Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service
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Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service



What goes around, comes around. This is the presentation from a Knowledge Preservation panel I hosted at GTEC in Ottawa in 2006.

What goes around, comes around. This is the presentation from a Knowledge Preservation panel I hosted at GTEC in Ottawa in 2006.



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  • Thank you for coming We are here to explore what some think is one of the most significant issues facing the PS today. A quick poll: How many of you would consider yourself: IT IM KM Other…
  • Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service: Why is it important and what can we do about it?, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 2:45 PM to 3:45 PM under Track 1: Keynotes & Special Presentations, in the Confederation Room located on the 4th level of the Westin Hotel. Rules and the meaning of the Cow.
  • Thom quickly introduces the panel members
  • Turns out that defining knowledge can be a tough thing, philosophers have been trying for centuries, and we have had some pretty good discussion about it – in the end we took a simplistic and very broad view. You can think of the organizational knowledge base as the stuff you need to do your job, it may be something you need every day or it might be something you only need in particular circumstances, circumstances that may be months, years or even decades apart. This slide illustrates a few examples of the need for knowledge that you might encounter. -------------------------------------------- Valuing diverse knowledge is a way of thinking – it helps to define our culture and how we influence future generations which is ----------------------------- Some may ask what the difference between information and knowledge is….well we know its different but there is a blurry line between the two that is still being defined. We can discuss that later if there is time -------------------------------------------------------- here is one definition from What is the Difference Between Information Management and Knowledge Management? Information management is the harnessing of the information resources and information capabilities of the organization in order to add and create value both for itself and for its clients or customers. Knowledge management is a framework for designing an organization’s goals, structures, and processes so that the organization can use what it knows to learn and to create value for its customers and community.
  • Knowledge Preservation means taking action to create an enduring corporate asset - and the activities that are involved generally fall into one of two broad categories. Those centered around Knowledge Resources and the process of Capturing, organizing and retrieving knowledge etc – this should look familiar to the IM folks in the crowd. The other group of activities is centered around sharing of knowledge and collaboration, the direct transfer from one person to another or from one to many and the processes involved in creating new knowledge. So once again we have a very broad range of activities that can be considered knowledge preservation and the important thing to remember is that no act is too small – we don’t need an Enterprise strategy to get started. -------------------------------- Any of the steps shown under knowledge resources can be considered knowledge preservation as they involve a digital or physical artifact; a book, paper, document, video, etc. Some of this will look familiar to the IM folks in the crowd. The other side, shading and collaboration can take place with or without a knowledge artifact and preserves knowledge within the people that make up the organization. knowledge resources include human intellectual capital as well as the explicit knowledge contained in the knowledge base knowledge needs to be preserved to counteract the dissipation or loss of knowledge resources that are needed to maintain, improve performance, and to innovate (dissipation can be caused by brain drain, and organizational memory loss); to prevent the need to re-invest and re-invent the wheel (organizational learning) hence, “knowledge preservation” are the actions an organization (consciously) undertakes to capture knowledge and prevent its loss knowledge needs to be communicated, transferred, and transformed (as a result of application in new situation) so that it will not be lost (some call this the act of organizational learning)
  • Talk about process, of each panel member answering and then short discussion.
  • RITA Public Service fuelled on timely, accurate, complete information for policy development, program design and delivery, research & management. “ timely” = immediate, up-to-date accessible “ accurate” = understandable, clear origin, authoritative “ complete” = knowing what is now, what was, and why… Focus on accountability, even over time (often years) - This is not just the priorities of the current government but is a reflection of the changing expectations of Canadians. Focus on demonstrated benefits (short-term and long-term need to be linked) Speed with which  technologies introduced, changed and varieties of media (holding data) Everybody has a solution… (Comfort with technologies different with generations in public service ) % of solutions that are “instant” increasing, replacement of technologies common in everyday life (ie: Video, CD,DVD, MP3) or cameras… convergence we expected has not necessarily happened Changing workplace Transformation is the new norm (also brings uncertainty) Agility vs. long-term planning Changing workforce Number 6 is what the rush is all about and was so important it gets its own slide.
