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,

Radical KM, a story

Radical KM: why your organisation needs it now

Meet Sam, Chief Knowledge Officer at Widget Inc. she’s been working in knowledge management for more than 20 years, she’s passionate and knowledgeable and knows what it takes to be successful with knowledge management

Sam knows that there are lots of reasons to do knowledge management, but she also knows that her CEO’s favourite reasons are that knowledge is the only asset that grows when it’s shared—if she shares how to make a cake with you, you both now know how to make a cake, she doesn’t lose the ability to make a cake because she’s shared it with you. Tangible assets, like buildings and roads decrease in value because of wear and tear and will need to be maintained or replaced.

The second reason, and her CEOs favourite, is that knowledge management has been shown to have a positive impact on the stock market performance of an organisation. That is, the better an organisation does with its knowledge management activities, the better it performs on the stock markets.

With all the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, plus the confusion and complexity introduced with the pandemic, Sam has been wondering how to adapt her KM activities to meet the needs of these changes. She hears about VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) everywhere, and certainly her organisation is not immune to VUCA.

Sam also hears a lot about how people need to be creative, and she’s noticed that creativity underlies a lot of other in-demand skills. She knows that creativity is what differentiates humans from technology and that creative practices and attitudes support both creative and sustainable leadership behaviours.

Sam knows that creativity is something that’s been educated out of us (certainly hers was in her quest to get good marks and a good job) and yet our organisations are in dire need of it because it fuels innovation and growth. On a personal level creativity also improves resiliency and helps cope with stress, something everyone could use in the current state of the world.

Knowing all these things has resulting in Sam’s being stuck, she doesn’t know what to do; she’s trying to figure out how to support the organisation through the current upheaval caused by the pandemic and other global events but there is so much noise, and so many people trying to “get back” to how things are, but Sam knows there’s no going back, that the organisation and the world need to adapt and move forward to a new normal.

One day, Sam was scrolling through the knowledge management tag on LinkedIn and came across a post about something called Radical KM and got very curious; she read a couple of articles and watched a recording of a webinar.

She discovered that Radical knowledge management takes people, process, and technology as they have always existed in knowledge management and adds creativity, and that creativity is a multiplier. It can be included anywhere there are knowledge management activities that involve people, which is most of them.

She learned about an organisation that had implemented the ideas encapsulated in Radical KM. The organisation had improved collaboration and trust, and they had been able to solve what had seemed to be intractable problems.

Radical KM focuses on the people component of KM. The creative activities it advocates for can help build relationships and help people get out of their boxes and look at a situation differently, coming up with new connections and ideas.

The MBA in her thought that adding creativity seemed counterintuitive. After all, western society been focused on being analytical and rational for hundreds (if not thousands of years). However, being analytical and logical is what got the world into the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. So, while it may not be analytical and logical and it may seem counterintuitive, it also seemed to be exactly what is needed.

Sam recognised that we need space for creativity in our organisations and our lives if we are going to be balanced and sustainable. Knowledge and continuous learning needs space for reflection so that people can make different connections and come up with new, innovative ways of resolving this the unsustainable situation.

Sam recalled Einstein’s words about ‘the thinking that got us into this situation is not the thinking that will get us out’ and realised that Radical KM and creativity might just be the shift in thinking that will get us out of this mess.

Sam decided to start piloting Radical KM and gather data and success stories so that when she spoke with the CEO, at the next quarterly meeting she would have the beginnings of a great story to tell.

Be like Sam, start your Radical KM pilot now.

Radical KM: a journey

(A story about Radical KM)

Meet Sam, Chief Knowledge Officer at Widget Inc. she’s been working in knowledge management for more than 20 years, she’s passionate and knowledgeable and knows what it takes to be successful with knowledge management

Sam knows that there are lots of reasons to do knowledge management, but she also knows that her CEO’s favourite reasons are that knowledge is the only asset that grows when it’s shared—if she shares how to make a cake with you, you both now know how to make a cake, she doesn’t lose the ability to make a cake because she’s shared it with you. Tangible assets, like buildings and roads decrease in value because of wear and tear and will need to be maintained or replaced.

