Radical KM Workshop Feedback

I was recently asked to help a university class that was working on a module entitled, “creating, managing and using knowledge in organisations”. The instructor is someone in my network who wanted her students to learn about Radical KM. Due to technical reasons it wasn’t possible for me to lead the session live.

The students watched a recording of a webinar I did about Radical KM and then the instructor lead them through the workshop that I had prepared and sent her. What follows is the email I received back with the classes comments and reflection on the session. I have removed any identifying information for privacy, otherwise what follows is a straight cut and paste.

Hi Stephanie,

I hope this message finds you well. 

On behalf of the class, I just wanted to express our gratitude for preparing today’s workshop. It was a refreshing change for us, and everyone had a lot of fun. I just thought I would summarise our thoughts below:

As in your video seminar, beginning with the flower meditation served as a way to concentrate our focus on the workshop, and allowed us to clear our minds of any other conflicting thoughts. For me, doing this meditation with the class as opposed to on my own, forced me to concentrate more on my flower. However, the collective energy in the room definitely improved since we had all engaged in the same activity to start our day. Some individuals in the class visualised imagery in relation to flowers in their garden or that they had bought as part of a bouquet, linking the meditation to everyday life.

We chose to build a business case for arts-based practices within a law firm, specifically pitching to senior management. In our initial discussion, we decided that this case should be presented by a dedicated KM team, ensuring robust evidence to back up the importance of arts-based practices. We also discussed issues surrounding the use of language like ‘radical’ and ‘creative’, and concluded that the best interests of the law firm should be the primary goal (i.e. billable hours).

The first scribble drawing exercise left us feeling chaotic, energised, surprised and stressed at points. Our stream of consciousness writing exercise following provided an opportunity for us to document our feelings in the moment. For myself, I found that each new scribble drawing that landed in front of me was not what I was expecting. It was very interesting to see how each member of the class interpreted the scribble drawings differently.

Reflecting on this, our following discussion on our business case centred on the benefits of arts-based practices for relaxation, fresh perspectives and taking a break for logical thinking. We added to our business case suggesting that implementing these practices in a law firm would allow for more contribution, an improvement in culture and employees feeling more present. We decided that these practices should be started in a trial so that Senior Management have the opportunity to see how they would fit with practicing law.

The major theme that emerged was nostalgia. It seems that the freedom of a blank piece of paper and an abundance of colouring materials sparked memories of an incredibly tangible time in our lives. I found myself wanting to be very logical with my second scribble. I wanted to make sure that I could definitely fill the page in 5 minutes by choosing the most appropriate pattern – making sure I didn’t run out of time. I am a very logical person when it comes to problem solving so this exercise has prompted me to try and take more creative and abstract approaches in the future.

Our last discussion on our business case led us to decide that Senior Management would just have to try a meditation or scribble method to reveal the true benefits. In our case we would argue that these methods are appropriate as they do not require preparation, promote child-like energy, provide a step away from work and offer personalisation. This way, management could trust that each individual in the organisation is empowered to take arts-based practices and customise it to their needs.

Overall, the class found this a great exercise to implement some of the other ideas we have discussed throughout the semester and truly see them in practice. This was a very insightful an enriching workshop, thanks again!

Kind regards,

Three Often Overlooked Benefits of Arts-Based Interventions in Your Organisation

Three Often Overlooked Benefits of Arts-Based Interventions in Your Organisation:
1. Strategic Decision Making
2. Talent Management
3. Adapting to Technological Changes

You might be wondering how incorporating arts-based interventions into your organization can enhance these areas. Allow me to enlighten you.

Arts-based interventions (ABIs), when integrated into regular practices, unlock dormant skills and abilities that have been overshadowed by years of traditional education and societal expectations. Our conventional educational systems emphasize logic, rationality, rigid processes, and hierarchical thinking—a pedagogy centered around control, seeking the right answers, earning good grades, and perpetuating the past, rather than exploring and creating the future.

ABIs reignite our curiosity and playfulness, fueling a continuous desire to learn and evolve. They guide us to take measured steps, reflect on outcomes, and then take the next leap forward. By appreciating the interconnectedness of things, we start recognizing the significance of systems, networks, and connections.

Specifically, the utilization of ABIs enhances strategic decision making. When ABIs become an integral part of your routine, they enable you to see the bigger picture and the interconnected nature of things. They amplify curiosity, prompting better questions and uncovering more possibilities. ABIs facilitate diffuse thinking, enabling you to forge more connections and make decisions that align with strategic intent.

In terms of talent management, ABIs foster teamwork, communication, and collaboration. They inject fun and enjoyment into the workplace, reducing stress and boosting resilience. ABIs also empower individuals to solve problems more effectively, enhancing employee engagement and reducing turnover. Moreover, they contribute to the development of leadership skills and core transferable skills such as communication and critical thinking, while nurturing personal growth.