  • RITA Changing Workforce: Retirements (Experience, history, networks of colleagues leaving) Middle career – not yet comfortable with constant change – still looking for stability New recruits comfortable with change, comfortable with learning lots of different things (you can have it all) video-gaming skills (high impression, quick reaction) Need to find a way to blend richness of  perspectives, experience, energy, skills…this is a unique time in history
  • Joe has an interesting little story to tell that illustrates one reason we may want to preserve knowledge…. A story from Joe on why we need it now Knowledge preservation made tangible through the collaborative construction of continuously improving knowledge artifacts. The prominence of KP in the Nuclear industry also did not surprise me because about 8 years ago I was working with one of the world's largest engineering firms and one who had a large nuclear reactor construction business. Standing in their corporate boardroom you could see a nuclear reactor on the horizon. The president pointed at it and said "We built that plant. We don't remember how." I answered "I guess that could make long-term maintenance a problem." His answer "You got it." My answer "I gotta go now".
  • JOE
  • JOE
  • Wendy - continuous improvement - Organizational knowledge translates into organizational behavior = culture.    preserved knowledge resources can be deployed and re-configured to create the value you are seeking – improved service delivery.    preserving knowledge provides the organization with the capability to leverage it.    service delivery improvements require collaboration and innovation knowledge sharing counteracts departmental isolationism and knowledge hoarding, sharing is essential to creating a climate of trust that is the foundation of collaboration and innovation - sharing/exchange is not possible without preservation ( provides the organizational capability to leverage the knowledge) preserving organizational knowledge resources enables you to analyse org behaviour, trends, etc. analyse and fill knowledge gaps Examples Knowledge bases for call centers – experience, not just information, access to experts knowledge bases for direct client access channels, internally for help-desks Could also talk about the threats and opportunities for IT How does it impact designing systems ? The idea is to reduce the impact of the knowledge loss on service delivery and position the organization for improving its capacity.
  • Preservation (capture, record and save as is) is the first step to managing content. Regardless of whether the conversation is about collections, data, information, records, libraries, or knowledge, preservation is the essential first step to everything else. Without preservation, nothing is available for sharing ; there is nothing to integrate ; and finally there is nothing to manage as a valuable organizational asset. Preservation links the past, present, and future. Unless content was captured, organized, and archived in the past , it is not available for sharing and integration today , so that an organization can learn and adapt tomorrow . We cannot lead or even move forward if we live only in the present by ignoring the lessons of the past and not considering the needs of the future. Preservation links what we know to organizational efficiency. Preservation allows content to be reused rather than reinvented. Preservation allows the cost of developing content to be leveraged by using it for multiple purposes. Preservation allows lessons learned and experience gained to be available to everyone. Preservation prevents the irretrievable loss of an organization’s most valuable assets Preservation connects content with external services. Unless the content created in one corner of an organization is available to all, it is only usable for its original purpose by those who created it . Without formal preservation, content is not available for other uses or for supporting service transformation to benefit clients and Canadians. Preservation keeps the lights on. Some say that we are in an information dark age because information is being lost at a faster rate than at any previous time in human history. We can read Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, but not Marvin Minsky’s [1] early e-mails. Do we want to be part of this growing global problem, or do we want be part of the solution? If our global leadership is built at least in part upon the existing knowledge, by preserving that knowledge we can reduce erosion and by transferring that knowledge we can grow and get better.
