Geert Willems

Geert Willems

vrijdag 31 januari 2014

Unleash trust in KM

Trust can be described as existing out of the willingness to increase vulnerability with persons you can't control, in a situation where the possible disadvantage is smaller than then possible loss, when those other people decide to abuse this vulnerability".

This willingness is key in knowledge management.
Since you only have a good knowledge sharing when this willingness is available.


There is something unique about knowledge management and knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing MUST happen volunteereliy. You can do many things to force employees to share knowledge, but in the end these methods will not be effective.

Without trust, there is no fun in work.
Where there is trust, there is no fear - fear for colleagues, fear for management.
Without trust, persons and the company can not grow in knowledge maturity and knowledge sharing.

Everything what existis in a company which decreases trusts decreases knowledge sharing.

Without trust values and motives of others are easily interpreted.
The communication is distorted in a company where there is no trust.
If there is no trust, good ideas are not that easily recognised and accepted.
Without trust, it is difficult to get the needed information leading to frustration.
A lack of trust leads to multple control mechanisms, again preventing knowledge sharing.
When there is no trust, there is no self control, but control from above only - decreasing motivation, and knowledge sharing.
Without trust implementations are slowed down.
In an atmosphere without trust there is more defensiveness, hostile reactions and refusals.

Trust on the other hand, stimulates innovation, leads to a higher emotional stability, facilitates acceptance and openness and supports the taking of justified risks. 

Forcing employees can work up-to a certain level, but if the actions do not enforce trust, they will be counterproductive.
A huge responsibility is for the management, not only building the trust, but monitoring trust in their company networks. Scans are available for this.
Building up trust, good examples can be rewarded, but in the end the culture will be changed so that not trusting is just not accepted within the company.

Without trust there is no feeling of safety, there is no motivated staff. There is no knowledge sharing.

I know companies who don't accept this philosophy and still keep 'represive' control. They say it works good enough for them. They would think different if they would unleash trust in their company.

Without trust, you're blocked.

Next to mapping this the management needs to get behind the idea that trust is so important. As for the whole knowledge management strategy, the management needs to be behind it. And for some it is not easy, or just not done to change their management style.

But when the responsible believe, and acts,
the results will be beyond expectation.

This is easily said, the traject can be complex - since you're working with people of which all of them are different. I'm not having it for teambuilding activities, although a few selected of them can really increase trust - if the team is open for it!

Note: trust must be accompanied by professionalism

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Trust is one of the items I'm really passionate for - book us for a workshop on this topic!

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woensdag 29 januari 2014

KM: silo's versus interactive networks: why this dependency is just wrong!

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Organisations come in all kinds of forms. Large, small. Hierarchical, networked. Functional
structured, divisional structured, multiple matrix structured. A pool of silo's, flexible communities.


If the goal of knowledge management is an optimal use of knowledge throughout the organisation, is the best knowledge management solution depending on the current organisation?

To create common ground: knowledge is in my approach not only what resides in the head, but what is also present in the body - and transfered to 'the organisation'.

In the end, in whatever company you work for, the task needs to be done.
If I take for example the job of a technical writer, creating customer documentation.
His goal is to deliver quality documentation (nowadays I should call this quality information because it's very easy to create a mix of different media today) in the most productive way.

From knowledge point of view, should the tasks to be done differ whether or not the technical writer is working in a silo organisation or in a variant networked team with no strict hierachy?

The answer is: no.

Practical objections (most of the time starting with "yes, but") could be:
"in a silo organisation the processes are different than in a networked organisation"
and my answer is (also starting with "yes, but"):
"Should it be different. And why is it different?"

The answer I could get here ("yes, but")
"And then you move one level-up in the organisation, because, what about the technical writer teamleader which needs to report to his superiors in the hierarchy. It's very clear that the way he reports is depending on the organisational structure - silo's or network".

And I could get an answer ("yes, but")
"Why? If the reporting is partially the job of the technical writers themselves, and everybody can see the figures immediately on line? What's the difference?"

...there the answer could be ("Aha, now I've got you")
"There it is, you live in an ideal world where people can report themselves, have and take responsibility.".

Where the answer is ("Aha, now I got you").
"That does not come down to the organisational structure. That comes down to the people - and their culture. When you have staff which is not responsible and not willing to share, they will not feel comfortable in a networked variable team. But they will feel safe in their fixed position in a silo. The funny thing is that the way around can also be true."

And than for the first time a question as reply: "So the best way to share knowledge is depending on the people? And not on the company structure?".

Where the answer is (Confirmation of "I really got you - thanks for the sparring"). Yes. And it is the job of knowledge management to help the company increase in knowledge maturity. The challenge is to create an environment where knowledge sharing is that obvious that people feel comfortable in whatever organisation they work in, be it the silo-dependants ànd the network junkies.

