Warning: Avoid No Budget, Low Budget, Quick-Win, Low Hanging Fruit KM!


Dr. Dan:  If you only go after the low hanging fruit, the rest of it will either rot in the tree or fall to the ground and make a nasty mess.  To get to the really good fruit, you need to climb up the tree….and go OUT ON A LIMB.


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

I was just today asked to comment on something, regarding the hazards of pursuing a “no budget” Knowledge Management implementation.  My response was to simply say, “don’t go there.”  And here’s why.
First let’s just get it out into the open — one of the ugly truths about how management tends to make decisions in an organization with regard to “quick wins” and “low hanging fruit” — they don’t get funded. You can talk about building support until the cash cows come home, but quick wins/low hanging fruit don’t generally become a program or project of record.  With a budget attached.  What does happen is that the “quick win” and “low hanging fruit” teams get an ethusiastic pat on the back from those supporters for a job well done and are then told that they should press onward doing more of the same.  That everyone is happy with the efforts so far.  Do more of it.  For no budget – because clearly a budget wasn’t necessary to do what has been accomplished thus far.
The tricky thing is that while there’s nothing inherently wrong with going after the quick wins/low hanging fruit, that can only be the first step.  It can’t be the only step.  And that’s the critical part of this discussion.
When given zero budget, or next to it, for “implementing” KM the tendency is to go forth and “do good things” to try to drum up employee and organizational support for KM.  And when those (low level) “good things” happen, of course everyone wants more.  Only natural….to want more good things that you pay nothing for.  Sure, sign me up!
The point then is that before you embark upon any KM journey, it should be planned.  Meaning that you need to know what the organizational Knowledge Gaps are, and have a plan for what KM activities would be used to close those gaps.  Based upon the big picture organizational strategy.  And have a clear picture of what steps are necessary to move forward in that direction.  And then go do that.
I’ve often found this bit of advice to be useful when working with those who would want to implement KM:  If you only go after the low hanging fruit, the rest of it will either rot in the tree or fall to the ground and make a nasty mess.  To get to the really good fruit, you need to climb up the tree….and go OUT ON A LIMB.
In implementing KM we don’t want “small victories” that a quick win or low hanging fruit represents.  What you want, and need, are initial steps to take as part of a “proof of concept” or pilot program approach.  Those first steps are used to take the KM car for its first organizational test drive to see how it handles on the road.  That’s how you would for example, decide which car to purchase.  You wouldn’t though apply a test drive concept if you were that day deciding if you even needed a car and were considering the bus as an alternative.  That’s not the same decision process and would be a waste of your time.
And if at the moment, there is a lack of support by the organization and its managers for implementing KM (as the reason that you believe that you need to go forward with quick wins and such), then you haven’t yet made the sale regarding the benefits of KM from a business case perspective to the organization.  And a basket full of “low hanging fruit” won’t change that.  Not today, and not next week.  Because hobbies don’t get funded.  Successful business cases do.
So what first must be done is to develop a KM champion — someone senior in management with whom you take the time to explain what KM is (and is not) and lay out a business case for how KM would benefit the organization (and if you don’t know how to make a good business case for “doing” KM, then consider this to be your homework assignment as it is critical to learn to speak that business dialect).  Discuss the big picture strategy, and what a preliminary implementation approach might be, including how you could take those first steps towards achieving those goals (those first steps being the quick wins that prove the concept or serve as the kick-off to the pilot program).  And then come to an understanding of what the next steps would be and incorporate those into an action plan, which can then morph into a KM strategy.  Do that.

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management Quotes


Dr. Dan:  Which brings up the whole issue of excessive focus upon milk production absent a careful study of the impact of the horns.


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Knowledge is a sacred cow, and my problem will be how we can milk her while keeping clear of her horns. 

(Albert Szent-Gyorgyi)

Opportunity-Driven Networking to Increase Collaboration



@kjeannette they are all works in progress, though each usually gets a unique name, e.g. how works get done http://t.co/Kpy3ptqkF3


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

I think that this is a rather interesting concept conveyed quite simply — that Social Networks increase Opportunity-Driven collaboration through informal networks.

