Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

T5-5 Expertise Directory with a Twist: “Getting Surprised with Each Other’s Talents”

February 17, 2010

In 2006, I designed and facilitated a KM planning workshop for a new cross-functional KM Team. Among my objectives were (1) to motivate individual team members and (2) to show them in a concrete way the advantages of an expertise directory. I introduced a module that generated so much energy and enthusiasm among the team members that I repeated this module in other KM workshops for other organizations.

This is how the process flows:

  1. Individual seatwork: Each team member is provided a 3′ x 4′ kraft paper (or Manila paper) and a black felt pen. The instruction is: “List down all your talents, both technical and non-technical.” A few members asked guidelines on how to identify their talents. My answers were: “In what tasks/skills do your colleagues often ask you for assistance?” “Recall 1-2 very successful task/projects you did; what talents did you use?”
  2. Public posting: After a team member is done, she/he posts her/his work on the wall.
  3. Comment/feedback on each other: After all team members’ work had been posted around the walls, each team member is given a red (or any colored) felt pen, goes around and reads everybody else’s work. Anyone can write comments on anyone else’s work, e.g. “you forgot to add skill XX.” “I didn’t know you are good at YY!” “Prove it!” “You are too shy to mention skill ZZ!” “You should have joined Project @@!” Approval of a skill can be conveyed simply by a red asterisk.
  4. Answer comments: A team member, if she/he wishes, can write her/his reaction to a comment using a blue (or another color) felt pen.
  5. Plenary discussion: The team sits down and the facilitator leads a group discussion on insights and learning from the content (output) and process, and how they each felt about the process. As facilitator, I conclude by proposing “Let us collect your outputs and use this as inputs to your internal KM Team Expertise Directory.”

My own insights and learning from this module are:

  • Team members often express surprise at knowing (and at previously not being aware of) many of each other’s talents. For example, they were very surprised that a medical doctor colleague had learned the skill of laying out bathroom tiles! KM is about harnessing talent, and it starts with recognizing it.
  • The module was able to reveal to them the value of an expertise directory, especially one that includes both technical and non technical skills. For example, a non-technical skill (or a skill that does not appear in the ordinary CV or resume) that is useful for the organization is the ability to act as emcee (from “MC” or master of ceremonies) in a ceremony, conference or public event.
  • The commenting process creates a space where KM Team members mutually acknowledge and affirm each other and their skills (this works well when the KM Team members know each other beforehand). It is a process that generates much interactive energy, team building and motivation.
  • The process supports openness about one’s abilities and gaps, at the same time that it reveals individual styles and preferences such as hesitance to publicly announce one’s talents, and personal boundaries in self-disclosure. Such hesitance is acknowledged and respected by the group instead of challenged.
  • All outputs taken together can reveal new systemic insights. In one organization, the CEO herself read the postings and then remarked “We have enough talent to put together a chorale and music band.”

What do YOU think? Tell us.

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T5-3 Motivating Knowledge Workers Need Not be an Expensive Proposition

November 20, 2009

Motivating knowledge workers in KM projects does not have to cost much money. A survey of 22 Asian organizations performing good KM practices (conducted by Asian Productivity Organization) reveal an interesting pattern: they employ various (low-cost) ways to motivate knowledge workers:

