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.

Feedback on a Workshop Experience

I’m working on some new marketing/positioning materials and going through the quotes etc. that I have from clients over the years and came across this one from a workshop I did a couple of years ago with a couple of colleagues, although the feedback is directly about me/my role. The workshop was about bringing artistic principles to the workplace and combined artistic activities with more typical (and expected) business activities. The participant wishes to remain anonymous, and I have edited the person’s words for clarity, but otherwise the words are theirs.

“This was one of the funniest workshops that I have ever attended…what I can say though, is two things…

“I had…I am a very curious person, so even prior to the workshop I had [wondered] who is that Stephanie Barnes? I had found her website and looked at some of her art because I wanted to know who is that person, right? I certainly intensified that quite a bit after the event, because I thought this really very interesting, but what else does she do? I need to look at some of her paintings more closely.

“The second thing that happened was that I was really very, very impressed with the way that Stephanie conducted this workshop and how she actually managed, it was magical, but anyway, she managed to make us as in also me, actually paint, I have it sitting at home. Me, I would normally say, ‘aaahhhh’ before I do something silly or stupid or you know…but without having to feel funny about it, just let it evolve, just let it naturally happen, or whatever. I don’t really know how all that worked and came into being, but it was certainly her way. And it was secondly, that the workshop was prepared really well, we had all these facilities that you could think of to become creative, all sorts of crayons, acrylic colours, and all sorts of tools that you could think of and we were treated as (and this is also something I appreciated very much) we were treated like artists ourselves. Like, you know, just get on with it, just do it. And never-the-less, we were always invited to ask for help, or tips, advice…so that was the workshop.”

I am so glad I found these comments, they made me smile and remember why it is I do what I do. I am also grateful that this workshop participant took the time to share these thoughts.

Productivity, is that all there is?

(this blog post originally appeared on my Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting blog in April 2017, and I expressed similar thoughts in a chapter I wrote for KM Matters, which was published early in 2018. I am reproducing it here, because I will be taking my Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting webpage down, and this content is still relevant.)

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 organisations 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.

Future Females: Berlin, Thinking creatively & thinking bigger event

Last night (July 17, 2018), I spoke to a group of about 70 energetic, engaged (mostly) women at the Future Females: Berlin, Thinking Creatively & Thinking Bigger event.

What an honour and a privilege to talk to them about creativity and how to increase it’s presence in both our professional and personal lives.

I shared 4 different creativity activities with them, 1 was an improv activity, and the other 3 were drawing, as well as some background and context information about creativity.

I usually speak with much smaller groups, so this was a great learning opportunity for me, but despite my “learning on the job” or maybe because of it, we had a great time, some good discussion, and some fun trying new activities.

Thank you to all who came out and tried something new!

I have posted my slides on Slideshare, if anyone is interested.

Creativity and Innovation Chapter

I wrote a chapter on innovation and creativity and how they connect to knowledge management for the book, Knowledge Management Matters: Words of Wisdom from Leading Practitioners, which was published early in 2018.

There’s a free PDF available here: http://www.johngirard.net/kmmatters/

As well, there is a video and a podcast of me talking about the chapter.

Let me know if you’d like to apply some of the ideas I discuss in the chapter to your organisation or your personal situation.