Originally posted 25-Jan-24

Stan Garfield

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Victoria Ward has worked at the forward edge of organizational change, narrative at work, and knowledge management since 1996. With a background in finance, she has held roles such as head of research, chief operating officer, chief knowledge officer, and has done terms on the FTSE 100 Index Steering Committee, the Board of LIFFE, and the Financial Services Tribunal. Her role in directing and contributing to projects is to apply strategic storytelling, transformation, knowledge management, collaboration, design, and facilitation of participatory processes. Her work aims to empower individuals, groups, and organizations to build momentum, meaning, and coalitions for change.

Since 2019, two themes are her focus:

  1. Reconfiguring the collaborative workplace: What is the next normal of work, the future of knowledge working, evolving human/machine, human/nature relationships within and beyond the workplace?
  2. Liminal leadership: What kinds of shifts in skillsets and mindsets are needed for leaders to inhabit the second horizon of change, in between now and the longer future? What are the conditions needed for effective decision-making, in terms of leadership qualities, and in response to accelerating digital change. What does it take to produce environments in which sound decisions are made, in turbulent conditions?

She also specializes in retrospectives and reviews that:

  1. witness and celebrate individual and collective contributions
  2. create a textured understanding of the shared present reality
  3. pay forward insights in creative ways to amplify their future impact with diverse groups of stakeholders

Jigsaw Foresight, cofounded with Wendy Schultz, traces its origins back to 2006, when Victoria first met Wendy while conducting a retrospective of Defra’s investment in horizon scanning and foresight research. The purpose of Jigsaw is:

  1. to produce exceptionally distinctive work, through unusually social and creative participatory experiences
  2. to invest everything Victoria has learned about work since 1996 into an experimental model of a cooperative and networked place where:
  • belonging matters as much as what gets done
  • long future timelines as well as the immediate are held in active tension
  • places in between people and timelines are inhabited and can come alive

According to Victoria, this is the result of failing to do an MPhil in 20th century art in 1981, and of a grounding in exchange-traded derivatives and operational risk, followed by leaning in to knowledge management in 1996. The rest is fellowship, persistence, synthesis, and chance encounter. The evolving experimental model of Jigsaw aspires to be about more than money in every layer and to make work that endures, while making spaces in which shifts in systems become possible along the way.

She is a keen, and pretty decent, amateur musician playing oboe, oboe d’amore and cor anglais. Victoria is based near Cambridge, England.

Background

Education

  • Selwyn College, Cambridge University — MA, Modern and Mediaeval Languages, 1978–1981
  • Tavistock Institute — Post Graduate Certificate in Working Groups, 2011

Experience

  • 2015-present, Jigsaw Foresight, Co-Founder & Chief of Ideas
  • 2019–2022, Leading Edge Forum, Research Associate
  • 2017–2022, Victoria Ward Limited, Director
  • 1997–2017, Sparknow, Founder and Director
  • 1992–1997, NatWest Markets, Managing Director, Futures and Options, Chief Operating Officer, Capital Markets Chief Knowledge Officer, NatWest Markets
  • 1987–1992, LIFFE, Director, UK Business Development Director, Product Development, Education & Statistics
  • 1986–1987 Michael Page City, Consultant
  • 1982–1986 L Messel & Co, Messel Futures Ltd, Director, Messel Futures
  • 1981–1982 Fiamass & Co, Graduate trainee

Profiles

Content

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Brochure

Podcasts and Videos

  1. Strategy and Story
  2. Organizational Storytelling
  1. Digital Proxemics
  2. Belonging in a Digital World
  3. Lead in a Distributed Workplace
  4. Be a translator and bridger
  5. Renewal in a digital world
  6. Deepened Network Strength

Selected Publications

ResearchGate

Articles by Others

Content Creation: Create, Collect, Curate — interview by International Training Centre of the International Labor Organization

Q: What’s curation about?

A: Curation is a way to collect extensively and document each phase of your projects and meetings to create a body of materials and assets for future use. It helps to weave red threads and helps projects “travel” beyond the limitations of single encounters. It is considered as one of the critical new skills in developing one’s own subject matter domain and structuring and organizing content. As an organizer, it’s natural to focus upon “getting things done”, on delivering particular events or programs. Both for the animation of workshops and as a personal facilitation practice, curation is often neglected. This often impoverishes the potential richness of a collaborative working session.

Q: How do you develop curation practices?

A: As an individual, I always push people I am collaborating with to cultivate that habit of self-reflection; logging and examining how you yourself respond to different situations and contexts. I personally keep a field note diary, reflect upon how I responded during a particular encounter, and then return to this note sometime later to see what it might teach me. Another good practice to develop would be to conscientiously work on curating a collection of raw materials generated throughout projects and then reuse them later to bring the ideas, voices, and content from different encounters into contact with one another.

Victoria Ward on Storytelling and Collaborative Workspaces — interview by Ana Neves

Q: How has knowledge management evolved since your days as Chief Knowledge Officer at NatWest, back in the 90s?

A: I don’t do a great deal of knowledge management nowadays in a direct way, so this isn’t a very well-informed answer.

In some ways, I see no evolution — today’s arguments about information management versus knowledge management, where it lives, what influence it has, echo back down to the very first arguments I was part of in 1996 and 1997. In others, I see a renaissance and a new validity for the principles and practices of knowledge working in the years to come.

The new Chartership is an evolution. Knowledge management is moving around and aligning with digital workplace, learning, collaboration, so is shapeshifting to form alliances.

The emergence of the social organization is another evolution. The emergence of big data sets which invite new kinds of skills in discernment and pattern recognition. Being a human bridge builder between people and data, hosting the spaces in which new knowledge and insight are produced, was always how I conceived of knowledge management, and I think that’s coming into focus as more relevant than ever as a networked stabilizing system within and between organizations. I’m optimistic.

Since leaving NatWest you have set up your own practice and you made storytelling a distinctive tool in your approach to KM. What is it about storytelling that makes it so effective?

I fell into storytelling early, seeing stories and storytelling as the most powerful small units and local spaces for sense-making and the exchange and development of knowledge and insight. At heart, what has always interested me about storytelling is the way it redistributes power and authority, creates local peer to peer trust and relationship, moves knowledge and insight sideways and redistributes power and agency. In one word, witnessing.

Storytelling creates witnessing systems — both the telling and the listening — and reinvents the space between people.

Q: What makes communities of practice so special?

A: Essentially, it’s about nonhierarchical ownership and home, belonging, being part of something bigger than you, more important than ever as organizations fracture and boundaries are porous and confusing.

Q: How does your experience in knowledge management influence the way you look to create collaborative workspaces?

Knowledge management makes you alert to the invisible forcefield that is playing out between individuals and institutions, tacit and explicit.

A storied approach to knowledge management makes room for complex emotions, and a tug and pull of fluid sense-making in which all data counts towards understanding and decision-making. Knowing this means that I design, host and curate collaborative spaces with many layers of production of knowledge and skills in mind.

If I were to pick a single thing though, it would be curation — the curation of a collaborative experience in a way that consolidates it and helps it travel forward in multiple ways. See the answer on storytelling above for more.

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/