teams to learn, gain new technical information, understand the best way of doing things, and transfer best practices across the team.

An audit or knowledge mapping process looks at how knowledge flows – by project / by department / by sector or by segment – are working to leverage performance within the organisation.

Knowledge Capture

  • Where is knowledge in the organisation captured?
  • What knowledge systems are used in different key roles?
  • Where do the greatest transfers of knowledge occur?

Collaborative Environments

  • Who leads collaborative learning environments (if they exist)?
  • What projects already share information between teams/projects/segments/countries?
  • What specific online tools and technology are used for collaboration?

Formal versus Informal Learning

  • How are formal learning systems used?
  • How are informal groups used in mentoring?
  • How is knowledge currently being lost?
  • What kinds of succession plans are held?
  • How does staff turnover relate to learning methods?
  • What are the kinds of learning used in staff inductions?

7. Setting up collaborative frameworks

One of the most challenging areas to master is the final piece of any strategy – the rollout. The selection of a series of champions, people with much experience who truly believe in the value of transferring knowledge is essential to success. These people can become leaders of specific core knowledge areas. They need not be the people who run specific workshops or systems, but they will be the facilitators of knowledge transfer within the business. There are many ways that projects may be piloted and then rolled out across organisations. A couple of them rely on the use of more tacit and informal knowledge being captured, leveraged and used across multiple teams in environments. Based on the objectives you have set, it is then possible to select specific areas you can implement improvement on a trial basis.  The methods described below are used by some of the most successful organisations in the world.

Knowledge Transfer

Nucor Steel has used many strategies to help their experts become more comfortable sharing their tacit knowledge. Some of these include:

  • Building efficient knowledge transfer channels
  • Specific workgroups set up to transfer best practice
  • Transferring key staff between sites for concentrated learning periods
  • The creation of a culture that enables people to feel comfortable taking risks and sharing knowledge
  • Investing in methods of codifying tacit and informal knowledge
  • Group-based incentives.

Collaboration

Some of the collaboration techniques used at Toyota include:

  • Creation of project charters
  • Sets of operating rules
  • Projects often being driven by the teams bottom up
  • 100% value-focused

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (COP) are another knowledge management process with great practical value. They bring together people who have a similar set of interests based on a business process, project, or some kind of theme in order to exchange or share personal, public, or organisational knowledge to increase the value of that knowledge within the community.

The use of online information and schedules allows information held on the system to be used in such a way that it actually can become knowledge. There are many hundreds of other strategies used by major organisations that effectively transfer intelligence from their project teams across distributed environments, sectors, and countries.

8. Best in class conclusion

What does best in class knowledge management look like in a large global organisation? Technology is changing so quickly that accomplishments we could never even dream of are now completely possible. New technologies now enable us to capture project details in 4D and 5D models, thereby allowing people on site to see and use the information moments after it has been updated by designers in the office. We now have the ability to access with the touch of a fingertip all of the information once held in paper folders .

World-class knowledge management today enables a new starter to watch a series of videos filmed on site showing people working where they will be working, doing the things they will be doing. On major projects, swipe cards can now show project managers who was on site, what qualifications they have, where they had past experiences and if issues occur, team members can be trained on site immediately through video footage in the form of learning objects.

New knowledge capture techniques enable organisations to use workgroups, toolbox meetings, and prestart in new ways where safety is a much higher priority. Best practice can be conveyed much more quickly and in a much more compelling manner. Sophisticated knowledge management also considers different learning styles. An essential part of knowledge transfer is acknowledging that many people on sites do not want to look at computers or read procedures. By using a combination of new technologies, face-to-face workgroup environments, and informal focused communities of practice, key experience can be built and shared much more effectively.

In organisations with powerful learning-centric environments, new employees are able to upskill much more quickly. Staff turnover tends to be much lower when transfers do occur, which is increasingly because project teams are able to capture and understand past lessons learned. When a leader has an issue, answers are much more simple to find, either in the form of learning objects online or by being able to contact the right person much more quickly than before.

