Published on March 10, 2014
The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology. Managing Knowledge: What, How, (When, Where, and Who) Follow Why Olivier Serrat 2014
Quid Knowledge Management In context and framed by values, knowledge is in our minds a fluid mix of data, information, and experience, hopefully enriched by expert insight, that aids decision making. In organizations, it is embedded not just in documents and repositories but also in norms, practices, processes, and routines. Hence, in that environment, the immediate purpose of knowledge management is to provide support for improved decision making; in the same vein, its higher objective is to advance organizational performance.
A Problem Well Stated A problem well stated is half- solved. Therefore, before we devise knowledge services and offer knowledge solutions, we should make sure they are connected to mission and operations: knowledge management is a means to an end—that being a more effective and efficient, "fit for purpose", organization.
Asking Effective Questions Seeking information is a vital human activity that contributes to learning, problem solving, and decision making. For this reason, questioning is a vital tool of human thought and social interaction with which to open doors to data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Powerful questions, typically beginning with why, what, and how, encompass more people, more resources, more volume, more time, and more concerns than those beginning with when, where, and who. (Which is another low-power question.) Where knowledge management initiatives fall short, the reason lies in confusion over means and ends, in other words, failure to ask effective questions from the onset.
The Architecture of a Question Why What, How When, Where, Who Yes or No Questions High Power Low Power
Fostering Strategic Inquiry • A question that asks "why" calls for an explanation. • A question that asks "what" invites a description. • A question that asks "how" requests an instruction or procedure. • A question that asks "when" inquires about time or duration. • A question that asks "where" looks for a location. • A question that asks "who" solicits identification. To catalyze insight, innovation, and action for knowledge management, organizations should use effective questions to (i) assess the current situation, (ii) discover the big questions, (iii) create images of possibilities, and (iv) evolve workable strategies.
Questions to Focus Collective Attention on a Situation What question, if answered, could make the most difference to the future of our specific situation? What is important to us about our specific situation and why do we care? What draws us to this inquiry? What is our intention here? What is the deeper purpose (the big "why") that is really worthy of our best effort? What opportunities can we see in our specific situation? What do we know so far or still need to learn about our specific situation? What are the dilemmas and opportunities in our specific situation? What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in thinking about our specific situation? What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than ours say about our specific situation?
Questions to Connect Ideas and Find Deeper Insight What is taking shape? What are we hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed? What is in the center of the table? What is emerging here for us? What new connections are we making? What has real meaning for us from what we have heard? What has surprised us? What has challenged us? What is missing from this picture so far? What is it that we are not seeing? What do we need more clarity about? What has been our major learning, insight, or discovery so far? What is the next level of thinking we need to progress to? If there were one thing that has not yet been said to reach a higher level of understanding and clarity, what would that be?
Questions to Create Forward Movement What would it take to create change in our specific situation? What could happen that would enable us to feel fully engaged and energized about our specific situation? What is possible here and who cares? (Rather than "What is wrong here and who is responsible?") What needs our immediate attention to move forward? If our success were completely guaranteed, what bold steps might we choose to take? How can we support one another in taking bold steps? What unique contribution can we each make? What challenges might come our way and how might we meet them? What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that creates new possibilities for the future of our specific situation? What seed might we plant together today that could make the most difference to the future of our specific situation?
The Why of Knowledge Management Diverse motives can drive knowledge management initiatives. Most frequently, they aim to: • Achieve shorter product (or service) development cycles. • Boost internal and external network connectivity. • Harness intellectual capital. • Increase knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services. • Leverage the expertise of people across the organization. • Manage business environments so staff can access insights that are appropriate to their work. • Promote creativity, innovation, and organizational learning. • Solve intractable problems.
The What of Knowledge Management A business model is the core design, the logic, that enables an organization to capture, create, and deliver value to meet explicit or latent needs (and in so doing derive some form of profit). Most business models pay attention to five interrelated elements: (i) markets, (ii) products and services, (iii) processes, (iv) people, and (v) economics. One popular typology identifies nine elements. Customer Segments Value Propositions Channels Customer Relationships Revenue Streams Key Resources Key Activities Key Partnerships Costs Structures
The What of Knowledge Management If an organization's business model is the theory of its business, targets for knowledge management initiatives can be identified in light of the organizational configuration and the norms, practices, processes, and routines that draw from it. Business Structure Organization Supply Chain Products and Services Customer Service Customer Experience Administration
The How of Knowledge Management In step with the motives that drive knowledge management initiatives, the perspectives that conduce them are: • Technocentric, with a focus on how information and communication technology can enhance knowledge generation and sharing. • Organizational, with a focus on how an organization can be designed to better facilitate knowledge processes. • Ecological, with a focus on how to foster the dynamic evolution of knowledge interactions between entities.
