Archive for the ‘ Knowledge Management ’ Category

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.

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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

What I learnt from the ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’

Scott Berkun has written an excellent, witty and comical book about Public Speaking which does not take the traditional what to do on stage approach. It is filled with little gems of do’s and don’t all based out of personal experiences. confessions-of-a-public-speaker

My Pointers:

  • All speakers, even the best of them make mistakes, their written scripts and orations don’t match.
  • The unexpected will strike! Don’t Panic, many unlikely, unexpected circumstances will come, the beauty is how to give a winning reaction.
  • Presentations and speeches never go according to plan!
  • Embrace the Butterflies: Fear will be there, even for seasoned speakers, don’t deny it, don’t dodge it, learn to bare it.
  • Know what to say: Always create an outline of what to speak
  • Learn by Doing: Practice makes perfect and look into the mirror
  • Do a Sound check: Before starting, always check the high and the low so you don’t bore the audience or scare the audience.
  • Create a sense of control: if you feel in control, you will be better equipped to take care of hecklers, or uncertainties.
  • Sleep Well: If you sleep well, you speak well and vice versa.
  • Bring them closer: if you have an empty hall, ask the few people attending, to come closer, then imagine a smaller room.
  • Imagine yourself the mood of the audience and that it will be.
  • If a crowd is hostile, you react by showing more excitement.
  • Always do your homework, if you are not willing to put in 5 to 6  hours to prepare for a one hour speech with 100 members, you are actually
  • Quite egoistic to claim superiority of your 5 to 6 hours over 100s of hours of others.
  • Audiences are very forgiving. Collectively, they want you to deliver them a good speech
  • Eating the microphone is a term used among public speaker to represent absent mindedness during your speech. you lose track of what you are
  • Supposed to talk and do.
  • Customize your speech based on your audience. never deliver canned speeches.
  • Don’t bore the audience. seek attention, then utilize the attention well, else lose the crowd.
  • Set the pace; keep it moving steadily forward.
  • Direct the attention: throw in the attention grabbers every now and then.
  • Play the part, you are the star: Give a better presentation than what people expect from you.
  • Know what happens next: your next points should be in your mind as you speak.
  • Tension and release: a speech should be composed of a series of tension and release cycle. a cycle is about defining the problem and then the resolution or point of view.
  • Keep it live: involve the audience, let them be part of the experience.
  • Always end early: don’t stretch it beyond what the audience can bear.
  • Cherish the feedback: take audience feedback both during the speech and afterwards, consider it as a step forward in the art of speaking. But do take the feedback with a pinch of salt, audiences don’t like to be too true…
  • Relate to the audience: it is vital to deliver a speech which is of interest to the audience. choosing the right topic for the right audience is half the battle won
  • Learn by doing: practice, practice, practice. I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand
  • Adapt to the response: you can know during your speech whether it is going downhill or to the skies, adapt to improve or at least reduce the damage.
  • Words of Wisdom: If you want to know how good a speaker is, watch him/her give the same speech twice

Public Speaking as a Knowledge Creation Tool

In the web2.0 era, we are engulfed with technology driven collaboration. Data driven societies are emerging and it is the rise of the business analytics which deliver insight and drive companies forward. The medium of communication is highly diversified, greatly expanded in scope and reach and information is accessible to levels not imagined before.

However, concepts are changed, paradigms shifted, motivations rise, focus reigns only when leaders put context to information. This concept is what Japanese philosophers called the ‘Ba’.

Concept of ‘Ba’

Nonaka, who coined the SECI model of knowledge creation redefines ‘Ba’ as the shared space and time when individuals cease to just interact but create valuable knowledge. Individuals, groups and groups of groups can also share common goals, ideals and mindsets besides space and time.

‘Ba’ represents a shared space where human interaction takes place for knowledge creation. This space can be physical (meeting room), virtual (webex, twitter etc) or conceptual (shared ideals, experiences).

In other words, ‘Ba’ gives context and meaning. Its the place where individuals start feeling to be a part of the whole, and blend into their environment for a common goal.

“Ba is the platform for the resource concentration of the organization’s knowledge assets and the intellectualizing capabilities within the knowledge creation processes.”

According to the SECI model, knowledge creation is an infinite, iterative spiral between Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization. Further detail is given here.

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‘Ba’ and the SECI Model:

Nonaka’s extension to the philosophy of ‘Ba’ can be found when he related his SECI model and determines what role the ‘Ba’ plays in each role and phase of the project.

seci_and_ba

Public Speaking as Knowledge Creation Tool:

Public speaking is a perfect platform for Zen Learning. The entire audience of individuals come together on a single place, share the same time, and attend the same speech(es). The speakers(s) initializes the ‘Ba’ by setting the tone of the knowledge creation.

