Geert Willems

Geert Willems

donderdag 31 oktober 2013

The White Raven



Knowledge managers are white ravens.
Cliché! Cliché!!

So claim project management consultants, quality managers... and knowledge managers.

Credits for the picture: redbubble.com

But than a CEO asked me - finally: Why?
Not why I was the white raven.
But why every knowledge manager is a white raven.

And I came down to following figure - I took the base from a book, but can't recall which one.  But I made some additions. And the drawing I made face-to-face to the CEO was not as extensive. But convincing.


Those are the areas of expertise a knowledge manager should have the basics on.
And here you already see the reasons of knowledge managers with different interests:
the one focussing on complex theories - and handling them, the one focussing on the human parts in change management.
It's also the reason why, when I need really deep knowledge of e.g. a quality standard, I engage a specialist, as I do for large projects, and specialists.

Is it still possible - but not possible any more to be a top notch knowledge manager in all fields of knowledge management. Or are those the real white ravens?


woensdag 30 oktober 2013

What's this feather holding knowledge management initiatives together?

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I was planning to write about a still ongoing war in knowledge management. A surprising discovery about pro and con externalisationsts, and remarks popping op back and forth on workshops. And I was looking for a good analogy for this - and in that search I found an old youtube movie I liked very much.

About balancing. Balancing and knowledge management. It DOES ring a bell, doesn't it?

And the more I reflected on the movie, the more I saw the analogy with knowledge management.

And the nice thing about the movie: it has a clue to it in the last seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KVPA-9hofw

So we know knowledge management is about balancing. Balancing people, processes and technology. Balancing culture. Balancing explicit and tacit knowledge. Balancing networks.

And you build everything up, just as in the movie.
And in the end you have a great construction, a magnificent creation.
After good preparation, and hard work, strategy, and implementation of your knowledge management activities is there. And it remains.

 In the construction of the video, all pieces co-exist and keep each other in balance.
The role of the human is soooo central, as humans in knowledge management should be.
The role of technology is supporting, to reach the goals of knowledge managemnet.

Balance.

Without it, the whole construction would not exist.

Until the feather is removed.
The same feather that started everything.

So what's the feather in the analogy with knowledge management?

It's what keeps everything in balance.

It took a few minutes thinking about it before I even dare to name the feather.

 And now II name the feather 'attention to handling knowledge', as THE critical factor to keep knowledge management implementations alive.

But I am open for suggestions...




maandag 28 oktober 2013

Black Holes in Knowledge Management


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Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

Black holes. It took a while before we could see them. And even than it's not seeing them directly, but by observing the space around them.

Black holes. They are more than black spots in the universe. They destroy.

Once I was asked by a company, to develop and implement a knowledge management strategy for their R&D team. But I convinced the CEO if I could scan for black holes in the organisation. 

So I did, and the result was amazing: seven more existing or emerging KM projects came up, of which three were recognised more urgent than the original request.

And those weren't black spots - things which were not recognised and known.

They were black holes - things which would consume the organisation, potentially in such a way, they could have eaten half of the company before they were detected.

Everybody in this company was focussing in a very professional way to their job. Professionals with their responsibility. Leading in the field. With a terunover of hundreds of millions of Euros yearly. Not amateurs. Fourth generation professionals, adapted to modern times and technologies.

All sensible humans recongize they have black spots. Frustrating, since you know they are there. And growing as a human means a.o. discovering those black spots, bringing them into the light and handle them.

But I've never met a company where they have a black hole detector. Best practices, yes. That's something we do. Learning from worst practices, yes. That's something we do. Handling complixity and even chaos! Yes we do handle this. 

But black spots? Nope. Mail me if you know such a company - I'd like to know the story of that company and how they got there!

Be ware of black spots.

Because they could in fact be black holes.

And without early detection - they could already have started to consume your company...

donderdag 24 oktober 2013

Beautiful Models fighting - in KM / updated picture / what's your opinion?

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I love models. They're sexy.
And when they are really intelligent - they are great.
And when they offer something new - that is fantastisc.
And when they uncover ground covered so far - that's goosebumps creating!

(model picture: www.freedigitalpictures.com) - and on request of my wife I needed to add a more sext male picture, slightly missing the point of thes article

Yeah - I used to be a follower of DIKW in the '80s, and made some comments on usability.
Yeah - I used to be a SECI follower in the 90's .
So I used to be an externaliser - and made some creative adaptions to the model myself, optimising the model.
Yeah - I used to be a Cynefin lover.

Ah, but you know what?


I still love them all. And observe discussions.

And my personal opinion? Is the SECI model still valuable? Yes!
And what about Cynefin: sure!

Isn't handling a complex environment done via a complicated or simple process, which can be SECI based?

You could be hardcore Cynefin.
You could be hardcore SECI.

But isn't the best of breed using the right model at the right time - and preferably a mutant of both - and more?

Just asking!!







maandag 21 oktober 2013

Green Donkeys - and again knowledge management

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This is a special post.
Because it was not written with the intention to write on knowledge management this time. It was written in a personal context.
...and yet, there it is again...


Tonight I did something which made me feel great as a student. I did it a few times a week. A habbit I neglected for more than a decade, but I picked it up again.

Here I am,
sitting in the dark - hence the typing errors in this article -
a great Belgian beverage next to me,
and great music.

The type of music I can feel in every vine of my body,
which touches me, breaks down the walls of reasoning.




