Knowledge Management and Critical Thinking: Congress, Legislative Outcomes and Systems Thinking

Critical Thinking

Diversity of Thought

When I began my knowledge management career in 1998, I had the good fortune to read Peter M. Senge’s book, “The Fifth Discipline.” One of the important tenets that I took away from the read is the idea of a “community of inquiry and experimentation.” This is and should be a continuing model for thinking and course of action decisions. I find that inquiry and experimentation lead to an improved ability to independently form (new) opinions, and beliefs, and discover new facts and insights to further enrich and support any decision I need to make. This pursuit of both new ideas and more effective solutions to challenges and problems, relying in part on evidence-based research and learning (e.g. lessons learned), and critical thinking*, often involves sharing one’s ideas not only in their professional communities but also sharing these ideas publicly in speech and through publication. Diversity of thought is critical. It helps to keep one objective in their thinking.

Encouraging Inquiry and Experimentation

I was fortunate to attend Newark Academy and Lehigh University, unique and independent secondary and collegiate learning institutions in the ’60s and early ’70s, that taught me the value and necessity of evidence-based research; how to conduct, analyze, and implement research and analysis to make better decisions while adding “common sense and sound business judgment” to the mix, eliminating emotion as much as relevantly possible, and while not ignoring my gut. This approach guided me through my USAF career. Given the space to share and add my ideas and opinions to a conversation, my ideas may not have prevailed but my voice was heard, my ideas were considered, and I believed that along the way my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions, formed part of the ultimate understanding of a position, decision or “consensus” solution. I was able to change an opinion more easily or adjust a conclusion. Unlike today, the educational and social environment then more often than not requested and encouraged diversity of opinion and thought—encouraging inquiry and experimentation to solve problems and address challenges.  

Free Speech and Cancelation

Sharing of ideas and opinions is called free speech and with free speech, there can be consequences. What you say can get you praised or ridiculed, included or excluded, hired or fired. If what you say can deprive you of your livelihood, the right to free expression is useless and a fear of retaliation is well-founded. History is rich with examples of speech censorship where saying the wrong thing could get you arrested or killed; there is economic censorship in which the result is diminished information flow for media consumers that often rely on single (risky) or multiple pathways (better) to inform their own opinions, conclusions and to make decisions. 

We are increasingly subject to being “canceled” for expressing our opinions, not only on the job but also on our own time in venues unrelated to our occupations. In those instances where the “sharer” publicly shares an opinion or conclusion that may not be broadly or specifically accepted, and attempts at cancellation fail, “guilt” becomes the tool of choice to influence the behavior and thinking of those with whom you disagree. Emotion and personal or tribal agendas guide behavior; evidence and facts are ignored, and alternative “facts” are promoted, even if the sharer’s conclusion follows a logical and “systems thinking approach” to their conclusion. While one can disagree with the conclusion and the approach for deriving that conclusion, one should account for a documented history of evidence and learned lessons relevant to similar or closely identical situations and their outcomes that the sharer provides. 

I read an opinion article recently that states, “To be guilty means you’re culpable and responsible for some wrongdoing, ethically and/or legally. And if it’s accurate, we have to serve our time or pay our fine or make our apologies or somehow confess and atone. That’s a call for society to make, not special interest groups or individuals trying to manipulate us. But I’m not leading a life influenced by guilt flung by others who corrosively believe “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

Manchin and Sinema — Critical, System Thinkers?

Consider the positions held by Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on current reconciliation legislation. While the Senators serve demographically different constituencies, give the Senators credit for taking what appears to be a systems view to arrive at their current positions. Consideration has been given to the social, fiscal, environmental, and political objectives of the proposed legislation and the outcomes of its implementation. Many of those that disagree with the Senators have ridiculed and derided them. Does it make better sense to unpack their line of analysis, thinking, and conclusions in order to look for ways to arrive at common ground using evidence and learning…to apply evidence-based and critical thinking? And now with a 31 October deadline for a decision and vote announced by the House Speaker today, there seems to be time to do this. 

Legislative Outcomes and Requirements Definition

Practically speaking, this is a discussion that must be focused on outcomes, should be requirements-based, and should be focused on actual needs.

What defines success? What are the cost, schedule, and technical (fiscal, social, political, environmental…) challenges? How are the cost, schedule, and technical challenges balanced (trade-offs for best value) to achieve the best possible outcomes? What are the details of implementation and do they align with the requirements? For critical thinking and evidence-based analysis to guide decision-making, the tendency to discuss this through the lens of how it will affect either the Democrats’ or Republicans’ political fortunes must change. Practically, this is not an all-or-nothing situation.  Sound business judgment and collective common sense underpin meaningful consensus.

Knowledge management and critical thinking are requisite fundamentals for legislative success. The two are essential in creating necessary understanding between differing opinions on problems and solutions and then guiding the thinking and behavior of members of Congress in defining and legislating effective solutions to national challenges.

* One definition: Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different definitions exist, but which generally include the rational, skeptical, and unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

This article was also published in RealKM Magazine under the Systems and Complexity Headline

Note: This article was discussed as part of a Pioneer Knowledge Services Podcast by “Because You Need to Know” hosted by Edwin K. Morris – Pioneer Knowledge Services

Winter Struggles in Texas

The Energy Crisis in Texas Should Open Some Eyes

I’m interested in Texas right now because some of my family lives there. Beyond COVID impacts they tell me it’s a very hard winter for Texas residents without power and utilities –  heat, light, and running water – that is affecting millions of the Lone Star State’s residents for the third day. The prognosis is not good at the moment so it looks like suffering will continue in the near term until Mother Nature lets up.

