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Knowledge Management with Vinson


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Jack Vinson, a Knowledge Management and Theory of Constraints expert, was my guest on the Business901 Podcast, The New Knowledge Management Game. This is a transcription of the podcast with four pages of additional material that was cut from the podcast.

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Knowledge Management with Vinson

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsThe New Knowledge Management Game Guest was Jack Vinson blogger at the Knowledge Jolt Related Podcast: The New Knowledge Management Game The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJack Vinson, a Knowledge Management and Theory of Constraintsexpert was my guest on the Busienss901 Podcast. He ispassionate and well versed in both subjects and we had a spiritedconversation about them. A bottom line person, Jack is constantlylooking for ways to see how the products he manages can helpthe customer be more effective with their time and energy. Jack has been a knowledge management advocate and technology enthusiast and is the president of Knowledge Jolt, Inc., a knowledge management consultancy (2004 – 2007). He is deeply interested in how people work, whether that is as individuals, in small groups or within organizations. Within Knowledge Jolt, he focuses on helping organizations understand how they use their information. As an example, he workedwith an insurance company and their call center to implement acontent management vision as part of a large group of technologyand business people. He has also worked with small firms tostart the discussion around how they want to use their knowledgeand the ever-changing horizons of technology on the offer. Hecontinues to evangelize the importance of personal knowledgemanagement to build individual and group effectiveness. You can find Jack at The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe Dager: Nice review of Womack’s Lean Thinking book on yourblog the other day.You pointed out a lot of similarities between Lean and Theory ofConstraints when you talk flow. Many consultants just talk aboutwaste. It gives them a quick ROI to be able to get in by reducingwaste. As a result, when everybody thinks of Lean they think ofwaste. When I think about Lean, I think about flow. I think aboutvalue streams and knowledge creation. Thats my thoughtprocess. When I talk to a Lean consultant, he cant get paid thatway.Jack: I think thats an interesting aspect of consulting and theselling process, whether youre internal or external, is that youwant to try to show a big bang, and big bangs look like thingslike, "Oh, were going to pull 20 percent, or were going to reducewaste." Were going to do things that people are familiar with. Soreducing waste is a thing that people can grasp, whereas creatingflow and changing your bottom line from five percent of sales to30 percent of sales just doesnt compute for people. Because theythink theyve been doing that all along. Of course theyve beendoing it with the methods that theyve always used, which alwaysgets them the same results. Its the classic problem.Joe: What do you think about Snowden’s Cynefin theories?Jack: He certainly does go into a lot of interesting theory which,I think youre right, can be overwhelming, but in the end he talksabout some fairly sensible things that fit in with his kind of thinframework. I take it youve been reading some of the discussionson the mailing list.Where if youre in an environment that is not easily describedwith a process map, and you can call that chaotic or we can call itsomething else but if youre in a situation where you cant mapout all the interactions, either because its just too - it wouldrequire a million books, or whatever it is, or if its really chaotic, The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsits still the actual underlying behaviors are still emerging. But hisprocess ideas of - it sounds a lot like Agile, it sounds a lot likeDavid Anderson has written about in Kanban -- sounds a lot likePlan B. Try something. See what happens. And I think the thingthat he focuses on is, not only try one thing, but try a couple ofthings, or maybe try a whole bunch of things. Look for the onethat seems to be pushing you in the right direction, or the couplethat seem to be pushing you in the right direction, reinforcethose. Either stops the ones that arent working or change theones that arent working so that they do move in the rightdirection, and keep iterating on that.Depending on what world you come from, this idea of constantlyobserving and watching and checking and doing andplanning - that makes a lot of sense. And so what hes talkingabout fits really well with that. Hes just coming at it from adifferent - Hes talking about the human behavior aspect of it,whereas we see it - I assume us being sort of the processmanagement type of people - we think much more about theprocess.Hes much more interested in well, how do people interact withthat. And I think he brings a lot of value to that conversation. Soif you could interview him and keep him kind of focused aroundthat, could be interesting. But hes an interesting guy.Joe: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host of theBusiness901 Podcast. With me today is Jack Vinson. Hes aKnowledge Management professional and an expert on theTheory of Constraints and more specifically, critical chain projectmanagement, and Logistics applications. Jack can be found at hispopular blog called about Knowledge Jolt, located Id first like to welcome you, but could you startout by defining Knowledge Management to the audience, andmaybe how you could apply it in the business sense? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJack: Thank for having me. You ask one of the more interestingquestions for Knowledge Management people right off the bat.Defining Knowledge Management has always been kind of aninteresting question because everybody defines it a littledifferently. The definition has morphed over time. Ive beeninvolved in KM for well over ten years, and Ive seen thedefinition change. My own view on Knowledge Management haschanged, and so ask me in another year and itll probably bedifferent again. I currently think of it as a mechanism or aprocess or a way of thinking about how youre running yourbusiness with a mind to how are we taking care of what peopleknow so that we can actually get the work in the business done.Thats really generic. But I think it needs to be somewhat highlevel, because every business has a different sort of a body ofknowledge, and every business - small, large, medium - aregoing to have different ways to let that happen.But you also asked the other question, which is how does thisconnect to business. I think in some of your initial thoughts aboutwhat we would talk about today we talked about knowledgecreation. I dont know if were going to go there directly.But businesses are made of people and you cant run a businesswithout the people in it. As people become more and morefamiliar with the roles and the company and the roles that theyreinvolved in, theyre developing their own knowledge base on howthings work. One of the things that really come up a lot inKnowledge Management is that as organizations get morecomplex, as the world and interactions within organizations grow,and just the number of people and companies that you have tointeract with grow, it becomes harder and harder for just oneindividual to run the business.You even see this with a small enterprise. You grow from 10people to 50 people over the course of a couple years, and youstart losing the ability to know exactly what everybodys doing. