Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage
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Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage

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Presented by Emerson's David Hyde and Aaron Crews at the 2010 Emerson Exchange.

Presented by Emerson's David Hyde and Aaron Crews at the 2010 Emerson Exchange.

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  • Good ***. Thank you all for coming to our presentation on Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage
  • My name is David Hyde and my partner is Aaron Crews. We are both engineers working for The Automation Group, part of the Gulf Coast Engineering Center for Emerson Process Management specializing in Control Modernization Projects.
  • This presentation could use a subtitle, one that is more grounded and fundamental. Admittedly, when we set out to do this presentation, we were just coming out of the clouds. We had seen some small successes in knowledge sharing, and now more recently we’ve seen even more. And that is what we want to share. A subtitle would be something along the lines of…
  • (mass exodus)
  • In the spirit of engineering projects, several terms and conditions before we get started: We are not Knowledge Management experts – we are students (mass exodus) We are sharing TAG’s story. While every community is different, we are confident that everyone here will find common ground in some of the things we will share. We would love to hear what you are doing. We are still on the journey. As you will see, we’ve had some great little victories and we are still wrestling in many areas. We want to instill the importance for every organization to get started down this road. You don’t have to wait for the perfect model or process to begin today.
  • How many of you have heard of Knowledge Management? It’s a practice and field of study that’s been around since the early 90’s. Still, there is great diversity in how it’s practiced or even what certain terms mean. Here are a few definitions so that we are all on the same page: Knowledge = the mix of information and experience ( context ). Knowledge Management = to manage with due attention to the value of knowledge – processes, technologies, accountabilities.
  • Arguably, An information-based company’s sustainable competitive advantage comes from what it collectively knows, how efficiently it uses what it knows, and how readily it acquires new knowledge. (innovation)
  • Maintain that advantage, even if experts walk out the door Nurture a culture of innovation – unique, high-performing teams Drive everyone to the level of the highest performers Future-proof the organization Align knowledge strategy with organizational strategy – help deliver business objectives/results
  • And more recently we see evidence that our clients are demanding it. Nick Milton, an industry expert on Knowledge Management, stated that a leading oil company is including Knowledge Management requirements in there pre-qualifications for their contractors.
  • Challenges Expertise increases, so does abstraction. Difficult to bridge gap between expert and novice. “ Tacit” knowledge is difficult to articulate and share Overcoming Use intermediate experts Apprenticeships/ 2-way interactions Boundary objects – prototypes, sketches
  • In a large organization, knowledge and resources tend to be organized vertically. Each part of the organization has its own tools and methods, and makes an effort to organize and maintain information for their own use. As a result, effort is duplicated and the quality of information isn’t what it could be. No information gets shared or contributed to between functions. Often, others don’t even know that the resources are available or exist.
  • Knowledge management was a hot topic in the 90s and it had great intentions.
  • And actually, several KM efforts were already in place in some parts at TAG. What we lacked though was some insight into all that effort: What are we doing well? Where do we need to focus? What things can we do to help share what our experts know?
  • To find these gaps and new opportunities, we conducted a sort of “knowledge management audit.” In the knowledge management practice, a variety of approaches and tools have been outlined. Several of these form the basis for the practices that were already in place at TAG. We looked at a variety of tools in the KM toolbox. Some we felt were “big gorillas” that would require significant investment (in blue), but others we felt were “low hanging fruit” that we could get immediate benefits from with minimal investment. Those fell into two categories: (1) those that we were already doing (that could be bolstered, in green), and (2) new tools that addressed gaps in our existing strategy (in orange).
  • We wanted to be careful about how we went about this, though. As we well knew, efforts to improve knowledge sharing don’t always work. Many times, they’re just “one more thing” to do, and it can be a challenge to deliver practical knowledge throughout the organization. Some issues with typical approaches to knowledge management are: A lack of design thinking – tools are made to do a job but they are a job in themselves to use, or the data collected isn’t easy to understand. Tools should be built around how we work and how we learn. A lack of context – true knowledge isn’t about memorizing someone else’s solution. You need to understand the context of their solution so that you can reframe the problem properly in your own particular context. What worked for someone else won’t always work, but their approach might.