Here is an excerpt from today’s WSJ Opinion section: “Texas energy regulators were warning of rolling blackouts late last week as temperatures in western Texas plunged into the 20s, causing wind turbines to freeze. Natural gas and coal-fired plants ramped up to cover the wind power shortfall as demand for electricity increased with falling temperatures. It wasn’t until temperatures plunged into the single digits early Monday morning that some conventional power plants including nuclear started to have problems, which was the same time that demand surged for heating. Gas plants also ran low on fuel as pipelines froze and more was diverted for heating. Gas power nearly made up for the shortfall in wind, though it wasn’t enough to cover surging demand.” 

We have seen a (policy) effort to take nuclear and coal plants offline as part of an evolving energy policy. This evolving policy impacts the public when blackouts occur because the grid is fragile and there is little or no backup – no plan B in other words. 

Whether one agrees with this explanation or not, the reality is people were living in sub-freezing temperatures in Texas with no power, heat, or utilities.

A Solution Must Focus First on Learning, Not Blame 

If you watched or read any news sources today about the Texas crisis the discussion often centered on who was to blame. This approach goes down the wrong road. As knowledge management practitioners understand, when the focus is on who is to blame vs. what can we learn to deliver better energy outcomes, results are marginalized. In the political environment, and looking at past crises, if this is where the focus is, it is no wonder that policy, in this case, energy policy is and is likely to be disjointed.

The discussion, I believe, should first be focused on what have we learned from this crisis and how can we apply these learnings to develop a balanced energy policy that achieves environmentally sound and sustainable goals while protecting the public and providing the power and utilities people need? In my opinion, this would seem to be the primary focus and accountability of government at the national, state, and local level influenced by the context of regulatory and policy expected impacts driving implementation in the respective geographic area. One size does not necessarily apply to all. Think of it as policy development and implementation designed to be “fit for purpose.” 

Some questions to consider to get started: 

  • How could this crisis and the hardship in Texas have been mitigated or avoided?
  • How can lessons learned be applied to craft a non-political, bipartisan, and sustainable energy policy that also focuses on reducing emissions in the future and supporting the public? 
  • Along with the law, regulatory, and policy implementation of whatever the national energy policy roadmap turns out to be, how will we achieve the national, regional, and local behavior change necessary for a new energy policy to be both effective and sustainable in meeting the public’s needs?

Design Thinking as an Approach to Energy Policy Development

I have an idea. It might be useful to approach energy policy outcomes underpinned by using “design thinking.” What is “design thinking?”  “Design thinking is a process for creative problem-solving. … In employing design thinking, you’re pulling together what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.”

 Is anyone listening?

… each man is my superior, each woman also my superior, in that I may learn from him and her.

Norman Lear (an American television writer and producer) Norman Lear believes “… each man is my superior, each woman also my superior, in that I may learn from him and her.” He believes that “Somebody doesn’t have to be a professor. Somebody can be just knocking on your door, or somebody can be selling you something on the street, or somebody can be peddling wherever, and you have a reasonable conversation, and suddenly you heard something you hadn’t heard before or something the person you feel is about suggests just something you haven’t thought before.” He is 98 years old. He has experienced a lot. I believe he has credibility here.

The value of the opportunity to continuously learn

The political, social, and economic events of the past four years (really even longer) repeatedly remind me as a knowledge management practitioner how valuable is the continuous capability and ability to learn from others, especially those that share a different perspective than mine. The denial and loss of this capability

and ability to continuously learn have led to unintended outcomes in the past, does so in the present, and will likely lead to unintended outcomes in the future.

The failure of media and the failure within the campuses of our learning institutions to promote the opportunity to freely and continuously learn from others is a major challenge to our (collective) ability to develop an understanding of the meaning and impact of the people with whom we interact, the value of their conversation, the beliefs they hold even especially when different from our own, and the decisions they make. To make us valuable and informed participants in our society, denying the opportunity for others to hear alternate views, to listen, and to draw their own conclusions from different views on any subject not only destroys the opportunity to continuously learn, to continuously improve through the ability to process new knowledge but also marginalizes or eliminates and opportunity to use that new knowledge to make better decisions and to develop new solutions to new and evolving and in some instances life or death challenges.

Denying the opportunity to continuously learn is self-destructive

More importantly, the canceling of an opportunity to understand and the insecurity that drives this mentality means that we lose “critical and relevant” perspectives on history and the subsequent ability to learn from that history, why events occurred, and why people did what they did based on the beliefs that led to the decisions they made and the outcomes that then transpired. We know tragically that failing to understand history, failing to learn lessons from this history, failing to understand those conversations and decision chains ends badly when we do not afford ourselves, and cancel, the opportunity to do this. It is narrow-minded, self-centered, destructive, and counterproductive to the concepts and practices of good knowledge management, and fundamentally, human interaction. I always have to consider that when differing views cannot be supported with evidence or logic and the result is to cancel or silence the perspectives of those that do not agree, there is a modicum of insecurity that calls into the question the validity, logic, and agenda of the other’s perspective(s).

We have an opportunity to change

In 2021 we have the opportunity to “flip the pages of pending history” and to create greater opportunity to learn from what others believe. We can choose to work to understand what others believe and why they believe that, to inform ourselves of their understanding, to enable our better decisions, and to develop our better solutions to the challenges brought on by necessary change and the new knowledge and understanding we need, can and should gain from others, especially when we do not agree with them.

