Posts Tagged ‘community of practice’

T0-2 Starting a New KM Language in Your Organization

October 13, 2009

Starting KM in your organization also means starting to learn a new KM language among your members. A simple tool towards this end is an FAQ on KM (FAQ=frequently asked questions) which can be circulated among members or placed in the KM webpage in your intranet.

Download CCLFI’s FAQ on KM by pressing “Ctrl” while clicking HERE. The FAQ will appear in a new browser tab.

wordle of FAQ

Thanks to Wordle for the above “word cloud” of the FAQ

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When Your Communication Boundaries Are Breached

September 1, 2009

You can easily tell whenever your communication boundaries are breached. The signal is: you feel uncomfortable or bothered. It is your body’s way of telling you that something is going wrong. If you keep ignoring these signals, the repeated discomfort and bother will drain your energy. Then you feel tired easily. If this goes on and on, your bodily resistance wears down and your health suffers.

Once you become aware that your communication boundaries are breached, do something! Announce your communication boundaries to the group. If communication boundaries are constantly breached in a group, then productive communication is not feasible and communication should be ended. Indigo Learning Practices — towards a group of equals seeking to create and build something together — cannot happen.

Productive communication requires that each member of the group appreciates, is committed to, and voluntarily practices the Personal Learning Mode. A good group communication strategy in their journey towards Indigo Learning is to learn together and compare notes as each member of the group practices the Personal Learning Mode.

The 16 topics discussed in previous blogs on “Setting a Personal Learning Mode” can be good topics for practice and for learning together in a “community of practice”:

    L11 Will to self-improve
    L12 Listening
    – Can we manage knowledge? (a practice in listening)
    – Listening (and building cross-cultural relationship capital)
    L13 Learning how to learn
    – The reflective knowledge worker
    – Personal learning history
    L14 Voicing
    – Ask high-value questions
    – The art of interviewing
    L15 Double-loop learning
    – A tool for learning to unlearn: internal “5 why’s”
    L16 Concepts can block learning
    – Your judgment can block your learning
    – Memories (or past experiences) can block (or unblock) learning
    – External attention can block your learning

Constant and life-long learning is the hallmark preoccupation of a successful knowledge worker. In school, we learned technical subject matters. In acquiring his or her own personal learning mode, a knowledge worker complements this by learning about himself or herself, and thereby learning how best he or she can learn on a continuous basis. Therefore, it will also benefit a knowledge worker to cultivate his or her own personal learning mode even if he or she is not part of a learning group or a community of practitioners.


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An Invitation to Interactive Practice of Double-Loop Learning

May 16, 2009

(Please see recent note at the bottom of this blog)

Only seven months old, this blog has grown in readership (see chart below). I am very happy and thankful to all my loyal readers, including of course YOU reading this blog now.

growth of weekly hits

There is surprisingly great interest in double-loop learning and intangible assets (see Rank 1 and 2 in the Top Posts below). Three posts: 12 Types of Learning (Rank 6), Limits of the Possible (Rank 7) and Techniques in Knowledge Innovation (or: You Experience How Da Vinci Thinks) (Rank 12) are very recent posts yet they attracted high page hits. These three blogs are all about expanding and deepening our own personal learning processes.

top posts 20May2009

I interpret the high number of hits of two posts: “Oops! (Learn from My KM Mistakes)” (Rank 3) and “About Me” (Rank 4) as great interest in the personal learning journey of other people.

After reflecting on the above findings, I decided that the next blog series will be about “Practice Double-Loop Learning: Discover Why You Think, Perceive and Behave the Way You Do.” I will call this series the “2L Series.”

For this blog series, I will invite a small group of readers in interactive practice of double-loop learning. Merely reading a blog is not enough learning; deeper learning requires practice and even deeper and expanded learning requires interaction with others involved in similar practice. This is the essence behind the KM tool called Community of Practice.

Therefore in joining this group I will ask you to commit yourself to practice all the techniques and interact with each other through the Comment functionality below each blog. The purpose of interactive comments is to enable group members to compare notes, learn from each other’s personal practice, contribute to improving the practice itself, and thus learn and grow together.

If you are interested to join this group, email me ( and say something about yourself and your intent in participating in this group experiment. I will collect your emails and send this to all participants at the start of the 2L Series, so that members of this small group, though virtual, can start by knowing something about each other. The 2L Series will start on the last week of May. On the meantime, we shall finish the last few blogs of the Q series.

