Archive for March, 2009

A Value Driver behind Relationship Capital

March 30, 2009

My last blog post was about bridging leaders.

A town mayor who is a bridging leader is better able to bring various conflicted social groups in his town to talk and decide together. Why?

Some communities of practice (CoP) prosper and grow, but others do not. Why?

Early this year, Facebook backed off when millions of its users opposed its proposed new Terms of Service. Why?

The purchase order has not yet been received, but an urgent phone call from the president of a company to another fellow Rotarian president of the supplier company is enough for the latter to give instructions to his people to ship the goods immediately. Why?

A customer buys from and discloses her credit card number to the company. Why?

The technical qualifications of two competing consultants were practically equal, so the client chose the consultant they had worked with before. Why?

An ugly rumor sent the stock price of a company down 15% in one day, yet its tangible assets today are basically the same as yesterday’s. Why?

The answer is TRUST. Trust is a fundamental value driver behind all forms of relationship capital. Relationship capital and trust are both intangible yet they produce tangible benefits and outcomes.

Trust underlies the worst fears and threats to our planetary society. Trust underlies the efficient operation — or the threat of collapse — of the global knowledge economy. Trust is so important that we NEED to develop a new science and technology to understand and manage it. Our daunting global problems belie humankind’s ignorance of how to effectively work with this important factor.

The Philippines is a nation threatened by many societal divides: ethnic/upland-vs.-mainstream/lowland, Christian-vs.-Muslim, rich-vs.-poor, communist-vs.-free market, insurgents-vs.-government, Manila-vs.-provinces, etc. At the same time personal relationships are important to the common Filipino. These are some reasons why bridging societal divides and bridging leadership are active and growing development discourses in the Philippines. That is also why scientific research on relationships and social capital is also well-developed here.

The late Filipino psychologist Dr. Virgilio Enriquez developed an ordinal scale of Filipino social interaction, which of course is based on increasing (or deeper) levels of trust:


We really do need to develop a new science and technology of TRUST. What is your opinion on this?

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For Complex Development Problems: We Need Bridging Leaders

March 28, 2009

This afternoon I saw in CNN how residents in Fargo, North Dakota pulled themselves together to protect their town against rising floodwaters by piling sandbags over threatened dikes.

Knowledge management (KM) is about achieving effective group action. During crisis situations — when a common threat is publicly visible and cause-and-effect relationships are known to everyone — effective group action follows easily. In more complex situations, effective group action can happen if there is a leader who can see (better than most people can) and lead through three kinds of complexity:

  • Dynamic complexity: when causes and effects are far apart in space and time, and therefore less publicly visible;
  • Generative complexity: when the future is difficult for most to predict, or is likely to be unfamiliar or different; and
  • Social complexity: when people who are affected or who should take action do not share similar assumptions, beliefs and interests.
    (Source: Adam Kahane’s book “Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening and Creating New Realities,” Berrett-Koehler, 2004)

This type of leader is called a bridging leader.

Bridging leadership is about creating or enhancing bridging social capital (see my previous blog post D13- Bridging social capital versus bonding social capital). Bridging leaders are those who can understand, engage and lead groups of people with diverse interests to effective group action to solve problems or achieve goals under conditions of complexity. Bridging leaders fight against social exclusions. To pull the inhabitants of Planet Earth through the difficult 21st century problems of poverty, environmental collapse, ethnic-religious wars and threat of nuclear war, we NEED more bridging leaders — a critical issue I have written about in my previous blogs.

Only a bridging leader can comfortably lead a “team of rivals” the way President Barack Obama does. President Obama borrowed the phrase “team of rivals” from President Abraham Lincoln whom he admires.

Bridging leadership is another core of human capital (see previous blog post on Q21- Rediscovering a Core of Human Capital: Sophia), the skill to work effectively in the intersection of relationship capital and motivational factors. Following our expanded KM framework:


Two days ago I received a phone call from a niece Ms. Aisa Villanueva, asking for assistance. She is co-founder and officer of a non-government organization — Bridging Leaders into Successful Societies. I was so impressed that young people fresh from college are inspired to work for the social good. I am properly reminded: there is hope for our Planet. Serendipity!

