Serious KM Game article published

Just in case you missed it in my social media activities, the World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development has published my article about Knoco’s Bird Island. The article is called, “Serious game: Knoco’s Bird Island, making the point for KM” and will be published this spring, but is already available online,

I am in the process of setting up a session to do with the KM Meetup Group here in Berlin and a virtual session with the KM group in Toronto that I used to co-facilitate with Connie Crosby and Martin Cleaver. Both sessions will happen in May 2017.

If you have any questions about it, would like to participate in one of the upcoming sessions or have something specially set-up for your organization, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Importance of a KM Strategy

Why do I need a knowledge management strategy? Why can’t I just implement some technology and be done with it? Why can’t I just implement Communities of Practice or Lessons Learned and be done with it?

I hear this sometimes from managers who want a quick fix, who are under a lot of pressure from time and resources (money and people).

The answer is, you can. I have worked with many organizations that have done just that, jumped in with both feet and “just done something”. I am usually there to fix it. Fix the technology because no one understood what it really needed to do to support knowledge work within the organization; fix the process because no one understands it and it’s not aligned with the rest of the activities in the organization and it’s created extra work for already over-worked staff.

Why do you need a strategy?

Would you jump in the car and set out on a journey of 5000km/3000miles without having some idea of where you were going and how you going to get there? Making sure that you had selected the right vehicle to get you there in time and a map to help direct you along the way?

A KM strategy does just that. It helps you figure out where you’re going, and the things you need to do along the way, the processes you need to support you and that need to be supported.

That’s not to say that you won’t make adjustments along the way, just like a friend of mine who drove from Toronto to Vancouver in September 2015, who ended up “detouring” through the United States, so that she could see some different sites, but she still knew where she was going and when she had to be there by—she made it with time to spare.

Isn’t that what you want from your KM strategy? To know where you’re going and how you want to get there, to meet the goals and objectives of the organization?

Why would you put a toaster over in the car for your trip, when you really needed a camp stove?

Why would you choose one technology because “everyone else is” when another technology is cheaper and better meets the needs of the organization because it requires less customization than the more popular software?

Isn’t it time you created (or updated) your KM strategy?

Agile and Knowledge Management, part 1

At our Knowledge Worker Toronto event on January 23, 2013 our speaker, Gil Broza, spoke about the human side of Agile. Now, Agile, for those of you who don’t regularly interact with software developers, which I imagine are many of you who read this blog, is about iterative and incremental design and development of software applications. Gil was speaking about lessons that could be learned from the experience of software developers in this area and transferred to other areas of the organization. That activity in itself is a knowledge management activity: knowledge transfer of lessons learned, but I digress.

Gil spoke about 10 lessons that the rest of the organization could learn and apply:

  1. People are not resources
  2. Focus
  3. Nurture the joy of delivering value
  4. Take small, safe feedback-rich steps
  5. Mind the physical environment
  6. The social environment matters too
  7. Want high-performance teams? Be ready to invest
  8. Manage less, lead more
  9. Collaboration rocks
  10. Human conduct trumps “best practices”

There was a discussion after the presentation and Q&A ended about how this talk fit in with Knowledge Workers/Knowledge Management, this is what I contributed to the discussion: these 10 lessons are about how knowledge workers like to work. In the KM consulting that I do, I often have a section in the report about knowledge workers, especially when I’m working with an organization that is hierarchical. Knowledge work and knowledge management thrives in a flatter organization model, one where sharing and working together is expected, and the silos of a hierarchy are detrimental to achieving the goals of the organization.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Knowledge is the network

One of the themes at KM World in October 2012 was that the value of knowledge management is in the network, i.e. the value comes from the connections and the collective whole, rather than individual people, activities, processes, or technology. This was a shift from previous years where there was more focus on technology.

That the value of knowledge is in the network, is something we have known for a long, long, time. There has long been acknowledgement that “it’s who you know,” in business and in life. What has changed in the last 10 years is the ability to stay connected to people and to connect with people in geographically diverse locations through the use of technology, but it’s still about, “who you know.”

