10 principles for managing knowledge, from Stephen Denning

In this article from Forbes Magazine in 2012, Steven Denning, once head of KM at the World Bank and a wise commentator on Knowledge Management topics, describes his ten principles for managing knowledge.

These are as follows

  1. The amount of money that could be spent on accumulating knowledge is infinite: Knowledge is in principle limitless. Accumulation of knowledge “just in case” is an endless task.
  2. However Knowledge has no value per se: Knowledge acquires value from use. 
  3. Spending on knowledge has negative value if organization doesn’t use it. Knowledge is only useful to those willing and able to learn.
  4. Institutional knowledge may serve as blinders to effective action (he cites this example where gaining more documented knowledge sometimes hindered performance). 
  5. The most valuable knowledge increasingly lies outside the organization. 
  6. Knowledge can require deep expertise to access it.
  7. The deep expertise needed to access knowledge can be lost.
  8. The value of knowledge lies in improved outcomes for external customers or stakeholders (I think we could include internal stakeholders as well). 
  9. What constitutes an improved outcome depends on the organization’s strategy.
  10. Outcomes need to be measured against the organizational strategy. Nothing can be managed unless and until it is measured. Knowledge has no value per se; it has to be measured in relation to the strategy it is intended to accomplish.

These principles are admirably focused on knowledge use, and the outcomes of knowledge use. This should be the focus for all KM programs. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The 10 principles behind successful KM strategies

I blogged last week about the 5 basic principles behind successful Knowledge Management. Let’s take that one step further, into the principles behind a KM Strategy.

When Stephanie Barnes and I wrote our book “Designing a successful KM Strategy” we included a chapter on the ten principles behind KM strategies.  These are not just principles about KM, they are principles about how KM should be introduced, so they go beyond the 5 principles in last week’s blog post.

Here are our 10 principles.

1. KM implementation needs to be organisation-led; tied to organisation strategy and to specific organisation issues. This is the fundamental behind KM implementation – the number one success factor (if present) and  a common reason for failure (if absent). 



2. KM needs to be delivered where the critical knowledge lies, and where the high value decisions are made. Knowledge Management needs to focus, and to focus on business-critical or business-strategic knowledge. This might be at operator level (the operator of a plant, the driller of a deepwater well, the pilot of a passenger aircraft) or it might be at senior management level.


3. KM implementation needs to be treated as a behaviour change program. Failure to
realise this is failure reason number one for KM programs.  


4. The endgame will be to introduce a complete management framework for KM. Unlike a KM toolbox, a Knowledge Management framework is a joined-up system of roles, technologies, processes and governance. The ISO standard for KM, ISO 30401:2018, describes the framework as a “Management System”.


5. This framework will need to be embedded into the organisation structures. If you don’t embed it in the business, KM wont survive. KM roles need to be embedded into the organigram, processes into the high level working process, technologies into the core technology set, and governance into the organisational governance structure. Without this, Km remains separate and optional. Many of the high profile failures of KM are due to a failure to embed.



6. The framework will need to include governance if it is to be sustainable. Governance is the combination of structure, expectation, support and monitoring that any management discipline requires if it is to be applied systematically.



7. The framework will be structured, rather than emergent. I explain this here.



8. A KM implementation should be a staged process, with regular decision points. Don’t rush in and try to implement KM in one go. Take your time, stage the process, and learn as you go. Treat implementation as if you were launching a start-up, and make sure you have a viable business model.



9. A KM implementation should contain a piloting stage. This is crucial both to test the framework, and to create the social proof you will need for the culture change program. This also allows agile development of the KM framework, informed throughout by user feedback.



10. A KM implementation should be run by an implementation team, reporting to a cross-organisational steering group.  In other words, just like any other change program or project!  Choose the team wisely – they have a difficult job to do.

These are our 10 principles. Many of these are embedded within ISO 30401:2018; the ISO management systems standard for KM. Numbers 1 through 7 will be satisfied if you follow the guidance within the standard. 8, 9 and 10 address the structure of the implementation rocess itself which is outside the scope of the standard. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

5 universal principles for Knowledge Management

There is no universal solution for Knowledge Management in an Organisation, but there is a set of universal principles.

A Management Framework for KM is bespoke – not off-the-peg. Each organisation must find its own solution , and must design its own Framework. There is no template, no universal solution, no single toolbox of KM technologies, no “KM Ultimate Swiss Army Knife”, no one magic system that does it all, no single KM Process set, no a single design for set of KM roles, no universally applicable KM policy that all companies can adopt.