In 2021, we will require organizational and personal humility to recognize that we can’t know all there is to know … that there is always an opportunity to continuously learn more, that there are tools and mechanisms to do this, and therefore, there may be better, other outcomes that we cannot see. That these alternatives may lead to alternate success.

Really, shouldn’t we demand of ourselves as a rational person, or demand of a decision-maker in any sector of life whom we entrust with decision making power and subsequent accountability for those decisions on our behalf, to “want” to know as much as possible to make those better decisions and develop better solutions to new and extraordinary challenges? I vote yes.

Note: This version is edited from the original published.

 

As the next administration transitions into power in January 2021, it will face many domestic and foreign policy and national security challenges. How will it be a knowledge-based decision-making process?

How much and how often will learned lessons objectively support decision making, even if learned across previous administrations? How will the next administration create value from its accessible knowledge, regardless of the source of that knowledge? 

 

A Major Challenge Area – Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015

For example, a major challenge area will be a decision about re-engagement in the Iran nuclear deal of 2015. This raises three questions for me: 

The first question is common to many:

  • “What can we expect will be the national security and foreign policy towards re-engaging Iran in this deal from which the US withdrew in May 2018?” 

 The second and third questions may not be common to many and must be asked:

  •  “What lessons have we learned over the course of years of engagement with Iran (and other participants) in the creation, negotiation, and realized and unrealized outcomes of this deal? 
  • “ What value can and will we create from our learned lessons in the creation, negotiation, and realized and unrealized outcomes of this deal?” 

The answer to the first question, based on President-elect Biden’s statements, seems to be re-engagement since the President-elect has stated he wants to return to the deal, and further develop a follow-on agreement if Tehran begins to honor its commitments. How will this be decided? [Note: To be clear, I am not advocating any specific political or national policy outcome.]

A Performing and Learning Approach to Decision Making

As a long-time knowledge management practitioner, what I am advocating is a focus on “performing and learning” as a basic foundation for any decision-making.

For the Biden administration to: 

  • Look objectively and unemotionally at the learned lessons from the decisions made during the preceding period of performance across two administrations.
  • Understand the reasoning for the decisions made and the evidence and insight relied upon to make those decisions. And based on this approach, incorporate the varied subject matter expertise from demonstrated subject matter experts regardless of political affiliation. Multiple lenses on the same subject increase the probability of a higher quality “best value” decision and outcomes incorporating any necessary tradeoffs.
  • Analyze the current outcomes of those previous decisions and what new insights have been revealed, what projections or expectations have been borne out, and how can they be relied upon to make future, better, and higher quality decisions regarding re-engagement “why” and “how.” 

These are the tenets of a knowledge management approach to decision making that should be front and center not only in this particular challenge area but also in the many other policy and governance challenge areas that the new administration will face. 

Unemotional, evidence-based, analytical, understanding history and learned lessons — it is about “performing and learning.” It shouldn’t be hard…but I know it will be.

This article was also published in RealKM Magazine.

All Part of a KM Strategy

“When discussing digital transformation and the technology supporting it, the discussion often ignores the source of the content (data-information-knowledge) and the practical application of KM concepts and practices as part of a strategy that must exist to create the content.”  Bill Kaplan

So, here is my takeaway —  technology – digital transformation – AI  evolution – are not the main event but are all part of a larger KM universe with solutions focused on continuous (business and operational) performance improvement.

Here are some definitions to ground the discussion.

  • Knowledge Management (KM): The ability to capture, adapt, transfer, and reuse the “critical and relevant” knowledge of the organization to continuously improve performance at the individual, team, and organization level
  • Digital Transformation (DT): A work environment in which digital tools – information, applications, processes — create a business or performance advantage and enhance customer and stakeholder value
  • KM Technology: Technology that assists with the creation, identification, findability, access, use/reuse, transferability and organization of an organization’s knowledge

Tech Selling KM

A platform vendor recently asked me to review “KM technology” and provide my perspective about their  “complete” “knowledge management system,” which the salesperson characterized as “a software-based architecture that applies and utilizes knowledge management principles.” The marketing presentation went on to identify “the principles” which included:

  • business intelligence analysis
  • data-driven objectives around business productivity, and
  • a competitive business model …

and … “A knowledge management system uses a user interface, sometimes in a dashboard, to manage several different software modules that make up the system.”

I asked “How would one know if the technology would be “fit for purpose” for their organization?” I also asked “Where does the content came from that would provide evolution (knowledge) of the knowledge base?”

Can you tell what is missing here? The answer is “Technology is a Tool, Part of a KM Strategy Solution.”

 Consider:

  • AI and Machine learning are not fully mainstream yet
  • Technology can’t (yet) take knowledge from your head and

put into another person’s head

  • Technology can’t capture tacit knowledge (experience and insight) and make sense (context) out of the captured knowledge
  • Technology focuses on leveraging explicit knowledge, not tacit knowledge
  • Technology effectiveness = f (culture) + requirements
  • KM solutions are about the most effective “Use and Flow” of Knowledge within and across an organization

Recognize:

  • Information sharing isn’t good enough – people need to make sense of it, adapt it and use it to make the right decision at the right time
  • Create a framework for sharing knowledge, supported by appropriate technology, that enables people at all levels in an organization to improve their performance from its use and reuse
  • The entry point for the KM Technology solution discussion is after you understand the context for its use and the user requirements are defined in that context

Recent and current writing and speaking promotes a broad belief that transforming teams and companies into a “knowledge-centric organization” or “high performing, knowledge enabled organization” is about acquiring the latest collaboration tool or search technology.  Technology is only one part of an overall KM Strategy with five focus areas:

  • People/culture
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Content
  • KM Structure/Governance

We will be discussing this more at the 2019 DoD and Federal Knowledge Management Symposium in Baltimore on 14-16 May.