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThen theres that magic number, the 250 number, where youreally cant know what everybodys doing.One of the ideas behind Knowledge Management is being morethoughtful and considering what is it were doing and how do weneed to help one another exchange information...and again,whether its information or knowledge is kind of a funconversation too, but how do we help one another do the workthat we need to do so that the business can move forward?Joe: I feel with Knowledge Management today, I think, is whyits kind of -- I dont want to say rebirthed because it was kind ofbig in the 90s there a little bit -- but the rebirth of it is that asorganization has gotten flatter, youre communicating within yourcompany and outside your company with more and more peoplethroughout the organizations. You dont have these four or fivesales guys out there. You get sales teams made up of IT, ofengineering, of marketing, of purchasing, that are actuallyone-to-one conversations with your customers. So muchknowledge, with the Internet and social media, is flowing. How doyou manage it all?Jack: I think one of the struggles a lot of people have is if youtry to dissect the terms "Knowledge Management" it becomes alittle bit of a non-useful game. A lot of people actually dont likethe term Knowledge Management at all. One of the things that Ithink is exactly along the lines that you were just going there,that the world hasnt necessarily become more complex, buttheres just more going on and theres more things that I can findat my fingertips. I can go out and I can ask a lot of interestingquestions and find a lot of interesting information, but how do Imake sense of it all? If I am not necessarily an expert in the fieldwhere Im asking questions, I might not have even a good idea ofwhich questions to ask. Its almost a chicken and the egg. I needthis answer, but how do I ask the question of the people thathave the most valuable information? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsYou see it with simple things like, "How do I solve a computerproblem?" You know, my Mac is acting up and I dont quite knowwhat the right terminology is. But even in the business sense, Imworking on an IT project that happens to touch on the supplychain, if I havent done supply chain work before I may not knowthat language.It takes a while for me to even find the right people in myorganization, and then, as you said, theyre not only in myorganization anymore. Theyre in my suppliers, theyre in mycustomers. How do I ask the right questions to find the rightpeople to ask those questions of?This is an area that, back in the early days of KnowledgeManagement, there was the classic quote from the guy at HP. "IfHP only knew what HP knows." Now its not only HP. Its basically"If I only knew what I needed to know right now at the time thatI have the question."One of the things that Knowledge Management would like to do, Ithink, and the goals of how things are working, is how can wehelp people get there faster? We cant expect everybody to be anexpert in everything. Thats just not possible.One of the things that Im really interested in in KnowledgeManagement is helping people have the skills that they need tobe able to do that. My brain is kind of going multiple directionshere, but this relates to, back in college, they used to do surveysat the end of the classes. "Did this course help you become abetter..." Not logical thinker. A better critical thinker.A lot of what Knowledge Management... What do you actually dofor individuals? Is helping people become better consumers of thetechnology that we have, which is an interesting aspect, but alsojust how do I approach this question? Whats the best way toapproach this question? How do I start thinking about... who do Iknow in my network that might have answers to that question? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThen, at the very detailed level, what facilities do we have in ourorganization? If its a big organization, they tend to have a lot ofintranets and discussion boards and what have you. Whatfacilities do I have to make those connections, to get somequestions answered?If youre a solo entrepreneur, now you have the whole WorldWide Web if youre willing to go out and start asking thosequestions of people. Theres an interesting question about, well,what if you dont feel comfortable asking the questions? What ifyou think those questions are going to tip your hand in terms ofintellectual property or something like that? Theres a lot ofinteresting avenues we can go down there.Joe: I think you hit it. But within a company, one of the thingsthat I find is just to find out where that knowledge is at, you canlook at it from either a lousy filing system, or who do youcontact? Where do you go to find it? The first step in KnowledgeManagement is like most any step. You kind of build a currentstatus. Where is knowledge at? Before you even think aboutsharing, youve got to figure out where its all at a little bit, dontyou?Jack: I struggle answering that question because one of thethings Ive done in my consulting is what used to be called aknowledge audit, where you do something of that sort. You goand ask people where do they go for information? If its electronicinformation, you can kind of browse through it and figure outwhats there and whats not there. I think thats useful. I dontknow that thats necessarily the first step because you also wantto think about how do we want people to do this? What is ourpicture for how things should work? And, not just how do wethink they should work today, but if we were the king for the dayor the queen for the day, what could we do to change things andmake it really work well? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsWhich then gets me thinking about the process behind how weask questions and thinking about the process behind how whatwe do with things once weve finished a project, what do we do?How do we wrap it up? Do we do an after action review? Then,what do you do with the results of the after action review?So, I think theres a lot of, theres sort of two aspects. One, thething I think is more interesting is well, what do we want to doand what do we already have in place thats sort of part waythere? Then, what can we do to help that?A piece of that might be well, one of the things that we dofrequently is check through the six or ten different places whereinformation might be about a future project based on wed like tolearn from our past, then you might want to go and do an auditand think about well, should we have half a dozen places wherethis kind of stuff is kept or should we have only one or two?You can kind of think well, thats not a technical aspect of thesolution, but what we really want to have ability for people to dois ask each other in the planning stage, what have we donebefore so that we can learn from it and so that we dont make thesame mistakes again, or we can check the situation. Has thesituation changed in something that we tried to do five years agomight actually work now because the underlying circumstancesare different, the underlying capabilities are different in theorganization. But then, we can be more specific about what weredoing and why were doing it.Joe: Well, I always think when people hear about KnowledgeManagement, it seems so esoteric. Youve got a big picture thingout there, and Im just worried about putting groceries on thetable tomorrow. I dont need to burden myself with all this.Should they? I mean, is Knowledge Management something moreto create needs for a consultant or is it really something useful topeople? