Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year.

I hope that 2013 will be a good year in getting back to some regular blog posting. Last year was very disappointing for a number of reasons so 2013 should be better (I hope). I plan on continuing with posts about knowledge management, communication, and marketing.

That being the case, this first post for 2013 is just to get myself back into the metaphorical saddle. Sitting comfortably now, I sense that the blogging trail will be much more productive this year.

Giddy up!

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On being away from KM…and loving it!

Well, if you have been following me on Twitter or reading the Twitter feed on my blog you will know that I am in South Dakota, USA.  My car was totally encased in snow when I got up this morning.  The weather east of Rapid City gradually improved as the day wore on, albeit a local DJ was pondering if the all-time record for cold weather for this time of year would be broken in the coming nights.  The coldest day on record around Rapid City and environs is 20 degrees Fahrenheit and we are already expecting a minimum of 24F tonight.  I am in Huron (SD) tonight, staying at the Dakota Inn, “home of the world’s largest pheasant” (akin to Australia’s amazing big things like the Big Banana).

I will be heading off to Winona, Minnesota, in the next couple of days to see the mighty Mississippi River.  And then I drive back the 600-odd miles to Rapid City and, hopefully,  get to see Mt Rushmore before I fly out.

Even after only a few days away, I haven’t had the urdge to read or write about knowledge management…and loving it!

Knowledge management and the world financial crisis

Since my last blog post, the world financial market has really taken a battering as large finanical institutions in the US, Britain and in Europe collapse under the weight of poor lending practices and even poorer management and control structures. The financial impact alone is enormous.

What has this to do with knowledge management, I hear you ask?

Well, knowledge management is about enabling informed decision-making and taking action. Knowledge management facilitates the information and knowledge assets of a business to drive operational efficiencies, create opportunities for growth and innovation, and establish sound information management practices and systems for preparedness and risk mitigation.

Knowledge management is therefore about establishing the internal operational conditions for making effective and knowledgeable choices and decisions across the business domains of a firm – and those business domains are where profits and losses are created.

An organisation’s codified knowledge and information (explicit knowledge), capacity for research and analysis, and capabilitiy to locate and disseminate this information will inform a workplace and the people within it; for decision-makers and for taking action.

At the same time, knowledge management involves people – the information and knowledge exchanged, re-articulated and reformulated by humans within particular contexts. The knowledge and experiences of people are unique, co-evolving, and able to be shared to develop or create new knowledge. This is what is commonly referred to in the knowledge management literature as tacit knowledge.

Knowledge management facilitates this interplay between explicit and tacit knowledge out of which organisations make decsions and take action. Knowledge management is therefore ongoing, cumulative and regenerating.

Knowledge management also works to reduce costs through improving workflow, facilitating efficient and effective information capture, access, and dissemination, facilitates conversation and human networks, and enhances collaboration and connectivity between individuals for common purpose.

Knowledge management is therefore about providing the infrastructure and capability for organisations to make informed decisions. As knowledge managers, we like to think that the outcome of knowledge management is Innovation and competitive advantage – and sometimes it is. But just as importantly is the strategic importance of using knowledge and information assets wisely to improve operational effectiveness, decision-making and governance issues – profit making and risk mitigation.

On the cost side, knowledge management drives down the cost of doing business through more efficient and productive operations (saving time is one of the obvious manifestations). Being able to find the right information at the right time is critical, as is preparedness through awareness. Being aware and having quick access to information and the right people allows for organisational agility and responsiveness that impacts on how opportunities are found and change is managed.

A strategic knowledge management approach to organisational perfomance is an excellent way for companies to make improved decisions for profit generation and risk mitigation while also saving costs and speeding up interaction within people networks for collective thinking and collaborative advantage.

Knowledge management offers a foundation, many paths and a network. Yet it’s true that senior management and executives choose which way to jump – and the frying pan at 700 or 870 degrees is one route. Wall Street, if it’s not to late, take heed!

On three ways of working

I am reading Gerard Fairtlough’s book, The three ways of getting things done.

The book examines three forms of workplace environment:

1) Hierarchy – the traditional organisational form of power relations in which there is a distinct progression of roles and powers from top to bottom. Hierarchies are usually inflexible, discourage learning and communication, and inhibit change. Hierarchies have been the dominant form of organisational context for so long they have become the accepted organisational orthodoxy, irrespective of the outcomes.

2) Heterarchy – the notion of multiple rule, defined as “a balance of powers rather than the single rule of hierarchy”. Examples of organisations in this form include professional partnership firms, inter-organisational departmental relationships, external strategic alliances, and organisational networks.

3) Responsible autonomy – where “a group decides what to do, but is accountable for the outcome” – accountability being the key here. Examples include workplaces where teams work together on products and services and where the outcome is based on performance and, often, profitability. One example would be an investment team investing on behalf of a particular equities fund and the outcome would be the return on investment, perhaps relative to the market or some other benchmark.

The book examines the three different forms, individually and in combination. The author tends to favour heterarchy and responsible autonomy, and I would agree based on my personal experience.

By effectively leveraging the human and social capital of an organisation, where much of an organisation’s competitive advantage resides, the organisation is better equipped to respond with agility to the changing internal and external environment, as well as enabling new ideas and knowledge to grow and flourish for improved organisational outcomes.

And in a competitive world where much of the codified knowledge is ubiquitous and commoditised, the individual knowledge and people networks of employees within the organisation form the basis of real competitive intelligence and competitive advantage. Knowledge management certainly has a role to play here.

Which organisational workplace environment would you prefer?