The second reason, and her CEOs favourite, is that knowledge management has been shown to have a positive impact on the stock market performance of an organisation. That is, the better an organisation does with its knowledge management activities, the better it performs on the stock markets.

With all the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, plus the confusion and complexity introduced with the pandemic, Sam has been wondering how to adapt her KM activities to meet the needs of these changes. She hears about VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) everywhere, and certainly her organisation is not immune to VUCA.

Sam also hears a lot about how people need to be creative, and she’s noticed that creativity underlies a lot of other in-demand skills. She knows that creativity is what differentiates humans from technology and that creative practices and attitudes support both creative and sustainable leadership behaviours.

Sam knows that creativity is something that’s been educated out of us (certainly hers was in her quest to get good marks and a good job) and yet our organisations are in dire need of it because it fuels innovation and growth. On a personal level creativity also improves resiliency and helps cope with stress, something everyone could use in the current state of the world.

Knowing all these things has resulting in Sam’s being stuck, she doesn’t know what to do; she’s trying to figure out how to support the organisation through the current upheaval caused by the pandemic and other global events but there is so much noise, and so many people trying to “get back” to how things are, but Sam knows there’s no going back, that the organisation and the world need to adapt and move forward to a new normal.

One day, Sam was scrolling through the knowledge management tag on LinkedIn and came across a post about something called Radical KM and got very curious; she read a couple of articles and watched a recording of a webinar.

She discovered that Radical knowledge management takes people, process, and technology as they have always existed in knowledge management and adds creativity, and that creativity is a multiplier. It can be included anywhere there are knowledge management activities that involve people, which is most of them.

She learned about an organisation that had implemented the ideas encapsulated in Radical KM. The organisation had improved collaboration and trust, and they had been able to solve what had seemed to be intractable problems.

Radical KM focuses on the people component of KM. The creative activities it advocates for can help build relationships and help people get out of their boxes and look at a situation differently, coming up with new connections and ideas.

The MBA in her thought that adding creativity seemed counterintuitive. After all, western society been focused on being analytical and rational for hundreds (if not thousands of years). However, being analytical and logical is what got the world into the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. So, while it may not be analytical and logical and it may seem counterintuitive, it also seemed to be exactly what is needed.

Sam recognised that we need space for creativity in our organisations and our lives if we are going to be balanced and sustainable. Knowledge and continuous learning needs space for reflection so that people can make different connections and come up with new, innovative ways of resolving this the unsustainable situation.

Sam recalled Einstein’s words about ‘the thinking that got us into this situation is not the thinking that will get us out’ and realised that Radical KM and creativity might just be the shift in thinking that will get us out of this mess.

Sam decided to start piloting Radical KM and gather data and success stories so that when she spoke with the CEO, at the next quarterly meeting she would have the beginnings of a great story to tell.

Be like Sam, start your Radical KM pilot now.

How radical KM is knowledge management: Referencing ISO knowledge management systems—requirements standard 30401

On April 24th (2022) I had my third paper on Radical KM published.

The paper is called, “How radical KM is knowledge management: Referencing ISO knowledge management systems—requirements standard 30401” and you can find it here: https://doi.org/10.1177/02663821221097875

The abstract for the paper is:
Creativity has an important role to play in knowledge management in the 21st century, and helping organisations and people cope with the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world we live in, Radical Knowledge Management (Radical KM) meets that need. This article uses the ISO Knowledge Management Systems—Requirements Standard 30401 (2018) as a framework for explaining how Radical KM and creativity are already a part of knowledge management, but has been unacknowledged until now. Additionally, the paper provides a process for determining when, in a KM process or activity, creativity can be applied and provides factors used in determining what the creative intervention looks like.

