Monday, October 14, 2019

Rethinking Knowledge Facilitation - Part 3

Encouraging Mindful Knowledge Facilitation by the Organization

This post discusses how adopting organizational Mindful Knowledge Facilitation (MKF) with organizational agility can reveal previously unseen benefits. 

All organizations, even public sector, are in the business of creating and delivering desired products.  If we expand the definition of the "Product" to include ideas, plans, or initiatives targeting both internal and external clients.  This has become exponentially more complex due to a necessary layer of software or IT services that have become a necessary part of product delivery.   This ever-evolving component underscores the need for agility, flexibility, and change management.

"McKinsey & Company defines organizational agility as an ability for an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment. "

At the PMI Organizational Agility Conference, Josh Seiden presented Sense & Respond: Principles for the Next Century of Work, which asserts that organizations need to change the principles under which they have traditionally operated.
  1. Embrace Continuous Change (not oppose it)
  2. Manage with outcomes (not outputs)
  3. Create a two-way conversation with the market (listen and respond)
  4. Create Team Collaboration (Collaboration improves outcomes)
  5. Create Learning Culture (failure is learning)
These principles are complemented by organizational mindful knowledge facilitation. 

  1. Embrace Continuous Change/ Disregard Preconceptions
What does it mean for an organization to embrace change?  Start by disregarding those "mindless" preconceptions and old habits that have caused faulty starts and lackluster kickoffs.  If an organization is embracing the changes it encounters, it commends those who see the possibilities the changes bring. 

To embrace organizational change, organizations may do the following:

In regular business operations, allot time for individuals and teams to mindfully reflect on the changes being encountered or anticipated to allow opportunities to be revealed.

Launch an organization-wide mandate encouraging persons and groups to specifically identify opportunities revealed by organizational changes.
  1. Manage with outcomes/ Notice the Better Result.
    Outcomes are measurable changes in behavior that drives business results.  Mindfulness involves observing  the actions our minds actually take to accomplish actions, taking stock of  the outcomes seen from past knowledge facilitation strategies.  Mindful organizations will notice how successful the gathering, creation, and use of knowledge was and notice positive outcomes resulting from MKF.  Organizations should track positive outcomes (production, morale, etc.) that result from changes in making mindfulness a priority.

To leverage mindful knowledge facilitation for better outcomes, organizations may do the following:
Define MKF processes and encourage use.
Track when better outcomes are seen because of MKF.
Publicly recognize better knowledge work. 
  1. Team Collaboration & Learning Culture/ Practice Alternative Exploration.
    Mindful organizations will rethink how people and teams facilitate knowledge and incorporate additional time in project schedules for positing alternative gathering, creation, and use of knowledge.
To promote collaborative MKF,  organizations may do the following:

Create an organization-wide collaboration initiative.  Inherently, collaboration utilizes the knowledge of multiple parties, and ultimately results in better outcomes.  To be more mindful, this initiative includes making "listening" and "conversation" a standard way of doing business.  This will breed trust in the organization.
Sponsor a Learning Culture in the basic tenets of the organization.  A learning culture  will encourage innovation, resilience and acceptance of failure.  Benefits are seen when failure is recognized as a valuable way to learn.  Innovative solutions rely on the ability to tolerate failure.
  1. Call to Action /Recognition
    The organization's MKF must be publicly recognized  and frequently.  Accompany the above mandates  with visible recognition of people and groups who are practicing MKF.  One strategy to create awareness of mindful knowledge facilitation is to implement the Knowledge Management Awareness Week.  This week is the perfect forum for highlighting positive outcomes from MKF.
To underscore the value of MKF as part of Knowledge Management, organizations may do the following:
Celebrate an annual Knowledge Management Awareness Week to bring visibility to Knowledge Management and the mindful knowledge processes encouraged by the organization.
Include an event during KMAW to visibly recognize early adopters and positive Outcome champions.
In the next century of work, agile organizations that adopt a MKF foundation will be better-prepared to weather the turbulence of the imminent complex changes. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Rethinking Knowledge Facilitation, Part 2

Encouraging Mindful Knowledge Facilitation by the Individual

To continue on the idea of rethinking how we are obtaining, referencing, discovering, using, and disposing of our knowledge.  This post discusses how we can encourage individuals to make more mindful decisions when taking knowledge actions.

In Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation,  Dr. Mark W. Muesse asserts that many of us go through life not being aware of the present moment.  There are so many conflicting thoughts in our minds that we are often unaware of the practices, processes, and efficient handling of information for strategic benefit.

Muesse calls this "Mindlessness."  Meditation has been shown to allow us to "reprogram our brains to be mindful, be able to observe  the actions our mind actually takes to accomplish actions." While most of us do not have time to meditate during our workday,  it is possible to incorporate some mindfulness in the knowledge facilitation we do. 

I posit that mindless facilitation of our knowledge processes serves to severely short-change the results of our ultimate knowledge actions. Here are the steps you can take to encourage more mindfulness:

  1. Disregard preconceptions.  At my organization, a preconception that I came across was, use "anything except SharePoint".  This emotional reaction to a certain tool created an unnecessary barrier imposed on creating a successful knowledge solution.  "Can't we just send an email?" is often the sentiment that is pondered when knowledge workers are asked to use an alternate tool for knowledge sharing. With the amount, depth and breadth of knowledge assets that we must navigate, we are no longer able to just send an email to effectively share knowledge with the appropriate weight and significance.  Receiving email is so commonplace, often important knowledge is overlooked or played down.  We must factor in staff's preconceptions about tools and become better stewards of the knowledge we "push" out.
  2. Practice Alternative Exploration.  Take time to observe how you are obtaining knowledge.  Are you using the same old method?  "We have done it that way for 20 years! Why should we change?"  Individuals that do not explore new and different ways of doing things do not evolve intellectually.
    Maybe an alternative method will spur an improved or innovative result.  Rather than defaulting to old processes, research other ways to perform the task.  Discuss task with coworkers, collaborate with the community.  Build some additional alternative exploration time into the schedule.  It is likely that taking an extra moment to notice the present before acting will result in a solution that saves time in the long run.

  1. Notice the Better Result. Often, we do not give ourselves enough  credit when something we do ends up with a better solution.  Find a way to measure your actions.  Years ago, my division was mandated to conduct Level 3 Evaluations for 20% of our courses.  According to the Kirkpatrick Model: Four Levels of Learning Evaluation, level 3 evaluates the change in behavior of students once they returned to the job after training.
    Although many reported subjective assertions, we decided to use a different way to document and justify these efforts by using SharePoint.  We created an email-enabled  SharePoint list for staff  blind-copy the list  on all emails send out by the staff requesting  these evaluations.  Benefits seen: All emails sent by all staff for this effort were captured in the SharePoint list automatically with no extra additional effort by the staff member sending the emails.  Standardizing the Subject line of the emails, the list documented who sent the emails, to whom, for which course the evaluation was sent out for, when, and how many persons received  the survey request, and how many responded.  The data was collected automatically.

    Other things to note about the task: How long did the action take last time?  Can you improve the time?  Survey the recipients on the knowledge used.  Was the information referenced useful?  Collect stories from individuals where an alternative path led to a better result.

  1. Recognition.  When improvements or an increase are realized, make sure that there are public recognitions on that.  How else can you get individuals behind practicing mindfulness?  Publicize the alternative stories that you have .collected.  Mention the person in the newsletter.  Have the CEO make a personal call or mention the name of the individual.  If we are encouraging taking extra time to  facilitate mindful knowledge actions, Individuals will resist this change unless they see the benefits.

How mindful is your staff's knowledge facilitation?  Here is a short survey you can use to find out.

A Mindfulness Knowledge Facilitation Survey:

  1. When performing a task, where do you obtain the knowledge to perform the job?
    1. Determine the knowledge In my head
    2. Look at the person who did it or the process used last time and repeat
    3. Both of the above and I also research multiple ways to perform the task.
  2. Do you ever use an alternative method rather than the standard process used last time?
    1. No, using the same process is the best
    2. Yes, but rarely.  New processes take more time to discover and implement
    3. Yes, we have found that using alternative methods have led to valuable innovations.

If you selected 2c, take a moment to detail what you did differently and how the result was better.