Lastly, ABIs help individuals adapt to change, be it technological advancements or other shifts in the landscape. By bolstering resilience and adaptability, ABIs cultivate flexibility and curiosity, enabling employees to seamlessly incorporate new technologies and ideas into their work.

Does all of this sound like some sort of magical solution? Well, ABIs indeed possess these remarkable qualities and more. We have long underestimated the potential of our brains, focusing excessively on the analytical side while neglecting the importance of balance between analytical and creative thinking. It’s time to rectify this imbalance and unleash the full power of our minds.

ReWorked Column

I have started writing a regular column on ReWorked, my goal is to write 10 columns per year.

The first one was posted on April 5th and you can find it here: https://www.reworked.co/knowledge-findability/its-time-for-radical-knowledge-management/.

This first one is an introduction to Radical KM, and I will be sharing my thoughts on a variety of Radical Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management related topics over the coming months.

I hope you’ll subscribe and follow along on the journey.

Entelechy

Hi,

As of July 2018, my focus has shifted to the consulting and coaching that I offer at Entelechy.

Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting will maintain a web presence for the time being, so that the history is maintained, but knowledge management consulting is no longer my main focus.

Best Regards,
Stephanie

KM Matters

Just a quick note to update everyone, my chapter on creativity and innovation and their link to knowledge management has now been published in the book KM Matters, edited by John and Joann Girard.

This is a link to the US Amazon site, but it is available in all of the Amazon sites. https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Management-Matters-Leading-Practitioners/dp/197440319X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519657750&sr=8-1&keywords=KNOWLEDGE+MANAGEMENT+MATTERS

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to talk about the ideas I talk about in the chapter.

Productivity, is that all there is?

We seem to have spent so much time in the last 100+ years trying to drive efficiency and effectiveness into our processes. How to do things faster, with more quality, with better outcomes, reduce waste, reduce re-work. These are not bad things, but in our push to be effective and efficient many of our organizations have removed time for reflection, for questioning, for considering alternatives out of the process.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the last 100+ years, there most definitely has been. Whole areas of study have been developed/discovered, new technology is being developed all the time, but what about the “smaller” things, everyday things. What happens when we take away the time to think and reflect? We do things by rote, not thinking about if that’s the right thing to do, we get tired and suffer burnout, we start to make mistakes and treat people badly because we have focused on efficiency and effectiveness to the detriment of the system as a whole (see United Airline’s complete failure to respect passengers  (https://fortune.com/2017/04/11/united-airlines-video/ and https://innovationexcellence.com/blog/2017/04/17/innovating-for-a-worse-customer-experience-insights-from-united-airlines/ and https://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/27/united-airlines-bars-teens-from-flight-for-failure-to-meet-dress-code-social-media-erupts/)

How do we bring that space for reflection, for some humanity back into our activities? By introducing time. Time for reflection, time for learning, time for asking questions, time for talking to other people, time for doing things differently, time for experimenting. Time.

The Art of Innovation Workshops

Innovation and creativity, powerful skills we need for differentiation purposes in business, and to which we are attracted as humans. Sadly, too often we let self criticism and anxiety hold us back from being creative.

What can you do about it?

Come to one of our workshops in London (June 8 and 9)  or in Berlin on July 4-5. In London we are doing 2 1-day sessions, and if you sign-up early you will get a ticket for an evening event on June 8th. In Berlin we’ve decided to delve a little more deeply into the ideas and experiences that are possible in this domain, so the workshop is 2-days, with an evening event on the first day.

Isn’t it time to do things differently?

What we can learn from Van Gogh for KM and Innovation

On November 11, 2015 I participated in a #PKMChat called, “Van Gogh on Learning” https://kneaver.com/blog/2015/11/pkmchat-van-gogh-on-learning/ it intrigued me as both a knowledge management professional and an artist and definitely gave me something to reflect on over the last week.

(Note: the #PKMChat was based on work that Ger Driesen is doing, he facilitated the #PKMChat along with Bruno Winck, more about Ger’s work can be found by clicking on the link in #2 in the references listed below)

I have been investigating the linkages between/among creativity, innovation, and knowledge management for more than three years, picking up ideas along the way, and experimenting and talking to people. Informally, there seems to be an agreement that there is a connection among the three things, but it’s in the background, below the surface, not immediately obvious to a lot of people. The #PKMChat helped shed some light on these linkages for me, so I am sharing them with you.

There are three main ideas that we discussed in the #PKMChat,

  1. Thinking inside the box
  2. Practice
  3. Reflection

As well as some secondary topics, like qualities of an artist, and how to balance social vs. solo learning.