It’s behind a paywall, so if you’d like a copy feel free to get in touch and I will send you the PDF.

Introduction to Radical KM: making knowledge management sustainable

My second paper on Radical KM was published on February 27, 2022. It talks in more detail about how to implement Radical KM and the connection to the sustainability mindset principles.

Abstract:
This paper introduces the concept of Radical Knowledge Management (Radical KM) and explains why taking this approach to knowledge within our organisations is necessary. Radical Knowledge Management helps us adapt to constant change and the chaos of the world we live and work in by making us as individuals and our organisations more sustainable. The paper also outlines a case study of an organisation that implemented these ideas and provides an approach for how an organisation can implement it for themselves.

You can find it here: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F02663821221075535, and if you don’t have access because it’s behind a paywall, feel free to reach out to me and I will send you a copy.

Integrated Whole

First, a bit of context. I have spent the summer (July and August 2021) listening to audiobooks and reading a few that weren’t available as audiobooks. Adding to my thinking on Radical KM and filling in some gaps that I have recognised in talking to people over the last year, since I came up with the name. I’ll put a book list at the bottom of this blog post.

The bits and pieces have been interesting and provided new insights and “ah-ha” moments, but I have struggled to make sense of how they fit together, even though it was clear to me on an intuitive basis that they did. Then this morning, upon waking, I had the insight I had been waiting for.

What Radical KM is, is a model for an integrated whole.

Western thought and philosophy divided things up, separated mind and body, the analytical and creative, science and the arts. It was efficient and effective, it was rational to do it that way. Emotions, and intuition didn’t get “in the way”, we could focus on the really concrete things, the things we had data and logic to support. It separated us from nature and has lead to the environmental and climate catastrophe that we are now facing.

In separating these activities and putting them in their own box, we have lost a lot of behaviours:

Sustainable mindset

  1. A sense of purpose
  2. Enlightened self-interest (considering others as well as ourselves)
  3. A Long-term orientation
  4. Presencing (achieving highest potential while staying in the present moment)
  5. Courage
  6. Integrity
  7. Open-mindedness
  8. Transparency

Systems Thinking

  1. See the bigger picture
  2. Appreciate the details
  3. Maintain a balance
  4. Keeping things simple

Relationship building

  1. Understanding across cultures
  2. Appreciate and embrace diversity
  3. Network
  4. Meaningful Dialogue
  5. Empower stakeholders
  6. Measure improvements

These are all behaviours that ideas and models like Agile, Design Thinking, “The New Work”, bringing your whole self to work, and authenticity, seek to re-ignite and bring into the workplace. They are what gets lost when we separate whole into the parts, they are the magic that happen in the space in-between the boxes.

As the world become more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) these are the skills we need more of.

These are the skills we learn by tapping into our inner artist, whether that art is painting, or cooking, drawing or gardening, theatre or jogging. Art helps improve our attitudes around being curious, what we are passionate about, our confidence, and our resilience. By having an artistic practice our abilities to perceive, reflect, play, and perform are all improved.

Radical KM is about tapping into our inner artist to re-ignite these skills and abilities that have been ignored in favour of focusing on the concrete and rational. It’s about making us, our organisations, and ultimately our Western society whole again. It’s about making an integrated whole.

Appendix: Book list

  1. A New Culture of Learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown.
  2. Artistic Interventions in Organisations: research, theory and practice; edited by Ulla Johansson Scöldberg, Jill Woodilla, and Ariane Berthoin Antal.
  3. Artful Creation: Learning-tales of Arts-in-business, by Lotte Darsø.
  4. Artful Making: what managers need to know about how artists work, by Rob Austin and Lee Devin.
  5. Creative Company: how artful creation helps organisations surpass themselves by Dirk Dobiéy and Thomas Koeplan.
  6. The Value of Arts for Business by Giovanni Schiuma.
  7. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie.