Our networks provide access to opportunities that we might not have been able to discover on our own. They pass along interesting articles, books, and other pieces of knowledge and information. Someone says something and that makes us think of something else or ask a question that’s not been asked before. Someone else builds on our ideas, it becomes an iterative process and suddenly we have created something new, some innovation that didn’t exist before.

When someone in our work network moves to another company or role, we all-of-a-sudden have to fill the void left in our knowledge network: who else knows what that person knew, how long will it take their replacement to learn the things we need them to know, what do we do until the gap is filled?

Organizations that go through down-sizing/right-sizing/lay-offs/retirements all have to figure out what to do about the impact on the knowledge networks of their organizations. Those that don’t take the loss of knowledge and the disruption to the network into consideration are negatively impacted by the loss/turn-over.

So what can organizations do to try to keep some of that knowledge when people leave the organization or create opportunities for innovation? Knowledge management activities like communities of practice, mentoring programs, lessons learned processes, after action reviews, expertise location activities, to name a few, and the technology that supports them all help to capture and share knowledge as well as make connections that might not happen otherwise. Knowledge management activities also give the knowledge longevity that it might not have otherwise.

Once the knowledge management practices are in place there is a need to make sure that it remains relevant through regular review and updating processes. This relevancy check could be as simple as reviewing documents and knowledge bases, or sending staff to conferences and training courses. It all becomes part of the learning and continuous improvement that the organization desired by implementing knowledge management in the first place.

This was also published in the Knoco January 2013 newsletter, which can be accessed here

Topics and Trends from KM World 2012

I attended KM World 2012 in Washington, DC last month, for the first time since 2006 (when it was still in San Jose, California). Let me first just say that I enjoyed the new location very much, not just because it’s a much shorter flight for me, but it seemed more intimate–easier to meet and talk to people and find my way around. I did miss being able to visit all my friends in the Bay Area, but I will get out there again.

Okay, so on to what I learned and observed at KM World 2012…

I think one of the big things I observed was a shift away from all the talk of technology, don’t get me wrong, people still talked tech, but I found less of an emphasis on it this year and much more emphasis on the value of the network, i.e. the people-to-people connections. Certainly any of us who have been doing KM for a while know that this is the case, that technology just enables and supports the activities of the network, but for most of the last 15-20 years we have had to fight against the idea that technology was the silver bullet in KM, that if an organization implemented the right technology they would find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Other themes:

  • Mobility and Internal Social Media
  • Internal Communications (consistent and repetitive communications via multimedia channels)
  • Strategic Alignment (km must always align with the business strategy of the organization to be successful)
  • Measurement and Value (everyone is measuring trying to determine value, but everyone is also still measuring things differently, but that’s OK.)
  • The importance of
    • Governance
    • Serendipity
    • Complexity/interconnectedness of KM
  • The DIKW pyramid is dead. Or is it?
  • Don’t fall prey to echo chambers in your organization
  • People’s knowledge goes beyond their job description which is untapped capital
  • The power of influence by friendship through peer networks is real
  • Seek forgiveness, instead of permission
  • Ask yourself daily what your km clients would answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Some of the presentations and keynotes are posted on the KM World website, and Dave Snowden’s closing keynote is on his website,

Finally, I have to thank Daniel Lee for his notes/thoughts on KM World, which I have incorporated in this post as well as in a presentation I did for Knowledge Workers Toronto and is posted on Slideshare.


Benefits of Knowledge Management Consulting

Someone just asked me what the benefits of my consulting are, I liked my answer so much I had to put it someplace where other people would see it (okay, I’m patting myself on the back).

The benefits of the consulting that I do is the improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge workers through the alignment of supporting technology to their business processes.

A Howard Rheingold Workshop, Part 2

The second part of the workshop was brainstorming the questions that need to/should be asked in working with each aspect of the model. What follows is the output of that session.


  • How to get/keep attention
  • Is it required? Does it form new behaviour?
  • How does discipline fit in
  • How to increase
  • Distractions
  • Have we always been distracted
  • Is there an organizational tool that can be leveraged?
  • Have brains developed differently because of changes in technology and activities
  • Are there patterns that should be recognized/accommodated?