The design, build and rollout of knowledge management programs within major organisations enables real competitive advantage. By using a mix of new technologies and different meeting formats, and bringing together experienced teams, some of whom offer diverse opinions and experiences, organisations can enhance performance on projects and the ability to leverage internal intelligence. By populating technology with the right information from the people in the organisation who have specific competencies that in past have never been able to be effectively captured, organisations can gain significant competitive advantages.

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia

http://www.hunterdean.com

Expert Knowledge Management – Author Hunter Dean 

Knowledge Management Hunter Dean

What is Expert Knowledge Management EKM 

As part of a personal aim to see the performance of any business team continue to increase in different business verticals. I’ve decided to contribute to the area of Expert Knowledge Management EKM.

What does that mean, well given my expertise is not in English, it means this blog will be exploring everything to do with you getting more out of your people. That includes areas where I have been working for the past 10+ years around talent identification & management, the value of internal collaboration on team performance in both sales & productivity/output based environments, performance management. It also includes areas like how to get value from the use of past cultural transformation, sales & L&D programs that may have worked in some but not all pockets of the business.

A clear distinction to make up front is that this does not mean the team have to work harder, probably teams do however need to start thinking differently and with more focus on collaboration, performance, strategy, innovation and what it is their best people internally are doing already.

Expert Knowledge Management EKM is a subject few organizations even understand let alone use.

A major part of this blog will be about exploring what the world’s best organizations are doing in this area to ensure that when the markets are falling faster than ever and the “World” is in trouble you have solutions in order to replicate what is best practice not from another country but in many cases within your own organisation.

We will also be looking at how interventions occur in the worlds largest organisations around Human Resources, Talent Identification, Performance Management, Human Performance, Change Management and other related areas.

If you have other questions on these topics that are not answered here, a good research resources can be found at www.hunterdean.com.

Or you can contact me at hunter@hunterdean.com

All comments are appreciated and welcomed!

 

Transferring Skills & Behaviours

How do Pat Cash’s comments on Roger Federer’s tennis style changes help your teams performance?

How do you transfer knowledge within your business? Its funny I had a client the other day who was speaking about how some people in the organisation were no good at learning.

In fact you could spend serious time with them in specific situations and they would come back the next day having not retained a thing.

I had read some days before an article by Pat Cash on Roger Federer: Pat was commenting on how Roger had made some significant changes to his tennis style, here is some of what he said:

Roger is ”Now hitting the ball earlier and stepping into a more advanced position on the court. He is hitting his shots harder, courtesy of his fantastic racket-head speed. That’s a great bonus here in Melbourne because this year the court surface is sticky, which makes the balls fluff up quicker than normal and consequently sees them coming more slowly onto the racket.”€


So how does this effect the way you are training your people to perform. Well what I like about Pat’s description is that he really breaks down some of the things, most people would have no clue about what so ever. Things that are crucial to Rogers performance, in fact it was only a couple of weeks after the article was written that he won the Australian open again.

To see the article – Click here

In your business how are you transferring the knowledge that is crucial to the success of your highest performers. Do you have the ability to break the crucial things down to a level that actually anyone could understand them?

There are many different ways of training like:

  • On the job training
  • In front of a room
  • Being tested via online tests or surveys
  • Getting the individual to be buddied up with experts on site and having them work together then be tested afterwards by the same or other people.

Knowing, what you need to break down how and why can be a big link the chain of success.

Pat goes on to say about Roger:

“By taking the ball earlier and hitting it harder he’s in effect shortening the length of points. Also, by playing that little bit further into the court, he’s not covering so much ground. Somebody such as Nadal who plays way behind the baseline might need seven or eight paces to get from one extreme to the other but being more advanced to take the ball almost on the half-volley a lot of the time lessens the effort.”

Consider the following scenarios:

1)You are a project manager and have no idea how to bring up the topic of continuous improvement with your team.

2)You work on a project where you continuously see one of the team produce more output then three others put together.

3)Your team on the factory floor have one member who is able to produce more than 200% more than the others.

What questions might you ask the performers, how would you then record those things, to get significantly better results from the changes you then have to make?

  • How can you bring it to life so that as performers get better this new knowledge is captured?
  • What process could you use to transfer this knowledge?
  • How might you educate the masses?
  • Where would you store the data?