Public Speaking, thus, is a fantastic platform to enable knowledge creation as it serves as a very strong ‘Ba’.

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Originating Ba:

According to Nonaka, ‘New knowledge begins from chaos’.

Chaos is the ideals, the thoughts, the concepts a company’s leadership communicates to the people. Usually this message is metaphorical and motivational and it identifies common goals.

Nonaka says it is during socialization where ‘Ba’ originates.

Nonaka argues that ‘Ba’ is the fundamental reason d’etre for Socialization (because) “when knowledge is created, the personnel possessing knowledge and the knowledge base of a company are focused at a defined space and time.”

Love, care, trust and commitment emerges from Originating Ba. This is the phase where public speeches arouse feelings, emotions, experiences and mental models.

Public Speeches arouse knowledge, vision and culture: the fundamentals of Ba.

Interacting Ba:

During the speech, the audience starts forming a group based on fused ideas and points of view on the speaker’s oration. Thus, public speaking entices externalization as well.

Depending on the type of speech, self-transcendence allows the audience to integrate into groups based on the different view points.

One of the factors which enable externalization through speeches is the articulation of Tacit Knowledge. This is where the speaker communicates his tacit knowledge and thus makes it explicit.

Dialogue is key to convert tacit to explicit knowledge in this externalization phase. The use of metaphors is very important and an interactive dialogue helps. Engagement is key to create shared value.

Cyber Ba:

This phase is made up of three primary activities. Public Speaking helps in all three of them.

i. Collection:

Public speeches are (usually) based on prepared, well collected and summarized narratives which represent the intended zeitgeist.

Group knowledge is preserved, well documented usually through multimedia technology and in forms, which are easy to comprehend.

ii. Dissemination:

Speech delivery is direct and has uninterrupted attention of the audience as compared to other forms of communication. The shared ‘Ba’ has the same message and thus focus is intact. Distribution is direct and usually interactive.

iii. Processing

Audiences of public speeches are able to process and deduce their findings based on their personal thoughts and those of the group. These group thoughts are captured through discussions, questions posted to the speaker, applause and other emotional reactions.

Exercising Ba:

Conversion of explicit knowledge back into tacit knowledge through practice and action.

Public speakers understand the concepts only by practicing to communicate the same to others. Through delivery, their externally sapped knowledge becomes internalized as a result of practice.

Focused training with senior mentors and colleagues by allowing for open discussions and participation by the ‘crowd’, each can get a feel of the message imparted through practice.

Conclusion:

Leaders of many companies and other organizations have  kept a direct communication channel with the employees at times and the message is usually quite personal and motivational. Most of the times inspiration can spark the energy in an organization which defy traditional theories of performance management and productivity.Public Speaking is an important tool in Knowledge Creating companies.

To conclude, do watch this:

Re-Structure, Re-engineer Not. Recycle!

I had been getting constant reminders this week to attend a very important meeting arranged by the shareholders of my company. The entire board and staff were invited to attend. Today, amongst all the hype of the meeting, I inquired about the agenda from the office administrator. He doesn’t converse much in english and said the company is going through recycling!

Yep, you’ve heard it, and are probably thinking it as well, he actually meant ‘restructuring’. However, coming to think of it, business should be actually recycling rather than restructuring or re-engineering.

Recycle in webster is defined as:

to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: as

  1. To process (as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use
  2. Recover
  3. To reuse or make (a substance) available for reuse for biological activities through natural processes of biochemical degradation or modification
  4. To adapt to a new use : alter


On the other hand, Change Management is defined as:

“Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It is an organizational process aimed at empowering employees to accept and embrace changes in their current business environment. ” – Wikipedia.

The overly painful and agonizing transition to this desired state with many a casualty, uncertain future, distration from focus, and a sense of panic which has haunted change management initiatives across the world simply misses the important mottos:

  • “To Regain”,
  • “To Adapt”,
  • “Recover”.

Thats the essence of Recycling! Well ofcourse to some degree, Adaptation is implied in Re-Engineering (Process Re-Engineering) activities, it is the explicit nature of subconcious ‘allegations’ that ‘as-is’ is below the required mantle while ‘to-be’ is in all its might, superior than the ‘as-is’, Thats why people in the middle of it despise change. Coming to think of it, the term recycling comes much closer to the point than restructuring for any possitive change management.

The goal for any organization to employ any change management initiative should to be

  1. To conserve its morale (or improve it), as it is the fundamental energy,
  2. To reuse this energy and materials, thats the lessons learned, the knowledge and the ‘what works’ in an organization using its existing people
  3. And finally it is to ‘Recover’ whats lost…, corporate focus! (The enthusiasim and drive which was once set long ago in entreprenueral utopia.)

Go Green, dont restructure or re-engineer but recycle your business!