However I believe there IS a universal set of 5 Knowledge Management principles that every successful Knowledge Management application adopts, and which form the foundation for a successful KM framework. 4 of these principles are embedded within ISO 30401:2018, the ISO management systems standard for KM.

Please note, these are the principles behind KM framework design, not the principles for KM strategy [which are about the vision and direction for introducing KM], or the principles for KM implementation [which is how the framework will be developed and rolled out].

These Principles are as follows.

1. Aligned. The KM framework must align with the needs and strategy of the organisation.

Knowledge Management should not be introduced for its own sake; it should be introduced because it solves business problems and helps the organisation perform better. ISO 30401:2018 supports this by,  in the first two requirements, asking for an understanding of how KM supports the organisational context, and for a mapping of the stakeholders and their needs. These two tasks form the foundation for the Management Framework.

The primary value of knowledge is helping people make better decisions, and so perform work better, faster and/or cheaper. There are secondary values as well (helping people fell more engaged, more connected, more supported) but all of these are also in service of a better organisation.  Knowledge management for its own sake can often destroy value, as this example of misplaced collaboration shows.

Your knowledge management framework therefore needs to focus preferentially on the knowledge of highest organisational value (ISO clause 4.3), and of providing the highest value and highest utility knowledge to the knowledge workers and other stakeholders at the place and the time that they need it (hence the concept of KM as a Knowledge Supply Chain).

Unfortunately business alignment is the second weakest of all the elements in our free online self-assessment survey, which suggests that this principle is not always followed.

2.  Connect/Collect. The KM Framework must include Connect and Collect (aka Conversation and Content)

One of the earliest models in the history of Knowledge Management, and one that sometimes seems to get forgotten, is that there are two key dimensions in Knowledge Management, representing two routes between the knowledge suppler, and the knowledge user.

These are the Connect route, and the Collect route.

The Connect route supports knowledge transfer through connecting people and focuses on tacit knowledge.  The Collect route supports knowledge transfer through collecting knowledge into documents and focuses on codified knowledge.

Connect and Collect are not alternative strategies. They are two components of a single framework and a single strategy, which work in parallel.  Your organisation will contain critical knowledge of very many kinds; some of it managed as Content, and some as Conversations.  Conversations are a far richer medium than Content,  potentially 14 times richer, though Content can reach far more people, and has a longer life-span than a conversation.

Content and Conversation are the King and Queen of Knowledge Management – they rule together. Content is something to talk about, Conversation is where Content is born and where it is Tested.

In clause 4.3.3, the ISO standard requires organisations to address Connection through Human interation, and Collection through a) the representation of human knowledge in the form of documents, videos, and other artefacts: b) the combination and synthesis of documented knowledge, and c) the internalisation and reuse of knowledge.

3. Push and Pull. The framework must address Push and Pull (aka knowledge supply and knowledge demand)

I have blogged many times about push and pull in KM – push being the transfer of knowledge driven by supply (eg speculative publishing, or loading material to a database or wiki), and pull being the transfer of knowledge driven by demand (eg asking a question on a forum, or searching an Intranet).

 The ideal KM system runs push and pull in parallel – both supply and demand as valid ways of instigating the knowledge flow.

Push without pull (supply without demand) leads to knowledge over-supply and overload, and to ultimate destruction of knowledge value. Pull without push is better, but is ephemeral. Knowledge management, whether you view it as a market or as a supply chain, needs both supply and demand – both push and pull – if it is to function.

ISO 30401 does not address Supply and Demand, unfortunately.

4. The 4 legs. The KM framework must include Roles, Processes, Technologies and Governance

There are 4 enablers that support Knowledge Management, like 4 legs that support a table. These are
Like the 4 legs on a table, the 4 elements of KM are all equally important. No single element is dominant – they all support KM, and they support Knowledge Management in supporting the business.  Focus on all four enablers, to an equal extent, and your Knowledge Management table will stand firm and secure in support of the organisational strategy.

Clause 4.4.4 of ISO 30401:2018 contains the requirement to address these 4 enablers, plus the additional factor of culture. I do not include culture here, as I believe culture is an outcome of the management framework rather than part of the framework. The ISO standard goes on to include specific sections on three of these enablers:

  • 3 clauses addressing Roles (5.3, 7.1, 7.2)
  • 1 clause addressing Process (section 8)
  • 14 clauses on governance (5.1, 5.2, and all of sections 6, 7, 9 and 10)

5. Embedded. KM must be embedded into the structures of the organisation.

Lots of KM programs do not take root, because they have never been embedded in normal business. They are delivered by a strong team and a charismatic leader delivered as something separate – not fully rooted in the work structure and management framework of the company. They are like a tree in a pot – well tended, well watered, but separate – and when the tender care is removed, the organisation tips back. KM needs to be like a tree in a forest – rooted in the fabric of the business.

