Escaping the Knowledge Management Black Hole: New Approaches to Leveraging Organisational Wisdom Using SharePoint

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  • During the 1990s, NASA offered early retirement to many of its workers in an effort to cut costs. Guess who took them? As the retirees walked out the door, they took with them critical information about the work they had done and, as a result, the agency took a giant step backwardCompanies and government agencies have long anticipated the "retirement brain drain" (baby boomers leaving the workforce), which could wipe out decades of institutional memory and leave the organizations without many of the skills and insider knowledge they had taken for granted. But few have taken adequate steps to prepare for the inevitable.Among the worst-hit areas of the economy will be the energy industry. The average energy worker is nine years older than the average employee nationwide, and the industry faces the prospect of losing half of its skilled workforce within five years. Unfortunately, this coincides with a time when energy consumption is skyrocketing, thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, high-definition TVs and other electronic devices. Furthermore, training new workers for some highly skilled jobs can take a long time. In the energy example, it can take five years to fully train a line worker.The problem isn't just with soon-to-retire baby boomers, it also has to do with higher turnover among mid-level managers -- those who would most likely be taking over for retirees -- who are therefore not being groomed for those jobs. “Knowledge transfer is similarly complex. The focus so far has been on capturing the knowledge of retirees, but equally important is getting that information to those who will need it”, says Piktialis, whose Conference Board report on knowledge transfer is due out in early June. And that means taking into account the learning styles of those on the receiving end.For example, she says, younger workers are more comfortable using technology as a learning tool. They don't want all the information at once. They want part of the information, then they want to come back for more when they're ready. And they don't want to spend a lot of time trying to find the information. "They're used to 'Googling,' " she says. But using modern means of communicating to pass on this vital knowledge bank may not work everywhere, Piktialis says. "Some corporate cultures are way too conservative for new media -- even though it might be appropriate. Sometimes, the companies just say, 'You're not going to see that here.' "Whatever solution a company finds, it should start early, says Piktialis. "Companies should be proactive and not wait until people are going out the door. You can't do this quickly," she says.Valuable AssetsBut Deere makes sure information is traded among workers long before they're ready to retire, says McAnally, citing the company's long history and culture of teamwork as a foundation for knowledge sharing.Deere has what are called communities of practice, which include an online network where information can be shared in employees' fields of expertise. People input knowledge and skills information into the database so that other members of those communities can research and use that information, similar to any other Web-search tool, says McAnally. Although the tool isn't just for people who are about to retire, it does ease the transition when that time comes. Deere encourages workers to enter their data into an "internal resume," which touts their experience, skills, awards and other accomplishments. The IR is a searchable database used for career development, so anyone who wants to move up the ladder has incentive to keep it up to date.New employees first learn about the IR during orientation, and HR, which oversees the system, reminds managers and supervisors on a regular basis to keep their IR current, including at twice-annual reviews.A lot of people spend long careers at the company and pile up a lot of knowledge, experience and expertise that they are willing to share. (At Deere, 36 percent of the workforce is age 50 or older and the average length of service at the company is 11 years.) The company encourages this attitude, says McAnally, by telling workers, "You get ahead at Deere by out-cooperating everyone else.""The thing I like about Deere is that they build this into their standard HR processes, and they apply it all the time to all workers, so it becomes a part of how they do business," says Piktialis. "It's not a special program for mature workers. It's a very effective approach [to knowledge sharing in general]."In addition, the company sometimes brings back retirees -- through a third-party contract-employment agency -- on a temporary basis to teach classes on managerial skills, lead projects or work on product development, says McAnally."They enjoy doing it," he adds. "A lot of times when people retire, they're particularly interested in staying active; they're interested in staying involved with people they've known."Two companies that have taken the practice of hiring back retirees a step further are Procter & Gamble and Eli Lilly. Faced with the prospect of losing large numbers of baby boomer researchers, the two companies joined forces in 2003 and launched YourEncore, which created a pool of former employees and other experts whom each could call on for temporary help.Since then, YourEncore has grown by leaps and bounds, with 28 member companies, and counting -- including Boeing, General Mills and Unilever -- and a pool