This month, another serendipity occurred: our NGO — CCLFI — started working with the Asian Institute of Management TeaM Energy Center for Bridging Societal Divides (CBSD). We are co-producing an e-manual on Post-Project Knowledge Capture that will be useful to development workers. We intend to give away the e-manual for free, and invite others to use and contribute to its enrichment.

There is a new and significant discourse a-forming around the new field of bridging leadership. If you wish to know more about it, you can check the AIM TeaM Energy CBSD website and that of their Bridging Leadership Fellows Program. You can also check out the Bridging Leadership Resource Center in the website of Synergos.

Tell us what you think.

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Q21- Rediscovering a Core(?) of Human Capital: “Sophia”

March 26, 2009

In July 2006 one of the modules in a KM workshop CCLFI facilitated for top executives of a mining company in Mongolia was on “Mining Tacit Knowledge.” The workshop participants were the two senior VPs, all the VPs and senior directors.

We invited three managers who are known in the company to be excellent motivators. One of the them was the CEO. We arranged an informal setting where the three, sitting comfortably in sofas facing the participants, were asked to tell their stories on “How I motivate my people.” A Mongolian lady served as my interpreter in the course.

As their stories unfolded, I could see how interested and engaged were all the participants. The stories showed vignettes of their difficulties and victories in motivating their subordinates. From the faces of the participants and their responses (interpreted for me) the process was obviously a moving experience for everyone. At some point I asked my lady interpreter to stop and we just listened and allowed the interaction to proceed without the interruptions when she interprets for me. It was such a solemn deeply-felt group experience that the CEO later asked, “Has my management team changed so much after one workshop?”

In January 2007 I personally met Prof. Ikujiro Nonaka. I served as Conference Rapporteur and Editor of conference proceedings for the International Productivity Conference 2007: From Brain to Business sponsored by the Asian Productivity Organization. He read a paper on “Strategy as Distributed Phronesis: Knowledge Creation for the Common Good.” He introduced a new term “phronesis” and defined it as “the virtuous habit of making decisions and taking action that serves the common good, the capability to find a “right answer in a particular context.” He added that phronesis is “practical wisdom or prudence” or the experiential knowledge to make context-specific decisions based on one’s own value or ethics (high-quality tacit knowledge).”


In 2002, CCLFI documented best practices for UNDP in sustainable community development. Our first intention was to produce a manual or “How To” booklets (structural capital), but we discovered that manualization is not enough. The success of a sustainable community development project is also attributable to a talents of the community leader who ran the project. Now, how do one capture those talents in a document? We produced “vignettes” to accompany the “How To” manuals. A vignette consists quotations and pictures of the community leader as he or she tells stories about the project. The vignette shows glimpses or snipets of the leader’s character (human capital) that contributed to project success. We also shot videos. We invited ten of the best practitioners to a face-to-face Lessons Learned Meeting (LLM) where together they shared their stories, compared notes and learned from each other.

When you meet a best practitioner-leader of a successful sustainable community development project you notice immediately that he or she has “it” — that mix of qualities I can describe as a compelling sense of purpose, quietly inspirational, a “can do” attitude that is infectious, humble but strong in will, a deep kind of reflectiveness that shows in how he or she views the world and the people in it and a persona that naturally motivates people. It is a mix of intrapersonal and interpersonal qualities. We at CCLFI chose the term “sophia” to denote this mix of core personal qualities of a successful community leader.

From our expanded KM framework, I believe that the above stories are touching on a core of human capital and relationship capital where these two forms of capital intersect motivational factors. It consists of an inner drive or enthusiasm (an intrapersonal quality) and an ability to lead or motivate (an interpersonal quality).


Have you encountered a similar experience with exceptional leaders? Tell us about it.

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Practical Hint #17: Tools for Managing Relationship Capital

March 24, 2009

Here are some tools for managing relationship capital. Notice that because KM overlaps with IT, HRD, OD, CRM and QM, many tools are common across these fields.