  • Rewards and recognition schemes are often used. Airtel in India instituted the Knowledge Dollar (K$) as the unit of performance credit and the Joint President’s and CEO’s Knowledge Management Award. A Learning Award for knowledge transfer and an Enterprise Award for intrapreneurship were established by Unilever Indonesia. Wika in Indonesia instituted ten different awards. The Learning Award resulted in “new enthusiasm for learning, confidence in trainers to conduct sessions, new standards of module development… and preservation of knowledge not captured before.”
  • Infosys uses measurable returns from KM initiatives to demonstrate the benefits and rationale for engaging in KM. Initial positive feedbacks on outputs/benefits of KM were encouraging and provided motivation for the continuing development of KM at Goldsun in Vietnam.
  • At the Department of Health in the Philippines, members of the KM Team through a workshop surfaced their personal talents, passions and life goals and each member clarified how he or she can optimize the conscious convergence between personal and organizational goals.
  • Management of Qian Hu in Singapore designed a mix of informal and formal communication modes to strengthen buy-in from employees and customers. This includes “floor walks”, tea sessions and informal gatherings besides more formal modes such as seminars and focus group discussions.
  • At SCG Paper in Thailand, a balance of virtual interaction and physical or face-to-face meetings is employed. Physical spaces designed for interactions are provided that can foster openness and trust among employees. Similarly, Bank Negara Malaysia redesigned its library environment to make it more reader friendly, using ergonomics furniture and encouraging a more cheerful mood using paintings and appropriate color scheme for walls and furniture.
  • The importance of senior management commitment or executive sponsorship was mentioned in many case studies. In a survey of more than 200 organizations in Thailand this factor was ranked highest among critical success factors for KM. At Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, the CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) was selected on the basis of commitment, leadership ability and recognition from other staff. Leadership and policy was ranked second in a study in Malaysia of success factors in KM. JTC Corporation’s managers created “a motivational organizational culture characterized by a caring leadership behavior which supports active questioning and allows for mistakes… Employees are thus able to trust each other and to share their opinions about work related issues more freely.”
  • Learning is a win-win activity for employees and the company. CAPCO in Taiwan established an on-line learning program for its employees, the Multimedia Cyber College. It has motivated its employees by including on-line training and certification as part of the employee evaluation and promotion processes.
  • The motivational value of learning through face-to-face interaction in a team or CoP is mentioned in many case studies. Unilever Indonesia, SCG Paper and Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, and SAIT in Korea are examples of organizations that set up and nurture many CoPs. To sustain employee interest in KM activities, Bank Negara Malaysia initiated cross-functional teams, benchmarking projects and study visits or attachments.
  • At SCG Paper, the honor of being a mentor or coach is seen as a motivating element in tacit knowledge transfer processes such as the buddy system, job rotation and cross-functional group activities. Designating functional heads as the knowledge champions and setting up a community of experts were instrumental in gaining buy-in for KM at Airtel. Wika and Bank Indonesia created the role of “begawan” (sage) for mature and experienced mentors.
  • “Praise Ground,” which is an avenue for peer-to-peer public compliments for exemplary KM behavior, is an innovative process at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. According to the case study author,
    “A member identifies another employee who has done something worthy to be praised and writes a short, but entertaining note about it on the website. That member, then, identifies still another employee to praise and the process is repeated over and over… The Praise Ground is one of the most popular and most frequently visited website at SAIT. Most, if not all, members at SAIT consider it a great personal honor to be mentioned at the Praise Ground.”

If you wish to read more about these 22 KM case studies which I edited, click here and access the 3rd item in “Downloadable KM e-books”.

KM in Asia

KM in Asia (22 case studies)

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Q28- Recap of KM Virtues and Gaps, or Will KM Disappear?

May 30, 2009

This Q Series had been a successful one; 16,267 hits came in since it started. We end this blog series with this summarizing post. To better appreciate an item that strikes you, I suggest reading the blog which explains that point. The blogs are accessible from this post through embedded links (which appear as colored text). While pressing “Ctrl”, you can click on the colored text to create a new tab to read the previous blog post referred to.

Virtues of KM and OL (organizational learning):

Gaps in KM and OL practice:

What we need next, a new KM or the next discipline after KM:

Q28 cartoon

We will start the new L Series on “Indigo Learning Practices” in the next blog. Stay tuned in!

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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 Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers

April 15, 2009

Further to my previous blog post, I compiled the results of some studies showing that user satisfaction or commitment (internally-driven) and/or motivating/rewarding knowledge workers (externally-driven) contribute to success of KM initiatives:

A. Two of five factors to ensure KM initiatives succeed:

  • High priority given to the initiative at the very top of the hierarchy
  • Establishment of incentives to share knowledge.

(Source: Mathi, Kavindra: “Key Success Factors for Knowledge Management.” MBA thesis, Internationales Hochschulinstitut Lindau, University of Applied Sciences, FH Kempten, Germany, December 2004)

B. Factors identified as critical through multiple regression analysis:

  • Establishment of a reward strategy
  • Willingness to share knowledge
  • Top management support

(Source: Yu-Cheng Lin and Lee-Kuo Lin: “Critical Success Factors for Knowledge Management: Studies in Construction,” Department of Civil Engineering, National Taipei University of Technology, 2006)

C. From Randy Williams: “Critical Success Factors When Building a Knowledge Management System” (Sharepoint Magazine, 4 December 2008) two of seven success factors are:

  • Motivating staff
  • Executive support

D. According to Murray E. Jennex and Iryna Zakharova: “Knowledge Management Critical Success Factors.” Management.Com.Ua, 29 June 2005:

D1. Two of eight design recommendations for a successful KM system:

  • Have senior management support
  • Build motivation and commitment by incorporating KMS usage into personnel evaluation processes; implementing KMS use/satisfaction metrics; and identifying organizational culture concerns that could inhibit KMS usage.