of 3,600 scientists and specialists in engineering and product development. "Retirees from any company [or other highly experienced technical experts] can join YourEncore. It is an open-enrollment network," says Karen Kreutz, section head of corporate research and development, information and knowledge at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. But only member companies have access to the retiree network.The retired workers are hired for projects lasting anywhere from one day to one year, though most jobs last for about two to six weeks.Workers are paid an hourly rate -- calculated from their base salary when they retired, inflation and other factors -- and YourEncore handles the paper work, withholding money for Social Security, paying the employer's part of payroll taxes and providing liability insurance and workers' compensation.Without YourEncore, P&G managers would have had access only to the retirees they personally knew, says Kreutz. Now, not only does the company have access to a network of thousands, but YourEncore matches the expert with the job.Luring Employees to StayOne company that has been ahead of the curve on finding solutions has been Monongalia General Hospital, in Morgantown, W.Va. The hospital has seen the first baby-boom retirements, but 40 percent of its workforce is still age 50 or older. Human Resource Director Melissa Shreves says the organization has taken several tacks to keep the institutional memory from fading as employees approach retirement age. For one, her team sees to it employees know about in-service retirement from day one. They not only tell new hires during orientation, but provide in-service training sessions as well as individual counseling for employees who are considering retirement or other changes in employment status.In addition, HR works with anyone interested in coming back to find a project, schedule and/or job that meets their needs. The company also offers incentives for older employees to stay past retirement age. As of September, workers age 60 or older can take advantage of "in-service retirement," continuing to work there full-time or part-time while still receiving their pensions, she says. That means that full-time employees can stay in their current jobs, or they can apply for part-time jobs of at least 20 hours and, if they are hired, still get their pensions."Since we instituted this policy in September, we have had about 30 people who have started receiving their retirement benefits who have stayed working," says Shreves.Most of those opting for the in-service retirement have chosen to stay in their full-time jobs rather than switching to part-time, she adds. Shreves hopes that, with the incentive, the retirements will be more staggered than they would have been otherwise.Even for those who have retired, the hospital often hires back workers, either part-time -- most commonly as patient caregivers -- or for specific projects. And some return as volunteers.Retirees are invited to participate in the work of the hospital in a variety of ways. For example, Monongalia hosts community health fairs where a number of retired employees take blood pressures and staff education booths. The hospital also just constructed a new building in front of the old one, and officials hope that medical retirees will help design the rooms, suggesting where the beds, equipment and electrical outlets should be located.Employees don't always use the same skills when they return as they did before they left. The former head of the emergency department now works part-time as a registration representative at the hospital and as a scheduler for the maintenance department. "He knows a lot about the inner workings of the hospital" and can thereby bring a lot of expertise to both jobs, says Shreves, adding that he puts the money he makes there toward his vacations. Workers don't always plan to come back at the time of retirement, he adds. "Sometimes they say that they had been enjoying retirement and spending more time with their families, but then they say, 'I started to miss my friends and the patients and the interaction, and coming back to work just a couple of days a month made me feel really good.' ""Trying to pull these people back in and engage them is a win for us and a win for them," says Shreves. "We get their expertise and they get a little money."
  • When John Richter retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory three years ago, he took with him nearly the equivalent of China's entire experience with nuclear weapons. China at that point had built and tested 45 warheads. Dr. Richter, one of the lab's pre-eminent Cold Warriors, could claim 42
  • Can knowledge exist independently of the knowledge holder and thus became a corporate asset not a private one?
  • Here is another form of knowledge
  • Here is one form of knowledge
  • If the relationship between cause and effect is not known, then not all of the variables are not knownThis knowledge is harder to codify and to internaliseStories, metaphor, mentoring, observation, mapsThis knowledge often has the most value to organisations but is the hardest to retainKnowledge can only be volunteered – it cannot be conscripted for the very simple reason that I can never truly know if someone is using his or her knowledge. I can know they have complied with a process or a quality standard. “We always know, or are capable of knowing more than we have the physical time or the conceptual ability to say. I can speak in five minutes what it will otherwise take me two weeks to get round to spend a couple of hours writing it down.”
