Monthly Archives: May 2003

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The following are my comments on Knowledge Board whether KM is hype or reality:

Well the answer is paradoxical…KM is a needed reality for organisations that are struggling to cut costs and building customer insights.

Let’s go back to the mid and late 90s, when the words “KM” started becoming buzzwords from academic discussions, and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of
the pie.

What drove this demand?

I believe it was the belief propelled by the mental model of “plough back”.
Let me extrapolate.

Earlier, when human knowledge and expertise was driving the growth of organizations, there was a system a work that was knocking down typical
organizational structures and power systems. People who had knowledge and expertise could and did demand price based on the value they could add to
the organization. And if one firm did not, they walked out of the door carrying their experience and expertise between their ears.

Then suddenly came this mantra called “Knowledge Management” which the CEOs saw as an opportunity to hark back to the older system. They said “Ah! This
is what we want. Let the people go..but we can keep their disembodied knowledge” And the consultants saw this opportunity and propelled this grand
misconception.

However, now the consultants turn to him and say “Sorry , to do KM, you got to keep investing in and developing people” and the CEO is stunned…isn’t
that the job of his Training Manager ? But doesn’t that means “giving” his people more knowledge? But,wasn’t the promise of KM that it would “take” the
knowledge from his people and be free from their whimsical demands…?

And so, the mental model of a “taker” that drives the CEO keeps him very suspicious of fads like Knowledge Management that promised (in his understanding) one thing and now are delivering another…

Thoughts welcome. ”

Well, that was then…after those days, have ruminated on it and come to the conclusion that KM will not do.

The road has to lead to Knowledge Creation, and systems that evoke the human imagination, not exploit them….and to do so, KM will need to drop the
mental model of management and take on the role of creation and facilitation.

In effect, it will no longer be enough to ask :

1. Where does this Knowledge reside?
or even,
2. Who knows that?
(these are the questions that IT and Knowledge Repositories had an answer to)

Increasingly we will move to answering questions that are on the lines of:

1. How do we leverage what we know to create bigger, better, faster…..?
2. How do we work with each other across boundaries, breaking out of our silos, learning from each other, confronting each other openly and adding value to ourselves as people and to the organizations we work with?

So here are my mantras for the death of KM ….long live KC (read the short review of the book by Nonaka, Ichijo and Von Krogh “Enabling Knowledge Creation”)

1. The mental models will move from “KM Structures and Processes” to “Knowledge Ecologies”
2. From contribution we’ll move to collaboration
3. From repositories and databases we’ll move to ‘places’ or ‘contexts’
4. From internal to organizations, knowledge sharing will become more inter-organizational
5. From teams we’ll move to communities
6. From the IT department knowledge will take its place amongst people who run the business, and learning process owners will lose another opportunity
to influence at a strategic level.
7. Benefits of knowledge sharing will start to move from “cost savings” to “value additions” and “new value”
8. A synergy will emerge between strategic thought that looks at knowledge creation , complexity theory that views knowledge as a complex human process, sensemaking that looks at what humans create in their mind and why and creation of something out of seemingly nothing. 🙂

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on India Strategy Think Tank I had this to say about Organizational Structure and It’s role in Innovation:

The question to ask is :

1.What is the purpose of the structure and processes?

2.Are they serving that purpose?

3. If they are not, what (pardon the word) innovative processes and
structures will facilitate faster communication and better alignment?

I specifically liked the idea of forming a team around a process. A
lot of organizations have such ‘cross-functional teams’ in place for
specific projects. And a ‘extra-constitutional team’ often is formed
to help tide over organizational crises.

Why not have a team for each process flow looking after it end-to-
end? Indeed, why not? Why have so many information hand-overs
between otherwise vertical silos?

A cross-functional team around each work process in an
organization??? Amazing thought!

The challenge here would not be to say “my turf-your turf” but “my
outcome…our purpose!”

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On India Strategy Think Tank I had this to say about Quality Certifications in Indian s/w industry:

Well I really don’t know how CMM certification operates now…but
when I joined one of India’s big 5 IT services firm I realised what a
sham the CMM level x certification was.

In those days at least either a particular location of the firm or
particular project could go in for a CMM level x certification and
then the company would go about telling everyone that it had done
it!! Achieved that elusive CMM certification.

And the CMM certification is not like a ISO certification which keeps
getting assessed again and again…once you have it for one project
you can say the whole company has it !!

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on world of HR I wrote the following on Bonds/ Contract Letters

This is quite a grey area in the area of training and I don’t know
if any companies have managed to institutionalise such a process,
and whether if challenged, it has stood upto scrutiny in a court of
law. Quite a few software companies have such a ‘service bond’ for
fresh recruits for a period of 2-3 years. You could contact them.

However, I’d wager that any such bond will not be workable in a
course of law.

On the other hand, you’d be sending out a wrong signal to people in
the firm when you make them sign such a bond. It would communicate
to people that the firm does not trust them and is quite
transactional in its dealings. It might even trigger off thoughts of
attrition in people who have had no intention of leaving.

Training however, can be used as a reward mechanism for people. High
end training can be given to people who are high performers and a
clear career path can be made visible to them.

It would be good to keep in mind that causes for attrition are
frequently in the employees immediate work space and trying to clamp
a legal leash on them can be counter productive.

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on HRgyan the following post on Induction of Sales People:

There is no ONE defined kind of induction. Before you design any kind of
training/induction intervention you need to clarify the following:

1. Who is the target audience?
2. What is the purpose of the training/ induction?
3. What learning objectives do you want them to go back with?

If you can figure out the above three points then designing the induction
would be comparatively easy.

If you want the outcome to be awareness of each other, learning from each
other, learning about the company (in case they are new hires), its systems
and processes, learning about the industry .in all these cases the content
and delivery methodology would be different.