Below is the tentative outline of the 2L Series on “Practice Double-Loop Learning: Discover Why You Think, Perceive and Behave the Way You Do.” The group can revise the outline as we go along.

> 1- Self-Observation

    11- Isko and Esbert, internal attention
    12- Double listening
    13- Sensing my energy level
    14- Aristotle’s advice: watching my emotions
    15- Watching “from the 4th floor”
    16- Thinking past or thinking future, or being present

> 2- Self-Understanding

    21- My most fulfilling moment
    22- What makes me angry and indignant
    23- MBTI: my seeing and thinking style
    24- My learning style
    25- Three things I did exceptionally well: my talents, virtues and passions
    26- My highest or peak life moment and my lowest valley life moment
    27- My childhood issues
    28- Our biological and my cultural programmings
    29- Three pointing fingers

> 3- Sensing Life

    31- “For me, life is…”
    32- Peak work experience
    33- Triple listening
    34- Sensing the emergent
    35- Looking for questions
    36- Problem finding and innovating
    37- Learning from movies
    38- Insights from world events
    39- “Reading the Living Book”: connecting the dots in your life
    310- “Panoramic Gantt Chart”
    311- Conscious co-evolution: the fourth wave of creation

> 4- Self-Management

    41- Discovering my blindfolds
    42- Examining my assumptions
    43- Uncovering my automatic behavior patterns
    44- Suspending judgment
    45- Divergent-then-convergent thinking
    46- Conscious and transparent intent
    47- Escape from runaway trains
    48- Capabilities and knowledge for action

> 5- Your Organization and You

    51- Vertical vs. horizontal organizations
    52- Young-entrepreneurial vs. old-rigid organizations
    53- Weight of organizational culture and systems
    54- “Undiscussables”
    55- Change management

> 6- Co-Evolving with Others

    61- Process partnering
    62- A new way of conversing
    63- Appreciative sensing
    64- Generative dialogue
    65- Consensual discernment
    66- Glocals for one another


Note (25 May 2009): Some of the people who signified interest in participating in the above-described interactive practice of double-loop learning expressed their concerns to me about privacy issues. I understand their concerns, which is particularly relevant to double-loop learning. While seeking a satisfactory way of addressing this issue, I therefore decided to postpone the 2L Series and instead start a different blog series entitled “Indigo Learning Practices” or L Series.

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Knowledge Pathways in a Learning Organization (#21)

May 9, 2009

I wrote in the previous blog about the “Organizational Brain” (lower right or yellow quadrant in the diagram below). The Organizational Brain is a superb instrument for storing, providing, replicating and leveraging explicit knowledge but explicit knowledge by itself cannot create value. Information just sitting in a database does not create value. It is only when PEOPLE apply knowledge that value can be created (upper left or green quadrant in the diagram).

K pathways in OL

There are few exceptions. In a fully robotized factory, technology (~explicit knowledge), almost by itself, creates value. I said “almost” because there will always be humans overseeing the factory. Even in highly automated systems such as Ultra-Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs), about two dozen crew members are needed to manage its sophisticated technological systems.

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Value may be created from explicit knowledge such as when a company sells the patents, copyrights, tools, software and formulas it had internally developed. Of course, the original source of this explicit knowledge is the tacit knowledge of the employees who developed them.

In short, the main creators of value are PEOPLE: individuals and teams using their tacit knowledge: this is a central tenet in the knowledge economy. In the diagram below, these are located in the left quadrants, particularly the green quadrant. Structural capital and technology (right quadrants) are only supportive. Note that the diagram is again based on Ken Wilber’s framework. You can go back to the following blogs to read about Ken Wilber’s framework: (click on any link)

There are four critical tasks facing a Learning Organization:

    Task 1: Enhance employees’ tacit knowledge (green quadrant) especially those that create most value for the organization.

    Task 2: Convert useful individual tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge — the form easily replicable and re-usable by more people in the organization (conversion from green to yellow quadrant using Pathways 2, 3 or 4).

    Task 3: Facilitate re-use or practice of the right explicit knowledge by the right people (conversion back to green quadrant). Pathway 6 does this. Through practice explicit knowledge is converted into the practitioner’s own tacit knowledge (see “D4- Converting Tacit to Explicit Knowledge and vice-versa”). Some organizations analyze, recombine, correlate and mine their Organizational Brain into more useful forms (Pathway 5).

