Posts Tagged ‘km tools’

Series T on Low-Cost KM Tips: Increase Your Arsenal of KM Tools

September 28, 2009

Series T consists of useful low-cost KM tips I have developed and tried in my KM consulting practice. Each blog post is coded according to groups or clusters. The blogs are listed below (where you can click on any topic) and also in the Clickable Master Index.

    0. General: definitions, concepts, measurements

      T0-1 A quick way for an organization to adopt a common understanding of KM
      T0-2 Starting a new KM language in your organization
      T0-3 Value added of KM over ICT, HRD and QM
      T0-4 Measuring the impact of a KM initiative
      T0-5 Estimating the financial impact of an intranet enhancement

    1. Value Creation: Market and social value creation, aligning KM to organizational goals, value proposition, business model, socioeconomic impacts

      T1-1 Selecting a cost-effective KM project
      T1-2 Development organizations: supporting desired stakeholder actions
      T1-3 Private corporations: supporting desired customer actions
      T1-4 Convince Board Members on KM in one hour
      T1-5 High-octane knowledge products by a development organization

    2. Sensing Customer Needs: Satisfying internal and external customers, internal and external sensing, innovation and improvement, assessing needs/demands of stakeholders, relationship and stakeholder capital

      T2-1 A quick way of mining customer knowledge for service improvement
      T2-2 Mapping interests and power relations among stakeholders
      T2-3 Cues for product or service improvement
      T2-4 High-value tacit knowledge: What worked well in clinching project contracts
      T2-5 Sensing of client issues during contract negotiation: Some practical tips for KM consultants

    3. Knowledge Worker: Supporting the knowledge worker, supporting a team, skills and attitudes, human capital, self-motivation, personal KM

      T3-1 Showing a concrete benefit of KM to the knowledge worker
      T3-2 Mindmapping our learning processes
      T3-3 Techniques in knowledge innovation (or: you experience how Da Vinci thinks)
      T3-4 Identifying non-technical skills that affect productivity the most
      T3-5 Reducing knowledge loss when experienced staff resigns/retires

    4. Performance Support Systems: Tools and technologies, information and information systems, business processes, structural capital, equipment

      T4-1 Two important trigger questions in a lessons-learned session
      T4-2 An inexpensive tool for on-line meetings and follow-thru M&E
      T4-3 Using the performance evaluation system for KM
      T4-4 Collect and re-use work templates
      T4-5 What information input limits your productivity the most?

    5. Motivational Factors: leadership and supportive policies, incentives both material and non-material, teamwork, morale, conducive workplace, compelling and shared vision, learning orientation, training to support workplace development objectives

      T5-1 Practical hints for learning facilitators
      T5-2 Towards optimum personal productivity: your peak work experiences
      T5-3 Motivating knowledge workers need not be an expensive proposition
      T5-4 Convince managers of benefits of KM
      T5-5 Expertise directory with a twist: getting surprised with each other’s talents

You are free to use the KM tips and the ideas behind them; in return, I will appreciate it if you acknowledge me and CCLFI, the KM-advocacy NGO I belong to, as their source.




Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the webpage pointed to. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the use of the image in this blog post.

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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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