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.
Tags: expanded KM framework, human capital, interpersonal, intrapersonal, KM framework, knowledge management, leadership, lessons learned meeting, Mongolia, motivation, Nonaka, phronesis, relationship capital, sophia, tacit knowledge, vignette