Posts Tagged ‘mind mapping’

Emerging Indigo Practices

May 28, 2009

From previous blogs, I tried to show that major world problems stem from our lack of knowledge in the indigo quadrant (lower left quadrant in the diagram below):


When two long-term societal megatrends are combined, we discover (see “Q27- Combining Megatrends #1 and #2: the next societal innovations”) that the next significant societal innovations are expected in the indigo quadrant. In my contribution to the book “The Future of Innovation” (to be published by Gower in the autumn of 2009), entitled “The Future of Innovation Must Be Sought in Non-Technological Spheres” I wrote, in part:

    “Mankind has demonstrated that its ability to technologically innovate is far greater than its ability to anticipate, learn and solve the negative social consequences of those innovations…

    Innovation in the future will be driven by common threats confronting mankind. Ironically, most of those threats are man-made. Innovation will proceed in the general direction of preventing and resolving conflicts, governance at all levels, advancing human rights and human security, cross-border agreements in preventing and fighting crime and terrorism, eliminating social exclusions and other social ills that lead to poverty, generating consensus on environmental problems and solutions, and value creation.”

In the specific area of KM, this means that tools, technologies and practices for effectively managing relationship capital would be important. Below is a list of such KM tools (reproduced from a previous blog post: “Practical Hint #17: Tools for Managing Relationship Capital”):

  • 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): one that knows and appreciates many of the above.

Accordingly, I have decided that the next blog series will be on “Indigo Learning Practices.” We will call it the 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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