(Source: Jennex, M.E. and Olfman, L. “Development Recommendations for Knowledge Management/Organizational Memory Systems.” Information Systems Development Conference 2000)

D2. Eight factors common in 18 successful KM projects out of 35:

  • Senior management support
  • Linkages to economic performance
  • Motivational incentives for KM users

(Source: Davenport, T.H., DeLong, D.W., and Beers, M.C. “Successful Knowledge Management Projects.” Sloan Management Review, 39(2), 43-57, 1998)

D3. Importance of user commitment, motivation, incentives or reward system was among the findings of 7 studies, support from top management in 6 studies, and clear goal or purpose in 4 studies.


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Q23- Know-how (=Knowledge) without “Willing-to”

April 14, 2009

In 2006-2007 the Asian Productivity Organization put together a team of nine National KM Experts to produce case studies of good KM practices from nine Asian countries. As Chief Expert, I headed the team and also edited the resulting publication which came out in 2008. In the last chapter on Concluding Observations of that publication, I noted that almost all of the 22 good-practice organizations employed one or more ways of motivating knowledge workers. Read about these methods at the Change Management section of the CCLFI website (click the link labelled “Motivating Knowledge Workers” on the right side of the webpage).

Lesson from Asian KM case studies: Good KM practice is often accompanied by various approaches to motivate knowledge workers and/or organization-wide change management approaches.

This finding is consistent with our ten years of KM training, advising and consulting experiences at CCLFI. CCLFI is a leading KM service provider in the Philippines. We compiled 21 case studies of KM initiatives in, or supported by, multilateral and bilateral development organizations that CCLFI had assisted. We found two behavioral indicators that an organization is committed to KM: appointment of a KM officer and allocation of funds from its internal budget. We also found that the following approaches are effective for starting and sustaining a KM initiative —

  • Look for or encourage visible forms of support from top executives
  • Look for or nurture a KM champion from among top executives
  • Organize and train a cross-functional KM team, which will take the lead to —
  • Formulate a KM roadmap aligned with the organization’s goals, responding to current issues and problems, and suited to its organizational context.

Lesson from Philippine KM case studies: It works well to recognize and nurture various forms of commitment at various levels of the organization.

I wrote about the above lessons from Asian and Philippine KM case studies in an article that will be published next month by the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. In the article, entitled “Organisational energy and other meta-learning from case studies of knowledge management implementation in nine Asian countries”, I introduced a new concept, “organizational energy” and concluded that —

Know-how X Willing-to (or Wanting-to) = Effective Action
(Tangible assets + Knowledge assets) X Organisational energy = Effective Action

In short, a knowledge worker may know how to do a job well, but if he is unwilling to do it, no effective action will happen.

Do you agree?

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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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Practical Hint #16: Knowledge Transfer from Retiring Senior Staff

March 2, 2009

Let us apply to a practical situation the expanded KM framework presented in the previous blog post.

Suppose that many experienced senior staff will be retiring from your organization within 12 months. Much knowledge will soon be lost from the organization. As a result, the quality of strategic decision making would deteriorate. Some risks, less visible to junior staff, could materialize to actual loses. Opportunities could be missed. Productivity and revenues would likely suffer.

To minimize loses in this situation, you can transfer knowledge from senior retiring staff. The expanded KM framework suggests that we must pay attention to five areas:

1. Human capital: Mentoring of understudy (over several months) on —

  • How important decisions are made
  • Practice in performing critical phases of a business process, problem solving
  • “Tricks of the trade”
  • “War stories” e.g. about how past crises were successfully handled

The understudy must be selected considering non-technical skills required of the job such as ability to communicate, people skills, team player, etc.

2. Structural capital: Turnover of records such as —

  • Work folders and work files, emails archive, Internet bookmarks
  • Manuals, work templates and tools, problem-solution logbook
  • Important information sources, etc.

3. Relationship capital:

  • The senior retiring staff introduces the junior understudy to important external business contacts and internal stakeholders especially through informal or social occasions; this process can be repeated over several months until the external or internal stakeholders accept and trust the junior understudy to an extent that the senior retiring staff judges as sufficient for the junior understudy to take over the performance of relevant functions.
  • Turnover of telephone directory
  • Confidential briefing of understudy on personalities, strengths/weaknesses and relationship styles of key business, network and internal contacts
  • Membership in knowledge and other networks; log-in and password to company-owned subscriptions, networks, etc.

