Posts Tagged ‘organizational energy’

Personal Intangible Assets and Intentions

August 14, 2009

Among KM practitioners, the word “knowledge” has a very specific meaning, namely, “capacity for effective action” (see previous blog posts “F5- A Proposed KM Framework” and “Practical Exercise #15: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”).

I wrote a paper entitled “Organisational energy and other meta-learning from case studies of knowledge management implementation in nine Asian countries”. It will be published soon by Routlege in the next issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. In this paper, I reviewed 22 KM case studies from Asian countries and 21 KM case studies from the Philippines, and I concluded that effective action is the result of two factors: knowledge assets and “organizational energy“. I defined the latter term as motivational, intentional, relational and related factors that determine effective group action. A knowledge worker must “know” how to do a job well, AND he/she must be “willing or wanting” to do it. See blog post: “Q23- Know-how (=Knowledge) without “Willing-to.” Organizational energy is a part of an organization’s capacity to create value. Organizational energy is part of its intangible assets.

KM practitioners know that KM to be successful must be accompanied by one form or another of “change management” (click “Change Management Must Accompany KM” in the CCLFI opening page). If you examine the repertoire of a change management expert, you will conclude that all change management interventions aim to enhance organizational energy — it seeks, enhances, encourages, builds upon or enables “willingness” of employees to perform the desired actions. (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers”)

Therefore, to optimize person-to-person communication for either creation or transfer of knowledge, organizational energy must be managed, including paying attention to the intention behind our communication acts.

Let me share an insight about personal intangible assets.

I blogged about people who had experienced looking at death face-to-face, and surviving from that experience. The experience leaves them with a heightened appreciation of life. They listen to, engage with, and live life more fully. The experience also results in a valuable learning, namely, that when your time is up, we leave behind many things that we thought we “own”. Think about this: when you or I cross the threshold to death, we leave behind:

  • Our tangible assets: properties like house and land, financial wealth, explicit knowledge, equipment and technologies (you can’t bring your laptop with you!);
  • Our physical body and its physical or biological life;
  • Our academic, professional and social credentials and positions.

I had assumed that religious beliefs cannot be scientifically scrutinized. I realized I could be wrong after I read books such as Dr. Raymond Moody’s popular book “Life After Life”. Since that time, much research in transpersonal psychology had grown. This subfield is not yet recognized by the American Psychological Association, but a couple of universities had started to offer doctoral programs in transpersonal psychology.

Thanks to this new field of research, we are beginning to see new insights about life and learning.

Dr. Moody is a physician in Pennsylvania who noted that patients who unexplainably regained consciousness hours after having been pronounced clinically dead (“spontaneous revival”) almost always have a story to tell about their “in-between” experience. The fact that some people can regain full consciousness and bodily functions hours after the brain had been deprived of oxygen is itself a medical mystery. But Dr. Moody’s interest was elsewhere: in those stories. The stories seem to exhibit similarities. Listening to the stories, it appears that the “in-between” experiences were often life-transforming for those patients. His interest grew and he sought and collected more stories from other hospitals. Eventually he published the case studies in book form in 1978.

The similarities he observed across many stories were as follows. Patients recall:

  • Passing through and eventually emerging from a dark tunnel to a place of light;
  • Meeting or being met by relatives and friends who had died before;
  • Reviewing their life in a split second — as if watching a super fast movie;
  • Having someone beside them during the life review, whose demeanour is kind and non-judgmental (the identity of this “someone” varies according to the religious belief of the patient);
  • This “someone” asks basically two questions during the life review: Q1: What have you learned? Q2: Whom have you helped or loved?;
  • Then the patient “returns” back to life.

Dr. Moody was intrigued by the similarities because the patients who told their stories were unknown to one another (and therefore they could not have secretly conspired to tell similar stories). In fact many patients regard their experience with so much significance and respect that some hesitate at first to reveal their experiences.

Did you notice that Q1 is about (using KM language) gain in human capital while Q2 is about gain in relationship capital? The indications from Dr. Moody’s studies are: we do leave behind all our tangible assets; these are NOT ours, at least not in any permanent way. But our intangible assets do stay with us! They are really OUR assets.

Findings from transpersonal psychology, and knowledge accumulated by those who practice what we can call experiential technologies (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism; see my previous blog post “A Paradox of 20th Century Scientific Practice”), indicate that we can bring with us:

  • Our intangible assets: tacit knowledge, lessons learned, relationships;
  • Our capability to be consciously aware and to make decisions, choices or intentions.