  • Catherine We have already mentioned the demographic trends noted in the first point – these people are warming up their golf carts and getting ready to leave the Public Service, taking their knowledge with them. Source: TBS Ageing of the public service workforce: Implications for the future, June 2000 The PS loses about 6% of its workforce per year. All the time, conscious of it day-to-day Two sets of circumstances that occur frequently provide opportunities to practice knowledge preservation. Senior long term employees retiring: Need to preserve knowledge beyond their tenure Deep history, lessons learned and reasons why Executive rotation: Capture immediate rationale and relationships Prepare incoming executive to build on progress (avoid undoing good things) Within 24 months of a planned retirement. Within 6 weeks of an executive leaving for another position. As part of succession planning Whenever critical knowledge is held by a few individuals.
  • Give yourself permission to think about this and help work it out. - Right now there is no “right” or “wrong” - Any action – no mater how small is worth doing. How about if we start off the audience with some validation: Has your division or department ever spent money on something only to find out that another division/department has done most of the work before? How many times has your organization looked for resources externally that are available somewhere in your organization? How many times has the same error been repeated? How often have you been able to repeat your successes? (all symptoms of org memory loss) Have you ever watched a lifetime of experience head out to the cottage for the last time? Then engage them by asking how they see themselves in the picture: Do you have an example of how your dept has preserved knowledge? Ask yourself - do you have a personal role in preserving knowledge? What is it? (creating documentation, sharing knowledge in order to enable collaboration? Protecting knowledge?) Ask for examples. What knowledge exchange activities do you engage in at work? How much of this is captured or preserved? Reused? Valued? Do you have access to the knowledge you need to do a good job? If not, why do you think you don’t? What might be done about it
  • Knowledge has been preserved in one way or another, but there is more and more of it being created today, without much concern for its preservation. We have discussed why the government should adopt knowledge preservation strategies – to leverage the knowledge resources (the documented base and the tacit knowledge of employees) that it has invested so much in, in order to create value for its citizens. We have touched on the drivers for doing this now , the role of IM and IT in preserving knowledge – through the creation of the knowledge base and facilitation (enablement) of knowledge exchange We hope we have been able to make you more aware of the need to take action to preserve knowledge, and the potential to leverage that knowledge to improve service delivery and enable service transformation Thank you. KP is an investment in the business of government and needs to be part of the fabric of an organization- it is the foundation.
  • Follow up instructions Collect cards of those that want to be notified Where to get copies

Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service Presentation Transcript

  • Knowledge Preservation in the Public Service: Why is it important and what can we do about it?
  • Agenda
    • Introduction
    • What we mean by knowledge and preservation
    • Discussion Questions:
      • Why, How, What, Where, When?
    • Next steps
    • Conclusion
  • The Panel
    • Thom Kearney
    • Facilitator: Managing Partner, Rowanwood Consulting
    • Catherine Waters
    • Human Resources, Governance and Public Policy
    • Joe Gollner
    • Vice President Enterprise Solutions, Stilo Corporation
    • Rita Moritz
    • CIO Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Wendy Stark
    • Information Management and Architecture
    • Dr. Albert Simard (Al) Director, Knowledge Strategies, NRCan
  • What do we mean by knowledge?
        • To do your job
        • To make decisions
        • To understand systems
        • To interpret data
        • To make a change
        • To succeed
        • To make things better… “ Stuff you need to know.” The file’s in Bob’s cubicle! Do you know her number? How hard can it be to fix? OK it’s on the intranet! Where on the intranet? What did we do last time? There must be a record of that! Why does the system work that way? Password?
  • What do we mean by Knowledge Preservation? Capture Maintain Organize Retrieve Store Anything that makes knowledge an enduring corporate asset — two types of activities: No act is too small Sharing & Collaboration Knowledge Resources Direct knowledge transfer Creating new knowledge
  • The Questions
      • Why do we need to preserve knowledge, what’s all the rush about? (Rita)
      • How can we preserve knowledge? (Joe)
      • What are the impacts of knowledge preservation on service delivery (Wendy)
      • Where are the connections with service transformation and global leadership (Thom for Al)
      • When do we need it — under what conditions is knowledge preservation essential? (Catherine)
  • 1. Why preserve knowledge ?
    • 1. Public Service fuelled on timely , accurate , complete information for policy development, program design and delivery, research & management.