There are very good answers to all these things, some of which lie in the technology. Others need to have been thoroughly designed as business processes which then become part of the “Way things are done around here”.

Can people change personality?

I so often get this question by people I work with and it’s a great one. The fact is a qualified YES absolutely.

BUT ONLY IF THEY WANT TO!

and

In my opinion, we are a product of everything we have modelled and learnt all our lives. Therefore if we have been smashed around in a rough background and the way we dealt with that is to treat others in the same kind of way, then chances are why would we bother to change?

unless…

There are some really compelling reasons for it – Like What You Say???

Well you might be willing to change certain parts of your personality if you were about to loose your job, or that you knew you were hopeless in social situations and if you did not change you’d never make it to where you wanted to be. If your partner was about to leave you because you never left the house and they loved having coffee at cafes by the waterfront, you might be swayed to change certain parts of your personality in order to live a better life.

I personally when I started out in business, was hopeless at calling people to arrange meetings; I did not like it and had never done it. As all my clients now know, I’ll pick up the phone and call anyone we need at any time to get the result we need.

In fact in Australia one of the biggest department stores is Bunning’s and in a Sales workshop on “Getting New Business” presenting in front of 40 people I made a cold call, completely impromptu on speaker phone for the entire room to hear, and booked an appointment with the international head of operations. The feedback was great, I’d called on behalf of my own business of course, but Bunning’s were one of their biggest prospects.

You can change specific areas of a person’s personality if the person sees an absolute need to change; it may or may not be your role to create this need. The person may come to you and explain what is holding them back, if you can ask them all the questions needed for them to build up the motivation for the change, and then help them to implement it. In most cases you’ll be their friend for life.

  • I have seen people go from being complete introverts to complete extroverts
  • Very gentle people become tough as nails
  • People with a focus on the big picture and strategy get very good at the finest of details
  • Those who cant speak in front of 2-3 people to speaking in front of 1000’s

Check this out for food for thought!


Where could you or someone in your team change to get better results in yours or their lives?

Why values are so important?

I was speaking with a client the other day about how an organisation he knew needed to better understand its existing values prior to moving forward. There is model that has been used by hundreds of thousands of organisations globally. It’s called Spiral Dynamics and looks at how values affect groups. Working on a series of levels, this 5-minute video gives you a serious look at your own business population and what your people value. Is your organisation at Level 1 to Level 5 or Level 7 – have a look and consider. Almost certainly there will be attributes that cross the levels, and certain tenancies will also be rife – ENJOY.

I thought I’d pen a few thoughts on this topic. I think there are at least five key things to consider:

  1. Do you know what values currently drive your people & how would you find this out?
    One way is to use a values survey or values measurement tool or group session on understanding how people feel the organisation treats them and what’s driving their current behaviours.
  2. How do you change them?
    If the current values are different to what you thought they’d be, how do you then change them? This is where things start to get interesting. Suppose you spend 4 hours in a room with your top 5 execs coming up with “SEVEN KEY ORGANISATIONAL VALUES” and then post them all over the place. Can and does this work?
  3. Involve the masses, but make sure you have a strategy to narrow down the results!
    If you use a survey as suggested above, rank the areas people have rated as “Most Important” and then look more into how these match the organisation. A specific intervention might take the form of a workshop where significant numbers of people (or an example population) go through the results and are asked for feedback on any extremes.
  4. Bringing “values” to life!
    Don’t just rest on your laurels once you have some traction. Have your managers consider how those values in every area of the business will and do affect them and what this means. E.g. Integrity is a great word, but what does it mean in the context of your business unit and how might it affect your internal talent management strategies?Often I see execs performance managing team members for taking too much sick leave or annual leave at crucial times, and then a week later they execute a key change management piece and take the following off because it had been “planned for ages”.
  5. Be congruent and vigilant about what you do.
    As you co-create the values in your organisation with your people, be careful of the behaviours you and your exec team exhibit in the business on a daily basis. Have a complete congruency between sets of values and the specific behaviours you and your teams display, ensuring they all link back.

By following the above five points, you create a continuous process of improvement around what’s valued inside your organisation. Check out Jim Collins, author of Good to Great & Built to Last in a 2-minute Video brief on the power of values here. Ensure that at the centre of any intervention are things like performance management & change management processes & implications have been fully thought through.