  1. Do you currently have time to be mindful and explore alternative methods for handling tasks?
    1. No, time to complete the task must be shortened at all costs.
    2. Yes if I make sure the project manager is aware of the need for additional time.
    3. Yes, extra time for alternative exploration is always available at my discretion

In the Part 3: Encouraging Organizational Mindful Knowledge Facilitation

Monday, June 3, 2019

Rethinking Knowledge Facilitation: Mindful Knowledge Work

Image of 2 hands juggling many small balls signifying multiple sources of knowledge.
Are you mindful of your knowledge facilitation?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

  1. Introduction: It is been shown that the knowledge of an organization inside the files, databases, and heads of the people make up the most valuable assets of the organization.  Yet, when it comes to recognizing the importance of Knowledge Management, there are still difficulties with getting agreement on committing resources.  Why is this?  I assert that the creating, accessing, referring to, enhancing of, replication of and sharing of the knowledge stores is so commonplace and ubiquitous that we do not even realize that we are doing it anymore. 
    Getting things done is simply taking the steps to do it.  To get tasks done, we automatically consult our knowledge stores (in our head), the external knowledgebases we know about, and ask others what they know.  Things continue to get done, so everything is fine, right? 

    Even though things get completed there are significant gaps where the tasks could have been done better, faster, more comprehensively, shared more widely, done more collaboratively, and fostered more innovation.  By default we do not notice the nuances of our knowledge work where we could capitalize on the efficiency and expediency.  These slivers are where KM could be further embedded into our existing processes, resulting in greater quantifiable and qualitative results.
  2. Practicing Mindful Knowledge Facilitation can close the gaps.  MKF is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of the knowledge being absorbed, used, consulted, and shared while remaining cognizant of potential adjustments to leverage improvements and greater harmony. 
  3. Mindful Knowledge Work Campaign
    There needs to be a concentrated effort to reveal the benefits of being mindful of our knowledge work.  We must rethink knowledge facilitation.
    1. Communication and Change Management - Launch a public campaign presenting the mindful knowledge facilitation basic guidelines.  Meet with divisions, offices, teams, knowledge nodes, and individuals to discuss and craft the mindful way forward.
    2. Create and disseminate Mindful Knowledge Facilitation Guidelines
      1. Mindful knowledge access
      2. Mindful knowledge enhancement
      3. Mindful knowledge sharing
      4. Metrics on Improvements expected from mindful knowledge facilitation
  4. Regular Knowledge Awareness Events
    1. Knowledge Management Awareness Week,  Presentation
      Annually during the 3rd week in September. About the Week:  Several activities (See Agenda on KM Awareness Week Outline) are suggested for each day of the week.  Each KM Leader can host as many or as little as he or she wants.  There is no requirement to host an event during the week, although scheduling an event during the week makes sense. This is a perfect event to launch and bolster MKF.
    2. Share Fairs, Knowledge Caf├ęs, Working Out Loud Circles

  1. Anticipated Results
    1. Individual workers are aware of, ponder benefits of, and explore innovative strategies on their knowledge facilitation.
    2. Organizations define better knowledge facilitation, track metrics where benefits are seen, and publicly recognize better knowledge work.
    3. Quantifiable performance improvement will follow.

  1. Call to action:
    1. Implement Mindful Knowledge Facilitation
    2. Urge all organizations to implement Knowledge Management Awareness Week during the 3rd week of September.
    3. Provide templates and toolkits for organizations to customize and use.
    4. Create and maintain a Discussion board to log ideas and results.
    5. Track implementations

What benefits can your organization reveal if everyone was practicing Mindful Knowledge Facilitation?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Inspirations from the KM Showcase 2019

This week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend KMI's KM Showcase 2019 in Ballston, Virginia.  Both days were packed with valuable knowledge management ideas, best practices, and activities.  Pleased to be repeatedly inspired throughout the rich program, I thought I would share some of these inspirations.

Key Inspirations from Track 1:  KM Experts - Best Practices, Lessons Learned and Targeted Approaches

Business Outcomes are where Knowledge Management Shines.
The real benefit of knowledge management is going to be through business outcomes.  You need to be able to effectively and concisely verbalize the business value expected from KM initiatives says Zach Wahl, CEO Enterprise Knowledge.   Some say that Knowledge Management is like a funnel because it streamlines and focuses content.  However KM is the opposite of a funnel.  It starts small but as it grows it spreads out, impacting the organization in all directions.  Zach has inspired me to re-visit and reinforce the business outcomes of KM initiatives in my organization!

