Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Describing CoPs

Well I have finally surfaced after near two and a half weeks of handover and introductions in my new role. I think my brain will have stretch marks once I finally digest it all.

I was delighted to spend some time this evening catching up on some of my favourite blogs when I came across a post on the Anecdote blog about communities of practice (CoP or COP).

The article covers some ways in which people have described the purpose or key concepts of CoPs.

This reminds me of a catch phrase I have used for a few CoP frameworks.

Share, Learn, Grow

Share describes both the sharing of questions and issues as well as successes and answers.

Learn describes the open mindedness of people to personally learn, support the learning of others and the learning of the group/organisation.

Grow describes the outcome that can be achieved if you share and learn. It is not necessarily a tangible growth (quantitative) but can be a growth in knowledge or in maturity.

It may not be everything to everyone. I like it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

First Steps

Well today I start a new job. I am now the Knowledge Manager for PB in Australia Pacific.

I will be spending the next couple of weeks getting up to speed with what they have been doing in this space and developing some strategies on moving forward.

Wish me luck...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Collaboration & Research Tools

I was asked by a few people recently as to how I find stuff and what tools do I use (I'm a bit of a researchaphile).

So I through together a quick lunch & learn session today, got some great feedback, so I thought I would share it that little bit further.

Here is a list and some brief descriptions of the tools.

Collaboration Tools

Research Tools


If you know of any others you have found useful, let me know.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doing the Do

To finish off this trifecta I'll share my thoughts on the third piece of feedback I provided to Project Managers of our Enterprise PMO after analysing their Post Implementation Reviews.

Along with Blind Optimism and not identifying True Learnings, I provided feedback related to a Focus on Doing.

This is based around the Deming Cycle of continuous improvement where you cycle through the stages of Plan, Do, Study, Act (AKA: PDSA, PDCA).

What we noticed was PMs were given a small amount of lead time for Projects ("You have funding, now start delivering.") and quickly moved through Planning to actually Doing.

Unfortunately instead of taking time to Study the outcomes and performance of the Project and then take steps to Act on identified improvements, The PM was usually quickly given another assignment ("bench time costs money" chargeback mentality) and asked to deliver in line with some phantom deadline arrived at to fit in some schedule somewhere.

So a majority of time was spent in doing with very little planning and virtually no study and action.

'True' Learnings

Following on from last post I will continue on with the second point I made in presenting feedback to a number of Project Managers in an Enterprise PMO upon studying a number of their post implementation reviews.

Last post we talked about Blind Optimism and how despite PMs having the worst project in the world, they tend to be blindly optimistic about the outcome of the next.

This time I want to talk about the identification of 'true' learnings.

what I had discovered from studying a number of Post Implementation Review reports is that where challenges were faced during the delivery of a project, the workaround that got them over the line was highlighted.

Now this knowledge has value and can provide someone who finds themselves in a similar situation, a description of the experience and decision to hopefully improve their chances of success.

What was glaringly omitted is what I termed the True Learning. I described the true learning being the actual root cause of the challenge faced. By describing this you can give the gift of foresight to a PM by allowing them to be aware of the root cause and pre-cursors to the challenge in order to mitigate the risk of it occurring.

We have introduced After Action Review (AAR) questions and the 5 Whys technique to help people identify these root causes. But it is not just enough to identify them. We need to ensure they are shared and available for people who are no longer Blindly Optimistic.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Blind Optimism

After running a final After Action Review (AAR) for a project today the Project Manager (PM)approached me and asked me what are some of the key learnings that I see in common with other projects I have facilitated reviews for.

Over the past two years at Suncorp I have facilitated workshops (what used to be Post Implementation Review (PIR) and the smaller more frequent AARs we are now moving towards) on over 60 projects.

I told the PM of a presentation I made to a forum for our Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) a couple of months ago after being asked by my Manager to share our most common lessons learned to the group of PMs and other project staff.

This responses to the presentation I made were diverse. From some I got denial "You don't know what you are about." from others a "I'm not sure about that." as well as "I hadn't really thougth about that." to people congratulating me on speaking out about systemic issues in our processes, capability and culture.

There were three key trends I identified are listed below. You will notice these trends do not relate to process but instead are more cultural and behavioural traits. In this post I will look at one specifically and then discuss the others in future.

