Bits and pieces of Radical KM News

This is all just an fyi…

I’ve started a regular column on KM/Radical KM at ReWorked, my first article is here

Also, the GfWM published another article of mine on Radical KM, it can be accessed here

And I’ve been on a couple of podcasts in the last few months:

Thriving on Overload:

WB-40 Podcast

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.


Creativity and Knowledge Management, part 2

Okay, so back for part 2 of Creativity and Knowledge Management, picking up where we left off.

We were talking about left-brain and right-brain and the different KM activities that fit in each area, and that’s fine, but what about right-brain activities that aren’t knowledge management activities that use knowledge management activities in their creation?

For example, one of the experiential exercises we did at the conference was recreating  stylized watercolours of a frog and a spider. We each got a piece of the picture, which had been cut up into squares and we had to reproduce our square onto a bigger, rectangular piece of watercolour paper. Both the squares and the rectangles were numbered on the back, which made putting them together again easy. This was collaborative, it used meta-data (the numbers on the back) and we had the opportunity to go back and add additional detail to any of the pieces after we’d seen them all put together–all KM activities, but with art as the content matter.

Are there other KM activities that could be demonstrated through art? Lessons Learned? Peer Assists? Content and Document Management? Communities of Practice? Innovation?

So art becomes a metaphor for knowledge management.

Next post…Creativity and Knowledge Management, part 3

LawTech Camp, KM Technology discussion

A few weeks ago, I participated in LawTech Camp in Toronto. Connie Crosby and I were launching our beta-test for our Law Firm KM assessment tool, so we had an opportunity to do a demo presentation and talk about KM, I’ve posted the slides on SlideShare, click on the <demo presentation> or <about KM> links to see the slides.

There was a lot of discussion both during and after the presentation about one of the slides, so Connie wrote a blog post about it, which you can see here:


KM helps you be lazy!*

Imagine this scenario: you’re working hard on a project or task, you’ve got a deadline you’ve got to meet, but you’re stuck, you don’t know how to finish.

What do you do?

Well, if you are experienced in the ways of knowledge management you:

  • ask your colleagues,
  • ask the Community of Practice you’re a member of,
  • search in your expertise location system or yellow pages at peoples profiles,
  • post something on your internal Q&A or social media application,
  • you search your corporate document management system, ECM system, or other such repository/repositories to find the answer.

And you find the answer, doing considerably less work than creating the solution yourself and you meet your deadline. With all that time you saved you take a couple of minutes to post the solution, so that someone in your shoes days/weeks/months/years from now can find your solution and be lazy too!

*Thanks to Kathleen Wilson for the idea for this post.

Update from Stephanie


Sorry I haven’t posted anything in so long, I guess I have been busy with a project and business development and I actually fit some vacation in for the first time in 3.5 years. Why don’t I tell you about a couple of things I’m working on?

  1. I am going to be doing a course at the iSchool at the University of Toronto on March 2, 2012. The course is called How to Align People, Process, and Technology for Knowledge Management Success and is based on my Ark Group report from last year.
  2. An automated checklist to assess where to get started with your knowledge management initiative. This is still in development, but we’re expecting to release it in the next few months. We’ll be beta-testing it in a few weeks and already have  some small organizations lined-up for that phase. I’ll share more about this initiative in the future.
  3. I’ve also seen a couple of technology platforms that are quite interesting, not that KM is about the technology, but knowledge is social and these are two social knowledge management platforms. The first is Vedalis and the second is SpeechBobble, and if you consider that knowledge management is about connecting people to the knowledge they need to do their jobs, these two platforms will definitely enable that to happen.

That’s about all I can share for now, just wanted to share those few items and let you know that I am still out here completing puzzles.

Knowledge Management and Social Media

Is social media part of knowledge management? Unequivocally, “yes!” Knowledge management is all about finding the knowledge you need when you need it and learning from previous mistakes whether they are yours or someone else’s. Social media is about making connections to other people, and sharing knowledge. Now, granted some of the knowledge that gets shared on social media is more noise than knowledge, but noise can be knowledge if your colleague tweets that they are stuck in traffic, you know they are going to be late for that 9am meeting, so it’s all a matter of perspective and context, a classic knowledge issue.

I recently read a three social media books, and took a social media course  because social media often comes up in the KM consulting that I do and I wanted to have a better understanding of it and how it can be used, other than what I had figured out on my own. One of the books I read, “The Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy,” by David B. Thomas and Mike Barlow,  identified that knowledge management has been given short shrift, but argued that social media was on the verge of revolutionizing and transforming KM because of the direct access that people have to each other through social media, this can be employees inside the organization or customers and business partners outside of the organization interacting with the organization; all as a means of getting their jobs done.

The books were great, very enlightening about how to use social media and the kinds of things to do or not do, like not putting a twenty-something in charge of your social media strategy just because they “use it all the time.” Social media is another channel for communicating and interacting with your staff, clients, business partners, other stakeholders, and in some cases the general public (if we’re talking about tools like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook), having someone with an understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of that responsibility is a good idea.

Better than the books was the course. It provided a model based on work done by Advanced Human Technologies. Their model, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License, allows for the creation of a comprehensive social media plan for an organization. The framework takes a thoughtful look at what an organization wants to achieve with social media, whether inside or outside the organization, and provides the questions that must be answered in order to engage the audience, develop capabilities, and measure success.

The activities and questions asked by the model are much like the questions we ask of knowledge management initiatives. In the end, I think, social media is just another way of finding out who knows what and asking them to share it or sharing what we know and hope that other’s learn from our experience, which is what knowledge management is all about.