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJack: Well, I look at it from both. I do the big high level stuff, asyoure kind of talking about. But then, I also look at well, whatdoes Joe Dager need to do to get his work done? Is thereanything that we can do, as consultants or as organizationchange agents or whomever you are, to help Joe out, or to helpthe guy next door out, or to help myself out? I look at simplethings like how are people using their email system? Are theyusing it in the best way they can? Are they always getting in asituation where they cant find something because theyve filed itaway somewhere but they dont know where it is? Is theresomething we can do to help them? This isnt necessarily buyingnew software, but its what do you have and what is the best wayto use it to answer questions that you typically have as you gothrough your work.Every organization is going to be a little different that way. Someorganizations, its really easy for them to stand up, theyre in acube-a-farm and they can talk over the wall to their buddy andsay hey, we were working on this six months ago, what was theresult of that? Or, other organizations that are completely virtual,thats really hard to do. So then, you have to find good ways touse your email and your instant message technologies or thephone and figure out the best ways to do that.Youve been having some conversations about personal Kanbanrecently. I think a lot of what happens in the idea of personalKanban is right up there with Knowledge Management. Its how doI organize, organize is a difficult, is the wrong word, but how do Igo about deciding what to do? And, how do I go about doing it?Its just being more thoughtful about taking action. I need toanswer this question. Well, whats the best way to go do that? DoI just shoot off an email right away or do I sit back and say youknow what, there may be a better way to answer that question.One of the things in Knowledge Management is in just gettingthat information about, well, instead of having people just scratch The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemstheir head and think well, what is the better way, having thatheres a way to go about doing that, having that a little bit moreforefront in peoples minds as they go about their work I think isreally important.I think thats what a lot of, whether its personal Kanban orGetting Things Done or even Stephen Covey or Franklin Planner,whatever you have, I think a lot of the value of those for peopleis that people are just more thoughtful about going through theirday.In my mind for the individual, what is in it for me classic questionis how can this help me walk through my day or walk throughproblems that I have in a better way. And, I think a lot of what Ihave gotten interested in in Knowledge Management has beenthat aspect, helping people get through their day.You can step back to get a slightly higher level. If you help eachindividual to work better together, or work better, then you canthink about well, how do we as groups, the five of us on aconsulting team or the hundreds of us in the IT shop, how can usas a group decides to work better together? So, this requiresstepping back from the day-to-day grind and thinking about well,this is what we would like to do. This is how we would like toapproach answering this kind of question.I was talking to somebody recently about this idea of how do wekeep track of whats going on in these better, flatterorganizations, right? So, now you have 20 people who report upto a manager. It feels like its impossible to keep track witheverything thats going on with those 20 people, not even the100 people that report up to the other managers.What are the best ways to keep track of that? Is it email blasts ofweekly or monthly status updates? Are there ways that we canuse some of the newer technologies? Blogging isnt a newtechnology anymore, but things like Twitter and Jammer -- or The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJabber, whatever its called -- that provide more of an activitystream kind of ideas? Those are really new ideas and those arevery specific technology, but one of the things it gets to is ifpeople arent sitting down at lunch with each other and talkingabout work, how do they find out whats going on.This is also in this relation to whats happening in the world?There always are people that have some tidbits and interestingaspects of knowledge that unless were sitting in front of them, orunless they know whats going on, its very difficult for them tosay hey, I know that. So, I think thats one of the things thatpeople really like about Twitter, the idea of status updates ingeneral.Joe: Well, thats one of the things I use Twitter for. I mean, thefirst thing I do is I create a column on a subject I want to learnsomething about. And, I put it up there and I just watch whostalking to it and all of a sudden Im flooded with links, Im floodedwith different information. I can digest that information at myspeed and when I want to. And, thats where we go back topersonal Kanban. If you build slack into someones schedule,theyre able to expand their knowledge at a pretty significant ratewith todays tools.Jack: The idea of allowing people to have the time to sit backand think about what it is theyre doing is really important. Its soeasy for us in the business world to sort of get convinced that Ihave to be busy all the time. And, you know this from Lean,right? And, you know this from reading about TOC. Being busy allthe time is not the most effective thing for anybody because theyneed, at the very least, they need down time. But even better,they need to have the time to think Im about to start this, whatdo I want to learn from the activity? OK, lets do the activity. Ifinished the activity. What did I learn? Should I, could I havedone it better? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThis whole idea of, whether its an individual or if its a group, itsa podcast, its a talk that Im giving, what would I like to seecome out of it and what did come out of it and how can I do itbetter next time? I think these are all really important things thata lot of times we lose in the hectic nature of at least the waybusiness is portrayed. Its not necessarily always that way, butthe way we portray, you know, everybodys busy, were reading,were Blackberrying, were on our iPhones, were on doing thesethings all the time, and not stepping back and really taking thetime.I have a very firm belief that one of the things that we need to beable to do, whether were doing Lean and TOC and helpingimprove a specific process or were doing knowledgemanagement, which is also process related by the way, in somesenses, and trying to help get content connected with people, doa better job of collaboration, whatever it is, is that we also needto have that opportunity to step back and really think of whatwere doing, not just kind of be busy all the time.Joe: Well, you are a Theory of Constraints person, and Im notsure if, the chicken or the egg -- did Knowledge Managementcome first or Theory of Constraints with you? But, how do thosetwo subjects relate to each other?Jack: I started out, essentially, with expert systems in graduateschool. So, Knowledge Management ideas came first. But, in mybusiness life, I was becoming more and more involved inKnowledge Management at