Sunday, 4 January 2015

Personal KM - reflection

I do a lot of favouriting and saving information; interesting articles, ideas to pursue = information that may be useful in the future.

Info hoarding

Recently I have been thinking about whether this helps my work and productivity, or is just another time waster. Is it enough to read an article, post, tweet or site and absorb the contents, does that increase my knowledge? Is it worth the added step of saving, organising and reflecting on what I have read and found over the past, week, month or year?

This week I read Fridays Favourites post by Harold Jarche. It made me realise that there may be value in reviewing favourited tweets (and other information), just as there is in reflecting on other things I do and learn. I have made use of a years worth of favourited tweets in the past, for the annual TripleJ Top 100. I tend to favourite songs as I listen to them - they are listed on the TripleJplays twitter account as they are played on the radio. At the end of the year it is easy for me to look back at the years releases that I liked.


I also share a lot of what I read and like. I believe there is value in this, which is why I use Twitter and LinkedIn and Feedly - to learn from what others share, know and do.

Multiple sources

I have piles of printed articles and papers that I have printed or cut out of magazines. I have made several failed attempts to organise these in folders. I use Feedly for keeping up to date via blogs, Twitter to follow people I respect and trust, Delicious for useful links and sites and Evernote to capture information I want to keep. I also recently started using Mendeley to capture journal articles that may be useful and certainly would if I had time at the start of a new project to read all of the articles and information I have gathered.

Review or research?

We are about to start an Intranet project at work in the new year and I know if I had the time to read the relevant books, articles, posts and guides that I have gathered over the past 2 years, the project would benefit. OR I could spend that time researching from scratch and target the specific questions I need answered. I would probably refer to the same sources, James Robertson's blog, UX articles etc. It is a big subject, information architecture, usability, change management, design, records and information management, project management, user engagement and acceptance........

So should I take the time in January to review the tweets I favourited in 2014 ...... and my saved blog posts, my piles of paper and electronic articles or discard it all and start afresh?? Any thoughts??

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Retaining organisational knowledge

I am about to embark on a trial program for knowledge retention at work. I have been thinking about this for some time and have recently (for the first time) been asked to try to capture some of the knowledge of a staff member who is leaving.


I am in two minds about an approach that attempts to 'capture knowledge' when staff leave. My focus has been on making knowledge more visible within the organisation by encouraging knowledge sharing and transfer from one to many. I am not convinced of the value of asking key staff to identify 'what they know' and think others 'may need to know'. What happens if I can capture and codify this 'information'? How does it become knowledge (that is useful to others) and for how long is it relevant?

I love the idea of retaining ex staff as experts, on a retainer, or as part of an alumni who can provide mentoring or advice as needed. I have found leaving speeches to be great tools as experts naturally summarise their greatest learnings and experiences and also tell interesting stories and anecdotes.

For this particular person I will be asking about what worked and what didn't in her role and in specific circumstances. It would be useful to know about the networks she has established and how she did this. Maybe advice for someone replacing her or new to the team?

Has anyone done this successfully in their workplace and been able to develop a set of questions that seem to work? I love the idea of storytelling, but am unsure how to initiate this in a one on one interview.

I know I will need to take a more holistic view of the knowledge in my organisation before I can successfully manage a program to retain it. Identifying what knowledge we need and want to retain may be the first step. Establishing a risk matrix and then putting in place a strategy to combat knowledge loss would be my next steps. We rarely, if ever have the luxury of having a replacement appointed before the knowledge leaves, so knowledge transfer from one expert to the next isn't possible.

Anyway, I am gathering some resources so will get reading and give it a go! I'll report back on my progress.

Some early reading on knowledge retention:
Nick Milton
Arshad Ahmed  
Knowledge Management Tools (KMT)
Jack Vinson

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Librarian to KM


I have been thinking lately about the skills I gained as a librarian that have assisted me in my move into a knowledge management role. It is interesting that knowledge management practitioners come from varied backgrounds - HR, IT, business improvement, libraries and information management.
The role itself changes depending on the organisation, industry and job description. From my perspective, it was good luck that I had had some new experiences* in my previous role in a large government agency in addition to my library training and experience and these new skills, matched what my new employer was looking for. 