  • Social Network Analysis (SNA), sociogram or stakeholder analysis: Maps and analyzes frequencies of communication, teammate preferences, perceived closeness of interpersonal relationships, degree of agreement/disagreement, etc. between people in a group, organization or network
  • Team building and team learning exercises
  • Setting up a cross-functional KM Team
  • Customer relations management, business development, account management, or business partnership management: Management of relationships with customers, suppliers, partners, etc.
  • Customer clubs and e-communities: strengthens a company’s communication and relationship with customers, allows customers to participate in product improvement or R&D, makes some customers feel special by receiving advanced news or product prototypes, etc.
  • “Customer ba”: Part of the task of some Japanese customer relations managers is to create an affirmative, trusting and creative “relationship space” between himself and the customer.
  • MBTI, Belvin types and other psychological profiling tests: Assessing potential for complementarity and good mix of thinking and working styles among prospective team members
  • Various tools in brand management and marketing which enhance reputation and credibility of the company
  • Various HR/OD tools to enhance employee loyalty and morale: recognitions, honors and awards; policies that allow appropriate decision-making to employees; CEOs that listen e.g. allow direct emails from employees; facilities that show the company cares e.g. day-care facilities within company premises for young children of mother-employees, etc.
  • Group exercise in mind mapping: Allows members to see and better understand the assumptions of other fellow members
  • Professional and personal profiles of staff, Expertise Directory, company White Pages: Facilitates staff in getting to know each other and each other’s skills, expertise and talents
  • Face-to-face meetings and SN functionalities among e-community or e-CoP members: Mutual trust in a virtual CoP or e-community is best nurtured through face-to-face meetings, and through appropriate social network functionalities in the website of the CoP
  • Visioning exercise: Co-creating and contributing to an organization’s vision tend to enhance buy-in and engagement of members in programs, projects and activities aimed at the vision of the organization.
  • Negotiation: collaborative/integrative negotiation training, skills development (thanks to Peter Spence), and related tools in conflict management
  • Leadership (thanks to Peter Spence), such as “bridging leadership” and leadership that appreciates and applies many of the above.
  • Technologies for building or enabling trust (e.g. TrustEnablement by Alex Todd)

Please add other tools that I missed (kindly use the Comment link).

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Building Israeli-Palestinian Relationship Capital

March 23, 2009

I wrote in the previous blog post (Q20- Israel versus Hamas and Hezbollah: Lessons in Relationship Capital) the tragedies happening between the Palestinians and the Israelis. However, there are brave souls who are exerting efforts to build Israeli-Palestinian relationship capital. Let me mention three that was pointed out to me by Mr. Gener Luis Morada (thank you, Gener!)

WikiProject Israel Palestine Collaboration (IPCOLL) seeks “to create a more hospitable editing environment for Category:Israeli-Palestinian conflict related topics, including through (a) actively seeking the cooperation of people who are uninvolved or hold differing points of views… and (b) preventing and resolving disputes about the application of Wikipedia policies to these articles. We provide various tools… to facilitate the project.” Some 40 volunteers are collaborating in this project.

American, Israeli and Palestinian scientists are collaborating in Alzheimer’s Disease research — thanks to the efforts of Prof. Mark Gluck of Rutgers University. He is raising funds to support a “Middle East Collaborative Research Consortium on Brain Disorders.”

A start-up company was set up by Palestinians and Israelis, namely, or Global Hosted Operating SysTem. offers a free virtual personal computing environment that anyone can access from anywhere through the Internet. They provide free use of web-based software applications to provide an online desktop working environment for people on the go. Their founder and CEO is Zvi Schreiber. Among its investors is Benchmark Capital, which had provided venture capital for successful start-ups such as eBay and MySQL.

These efforts are examples of bridging social capital which I wrote about in two earlier blogs (D13- Bridging Social Capital versus Bonding Social Capital and Q2- KM is for Creating Value; Whose Value?).

A hopeful sign: new Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel had announced a new initiative on “economic peace” with Palestinians (thanks to Michael Horesh for alerting me)

To the 40 volunteers, to Prof. Gluck and to Mr. Schreiber: May your tribe increase! And best wishes to Bibi Netanyahu’s new peace initiative!

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Q20- Israel versus Hamas and Hezbollah: Lessons(?) in Relationship Capital

March 20, 2009

Let us apply the expanded KM framework to the conflict between Israel on the one hand and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other hand.

Below I reproduce in the upper diagram the expanded KM framework, while the lower diagram shows which metacapitals the Israeli war machinery is hitting Hamas and Hezbollah, and which metacapitals are the strength of Hamas and Hezbollah. Note that Hamas and Hezbollah are more than just fighting groups, more so they provide or they ARE community development and support systems (relationship capital) intensely motivated by their particular but strong religious beliefs (motivational factor).


What do we notice?

