Leadership Maxims, Avoiding a CoP Mid-Life Crisis, Library Clips, Knowledge and Learning Toolkit, Ten Commandments for Business Failure

29-Jul-08 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Q: What advice do you have for leaders?

A: Here are three maxims on authentic leadership.

Maxim #1: PICKLES

  • Passion — have passion for your work, convey it to your people, and demonstrate it in your actions
  • Integrity — establish, maintain, and promote core values; be fair, honest, and responsible
  • Communication — regularly let stakeholders know what is going on by communicating convincingly, completely, and compellingly to inspire, align, and motivate
  • Knowledge — know as much as you can about your work, share your knowledge with others, and encourage them to do the same
  • Love — love what you do, love your organization, and show love to the people with whom you interact
  • Empowerment — listen to, trust, and support your people
  • Service — serve your people, your organization, and your community

Maxim #2: Three Rights

  1. Do what is right — logically, financially, morally, ethically, and environmentally — with decency, integrity, and fairness
  2. Do it the right way — honestly, accurately, correctly, and completely — with good effort, resulting in high quality, and meeting all commitments
  3. Do it right away — don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or avoid what is unpleasant — the sooner you start, the better

Maxim #3: 3P Cube

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And from this previous blog post, here is a suggested credo to follow.

Endorse, communicate, and exemplify the following credo:

  • I will practice and reward caring, sharing, and daring — caring for others, sharing what I know, and daring to try new ideas.
  • I will insist on trust, truth, and transparency in all dealings — earning and respecting the trust of others, communicating truthfully and openly, and demonstrating and expecting accountability.
  • I will look for opportunities to help, thank, and praise others.
  • I will eliminate criticism, blame, and ridicule in all interactions with others.

KM Thought Leader of the Week

Richard McDermott is currently recovering from open-heart surgery, and I wish him all the best during his recovery. He is starting Phase 2 of a CoP study with the primary, but not exclusive, focus of health and financial services. This week I feature one of Richard’s articles — How to Avoid a Mid-Life Crisis in Your CoPs: Uncovering six keys to sustaining communities.

Summary from the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation Networks Digest

Communities of practice (CoPs) hold great promise for organizational improvement and thrive when first established; however, they can be difficult to maintain beyond mid-life due to loss of momentum, lack of attention, and a tendency to localize.

Healthy communities mature into “influence structures” or active teams of peers who demand or are asked to take on influential roles in their organizations. These teams set short- and long-term goals, establish formal roles and structures, and assume vital organizational tasks.

While some CoPs falter, others mature into dynamic entities that seem to share six characteristics:

  1. Clear purpose — The community sets and evaluates clear short-term and long-term goals. It might establish annual goal-setting and assessment processes or simply make sure the purpose of its work is clearly articulated.
  2. Active leadership — Community leadership is passionate and actively promotes the work of the community; one group leader spends 25% or more of her time on community leadership.
  3. Critical mass of engaged members — CoPs thrive on the work of a committed, stable, active core group of members who view membership as a key part of their job and/or their career; core members in some communities are expected to spend 10 percent of their time on community activities.
  4. Sense of accomplishment — CoP members have a strong sense of accomplishment knowing they are addressing vital problems that advance community goals.
  5. High management expectations — Management’s high expectations challenge the community to become involved in substantive business operations.
  6. Real time — Involvement in the community is a real, not a subsidiary, aspect of members’ work.

Mature communities are distinguished in three related ways:

  1. They are communities of peers, not hierarchical, authority-based structures.
  2. They focus on developing a body of knowledge that serves larger organizational goals.
  3. Individual members’ influence is legitimated only through the expertise, creativity, and knowledge he or she contributes to the community.

KM Blog of the Week

Library clips by John Tropea

KM Link of the Week

From Ray MacNeil in actKM

Toolkit for Knowledge and Learning

A previous blog post featured the PDF version of Tools for Knowledge and Learning: A Guide for Development and Humanitarian Organizations. Here is a link to the HTML version.

Strategy development — This competency relates to how an organization might start to look at its knowledge and learning in a strategic manner. The tools presented provide different frameworks which can be used to plan, monitor and evaluate knowledge and learning initiatives.