the same time as I was becomingmore and more in Theory of Constraints. We were doing criticalchain projects 10, 15 years ago at the same time as I wasbecoming involved in Knowledge Management. So, it was kind ofdeveloped together, which is why I link them together. The way Isee them linked is that in the end theyre both aimed at helpingpeople get stuff done. I think its just a matter of focus. ForTheory of Constraints and Lean and other continuous The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsimprovement ideas, I think those are probably the biggest two,and Lean is far and away bigger than TOC, which alwaysdisappoints me.But, the idea is getting stuff done means bringing value to thebottom line to the customer. Who is ultimately buying this andare we able to get that to them in a fashion that they want? Arewe able to get it to them on time with the right level of quality, inthe right quantity, all these kinds of things.Within that, the people involved in all that work, as I kind of saidat the beginning, need to have the skills, they need to have theknowledge, they need to have the background, they need to havethe experience to be able to deliver what it is people need.Sort of from the very specific example of were trying to get, youknow, make this product faster. Were trying to get this productout the door faster. We cant just ask people to work overtime allthe time. That is just not sustainable. You can do it once in awhile, but its just not sustainable for the long term.We need to really rethink our process and rethink the way we dothings. The only way youre going to get that to really fit, youhave a general idea of how it will happen, but the people in thefacility are the ones that know how this works and how things canhappen. Theyre the ones, once given a directive -- I dont knowthat thats the right word -- given the framework, actually, I tookthat quote out of Lean Thinking, given a good process for thinkingabout things, and anybody can come up with great ideas.I think it was given a brilliant process, average, I hate the wordaverage, but regular employees can come up with brilliant ideas,whereas youve got a broken process, brilliant employees canonly come up with broken ideas because the initial process isbroken. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSo, I think, as far as Knowledge Management goes, its how do wehelp people talk to each other? How do we help people work witheach other? How do we help give them the information, thebackground, the idea? But, how do we help them get togetherand work in a way that actually moves them in a right direction?Joe: Go into the Theory of Constraints, and we think about that,I mean the first thing everybody thinks of is the goal andbottlenecks. You go to Lean, and everybody thinks about waste.There is so much more to both disciplines. They really are notaccurate descriptions of either, but thats how theyve beenbranded.Jack: Its frustrating, and I think one of the jobs of people likeyou, and people that do TOC consulting is to help raise the eyesfrom looking at a specific aspect to a higher level, and I think oneof the things that you do with this podcast, and one of the thingsthat Ive done with my blog is... Here are all these topics thatcome to bear when you start thinking about transforming anorganization to become a top performer, and to be able tooutstrip the competition, and to really serve the needs of theclients. Here are all the things that have to come into play. Thereis a whole bunch of aspects that has to come into play, andtheres stuff about how do we deal with learning. How do welearn from one another? Way back in the nineties there was agreat book by a guy from Shell called "The LearningOrganization" -- Arie de Geus. I am probably not pronouncing hisname correctly. But its called "The Learning Organization" and ittalked about how Shell was using some of these ideas to learnfrom what they do in the past.Or Learning to Fly, which was a British Petroleums book. Itwasnt British Petroleums it was Collision and his coauthor whosename I dont remember. But, they came out of British Petroleumand used the idea of after-action reviews, which came from the The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsmilitary, to really grow the way they were able to solve problemsand run projects better, and better, and better. Then whole ideawas continuous improvement.Joe: Its interesting what we see is that in the 90s, KnowledgeManagement, Theory of Constraints and Lean, these were reallyfirst introduced, and here we are in 2011. This seems to be thecrux of whats going on right now. I think social media has takenknowledge creation another level.I want to go back to knowledge creation a little bit since Itouched upon it, but when you are creating knowledge in acompany, you are doing that every day, arent you? I mean, howdo you know what to capture?Jack: That is a great question, and Ill expand on it. Let usimagine that weve got a decent process for writing down whatwe have done. So, we have completed a project, we write areport up of it, mention it in our monthly update, we call it anewsletter or some kind of blog post that goes up and thentheres a monthly post like, "Hey, we did this project. Here is thehighlight of its results. If you want to see the report, go find it." Icame out of pharmaceutical world, and we did a decent job ofrecording that kind of thing that came to a finish. But, what aboutall the things you do for a friend? "Hey, I read this question aboutthis lab work that we did, can you look at it for me and kind ofgive me a sense of it?" Or, "Lets try this out... Oh," three weekslater we discover it doesnt work, "Lets put it on its shelf andleave it alone."Theres a lot of that kind of stuff, the intermediate stuff, thatnever has a reason to get written down, and we may not everthink about writing that down. Well, we canceled the project.Therefore, theres no reason to continue doing anything about it.And, of course, we get reassigned right away to make everybodylook busy. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsWith creating knowledge we are using what we know we aremaking connections we are using what we know, using whatconnections that we have, everyday. You cant write all thatdown, can you? Its not possible. Youd have to have a clone justdocumenting everything that goes on.So, the question you had about how do we record or what do wedecide to record. I dont know that theres a specific answer tothat question. I was going to say continues partial awareness,and using things like status updates, but I dont what tonecessarily prescribe that everybody use Twitter, because I knowthat not everybody wants to go that route.There has to be a mechanism, and explicitly or implicitly in theorganization I am saying, basically, what kinds of things arehappening today, now in our group, and spreading thatinformation around so that people are at least aware on anongoing basis of whats going on. Thats one element of it, right?So its just this awareness of, "Hey, this is what we are doing thisweek."I worked in an organization where every week we did our five...Here are our five highlights for the coming week, and here arethe five things I did, that I said I was going to do last week, andtheir status. So through a one hour meeting a half a dozen or soof us will kind of go through that really quickly.Thats one way to do it; it could be on the phone, right? But, theother peace of that, which I think you are possibly going at, is,what do we do with it piece a long-term deal? Does it sit in email?Do we decide...I dont actually have a perfect answer for this question. I wouldlove to be able to say, "This is the way to do it!" The concept forme is we have to acknowledge that there is always the newthings that we are learning, and I think actually thats a big partof it is that acknowledge that we are learning something new. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  18. 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsMaybe have a mechanism for saying, "What was the new thingthat you learned this week, or today?" Let people know.Then the recording of it, I am never sure what the best answerfor that is. Ten years ago or fifteen years ago, there was a Lotusof database and Lotus still exists. So, some people might still bedoing that, or put it in a Sharepoint or put it on your blog. I amnot sure if any of those are the best way to do things, do that.Joe: The idea I get is that it is an iterative process that if it hasvalue it kind of flourishes on its own. It starts getting attached to.Your job when you create knowledge, is to maybe tag it to makeit searchable, that someone can find that knowledge before itslost. But, if it has value it will flourish.Jack: There are two pieces to that. The last thing you just said Ithink is really good. If it has value, it is going to flourish. Itsgoing to come up again, its going to come up again. The otherpiece that is always a concern is it gets back to what you saidearlier. We do all the stuff and the time. We cant possibly recordeverything. So we need to be, I think one of the things that I waskind of highlighting earlier is we need to highlight this idea thatwe need to be continuously thinking about what are we trying tolearn. Either we do something and we learn the thing that we aretrying to learn or we do something and it didnt teach us what wethought but it taught us something. Its going to teach ussomething else. We need to find ways to have that informationavailable on an ongoing basis.I think I really like the idea of social media, for that regard. Butwhether we call social media or enterprise 2.0 or social businesswhich IBM is using that phrase these days, I think the idea ofhaving, just being more aware of what people are doing, andhave more access to that. Because as we know, with flatterorganizations, the hierarchy, the old school information flow upand down, thats just choked. There is no way that we can use The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  19. 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthat mechanism to flow information any longer. We have to flowinformation where it needs to go.So we have to recognize that one organizational structure is thehierarchy. But there is the other organizational structure ofpeople that all went to the same college, or people that all, theyare all chemical engineers, which is my training, or they are allinterested in human resources, or they are all have lunchtogether and play Euchre at 12 oclock. All those networks areways that information flows. We just, I think one of the things iswe need to sort of raise the bar for each other on. This is the wayknowledge transferred.A lot of knowledge transfer happens between people. We have toacknowledge that those networks, there are many, manydifferent networks within an organization and knowledge flowsalong all of them. We have to be more aware that thatshappening and encourage people to use those networks ratherthan saying you must only go via this route.Joe: Not everybody is going over the water cooler anymore. Youhave to find it somewhere else. How do you use the Theory ofConstraints in conjunction with Knowledge Management? Are theytwo really separate things that you look at when you go in?Jack: What are we trying to do? What is the bottom line impact?I use the Theory of Constraints particularly for production, are weproducing stuff that we are actually selling? That is the same Ithink in Lean, though the terminology is little different, but letsmake sure that we only produce stuff that we are selling to ourcustomers. It takes us three days to make it, lets make sure weproduce stuff that people are actually using in that kind ofthree-days-to-a-week timeframe. In Knowledge Management,what happens is that frequently its how do we improve theprocess that affects the process that affects the process. So thereis a set of questions in one of the TOC books I think, Necessary The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  20. 20. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbut not Sufficient. The book is a bit of an interesting read. Butone of the questions is lets call that the necessary and sufficientquestions for information technology. I actually strip out thatinformation technology part of it.Here is this, I have an idea and I think its going to be great. Ofcourse, all my ideas are great. So the question is what is the key,what is the core thing that your idea is about. I want to installsocial media. Well it helps people get together better, it helpspeople connect. It helps people learn whats going on.Well, great. What is the problem that you are trying to solve? Thefirst is; what is the technology, right. What is the idea? Thesecond is: I hope I remember all these questions, what is theproblem that the business has thats going to be removed by theuse of this new idea, or reduced? The problem will be heavilydiminished by the use of this new idea. Because that requires youto say, its not necessary in ROI conversation, but the businesshas identified that we frequently spend a lot of time trying tosolve problems that weve already solved somewhere else.If we can find a way, to connect people, for them to raise theirhand and say Ive got a problem, has anyone else solved it, wecan really go a long to saving time and getting through thisimprovement cycle even faster. Because thats one of our goalsand the organizations get those improvement cycle even fasterbecause we see, eventually it connects down to the better we canimprove our processes, the faster we can serve our customers,and the faster we can execute new process changes, for example.The next question is how does this idea that you have resolvethat problem? Does that make sense? So Ive articulated theproblem, then Ive articulated what my idea is.But now how does my idea resolve their problem. What is it aboutthe idea that resolves the problem? The interesting thing is whatdid we do before we had this problem? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  21. 21. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsWhat did we used to do when, to answer questions about howweve done this before? Well, wed spend all day looking. Maybewe search the databases, wed search in our email archives, wedgo and try to find people. Then after a certain period of time wejust have to go and do it ourselves.The question then has to be: will the technology resolve thatissue? Will the technology change the way that process -- andagain it could be a changed idea as well -- will this idea changethe way youre doing things? Because if it doesnt change the wayyou are doing things, its still going to take you too long to, in thiscase, generate a new idea.Then think about, OK I think it will, but I need to install somenew policy, or I need to install some new ways of work. Ah! Ormaybe even I need to change what I was planning on doing toreally fix, to really have an impact on this problem.This is a really interesting question in my mind, because it takesyou down to beyond "Hey this is great technology, everybodysdoing it, we need to use it" to "its an interesting technology, thisis how we think it will affect us, and this is what we need to dowithin our organization to really get the most advantage out ofthat new idea."Theres even a last piece, which is "How do I change the idea tomake it work even better." So theres, I think, I kind of conflatethem. I think that I learned that from Theory of Constraints, but Iapply it quite often when I start talking about KnowledgeManagement. A set of questions that help me really think aboutwhat is it that were doing and how do we really think its going toaffect the organization?Because if its a problem that the organization has identified,even if it isnt clearly a bottom line problem, its clearly somethingthat the organization has said, "You know what? This issomething that we really need to resolve." If I can find ways to The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  22. 22. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsresolve it that have to do with Knowledge Management, thatsgreat. It doesnt necessarily, you know, it could go any direction,but I think thats a great set of questions.Joe: I think it is too, and I think its so interesting becausetoday, its been talked about so many times that the problem hasbeen solved someplace else within the organization.We are used to relying on that because thats why we keptsomeone --- I always think of the old guy sitting there, on theside, thats just about falling asleep in all these meetings andeverything, and all at once, he would wake up and say, "Youknow, well if you go back to 1968 and blah, blah blah." Hed giveyou the drawing number practically from lets say the engineeringcenter, and you go put the drawing in, and the drawing wasalready made! You just had to dig it out of a file and you think itsthis great new concept that youre going to come out with.Jack: I dont think youre ever going to really replace the guythat has that immaculate recall, but one of the things I thinkgrow out of Knowledge Management is the acknowledgment thatthose people are in the organization and whats the best way touse them? Be thoughtful about, we cant go, we cant always gotalk to Jane because every time we have a question like that andwe ask her, that means shes not able to do other things. But howcan we best -- and ask this question of Jane -- whats the bestway to take advantage of that capability that you have? Maybe,maybe Jane shouldnt be assigned to projects at all. Maybe Janeshould be...Ill call it a roving expert, but I have no idea the rightterminology. Maybe they shouldnt be on projects at all, theyshould be an adviser to all of the projects because theyve gotvast experience, and they’ve got great knowledge about theorganization and what weve done in the past. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  23. 23. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsIn some cases, shes going to have to spend a couple of daysdiving down into a very specific problem in a very specific project.But maybe we shouldnt assign her to any projects at all because,guess what, shes the only one weve got and she becomes aconstraint on the projects if we assign her to projects and try torun our project management organization with her as theconstraint.Joe: I think you raise an interesting thing, but is it really doablein a business sense? What Im thinking of a business is dont Ineed structure? Not everybody can be that flat, can they? Is itpossible?Jack: I think it is possible. And again, I think we have to beintentional about the way we do it. We can say, "You know what?There are one or two people we have to allow to be floaters likethat because they provide value in so many different areas thatwe cant say that theyre only assigned to one project. But theneverybody else, you know what, the rest of the organization ismore structured and has more defined roles, and thats fine, but Ithink its not all or nothing, right? We need to be cognizant thatthere are some roles and some people that do specific activitiesand other roles and other kinds of people that are better at thehigh level stuff. And thats why we have organizations whereeverybody has a slightly different role I think.Joe: Thats OK that Jane gets to do that and she gets to be aroamer. But Im Jack over here doing all the work? I start feelingthis animosity that Jane gets to sit there and what is her role?What is she doing? Shes making more money than me. I mean, Idont really see where shes adding that much to it. Can I playthat role or am I just a bad employee?Jack: Well, that, its a question that everybody has, right? Theysee somebody doing something different and its not clear. If itsnot clear what theyre doing, they start asking those kinds of The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  24. 24. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsquestions, right? It may be the cynical variety that you wereasking or it may be just "Huh, I wonder what shes doing today?Its not clear what shes doing." So the other thing that needs tohappen I think is this idea again from the process improvementworld, community is the whole organization needs to understandwhat were doing. What is the focus for the organization? Were aproject environment and were trying to get, were trying toimprove the flow of projects through the system and wevedecided to do that by analyzing the projects weve been doing thelast year and the current projects in the system.If we take Jane off of individual projects and make her the rovingexpert, then we believe we can get 25 percent more projectsdone. Ah, OK. So, now I understand why shes there. Then thequestion is, then we have to be intentional about lets check, isthis working? Is the fact that shes now a rover and availablealmost on call to all projects, is that helping us, or is it now thesituation where she actually is needed in very specific instancesand we cant get her? Is that now causing other problems?But, the important thing to do, I think, is check and to providepeople the transparency that they need so that they canunderstand whats going on, as well as to do their own work, aswell as the commitment to check, is this working? Is this ideathat we had that we thought would work, is it having an effect, oris there something else we didnt understand at the time that sheneeds to do that wasnt included in our thinking?Thats so important, I think, to any continuous improvement and,I think, important to Knowledge Management. And, it doesntalways come up in Knowledge Management as much as it does inthe more process-oriented implementations. You need to checkwhat youre doing to make sure its getting better and that itsworking as you had hoped. If it doesnt, what are we going to doto either decide not to do it anymore or to change it so that it canprovide the results that we want. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  25. 25. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: And, I go back to my Lean thinking, of course, since thatssuch an integral part of people PDCA, and if it is working then youstandardize that portion of it in the act section of it and you moveon.Jack: Exactly. In TOC, if you look at the five focusing steps, thelast step is worded "Dont let inertia become the next constraint.Go back to step one." Depending on how you read it, it can bekind of a negative thing, but I think its a great statement. Itsacknowledgment that its really easy to get to a next new level ofperformance and stop and sit on your little, oh, great, we won.But, no, we may have won. We may have given ourselves a littlebit of breathing room, but we know that the world the way it isalways going to get tougher. So, we now need to think aboutwell, whats next for us? I think that comes up a lot in the Leanliterature, as well. Its so easy to fix the easy things and thensay, "OK, were done."Joe: Where do you think Theory of Constraints is right now? Asa whole, has it played out? Is it gaining steam? Where do youthink its going right now?Jack: Its still, for whatever reason, seen as, as you kind of saidearlier, its still kind of seen as well, its that Theory ofConstraints, the goal is bottleneck breaking, right? And, a lot ofpeople focus on the bottleneck breaking aspect of it and not thelets make a organization that actually really embraces Theory ofConstraints from all the way across and really embraces this ideaof continuous improvement for the long haul. The Leanorganization, the Lean community, it seems to have done thatbetter. But, I think theres still the same issue of we get Lean inmanufacturing and kind of stop there or we get TOC in one partof the organization and stop there like new product development.Well, new product development, thats built into everything,right? Its built into new market. Its built into making sure thatweve got products for the long term. You cant just do it in one The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  26. 26. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsarena and expect to get continuous improvement if you dontthen start branching out into the whole.I think its just a question of the vision of the leaders of theorganization. At some point you can start small with all these, butat some point you run into the situation where you are no longerthe constraint of the organization, youre performing really, reallywell. The constraint of the organization is somewhere orsomething else.You need to have the ability to get to the right part of thatorganization and say, you know what, if we could change thisorganization so that we could pull from you rather than havingyou push stuff down our throats, so that we could pull newproducts to the organization, then we believe the organizationwould grow and continue to grow over the next couple of years.So, I think the tough part of it is to make a shift from local andgood local improvements, to good, sustainable, ongoing globalimprovements.So, is TOC a niche player? Im not sure. Depending on who I talkto, I see a lot of people interested in it, and then, I look out in thebusiness world, more people are interested in things like they justgenerically call it continuous improvement, or generically call itoperation excellence. That could be in just about anything.Ive also seen some interesting work out there in, letsacknowledge that all of these improvement technologies ormethodologies work really well, lets look at how can we combineLean and TOC and the variation reduction ideas of Six Sigma anda lot of the other techniques out there. What can we combine toreally create something that looks like an organizationalexcellence approach and provide that to organizations?I think thats an interesting way to go, as well. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  27. 27. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: One of the things that everybody always want to talk aboutis how their discipline, their methodology as being the umbrellaand the culture of the company, especially in Lean and a little inTheory of Constraints that they let that focusing mechanism do it.But, one of the things that I believe is the Lean has the easiestentry point. Theyve got the best set of tools which is just abouteverybodys entry into a methodology. Six Sigma raises the bar alittle, making more of an investment. Theory of Constraintsdoesnt have a tool set so readily defined with it except when yougo into the Decision Trees and the Logical Thinking processes andthat is a tough bar for the normal person to grasp.Jack: Yeah, its interesting, and I just had that blog post aboutthe Lean thinking process. One of the things that I mentioned inthere about TOC is that, while there are a lot of tools in TOC,theyre not as well documented. There are some very specificbooks and basically, manuals on how to do some of thesespecifics. Theyre not as well documented in terms of, this is howyou do it, this is how you set up a drum buffer ropeimplementation. Or, this is how you, and by the way, you doneed to think about reducing batch size and just not emphasizingit.Im not sure why that is, because theres a lot of that knowledgethats in the TOC consulting community. So, if you talk to peoplethat are in that community, youll hear a lot of these tools, but Ithink youre right.You know, for the average Joe who said, "Oh, Ive heard aboutTOC. We had an implementation over here, what can I use fromthat implementation in this new facility or this new part of theorganization?" Its not as straightforward, no, I dont know if itsstraightforward to do with Lean either.But I think, having some of that background would be much morehelpful for the TOC community, to have that written down and The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  28. 28. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemssort of, here are the steps you go through to do this. And I dontknow if Im the guy to write that book.Joe: Well, I think its really ironic, OK, that a discipline that grewout of a nonfiction story lacks stories for their tools.Jack: Thats interesting. A lot of the TOC books have been thesebusiness novels, right?And, business novels all based on real situations, justfictionalized. But then, since its in sort of, this novel format, thedetails of, well, how do you do this, arent as explicit. I think thatcould be helped.Joe: I look at the fact that, if I want to learn how to five whys, Icould probably get a hundred books to teach me the five whys, asimple processes. However, if done right, it can be the mostcomplicated process. But when you think about A3 reports, youthink about, the different components that you use, Pareto chartsand the very simple components of Lean that people have atendency to look at, from a much more practical standpoint.When you look at Theory of Constraints, like you said, I mean,drum buffer rope is that software that does that, but is that partof like, MS project, or what exactly is drum buffer rope? Whyshould that be complicated?Jack: Exactly. I completely agree with you, I mean, youve hadpeople on from the TOC handbook, and that provides anincredible level of detail and overview of the entire field of TOC.But, oh my god, its like 10 pounds, and a thousand pages.Joe: I think thats a great book, because it really introduces somany different areas. What I tell people to do with that book isgo ahead and just buy a chapter on Kindle, before you buy thebook, on something youre really interested in. And if it sinks inand has meaning, there are definitely other reasons to buy thebook, because the breadth of knowledge in it is just unbelievable. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  29. 29. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJack: Yeah, absolutely. So, I dont know, like I said, theressome very specific elements of TOC. The other thing, of course,with TOC, just like with Lean, we use Pareto charts, we use, youknow, the five whys are not unique to Lean.But, actually, that then goes over into Knowledge Management.Why did this happen? Why did this happen? Why did this happen?You know, why did you do that? Why did this happen? Why do wethink this happened? Were trying to elicit knowledge from thepeople, or from the system, whatever it is. I mean, there are alot of crossovers. I think the people that are succeeding anddoing this well, are people that can really acknowledge that. Youknow, theres not any one way, one right way to do these. Ihappened to start from a background of TOC, but Im going toborrow ideas from everywhere. I mean, the Donald Wheeler,"Understanding Variation," thats an excellent, excellent book forjust about anybody who wants to understand variation. Whetheryoure doing that within a context of Six Sigma or Lean or TOC,does it matter? So, its kind of an interesting, its an interestingaspect. I would like to see more broader understanding of all, ofTOC and of Lean. I suppose one of the reasons I continue writingabout it is for that reason.Joe: How could someone get a hold of you?Jack: Im very easy to find. If you type in Jack Vinson, on theweb, youll find me. But my blog is probably the best place tostart. And Ive got contact information right there. Im also onTwitter as Jack Vinson, just about everywhere as Jack Vinson.Joe: Well, Id like to thank you very much, Jack. I appreciate theconversation. This podcast will be available on the Business901blogsite and also the Business901 iTunes store. So, thanks again.Jack: Its been a great conversation, Joe. Thanks. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  30. 30. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Bonus MaterialJoe: I think people struggle with that concept of KnowledgeManagement. I just really, thats why I was trying to find peopleto kind of talk about it more on a practical side.I think its important with whats going on. I really thinkKnowledge Management; knowledge creation is just about whatmarketings turned into. Being able to give access to your people,I think is one of the things that marketing misses and is one ofthe things that Im writing about, is that the concept of marketinghas changed. Part of the concept of marketing is how do we makethe knowledge within our organization applicable to a customerwhen they want it and how they want it?Jack: Thats a great example of taking it, its one of thosestruggles that we have in process improvement, too, of wevedone just about as much as we can internally, and we see thatour next big constraint is the way that we interact with ourcustomers, say. How do we take that from what we know anddone and what weve learned inside to really developing a newrelationship with our customers, so, like maybe one specificcustomer or supplier? Thats a great path that you can followdown.Joe: Its not about cute and cleaver anymore, as I put it, is thatits really, I mean most B to B relationship is making knowledgeaccessible, proving that youre the expert in the field that theywant to do business with because its not the price. People wantto be treated fairly in price, dont get me wrong, but a lot ofpeople dont even shop for some of their biggest purchases iftheyre comfortable with the knowledge within your company.Jack: Well, not only the knowledge, and the relationship, right? The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  31. 31. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI think one of the things that is most interesting to me is thesales and marketing capability. Its one of the areas I strugglewith. But operationalizing it and practicing it has been interestingfor me. But, I mean in selling, the thing that people really go outon is when you can help them understand what the problem isand give them some hint that you may actually know how tosolve the problem is theyre going to treat you very differentlythan somebody else who says I can solve your problem, I cansolve your problem.So, a lot of that is, you know, how do we develop the idea that Iunderstand? Its tricky because its not a game, its just you haveto help people get to the statement of the problem themselves,and if they could solve the problem, what the benefits would beto that problem.I think thats why that conversation about the power oftechnology, thats an interesting path that that goes downbecause then you really involve your organization in answeringthe question well, we think its going to do this, but, how are wegoing to make it really going to work? Then, the organization hasto get involved.We think we can have this relationship with you, Mr. Customer,and heres what we bring, heres what, you know, we can kind oftalk about features, but until we can start talking about the realbenefits of the relationship, then its not going to go as far.Joe: Thats the problem that most people have especially in themarketing. Im a good example, to sell marketing services; Ihave to give an idea to solve their problem to get my foot in thedoor. But then, typically, when your foot gets in the door, theyreally have never defined the problem. We need more customers.Well, the problem is many times, you find out that all your moneythat youre spending to dump people in the top of your funnel, The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  32. 32. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemswhich is the most ineffective use of your money, the mostexpensive.Jack: They just sit up there, right?Joe: Well, is it the bottleneck, for lack of better words is downalong the funnel somewhere. Lets say you can get people toattend webinars, and you get 1,000 people in a webinar, butyoure only converting one or two of them.Why spend the money to get more people into a webinar? Whynot spend the money to double that rate? Thats a crudeexample, but, its an example. Thats where most of the time isthat youre there that they want to know how you can bring morecustomers to them. I dont know that I can bring more leads toyou, but what I can do is help you take the leads you have anddouble them.Jack: That process of asking a question is sort of, "Do you get1,000 leads from a webinar? How many get to the next level ofthe salesmen? Is it just one or two, or do you get actually astrong interest from your webinars? OK, great. How about thenext step? Are they, once you get the strong interest, are youable to convert those to move them down the path of having thatconversation with them and however many steps we have in yourparticular company sales funnel?" But then, you can say, "OK, itsounds like youre doing fine in steps five and six. What aboutthat first step? What about that third step? I can help you." Theissue for me is I dont know what the next conversation is tohave. I can help you do that, but Ill, lets put it this way, whatwould be the impact, I think thats the correct comment, right,what would be the impact if we could change it from five percentto ten percent? Oh, my God, wow. Well, OK, lets think aboutthat.Joe: One of my favorite things to do is to take someones budgetand take a value stream or marketing funnel and put the steps of The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  33. 33. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthe process across the board. Then we take their marketingbudget and break it up to where theyre spending their money.You should see how enlightening that is because if they have a$100,000 budget, its like $80,000 of it is spent getting people inthe funnel, $20,000 is spent in the back end of the funnel onceyou have a qualified lead. The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901
  34. 34. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has alwaysdelivered quickly, cost effectively and with ingenuity. A brilliant mind that isalways a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status The New Knowledge Management Game Copyright Business901