And when I close my eyes, every touch of conscioucness is enlarged. I can feel every organ in my body, when I focus on my inner rest, it's an ocean of silence, when I focus on my strength, it sparkles through the universe. It's my type of meditation. Medidating on a subject gives me a good answer.
I get the urge to create, write, compose, live....


And when the dust settles, I'm at ease and relax, and the thought occurred to me: I wasn't a red monkey at university, and I wasn't a sheep.

The last year of telecommunication I went to only two lessons: high frequency and filter techniques. Not because - and that's a common misunderstanding - I wasn't interested in what was given, but why should I spend 2 hours in classes 10 weeks in a raw to get the details of how digital equipment works if i could study it in 2 days?
Why spending 4 hours half a year in a course electrical machines, when I could collect notes from 4 students, make my own notes - and in the meantime sell the courses for the student organisations - and learn those eletrical machines in the process?


There was even a time I went back to classes because I was getting bored not going to classes and making those courses, playing snooker and poker - mom, dad, now you know!

After I got my first degree, I was so lucky I could study further as biomedical and clinical engineer - an additional two years. A very limited group of students, and a higher level. There I went to classes. And I didn't have to ask for additional notes, since I was getting them without asking - students knowing they would get better notes in the process 

Than my career of being a student stopped - one of the mistakes in my life was to refuse a doctorate opportunity.

But I wonder, and didn't think about it so far,
what would have been my capabilities at that time,
when instead of skipping school I was challenged for more,
and interesting things?

Because I had two lives: I had the life of a student, and the result of a student. I could accept that the question I got were harder than for the students who did go to classes. It's a bargain I was willing to make. And than there was my other student life: collecting, synthesizing, publishing knowledge - and playing snooker, chess, keyboard - during lesson hours...

Because that was, where my heart is.

Sometimes I'm jealous at my fellow-students, who seemed to be happy with their life. It all made sense and was normal.
Even today I'm jealous at fellow co-workers, doing their job and feeling happy. 

I could do the same, a fixed job in a nice company. But only if my heart would be there. When there would be a firm believe in the goal of the company. When I would feel I could really use my potential.



I loved my life as a student.

I love my life as knowledge manager. Helping. Guiding. Innovating. Discovering.

I'm not a red monkey.
Not a sheep.

... a green donkey






vrijdag 18 oktober 2013

Why start-ups need knowledge management

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Yesterday I was visiting a very high-tech company. Niche in niche. Medical sector. Very specilised.
And also very successful and booming.

And they knew that knowledge management is important to them, but also admitting they didn't do it in the optimal way.
Sure they are handling knowledge nowadays, they need to to get the certifications for their lab environments.


But now they foresee growth, from 50 to a few hundred in a short period of time.

How to share knowledge the right way?
How to keep being innovative?
What techniques should be used?
What tools should be used?



Even top of the world, very innovative, niche in niche, knowledge management is not their core business.

They don't keep track of tools, techniques, evolutions in the world of knowledge management.
They didn't spend time on following trends and analysing what failed, and what is good for their own environment.

And they are clever enough to get trained.
They don't want an external knowledge manager to manage their business.

They want to get top notch knowledge management training and do it themselves.

Creating a knowledge management environment which isn't depending on the sheer size of the company.
They need this, as do all booming start-ups. Because if they don't manage their knowledge right, their edge will be lost.

And that's fine by me - training coaching new knowledge manager is what I love to do most!

Geert Willems


dinsdag 15 oktober 2013

Classifying rules typically applicable in knowledge management projects

For over 15 years we have experience in knowledge management.
Defining solutions, implementing projects.
Busy being up-to-date with the trends in this field of expertise.

Making lists:
- what are the used tools and techniques
- when are these tools and techniques used
- what are the guidelines typical for knowledge managemnet project

Consolidating over 200 guidelines we needed a framework to classify these rules to be able to present them in digestable chunks of a limited amount of guidelines.

This is the result. We hang on to the pillars of people, processes and technology, but split up the people part in guideline for the management, guidelines about knowledge management culture, guidelines for HR policies and for the individual. These borders are not always clear-cut but the division helped us drastically.
Of course there are guidelines to support knowledge flows, processes and technology within knowledge management projects.
And there is the knowledge strategy, executed in a knowledge projects by a KM team managing change in a measured environment.






maandag 14 oktober 2013

Why we all have to deal with complex systems.

I was in a workshhop with Dave Snowden last week in Frankfurt. And learned more about the Cynefin model (such as it is pronounced as [keuneivan]. Glad to have learned that, since if I would have been talking to him as [seuneufien] I would have made myself rediculous before I even started.

One of the main thing about this model is the difference of handling simple, complicated, complex and choatic circumstances  as a leader or as a knowledge manager.
I share the opinion that too much emphasis is still on the explicit making of knowledge.


In complex systems it's just not worth it, undoable because of a negative business case, or just undoable.

I question I got recently: "We're a simple company. Nothing complex about us. Half of the Cynefin framework doesn't apply to us".

And than I start to ask that person, to make a drawing about the situation of his - and any company.
And we came down very fast, agreeing that any company has competitors and customers.
A simple complex - glorieus twinkles in the eyes of the person asking me.

Than I asked to let him draw this situation.
And we came down to following figure.



Than I asked about the interactions and relations between all.

And I asked about the influencing factors.

Agreeing: this was quiet complex environment. Where there isn't always a clear predictable relationship between cause and consequence. Where you have to try things to see what the result is. Where is diffcult to define patterns. 

Being in the complex part of the Cynefin framework.