Archive for the 'Change management' Category

Inspirational quotes #7: The practice of change

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions”

Antony Jay, Management and Machiavelli

Knowledge management: hierarchy vs wierarchy pt II

Following on from my recent post where I pondered who is best to part of any KM pilot, I came across some pointers from Ken Miller in his 2007 article, Guerrilla Warfare, Change and Innovation Agency courtesy of Christian Young.  Some of Ken’s useful tips for creating change when you’re not in charge are:

  • “Implement the change initiative in one unit. “Don’t make the mistake of piloting the concepts on low-hanging fruit. Think big. If nobody notices what you’ve done, you’ve missed the point of guerrilla warfare. And if everybody notices what you are doing before you’re done, you have also missed the point.”
  • Create a buzz. “If you have selected a high-impact, high-visibility system, you won’t need to broadcast the results — people will notice.””

Knowledge management: the tipping back point / how big does a KM pilot need to be?

Great post from Nick Milton of Knoco on the ‘Tipping Back’ point, or when KM fails. Timely also as I’ve been pondering for some time how big a KM pilot needs to be.

Nick says it was suggested to him that once 28% of the people have made the change, and 40% see this, then the tipping point has been reached (whereas conversely when 28% of the people refuse to do KM and 40% of people see them getting away with it the implementation starts to fail.) So how do you apply that in practice?

My approach has always been to move KM forward in those areas where there is a clear appetite for change. If that percentage of the organisation is less then 28% then you have to work with faith that others will see the good work being done and want to get on board. Or you engender a little friendly competition between teams or managers. That one’s a killer and certainly has worked for me in the past.

What’s tough is that there are so many ways you cut a really large department these dates, with myriad teams and groups working within it. If you work towards your 28% figure with tiny, niche teams who don’t have good visibility and/or transparency across the wider organisation, or whose work is stand alone and doesn’t have any impact on the deliverables of other teams, then although it will help those teams doing the KM, you potentially risk losing some of the impact that you need to catch the attention of that magic 40% of observers.

What do people think?

Great post Nick!

Knowledge management: hierarchy vs wirearchy

Quit with this talk of the demise of the hierarchy! If I read one more thing about the ‘increasing realisation’ that hierarchy is not the structure that works for organisations and that social networks are the only and/or new way forward I’m going to have some sort of KM haemorrage!!

You will always need both (and have both) in order to run an organisation / for an organisation to run itself.  Both will always be in a state of tension and ‘creative abrasion’ with the other. I mean, imagine Lennon without McCartney. Exactly. You can’t have one without the other but it’s a love/hate relationship.

Both forms are equally important and have to be present. That’s the deliciousness of complexity. Of fragmentation and connectedness. I’m reading Davd Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order right now so forgive me.

Of course I’d say this given my blog is titled Organised Chaos. I fundamentally believe that you can be organised and have chaos at the same time and that they are interdependent. Much as hierarchy and wirearchy are. The challenge for the knowledge manager is to ensure that they complement each other rather than operating at extremes. 

I also firmly  believe that if we found an organisation that was so innovative, agile and forward thinking that it adapted it’s formal organisational structure to reflect its wirearchy / informal networks / whatever you want to call it on an annual or even monthly basis, it probably still would never be fast enough to keep up with the pace of change required for it to be truly cutting edge, competitive and eminent in it’s field.  That’s life.  (Don’t worry, I won’t break into song!)

So come on knowledge management community. Give poor old hierarchy some slack.  It keeps us in jobs – in more ways than one ;o)

Knowledge management: Revisiting Process Consultation

One of the most influential books I have read in my knowledge management career is Process Consultation Revisited by Edgar Schein.  I would like to share the 10 principles of process consultation here as a reminder for me and as they may be of use to other knowledge managers or anyone involved in a ‘helping’ relationship:

1.  Always try to be helpful.
2.  Always stay in touch with the current reality.
3.  Access your ignorance.
4.  Everything you do in an intervention.
5.  It is the client who owns the problem and the solution.
6.  Go with the flow.
7.  Timing is crucial.
8.  Be constructively opportunistic with confontive interventions [i.e. balance going with the flow with taking some risks].
9. Everything is data: errors will always occur and are the prime source for learning.
10.  When in doubt, share the problem.

Work life blur: wearing your insides on the outside

No I’m not talking about wearing your undies over your suit!  I’m talking about how much of your personal life you allow into the work place.  What prompted this was how I was broad sided the other day when going to see a very senior partner.  I had gone in with a priority list of project items requiring discussion and sign off and was ready to rattle through them at a rate of knots as he’s so busy.  He opened the conversation by talking about how tough his Christmas had been as he is divorced and proceeded to explain the mechanics of the contact he has with his kids over the festive season and so on. 

It took me a few seconds to get out of work mode and into social mode but I was touched that the conversation took place and I quickly traded stories by talking about my ex’s contact arrangements with munchkin over Christmas.  I’m pretty sure that conversation wouldn’t have happened had I not mentioned in our last meeting that I was a divorced, single parent when the subject of children came up. 

For some, sharing that level of personal information in the work place would feel uncomfortable or perhaps even unprofessional.  However my approach has always been to allow colleagues to know enough about me that they see me as a whole person with a life outside of work and feelings to boot.

Indeed when I joined my new department last year, I found that three of the most challenging relationships were instantly smoothed when I introduced myself by talking about my work history and the fact I was a mum before going on to talk about what I was hoping to achieve with knowledge management for the new department.

In a previous organisation I religiously scanned the company’s yellow pages (staff profiles) before going to see anyone I hadn’t met before so I knew a bit about their interests. 

I think it’s about finding something to empathise about, something you can connect with. To analyse it a bit further, perhaps when you know you are going into a meeting where your views are going to conflict with the other person’s and you’ve not met them before, it’s simply a case of trying to find some personal common ground before getting down to business.


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