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31 March 2007

Dave Pollard's "KM quick wins" against my "organizational cultures not conducive to knowledge-sharing"

Dave Pollard recently posted the following on his still amazing weblog: Knowledge Management: Finding Quick Wins and Long Term Value.
First, do read it. Then, consider the association I have made below between his list of quick wins and longer-term programs, and my list of cultural traits hindering knowledge-sharing (http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/03/organizational-cultures-not-conducive_20.html#links ):

Six 'Quick Win, Low Hanging Fruit' KM Projects.

1. Make it easy for your people to identify and connect with subject matter experts.
This deals with:
7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge.
And even maybe in a more medium-term with:
4. Organizational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate.

2. Help people manage the content and organization of their desktop.
3. Help people identify and use the most appropriate communication tool.
4. Make it easy for people to publish their knowledge and subscribe to the information they want.
These three quick-wins help people be more efficient so could help with:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
The quick-win no.4 also deals with the cultural traits 4 and 7 above.

5. Create a facility for just-in-time canvassing for information.
6. Teach people how to do research, not just search.
These last two quick-wins again deal with the same three traits above (nos 4, 7 and 8).

Six Longer-Term Big Payoff KM Programs.

a. Make your information professionals anthropologists.
This program will have a similar impact to most of the quick-win above. It will further help in making people more effective and efficient and at connecting with one another, so will help with:
7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge.
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
4. Organizational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate.

b. Embed intelligence in systems, processes and tools.
I think the only trait this effectiveness/efficiency improvement program helps with is:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.

c. Teach your information professionals to be sense-making specialists.
This program focuses on the information professionals and for them will help with:
15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement.
11. Job Description framing.
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.

d. Use knowledge to drive innovation.
With open-minded top-executives, this program could maybe help with:
16. Top-executives misunderstanding KM challenges.
If innovation is rewarded then this program would also indirectly help with:
3. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives.
And it could also drive the insertion of "being innovative" through "collaboration/knowledge-sharing" in job definitions so helping with:
11. Job Description framing.

e. Canvass the wisdom of crowds.
This programs helps with the following traits:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
1. A strictly hierarchical top-down structure.
13. Only money talks.

f. Collect, and attract people to use, stories and anecdotes.
At first, I thought this one would not relate to any of my traits but it does. This program would help making people feel more comfortable in sharing their knowledge; in fact, some would share knowledge without realizing how valuable it can be to others. Therefore this one helps with the following two traits:
14. Perfectionism resulting from fear of being wrong.
15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement.

I have managed to associate 10 of the 16 cultural traits to Dave’s 12 quick-wins and longer-term programs. It’s good and I would certainly agree that all these initiatives would move an organization, or more precisely some of its collaborators, in the right direction. However, the six “anti-knowledge-sharing” cultural traits left-out are significant in my view. Dave’s approach is based on the principles of Personal KM and, as I already wrote (http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/2006/11/personal-knowledge-management.html#links) I do not believe you can sufficiently change an organizational culture with only a bottom-up approach. The only initiative in Dave’s list that attempts to initiate a top-down change is the program (d) about using knowledge to drive innovation. I did loosely associate it to the trait relating to top-executives misunderstanding KM. This is because within a culture not conducive to knowledge-sharing, you will need more than that to have your top-executives truly understand and support KM. You could be told: “We are innovative already and we must be using knowledge in the process, so we’re fine, no need of KM”.

Using Dave’s quick-wins and some of his programs can surely help drawing the attention of top-executives. With a few influential sponsors on-board, you could then hope to tackle all the non-conducive cultural traits including the other six such as 5. Lack of trust, 6. Internal politics, 9. Too much pride or 2. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives. So PKM will help but will not succeed on its’ own if the goal is a deep and lasting cultural change.

Peter-Anthony Glick

http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

25 March 2007

Content of my site

Dear readers, I have created a list of all the blogs posted on this site, sorted by theme:
http://leveragingknowledgelist.blogspot.com

Peter

21 March 2007

Knowledge-sharing for a Retail Manager

In a retail company, who is at the centre of value generation? Undoubtedly the person making the sale: the sales associate (I am talking about markets relying on differentiation, not cost advantages). You would then expect these organizations to focus on facilitating each of these key value generators in generating more and more value.

Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation with a retail boutique (store) Manager. She started on the issue of retention (or the lack of) of knowledge when an experienced member of her team leaves the company. It’s not only that no set formal hand-over process exist, it is more about the lack of a knowledge-transfer process well before an individual decides (or is made to) to leave.

I told her that this issue is still encountered by most managers in most organizations (not many executive Boards have given much thought on this HR issue yet). In her case, this lack of knowledge sharing resulted in the loss of valuable customer relationships knowledge and contextual selling experience (selling effectively specific types of product to a particular customer group, in a specific geographical location, her boutique).

Our discussion then went on about another aspect of knowledge sharing needs for her team and the retail department. She was concerned that - due to a 6-day rota giving
a day off in the week to compensate for a Saturday duty - too often one member of her team misses her weekly review meeting. She then has to remember to whom she has to repeat some important information. We both agreed the solution would be an online intranet where meeting summaries and other departmental information could be posted for all sales-associates to read.

Not rocket science you might say (indeed many organisations provide such tools) but most Knowledge leveraging solutions do not have to be technically complex at all in order to deliver noticeable benefits. In the context of this retail Manager, this simple intranet would be the solution. She then realised that this shared tool could also be used by sales-associates from different boutiques to exchange experiences, ask each other questions, debate on some common topics. Such interaction between sales teams is needed to learn from each other.

In differentiation-focused markets, internal competition is entertained between sales-associates, between sales teams, between distribution subsidiaries and this even for the same Brand. This is fine and usually generates value. However, the fine line not to cross is that this competition should not be at the expense of the customer, and therefore at the expense of the company’s overall performance and the Brand’s image. Internal competition is typically a key reason for lack of knowledge sharing within a sales force.

What are the potential costs of an experienced sales-associate leaving the company without a formalized and extensive transfer of his/her specific & valuable knowledge? Some of his/her best “loyal” customers will automatically follow him/her to the competition. Other customers might notice a significant difference in the service they receive from his/her colleagues and decide to at best, go to another sales team within the same company, or at worse, finally go to the competition. We could also face a drop in turnover on subsequent sales made to some of his/her usual customers remaining loyal to the Brand. This is because their usual sales-associate would have better known how to satisfy these customers and often entice them into buying more as a result.

What are the potential costs of sales-associates not informed on time or misinformed? This is now related to the other knowledge-sharing issue the retail manager told me about. The possible consequences of sales-associates not informed properly are numerous. Some examples are: Not knowing about the arrival of a VIP, not knowing of the arrival in stock of a new collection, not knowing of an important security concern, or not knowing about a local event that should draw more traffic in the shop.

I have already identified above a relatively simple and “cheap” solution to this problem. What about a solution to the “lack of knowledge-transfer between sales-associates” problem?

An idea is that managers could establish “mentor/apprentice” relationships between pairs of sales-associates. The mentors’ performance (and recognition, and reward) would be dependant on their apprentice’s achievements nearly as much as on their own. In this way, the experienced sales-associate is encouraged to share his/her knowledge and customers with a “junior” sales-associate, so that if he leaves the company, there is a natural and effective hand-over. Other operational benefits can be identified such as the apprentice “covering” for the mentor when the latter is away (day off, holidays, sick leave, etc…). The mentor benefits by having his/her apprentice handling the sales for his/her customers during that time. The apprentice benefits by “holding the fort” and being put to the test. The company benefits:

· By maximizing the chances to satisfy the mentor’s customers in his absence, therefore offering continuity in level of service.
· By speeding up the learning of junior staff, therefore resulting in a more experienced sales-force overall.
· By increasing revenue at relatively low cost, therefore increasing profits as well.

In other words, a win/win solution.

Peter-Anthony Glick
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

20 March 2007

Organizational cultures not conducive to effective leveraging of knowledge (updated)

I have added 6 cultural traits to the initial list. This list is probably still not exhaustive so anyone spotting a missing factor hindering knowledge sharing, please post a comment with your suggestion.

1. A strictly hierarchical top-down structure: The “you should not share knowledge outside your department without your manager’s approval” syndrome.

2. Focus on short-term objectives: the “no need to share knowledge since once objectives are met, it wont be needed anymore” syndrome.

3. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives: the “you are judged on what you achieved, not on what others have achieved with your help” syndrome.

4. Organizational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate: the “we cannot possibly need help from anyone outside our very experienced and specialized group” syndrome.