Lead people the best way for them!

I had a conversation with a client the other day about how they were dealing with different personalities in their business. I knew it was one of those chats where I had to get a specific message across.

Thinking about it afterwards reminded me of how I like to be communicated with. This is at times different to how others like to be treated. I’m the kind of person who likes the straight-shooting approach. Coming originally from New Zealand where there are fewer people and the “Fishpond” is much smaller, I’ve grown up with the greater tendency over there to be told exactly what is needed in black & white.

When I’m being mentored or led by someone else, what works is for me to be told what the specific tasks are and results needed. Then, if you leave me to my own devices, I’ll do the research, set up the plan and roll it out with only a small amount of help or encouragement. Keeping an eye on me and/or having a coffee with me is useful at times, more for the social and innovative ideas that come from it than for any need for “help”.

This person I was speaking with was not like that at all. They needed to be spoken to with gentle gloves and much encouragement. It was one of those conversations where I needed to be very supportive and enabling.

It really got me thinking about a model I have used personally for many years. It is a simple reminder to us all to think about what the other person needs from us prior to rushing in and the telling them what we want or must have.

The model is the Situational Leadership Model. Please note I’m not saying you should only ever communicate with people using one of the four steps outlined below. However, personally I’ve found them to be a real help when thinking through tough conversations where results need to occur in short timeframes.

This model looks at the world of leadership inside of 4 simple styles as follows:

Style 1 – Directing

The person leading provides a specific direction & closely monitors task accomplishment.

Style 2 – Coaching

The leader makes sure they direct & closely monitor things, but also explains decisions, elicits suggestions, and provides support where needed.

Style 3 – Supporting

The leader uses a facilitative & supportive approach toward the achievement of tasks using the shared-responsibility decision-making principle.

Style 4 – Delegating

The leader turns over the responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to the person and/or team in question.

Here’s a short presentation by Ken & Scott Blanchard about how using Situational Leadership II can make a huge difference to the conversations you have with your people. If you get your leadership working with their direct reports in a powerful way that encourages talent-management processes and continuously increases performance, then you tend to keep your people for longer periods.


Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Cultural Diversity in Business?

Recently there has been a large amount of coverage both in Australia and India about the way Indian nationals are being treated.

Several people have been threatened with their lives or have in fact lost their lives in the past weeks. This has been of huge concern for many reasons, not only for the people of India who are becoming a larger and larger part of our community, but also for those involved in Australian politics and for the greater community.

What may concern us in business is that the things that happen in the parks and streets around our cities also affect us in business.

Ask the question: say you have a mix of ethnicities in your business, either on the ground in Australia or in their own countries like Indonesia, China, India, the Middle East or New Zealand.

How do you cater for people from these different ethnicities? What do you do to create open dialogue or cultural understanding? How are you bringing people from different cultures together in order that they all get along and can learn from each other without barriers?

Given that we often struggle even to negotiate simple things with regard to immigration laws, like who should be able to fly or settle, it’s even more important that we treat ethnically diverse staff with respect. When you get it right, you can really enable not only increased performance but also faster and clearer communication.

Take a look at a quick video with some thoughts on diversity and talent in the workplace from people like Tig Gillam, CEO Adecco, and Marilyn Johnson, VP Market Development IBM and other business leaders. Are you doing these things in your workplace?

Consider three things in your business:

  • Work out who your most talented people are.
  • Find out where they are from and why their background has helped them get the results they are currently getting with what they do.
  • Create a process where your people can share their experiences with others in your team. Don’t put them on a pedestal, but give them the ability to share how their background makes a difference.

A 15 MINUTE EXERCISE – YOU MAY JUST BE VERY SURPRISED AT SOME OF THE ANSWERS!

  • Have your teams discuss what it means to come from their own cultures and the effects on results as they see them.

Bring all your people together culturally so they support each other and are willing to have respect for each other’s differences.

It’s no coincidence that people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King & Barack Obama, through their ability to bring large groups of people with major differences together, have made such a difference in our world.

What could you do in your organisation’s CULTURAL world and what would it take to boost it?