 

Download the presentation here.

 

Creating Value from Shared Knowledge to Deliver Better Mission Outcomes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                CoPs can be the foundation for high performing IFI networks of experts working on clearly identified policy and business & operational subject matter areas where (1) multi-disciplinary expertise is needed and (2) where strong synergies can be derived from a community approach using appropriate coordination tools to achieve better mission outcomes. This presentation surveys briefly the history of KM and CoPs in IFIs. It focuses on how IFIs can leverage the value and power of their CoPs and the Concept of Shared Value in sustaining the effectiveness of their COPs.

Check out the audio recording from the online presentation and discussions.

 

 

Disclosure: Thinking out loud…better than where we are now.Knowledge-Balancing Fact and Opinion

What if …

“collaboration” and “reaching across the aisle” replaced “ego” and “intransigence?” What if there was reliance only on evidence and facts?

First, there is a high probability, I believe, that this will likely not soon happen because the positions that are held by opposing parties include, not only “fact free” driven perspectives masquerading as “truth,” but also “opinion” driving individual and shared “beliefs.” 

 

A Knowledge Management Solution to the US Gov’t Shutdown

What if a centrist, moderate focused group of representatives (leadership and rank-and-file) from opposing views collaborated in a room with an independent facilitator and they did the following: 

  1. First, each sides key stakeholder’s conduct an internal After Action Review (AARs) where the following questions are asked with regard to the Shutdown:
  • What objectives are we trying to achieve in maintaining the shutdown?
  • Did we/are we achieving those objectives?
  • If we are not achieving those objectives, why are the results turning out different than planned?
  • What can we learn from this and change immediately (to end the shutdown)?
  1. Next, with the results of the AARs, both sides meet together in the same room with a facilitator and share their learnings. Each side commits to closure of this process together until a solution is reached.

  2. Based on the shared learnings and insights gained from this session, invite relevant subject matter experts (SMEs) and “operators” and accept only “evidence-based” facts from those responsible for the practical development and application of government operational policies and procedures that can talk to, for example, the measurable impacts of border barriers observed over a reasonable period of time to know what works, what doesn’t, and why. The sources could be from within or from outside the US. The requirement is being able to clearly explain the “context” for the conclusions to be drawn from the shared  information (e.g. success measures), expertise and experience (i.e. knowledge) of the SMEs and the “operators.”

  3. We understand that facts and measures can be interpreted in many ways to drive many ends. Consider something as simple as aligning the facts, the interpretations, and the measures of success and their interpretation, next to each other, and examining where the “fact based” differences are that are subject to multiple interpretations, and then finding evidence to further resolve these differences in understanding. Kind of like a literature review for a PhD thesis, eventually you are going to come to closure.

Worth consideration, this framework may be an approach to a solution and decision that relies on “facts” and truth” rather than  only “belief” and “opinion” … or at least fact-based beliefs that can be driven to consensus…and progress forward.

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company and internationally recognized source for practical and innovative knowledge management (KM) solutions that solve our clients’ toughest knowledge challenges. 

One of the outcomes of the evolving “ISO 30401:2018 – Knowledge Management Systems” standard should be meaningful progress towards accredited, professional knowledge management (KM) certification with training and preparation based on an agreed to “standard.” This is in contrast to the vendor marketed “KM certification” offered across the KM community globally which does not meet key criteria to be considered “accredited” certification. I believe they are more about selling training classes but which one may find useful in furthering one’s understanding of KM.

Previous discussions on accredited KM certification can be found here (Part 1) and here (Part 2) and can be summarized as:

  • Professional certification is a designation earned by an individual identifying that they have demonstrated a standard level of skills, experience, and expertise within their field.
  • Certifications are generally earned from a professional society with a certifying body, and are granted based on a combination of education, experience, and knowledge, rather than solely by passing an exam or just completing training.
  • The ongoing process of developing, administering, and maintaining the certification is done to international or other recognized standards and requires ongoing continuing education.
  • There is an established Body of Knowledge for the subject matter area that is nationally and/or internationally recognized.
  • Sitting for the certification examination does not require that you take training from the certifying organization.

I encourage the ongoing conversations about “ISO 30401:2018 – Knowledge Management Systems” to timely include how to evolve meaningful and accredited certification for the KM profession.

Image result for assumptions pictures

Recognize that “assumptions” can be “fact free” — this can lead you to make some poor judgements, develop incomplete conclusions, and then make bad decisions in trying to move KM forward in your organization — all decisions have consequences.

Here are some thoughts.

  1. Assuming that your organization understands what you mean when you say “knowledge management.”

    Do you understand what the organization “sees” when they hear “knowledge management?” … technology, collaboration platform, search, information management…?

  2. Assuming you know how knowledge management should best be implemented because you have prior experience in implementing KM.

    Ensure you clearly understand both the business and operational environment and the KM environment in your current organization. Concepts and practices previously employed may be similar—but context is everything…as are timing and available resources.

  3. Assuming that your organization does not understand the value of knowledge management like you (think you) do because the organization is not jumping on the “obvious” value of KM.