I believe though that within the innovation driven organization that the “sweet spot” however may actually be where the overlapping occurs between Communities of Practice (CoP) and Social Networks.

My basis for that thought is that we know that new knowledge fuels innovation.  And we’ve learned through many years of studying the impact that increasing the degree and depth of networking has upon knowledge capture, knowledge transfer and those relationships to developing new knowledge (e.g., Nonaka’s SECI model).  I think then that by increasing the network connectivity to the CoPs as well as the  networking within the CoPs and the organization itself, that you will see exponential increased exposure to new knowledge that can be applied to not only solving existing problems but to make those disruptive leaps.  

An example of this application could be to consider pursuit of Best Practice where unless your organization is asleep at the wheel, you should already be aware of an applicable industry-wide best practice.  So the real gain can be found by seeking those Best Practices that come from outside of your industry — that is the “diversity of ideas” meets the need to “solve problems.”


See on www.jarche.com

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management Quotes


Dr. Dan:  Organizational knowledge should be managed like any other asset as organizational knowledge is the ONLY thing that makes any organization truly unique.


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

“A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.”

(Peter Drucker)

Knowledge Management Professional Society (KMPro) – 30% Discount on KMPro CKM Certification Workshop!



- 30% Discount on KMPro CKM Certification Workshop!


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

The Knowledge Management Professional Society (KMPro) has announced a 30% end of year discount on its Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM) certification workshop.

Regular registration is $2,450 and with this limited discount the registration would be $1700. This discount can be applied to either the December 9-13, 2013 workshop or to any scheduled 2014 workshop (the 2014 schedule is available as a PDF at 2014 Schedule). CKM Workshop registration information is available on the Registration Form.

This discount applies to new registrations received and completed through October 31, 2013 (discount will be applied at time of registration payment, no discount code is required!).


See on www.kmpro.org

How corporate leadership can build a workforce of knowledge workers.


Dr. Dan:  Wow, sounds promising but please don’t learn these six steps!

“Learn the six steps to fostering knowledge workers at every level of your organization”


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

This article had an interesting title to it — and I like the concept of building a workforce of knowledge workers.  But this goes downhill quickly beginning with their definition of a “knowledge worker” which they draw from businessdictionary.com as “employees such as data analysts, product developers, planners, programmers and researchers who are engaged primarily in acquisition, analysis and manipulation of information as opposed to in production of goods or services.” 

Notice anything particularly “interesting” about that definition?  I’ll give you three guesses what the problem is, and the first two guesses don’t count.  Yes, the dreaded IT monster rears its head again!

How exactly that comes to be the definition of a “knowledge worker” is anyone’s guess, but it certainly doesn’t fit with the term as first described by Peter Drucker back in 1959.  As many are long since familiar with his exhaustive narratives on the topic, I’d like to instead draw from one that is much more crystal clear and very easy to understand which comes from Tom Davenport — that a knowledge worker is someone whose main capital is knowledge.

Note that there is nothing there which describes any Information Technology, etc. etc.  Knowledge.  Not information.  Not BIG DATA.  Not content management.  Knowledge.

So what I’m finding troubling about this recruiting/staff services firm’s “six step process” is that they don’t really discuss knowledge as a thing that a knowledge worker deals with (add to that, I’m not really seeing much of a “process” as I understand what a process is).  

They do discuss information, and information management, and information technology.  There is a very marginal discussion about connecting the dots between the knowledge worker and the bigger strategic picture, and no discussion of actually creating a Knowledge Management strategy, no discussion of why knowledge workers are important — critical — to an organization’s success.

And that is once again pretty much the problem with a lot of what seemingly goes on within organizations that are involved in “knowledge management.”  The belief seems to be all too often that you simply throw IT and information (and now, BIG DATA) into the mix and you are to believe that somehow the organization is implementing “knowledge management.”  And it’s not.


See on www.kellyservices.us

What’s wrong with Lessons Learned? Part 4.



Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at three of the inherent weaknesses of “Lessons Learned” and the way the label is perceived:  Passiveness, Negativity and Ambiguity. We will move onto a more p…


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Another post from Chris Collison regarding Lessons Learned — discussing the problem that can occur when those who craft or create the lessons to be learned are “bad teachers.”

This comes on the heels of my own recent discussion on Lessons Captured vs. Lessons Learned and is Part 4 of Chris’ discussion on problems with Lessons Learned.


See on chriscollison.wordpress.com

What did Da Vinci know about Knowledge Management?



My post on “What did Einstein know about KM” last week seemed to go down well, so I have continued my search for KM musings from great figures. This week, we’ll hear from the Leonardo Da Vinci.  It…


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

My favorite Da Vinci knowledge related quote:  ”Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”
I think that we could probably argue as to whether Da Vinci had an understanding and appreciation for knowledge, rather than for KM…but that perhaps takes us to a discussion on what those boundaries are and in the end I suppose for this discussion it doesn’t really matter.  But I think that it is important to make the distinction that having knowledge or being aware of it doesn’t necessarily then result in effective management of knowledge.

But still, I have enjoyed both of these posts from Chris!


See on chriscollison.wordpress.com

What did Da Vinci know about Knowledge Management?



My post on “What did Einstein know about KM” last week seemed to go down well, so I have continued my search for KM musings from great figures. This week, we’ll hear from the Leonardo Da Vinci.  It…


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

My favorite Da Vinci knowledge related quote:  ”Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”

I think that we could probably argue as to whether Da Vinci had an understanding and appreciation for knowledge, rather than for KM…but that perhaps takes us to a discussion on what those boundaries are and in the end I suppose for this discussion it doesn’t really matter.  But I think that it is important to make the distinction that having knowledge or being aware of it doesn’t necessarily then result in effective management of knowledge.


But still, I have enjoyed both of these posts from Chris!


See on chriscollison.wordpress.com

Creating Outlets for Cross-Functional Collaboration


Dr. Dan:  Yes, but…let’s ensure that the collaboration is more than singing Kumbay around the campfire while holding hands, shall we?


Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Short blog post that nibbles at creating outlets for cross-functional collaboration.

Favorite quote: “Have you ever sat in a room with 10 of the most intelligent people you know? Or listened to leading experts on a panel at a conference? Think about what happens. It does not matter what their background is—whether they are chemists, social workers, engineers, artists, or psychologists —if you provide an outlet for them to share their experiences and learning with one another, you combine knowledge and allow the individuals to build off of each other’s ideas. The end result is a masterpiece.”

Collaboration is key to Knowledge Management, but what I think is missing in this blog post (and with many KM implementations) is a lack of a strategy for what collaboration needs to take place, and then the implementation strategy for ensuring that the desired collaboration not only takes place but also produces desired results.

To me, we’re back to talking about effective KM strategy.  Where we identify organizational Knowledge Gaps, and see where they lead us as far as Strategic Gaps.  Or we identify Strategic Gaps and then try to determine what Knowledge Gaps exist that impact the Strategic Gaps.  And by looking at all of that it should be a lot easier for the organization to then determine what implementation strategies will need to exist.  And in doing that, it may be determined that cross-functional collaboration may produce desireable results.

The problem though, as I’ve seen it, with just setting sail with the thought that cross-functional collaboration is that their isn’t typically much thought put into what the goals are.  Why you’re spending the time.  Some might suggest that any collaboration is a plus, but that is not much of a strategy.  Time is finite, and there is but just so much available in every workday.  So clearly you cannot spend ALL of your time (or anyone else’s) collaborating.  

Thus this becomes a bit of a time management problem — ensuring that the collaboration that occurs is more likely to produce the desired results.  Which means that when you discuss the need to collaborate, you probably should have a parallel conversation regarding what the intended outcomees would be — specifically, what organizational Knowledge and/or Strategic gaps is this particular collaboration effort intended to address.  What knowledge should be shared, captured, and so on.  And be sure to address the potential “what’s in it for me” factors else someone critical to the process may not see the need to participate.  Otherwise to those invited to participate in yet another collaboration session it may feel more like joining hands and singing Kumbay around the campfire….fun, but not much for producing results.


See on www.astd.org