TON'S INTERDEPENDENT THOUGHTS
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Lilia Efimova (f)
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Within a day after Sebastien Paquet announced he was going to reduce his
In the coming two weeks while I'm off from work I'll be updating here more frequently again I guess. The books you see lined up on the right hand side will get their last pages turned, and I'm sure they will get me thinking. And thinking is sure to get me blogging. Thanks for your patience.
I have noticed though, that even as there was nothing new to read here, the
On to some links:
Also, while metablogging, Thomas Burg of Randgaenge has put out a call for papers for a conference on blogging in Vienna in May 2003. I will give it some thought if I have enough to say to send in an application for participation, but I am already pretty much convinced to try and attend the actual conference.
Andrea Janssen posts a text by Diane Le Moult of Siemens with lessons and guide lines concerning Communities of Practice. I could have, or maybe should have, seen it myself, as I am a frequent visitor of KnowledgeBoard.
In our company we have transformed the way we work in the last year. Earlier we had senior researchers, all responsible for acquiring accounts, with a pool of junior researchers that were asked to participate on project to project basis. The problem was that most of the time the seniors did not know for sure if they could claim enough time with juniors to get the work done, as they were all competing for the same people. Now we have built teams, based on their field of research, with at least two seniors and a group of juniors.
One senior is primarily responsible for client contacts (next to doing research of course), the other primarily for making the projects run smoothly (also next to doing research). The juniors now have time for building up more specialist expertise, while the seniors exactly know how much work they can give them.
Reading Diane's text on CoPs I think it is time to review our first experiences with having teams in the light of her guide lines and lessons. It'll probably turn up a nugget of two, to improve the work in our teams.
Fun is in! Or is it?
While on KnowledgeBoard the role of having fun in motivating knowledge workers is highlighted, and attempts are made to identify the building blocks of having fun in your work, counter initiatives are reported from elsewhere.
Via the Trust e-mail group Nick King of BT points me to an attempt to bring back Prussian discipline to the workplace. Thirty year old Judith Mair published "Fun is Out" in German (Schluss mit Lustig!), including these golden rules:
I could agree if the fun factors at work were not part of the work, and added as extra's. But I strongly believe that work has to be fun, for me to be motivated, creative, and productive. So from her list I can understand the skateboard and baseball caps, if that's not the image your company needs or wants to project. But a ban on laughing?
Only this week, as I wrote here earlier, I've witnessed our most productive sales meeting in years.... It was also the first sales meeting where people were laughing. Or is she targeting the definitions of fun where it has become ok to lessen quality and effectivity levels? That would be understandable, since I would look for fun to boost quality awareness and effectivity because of motivated people feeling responsible for their work, and the end results they help to bring forth.
Might it just be that Mair is successful with her ban on fun ONLY because the German economy is slowing down, so that her employees have nowhere else to go? That would turn the causality she implies completely around. To take an extreme example: dictatorships only function as long as there are no alternatives for dissenters. As soon as an alternative arises, the dictatorship will collapse.
It might also well be that Mairs golden rules are the first steps of a vicious circle: if productivity falls further, oppress them more. I would be very interested in employee satisfaction surveys in her company. All in all Mairs proposals sound like a step back towards the 'industrial era' paradigm that turns employees into cost-sources, and interchangeable parts of the production process, wage slaves. A paradigm knowledge professionals work hard to replace.
Blogging Cold Turkey
Lilia Efimova returns to the Blogosphere with Mathemagenic after being
Grass Roots: Learning to Share
Me, I'm more of a thinker than a
The other is to try and stop
mentioning KM, but start offering help in (grass roots) initiatives of
colleagues, and thus assuring KM-style input into these initiatives. In this
second track an example: our researchers that have roles in accountmanagement
meet regularly to share experiences and learn from each other, or so it was
originally intended. In practice it is nothing more than people recounting what
clients they have met, and which assignments they've taken on. Nothing that
can't be found in the acquisitionreports we all get anyway. A colleague,
irritated about the unfulfilled potential here, came to me and asked for my
assistance. We decided not to debate our issues at length (see first paragraph)
but just go ahead and try a different approach, and see how it works out. First
we have changed the way acquisitionreports are made. They used to list
clientcontacts by researcher. We've turned it around and now list contacts per
client, as we think we should talk about client-contacts and not
researcher-contacts. The second change is that we asked all researchers that
will attend the meeting to not talk about what exactly they talked about with
clients, as was the routine untill now. Instead we asked them to select one
example from their recent contacts that says something about the impressions we
make on our clients. How do they see us, and is that image the one we want to
convey? Is there a pattern in the observations we make? As an example I
recounted in my introductory instructions my recent visit to a prospect. This
prospect viewed us a software company as the only productinformation he saw from
us was one having to do with some software we happen to sell as a tool. This
tool is part of a larger product that is in the area of consulting. So I talked
with this prospect about what it is we actually do. Now how is it that this
prospect got the wrong impression? Is our productinformation not clear enough?