The goal is to embed a self-sustaining approach to KM in all elements of the business, with clear governance and good support, and clear evidence of sustainable culture change and sustainable business value.

Change the project requirements, to include KM. Change the minimum conditions of satisfaction for project delivery, to include effective lessons identification. Change the rules for project sanction, so a project gets no money if it hasn’t done any learning. Change the job descriptions for the company experts, so that they are held acountable for stewardship of the company knowledge. Change the reporting requirements, the HR appraisal mechanism, change the incentive scheme to reward collaboration and discourage competition. Change the rules on timewriting. Notice the use of the word “change” there? Every such change is another KM root going down.



ISO 30401 requires these changes to be in place, and that top management ensures “the integration of the knowledge management system requirements into the organization’s business and project processes”.

Using the 5 principles

Use these 5 principles to design your Knowledge Management Framework, with guidance form ISO 30401:2018. You will still need to decide

  • What the critical business knowledge is, that you need to align to
  • How to connect people and set up conversations
  • How to collect knowledge and manage content
  • How to create a demand for knowledge
  • How to create a supply of knowledge
  • Which roles to put in place
  • Which processes to adopt
  • Which technology to use
  • What governance to apply, and
  • How and where to embed the roles, processes, technology and governance.

However the principles will ensure that the framework you create works well, is stable, has no gaps, covers all relevant types of knowledge, and will not “tip back” to the previous pre-KM state.




View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

5 universal principles for Knowledge Management

There is no universal solution for Knowledge Management in an Organisation, but there is a set of universal principles.

A Management Framework for KM is bespoke – not off-the-peg. Each organisation must find its own solution , and must design its own Framework. There is no template, no universal solution, no single toolbox of KM technologies, no “KM Ultimate Swiss Army Knife”, no one magic system that does it all, no single KM Process set, no a single design for set of KM roles, no universally applicable KM policy that all companies can adopt.

However I believe there IS a universal set of 5 Knowledge Management principles that every successful Knowledge Management application adopts, and which form the foundation for a successful KM framework. 4 of these principles are embedded within ISO 30401:2018, the ISO management systems standard for KM.

Please note, these are the principles behind KM framework design, not the principles for KM strategy [which are about the vision and direction for introducing KM], or the principles for KM implementation [which is how the framework will be developed and rolled out].

These Principles are as follows.

1. Aligned. The KM framework must align with the needs and strategy of the organisation.

Knowledge Management should not be introduced for its own sake; it should be introduced because it solves business problems and helps the organisation perform better. ISO 30401:2018 supports this by,  in the first two requirements, asking for an understanding of how KM supports the organisational context, and for a mapping of the stakeholders and their needs. These two tasks form the foundation for the Management Framework.

The primary value of knowledge is helping people make better decisions, and so perform work better, faster and/or cheaper. There are secondary values as well (helping people fell more engaged, more connected, more supported) but all of these are also in service of a better organisation.  Knowledge management for its own sake can often destroy value, as this example of misplaced collaboration shows.

Your knowledge management framework therefore needs to focus preferentially on the knowledge of highest organisational value (ISO clause 4.3), and of providing the highest value and highest utility knowledge to the knowledge workers and other stakeholders at the place and the time that they need it (hence the concept of KM as a Knowledge Supply Chain).

Unfortunately business alignment is the second weakest of all the elements in our free online self-assessment survey, which suggests that this principle is not always followed.

2.  Connect/Collect. The KM Framework must include Connect and Collect (aka Conversation and Content)

One of the earliest models in the history of Knowledge Management, and one that sometimes seems to get forgotten, is that there are two key dimensions in Knowledge Management, representing two routes between the knowledge suppler, and the knowledge user.

These are the Connect route, and the Collect route.

The Connect route supports knowledge transfer through connecting people and focuses on tacit knowledge.  The Collect route supports knowledge transfer through collecting knowledge into documents and focuses on codified knowledge.

Connect and Collect are not alternative strategies. They are two components of a single framework and a single strategy, which work in parallel.  Your organisation will contain critical knowledge of very many kinds; some of it managed as Content, and some as Conversations.  Conversations are a far richer medium than Content,  potentially 14 times richer, though Content can reach far more people, and has a longer life-span than a conversation.

Content and Conversation are the King and Queen of Knowledge Management – they rule together. Content is something to talk about, Conversation is where Content is born and where it is Tested.