  1. The Five Competencies Framework — The first tool in this guide explains how to apply the Five Competencies approach, and therefore serves as a starting point for readers, to help establish clear rationale and entry points for using this toolkit.
  2. Knowledge Audit — Knowledge Audit provides a structure for gathering data, synthesizing findings and making recommendations about the best way forward for knowledge and learning initiatives against a background of the broader structural, operational and policy factors affecting an organization.
  3. Social Network Analysis — Social Network Analysis has been called the most systematic way of analyzing relationships and knowledge flows between individuals and groups. Properly undertaken, SNA can yield invaluable data about how to tailor and focus knowledge and learning activities to organizational needs.
  4. Most Significant Change — Most Significant Change is a narrative-based mechanism for planning programs of change. As so much of knowledge and learning is about change, and this change takes place in a variety of different domains, the MSC tool could prove invaluable.
  5. Outcome Mapping — Outcome Mapping is a participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation methodology which focuses on the contribution of a program to changes in the actions and behaviors of the ‘boundary partners’. Applied to knowledge and learning strategies, OM has a number of potential benefits.
  6. Scenario Testing and Visioning — Both of these tools focus on the future of an organization, and enable imaginative and creative ideas to play a central role in developing and rolling out knowledge strategies.

Management techniques — If leadership is the process of working out the right things to do, then management is the process of doing things right. Here are a range of simple approaches, from assessing managerial responses to mistakes, to assessing the forces for and against stated organizational changes, which might prove useful to managers working towards the learning organization.

  1. The SECI Approach — This approach, made popular by Japanese management specialists Nonaka and Takeuchi, is based on systematically managing the conversion of tacit to explicit knowledge, through four easy-to apply-processes based on simple principles of group dynamics.
  2. Blame vs Gain Behaviors — Managing a learning organization requires a managerial approach to mistakes which is healthy and balanced, and which encourages staff to take certain risks and to be honest about the consequences of their actions. This simple process enables groups to reflect on their own approach to mistakes and errors, and how they might go about addressing these, through use of a series of generic ‘Blame’ or ‘Gain’ behaviors.
  3. Force Field Analysis — Force Field Analysis enables teams to work out what their goals are, and systematically to identify the forces for and against achieving them. This is the classic change management tool developed by Kurt Lewin, pioneer of action research, and can be an empowering and energizing tool for teams.
  4. Activity-based Knowledge Mapping — All activities require different inputs and generate outputs; increasingly, these inputs and outputs are information based. This tool, which has been drawn from the field of business process re-engineering, enables the mapping of inputs and outputs for key activities, with a view to improving their efficiency. This provides managers with an in-depth understanding of the different processes they are overseeing.
  5. Structured Innovation — This tool works by listing the characteristics of a specific problem, and brainstorming the possible variations. Done correctly, this tool enables groups systematically to generate new ideas and assess their potential. This is useful for managers who feel the need for more creativity and
  6. Reframing Matrix — Everyone sees problems in different ways, and one of the key problems with knowledge strategies is that knowledge is in the eye of the beholder. This tool enables different perspectives to be generated, and used in management planning processes.

Collaboration mechanisms — When working together with others, the whole of our efforts often proves to be less than the sum of the parts. Why? Frequently, there is not enough attention paid to facilitating effective collaborative practices. The tools in this section can be applied to reflect on the workings of teams, and to help strengthen relationships and develop shared thinking.

  1. Teams: Virtual and Face-to-Face — This tool enables teams to work through five stages towards a ‘shared responsibility’. Either face-to-face or virtually, teams can cross the five stages assessing where they lie in terms of different areas, including atmosphere and relations; goal acceptance; information sharing; decision making; reaction to leadership; and attention to the way the group is working.
  2. Communities of Practice — Communities of Practice enable similarly minded interacting people to work towards generating and collaborating on knowledge and learning initiatives in a variety of ways, through a number of overlapping functions.
  3. Action Learning Sets — Action Learning Sets are a structured method enabling small groups to address complicated issues by meeting regularly and working collectively. This tool is geared especially learning and personal development at professional and managerial levels.
  4. Six Thinking Hats — This tool offers a way out of the habitual thinking style by enabling participants to use different approaches and perspectives to analyzing decision making. This is particularly useful in that it allows a broad and objective view of decisions, and one which covers more options and possibilities.
  5. Mind Maps — Mind Maps are a graphic technique to enable participants to implement clearer thinking in their approach to many different tasks. It is useful both for individuals and for groups, and provides as non-linear method of organizing information.
  6. Social Technologies — Social Technologies cover a broad swathe of tools, all using technology to build collaboration and sharing of tacit knowledge. There are many different forums for this, chiefly internet-based tools but also including telecommunications, radio and face-to-face socializing.

