Keep Calm – Knowledge Management Series: Create a Learning Organization

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Knowledge and Learning go hand in hand; new knowledge leads to learning; learning leads to new knowledge; rinse, repeat as necessary.

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management (KM) Tips – KM Mission & Vision Statements — Part 1

Quick tips for improving your Knowledge Management implementation.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Knowledge Management Mission Statement — do you have one?  Is it a good one?  Here’s a bit about that and why you should care.

I’d recently been looking at a couple of blogs that were purporting to discuss in one case KM mission statements and in another case KM vision statements.  What struck me about both blogs is that it was clear that the bloggers in question didn’t really seem to understand the differences between mission and vision statements and certainly didn’t understand the purpose of either.  So I wanted to take a post or two of my own to briefly discuss both of those, coming from about 25 years of experience in working with both mission and vision statements crafted during a lot of time spent doing strategic planning consulting.

First — the BIG question — why is this important to a KM’er?  Because tying Knowledge Management to organizational strategy is critical (we’ve long since established that statistically, KM tends to fail when not tied to the big picture).  And to effectively do that you need to know both what KM does (that’s the mission) and where it’s going (that’s the vision).

So for a quick primer on crafting mission statements, let’s begin with what a mission statement is and what you should convey in a mission statement.

A mission statement is a description of the current state of the organization, representing the reality of the organization at the present time.  This isn’t a creative writing exercise, but should be factual and based on a sythesis of what the organization does. 

A KM mission statement can be a drill-down or cascade from the organization’s mission statement or it can be a complete interpretation of the current role of KM as it applies to the organization’s mission statement.

A mission statement should accomplish three specific things:

  1. Clearly describe who you are and what you do;
  2. Identify who you do that for;
  3. Convey a sense of “why you” (the need for you rather than anyone else to meet that need).

It is my experience that you should be able to craft an effective mission statement in 50-75 “chin wags” (a “chin wag” is a syllable; keep the words you use simple, easy to understand, and low on syllable count and you’ll have a mission statement that can actually be understood — so aim for about 50-75 syllables).

Supports: KM strategy, KM implementation, KM measurement, KM leadership, organizational culture.

Next up — an introduction to organizational Vision Statements.

2013 Promise and Reality award winners: KM Reality Award winner NASA … – KMWorld Magazine

2013 Promise and Reality award winners: KM Reality Award winner NASA …
KMWorld Magazine
Support multiple NASA objectives (safety and mission assurance, knowledge management, risk management) and 2.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

See on

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management Quotes – On Information Overload

Dr. Dan:  Information overload (or data) is not just a distraction, it’s a drain on organizational resources.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information.

(Anthony J. D’ Angelo)

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management Quotes – Tom Davenport on Knowledge Transfer

Dr. Dan:  Yet another reinforcement and reminder that KM is about the people, not about the tools.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

“Successful knowledge transfer involves neither computers nor documents but rather interactions between people.”

(Tom Davenport)

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management (KM) “Rules” (Rule #4)

Rule #4:  Understanding Pig Theory

Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It’s a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig.“  (Robert Heinlein)

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Many an enthusiastic KM’er has frittered away the hours, days and weeks trying to do just that.  It is rather unlikely that you’ll be able to simply turn senior leadership into “senior leadership with a deep understanding” of all things KM.

It is easier instead for KM’ers to learn how to develop an organizational strategy, and then push forward that strategy.  Identify the critical organizational gaps and then determine what knowledge gaps impact those organizational gaps.  Examine known knowledge gaps and determine what organizational gap they open.  Develop the right outcome-based metrics to validate success.  Tie all of this to the organizational strategy.

Rule #4 is all about showing how KM fits to the organization strategy and how KM creates and adds value, while at the same time recognizing that this approach is more likely than trying to teach a pig to sing.

Applying Knowledge Management: Experiences from the field …

No KM strategy has being developed by them yet, although some sort of action has been taken in order to reduce the impact of knowledge loss due to experts leaving the organization when they reach retirement age.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Nice discussion of the “guru mushtiya” effect and how that also happens within the organization and what was discussed within the Hotel Division of the Aitken and Spence Corporation, one of the largest in Sri Lanka, to overcome that problem.

Key take-aways:

  • KM requires a formal strategy
  • Work on nurturing culture since it will not shape itself
  • Organizations must identify and define values based on what it needs to accomplish
  • Knowledge is indeed a source of competitive advantage and organizations must take certain steps in order to protect it
  • The concept of a learning organization defines perfectly what is known as “KM driven culture”
  • Knowledge Management must be made part of each business manager’s objectives
  • Knowledge sharing is a competency which must be taught to people
  • All KM process must be documented
  • Values and Culture are top priority
  • Recognize participation and award employees for their efforts
  • Communicate value. Make KM a brand which everyone wants to be a part of
  • Develop KPI’s related to business objectives

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Keep Calm – Knowledge Management Series: Change the Culture

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Knowledge Management is mostly about the people side of things — harken back to Tom Davenport’s, “Working Knowledge” which discussed that KM is about 95% of what are issues related to culture, people, politics and process (and only 5% about the technology) and recognize that one of the most critical aspects to consider of any KM implementation is the need to change the culture to one supportive of knowledge creation, transfer and utilization.

Dr. Dan’s Knowledge Management Quotes – Peter Drucker on Confusing Data with Knowledge

Dr. Dan:  Big Data is NOT Knowledge and having Information Technology does NOT mean that you necessarily have the right information.

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

“The computer is merely a tool in the process…To put it in editorial terms, knowing how a typewriter works does not make you a writer. Now that knowledge is taking the place of capital as the driving force in organizations worldwide, it is all too easy to confuse data with knowledge and information technology with information.”

(Peter Drucker)

Keep Calm – Knowledge Management Series: Connect the People

Dr. Dan Kirsch‘s insight:

Knowledge Management is mostly about the people and to best support knowledge creation and transfer it is critical to make connecting the people a priority.