In clause 4.3.3, the ISO standard requires organisations to address Connection through Human interation, and Collection through a) the representation of human knowledge in the form of documents, videos, and other artefacts: b) the combination and synthesis of documented knowledge, and c) the internalisation and reuse of knowledge.

3. Push and Pull. The framework must address Push and Pull (aka knowledge supply and knowledge demand)

I have blogged many times about push and pull in KM – push being the transfer of knowledge driven by supply (eg speculative publishing, or loading material to a database or wiki), and pull being the transfer of knowledge driven by demand (eg asking a question on a forum, or searching an Intranet).

 The ideal KM system runs push and pull in parallel – both supply and demand as valid ways of instigating the knowledge flow.

Push without pull (supply without demand) leads to knowledge over-supply and overload, and to ultimate destruction of knowledge value. Pull without push is better, but is ephemeral. Knowledge management, whether you view it as a market or as a supply chain, needs both supply and demand – both push and pull – if it is to function.

ISO 30401 does not address Supply and Demand, unfortunately.

4. The 4 legs. The KM framework must include Roles, Processes, Technologies and Governance

There are 4 enablers that support Knowledge Management, like 4 legs that support a table. These are
Like the 4 legs on a table, the 4 elements of KM are all equally important. No single element is dominant – they all support KM, and they support Knowledge Management in supporting the business.  Focus on all four enablers, to an equal extent, and your Knowledge Management table will stand firm and secure in support of the organisational strategy.

Clause 4.4.4 of ISO 30401:2018 contains the requirement to address these 4 enablers, plus the additional factor of culture. I do not include culture here, as I believe culture is an outcome of the management framework rather than part of the framework. The ISO standard goes on to include specific sections on three of these enablers:

  • 3 clauses addressing Roles (5.3, 7.1, 7.2)
  • 1 clause addressing Process (section 8)
  • 14 clauses on governance (5.1, 5.2, and all of sections 6, 7, 9 and 10)

5. Embedded. KM must be embedded into the structures of the organisation.

Lots of KM programs do not take root, because they have never been embedded in normal business. They are delivered by a strong team and a charismatic leader delivered as something separate – not fully rooted in the work structure and management framework of the company. They are like a tree in a pot – well tended, well watered, but separate – and when the tender care is removed, the organisation tips back. KM needs to be like a tree in a forest – rooted in the fabric of the business.

The goal is to embed a self-sustaining approach to KM in all elements of the business, with clear governance and good support, and clear evidence of sustainable culture change and sustainable business value.

Change the project requirements, to include KM. Change the minimum conditions of satisfaction for project delivery, to include effective lessons identification. Change the rules for project sanction, so a project gets no money if it hasn’t done any learning. Change the job descriptions for the company experts, so that they are held acountable for stewardship of the company knowledge. Change the reporting requirements, the HR appraisal mechanism, change the incentive scheme to reward collaboration and discourage competition. Change the rules on timewriting. Notice the use of the word “change” there? Every such change is another KM root going down.



ISO 30401 requires these changes to be in place, and that top management ensures “the integration of the knowledge management system requirements into the organization’s business and project processes”.

Using the 5 principles

Use these 5 principles to design your Knowledge Management Framework, with guidance form ISO 30401:2018. You will still need to decide

  • What the critical business knowledge is, that you need to align to
  • How to connect people and set up conversations
  • How to collect knowledge and manage content
  • How to create a demand for knowledge
  • How to create a supply of knowledge
  • Which roles to put in place
  • Which processes to adopt
  • Which technology to use
  • What governance to apply, and
  • How and where to embed the roles, processes, technology and governance.

However the principles will ensure that the framework you create works well, is stable, has no gaps, covers all relevant types of knowledge, and will not “tip back” to the previous pre-KM state.




View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

10 principles for KM in product development

KM in product development has its own set of principles. Here they are.

The Exploratory Product Development Resolution Loop
by Petepetey via Wikimedia Commons

Kennedy, Harmon and Minnock’s excellent book “Ready, Set , Dominate” takes a knowledge-centred view of product development, inspired by practices of Toyota Motor Company and refined through application to a wide variety of industries across the globe. Here are the ten principles that they list in the conclusion to the book (my explanation and commentary in italics).

1. Knowledge is both the raw material and the output of product development. This leads to the view of a knowledge workstream in parallel with the product workstream.  

2. Set-Based Knowledge is infinitely more valuable than Point-Based Knowledge (this means that generically applicable knowledge, for example “these combinations work in these circumstances” and often stored as trade-off curves, is more valuable than specific knowledge such as “this combination worked in this circumstance”)  

3. Knowledge must be visible to be used and managed (which means it must be discussed, and must be a conscious issue and asset) 

4. The product development organization must be skilled at creating, capturing and using the knowledge (which means that you need a knowledge management framework for product development) 

5. The knowledge needed to be successful is a deep understanding of the interests of all the customers in the operational value stream, how decisions made in design affect them and how those design decisions interact with each other (this is some of the critical knowledge. Other core knowledge is “how to develop products effectively and efficiently” and “how does our technology work in practice”).  

