Professor Eric Tsui from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University focused his presentation at the KM 2012 Singapore on the role of the cloud as a convenient and economical way to consolidate services and save costs.
According to Prof. Tsui, cloud computing has been gaining rapid support and popularity over the past few years. However, the understanding of the cloud is rather confusing and its use often limited to storage and office productivity purposes.
This may change rapidly in the coming years, with more people and machines connecting in the cloud and exploiting this increasing amount of connections. For Prof. Tsui, these connections include people connecting to software in the cloud; connections between machines and last but not least people to people connections.
Leveraging all these connection as well as good text and data mining, the cloud could do a lot more for business. For example, we could source and find expertise in the cloud; we could leverage on the cloud to do innovation; finally, we could use the cloud for enhanced collaboration and learning.
After last year’s presentation about ROCK – Retention of Critical Knowledge – there was a great expectation to hear again from Aw Siew Hoong (Ash) and the work Shell is doing on knowledge management. At the 2012 KM Singapore conference, Ash talked about lessons learnt and how what are the key elements to make them work for business.
According to Ash, there are three key elements that need to be taken into account to make lesson learnt effective. First, lessons learnt are not about technology or databases but they are about people, “engaging people positively and early enough” in the process. Second, lessons learnt, as most other KM initiatives, need to be backed up and actively supported by Senior Management, otherwise there won’t be the uptake that is necessary for them to work. Third, capacity is important in terms of people that can take care of the back off and make things work in the background.
Ash goes on elaborating more on the process followed by Shell to do lessons learnt, where they have been using an existing methodology from the Risk Assessment Group that allows to quantify every lessons learnt applied in terms of cost avoidance or cost savings. Like it or not, top management in every organization things in terms of cost savings – having a system that allows to quantify lessons learned in terms of costs has proved to be very successful for Shell.
Storytelling is potentially a simple yet effective knowledge management practice within organisations. However, the knowledge manager is often confronted by how difficult storytelling can be, especially as its artistic aspects tend to be emphasised by consultants in the professional storytelling business.
During the second day of the 2012 KM Singapore conference Karuna Ramanathan, Head of Centre for Leadership Development for the Singapore Armed Forces, offered great insights on what storytelling can strengthen KM practices in organisations, and what are the techniques that can be used for effective storytelling.
According to Karuna, stories and storytelling don’t have to be confused with the “artistic, oral tradition”. Organizational storytelling is about practices, processes and systems. Amongst the different uses of storytelling for organizations, Karuna has identified nine potential uses, such as heritage, memory, measurement, strategic communication and showcasing.
Finally, Karuna concludes by sharing one of the techniques he uses for storytelling. This is based on the 5 fingers of your hand: you start the story by telling your fear in the past; the you move to your concerns; the middle finger is about your frustrations; the pointing finger is about the lessons learned; lastly, the thumb up is for ending your story always on a positive note.
Eliciting the knowledge of your experts so that it can be shared with their colleagues or transferred to the next generation, is a way to reduce the risks of knowledge loss and facilitate knowledge transfer.
But what different methods can be used to elicit/capture the knowledge of an expert?
MASK allows to capture the knowledge through models instead of just written text. These models are then combined in ‘knowledge books’, a web based IT system which allows the visualization of the knowledge of the experts, as well as for other users to contribute and comments. Knowledge books make also a great use of multimedia, to present expert knowledge in more visual and interactive way. By the same token, the allow to find the experts and connect people.
In Vincent’s experience, this methods has proved to be very effective in different types of organizations, to make sure that the knowledge of experts do get transferred to new colleagues and doesn’t get lost over time.
Nancy White was the keynote speaker at the second day of the 2012 KM Singapore conference. In her presentation, Nancy Nancy looked at how technology has changed what it means to be together. Now we can connect, create and share knowledge, work, learn and interact with the person sitting next to us and the person half way around the world. We can belong to any number of “knowledge communities or networks.” We now not only have an abundance of information, but an abundance of actual and potential connections.
So how can we use communities and networks in a more useful way? Nancy suggested three possible ways to go about this.
Firstly, we should be more deliberate about sense-making and limit the communities and processes we engage with. Secondly, she underlines the notion of creative destruction, meaning that we need to understand we we need to “blow up so that we have more time for the things that matter.” TRIZ is one useful method to learn how to do that. Finally, she recommended to focus on conversations, as they have depth and significance. Our networks allow us to connect widely and in many ways but the downside of this is that we lose depth. ”Conversation is the key to open the door to depth.”