Additional books, from July and August 2021

  1. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown M.D., and Christopher Vaughan
  2. A Whole New Mind: why right-brainers will rule the future by Daniel H. Pink
  3. Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson
  4. The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist
  5. The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination by Gary Lachman
  6. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
  7. Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-system to Eco-system Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaeufer
  8. Dance of Change by Peter Senge, Art Kleiner
  9. Spiral Dynamics Integral by Don Beck (abridged audiobook)
  10. Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows
  11. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
  12. The Wise Company: how companies create continuous innovation by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
  13. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley, David Kelley
  14. Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz
  15. How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  16. Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  17. Power of Not Thinking by Simon Roberts
  18. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch
  19. The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation by Timothy R. Clark
  20. How the World Thinks: a global history of philosophy by Jullian Baggini
  21. The Silk Road: a new history of the world by Peter Frankopan

Radical KM, Published Article

One of my articles on Radical KM has been published by the GfWM (Gesellschaft für Wissensmanagement) or Society for Knowledge Management here in Germany as part of a collection of articles celebrating the 20th Knowledge Camp. You can download the PDF or read it online, here.

I have another version that will be published in 2021, it’s a bit longer, and a third version that I keep adding to, and which is heading towards being a book, although it has a long ways to go.

Why RADICAL knowledge management?

Why “radical” and not something else? Which definition of radical do I mean?

Radical has three definitions that are all relevant for Radical KM (taken from Oxford Learners Dictionary):
1. relating to the most basic and important parts of something; complete and detailed
2. new, different and likely to have a great effect
3. in favour of extreme and complete political or social change

Why do all three of them apply? Because knowledge management must include all aspects of knowledge (creation, curation, learning, un-learning, re-learning, and sharing), and two of the things that are most important for this are curiosity and critical thinking. Both of these have been lost through the focus on efficiency and effectiveness, and trying to be logical/rational/analytical while ignoring the creative and emotional, but if we are truly going to manage knowledge then we need to re-introduce the creative and emotional: humans are not machines.

Bringing creativity into knowledge management and helping our organisations embrace both the creative and analytical is critical to their success and the individuals who comprise them. That is radical and will have a great effect and will bring about change in ourselves and our organisations.

In addition to the 3 meanings of radical, radical has an interesting origin. From Merriam Webster, we learn that radical originally meant “root“, so by returning creativity to our knowledge processes we can consider that we are returning to our roots. Roots, which were playful and creative: that’s how we learned when we were children. It wasn’t until later, when we went to school, that this learning by doing was replaced by learning by reading. Going back to our roots means re-learning that creativity that has been ignored. Knowledge management has a role to play in that, hence Radical Knowledge Management.

Creativity, Scrum, Agile, and Design Thinking

In the spring I completed Scrum Master certification (PSM I), and right now I am taking a design thinking course. I had delayed both of these courses because they describe the way I work anyway, and I couldn’t see the point of wasting time and money on them. So, why am I doing them now? Because they keep coming up in discussions I’m having, so I thought I would see what all the fuss is about.


They’re both frameworks/methodologies, and useful, as far as they go, but what occurred to me as I worked on the Design Thinking course, was that they are both trying to teach people to be more innovative and creative, to be more curious, however, they have taken an analytical approach to innovation and creativity, to monetize it, I suppose. These frameworks have taken the space for reflection out, the space for emotion out, just like our education systems, they have taken the creative out of being creative and made it analytical. 


If we really want to be creative, we need to engage the creative parts of our brains, not the parts that do analysis and process work. We need to engage the whole person, not just half, and that’s what Radical KM does. It recognises that the creative has been disengaged and forgotten, and it needs to be re-learned and re-engaged if we are truly going to be creative and change the ways our organisations function.


If we want our organisations to reap the benefits that agile and design thinking promote, we need to make space for true creativity, not just creativity that’s been analysed to death.