  • Erodes communication structures and tacit mechanisms of communicationBad memes get transferred with good memesAnalysis paralysisSometimes its better not to focus on what one is doing. Excessive documentation may retroact and thus affect practices, leading to less intuitive and therefore often worse decisionsHandicapping experts personal growthOrganisations with a high degree of articulation force experts to perform more of less novice-likeLearning and innovation constraintsThe excessive codification of knowledge may lead to knowledge becoming more static since its interaction with tacit knowledge may be redeucedOver time application of rules may be mistaken for original expertise if members rely blindly on the “successful” body of rules (the body must be successfukl because it derives from successful practices) and adapt reality to rules rather than the other way aroundDeskilling workforceWould you like fries with that? Explict knowledge aims for foolproofness but – at the same time – ensures profilferation of foolsIncreased liklihood of imitationTo promote codification contradicts KM’s original intentions to protect competitive advantage. Fundamantal paradox that the codification and simplificatoionog knowledge also increases the liklihood of imitation
  • Erodes communication structures and tacit mechanisms of communicationBad memes get transferred with good memesAnalysis paralysisSometimes its better not to focus on what one is doing. Excessive documentation may retroact and thus affect practices, leading to less intuitive and therefore often worse decisionsHandicapping experts personal growthOrganisations with a high degree of articulation force experts to perform more of less novice-likeLearning and innovation constraintsThe excessive codification of knowledge may lead to knowledge becoming more static since its interaction with tacit knowledge may be redeucedOver time application of rules may be mistaken for original expertise if members rely blindly on the “successful” body of rules (the body must be successfukl because it derives from successful practices) and adapt reality to rules rather than the other way aroundDeskilling workforceWould you like fries with that? Explict knowledge aims for foolproofness but – at the same time – ensures profilferation of foolsIncreased liklihood of imitationTo promote codification contradicts KM’s original intentions to protect competitive advantage. Fundamantal paradox that the codification and simplificatoionog knowledge also increases the liklihood of imitation
  • Erodes communication structures and tacit mechanisms of communicationBad memes get transferred with good memesAnalysis paralysisSometimes its better not to focus on what one is doing. Excessive documentation may retroact and thus affect practices, leading to less intuitive and therefore often worse decisionsHandicapping experts personal growthOrganisations with a high degree of articulation force experts to perform more of less novice-likeLearning and innovation constraintsThe excessive codification of knowledge may lead to knowledge becoming more static since its interaction with tacit knowledge may be redeucedOver time application of rules may be mistaken for original expertise if members rely blindly on the “successful” body of rules (the body must be successfukl because it derives from successful practices) and adapt reality to rules rather than the other way aroundDeskilling workforceWould you like fries with that? Explict knowledge aims for foolproofness but – at the same time – ensures profilferation of foolsIncreased liklihood of imitationTo promote codification contradicts KM’s original intentions to protect competitive advantage. Fundamantal paradox that the codification and simplificatoionog knowledge also increases the liklihood of imitation
  • Now imagine you are dealing with the tacit, embodied knowledge of a craftsman, or an engineer with 20 plus years experience. Do you really think its possible to codify their knowledge so it exists outside of the knowledge holder?
  • Writing memoirs usually loses too much richness and takes too long
  • Writing memoirs usually loses too much richness and takes too long
  • I want to move on to another well intentioned but failed approach, namely the use (or rather misuse) of stories. Back at the turn of the century I was advocating narrative as about the only way in which experience could be captured, and then only as a trigger mechanism. Others got the idea, but failed to really understand the way in which narrative works in the human brain. They liked the idea of narrative, but they thought this meant telling stories. A lot of these early programmes were run by journalists which was a large part of the problem. Journalists scoop up the fragments of peoples existence and weave then into an entertaining and compelling story. That was their model and it was the approach adopted. In the Digital Story Telling movement experts went into communities and helped people to tell compelling and often moving stories. In other cases they interviewed experienced staff, recorded video tapes and edited them to create mini-documentaries.Now all of this is interesting, valuable and capable of generating insight and understanding, but it’s not compressed experience. The journalists art is a transitory one, creating the material that will in future wrap fish and chips or provide protection from paint drips. Very few stories survive into the future. I remember one organisation who rejected by advise on this, confessing a few years later that no one had accessed their expensively produced videos of senior engineers. As one of the younger ones put it: Why would I spend half an hour listening to a story from a boring old fart about technology that we no longer use. The interesting thing is if one of those boring old farts turned up to give a lunch time lecture it was over subscribed and younger engineers stayed to talk for hours afterwards.The reason? The video tape was a static artifact, the conversation and living process of knowledge transfer. How we use technology to recreate that conversation is the heart of any sustainable solution and I will return to that shortly