    • 2. Focus on accountability, even over time
    • Focus on demonstrated benefits
    • Speed with which technologies introduced, changed and varieties of media
    • 5. Changing workplace
    • 6. Changing workforce…
  • What’s the rush about?
    • … 6. Changing workforce:
      • Retirements
      • Middle career
      • New recruits Need to find a way to blend richness of  perspectives, experience, energy, skills… this is a unique time in history
  • Why Preserve Knowledge… We built that power plant… but we don’t remember how …
  • 2. How do we preserve knowledge? Sharing & Collaboration Knowledge Resources Focus Personal
    • Job shadowing
    • Mentoring programs
    • On-the-job Training
    • Hand-over procedures
    • Organize working materials
    • Document key lessons
    • Document key procedures
    • Record opinions and concerns
    • Mix new and retiring staff
    • Cycle roles to speed learning
    • Retiring staff giving guidance
    • Use collaboration tools
    • Document team practices
    • Establish team repository
    • Provide orientation for new staff
    • Retiring staff give training
    • Launch innovation programs that engage new & retiring staff
    • Document legacy practices
    • Develop ‘new’ practices
    • Facilitate access to holdings
    • Implement IM procedures
    • Facilitate networking venues
    • Launch training programs
    • Plan to retain key experience
    • Document legacy systems
    • Establish collaboration platform
    • Establish IM infrastructure
  • Success Stories Challenge Solution Strategy Organization Competition Bureau Industry Canada Serious risks posed by the loss of expert knowledge.
    • hiring and training staff
    • process redesign efforts
    • introducing collaborative tools for core business
    • introducing web learning and support tools
    Samsung Industries Seoul Korea Competing globally to attract and retain technical knowledge.
    • facilitating knowledge sharing with incentives
    • establishing global collaboration forums
    • Introducing sophisticated technology
  • 3. What are the impacts of knowledge preservation on service delivery?
    • Knowledge preservation strategies are designed to leverage existing knowledge
      • to improve performance, and
      • to create new knowledge (innovation)
    • Create the opportunity to build on existing knowledge and avoid re-inventing the wheel (counter knowledge loss);
    • Knowledge preservation through sharing counteracts departmental /divisional isolationism that inhibits citizen-centric service delivery and prevents efficiencies.
    • The structure and tools of IM and IT enable effective organization and access to the knowledge base, and support knowledge transfer – across the enterprise and within various departments or organizations.
  • 4. Where are the connections?
    • How can preserving knowledge enable and accelerate the transformation of government services and sustain Canada’s position as a global leader in online government?
    • In the Beginning, there is Knowledge Preservation:
      • Preservation is the first step to managing content.
      • Preservation links the past, present, and future.
      • Preservation links what we know to organizational efficiency.
      • Preservation connects content with external services.
      • Preservation keeps the lights on.
  • 5. When?
      • WHEN? … Right Now !!
      • Under what conditions is knowledge preservation essential?
      • Labour shortages (now and anticipated)
      • 55% of PS Employees are over 45, while more than 60% of EX level PS employees are aged 50-59 1
      • Skill shortages – finding new ways of getting key skills and knowledge
      • Succession planning
      • Work design / project-based learning / virtual organizations
      • Coaching / mentoring
      • Change management and organizational renewal
      • Creating a learning organization
  • Next Steps: What do we do now?
    • Discussion:
      • What should the GoC do now?
      • What can you do in the next 90 days?
        • Examples of knowledge preservation…
        • What is your role in preserving knowledge ?
  • Summary
      • There is more knowledge than ever
      • It needs to be preserved for the sake of innovation, efficiency and service
      • We all have roles to play (IT and IM particularly)
      • Preserving knowledge means sharing and sharing means a culture shift – from “knowledge is power” to “powerful knowledge”
      • It does not mater where we start, only that we do
  • Conclusion
    • Thank you!
    • [email_address] [email_address] 613.292.8183