These are the sort of things my colleague and I want to talk about when meeting
the other accountmanageing researchers. Oh and third is, that we got the one
chairing the meeting on our side for this experiment. So at 13:00 we'll see how
the first steps in this experiment will work out, as that is when the meeting
will get underway. The reason I'm telling you this is two-fold. By publishing
this, even though it is scary as I recount weaknesses in me, and in our
organisation, I'm creating a permanent reminder that this is what I set out to
do. The second reason is that I hope to get some feedback from you as a reader.
Are there grassroots examples you would like to share? How do you bridge the gap
between theory and practice, or do you have problems connecting practice to
theory? Feel free to comment, e-mail, or cross-reference! Update after
the meeting: it went very well. People seemed to enjoy it. It is the first time
I have seen people laugh with eachother at a meeting like this. Also discussions
yielded far more than I have witnessed in the last 2 years, in an much more open
and collaborative way. Participants definitely want to do this again, and
suggested maybe picking a theme each time around which to focus
remarks/anecdotes and resulting discussion. Also the stuff we usually talk about
in these meetings was addressed, but now as it naturally came up during the
discussions. The secretary taking minutes was surprised at the amount of notes
she had to work out. Let's see how it works out the next time (Jan. 7th) Permalink | Comments (0)
Appreciating Your Neighbours
Karl Sveiby's key note speech at KM in Europe 2002
As I wrote before, I
Sveiby started his talk with an
exercise: close your eyes and touch your nose with your right index finger.
About 3 people couldn't. Now talk your neighbour trough the same exercise by
giving him precise instructions on what to do. About 3 people could. That, says
Sveiby, is the difference between knowledge and information. So to him all
knowledge is implicit. "Knowledge is the capacity to act within context." Both
the emphasis on action and context are important I think. He then continued to
define KM, a term coined by Karl Wiig in 1986, something Wiig "now bitterly
regrets". Sveiby defines KM as the management of a company/organisation that
consists only/mostly of "knowledge workers". Knowledge workers here are highly
educated, highly skilled and experienced. So to Sveiby not everybody is a
knowledge worker, as can be heard quite often lately. The latter would also
render the term useless by the way, as it does away with all the distinctive
qualities of the phrase. The next step was connecting the definition of
knowledge to the definition of KM. In essence he closely follows his own 1997
book The New Organizational Wealth. He talked of internal structures, external
structures and competences in both the book and his speech. However, where in
the book all three are presented more or less at once, in his speech he
explained more clearly the way internal and external structures come forth from
individual competences. And this deepened my own insight.
As an individual uses his knowledge,
his capacity to act within context, to do just that, act, he "stretches" himself
into the outside world, he is reaching out. The result of this, relations,
transactions, etc, are the external structures. It is by putting individual
competences to use that external structures are built. So now you have two
circles, competences and external structures, with a two-way link between them.
The third circle, internal structures is added as you become succesful in the
outside world. You start to need other people to help you, you start building an
organisation. The internal structures are the translation of your own individual
competences into a larger scale. This cluster therefore has a two way link to
your own competences, but also starts to interact with the already existing
external structures in its own right. You end up with three circles, each dually
linked. Value is created in the overlap of all three circles, and is the product
of all interaction taking place. The one thing I value the most in this
description is that it takes the individual as a starting point. This also
emphasizes to me that humans are at the heart of KM, whatever the IT-boys might
think. (Sveiby: "Alas, Knowledge management has been hijacked by IT") The three
circle picture identifies 10 strategic issues. One for each circle in itself
(3), two for each two way connection between circles (6), and the tenth is the
overall question how the value creation capacity of the whole system can be
maximised. In the sheets, examples of all ten strategic issues are described. I
will give a list of them here: The three circles:
people in our organisation
two-way links between each pair of circles:
tools and templates
tools and templates
value to our systems processes and products And, as mentioned above the tenth
strategic issue is how the value creation capacity of the whole system can be
maximised. You can now proceed by identifying bloccades on each of these ten
issues. Sveiby gave some good and bad practices he encountered concerning these
ten issues. The last part of his talk was about the benchmark system he helped
make, the Collaborative Climate Index. In three years of testing, with 20
questions, 12.000 respondents in 80 organisations he created a database for
benchmarking. Some of the general results can be seen in the sheets. Most of
what is described above, you are propably already dealing with in some way or
another in your organisation. But not consciously as Sveiby pointed out.
And that is precisely what I am constantly pleading for: conscious choice
making, based on self knowledge (in this case of your competences). Sveiby also
named trust as the one vital ingredient for knowledge sharing. One last
remark that Sveiby made: "Value is independent of the way it is
measured." Euro's and Dollars are not equal to value, but merely one way of
trying to measure it.
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New Organizational Wealth: Managing...