  • I want to move on to another well intentioned but failed approach, namely the use (or rather misuse) of stories. Back at the turn of the century I was advocating narrative as about the only way in which experience could be captured, and then only as a trigger mechanism. Others got the idea, but failed to really understand the way in which narrative works in the human brain. They liked the idea of narrative, but they thought this meant telling stories. A lot of these early programmes were run by journalists which was a large part of the problem. Journalists scoop up the fragments of peoples existence and weave then into an entertaining and compelling story. That was their model and it was the approach adopted. In the Digital Story Telling movement experts went into communities and helped people to tell compelling and often moving stories. In other cases they interviewed experienced staff, recorded video tapes and edited them to create mini-documentaries.Now all of this is interesting, valuable and capable of generating insight and understanding, but it’s not compressed experience. The journalists art is a transitory one, creating the material that will in future wrap fish and chips or provide protection from paint drips. Very few stories survive into the future. I remember one organisation who rejected by advise on this, confessing a few years later that no one had accessed their expensively produced videos of senior engineers. As one of the younger ones put it: Why would I spend half an hour listening to a story from a boring old fart about technology that we no longer use. The interesting thing is if one of those boring old farts turned up to give a lunch time lecture it was over subscribed and younger engineers stayed to talk for hours afterwards.The reason? The video tape was a static artifact, the conversation and living process of knowledge transfer. How we use technology to recreate that conversation is the heart of any sustainable solution and I will return to that shortly

Transcript

  • 1. Escaping the Knowledge Management Black HoleNew Approaches to Leveraging Organisational Wisdom Using SharePointPaul CulmseeSeven Sigma Business Solutions (Australia)
  • 2. PAUL CULMSEE CISSP, MCSE, MCT, MCTSOwner - Seven Sigma Business Solutions (Perth)SharePoint architect, coach, facilitator and agonyauntSense-making practitioner and facilitator for largescale complex projects (non IT)Certified Dialogue Mapper T: @paulculmsee E: paul.culmsee@sevensigma.com.au B: www.cleverworkarounds.comShare The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 3. But first!• A quick question…Share The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 4. “If we want to go to the moon again, we’ll be startingfrom scratch because all of that knowledge hasdisappeared.” Lost Knowledge by David DeLong
  • 5. “As wizards like Dr. Richter retire, they are taking withthem invaluable expertise about just what makesbombs work. And raising a new crop of experts to taketheir place will be difficult, sparking questions about thereliability of the countrys 6,000-plus warheads” http://www.lasg.org/LifeAtTheLabs/knowhow.htm
  • 6. “There are only about 50 people in the U.S. who, like Dr.Richter, possess both the know-how to make a nuclear weaponand the "fudge factor"-- the memory of last-minute tweakingand intuitive shortcuts that made some of the nations 1,000or so nuclear-weapons tests work” http://www.lasg.org/LifeAtTheLabs/knowhow.htm
  • 7. The legacy of knowledge loss… • Reinvented wheels • Unlearned lessons • Patterns of repeated mistakes • Productivity shortfalls • Lack of continuous performance improvement
  • 8. The Knowledge Management Wars Team Polyani: “Tacit knowledge cannot be transferred: We know more than we can tell” Team Nonaka: “Tacit knowledge is unarticulated knowledge awaiting transfer”Slide 10
  • 9. Team Nonaka Strategy… Codification Strategy: Aim to detach knowledge from its possessor by articulation and electronic storage. The knowledge becomes explicit. Document libraries, Lists, Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, etcSlide 11
  • 10. Team Polyani Strategy… Personalisation Strategy: Technology has to provide information of “Who knows what?” and stimulate personal contacts via collaborative means. MySites, communities of practice, people searchSlide 12
  • 11. The only form of tacit knowledge sharing… Resistance is futileShare The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 12. Debunking tacit knowledge Brian May • Guitarist for Queen • 7th greatest guitarist of all time (Planet Rock poll) • Wrote “We will rock you” • Built his own guitar • PHD in astrophysics • Co-author of book “Bang! The complete history of the universe”Share The SharePoint 14 Slide Conference for Business Users
  • 13. So how do we “manage”this knowledge?
  • 14. “Brian, wehave a newguy, canyou doquickhandover?”