    Part 1: Not everything you believe is valuable or important has the same sense of urgency you believe you see. Your view may be narrowly focused on a specific problem or challenge, but in fact, what you see as a problem or challenge may be part of a larger more complex challenge with other moving parts of which KM is one part.

    Part 2: Is there an evidence-based business case for KM with measurable outcomes to gauge success? Engage-engage-engage at all levels of your organization.

For more information about our KM solutions – click here

 

It’s difficult to build a sustainable KM program in the federal government. Some thoughts on why.

1. The Planning, Budgeting, Appropriation Cycle time is not responsive to immediate requirements. Other than end of year fallout money, planning for KM implementation spans multiple fiscal years.

2. Temporary Nature of Political (Leadership) Appointments can drive ambiguity in the agency’s mission priorities including a strong focus on that political appointee’s individual agenda and resource priorities to support that agenda. KM is rarely on it.

3. Appreciation for the Necessary Investment in KM that must span multiple fiscal years. End of fiscal year fallout monies may support an initial effort for a KM initiative but there are very often no funds for follow up or follow through. If the KM initiative delivers some value, momentum and buzz can build, value can be seen, but then there is workforce frustration because the effort and its ensuing value is not further supported. Is this just another management initiative?

4. Knowledge Leadership and Accountability is viewed as a position, not a role. The agency leadership is not communicating the value of KM as a solution to a business or operational problem faced by the agency where the ability to capture and reuse knowledge can make a measurable difference in the outcome.

5. Sense of Urgency does not exist. It’s been my experience that KM gains momentum when there is sense of urgency where the inability to effectively capture and share knowledge can have tragic or catastrophic consequences. This sense of urgency does not generally present itself in the civilian agencies where it should with a few exceptions (e.g. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center). Compare to the military where knowledge sharing and collaboration is fundamental to mission success and embedded in operational workflow.

6. Unclear KM Link to Mission goes hand in hand with Sense of Urgency.

7. Viewing technology as the KM Solution and focusing only on the technology. We know that technology is an important enabler for KM success, but it is not the total solution which also includes focus on people/culture, process, content, and KM structure and governance.

8. KM is Not Embedded and Supported as Part of Workflow which means that it is very likely viewed as extra work, and not as a fundamental part of the way work is done. (Translation: I have too much work to do so asking me to do anything “extra” is not something for which I have time.)

9. KM — There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps that drives sustainability.

 

 

 

History is in the making regardless of the outcomes…and knowledge management can have a critical role to play in enabling the US to “create value from its knowledge” and achieve the desired outcomes.

 

 

 

Two questions to consider:

  1. How can KM play a role in enabling outcomes to meet or exceed negotiation expectations?
  2. How is the Trump administration leveraging the multi-dimensional lessons learned that resulted from negotiations across previous US administrations?

Past negotiations have a history of outcomes being different from expectations in engaging with North Korea.  At the risk of oversimplifying an approach to what are complex talks with an incredible number of moving parts across multiple spectrums (political, economic, military, intelligence, social, personal, other), I offer the following

“back to basics” consideration (if not already considered) … engaging using learning before, learning during, and learning after behavior techniques and tools to improve the desired outcomes as a fundamental part of the planning and conduct of the negotiations. This will likely be a long process.

  • Behavior/Technique – Learning Before/Peer Assist): “Learning before doing” is supported through the Peer Assist, a facilitated process which targets a specific challenge, imports knowledge from people outside the team, identifies possible approaches and new lines of inquiry, and promotes sharing of learning with each other through a facilitated meeting.  How is the administration leveraging past administration negotiations/outcomes/lessons learned to develop and vet a new negotiation strategy that is improved through this peer interaction and lessons learned research and sense making?
  • Behavior/Technique – Learning During /After Action Reviews:  A U.S. Army technique, After Action Reviews enable the to “learn while doing” by answering four questions immediately after each negotiation day: (1) What was supposed to happen? (2) What happened? (3) If different from expectations, why are they different? and (4) What can we learn and immediately apply?
  • Behavior/Technique – Learning After/Retrospects “Learning after Doing” is supported by a facilitated process called a Retrospect.  Immediately after the end of the negotiations or negotiation phases, conduct a retrospect. This encourages team members to look back at the negotiations to discover what went well and why and what could have been done differently, with a view to helping a different team repeat their success and avoid any pitfalls— “learning after doing.”  The retrospect focuses not on what went wrong and who did it, rather it focuses on what was learned and how this can be applied in future situations by future teams, so they will be successful.  It is a “process of inquiry, not inquisition.” What has been learned from previous negotiations and engagements with NOKO and more importantly what sense has been made from the lessons learned?

To be effective, these three processes for “systematic reflection” must be embedded in the negotiation planning and execution. It is outcome driven and is grounded in “performing and learning and performing.” 

Could achieving the outcomes desired be this straightforward? Not likely. And again, the administration may very well be following similar approaches.  I was thinking about this listening to the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday and reflecting on how the administration approaches challenge.  Just saying….it is worth considering if not already.

 

A series of long-term consulting projects involving planning, launching, and sustaining high-performing communities of practice (CoP) reemphasized to me some of the basics necessary for sustainable CoP success. One of the leading contributors to CoP success and one of the leading contributors to marginalizing CoPs is how well one understands the concept of “shared value,” not only in the initial planning and launch of CoPs, but also in sustaining the CoPs.

CoPs generally require investment in the form of funding, resources, people, participation, and time not only from the CoP memberships, but also from the organization that “licenses” the CoPs to operate. CoPs also generally require a “value” assessment before either the organization or the (potential) members will actively support and participate in the CoP. Failure to develop a value proposition and create a concept for shared value will greatly increase the probability the CoP will be short-lived.