  • > Blind Optimism
  • > Not identifying 'true' learnings
  • > Focus on 'doing'

Blind Optimism

In most cases I discovered that despite the fact that the last project the PM ran went pear shaped, having various challenges that caused time, cost, resource and scope blowouts, they tended to take an optimistic approach to the new project citing that they "didn't think it would happen again" or "assumed the problems had been fixed" or took a 'she'll be right mate' attitude to the next project.

Now don't get me wrong. We are talking about medium to high complexity projects of a medium to large scale and cost, so the likelihood of coming across the exact same situation where you could apply the exact same solution and end up with the exact same outcome will not happen that often. I am not saying we needed to be pessimistic and intentionally plan for a worst case scenario. All I am asking for is a realistic outlook.

Consider there is a risk that the same troubles may occur and mitigate/treat the risk. Find out what other people had experienced and learn from that experience. Don't go in blind. Undertake some Knowledge Exploration.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A capital idea

This week saw me start a new role, be offered another role and be invited to participate in some psychometric testing for yet another role. When it rains it pours.

But aside from that, I took some time out of a busy schedule to have hot chocolate (don't drink coffee) and some stimulating conversation with other Brisbane based KM practitioners at the KM over Coffee event that the QKM Forum has once a month.

After introductions and some initial discussion I raised a perception I have of how companies measure their performance. I drew the following diagram on a piece of paper.

It seems at the moment that everything is brought back to dollar amounts. Activities or programs undertaken in organisations that have a human capital or intellectual capital focus seem to have their performance measured financially. How much did we make? How much did we save? Did it effect the share price? What is the financial value/benefit?

I can understand why this is the case. It happens that financial performance is one of the very few performance indicators that transcends industries, geographies and scale. Profit, share price, assets, liabilities. All are measured in dollar amounts. It creeps into the knowledge management space because you find you have to talk in these terms to make sense or get the attention you require.

Example - Lessons Learned
How many times have we seen reusing knowledge/experience from previous activities expressed in terms of "We saved $X million", "We reduced our costs by half", "Our income increased by $Y".
Now I know a number of people have been trying to get organisations to adopt metrics for human capital, intellectual capital and other areas, that are not converted to financial terms. But there is a long road ahead to get them to any sort of level that has them even appearing in Annual Reports.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Something different

From Monday I start a 3 month stint with Suncorp's Leadership & Organisational Development team. in the People & Performance (HR) Division.

The role - People & Performance Adviser.

The responsibilities - Working on the Culture & Change Stream of the Integration Program facilitating the merger of Suncorp and Promina.

The biggest challenge is going to be managing the change in over a dozen organisations across the Suncorp Group in Australia and New Zealand.

The diversity is both exciting and ominous. Lets see how we go.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Misunderstanding Information Management

As part of a recent organisational restructure I noticed the naming of a unit called Group Information Management.

Was this the answer to the questions I had been asking a number of people as to how we are managing information, records, files, content? Would they be able to provide me with the skills and advice I needed in developing taxonomies, information pathways, navigation structures and metadata?

The short answer is no.

Upon further inspection I discovered that this is the team that was previously named Management Information Services and they provide a number of services including data warehousing, data analysis, report generation and trend analysis.

How is it so easy to confuse Information Management with Business Intelligence?

How hard does this now make it to find the people who will provide standards for information governance, when there is already a unit called Group Information Management, who don't necessarily manage information?

Has anyone else come across similar issues?



Sunday, September 09, 2007

Making Decisions

On Friday a colleague and I delivered a workshop for our staff on making decisions.

We took people through a few approaches, frameworks and tools around decision making including Six Thinking Hats, our internal Design approach, SCAMPER, Force Field Analysis and a few others.

We had a good conversation around approaches to decision making and mainly talked about:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Participative
  • Consensus.

The main discussion was around saying that despite the fact we may have a default approach, at any time people will use all of these approaches to achieve the desired outcomes.

Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge is about to have a co-written article published that he has written about on his blog, about different management styles that are more successful than others in simple, complicated, complex and chaotic environments (Cynefin Framework).

I suppose it's up to people to be aware of alternative approaches and also to be self aware of the situations they find themselves in. All too often people just do things that have worked for them in the past with very mixed results.