4. Tangible assets:

  • Company laptop or work station
  • Books
  • Company communication devices: mobile telephone, etc.

5. Motivational factors:

  • The understudy must be selected considering not only technical qualification factors but also personal interest or enthusiasm in the job, whether the job is along his chosen career path, whether the new boss and colleagues in the job are likely to support the understudy, and presence of a personal talent that will be better utilized in the new job.

The above formula must be adapted to the nature of the job. In marketing or sales, relationship capital is more important. In jobs requiring very specialized skills, human capital is important. Motivational factors are always important. In high-tech services, technology (which is part of tangible assets) is important.

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Practical Exercise #15: Ingredients of Effective Group Action

February 28, 2009

Let us go through an exercise of constructing a mental model. To ensure that we follow the wisdom of Gregory Bateson (see previous blog post by clicking here: Q16), we will proceed in this manner: start with data from personal experiences -> discern pattern from the data -> construct mental model including concepts. This scientific methodology is called “grounded theory” because you don’t start at “Cloud 9” but you instead start from the “ground” of experience in the real world.

From your own experiences, what are the ingredients of effective group action? (the question comes from the definition of “knowledge”; click here to see blog post F5)

Get a paper and pencil and please add to my list below:

    physical energy
    access to needed information
    support from outside
    financial resources
    empowering policies
    mental model
    trust on one another
    shared concepts
    common goal
    mutual support
    good procedure
    cash and incentives
    good system
    conducive workplace

    (Please add to the list from your experiences.)

Next, let us cluster them together. Do you agree with this grouping? Are the members in each group similar enough to warrant the grouping? Do the groups make sense to you?


Then, we place labels on the clusters or groups:


VOILA! We now have CCLFI’s expanded KM framework! The entries in green are motivational factors that cut across the tangible and the three intangible forms (see blog post D11):



  • In F5 we learned that “knowledge” is capacity for effective action (I had written on this in the Overview chapter of a KM book published by the Asian Productivity Organization; click HERE).
  • We saw that “know-what” (=knowledge) is not enough; it must be combined with “willing-to” (=motivation); I reported this in a KM conference last year at Kuala Lumpur (click HERE).
  • In F1 we saw that the expanded KM framework overlaps with the intellectual capital framework (Click here to download paper to be published by EADI/IKM).
  • We learned that intellectual capital has three (mostly intangible) components: human, structural and stakeholder capital, but we also saw that “stakeholder capital” and “customer capital” are too narrow, and must be broadened to “relationship capital” that also includes relationships within the organization (reported in our Singapore paper and also in my Overview chapter of the APO book).

A mental model is double-edged: a good one enables you to see the world better, but a bad one is like a blindfold or blinder that allows you to see only a distorted slice of the world.

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D20- IQ (Head) versus EQ (Heart) in KM

January 2, 2009

The KM model in D11 (“Tangible versus Intangible Assets”) can be redrawn to distinguish cognitive (=head, IQ) from affective (=heart, EQ or emotional quotient) factors in KM practice:



I pointed out in a previous blogpost (“F5- A Proposed KM Framework”) that a common source of confusion in the field of KM stems from the use of the layman word “knowledge.” To KM gurus, the word “knowledge” has a specific meaning:

    “Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody — either by becoming grounds for action, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different or more effective action” – Peter Drucker

    “Justified belief that increases an entity’s capacity for effective action” – Ikujiro Nonaka

    “I define knowledge as a capacity to act” – Karl Erik Sveiby

    “Knowledge is information in action” – Carla O’Dell and C. Jackson Grayson

Therefore in KM, knowledge is capacity for effective action, which includes belief and information useful for effective action. It encompasses whatever helps you do your job well. Thus, information that is not actionable is not knowledge. “Effective action” is the operational, empirical or behavioral indicator of the result of applying knowledge well in a particular context.

In another earlier blogpost (“F1- KM is not enough!”) we saw that capacity for doing a job well depends on cognitive/technical as well as emotional/non-technical factors such as motivation. I saw in one organization (see “Knowledge is NOT enough”) that emotional/non-technical factors’ influence on productivity exceed 50 percent!

(I read a conference paper last July 2008 in Kuala Lumpur on this topic which you can download from It is entitled “Some Stories about How Personality and Culture Come into Our Knowledge Management Practice”.)

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