Shared Value recognizes that a fully supported and sustainable CoP, whether initiated top down or bottom up, must deliver the expectations of those that are responsible for its existence.  For the organization, it may be, for example, critical research or sharing of lessons learned in critical areas of knowledge need, or the creation of knowledge content for reuse borne from the research or interests of the CoP members. The results can be the development of policy or revised processes or practices. For the CoP members, it could be improvements in professional development, the opportunity to close gaps in organizational knowledge or work skills; and it could be the opportunity to explore areas of personal or shared interests with other members of the CoP. 

The point is that there must be overlap between the two sets of expectations – an area of “shared value” that enables both sets of participants to gain from the license to operate within the organization over a long period of time.

The concept of Shared Value is a key component of our Working KnowledgeCSP CoP Maturity Model released this month. The “value proposition” must be developed, defined, and articulated, and adapted through the life-cycle of the CoP. It supports the creation of a value statement and measures of success that are forward looking and used to guide the direction and efforts of the CoP.

Ideally, the CoP’s shared value concepts are embedded in the organization’s strategy and operations and the organization reaches out to the CoP to support mission and operations. If the CoP and the organization operate as depicted on the left side of the figure above, this likely will never happen. Long terms success, and value added, will likely occur when the CoP and the organization operate as depicted on the right-side of the figure above.

The figure below provides some high-level lessons learned and advice to consider in improving the value your CoP can provide both to the organization and to the CoP members and increase the probability of CoP success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public and private sector output of goods and services, nationally, and internationally, has been steadily rising supported by improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of an expanding workforce supported by enhanced technology, especially automation and the evolving field of artificial intelligence (AI). 

Within this expanding workforce are many highly paid jobs requiring a depth of experience that cannot be replaced by automation or AI. Most of these jobs are experience based and intertwined with necessary expertise around human interactions. As margins become tighter, as competition increases, and the generational nature of the workforce continues to change, these knowledge workers who jobs are hard to automate or duplicate with AI need to be used (leveraged) much more effectively.  In addition to leveraging the increasing value of adaptive technology and AI, organizations should not forget the value of leveraging the knowledge their workforce has …what they know about what they do…that will be hard to replace if nothing is done to capture and make sense out of it for future use/reuse.

Technology alone is not the answer.  The ability to effectively capture, adapt, transfer, and reuse the critical and relevant knowledge of this knowledge workforce continues to be essential to enable organizations to adapt to change in all its dimensions and to effectively “operate faster than the speed of change.”

The question then is, why aren’t more organizations focusing on their ability to capture, adapt, transfer, and reuse their critical and relevant knowledge in their strategic planning and as part of the strategic focus of their organizations. I know the standard reasons but there is much more to consider.  Lots of effort goes into leveraging the financial, technical, and information assets within the organization, why wouldn’t as much or more effort be invested in capturing and leveraging the knowledge of the organization as a strategic asset.

Just doesn’t make sense that “performing and learning” isn’t more broadly a focus.

A lot of the consulting solutions we provide involve improving the effectiveness of knowledge transfer (sharing) between people and across organizations; why it’s so hard to effectively transfer critical knowledge or that it’s less effective than it could be. 

Among a diverse group of factors, I will tell you that I believe that missing or poor “context” is at or near the top of the list.  Context provides insight to the knowledge being shared, how it was captured, how it has been used, and can be reused. Context puts a face on knowledge and lets you see inside.

The figure in this discussion “Understanding the Impact of ‘Friction’ on Knowledge Transfer” provides some insight I offer for your consideration on this subject. Let me suggest two concepts I have found to be useful and true: (1) a very simple, practical definition of knowledge (information + experience = knowledge) where information is explicit and codified and experience is tacit and personal, and (2) context provides the insight or perspective to make information actionable (to become knowledge).

Moving from top to bottom, from direct to more indirect knowledge transfer, the ability to access and leverage context decreases, creating friction around one’s ability to leverage knowledge for reuse. The most powerful, effective method for knowledge transfer is “tacit to tacit” (F2F),  This enables the direct transfer of high level concepts, complex subject matter, and the ability to quickly and effectively understand the details of the knowledge being sought and the knowledge being shared (transferred).  You can gain context either through a story, an interview, a process like targeted knowledge capture and transfer, and a collection of other direct knowledge transfer techniques. Your trust factor for this knowledge will likely be high.

Next is “tacit-explicit-tacit.” An example of this is when an organization captures knowledge around particular subject matter or experience and the captured knowledge is characterized (distilled) for display, retention, access, and reuse in the context of the organization that will be using this knowledge.  Knowledge distillation and characterization is a skill set not easily mastered so the outcomes and outputs from this effort can vary by organization.  Context may be available to understand and reuse this knowledge effectively and provide what is needed to create value from this knowledge.  The difference from F2F is there may not be the ability to immediately or ever ask questions about the knowledge to be reused. Much depends on the quality of the elicitation and sense making, and characterization for the quality of the context to enable you to create value from this knowledge. Your trust factor for reuse of this knowledge may likely be lower.

At the bottom is “explicit-explicit.” An example of this is when someone searches for specific knowledge in the form of, f or example, either artifacts or online content.  You can likely find something relevant and depending on the quality of the characterization of the content, you may find it useful.  What is also likely to happen is that the context you need to apply this knowledge in your situation will be missing; you will have no idea from where the knowledge came, or who provided this knowledge, or how to most effectively reuse it.  Your “trust” factor will likely be lower and you may decide that it is not credible for your reuse.