Handling the Knowledge Retention Challenge
How can we retain the critical knowledge we need when we know that our workforce will be completely turned over in the next 10-15 years?  John Hovell, CEO STRATactical told his story of how he addressed the Knowledge Retention Challenge for a company on the verge of losing the majority of its critical knowledge.  John led us in the 1 - 2 - 4-all Liberating Structure  where we discussed how our organization is currently handling the Knowledge Retention Challenge.       Once again, John has inspired me to re-look at the knowledge retention processes in my organization!
The COP Shared Value proposition
Communities of practice offer amazing powers of knowledge sharing if done right.  Bill Kaplan, CEO of Working Knowledge CSP, presented on how a CoP must be aligned with organizational goals in order be adopted as part of doing business.  A CoP supporting the goals of the organization shares the values of the organization.  This means that work on the community is sanctioned and encouraged by leadership and will lead to CoP success.  Bill has inspired me to assess the Communities of Practice that I contribute to in my organization and devise ways to improve and expand their success.

Using Structure in Knowledge Organization
Ahren Lehnert of Synaptica showed us how the contextual structure of taxonomies and ontologies and the structural indicators in documents and language to perform taxonomy-based auto-categorization and information extraction.  Ahren has inspired me to build a taxonomy to govern information structure in my organization.

The Changing CIO Role
Rob Noyes, a Knowledge Management Consultant at the Department of Justice spoke about how the Cloud and Shared Services are eliminating the technology role of the government CIO. This is the mitosis government CIOs offices are facing. CIOs are left with managing all organizational information.  A man after my own heart, Rob said that no one should be using folders in SharePoint libraries. Rob has inspired me to see how I can offer support to my CIO duriing these transformationl times.

The Cost of Doing Nothing
Lulit Tesfaye from Enterprise Knowledge showed us how we could measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of KM by looking at the cost of doing nothing. Looking at the opportunity coast of inaction paired alongside the benefits realized by KM action.  Lulit has inspired me to craft a business case with ROI for KM in my organization!

The Value of Digital Policies and Standards
Digital standards establish uniform design, editorial, and technical criteria, methods, and practices to enable improved user satisfaction, consistency, effective and efficient use of resources, and increased content integrity  Kristina Podnar from NativeTrust Consulting has inspired me to review my organization's digital standards and ensure compliance!

Engage stakeholders and deliver KM incrementally
How tall could you build a self-sustaining tower made up of uncooked spaghetti, tape, and rope with a
Marshmallow on top?  Ours was 26 inches!  Andrew Politi from Enterprise Knowledge used this great team exercise to show how agile delivery in KM strategy projects leads to more successful outcomes.   Gone are the extensive planning and single delivery moment of past KM projects.  Andrew has inspired me to adopt an agile mindset!

Trust and authority are essential to setting up a KM program from scratch.
Micha van Waesberghe, CKO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation spoke about building trust by listening to his stakeholders, and incorporating authority to make changes through his KM Steering Committee.  Micha has inspired me to re-awaken the KM committee activities in my organization!

Robust KM methodologies and employee engagement to adopt KM
Doug Weidner, CEO KMI, presented on where knowledge management is going.  Roadmaps and frameworks are no longer enough.  It is now time to incorporate KM methodologies and human-centered design to increase engagement to gain KM acceptance.  Doug has inspired me to refresh (user-centered) and recommunicate the KM methodologies used in my organization!

Imagine the inspirations I could have gained if I were also able to attend Track 2:  KM in Practice - Applied KM Case Studies and Success Stories!

Looking forward to next year's KM Showcase!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Using Knowledge Management Governance for Training Content Curation

Recently I hosted a webinar on using Knowledge Management for Training Content Curation.  One way to handle the ever-present knowledge  overload in in the training industry, is to use curation.  In his book Curation Nation, Steven Rosenbaum says “Curation replaces noise with clarity. And it’s the clarity of your choosing; it’s the things that people you trust help you find.”  Curation is a necessary skill for Learning and Development professionals to master and utilize.

Curating your content involves intentional reviewing and indexing of the knowledge elements included in your training courses. Curation refreshes the training content being presented, evaluates the validity and effectiveness of the training knowledge asset, and disposes of content that is no longer current or correct. How can you make curation a regular routine in your training management portfolio? 

Knowledge Management Governance includes the rules around managing your knowledge base. Who is responsible for assets? Where are the assets stored? How often is the knowledge assessed and rated for use?  Taking it one step further, a knowledge management governance plan can provide the discipline needed to ensure regular content curation.  Think of every training element as a knowledge asset that needs care and feeding to remain part of your training.