The How of Knowledge Management • Business activities—to advance key elements of the business model. • Communities—to empower knowledge-based communities and networks of practice operating within and across organizational units. • Content management—to operate and improve the processes and technologies that support information databases. • Intellectual capital—to manage the human, relational, and structural components of organizations. • Knowledge benchmarking—to gauge knowledge management capabilities and practices against international good practice and raise performance. The motives that drive knowledge management initiatives are reflected in 10 main areas of activity:
The How of Knowledge Management Cont'd • Knowledge capture—to identify and harvest explicit and tacit knowledge. • Knowledge culture—to embed a knowledge management ethos and knowledge behaviors into working practices. • Knowledge partnerships—to contribute knowledge, experience, resources, and connections, and participate in two-way communications with key clients, audiences, and partners. • Knowledge retention—to safeguard knowledge, especially before staff leave and during periods of organizational change. • Knowledge transfer—to convey knowledge, especially good practice, among and between its various sources and forms.
The How of Knowledge Management To note, approa ches in the 10 main areas of activity are increasingly modulated by: • Adaptive management, inspired by the ideal of the learning organization • Adoption of a wide variety of modalities that govern rather than manage • Attention to social networks • Convergence • Open content, with possibilities to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute • Stronger emphasis on influence, not knowledge per se • Transition from storage and retrieval of information to active engagement with knowledge seekers
The When, Where, and Who of Knowledge Management By fostering strategic inquiry into why, organizations can focus collective attention on a situation, connect ideas and find deeper insight, and create forward movement to deliver the what and how of knowledge management initiatives. The when, where, and who flow from these high-power questions, with the important caveat that the span of knowledge coordination should be as close as possible to relevant knowledge domains. Distributing leadership is a key success factor in managing knowledge, be that with reference to well-structured, ill- structured, or wicked problem solving.
Success Factors in Knowledge Management To sum up, powerful questions will best locate knowledge management initiatives across an organization's business model and satisfy eight common success factors: • The motives that drive knowledge management are clear. • A rationale for knowledge management initiatives is stated. • Initiatives are connected to both mission and operations. • Knowledge mobilization is planned for sustainability. • Objectives are set at the right level. • Work is conducted from combined technocentric, organizational, and ecological perspectives. • Roles, functions, and responsibilities are defined. • Progress is sped by experimentation.
Beyond Strategy to Purpose In the high-growth environment that followed the Second World War, senior Management looked to strategy, structure, and systems for much-needed discipline, focus, and control. Today's globalized economy is different: technological, competitive, and market changes, fronting overcapacity, are the norm in most businesses. In response, large organizations are to a softer, more organic model built on the development of purpose, process, and people, reflected in the eight success factors in knowledge management.
Beyond Strategy to Purpose The New Model • Purpose • Process • People The Old Model • Strategy • Structure • Systems
Further Reading • ADB. 2008. Notions of Knowledge Management. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/notions-knowledge- management • ADB. 2009. The Roots of an Emerging Discipline. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/roots-emerging- discipline • ADB. 2009. Asking Effective Questions. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/asking-effective-questions • ADB. 2009. Enhancing Knowledge Management Strategies. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/enhancing- knowledge-management-strategies
Further Reading • ADB. 2010. Crafting a Knowledge Management Results Framework. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/crafting-knowledge-management- results-framework • ADB. 2010. Enriching Knowledge Management Coordination. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/enriching- knowledge-management-coordination • ADB. 2012. Business Model Innovation. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/business-model-innovation
Videos • ADB. 2011. Building a Knowledge-Centric Organization: Organization, People, Knowledge, and Technology for Learning. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/72471320 • ADB. 2012. Harvesting Knowledge. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/67185512 • ADB. 2012. Showcasing Knowledge. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/67185514 • ADB. 2013. Managing Knowledge in Project Environments. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/77666878 • ADB. 2013. The Empowerment of ADB-Hosted Communities of Practice. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/77752558
Videos • ADB. 2013. Integrating Knowledge Management in Annual Performance Reviews. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/77754032 • ADB. 2013. Integrated Knowledge Solutions. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/78128751 • ADB. 2013. ADB's Progress in Using Knowledge. Manila. Available: vimeo.com/78129747
Olivier Serrat Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank firstname.lastname@example.org www.adb.org/knowledge-management www.facebook.com/adbknowledgesolutions www.scribd.com/knowledge_solutions www.twitter.com/adbknowledge
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