[Note: I believe that it’s interesting to point out that Communities of Practice (CoPs) effectively operate in all three levels – for a later discussion].

The “so what” is to understand the necessity of and value in ensuring that knowledge is effectively elicited, captured, made of sense of with great focus, and uniquely characterized for reuse in the context of the reusers of that knowledge so that individuals, teams, and organizations can create the greatest value from their knowledge.

So, you brought in KM consultants to help you to implement “KM” in your organization.  They have made the case, with your sponsorship, and presented their recommendations for your KM strategy and implementation framework.  But leadership just can’t or won’t implement. What? Really?

Here are some things to consider to better understand why the obvious may not be so obvious or the value of KM that is clear to you, may not be clear to others.

 

Is the KM Strategy proposed tied or grounded in the organization strategic plan or strategy?

Importance:  The strategic plan or strategy sets the direction and relative value of all initiatives and organization direction.  When used effectively, it is used to make decisions about investment and execution. Organizations serious about leveraging knowledge to create value will ensure that KM in some form or characterization is clear and unambiguous, communicating how leadership views the value of KM. Most importantly, if it’s not in the organization strategic plan or strategy, it likely won’t be a priority and likely won’t be seriously resourced.

 

Is the organization ready to move forward with a real and realistic focus on KM?

Importance: The KM strategy must recognize the realities of your organization’s business and operational environment (BOE) and knowledge management environment (KME) otherwise there is an immediate disconnect between goals and outcomes.  “Meet the client/organization where they are, not where you want them to be.”

How is the value of KM being messaged?

Importance: The value proposition or business case for KM must be simple and clear in the context and “speak” of your organization.  Theory is nice, but WIIFM is what drives acceptance of a KM initiative. KM value messages must be (1) tied to the culture and operational tempo of your organization and (2) be easily understood across the verticals and horizontals of the organization.

 

Is the demonstrated experience and expertise available to deliver a 360-degree KM solution?

Importance:  This is about investment risk, performance, and results.  While the KM business case may be clear, your organization (leadership) may not have the confidence that that those accountable for KM implementation have the experience and expertise to deliver the KM solution. There is always a clear difference between an academic solution and practical application.  The truth is that not everyone who creates a KM Strategy can plan, implement, and most importantly, implement to sustain the KM effort.

 

Does the KM effort appear to be a stand-alone effort, or is it addressing real, “in the workflow” business or operational knowledge challenges?

Importance:   The workforce, both management and technical, is very astute at recognizing the difference between “making their job harder” or “making their job easier.”   They are always wary of “another management initiative.” KM pilot projects, built into the everyday workflow of the organization, are the single most effective way to demonstrate the value of implementing KM concepts, strategies, and practices in an organization. Most importantly, pilot results must be tied to simple and unambiguous measures of success where the ability to effectively capture and reuse knowledge can make a measurable difference in the outcome. KM must be recognized as part of the way work gets done, not extra work.

There are pockets of effort around the world to begin to develop a Knowledge Management Body of Knowledge (KMBOK) but it doesn’t yet exist. The closest we have to real codification may be the 2015 version of ISO 9001 which has clause, 7.1.6, on organizational knowledge and its management.

You know from reading Part I of this discussion that real, meaningful certification involves a whole lot more than “training” and that “KM certification” as it is being sold and promoted today is a misnomer. 

So how will you know KM certification when you see it? I suggest that it will involve the process and content suggested above.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this? Make sense? What more is needed?

The future relevance of your organization and the value you can provide to customers and stakeholders is determined by your organization’s ability to share knowledge!

Making knowledge sharing a sustainable part of success is a vital component of long term organization success, particularly in organizations comprised primarily of knowledge workers.

Knowledge sharing happens when knowledge is voluntarily passed from one person to another, whether it is done so formally or informally, as part of the work flow. When an organization’s culture is built on knowledge sharing, there is often a high level of trust among peers. Collaboration then improves and the ability to seek knowledge to solve problems increases, as does the ability to find solutions to new challenges and problems, and subsequently, the quality of decision making also improves as does customer support. Having current knowledge to share makes a big difference.

Achievements in your ability to “connect-collect-collaborate” through enabling technology and content management solutions that you put in place provide a solid and effective base not only for promoting, but also for sustaining knowledge sharing and embedding a sustainable knowledge sharing culture. As you likely know, enabling technology and content management solutions are important, but not a standalone capability that can singularly improve your ability to leverage knowledge to continuously improve performance and promote the change behavior required.

Although the value of knowledge sharing is clear to many, we know from our experience that it is the rare organization that promotes and successfully sustains a knowledge sharing culture. In many organizations, knowledge hoarding happens a lot more often than knowledge sharing does.  Very often a reason for this is the lack of a current, evolving knowledge base and a lack of continuity across KM implementation activities.  Another is the decision of leadership not to connect its technology capability with its knowledge sharing capability often through a perception that there isn’t time to connect both. This is true when KM is viewed as extra effort and not part of the work flow of the organization.

With enabling technology and content management tools, a workforce’s ability to find the knowledge needed will improve, but the knowledge found may not always be current, or even there to be found.  The ability to capture knowledge born from addressing new situations or challenges is also necessary.