One of the first things I noticed about comments on the #PKMChat was the perception that artists have a different perspective, that they are more inclined to experiment, and that there is a natural curiosity in being creative. Certainly this echoes other articles and books I’ve come across and was one of the reasons for Xerox’s artist in residence program in the 1990’s.

Thinking inside the box, I found this a bit hard to take initially, because I like thinking outside the box. I think that’s one of the advantages/benefits of KM, on a macro level it advocates diversity of thought, and learning from other industries or sectors, so the idea of “thinking inside the box” seemed counter-intuitive to me. But what this was really getting at was the idea that constraints build creativity and that often “the answer is right in front of you.” “Right in front of you” in this case could mean that there is someone in your organization that could provide knowledge or expertise or perhaps the knowledge you seek is in that repository or lessons learned system.

One of the themes that came up throughout the #PKMChat was the idea to take time to reflect and be curious, to challenge assumptions, to think critically about a challenge that is being faced. This was true in the discussion around thinking inside the box, too. Taking the time to look around your box and see what you have that might provide insight or an answer.

Practice, is critical to learning, for it is in practicing that we find the best solution and refine our techniques, whether we are artists, programmers, building cars, oil wells, or solar panels. Van Gogh practiced drawing heads, hands, and working with colour in order to get his style refined to what is easily recognizable today. Here we consider the 70-20-10 rule for managerial learning. Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo in their 1996 book, “The Career Architect” assert that 70% of the learning a successful manager does comes from doing, 20% comes from others, and 10% comes from formal education (books and classes). Practice makes perfect, as they say, but the chat participants also recognized that there is a point where perfection stops forward momentum and “good enough” is good enough.

Reflection, as I mentioned a moment ago reflection came up throughout the chat, even when it wasn’t the main topic of discussion. The consensus when it was the topic was that it was key to learning; that it allowed informed improvements to be made in future iterations of an activity rather than doing the same thing repeatedly. There was recognition that it needed to be part of the flow of the project of process and that the activity wasn’t complete until the reflection had taken place.

Van Gogh and artists reflect on their paintings and processes, on what they like or don’t like, what can be improved to more adequately reflect what they are trying to convey in their works.

Finally, we discussed social versus solo learning. There is a benefit to discussing work with others, whether, as in Van Gogh’s case he was writing to his brother, and talking with other artists or we are struggling with a new project we’ve been assigned to and look for others who have worked on similar initiatives before or talk to our friends/family about how they might approach the situation. The consensus here was that it was important to balance solo and social, and that balance was up to the individual to determine. Discussing things with others helps facilitate the challenging of assumptions because the other person/people aren’t as close to the problem as the person working directly on it so they might see things that we are too close to see.

One of the things that got mentioned a couple of times during the chat was the book, “Steal Like an Artist.” The book talks about 10 items but the first one is most relevant at this point, “steal like an artist.” Everything an artist does is based on what’s come before, something someone else has done. While it’s true that an individual artist may combine processes, techniques, and materials in a way that hasn’t been done before, or have their own style, they are building on something they have learned by doing or by being taught.

The question for me after all of this is: where does this fit with the work that I have been doing?

It’s clear that there is a linkage; artists use some of the same processes and activities that organizations do to learn and make better use of knowledge and experience (e.g. reflection, lessons learned, communities). They do it on an individual basis, rather than a group/organizational basis, but that’s just a matter of scale and rigour around the activities.

What else? Does creativity and the processes it utilizes lead to innovation? Certainly the participants in the chat seemed to think so, there was agreement that being creative lead to asking more questions, and challenging the status quo and that this impact was felt regardless of the field people worked in, i.e., non-artists and artists alike believed that either being exposed to art or participating in an artistic practice made them more curious and open to experimentation.

Creativity leads to innovation, both are facilitated by knowledge management practices, and both contribute artefacts that build the knowledge base of an individual or an organization.

 

References:

  1. Xerox case study about their artist in residence program, https://www.amazon.com/Art-Innovation-Artist-Residence-Leonardo/dp/0262082756
  2. Learning Solutions Magazine article on Van Gogh as a painter and learning coach https://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1560/emea-reporter-vincent-van-goghpainterand-learning-coach
  3. Jay Cross blog post on implementing 70-20-10 for learning, https://www.internettime.com/2013/02/50-suggestions-for-implementing-70-20-10/
  4. Steal Like an Artist book, https://austinkleon.com/steal/
  5. Steal like an Artist list https://www.austinkleon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/poster-0.gif
  6. Steal Like an Artist workshop on Slideshare, https://www.slideshare.net/pederrudbeck/steal-like-an-artist-workshop-uxstoriesdk