The KM Oxymoron, Misnomers and tautologies

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

In the word of Oxymorons and Misnomers, we have a whole field filled with one.Our field!Knowledge Management.

Simply because Knowledge Cannot Be Managed !

Says This guy

and this guy

and also this guy

oh, this guy too

BEST PRACTICES

How can a Practice be Best? Isn’t time infinite, isn’t there ANY room for improvement? Maybe the environment in which the (best) practice operates is evolved and the so called best practice isn’t best anymore? I’d say, if a practice has truly become a best practice, then it means we need to innovate, as this practice has reached the end of its life and can value no more. Instead, i’d rather use the term ‘Good Practice’, a practice is good but it can always be better but of course, not best ;)

Coming back to our oxymoron and misnomers, here’s a last one for the day.

LESSONS LEARNED

A ‘Lesson’ already entails something that has to be learned. Now, when we say a Lesson Learned, we are saying that the reader or person who participated in the lesson has now received the knowledge transfer. But in Knowledge Management, the lessons learned are given to teach the lesson itself…..Should the phrase be called ‘Lessons To be Learned’ instead? What do you think?

Knowledge Capital vs Organizational Memory

Knowledge Capital is the set of intangible assets acquired through knowledge creation, extraction, sharing and learning processes performed either in isolation by a knowledge worker or collaboratively in groups to determine insights which are more robust to risk, and assumingly lead to better decision making.

Only a part of the Knowledge Capital is in Knowledge bases (explicit knowledge), the other is the sum total of managed expertise, where managed expertise is the talent pool whose value is correctly identified, whose expertise is regularly extracted and put to good use in a timely fashion across the organization.

Knowledge Capital is useable knowledge and hence knowledge workers who can tap into other experts to carry out their own activities in a ‘better’ way are treating these experts as an asset.

Knowledge Capital can be however, acquired over a time period by estbalishing certain structures and adopting certain practices or it can also be purchased as part of M&As.

Organizational Memory on the other hand, although might appear similar to Knowledge Capital. It is the art and science to institutionalize knowledge from experts and knowledge bases into the organizational culture. And this art and science cannot be acquired through M&As but has to be organically developed. This requires setting up the right environment where knowledge capital is acquired. This also includes setting up the right incentives and rewards for experts to directly contribute to the knowledge capital. It includes the motivation and mandate to utilize the knowledge capital and treat it as a critical asset in carrying out activities. It includes fostering a knowledge intensive culture where knowledge sharing is merit over credentials. Organizational Memory is sticky, hard to lose even when experts leave the organization, others can come in and easily be ramped up to replace the previous ones. That is, Organizational Memory directly contributes to the organization’s brand. The art and science of organizational Memories is often lost in M&As and what corporationns acquire is only the Knowledge Capital without the Memory, the soul.

This is why, many times, the acquired corporate loses its mojo, innovation drops, and the phrase big fish eats little fish (only to kill it) seems more appropriate regardless of the intentions of the M&A.

The art and science of Organizatonal Memories is where cultural and change management initiatives operate on and are the most critical processes and activities towards business improvement.

In Summary, Knowledge Capital is managed by Organizational Memory.

Changing a Practice through Experience Capitalization

Change is everywhere and happens all the time…well except for corporations, where changing a practice, procedure, process is a rare phenomenon and there is no consensus on how to bring about it. Too many variables, too many factors since change always rattles the culture which is hard to define, let alone adapt.

Among many techniques for change, including management controls, dictatorship, incentivization, germination and gamification, one instrument is Experience Capitalization.

A technique from Knowledge Management which enables Knowledge Capture, Transfer and Utilization all in one with defined outcomes leading to Lessons Learned and ‘Good Practices’ with the stakeholders ready to buy-in and adapt for change.

Doesn’t that just sound great! Well, that’s the target anyways….

The essence to enable change, one has to institutionalize shared knowledge among the stakeholders based on their experiences and consensus.

We know that Knowledge Transfer is a core function of successful innovative companies. The “Flow” enables us to co-create, institutionalize knowledge and get a real feel of knowledge worthiness.

Knowledge Transfer takes place for a host of reasons like succession planning, product training, new employee ramp up, brewing up best practices, abandoning bad practices but when knowledge is systematically converted into capital to enable process improvement and structural change, it is often called ‘Experience Capitalization’.