This also requires an ability to make sense out of this knowledge, and then the ability to characterize this knowledge for reuse in the context of your organization.  Enabling technology and content management solutions provide the “capability” by making knowledge (content) searchable, findable, downloadable, and reusable. The challenge is how to ensure that there is constant source of (new) current knowledge reflective of the ongoing operations and learnings of your workforce so that the workforce can seek, find, use and share knowledge.

Workers will search for the knowledge needed, and if they find it, more often than not, they will continue to use the enabling tools and technology you provide to them. If not, they will, as a minimum, likely revert to storing what they think they need on their desk tops and hard drives, in effect marginalizing any efforts to date invested to change knowledge sharing and knowledge seeking behavior, even with their new tools and technology capabilities.

For consideration and comment.

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

Bill Kaplan, Founder of Working KnowledgeCSP  was interviewed on Federal News Radio about KM and Presidential  Transition. Check out the interview on Federal News Radio and the discussion about the value of Knowledge Management and capturing and appying learned lessons in Presidential admiministration transitions.

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSPis a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics. This interview discusses the Characteristics of Knowledge-Enabled High-Performing Organizations.

More insight can be found here.

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics. This interview discusses the Difference Between Knowledge Management and Knowledge Leadership.

More insight on this discussion can be found here.

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics.  This interview discusses our unique, agile approach to KM Strategy and KM Framework developement — Agile Knowledge Management (KM Agile).

There is a whitepaper here that provides additional insight.

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics. This interview addresses the challenges of, and mitigations for, workforce turnover and knowledge loss.

Addiional insight can be found here.

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics. This interview discusses How Training Can Help Manage Organzational Knowledge.

More insight can be found here.

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

eClerx Services Ltd asked me to join other world-wide KM experts to participate in their Knowledge Leadership interview series by doing some short interviews on KM topics. This interview discusses Measuring the Intangible Elements of Knowledge.

More on this discussion can be found in the following articles:

Measuring the Unmeasurable: Intellectual Capital (Part 1)

Measuring the Umeasurable:  10 Step Process (Part 2)

Measuring the Umeasurable:  (Business) Continuity Planning and the Need to Value Knowledge

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.

To answer this question, it is important to have some context around what constitutes Professional Certification for a subject matter area or professional area of practice.  The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) provides a solid definition and explanation of “professional certification.” Integrating this understanding with other organizations who define professional certification provides some really good insight.

What is Professional Certification?

  • Professional certification is a designation earned by an individual identifying that they have demonstrated a standard level of skills, experience, and expertise within their field.  
  • Certifications are generally earned from a professional society with a certifying body, and are granted based on a combination of education, experience, and knowledge, rather than solely by passing an exam or just completing training.
  • The ongoing process of developing, administering, and maintaining the certification is done to international standards and requires ongoing continuing education.
  • There is an established Body of Knowledge for the subject matter area that is nationally and/or internationally recognized.
  • Sitting for the certification examination does not require that you take training from the certifying organization.

Is There Accredited KM Certification?

The Knowledge Management profession does not yet have a standardized, accredited, and recognized certification designation or certification provider that meets the above requirements. However, there is ongoing work internationally to make this a reality but it doesn’t exist yet. Compare this to the Program Management profession (PMP), the Accounting profession (CPA), or the Contract Management Profession (CPCM) and I believe you will understand the distinction.

In any of the above professions, you can sit for the certification exam without taking their training. While there are several KM training organizations that will “certify” an individual, none providing KM “certification” will allow you to only take their “certification” test.  Is the focus upon certification, or selling training?  It is necessary one understand this in order to consider the financial and time investment one wishes to make in KM “certification” and then to assess the value that this training and “certification” can provide. Having said that, if you are a new to the profession, this KM training may certainly be of value to you.

No Quick Path to Competence in KM

If you have been involved in KM for any length of time, you quickly realize there is no quick path to competence in Knowledge Management, certainly not only from taking a training course and being given a “certification” where there are neither education nor experience requirements.  Also, recognize that there are many different variations in KM curriculum and content all developed to deliver skills training, but they cannot deliver competence borne from training and experience.  The risk in taking generic training provided to “certify” one as a Knowledge Manager or Knowledge Practitioner is that the provider’s perspective on KM may or may not be relevant to your organization’s business and operational environment, KM context, or need. To truly gain value from the training, you need to know if the provider’s have real, current, practical experience in delivering KM solutions to solve business or operational challenges.  An academic introduction to KM concepts is very useful but it helps to have the ability to ask about the “how” and not just be presented with the “what.”

Here’s a question I always answer when looking for KM team members to support a project.  Give this some thought.  If you were the program manager or lead consultant in an organization, would you hire someone with a “certification” in KM if they didn’t have any practical and demonstrated experience delivering KM solutions in a business or operational environment and make them accountable for your KM program? If you were a consultant or consulting company, would you leave them in place with one of your clients to help deliver their KM solution?

Bottom line #1: If you are new to the field, training can be helpful and you should take it if it is a fit for you.  You will likely gain some insight and some value.  But view the “certification” as recognition that you completed KM training as prescribed by the training provider and their view of Knowledge Management.

Bottom Line #2: The real path to competence if you really want to understand KM concepts, strategies, and implementing practices, is to work with experienced professionals in the KM field to gain competence and experience through the practical application of KM in solving real business or operational problems.

 

About Working KnowledgeCSP

Working KnowledgeCSP is a knowledge management consulting company.  We operate internationally, within the public and private sectors, to help organizations “Create Value from their Knowledge.”  Through our client co-delivery model, we provide practical, experience based knowledge management solutions and training from the simple to the complex.