The book I am reading now is Stephen Levine’s “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last.” I am happy to learn that many of the skills and tools in conscious living (and in “Indigo Learning Practices” in this blog series) we have been practicing and developing at CCLFI, are useful not only for personal KM and organizational learning, but also for fearlessly and smoothly crossing the threshold to death.

We saw in previous blog posts that intangible assets are more important than tangible assets in: (a) GWP and the global economy, (b) in corporations, and (c) in development of poor communities. And now we see that intangible assets are also fundamentally important at the personal level.

430px-Garborg_av_Olav_Rusti_1912

ARNE GARBORG

“It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can [buy] the husk of everything, but not the kernel.” – Arne Garborg, Norwegian writer and reformist

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More Power to Glocals!

April 23, 2009

Corrupt leaders, terrorists, nationalistic actions of superpowers and “gnomes in Zurich and other financial centres” (a term coined in 1956 by former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson) share something in common. The reach of their influence and power far exceeds the extent of their beneficiary group:

Scope of power > Scope of benefit

“Scope” can mean geographic or demographic scope. Using the language of extended benefit-cost analysis, they generate private benefits for themselves and their small group at the expense of inflicting social costs on the larger public.

In Q23 on “Know-How without Willing-To” I wrote about organizational energy and showed that

Know-How X Willing-to = Effective Action.

which is a reformulation of

Capabilities X Intentions = Potential Action

in “Cutting the (Complex) Gordian Knot.”

If we add the geographic or demographic dimension to the above formulae, we see that the geographic reach or the public scope of an actor’s capabilities is different from that of his intentions. For example, the scope of interest of a corrupt president includes only himself and his immediate family, while the scope of his power and influence is the entire government bureaucracy and the nation. A nationalistic superpower pursues only its national interests, yet its power is global. The “gnomes in Zurich” or “gnomes in Wall Street” are profit-seeking actors working for their personal or corporate interests, yet the impact of their actions is global.

Narrow interests drive their global actions.

At the opposite end is glocality (from “global” and “locality”), a new word that has gained currency among development and civil society sectors, and among expat professionals who frequently move around the globe. The word captures the essence of the injunction: “Think globally, act locally.” A glocal person is one whose area of power and influence is confined only to her immediate small locality, yet her local actions are informed from her global perspectives and interests. Glocals are opposite to corrupt leaders, terrorists, nationalistic superpowers and “gnomes in Zurich and other financial centres.”

Global interests drive their local actions.

glocal-person-and-couter-glocal-person

The dysfunctional situation where geographic or public scope of power and influence of an actor exceeds the scope of his perspectives, interests or intended beneficiaries, is met across a wide variety of circumstances:

  • a virus creator introducing his creation into the Internet,
  • a corrupt public official using his powers for his own or his family’s benefit,
  • a terrorist motivated by a particularistic ideology,
  • a factory discharging wastes in a nearby stream,
  • a psychotic with a gun in a large crowd,
  • a nationalistic action of a superpower,
  • a resource cartel such as OPEC,
  • a swimmer who secretly pees in a swimming pool with many swimmers
  • a conspiratorial group of shadowy foreign exchange traders with controlling market share in a country,
  • a government-sanctioned monopoly
  • a protectionist domestic manufacturer bribing a government official to keep tariff levels high against competing foreign products,
  • pirates operating near Somalia,
  • a smoker-turned arsonist who throws his cigarette butt and starts a forest fire.

I introduced the above concepts in a paper on “Relevance of Values in the Management of Corruption” which I read at the Conference on Integrity in Governance in Asia, Bangkok, Thailand, June 1998 and in another paper on “Information Technology and Security in the 21st Century” at the Asia-Pacific Security Forum Conference in Taipei, Taiwan in December 1999.

Counter-glocal persons spend their lifetimes “climbing the ladder” whether in business or in politics, but as their power and influence expands, their interests remain narrow. They learn to become masters in manipulating the external world around them. They seek Power of the First and Second Kind (see blog posts Q9 and Q10). The world becomes a riskier and poorer world as counter-glocals attain greater power.

To become a glocal person, you do not have to travel around the globe or get appointed to a high position. All you need to do is stay where you are, expand your perspectives and take the interests of Planet Earth as your own, and express these in whatever work you are doing now. Glocals are masters in broadening their own internal world of perspectives, motives and aspirations. They practice Power of the Third Kind. The world becomes a safer and happier world as more glocals attain greater power.

May their tribe increase!

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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
    Etc.

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.

wordle-of-motivation1

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free counters

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
or
(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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