These are some of the library-related skills and experience that have been useful in my new role:
  • information management - I have an odd desire to manage information: to identify, classify and provide access to it. This is somewhat easier in a library where the information you are managing is generally externally sourced or purchased (books, articles, subscriptions, online databases etc). As a knowledge or information manager the range of information, systems and knowledge is broader, and often more difficult to quantify and even to identify. Of course there are exceptions to this and it depends how broadly the libraries responsibilities extend in an organisation and how widely an information manager's control extends. However there are fundamental challenges or tasks associated with managing information in any form; such as quality, access - providing a federated search or one-stop shop for information, mediation - managing information overload and providing appropriate tools and processes around information. Sound familiar? Acquire, organise and disseminate? 
  • records management - record keeping obligations under the Archives Act are also part of my role as a knowledge manager in a government department. As a librarian I wasn't aware of the extremely complex and stringent guidelines set by the National Archives of Australia (NAA), I was, as all librarians would be, aware of the importance of information and it's value as a record for legal proceedings, as a historical record and a record of business transactions and also in some cases just for their intrinsic value.
  • customer service - I guess working in retail helped also, but librarians definitely benefit from this skill. Good communication skills, understanding what people need, being approachable and helpful, all of these are key in libraries. 
  • Basic IT and systems experience. My current role includes content management for a website and intranet. In my previous library role I worked a lot on an organisational wiki and was able to build skills in basic html.
I know there are lots of opportunities for librarians looking for a career change and km is just one option. In this climate with special libraries being reduced in size or closed altogether, it may be important to start looking at what skills are best to cultivate. I can see a future for academic and public libraries, not sure about other special libraries, they appear to be slowly diminishing?

*User testing, social media experience, change management, project management, systems and IT basics

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Personal Knowledge Management

It strikes me that for knowledge sharing to really work for us personally, we must make time to source, read, digest and ultimately use or learn from what we share and discover. Can knowledge managers convince others to make time to share and also absorb new knowledge, if we don't do it ourselves?

Sometimes I feel like I am sharing, sharing sharing; blogging, posting, saving, printing, bookmarking, sending all over the place, but seldom do I have time to go back to articles that I have favourited, bookmarked or printed and don't get me started on my KM book collection!! I regularly forward links and information that I have not read or digested myself, without comment other than 'fyi' or 'you may find this interesting'. The benefit in sharing information and knowledge comes from deep thinking and contemplation and in discussion, sharing viewpoints and learning from others.

Blogging provides a way for me to 'digest' and think about what I am reading, learning or practising. But it is difficult to find time and to allow myself this 'indulgence'. It is not easy to dedicate time on weekends and evenings to read work/study related information (out of Uni session) and it doesn't feel right reading at work, even though my employer would benefit greatly from my increased knowledge. I have colleagues who read about KM voraciously on their time to enable them to perform better in KM roles.

I have amassed a vast pile of paper articles, printed or cut out of magazines on knowledge management, information management and Intranets mainly over the last two years at work and through study, in addition to online articles saved on various computers and online services (Evernote, Google Drive, Delicious etc). I may have skimmed some of them, read a few (for Uni), but mainly they looked useful and were collected to read later.

This is the current pile of accumulated readings, I started sorting into categories and filing it (CoP, KMS, RM, Intranet etc) but it got a bit out of hand. This pile follows me to and from work occasionally as I attempt to 'conquer' it. 

Do you take time to read, research, digest and learn? Have you found a way to manage your personal knowledge management and continual learning? If so, how and when?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Codification v personalisation KM strategies

I am studying knowledge management systems (KMS) this semester in my Masters in Knowledge Management. Some of the reading have provided great insight into KM and more importantly, in relation to my job as a knowledge manager. Some subjects are so theoretical or unrelated to my role or organisation that it is hard to gain much benefit from them.

I have just finished reading an article from HBR. The authors discuss two strategies for knowledge management; personalisation and codification, as ways of managing tacit knowledge. I agree that a lot of focus on KM is around IT and how to get people to use new systems and social media. This ignores "the very idea that human knowledge can be stored in, and its processing replicated by, software machines ignores three thousand years of philosophical inquiry into the nature of knowledge and what it means to ‘know’" Stapleton et al (2005). 

Hansen et al recommend the 80/20 rule when choosing a strategy. A 50/50 fix of both won't work and focusing on one or the other exclusively will also fail, the authors argue. A KM strategy based on personalisation; connecting people and promoting communication and collaboration also needs a level of documented knowledge in databases and a system to all people to find people. A strategy based on codification of knowledge also needs to promote some level of person to person communication. The article uses case studies to show how this has worked within consulting and manufacturing firms to great advantage.

HBR diagram
The authors highlight other success factors for KM as linking KM strategy to organisational strategy and direction and getting high level support. "Only strong leadership can provide the direction a company needs to choose, implement and overcome resistance to a new knowledge management strategy"  Hansen et al (1999). Nothing new there!

M.T. Hansen, N. Nohria, & T. Tierney (1999). What's your strategy for managing knowledge? Harvard Business Review. March-April, pp.106-116.

Stapleton, L., Smith, D. & Murphy F. (2005). Systems engineering methodologies, tacit knowledge and communities of practice. AI and Society. 16: 159-180.