  • Have to be willing/allowing for failure
  • How to collaborate, what that means?
  • Different ways to collaborate
  • Is there an occupational hazard in collaborating?
  • Culturally determined?
  • Best when there’s a lack of ego
  • Needs to be reciprocity
  • How to address conflict in styles between command and control vs. open source
  • How to address competition: for an end, vs. for a purpose/value
  • Danger in consensus
  • Checks and balances, accountability, how are these determined/used?


  • Respect (presence)
  • What’s in it for me
  • Motivation
  • Types of participation: Active/passive, Named/anonymous, Public/private and when should they be allowed/used/permitted
  • Does an individual’s participation make a difference?
  • Are there monetary issues?
  • Inclusive/exclusive

Critical Consumption

  • What is the assessment of the platform the information comes from
  • What or who is the authority?
  • What about fairness with respect to SEO  and the manipulation of sites to be higher in the rankings because of how the search algorithm works
  • How to teach the tools of assessing authority/trustworthiness
  • What is the real hierarchy of validation
  • Can we change policy to ensure accuracy?

Network Awareness

  • Understanding how it all connects
  • How to do the care/feeding of your network
  • Random discovery, how to have more of it
  • How to address the issue of not knowing what you don’t know
  • How to address network drivers
  • Transitory nature
  • Relevance
  • What’s the reliance
  • Fear of exclusion
  • How do you find the experts
  • Inclusion/ask questions

A Howard Rheingold Workshop

This is a little different blog post for me, I usually talk about some aspect of Knowledge Management, and while this is related to the work that I do, it may not be immediately obvious that it is KM-related. I had a request to post a blog about a workshop I attended on the weekend, so here are my thoughts and notes, let me know what you think.
“A Howard Rheingold Workshop, Harnessing Social Media and Smart Mob Thinking for the Enterprise” (September 25, 2010)
I attended the workshop named above, and enjoyed and learned from it, but the title doesn’t do it justice, what we learned was so much more valuable than the title might lead one to expect.
The session was in fact about digital literacy or literacy in the 21st century. Howard spoke to us about a model he has created, a model that describes what we need to survive in this digital, connected age we live in.
In previous centuries we needed to know how to read and write, but in current times we also need to know how to pay attention, participate, collaborate, consume critically, and be aware of our network. During the workshop we spoke about all of these components and what they mean.
Attention is about being mindful of where one applies his/her attention, e.g. am I choosing to purposefully spend time on Facebook or did I get “sucked-in” because of factors that are external to me? It’s about being aware of how we are thinking and what we are thinking.
Participation is about the difference between passive consumption and active participation, things happening to me versus me actively making a choice. We spoke about examples such as and other citizen journalism websites, although that’s certainly not the only type of participation.
Collaboration is what you would expect, working together, communicating, sharing information; this touches on things I normally talk about in Knowledge Management.
Network Awareness is the combination of knowledge and know-how and recognizing the various types of networks. Here we spoke about our on-line identities, and motivations, and the different components that make up a network. We also spoke about how networks have changed and evolved, so that instead of being based on a subject/interest/cause/disease, they are now centred around people, i.e. I am the centre of my network, not the city I live in or the ethnic community I am part of or any other dimension. In discussing network awareness, Howard reinforced the importance of building a network, certainly something I can appreciate after being an independent consultant for almost 7 years.
The most important component of Howard’s 21st century literacy model, in my opinion, is Critical Consumption. There is so much information available, how does one determine its validity? We have to be detectives, there are sites out there on the web that are very professional looking but that are totally bogus: they appear to be one thing but are really something else. In some cases it’s fairly easy to figure out, we can use sites like Whois to determine the ownership of a site or we can Google someone’s name. We need to get over the “authority of text,” the idea that because something appears in text means that it’s true, that is a notation from a by-gone era when there was a much bigger barrier to getting something into print, now anyone can have a webpage and self-publishing books is much more affordable than it once was. We have to look for clues as to information’s trustworthiness; otherwise we will be victims of every scam going.
A couple of points from Howard’s summing-up were particularly valuable:
• Regulate the way people consume on-line rather than what goes on on-line
• Keep up with the literacies, not the technologies

That was the first part of the workshop, in the second part we discussed questions that need to/should be answered for each of the components of the model, but that’s going to have to be another blog post.