One of the most interesting presentation in the first day at KM Singapore was given by Patrick Lambe from Straits Knowledge.
Patrick started from the failure of the transit system in Singapore in December 2011 to illustrate very important failure points in other kinds of organizations. One of the lesson from this case was that the traditional model of controlling organizations and information flows does not work well when a crisis is large scale, complex and fast moving.
What does this mean for knowledge management?
According to Patrick, the first important lesson to reflect on is the increasing important role of social media: especially in crisis situation, information is picked up and shared much faster through uncontrolled, social media channels rather then the formal crisis management mechanisms that are now in place. Secondly, the role of knowledge management in these situations seems to focus much more on knowledge sharing capacities rather then traditional information management functions.
As a consequence of these lessons, senior management in organizations needs to understand how important the capacities of knowledge sharing processes are, as well as the competence to be able to deal with the external social environment.
Praba Nair, Principal Consultant in KM and Change Management, KDi Asia offered participants at the 2012 KM Singapore conference an overview of current KM practices in Asia – and the lessons learnt from his extensive experience in different countries of the region.
According to Praba, looking at countries such as India, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines, what emerges is that knowledge management is quite alive and there’s a growing interest in it by large as well as small and medium organizations. By the same token, many government bodies are encouraging organizations to adopt KM practices, through direct funding or other types of support. Some organizations are reporting tangible results through the adoption of KM practices.
However, substantial differences exist in terms of how KM practices are supported across different countries. In some countries like Thailand an official decree mandates for all government agencies to implement KM; on the other side of the spectrum, companies in India and Indonesia make larger use of incentive systems such as recognition and awards for employees who champion knowledge management. Both approach produce different results depending on the specific context
Jason Chan from the RAHS (Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning) gave an interesting talk at the 2012 KM, focusing on the role that social media can play in crisis preparedness, relief and recovery.
According to Jason, there’s a lot of good work and effort that citizens can bring to the table to help governmental agencies to put together some of the key insights of a crisis that is unfolding. The research that Jasons has conducted brought clarity on how these insights can be put to use in a strategic framework within governments to better understand how a crisis is shaping up, and how to respond to it.
Jason’s presentation has to be seen as a think piece and the journey ahead is still very long. Nevertheless, there is a lot of excitement in thinking about what social media and citizen participation can offer to help solving crisis situations.
Nicky Hayward-Wright is KM Advisor at GS1 Australia. Here in Singapore at 2012 KMSG Nicky presented today the case of how GS1 has successfully introduced Yammer in the organization to support a KM agenda and in a community network, to engage members outside of face-to-face meetings.
After her talk, we recorded a short interview with Nicky, to understand what are the key success factors that ensured user adoption of Yammer.
According to Nicky, the key point is to plan for success and lay down solid foundations for enterprise social networks to work. This includes preparing appropriate policy and users’ guidelines about both online behaviours and information management. It is also important to look across and consider the different information ecosystems that are in place, and how they are used by the different employees, and explain them what-goes-where, which channels are the most appropriate for different types of information. Training and coaching of course cannot be ignored and need to be taken in great consideration.
Finally, Nicky concludes with a reflection on resources. GS1 has is using the Yammer enterprise version, and this clearly comes with a substantial cost. However, it doesn’t really matter what tool you have, what it is important is the plan you set in place
Janus Boye lives in Denmark and works mostly on “fixing large, global, complex and often failed intranet projects.”At the 2012 KM Singapore conference Janus presented a new perspective on intranets, where “sharing is caring.”
After his talk, we caught up with him to record the short video interview below. In the video, Janus explains why ‘sharing is caring’. According to Janus, this notion fits well with the idea of openness and transparency that organizations are striving for – and it is possible to use the intranet much more than in the past to ‘live’ those values by sharing more and effectively using the intranet to support top tasks that staff has to perform. As a consequence, staff will care much more about the intranet. In this sense, for Janus staff will go to the intranet and make use of it if it will help them in get their work done – so to say, if it will support the different smaller or bigger work processed they need to get done on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, top tasks are not the only things to address to have an intranet which is used by staff. Indeed, there should also be space for users engagement, for building connections, foster loyalties and sharing good stories. Communications and HR staff should keep this in mind.