5. Lack of trust: the “why should I take the risk to help whom I compete with, I wouldn’t get the recognition for it anyway” syndrome.

6. Internal politics: “Knowledge is Power so I retain it” syndrome.

7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge: The “I do not expect anyone in the company to have the experience/skills I need” syndrome.

8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge: The “others probably could benefit from my experience but I’m too busy to check, let alone actually help” syndrome.

9. Too much Pride: The now too famous "not invented here" syndrome.

10. The confidentiality issue: The “we fear that some vital competitive knowledge can get into the wrong hands, so the least we share it, the smaller the risk” syndrome.

11. Job Description framing: The 'No-one's paying us to have a wider vision' syndrome.

12. Groupthink effect: The 'We'll define our stakeholders as the people we already know' syndrome.

13. Only money talks: The 'those so-called stakeholders aren't actually funding anything directly, so they're not real customers' syndrome.

14. Perfectionism resulting from fear of being wrong: the "I won't share until I'm certain it's perfect" syndrome.

15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement: the "who am I to teach others, of course they know" syndrome.

16. Top-executives misunderstanding KM challenges: The "this knowledge sharing sounds great! Can you order everyone to do it tomorrow please?" syndrome!!!

You can test your organization against these 16 cultural traits. The more of them fits your workplace, the more of a challenge you will have to promote knowledge sharing. Some are more difficult to deal with such as internal politics, but I would conjecture that you will need to address all the relevant traits at some point in the process. They all have their importance and only one of them - deep rooted in the organizational culture - can jeopardize leveraging knowledge efforts.
I have recently (Feb. 08) added 4 more traits, check this post.

Peter-Anthony Glick
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/

10 March 2007

Organizational cultures not conducive to effective leveraging of knowledge (cont.2)

In his comments, Jean Pommier (ILOG) suggested the following two cultural traits (which I have adapted a bit):

14. Perfectionism resulting from fear of being wrong: the "I won't share until I'm certain it's perfect" syndrome.

15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement: the "who am I to teach others, of course they know" syndrome.

Peter
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

08 March 2007

Organizational cultures not conducive to effective leveraging of knowledge (cont.)

Courtesy Hilary Burrage (http://www.hilaryburrage.com/ ) I have 3 additional cultural traits to suggest:

11. Job Description framing: The 'No-one's paying us to have a wider vision' syndrome.

The next two are more relevant to the public sector:

12. Groupthink effect: The 'We'll define our stakeholders as the people we already know' syndrome.

13. Only money talks: The 'those so-called stakeholders aren't actually funding anything directly, so they're not real customers' syndrome.


Peter-Anthony Glick
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

05 March 2007

Organizational cultures not conducive to effective leveraging of knowledge.

The list of 10 “syndromes” listed below is not exhaustive so anyone spotting a missing factor hindering knowledge sharing, please post a comment with your suggestion.


1. A strictly hierarchical top-down structure: The “you should not share knowledge outside your department without your manager’s approval” syndrome.

2. Focus on short-term objectives: the “no need to share knowledge since once objectives are met, it wont be needed anymore” syndrome.

3. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives: the “you are judged on what you achieved, not on what others have achieved with your help” syndrome.

4. Organisational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate: the “we cannot possibly need help from anyone outside our very experienced and specialized group” syndrome.

5. Lack of trust: the “why should I take the risk to help whom I compete with, I wouldn’t get the recognition for it anyway” syndrome.

6. Internal politics: “Knowledge is Power so I retain it” syndrome.

7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge: The “I do not expect anyone in the company to have the experience/skills I need” syndrome.

8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge: The “others probably could benefit from my experience but I’m too busy to check, let alone actually help” syndrome.

9. Too much Pride: The now too famous "not invented here" syndrome.

10. The confidentiality issue: The “we fear that some vital competitive knowledge can get into the wrong hands, so the least we share it, the smaller the risk” syndrome.

You can test your organization against these 10 cultural traits. The more of them fits your workplace, the more of a challenge you will have to promote knowledge sharing. Some are more difficult to deal with such as internal politics, but I would conjecture that you will need to address all the relevant traits at some point in the process. They all have their importance and only one of them - deep rooted in the organizational culture - can jeopardize leveraging knowledge efforts.

Check my updated list with 6 more syndromes:
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/03/organizational-cultures-not-conducive_20.html#links

Peter-Anthony Glick
http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

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