  • The Israeli armed forces are not only missing the areas of strengths of Hamas and Hezbollah, their conventional military offensives are likely to be further strengthening them. The latest “disproportional” Israeli offensive in Gaza may have created the motivational energy to spawn one more generation of Palestinian suicide bombers!
  • Conventional military means that seek to kill people (human capital) and destroy infrastructures (tangible assets) are utterly inappropriate to deal with an adversary whose strength and means of warfare are elsewhere: on strong network or sense of community (relational capital) and on strong belief or ideology (motivational factor). Killing a terrorist does not kill what inspires more terrorists to volunteer. Cruise missiles and aircraft carriers cannot defeat terrorism. In blog post Q18 I wrote how a smaller and less militarily and economically powerful Vietnam defeated its foe, the United States, who had superior technology and war machinery: an example of stronger motivational factor and relational capital overcoming tangible assets no matter how superior!
  • Conventional military doctrine is inappropriate in the context of “clash of civilizations”.
  • Conventional military doctrine may eventually be seen as counter-productive in a shrinking world where human groups need to learn to live together in diversity but peace and harmony.

What’s in your mind now? Please share it by clicking the “Comment” link below and converting your tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge for more people to see.

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Q19- Negative(?) Metacapital #2: the Threat of a Nuclear War

March 17, 2009

Our research at CCLFI discovered that most successful community development projects are those that leverage on the intangible assets of the community. I introduced the more generic term “metacapital.”

When applied to communities, their metacapital can be positive or negative. I reproduce below a table from one of my KM conference papers. The entries in red italics are negative metacapitals – they can destroy value (market or social value) of the community or frustrate value creation that development projects seek to achieve.


In my judgement, some negative metacapitals are very serious. I indicated four of them above in bright red text. Do you agree with my choices?

If we translate these four at the global level, these great value destroyers are, starting with what I think are the most serious:

    1. Threat of global nuclear war
    2. Corrupt, egotistical or trigger-happy leaders
    3. Global environmental crisis
    4. Destructive syndicates: criminal, banking-financial, terroristic.

These are the common threats to wo/mankind. Compare this with the “15 Global Challenges” according to the Millennium Project.

What is your view?

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Tacit-Group Processes in KM

March 14, 2009

Tacit-group processes and factors in the lower left quadrant in the expanded KM framework (see diagram below reproduced from the previous blog post) are often the weaknesses in KM initiatives.

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

The following are examples:

  • An e-group for knowledge sharing is set up, but knowledge sharing hardly occurs because the intended users hardly know and trust each other and do not share similar goals.
  • A knowledge fair organized by a vice president is hardly attended by staff under another vice president because of factionalism between the two vice presidents.
  • A know-it-all CEO shoots down new ideas, generating an organizational culture of anti-suggestion and anti-innovation.
  • Communication and productivity of a team suffered after an egotistical new member started to ruin the working relationships among the team members.
  • An organization-wide KM program was not fully accepted by all senior managers and started to falter; a mid-course evaluation by an outside consultant diagnosed the problem as lack of change management that should have accompanied the processes of design and roll-out of the KM program.

The lower-left quadrant is about TACIT-GROUP processes and factors: trust, shared goal or mutual agreement, unity (or factionalism), shared vision (e.g. Gaia consciousness), organizational culture, teamwork, mutual understanding of a group work process, general acceptance, etc. “Ba” of Ikujiro Nonaka belongs to this quadrant.

According to philosopher Ken Wilber’s integral framework, there are four types of knowledge. There are “Four Faces of Truth.”

Ken Wilber's "Four Faces of Truth"

Compare Ken Wilber’s integral framework with the expanded KM framework. The two frameworks are consistent (I wrote about this in a paper to be published by EADI/IKM).

Now, back to the importance of tacit-group processes. Without Gaia consciousness among earth’s inhabitants, I doubt how they can solve common problems such as the global environmental crisis. Ken Wilber said that resolution of this crisis lies in tacit-group processes:

    “Before we can even attempt an ecological healing, we must first reach a mutual understanding and mutual agreement among ourselves as to the best way to collectively proceed. In other words, the healing impulse comes from championing not functional fit but mutual understanding and interior qualitative distinctions. Anything short of that, no matter what the motives, perpetuates the fracture.”