  • Rather than assuming we know the best way to handle the problem, we wanted to start, try things, and iterate quickly. This is the advantage of working outside an entrenched KM organization – as we said, we’re just a couple of engineers, not a whole department. The cost of failure is cheap. We did need a little bit of traction to get started, however. Critical to this effort was meeting with our executive management and getting their support. Keys to that were that we weren’t asking for a lot of time or money – just cheerleading, help in organizing our efforts, and most of all support of the solutions we delivered. We also identified ourselves and a few others as knowledge management champions in the organization. This gave us a small group to start developing ideas and raised the profile of the effort. The other thing we wanted to do was to keep the barriers to sharing as low as possible. Our strategy to handle that was to use indirect methods as much as we could. That means that we wanted to record and share information through culture and natural behaviors. We wanted knowledge sharing to happen in the natural course of our work. That way people don’t have to “make a point” to contribute and the solutions our experts come up with remain in the context of the problem they are trying to solve.
  • We chose an iterative strategy, where we could try things to see if they would work. If they didn’t – oh well. If they did, we could highlight those wins. By celebrating small wins, we’d build support from executive management. That, combined with continued evangelism for our tools and for the KM effort in general, would build organizational awareness and culture change that would allow us to refine and grow our tools.
  • People – The right people are leading the effort, and all TAG employees are encouraged to share and use the information. Technology – Simple, inexpensive, open, and scalable IT/Intranet solutions that assist in finding and sharing knowledge. Processes – Management, measurements and processes that effectively “close the loop” so the knowledge gained ultimately improves and streamlines our work.
  • People – The right people are leading the effort, and all TAG employees are encouraged to share and use the information. Technology – Simple, inexpensive, open, and scalable IT/Intranet solutions that assist in finding and sharing knowledge. Processes – Management, measurements and processes that effectively “close the loop” so the knowledge gained ultimately improves and streamlines our work.
  • People – The right people are leading the effort, and all TAG employees are encouraged to share and use the information. Technology – Simple, inexpensive, open, and scalable IT/Intranet solutions that assist in finding and sharing knowledge. Processes – Management, measurements and processes that effectively “close the loop” so the knowledge gained ultimately improves and streamlines our work.
  • Ignite
  • Highlights Expertise Informally Robert Wen example - know who to talk to about Hot Cutovers Works as a regular time to reinforce KM program and celebrate wins
  • Respected opinions and Executive feedback = instant weight to outcomes Example topic – Doers not Planners Very actionable outcomes Clear pattern emerged and is being addressed Edmund Steve’s PM meeting PM training
  • People – The right people are leading the effort, and all TAG employees are encouraged to share and use the information. Technology – Simple, inexpensive, open, and scalable IT/Intranet solutions that assist in finding and sharing knowledge. Processes – Management, measurements and processes that effectively “close the loop” so the knowledge gained ultimately improves and streamlines our work.
  • Now we can talk about some of the positive outcomes that we’ve had after about a year of applying these tactics. One of the main tools that we have been refining and developing is called Mindstream. Mindstream has a lot to it – activity streams, blogs, groups, and more – but today we’re going to highlight one effective use case.
  • By acting as a company whitepages with flexible fields for profile information, we’ve started to make it easier to find experts on a particular subject in the organization. Here’s a great example. David Hyde recently started a new project. This project used Intools and he needed some expert advise on the right database strategy to take early on in that project. A profile search on Mindstream led him to some great resources.
  • On Corie’s profile, she had put InTools as one of her professional interests (Along with her contact information). Corie works our of our Bloomington, MN office – not someone David normally would know to talk to.
  • David sent a public message to Corie on the site and got a great response – including some comments from other users. Having these conversations in public is one of the important aspects of this technology. If they had just had a phone call, no one else would know about it or the solution, no one would be able to search for the solution, and no one else would be able to contribute to the conversation.
  • Speaking of search, the ability to find the relevant content was a critical part of our design. In our case, we are able to use an internal Google search, which makes it easy. Also, we can look at analytics help provide insight on what people are searching for and how they’re finding it.
  • As we were using and testing different types of tools, we determined that we also needed an easy way to ask questions and work together in realtime in our project teams. After using some open source solutions, we stumbled upon Microsoft Office Communicator – a tool that was available to us through IT but that no one knew about. We’ve used the group chat function to collaborate in real time between offices, customer sites, and EPC’s. It has let us leverage the knowledge and resources of those back in the office while on site. This lets us improve our solutions and implement best practices rather than “what will work” when we’re not sure what the best practice is. By lowering the barrier to communication (no small talk, no phone calls, etc) we’ve found that we increase the amount of collaboration that’s happening.

Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage Presentation Transcript

  • Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage David Hyde, Project Engineer Aaron Crews, Principal Engineer
  • Presenters
    • David Hyde
    • Aaron Crews
    Company Logo Company Logo
  • Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage David Hyde, Project Engineer Aaron Crews, Principal Engineer
  • Harnessing Your Experts’ Knowledge for Sustainable Competitive Advantage TAG’s recent successes in Knowledge Sharing using “low barrier to entry” tools and practices David Hyde, Project Engineer Aaron Crews, Principal Engineer
  • Terms and Conditions
    • We are not Knowledge Management experts
    • We are sharing TAG’s story
    • We are on the journey
    • We want to instill the importance of getting started
  • Agenda
    • Why we think Knowledge Sharing is important
    • Our approach
    • What we’ve learned along the way
    • Where we are going
  • Key Terms
    • Knowledge = information + experience
    • Knowledge Management = manage with due attention to the value of knowledge
  • Why We Think Knowledge Sharing is Important
    • Increases efficiencies
    • Avoids repeating mistakes
    • Nurtures the creation of new knowledge
      • Speeds up innovation
      • Gains competitive advantage
    • Identifies experts
    • Transfers knowledge between people & organizations (horizontal and vertical)
  • Why We Think Knowledge Sharing is Important
    • What your organization collectively knows,
    • how efficiently it uses what it knows,
    • and how readily it acquires new knowledge
    Is your company’s Sustainable Competitive Advantage
  • Our Vision
    • Maintain industry advantage
    • Nurture innovation
    • Drive knowledge workers to higher levels
    • Align knowledge strategies with organizational strategies
  • Our Vision
    • Our clients are now demanding it!
  • Barriers
    • Q: What’s so hard about sharing?
    • A: It’s not that easy.
  • Barriers
    • Cognitive
    • Motivational
  • Barriers
    • Cognitive
      • Challenges
        • Expertise leads to abstraction
        • Difficult to bridge gap
        • “ Tacit” knowledge
      • Overcoming
        • Use intermediate experts
        • Apprenticeships
        • Boundary objects
  • Barriers
    • Motivational
      • Challenges
        • “ Knowledge is power”
        • Formal Processes
        • Trust
        • Time/dedication
      • Overcoming
        • Norm of reciprocity
        • Part of normal daily affairs (culture)
  • Barriers
    • Siloed
    Image credit AnnieGreenSprings on flickr
  • This is a common problem.
    • An entire field of study called “Knowledge Management” has been built around trying to solve these issues
  • Gaps
    • We’re doing some things (actually, a lot of things), but there are gaps.
    Image credit squeaks2569 on flickr
  • The KM Toolbox
  • Why doesn’t KM always work?
    • Lack of design thinking
      • Tools aren’t designed around how we work
      • Tools aren’t designed to feed back into the organization
      • Tools are too onerous
        • Difficult to maintain
        • Difficult and time consuming to use (and more passwords!)
    • Lack of context – archiving solutions only
      • Knowledge is more about reframing problems than repeating solutions
      • We need to know why , not just how
  • Strategy
    • Q: How do we know how to build the right tool?
    • A: We don’t. (hey, at least we know we don’t)
      • Exec sponsorship
      • ID Champions
      • Jump In
      • Start small, be agile.
      • Capitalize on indirect methods
  • Start Strategy Executive Buy-In + Evangelism Celebrate small wins Small, informal tools Organizational Awareness And Culture Change
  • Tactics
  • Tactics
  • Tactics
    • Processes
      • Fed by People and Technology outcomes
      • Led by Management to drive participation
      • May be formalized/institutionalized
      • Examples
        • Lessons Learned
        • Exit Interviews
        • Customer Surveys
        • Employee Performance Goals
        • Standards and Procedures
  • Tactics
  • Tactics
    • People
      • Knowledge Shares
      • Solution Circles
      • Peer Assists
  • Outcomes
    • Knowledge Shares
      • Story Telling
      • Kick-off for Monthly Brown Bags
      • 10 minute Share, 5 minute Q&A
      • Highlights expertise informally
      • The Point: Not so much to remember the content, but the expert
      • Reinforce KM initiatives and “wins”
  • Outcomes
    • Based on “Knowledge Café” model by David Gurteen
    • Uniquely structured brainstorming sessions
    • Very actionable and challenging outcomes
    • Source of most TAG KM initiatives
  • Outcomes
    • Peer Assists
  • Tactics
  • Tactics
    • Technology
      • Fit into existing workflow when possible
      • Flexible and inexpensive
      • Lowering barriers
        • Use open standards
        • Web-based
      • Examples
        • Communicator
        • Mindstream
        • Sharepoint
        • Search
  • Outcomes
    • Mindstream
      • Web-based application
      • Open source: based on Wordpress
      • Provides
        • Whitepages
        • Virtual Communities of Practice
        • Easy publishing
          • Open/searchable document format (just html, not Word)
  • Outcomes
    • Mindstream
        • Whitepages
  • Outcomes
  • Outcomes
  • Outcomes
    • Mindstream
      • Internal Google search
      • Analytics
  • Outcomes
    • MS Communicator
      • Instant messaging
      • Already available, not used
      • Real-time collaboration & group chat
  • Closing
    • Ongoing Challenges
      • Continue celebrating small wins
      • Nurturing uptake/participation of tools
      • Consistency – schedule and follow-up of people and process-related solutions
      • Governance
  • Questions
    • Feedback
    • Questions
  • Thanks!
    • Thank you for attending. Your feedback is welcome!
    • David Hyde:
      • [email_address]
      • Twitter/davidmhyde
      • LinkedIn/davidmhyde
    • Aaron Crews:
      • [email_address]
      • Twitter/aaroncrews
      • LinkedIn/aaroncrews
  • Sources and Credits
    • ABC ’ s of Knowledge Management, by NHS National Library for Health
    • Knoco Ltd. Knowledge management models, SPE poster
    • Gabriel Cepeda-Carri ó n (University of Seville, Spain), Competitive Advantage of Knowledge Management
    • APQC ’ s Road Map to Knowledge Management Results: Stages of Implementation
    • Knoco Ltd. Knowledge management stories, www.nickmilton.com
    • Olivier Amprimo, The Adaptation of Organisations to a Knowledge Economy and the Contribution of Social Computing
    • Andrew McAfee, The Business Impact of IT, andrewmcafee.org
    • Mark Gould, Enlightened Tradition: Unpicking traditional assumptions about KM and the life of the law, blog.tarn.org