Friday, November 07, 2003

KM Asia 2003 Singapore
Tuesday 4th & Wednesday 5th November

This was a lively event organised by Ark Group that attracted over 200 delegates. The original July date was cancelled due to SARS, so it was good to see it back on its feet. I can’t say that Singapore’s Sun Tec centre was a favourite venue (as an event it felt relatively small and lost in such a huge place) and the room layout was awful, but otherwise it all seemed to go well.

Interest in KM in Asia seems very strong. Coming later to it than the US & Europe on the whole, they seemed to have got beyond the na├»ve ‘what is knowledge anyway’ stage much more quickly. One Australian delegate commented “we seem to have gone for initial enthusiasm and post-hype scepticism all at once!”

I was speaking on “How Many KM Solutions do you need?” – how to put together balanced KM programmes rather than one-size-fits all onslaughts based on just doing, say, intranets or CoPs. Most people seemed to ‘get’ the message, a pleasing contrast to, say, KM eXchange in New York 18months ago when a number of people felt they’d settled on a KM strategy and that was that. I'll be doing a repeat performance at KM Europe next Tuesday

Some comments on the talks:
Tom Davenport - Moving Along the KM Curve
Tom argued that it may be a good thing if management stop talking about KM because it means its been embedded into way things are done daily.

Ang Hak Seng - Singapore Police Force - KM Leadership
An impassioned speech, like having Fidel Castro the KM practitioner. Insights into how police had to abandon top-down structures to tackle entirely novel problems such as SARS.

Steve Ellis - HSBC - Changing Organisational Culture
Steve gave a very frank discussion of trials and tribulations of introducing KM to a rather conservative banking culture that went down very well. It did sound like KM was still struggling to stay afloat there though.
 He admitted that they initially made the mistake of trying to sell KM, rather than its benefits.
 He found that a KM Brochure raised awareness and interest, but not buyers [matches my experience too]. Indeed, he commonly found agreement on a NEED to do something, but no action because nobody had free resource.
 They tried KAPs - the Knowledge Acquisition process taken from Rolls-Royce and it has gone down very well, not least because the first person to be debriefed was CEO so subsequently everyone anted to be part of this ‘club’. The process uses structured interviews around experience, strategy & mistakes that are videoed and archived.
 HSBC found Intellectual Capital reporting a complete dead loss - executives just didn't want to know because felt they were measuring too much already.
 HSBC found the 'central' KM team structure didn't work and it has now disbanded.

"Don't set KM targets (nobody really cares how many hits your website gets)"

Jeff Trotter, Director of Knowledge E&Y - Building the Business Case for KM
KM seems amazingly well embedded in E&Y’s culture. They’ve been doing it a long time and the link to their business is very strong (and note this is about accountancy, they no longer consult).
E&Y have a brochure that everyone gets on 1st day, and a follow-up call on day 3 to explain what KM can do for them. They also have a knowledge-sharing agreement document that gets signed by everybody when they join.

David Gurteen
As I subscribe to Dave's handy quote of the day service, it seems apt for me to quote him this time:

"KM in good times means 'knowledge management', in bad times it means 'kill me'"

What is a knowledge worker? Dave got beaten up at a conference last year because people felt he was implying an underclass of non-Knowledge Workers. Good for him he stuck to his non-PC convictions and offered this: the main characteristic of a Knowledge Worker is that they get to decide each morning what their job is and how they are going to tackle it.

The famous "KM is a bullshit issue" still resonates – it’s a powerful re-expression of the knowing-doing gap:
"People choose not to change their behaviour because the culture and the imperatives of the organisation make it too difficult to act upon the knowledge. Knowledge isn't power. Power is power. Most people in most organisations do not have the ability to act on the knowledge they possess" - Michael Schrage

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