Succeeding at Change in a Knowledge Worker World

The only thing that is certain is death and taxes…and change. Many organizations spend thousands of dollars on knowledge management technology solutions, focusing on the technology, because the technology is easy to focus on, it’s visible: buying the servers, installing the software, testing it, releasing it, those are activities that are very visible. Involving stakeholders in the software selection process, understanding what helps versus what hinders them in their performance, providing training, communicating, these are invisible, “soft” activities. Soft-skills/activities are often ignored, or down-played in organizations, sometimes it’s because of cost, sometimes it’s a lack of understanding of their importance, sometimes because there’s “no time.”

Projects fail because of this lack of attention to soft-skills, especially Knowledge Management projects. With Knowledge Management projects knowledge workers have already found a way to get their jobs done, it may not be the most efficient and effective way to get it done, but they get it done, that’s who they are. They may miss opportunities to share and leverage other people’s experience or create something new because they didn’t know there was a possibility to share/leverage/create, but they get their job done. In implementing a Knowledge Management project knowledge workers are being asked to do things differently, whether that’s share information in a repository or micro-blogging site, or participate in a Community of Practice; chances are it’s different than what they are doing now, and they will keep doing their “old way of doing things” unless they are given a reason to change.

Why/how do people change their behaviours? Because they have a reason to change, they understand the “what’s in it for me.” A good program manager will have included key stakeholders in the whole process from the strategy and requirements gathering stages to roll-out to the organization. Stakeholders, who include front-line employees who will be using the system, have contributed their needs and requirements to the selection of the technology, so the technology is actually supporting them, not causing more work. Connecting with stakeholders is critical, this helps them understand the change that is coming and to have influenced it so that they can feel proud of what’s being build and act as change agents with their peers, when the time comes to start using the technology.

Once the connection is made, communication has to maintain and inform the relationship. Tell the stakeholders the truth, own up to any changes in the plan or scope or functionality, the situation will only get worse if the organization tries to hide or sugar-coat changes that were not agreed to by the team.

Communication and training will drive the adoption and acceptance of the technology and process changes. The IT team can get the technology 100% right, and if they ignore the people and process side of the equation, they will fail. These people and process side often gets cut or short circuited when budgets tighten, this is short sighted. Better to reduce the scale of the project or extend a timeline than to skimp on training, communication, and involvement of stakeholders. If the organization has time to do it wrong and fail and fix it, then they have time to get it right the first time at a much lower cost than doing it wrong and then fixing it.

Involving stakeholders in all stages of the process, ensuring that the technology enables them and that they have the communication and training that they need to be successful, will ensure that the organization’s Knowledge Management investment will have an ROI to be proud of.

Who buys Knowledge Management?

I was going to write about Knowledge Management models, at least that’s what I thought earlier in the week when I started to write this, but I have discarded that notion, at least for now.

As some of you will know, I have been out on my own doing Knowledge Management consulting for almost 6 years, after spending 4 years implementing it in a business unit at a large technology company, who will remain nameless. During this time as a consultant I have often pondered who to target with my sales pitch and marketing strategy, business or IT?

Certainly the projects that I have done seem to turn out better when the business brings me in, and we work with IT as a stakeholder, since technology is inevitably part of the KM strategy implementation. But people are often trying to connect me to IT people as they perceive that my services are IT, not business-related.

It all became clear to me the other night at the Knowledge Worker Toronto event, thanks goes to Graham Westwood for pointing out what probably should have been obvious to me, except that it wasn’t. What did Graham point out? That it is usually, HR, Finance, or the CEO who have the most control/say over the budget, IT usually is perceived as a cost centre so doesn’t get the same say in budget decision making.

Why was this not obvious to me? I was coming at the problem from a different direction. I focus on solving business problems by using Knowledge Management activities to improved efficiency and effectiveness. So I was asking the question, “who has business problems that they want solved?” The answer anyone and everyone, which doesn’t help me target who to talk to. Asking the question differently, “who controls the budget purse-strings?” gets a much different response.

Anyone have any different/additional thoughts?