  • 15. “Brian, can you write up a ‘how- to’ document?”Slide 18
  • 16. “Brian, can you write up a detailed manual on what you do?”Slide 19
  • 17. Slide 20
  • 18. Share The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 19. When cause & effect is clear… …knowledge is easier to codify in written form
  • 20. … but using itstill depends onyour tacitknowledge
  • 21. Codified(explicit)knowledge inthe writtenform can bevery, veryvaluable…
  • 22. But whencause &effect is notclear,codifying inwriting isHARD
  • 23. Would you like fries with that? “Explicit knowledge aims for foolproofness but – at the same time – ensures proliferation of fools” Georg Hans Neuweg & Stefan Fothe
  • 24. Dangers of inappropriatecodification…• Deskilling the workforce – Over time, application of rules may be mistaken for original expertise – Fundamental paradox that the codification and simplification of knowledge also increases the likelihood of lazy imitation – May affect collaboration and the development and preservation of trust – Knowledge becomes more static and stale
  • 25. Dangers of inappropriatecodification…• Handicaps experts personal growth and quality of decision making – Organisations with a high degree of articulation force experts to perform in a novice-like fashion – Excessive attempts to codify will take a long time and may affect practitioners focus on their own practice – Sometimes its better to learn by observation in conjunction with explanation
  • 26. It’s about the spider senses...“it’s not [explicit knowledge] that people worry about. Rather it’s the ability of someone withthirty years of experience to sense some failure, an unarticulated (and unarticulatable) wrongness which means they check into something in more detail, often preventing catastrophic failure. It’s the ability when things are not working to know where to look first.” Dave Snowden
  • 27. • “What makes Dave such a great project manager?”• What insights can we gain from the team who last worked in this area?• What was the rationale behind this decision?• What advice would you pass onto others performing this role?
  • 28. Insight is in the eye of the beholder “I’m getting a J…” “OMG it’s like he’s known me all my life”• One person’s profundity is anothers platitude
  • 29. Seven Sigma’s KM Mantra #1You can’t “transfer” tacit knowledge(we are Team Polyani)…but you still should codify it nonetheless(we are also Team Nonaka)The issue is how you do it
  • 30. Seven Sigma’s KM Mantra #2when cause = effect, go ahead and write itdown Most if not all of the variables are understood anyway There is huge value in capturing explicit knowledge in this form
  • 31. Seven Sigma’s KM Mantra #3Where cause <> effect, do not burden those withthe knowledge of codifying it in writing Not all of the variables are known Context is everything “You say more than you can write”
  • 32. Seven Sigma’s KM Mantra #4Insight is realised through stories, metaphorand experiences Stories provide a richer canvas for people to relate to their own experiences People will find their own insights – that’s how tacit knowledge works
  • 33. Capture the stories? • Pro: Reduces the codification burden on the person with the knowledge • Con: Requires the right questions to be asked • Con: Have to sit through hours of footage. How much is relevant to a future audience? • Con: It is a failed strategy!
  • 34. Boring old farts: A failed strategy… “In the Digital Story Telling movement experts interviewed experienced staff, recorded video tapes and edited them to create mini-documentaries. Now all of this is interesting, valuable and capable of generating insight and understanding, but it’s not compressed experience. As one of the younger ones put it: Why would I spend half an hour listening to a story from a boring old fart about technology that we no longer use.” Dave Snowden http://tinyurl.com/7rocsus
  • 35. Boring old farts? “The interesting thing is if one of those boring old farts turned up to give a lunch time lecture it was over subscribed and younger engineers stayed to talk for hours afterwards.” Dave Snowden http://tinyurl.com/7rocsus
  • 36. What do we propose?Leverage the language of Dialogue Mapping (IBIS) – Complex group discussion broken into basic artefacts – Questions, ideas, pros, cons – Provides a means to navigate rationale
  • 37. Our approach• Video/podcast reflections by practitioners – Ask expansive open-ended questions – Do not edit into a “compelling story”• Create IBIS maps of the video rationale – Provides an artefact of the rationale – Time stamp each node to its context in the video and add metadata – Provides navigation, search and tagging of the rationale!
  • 38. Our approach• Store the videos in SharePoint media libraries• Store maps in our knowledge database and surface into SharePoint• Our forthcoming tool provides the glue – Navigation, search, contextual relevant links of video content
  • 39. Business Benefits• Much more efficient use of expert time – More talking, less writing• Much better use of the knowledge captured – Reduced burden on those consuming the content, yet maximises the opportunity for insight – Integrated with SharePoint search, user profiles and any other contextual relevance• Many applications across multiple sectors/industries• Leverages SharePoint  – SharePoint is already excellent at managing other forms of explicit knowledge
  • 40. QuestionsShare The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 41. More information… Wednesday workshop: • Aligning SharePoint to Business Goals: Don’t Just Say it, Do It! – 1 day class at the conclusion of this conference • CleverWorkarounds Blog (www.cleverworkarounds.com) • Seven Sigma Business Solutions (www.sevensigma.com.au) • Issue and Dialogue Mapping Training • SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture TrainingShare The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
  • 42. Paul Culmsee Seven Sigma Business Solutions Paul.culmsee@sevensigma.com.au +61 410533585 www.cleverworkarounds.comShare The SharePoint Conference for Business Users Slide 46