---ps: this conversation was in my head - no people were harmed during the interview-- comments welcome.

vrijdag 17 januari 2014

GSWconsulting and K3cubed



***** PRESS RELEASE ***** PRESS RELEASE ***** PRESS RELEASE ******

GSWconsulting, based in Belgium is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership for 2014. As of January 1st,  GSWconsulting will be representing K3-Cubed (K3-Cubed Ltdservices throughout mainland Europe.

img_3718x“This strategic partnership between GSW Consulting and K3-cubed adds new top-notch knowledge solutions in complex environments to our current solution portfolio. Combined with our existing, more conventional knowledge management solutions and training portfolio, this partnership unleashes an additional spectrum of solutions focused on company resilience and leadership. GSWconsulting as a strategic partner with K3cubed is thrilled to share it’s own knowledge and to further contribute in the quest to create the best solutions for our customers.”
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"Geert has been working in the KM space since 1998 and I look forward to bringing his vast expertise to bear on joint projects over the coming months. This is an exciting development for K3-Cubed and I am thrilled to be able to support GSW Consulting in delivering the latest solutions for KM, resilient strategy, agile HR, decision-mapping, resilience and complexity." David Griffiths, Founder, K3-Cubed Ltd

maandag 13 januari 2014

The lifespan of knowledge


Last weeks I had some more time for discussions on LinkedIn. I want to commit to constant contribution, but in the end workload always takes over - until a period such as holidays to be involved in discussions again. And I'm doing that for a number of years know.

I'm always curiuous to the direction discussions are grown, detecting trends in the discussions. And one of them is clearly handling complexity and knowledge and leadership in complex environments.




And sometimes old school KM things are mentioned. I still see questions as 'what is the definition of knowledge', and 'what is the difference between data, information and knowledge'. 
And I try to keep an open mind, since I believe every point of view, and every knowledge model - even though I find some of them completely wrong - has at least learning value.

So also the discussions of quotes, that knowledge is not depleted when it is shared. And sometimes, such an old discussion still have value - I'm always looking to go one step beyond - even beyond my own initial view and comments. I would be an idiot not to be able to go beyond my own opinion - I still have the choise to do with wathever comes up.

So there is the discussion: is knowledge indeed not depleted when shared?

Well, the factor time is often neglected.
Time to handle existing knowledge.
Time to analyse the reaction patterns from the past.
Time to build a community.
Time to introduce for change.

Remembering a slogan: 'I've got a lifetime of knowledge'.

Now, I've to Masters - at a young age.
And they mean squat.

I'm 20 years further, and in rare occassion I need knowledge that I built. At least technical knowledge.

Today I was remembered that one of my hobbies is SEO of websites.
It's war. And I rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreaaaallly want to win - in a fair fashion.
So from time to time I, when I'm asked, I do the SEO for a website. And in one occassion it gave me a bad feeling. Since the competitor of one of my customer had to close the doors: our SEO had over taken theirs with long term catastrophical results - that's life in the world of webshops.

But even in knowledge management, due to new insights, due to the change of market, due to the fact that a lot of companies do their basic knowledge management well, due to technological improvements and new standards - it's clear that knowledge has a lifespan. And that this lifespan becomes shorter and shorter.

So instead of stating that shared knowledge does not deplete, I would state that shared and evolved knowledge does not deplete. Because if you don't evolve your knowledge, it gets outdated - you can share it as much as you want.

And then the questions pops-up:
Why should we spend a lot of time on knowledge built up in the past?
Because it 'may' be used in the future?
Should we classify knowledge on their estimated lifespan?

...I guess you know the answers to these ones !


www.gswconsulting.org - Twitter: @GSWconsulting - Facebook - Book us for a passionate KM talk
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maandag 6 januari 2014

About mildew and KM: Shared knowledge should not always be multiplied

www.gswconsulting.org - Twitter: @GSWconsulting - Facebook - Book us for a passionate KM talk
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As I used to state sometimes: knowledge is the only thing that grows when you share it.
(until one of my course members remarked (thank you Marc DB) this is also the case for bacteria, mildew and virusses I had to change this into: knowledge is the only good thing that grows when you share it).

But is this always the case?
There is one danger I see: bad quality of knowledge may be infecteous.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.
A real life example.
A company where IT is built by a person who followed the evolutions from IT from let's say the 1995's. And because of that he's still responsible for the IT infrastructure. Because in the eyes of the management he did a great job, they are really trusting him - not aware of the evolutions today. 
And the IT responsible just did his job - but not evolving anymore. 
So when I met this company the infrastructure and rules for workers to connect to the intranet etc were in one word archaic.

A question to be asked: what if the IT responsible would not share his knowledge with the management. Knowing that company a little bit, they would hire a consultant for a few days to be advised. And the chance of a better IT solutions would have been a lot higher.

The IT responsible shared his knowledge - but there was totally no quality control.
Now you can start point fingers and say this is a special case, and that the IT responsible didn't do a good job, etc....

It's just one example - and there are others. E.g. in a team of SW developers where the input of the very assertive engineers are taken into account, and the better input of very introvert developers is neglected - if they dared to share their input.

I flagged this in this company, but it was not my assignment, so I don't know they did anything about it.

One should absolutely strive to a culture of knowledge sharing.  In a conscious way. Having one eye on quality and the other on quanitty.