In Training, regular knowledge curation serves to ensure training remains current, correct and fresh.    Here is the KM Governance for Training Knowledge Curation.

During my webinar, a Training Scorecard was proposed as another strategy for maintaining fresh training. I'll post links to this method as soon as I find out more about it.

Manually keeping training current can be overwhelming due to the overload of explicit knowledge available.  To help with this, I also spoke about using online tools to have knowledge automatically sent to you based on your interests.
Here are the ones I shared:

What do you think about this topic?  Do you have any suggestions for keeping your training fresh?

Please comment and let me know

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Basic Necessity for Success - Part 3

Investing in your staff completes the Knowledge Continuity Cycle
It used to be that people expected to find a job with a good company to stay in until they
retired.  People expected that if they were good, loyal employees, they would be rewarded and move up the ranks of the organization.  Hiring managers would look at the "time spent on the jobs" and would take points off if a job candidate had held many different jobs or stayed in a roles for a only a short time. 

Now people change jobs very frequently - as often as every year.  Why?  Workers are incentivized to "job hop" because each new job usually enables people to gain skills.  With the loyalty factor gone, people often believe jobs are temporary assignments.  This is a big problem for organizations since replacing a person in a job will cost the organization an average  of one and 1/2 times the salary paid to the person to replace them.  No organization can succeed by paying these huge staff replacement costs on a majority of their staff.  Wouldn't it be better if employees were incentivized to stay in their current jobs?

This is why organizations must go one step further and provide support for expanding professional development as one of the job benefits.  Workers must know that the organization values them enough to promote their growth in the organization by offering training, new projects, pilot opportunities, and certifications.   When staff are continuously encouraged and given resources to better themselves, they will most likely remain with the employer.  The 2018 Workforce Learning Report, research found that "94% employees say they would prolong their tenure in a position if the company invested in their career development."     Continuing to renew the development of  staff, thereby  Investing in the staff completes the Knowledge Continuity Cycle and is a basic necessity for success.

The Knowledge Continuity Cycle
The Knowledge Continuity Cycle (KCC) puts it all together.

When implemented, the KCC drives higher morale, better job performance, and more employee engagement.   There is a shorter time to competency for new staff, critical knowledge is captured and/or shared before staff depart. The KCC is a proven framework for successfully managing knowledge transfer from when staff start a new job, enhance their skills while on the job and capture and share knowledge before staff leave the organization.  The Knowledge Continuity Cycle is a basic necessity for organizational success.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Basic Necessity for Success - Part 2

Capture and share knowledge before staff depart
Knowledge Continuity Cycle - Continuity Protocol Section

We have all been in a situation where our predecessor left no information about the job they had done.  In this circumstance, the new person must spend a lot of time solving the mystery of  how to successfully perform the required job tasks.  They must look for clues in the paper and network file drives.  They must interview other staff who have minimal availability since they are busy doing their job. New staff may try to perform a task, fail, and learn from it.  You can see that in this scenario, time is spent looking for information, having conversations with other staff who do not know the exact details of the job, and trial & error.  This is mostly wasted time that did not have to be spent in this way.  Much of this time could be saved by having a standard  Continuity Protocol followed. 

Don't let knowledge walk out the door!  
The Continuity Protocol involves taking intentional steps to capture and share knowledge before the person departs.  All staff should be documenting and sharing information about how they perform their job tasks just as a matter of doing their job. A Continuity Artifact is routinely updated to become a reflection of the critical knowledge necessary for the job.   This artifact is completed and perfected at the Knowledge Continuity Team Meeting. Before they leave, departing persons must participate in a Knowledge Continuity Team (KCT) meeting. A KCT meeting is a facilitated meeting with the departing person and several members of their team.  At the KCT meeting, essential knowledge-based questions are discussed, answers recorded, and further explored through Q&A.  At this session, knowledge is transferred to the other persons who will be remaining on the job after the departing person leaves.     Additionally, the departing person's knowledge processes are examined, transferred, and renewed for continued use. After the attending their KCT, departing staff have expressed that the KCT meeting gave them a sense of completion and satisfaction that the "baton was passed"  before they left the job. This process documents  their legacy! Each staff member must be aware of and comply with this responsibility.  This process builds a knowledge base containing tailored information about how to successfully perform the job tasks - the perfect resource for the successor of the departed person!  A Continuity Protocol is basic necessity for success.

In Part 3 - Invest in Your Staff