    Task 4: Acquire needed knowledge from outside (Pathways 7-10 in the diagram below)

Sourcing K from outside

Some KM tools for Task 1 are:

  • Pathway 1 or replication of individual tacit knowledge: Mentoring, coaching, understudy, buddy system, lecture-demonstration, peer assist, cross-visits, knowledge sharing among a community of practitioners. Some of these KM tools tend to lie “outside the radar” of HR practitioners because the HRD framework looks at the individual employee as the unit of management, while the KM framework is based on managing value-creating knowledge across employees.
  • Various tools to enhance employee motivation and engagement; our empirical findings at CCLFI reveal the importance of motivational factors (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers” and “Practical Exercise: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”)

Some KM tools for Task 2 (individual tacit knowledge to group explicit knowledge) are:

  • Pathway 2 (the predominant knowledge pathway for Task 2): Manualization, process documentation, learning history, individual mind mapping, blog, surveys and questionnaires.
  • Pathway 3: Lessons-learned session, after-action review, wiki or collaborative authoring, group exercises for thinking together such as mind mapping, causal flow diagramming, fishbone diagramming, etc.
  • Pathway 4: Video capture of story telling, company visioning exercise accompanied by documentation, minutes or aide memoire of a meeting and conceptual design brainstorming among architects

Some KM tools for Task 3 are:

  • Pathway 5 or recombination: Data mining, performance metrics followed by identification and study of best practitioner, multiple regression or path analysis to detect causal linkages and contributions, statistical summaries and fitting trend lines to data.
  • Pathway 6 or group explicit knowledge converted to individual tacit knowledge in many: Practicum, learning-by-doing, on-the-job training, workplace-oriented mentoring, action research, R&D, experimentation and replication/adaptation of best practice.

We know that the usual means for Task 4 are: purchase of knowledge products, hiring new employees, buying a franchise to quickly use a ready product and its support network, engaging a consultant, copying from the public domain, business intelligence procedures, etc.

I have written about these knowledge pathways in Section 3.5 of my Overview chapter in the book “Knowledge Management in Asia: Experience and Lessons” published in 2008 by the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan. If you wish to receive a copy of this chapter, send me an email.

See also: “Knowledge pathways: 3 case studies” and “Appreciating Nonaka’s SECI model”.

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Mindmapping Our Learning Processes (#18)

April 24, 2009

Let us compare the types presented in the previous blog post on “12 Types of Learning” with data from actual experiences. Below is a sample group mindmap resulting from a KM workshop I designed and facilitated at the Ambedkar Institute of Productivity in Chennai, India. This mindmap summarizes the answers of workshop participants to the question: “How do I learn?”


(While pressing “Ctrl”, left-click HERE to download the original image file; if you wish to receive image files of mindmap outputs from other workshop groups, please email me.)

The objectives of the workshop exercise were:

  • To illustrate the conversion of many (private, inaccessible) individual tacit knowledge into a single (public, accessible) group explicit knowledge, namely the mindmap;
  • To examine the various ways and patterns in how we learn;
  • To illustrate how a mindmapping software can facilitate thinking and deciding together;
  • To appreciate how our thoughts can be made visible for everyone to see and study.

The steps of the exercise are:

  • Individual writeshop begins by issuing each participant several metacards and a thick felt-tip pen (e.g. Pentel Pen). Metacards are thick paper or cards about 4 inches by 12 inches on which short phrases can be written down, and posted (using pieces of masking tape) on the whiteboard or wall for everyone to read.
  • Each participant writes down his or her answers to the question “How do I learn?” in the metacards. Only one idea or answer is written per card.
  • The participants submit the metacards to the facilitators who post them in front in related clusters.
  • Unclear answers are explained by the writer and rephrased. The participants examine the answers, suggest moving a metacard to another cluster, and combine or split clusters.
  • The participants decide what label best applies to each cluster.
  • The result is inputted in a mindmapping software (there are many commercial and open-source software available) and displayed using an LCD projector so everyone can observe how the mindmap is changed to suit their evolving consensus. The participants suggest rearrangements and repositioning of the clusters, branches and sub-branches. They also finalize the labels of the major branches. The mindmap evolves before their eyes to reflect their group decisions.
  • The group studies the result and discusses any pattern they see, insights and lessons that occur to them, further questions and finally comments and evaluations the entire process.
  • The final mindmap of “How Do We Learn?” is printed for each participant.