Peter Senge summarized his best-seller book “The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization” by affirming the fundamental importance of tacit-group processes:

    “The central message of The Fifth Discipline is… that our organizations work the way they work, ultimately, because of how we think and how we interact.”

With apologies to Peter Senge, what is the message when we replace the word “organization” with “planetary society”?

    The central message of The Fifth Discipline is… that our planetary society works the way it works, ultimately, because of how we think and how we interact.

Is ours a “learning planetary society”? If not, are we getting there?

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Gaia Consciousness

March 11, 2009

This picture of our blue home planet Earth, taken by the Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972, is consciousness-raising. It helps us look at ourselves from the perspective of one planet. This amazing photograph provides a visible referent for the concept of “Planet Earth”. It “takes us out of ourselves” — a global consciousness of common or collective predicaments and tasks, and a common fate. Many people are beginning to recognize the strategic value of a “Gaia consciousness” for the common welfare and survival of all inhabitants of Planet Earth.


Photo courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center

If we apply the expanded KM framework in Q17 (“Losses in Community Assets: the Mother is Suckling from the Baby!”) from the community level to the national and planetary levels, we get the following breakdown of metacapitals:

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

Gaia consciousness is a key metacapital in the lower left quadrant. It is the planetary level counterpart to “sense of nationhood” and “sense of community” at the lower national and community levels.

Do you agree?

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The Movie “Groundhog Day”

March 10, 2009

Have you seen the movie “Groundhog Day”?

It is one of the learningful movies I have seen. Tonight I watched it again and suddenly I realized that its lessons are the same ones I wrote about in my previous blog post (Q18 about know-how and willing-to). Serendipity?

The movie is about a grouchy, cynical and egotistical TV announcer, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray). Together with the TV cameraman, Larry, and the TV producer, Rita (played by Andie MacDowell), they made their annual trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to film the traditional Groundhog Day.

In the movie, Phil became mysteriously entrapped in time: he wakes up every morning to the same day, February 2, Groundhog Day. He was first confused, frustrated and then desperate. He destroyed the clock-radio that wakes him up exactly at 6 o’clock every morning of Groundhog Day, and the clock was good again the next morning which is again Groundhog Day. He stuffed himself with food to drown his desperation. He robbed a bank truck, bought a flashy car and dated women. He descended into depths of existential angst and desperation. Drunk, he crashed a car he is driving and landed himself in jail. In another day, he killed himself by driving a car over a cliff. But the next morning he woke up alive again, condemned to live the same day, Groundhog Day, meeting the same characters who do and say the same things they did and said yesterday. Phil tried different kinds of suicide, but failed to escape the time imprisonment. He felt a victim of life.

Then he tried to change his strategy. He shifted to learning new skills. Over countless days, he took piano lessons and eventually became a musician in a local dance hall. As days pass, he came to know almost everything about everybody in the town that he appears to people as omniscient and prescient. He knows exactly what people will say and the precise time a restaurant waiter will drop a pile of plates. He learned to speak French and studied Medieval French literature to impress Rita who he started to date. He learned ice sculpting and gifted Rita with a beautiful ice sculpture of her likeness. But every time he makes advances, Rita slaps him day after repeating day. He is no longer desperate, but he is still confused and frustrated. He knows so much yet he is unhappy.

The movie is an interesting illustration of learning: learning from life and learning how to make life choices.

Gradually, Phil shifted strategy: helping people, and making a difference for the world around him. He took pity on an old, sick and hungry tramp. He tried to feed and save him; he cried when he died anyway. He knew exactly where and when three old ladies would have a flat tire, and he was ready to help them with a jack and spare tire. He knew the precise time a boy would fall from a tree; he was there every day to catch him. In a restaurant, he saved a man chocking with food in his windpipe by giving him a Heimlich maneuver. He became the adored town hero of Punxsutawney. Celebration replaced cyncism. He has become a master of life.

He is less confused and frustrated. A surprised Rita, knowing how grouchy, cynical and egotistical Phil was, is taking a new genuine interest in him. Phil has learned to live life for a purpose, and he is beginning to become a happier person.

That was the missing key that freed Phil from the time prison… and that won the heart of Rita. He and Rita woke up one morning and the clock-radio was playing a different tune. It was February 3, the NEXT day after Groundhog Day! Finally he is FREE!

The lesson: know-how is not enough, willing-to is even more important.

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