6. The knowledge needed to be successful needs to be available before the decision, not afterwards (which implies knowledge available at the point of need, knowledge for decision support, and that people will seek the knowledge in order to support the decision) 

7. The decisions should be delayed as long as possible to allow the maximum learning within time and budget (this is a principle specific to lean product development, and represents the principle that the early stages of product development should not be about fixing the design but about gathering knowledge to ensure the right design is fixed) 

8. Mechanisms must exist within the product development process to pull the reuse of existing knowledge and the creation of additional knowledge before the decision deadline (ie mechanisms to ensure knowledge is sought and used) 

9. That knowledge should enable and be systematically used to eliminate the weakest alternatives from the set of all feasible solutions allowing designs to converge to the optimum (Toyota run several prototype designs in parallel, eliminating the ones that dont work and combining the characteristics of those that do. This is iterative and parallel development). 

10. The organization must manage the process of creating, capturing and using the product development knowledge with the same diligence given to other corporate assets” (Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes. Knowledge is the core asset for product development. As the quote from Toyota goes – “we dont make cars, we make knowledge, and from that knowledge great cars emerge”.  Knowledge is the asset that enables you to make great products. MANAGE THAT ASSET IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE!!).

With the possible exception of numbers 5 and 9, which refer specifically to a design/manufacture context, these principles should be applicable in many other Knowledge Management initiatives (see for example the US Army KM principles).

However see the words of warning below from the authors.

“What is difficult is that some of the principles are opposite to today’s practices and even seem counter-intuitive. Further, some roles in organizations may need to be created or modified for better knowledge management. And, as with any initiative, there is the need to lead the organizational change. As these principles and capabilities begin to fall in place, engineering productivity and schedule attainment increases rapidly”.

If you are a KMer in a product organisation, apply these principles, especially number 10.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Knowledge Management principles from the US Navy

Another set of interesting KM principles to go in our limited collection.

These KM principles were presented by Michael Hill at KM Australia, and Michael (CKM and mentor for Tactical Training group, Pacific) was keen to point out that he was sharing his personal views, not those of the US Navy.

Whether they are Michael’s person principles or are applied also within the Navy, these are a useful addition to our Principles collection, which at the moment includes:

Michael describes his principles (many of them from Nissen’s book “Harnessing Knowledge Dynamics“) as follows:

  • Knowledge is what enables action
  • Knowledge is not the same as data, or information
  • KM is about People, process, organisation and tools (the same as the four enablers we recognise at Knoco, except we refer to Governance rather than Organisation)
  • Tacit knowledge provides sustainable competitive advantage (explicit knowledge can be copied or stolen)
  • The dynamics of tacit knowledge are different from the dynamics of explicit knowledge, and rely on people talking to each other
  • Knowledge-enabled action determines performance, which provices competitive advantage (or mission success). Learning from action, performance and competitive advantage can create feedback loops
  • Taking action on feedback creates tighter human networks, which are more powerful than the written reports.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Example KM principles – US Army TRADOC

Here is a neat and concise set of KM Principles from the US Army.

These KM principles for the US Army Traning and Doctrine command are taken from the website for the TRADOC Chief Knowledge Office.  There are many KM principles here that could apply to any organisation.

People

Processes



Technology

Content

  1. Train and educate KM leaders, managers, and champions.
  2. Reward knowledge sharing and make knowledge management career rewarding.
  3. Establish a doctrine of collaboration.
  4. Use every interaction, whether face-to-face or virtual, as an opportunity to acquire and share knowledge.
  5. Prevent knowledge loss.
  6. Protect and secure information and knowledge assets.
  7. Use legal and standard business rules and processes across the enterprise.
  8. Embed knowledge assets (e.g. links, podcasts, videos, documents, simulations, wikis) in standard business processes and provide access to those who need to know.
  9. Use standardized collaborative tools sets.
  10. Use Open Architectures to permit access and searching across boundaries.
  11. Use a robust search capability to access contextual knowledge and store content for discovery.
  12. Use portals that permit single sign-on and authentication across the global enterprise including partners.
  13. Use standardize repositories that tags content allowing enterprise discoverablity and sharing capabilities to capture, preserve and make available information essential for decisions, and actions.
  14. Document Management using common taxonomies.

View Original Source Here.