Some of the lessons and insights that frequently emerge are:

  1. Formal education is only one of numerous ways we learn.
  2. We learn by interacting with people, especially the experts in our field. Many answers are in this cluster. This insight is a good take-off point for introducing the benefits of a Community of Practice.
  3. We learn by reading books, watching TV, surfing the Internet and listening to the radio. An application of this common modality is the web-based Video-Visual Manual such as that used by Toyota Motors in training its workers.
  4. We learn by doing, from practice and work experience and through experimentation, trial-and-error and even mistakes. Many answers fall under this cluster. This insight is a good take-off point for introducing the benefits of Organizational Learning. The insight is a realization that we all learn while doing, but this learning is semi-conscious and inefficient unless we use systematic means such as various tools in Organizational Learning. I teach graduate-level KM at the University of the Philippines using Workplace Practicums that must be integrated into actual workplace processes and approved by the student’s boss.
  5. We learn by observing other people. This is one of the advantages of Demonstration-Mentoring over classroom-style instruction.
  6. We learn by reflection, analysis and self-study. This insight is a good take-off point for introducing the benefits of After-Action Reviews or Lessons-Learned Sessions, where the review is directed at eliciting what works (=knowledge) and what does not work (=obverse knowledge).
  7. We learn if we want to, if we are Motivated.

In learning anything new, I recommend the following sequence (see my previous blog post on “D4- Converting Tacit to Explicit Knowledge and vice-versa”): reading or listening to a lecture, watching an expert demonstrate the skill, study under a mentor (if available), constant practice, compare notes with similar practitioners, reflective dialogue with similar practitioners, and more practice!

If you wish to read more about mind mapping, check out the books of Tony Buzan. After reading, do not forget to practice!

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Cutting the (Complex) Gordian Knot

April 17, 2009

According to Greek legend, when Alexander the Great was only 23 and not yet well-known, his campaign in Asia Minor brought him to the town of Gordium in 333 BC. Its former king, Gordius, tied an extremely complicated knot in the local temple to Zeus. An oracle foretold that whoever untied the knot would rule all of Asia. Many tried to untie the knot, unsuccessfully. Upon arriving at the temple, Alexander drew his sword and cut the Gordian Knot. Over the next decade, he went on to conquer Asia up to India.

By painter Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743 - 1811) -from Wikimedia Commons

By painter Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743 - 1811) -from Wikimedia Commons

An example of professionals faced with the serious responsibility and task of making sense of complexity are intelligence professionals working for national governments. When I took a temporary leave from academic life to accept appointment as Assistant Director-General of the National Security Council (NSC) of the Philippine Government in 1992-1998, I had the rare opportunity and pleasure to meet and participate in warm fraternal intelligence exchanges (=knowledge sharing) with my counterparts in the national security and intelligence establishments of the governments of Singapore, Brunei, United States, Taiwan and South Korea (=CoP or community of practice).

The task of a national intelligence analyst/security adviser is formidable. National interest is at stake. He must assist the President in:

  • Discerning new global and regional patterns and trends
  • Making forecasts or estimates
  • Interpreting the statements and actions of actual/potential hostile groups
  • Estimating next moves of major political and economic actors
  • Assessing a multitude of risks and threats
  • Analyzing the power relations among top government personalities of superpowers
  • Assessing potentials, threats and opportunities arising from new and emerging technologies

Do intelligence professionals use complexity theory? Not to my knowledge.

My former NSC boss, General Jose T. Almonte, the Director-General of the National Security Council and the National Security Adviser to President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992-1998, and who has decades of achievements in intelligence work, gave me a valuable technique that is sheer simplicity itself. It seemed to me like “cutting the Gordian Knot” of complexity facing intelligence analysts. He reminded me that people, groups, corporations, political parties, nations, etc. are essentially purposive actors; and so he advised me to study only two things: CAPABILITIES and INTENTIONS of international and intranational actors.

Through this blog post, I acknowledge him as the source and inspiration of the model I proposed in my paper on “Organizational Energy” — KNOW-HOW X WILLING-TO — that I wrote about two blog posts back, as well as the MOTIVATION factor in the CCLFI expanded KM framework. My previous blog post listed research findings that motivating knowledge workers is a key success factor in KM initiatives.

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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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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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