The number of times I have heard people at conferences saying that if people just follow a simple process or do things the same way it will guarantee success starts to grate on my nerves. This may be right in some cases but definitely not when you are playing in complex space.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blogging Conference Blog


Just caught wind of the this event happening in Brisbane. Could be quite interesting.

There is also an event space on Facebook.



Friday, August 31, 2007

Adopting KM in a PMO

I recently presented a case study of adopting knowledge management practices in a Project Management Office (PMO) at the 2007 KM Australia Conference in Sydney.

You can have a look at a copy of the slides on Slideshare.

Some comments on the NSW KM Forum.



In the Know - Presentation at PMOz

WEll in teh wee hours of theis morning I set off for the Gold Coast to present a session on personal knowledge management for Project Managers at the Annual PMOz Conference.

My session happened to be the first cab off the rank at 8:30am after the annual dinenr the night before. All this said had a pretty good turnout considering there were 3 other streams running at the same time and had the room full.

The presentation was entitled In the Know: Knowledge Management principles and practices for Project Managers and had a focus on talking about the sorts of behaviours and capabilities we have been developing in the Corporate Projects Division at Suncorp.

The presentation is actually on my other computer and I will try to upload it to slideshare later tonight.

I spent most of the session describing the human systems (culture, learning, reflection, self-awareness, emotional intelligence) that are needed and some of the techniques we have been using including:

  • Peer Assist
  • After Action Review
  • Communities of Practice
  • Social Networks
  • Research

Most of the questions at the end of the presentation related to what technologies we are using.

Got some good positive feedback from the Chair of the session and several attendees.

An interesting morning.



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

KM Entities in Australia

Perhaps you can help me?

I am trying to collate a list of Knowledge Management related groups and organisations in Australia. A 'map' if you will.

Through my research I have come across a few groups but have seen a number pop up recently that I was not aware of.

If you would like to help me out I have set up a space on the actKM Discussion Board to do some initial collaboration.

The results will be communicated to the actKM List and hopefully made available in a sustainable form (wiki).

I am hoping to provide a map for KM people to practice what they preach and identify peers they can engage with.



Ten KM Tips

A number of people have commented directly or indirectly (Sathya Pandalai, Stephen Collins, Stan Garfield, Matt Moore, David Carlisle) on a post I made to the actKM Forum discussion list last week.

This has motivated me to dig up my old blog, dust it off and make a commitment to update it at least weekly (don't hold me to that).

So here is the original post of the Top Ten KM Tips I provided to a friend. These are things I have picked up over time. I am not claiming them all as my own, they are what I talk to fellow KM people about when we get together. I am sure I will come up with more. Feel free to add comments.

Today a friend of mine (non-KM person) ask me the following question through facebook:

"If you had to give your top ten tips on the best strategies for knowledge management in an organisation, what would they be??"

After thinking a bit, here was my rushed response.

Depends on what the organisations strategic intent is. Depends on what your organisations strengths are and the corporate culture.

Apart from that, here are a few tips. (Most of these relate to change management and could be considered for other initiatives/programs).

  1. Manage the Change. Undertake any of these activities from a change management perspective, even IT related ones. Don't just manage the change around the initiatives
  2. People before Technology. Spend money on travel and socialising before technology.
  3. Behavioural Change. People have to be open to supporting new/different practices. They need to adapt to change. They need to see the value to them/others.
  4. Organisational Culture. Depending on what the corporate and people culture is like will depend on whether KM efforts will survive. Examples could be that reward structures are personally focused and support a competitive environment so people may not be inclined to share.
  5. Strategic Alignment. Activities need to support the direction and priorities of the organisation. This also assists in getting things approved/endorsed.
  6. KM in the wild. Find out where knowledge creation and sharing is already happening in the organisation and study it. Learn why it has been successful (don't just copy it) to help design other activities.
  7. Technology is an enabler. Design the process/system and then look for technologies that enable this. E.g. Don't install a wiki and then look for what you can use it for. Work out what you want to do and then see what tools are suitable to support it.
  8. Adopt KM Principles. Don't introduce separate KM processes. Modify your business processes to adopt KM principles.
  9. Don't stop at the first solution. Consider different options, methods, frameworks and see what works. Experiment.
  10. Motivation. It's not necessarily about reward and recognition. You need to find out how to motivate people to play the game.

What would your tips be?