Knowledge sharing and learning — So much of effective knowledge and learning is about two-way communication which takes place in a simple and effective manner, and applying simple techniques to try and build on past experiences to improve activities in the future. These essential tools are covered in this section.

  1. Stories — Storytelling is an approach which can both allow for expression of tacit knowledge and increase potential for meaningful knowledge sharing, particularly by permitting learning to take place through the presence of a narrative structure.
  2. Peer Assists — This tool encourages participatory learning, by asking those with experience in certain activities to assist those wishing to benefit from their knowledge, through a systematic process, towards strengthened mutual learning.
  3. Challenge Sessions — Challenge Sessions are a structure framework geared towards solving problems by allowing participants to supplement their habitual thinking with new methods, centered around working towards dealing with problems that are made up of conflicting requirements or challenges.
  4. After Action Reviews and Retrospects — The After Action Review facilitates continuous assessment of organizational performance, looking at successes and failures, ensuring that learning takes place to support continuous improvement in organizational learning and change.
  5. Intranet Strategies — Intranets can have a great impact on knowledge management, particularly in the fields of information collection, collaboration and communication, and task completion. Following the necessary approach, this tool can substantially increase the likelihood of an effective, useful system within an organization.
  6. Email Guidelines — Email is one of the most commonly used communication tools in the modern business environment; there is an increased need nowadays to manage this tool to reduce the risk of overload. This tool helps to control this tool and therefore increase its effectiveness as a communication tool.

Knowledge capture and storage — Knowledge and information can leak in all sorts of ways and at all sorts of times. To make sure that essential knowledge is retained by an organization requires, a range of techniques can be applied, from traditional information management tools such as shared drives, as well as more modern techniques such as blogs and knowledge based exit interviews.

  1. Taxonomies for Documents and Folders — This tool has been in existence for many decades in the form of classification schemes and indexing systems, and still can have a great deal to offer in terms of structuring information for easier management and retrieval.
  2. Exit Interviews — Exit Interviews represent a specific learning process, not just a way to leave a company, and one which highlights the importance of capturing and storing know-how. This can minimize the loss of useful knowledge through staff turnover and ease the learning curve of new staff, benefiting both the organization and the leaving staff.
  3. How To Guides — This tool enables the capture, documentation and dissemination of know-how of staff within an organization, to help them make better and wider use of existing knowledge. The ultimate goal is to capture an effective sequence or process with enough accuracy so that it can be repeated with the same good results.
  4. Staff Profile Pages — Using this tool, an electronic directory storing information about staff in a given organization, can facilitate connections among people through systematizing organizational knowledge and learning initiatives.
  5. Blogs — A Weblog in its various forms enable groups of people to discuss electronically areas of interest in different ways, and to review different opinions and information surrounding such subjects.
  6. Shared Network Drives — Shared Network Drives work in most organizations to store and categorize information. If used correctly, and under systematized good practices, they can enable better retrieval of knowledge and improved information sharing across an organization.

KM Book of the Week

The Ten Commandments for Business Failure by Donald R. Keough

Don Keough — a former top executive at Coca-Cola— witnessed plenty of failures in his sixty-year career (including New Coke). He was also friends with some of the most successful people in business history, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch, and Peter Drucker.

This elder statesman reveals how great enterprises get into trouble. Even the smartest executives can fall into the trap of believing in their own infallibility. When that happens, more bad decisions are sure to follow.

This light-hearted “how-not-to” book includes anecdotes from Keough’s long career as well as other infamous failures. As he writes, “After a lifetime in business I’ve never been able to develop a step-by-step formula that will guarantee success. What I could do, however, was talk about how to lose. I guarantee that anyone who follows my formula will be a highly successful loser.”

Don Keough’s Ten Commandments for Business Failure

  1. Quit Taking Risks
  2. Be Inflexible
  3. Isolate Yourself
  4. Assume Infallibility
  5. Play the Game Close to the Foul Line
  6. Don’t Take Time to Think
  7. Put All Your Faith in Experts and Outside Consultants
  8. Love Your Bureaucracy
  9. Send Mixed Messages
  10. Be Afraid of the Future

And the Bonus Commandment:

11. Lose Your Passion for Work — for Life



Written by

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

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