Posts Tagged ‘lessons learned meeting’

Knowledge Pathways: 3 Case Studies (Practical Hint #22)

May 11, 2009

Please first review the previous blog on “Knowledge pathways in a learning organization.” The following three case studies are drawn from our KM consulting experiences at CCLFI.

Case Study 1. These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a big government ministry/department:

pathways 1

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • Membership of the cross-functional KM Team is drawn from about 20 functional units.
  • The KM team was involved in the KM audit, KM strategy formulation and KM action planning activities.
  • Nurturing of the KM Team took the form of KM training using experiential exercises and KM mentoring as the team members “learn KM by doing KM.” Their practice projects are various web-based KM toolkits.
  • The KM Team launched a wiki to reconstruct the KM history of their department, the first Philippine department to formally set up a KM unit in 2001.
  • The KM Team practiced in documenting a sample business process (procedures to be followed by a retiring staff) and placed their output in the department intranet.

Actual feedbacks from KM Team members:

    “I am more confident now to promote KM in [my unit]; being equipped with all ideas from the KM meetings and workshop.”

    “[I learned] that I love my work more – because of the KM challenge. Would like to see this work and take part in its success.”

    “KM also responds to the heart of the worker by way of interaction, collegiality and peer learning. To me this is a very holistic approach in the development of the person/worker.”

Case Study 2. These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a government regulatory agency:

pathways 2

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • A KM Team was set up consisting of a Process Sub-Team, a Technology Sub-Team and a People Sub-Team.
  • KM training was through workshops that use adult experiential learning processes.
  • The central KM initiative is mentoring of the KM Team in setting up their intranet and organizing/uploading content.
  • The next activity was mentoring the KM Team in documenting and automating a business process through their new intranet.

Actual feedbacks from KM Team members:

    “The development of the Intranet was a very challenging activity. To be able to put all the information and knowledge in a one-stop shop for the benefit of the organization is just a great achievement.”

    “What I like is the part where we are actually doing the hands-on, applying what we have learned from the lectures”

    “The development of the Intranet system gave me freedom to speak my mind by contributing some articles for uploading at the Intranet”

Case Study 3: These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a multi-sectoral organization consisting of representatives from the national and local governments, local community organizations and non-government organizations, and private sector. The red arrows show where and how tacit knowledge is increased through practice.

pathways 3

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • Their biggest problem is high turnover of membership resulting in constant loss of knowledge and long learning curves of new members.
  • The solution was (a) training in team learning including convening Lessons-Learned Meetings or LLM to elicit and document what works well in existing procedures and (b) compilation of administrative and technical documentations into a “Learning-Oriented Systems Manual.”
  • A subset of the Manual was used for briefing of new members.
  • The executive committee adopted a new vision: “to become a living, learning organization.”
  • LLM was adopted as an organizational habit: “what worked well” and “what did not work” was answered and documented at the end of every activity: meetings, field operations, etc.

Actual feedbacks from the members:

    “I learned that learning can be tremendously fun… the atmosphere becomes conducive if you have fun while learning.”

    “The process, the flow, the sequence of events were very well placed and very appropriate that even the games brought us to higher levels of interaction.”

    “Here, we are taught to take notice of those that are not usually taken notice of in the ordinary course of thinking.”

    “I passed through the `unlearning’ stage, then the `learning’ stage, then perhaps it may be more than this, but the end of it is the ‘appreciation’ stage.”

Overall observations:

  • Documentation is not the end-point of the KM pathways; the end-point is adoption/practice by other employees for their more effective action.
  • The mix of KM pathways varies across organizations; it responds to what the organization wants from KM.
  • “Learning by doing” coupled with mentoring/coaching is an effective knowledge transfer from consultant plus learning by client. There are three secrets to good KM: practice, more practice and still more practice! (smile)
  • Experiential workshops are effective in helping KM team members understand and appreciate KM.
  • Participation, team practice and involvement tends to develop sense of ownership on the part of KM Team members.

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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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