Although ‘Experience’ is known to be the least effective knowledge acquisition tool since it carries a high risk of not learning anything further, or of carrying the ‘wrong’ experience, one which is made due to bad habits of short term quick and dirty fixes but here the term ‘Experience Capitalization’ refers to collective, institutional learning which overcomes such ‘Competency Traps’. In most if not all cases, Organizational Learning is a better critical success factor. Here Experience Capitalization focuses on Organizational Learning.

The philosophy is that by capitalizing on (latent) experiences, changes can be brought about since it is the (latent) experiences which are ignored and sidelined without this process, blocking the impetus to change.

Experience capitalization is a learning process but differs from personal learning in that the expereince is summarized and belongs to the whole group, reached through a concensus and thus reducing the resistence to change. Another fundamental difference from other forms of Organizational Learning is that experience capitalization usually focuses on the experiences of the stakeholders only without involving third parties. This ensures that the summation of the experiences are ‘local’ to the stakeholders who have to undergo change. Experience Capitalization cannot be delegated but third parties can be invoked only as facilitators.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Coperation defines it as:

Experience capitalization refers to the transformation of (individual and institutional) knowledge into capital by those directly involved in order to change a collective, institutional practice. It aims at changing one’s own practices or structures.

Read more about Experience Capitalization at their website.

Our Approach to KM

Intro to Knowledge Management

A Presentation on HR Analytics

The Pre-Sales Diary:Great but Too Expensive Dear!

Thwack!

The apparent feeling of being dumped by a potential customer can be materialized by a host of many available options for such potential customers. Although there is no harm (apparently) for being rude to the sales team but just for the sake of better euphemism, these no longer ‘potential’ customers can simply blame their distaste of your products/services or whatever you do to being overpriced!

Although a fashion statement in some novelty industries and an admired trait, most enterprise business software taboo out the pricy tagging.

First of all, we all know it, IT notoriously sucks the money out of a business, especially when there is no enterprise strategy around, IT is definitely a pure cost center. That is why they invited you to sell them business performance management and intelligence software to get share of the corporate ‘strategy’ cake.

But you don’t like to understand any of this, you spent a lot of resources in time and people to execute a sales cycle, raised expectations, probably gave a proof of concept with purpose, all to listen to the once potential customer spit out the devilish decree. It all starts with ‘But…….‘ and follows a variation of ‘Your solution is too expensive‘ or ‘we can’t allocate the budget for it‘, ‘we don’t make the final purchasing decisions’, etc etc.

In reality, this is just a polite way of saying that you didn’t meet the expectations or weren’t able to create the right value of your products/services.

How do you cater to this catch-22 situation?

Many  survivors tell us some common strategies, including:

  1. Price Justifications (e.g. Our product works in zero gravity, our costs are only upfront heavy, incremental upgrades are very cheap)
  2. Price Distractions (e.g, we have overall very low TCO)
  3. Competitor Demeaning (e.g. The competitors have lousy products and are thus cheap) (Pun Intended)
  4. Bargaining (e.g. whats your budget, let us fit something for you, else we will definitely, ultimately come down to your level)
  5. Reinventing the Sales Wheel (e.g. Lets try again, lets talk again, let us repeat our efforts to emphasize why we are not so affordable)
  6. Reassess our own Assumptions about the Expectations and Value Offered (e.g. Does the customer really know what they can get as true ROI, is our product redundant, can they solve pain point using other lesser expensive solutions)

The reality is, most of these techniques are pretty frequently used, some of them are quite demeaning (e.g. 3), but in most cases, the bottom line is, you need to set the Expectations straight, and such an objection raised only indicates the lack of effectiveness to do the same.

Once the objection is raised, ask the prospect what should the product/service have more for him to rethink the budget?

He would either give you the points for mending the gaps or acknowledge your product fitness to be good.

For the former case, if the points mentioned are offered in your products/services with a workaround or a doable approach, go ahead, you have nearly resolved the objective.

If the prospect is unable to provide any missing points, then you need to re-emphasize on the need, figure out the real decision makers (if he/she sites others for budget approval), or figure out the true ‘champions’ and ‘villians’ in your deal. Most likely, you will find out that your current assessment is different from your initial assessment.

Apply the changes only, this will set new Expectations and hopefully hopefully you will have the objection resolved, your product/services will be valued the way you wanted or pretty close to that.

Happy Selling!

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