Design


I’ve been looking back on the highlights of the past year, and previous years, and it’s got me reflecting on the power of making KM engaging, fun and tangible in some way.

Back in 2010, I wrote about KM Top Trumps, and how I used them with a group of business improvement professionals to help them get to grips with the breadth of KM tools and techniques available.  I still use these today with groups.

Two happy memories from the past year:

Social Network Mapping with the UN in Ethiopia. 

For several years now I have worked with the United Nations System Staff College on a KM leadership programme.  This year saw me out in Ethiopia working with representatives from across the continent.  Communities, Networks and Networking featured heavily in one particular module, and having contrasted the sharing and networking habits of birds, bees and sheep, we engaged in a practical Network Analysis exercise which brought the room to its feet, and put smile on every face.

Each participant was given 5 coloured ribbons and asked to give one end to another colleague – the different colours indicated different relationships:  for example: – Who have you known the longest?  Who would you ask for technical advice? Who would you share an innovative idea with first?

 Image

Energy levels rose instantly, accompanied by smiles and laughter.

Once each ribbon had been shared, the group carefully lowered them to the floor and stepped out of the web, replacing themselves with their placenames from the tables.

As a group, we could then stand around the pattern and discuss what it told us about the relationships, collaboration and knowledge flow.

Snakes and Leaders – a creative way to explore the first 100 days of a community of practice.

Syngenta have been a client for a number of years now, and have been looking for new ways to up-skill the core teams of their networks, especially in the early stages of growth.

We worked together to document the ups and downs of network development during the first critical 100 days, and created a familiar-yet-different board game which embedded these critical moments, with one or two additional twists and turns. Creating the game together, and tailoring the rules for different parts of the business caused us to think critically about the non-negotiables and key principles of networks; probably one of the most enjoyable codification exercises I’ve been involved with. Thank you Syngenta!

 Image

I’m looking forward to hearing how the game has gone down (or up!) this year.

Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.  One of my favourite U2 tracks.  Now I can’t stop humming it!

Sometimes it takes an impossible challenge to get people to share and collaborate, as this fun video from Coca Cola shows.  Coke put a double-size vending machine into a site in the Philippines, which yielded two bottles for the price of one.  The only snag was that you had to find a friend to help you reach the coin slot.  So you win together by collaborating, or you both walk away with nothing.

Nicely done, Coca Cola!

Way back in the 90’s in my BP days,  CEO, Lord Browne had decentralised the business and created a “federation of assets” with a clear focus on performance.  This was a step forward, but not quite as big a step as it might have been, because with that focus on performance came a strong sense of independence – even to the point of competition.
Here’s a way to visualise this using Csikszentmihalyi’s flow model.

flow 1

Browne did a lot to support peer structures and networking which was well documented, but his initial response to was to increase the levels of challenge further, whilst keeping the resources constant. This raised the levels of performance required such that working harder was no longer a solution.  Business unit leaders would do anything to hit their performance targets – even collaborate!  And collaborate was exactly what they did: sharing knowledge, resources, people, contracts, and effectively enlarging the area of “flow”.

flow2

This happened because collaboration became the only option, and competition was going to be as fruitful as two people fighting at the foot of a giant coke machine!

All of which leads me to wonder whether an age of austerity isn’t a good thing for knowledge management after all?

I came across this post via the Knowledge Flow (thank you Susan Frost!), and was struck by the idea, and its parallels in the world of networks and communities of practice.

It’s the “Little Free Library”.

littlefreelibrary01

Little Free Library is a creative idea, thought up by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, that aims to promote literacy and bring communities together by putting up mini libraries in neighborhoods around the world. Started in 2009, it’s a nonprofit that seeks to place these small, accessible book exchange boxes right in front of a house or on a street corner. (Take a book, return a book.)  What makes the idea so special?

Their website states: “Little Free Libraries have a unique, personal touch and there is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community. These aren’t just any old books, this is a carefully curated collection and the Library itself is a piece of neighborhood art!

It’s great to see the principles and practices  of reciprocity, trust, curation, individuality, creativity, altruism, generosity, adaptation and growth all working together, building a sense of community.

What if you were to ask each member of your community of practice to curate a small library of their favourite resources, links, documents, sources and experts – to make that visible (virtually) and then to borrow connections from each other?

If you get the same result as Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, then it’s just what a successful community thrives on:

“It’s started a neighborhood exchange. It gets people talking and more comfortable with their neighbors,” he said. “This leads to them helping each other.”

That sounds like  a pretty effective knowledge management tool to me.

freelibrary

My youngest daughter is going the see “The Croods”  today – it’s the latest DreamWorks production, this time about a prehistoric family about to “leave the cave”.

I”m secretly jealous that I’m not going too, but I’d stick out like a sore thumb among her group of friends.

The trailers look so good that I’ll definitely have to go one way or another – or leave it for the next long-haul flight.
This one in particular is brilliant. It has a lot to say about knowledge, learning, innovation,  improvement and change management – not to mention the reaction of teen-aged girls!

See if you can spot the following – all in 51 seconds:

    • Initial problem with someone feeling the pain,
    • Repeated failure to listen, repeated pain,
    • Failure of conventional wisdom and leadership,
    • Recognition of the need for alternative perspective,
    • Innovation and learning from analogues,
    • Experimentation and adaptation,
    • A trumpeted and hyped solution,
    • Disproportionate excitement followed by immediate sense of loss!

Now, does any of that look familiar in your organisation?

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post on Polanyi and Snowden’s “We know more than we can ever tell, we tell more than we can ever write down”, what should I see in my local shop, but this little red notebook:


Not sure what Polanyi would think about that!

Or whether he’d write it down.

Sometimes I come across organisations which have a way of working which naturally encourages the sharing of knowledge – so naturally, in fact, that they don’t realise that the way they operate is different from most other companies.

Posters – perhaps the most effective (and overlooked) social media?

I spent most of last week with a knowledge-friendly Swiss company which has developed a “poster culture” over the past 5 years.  Corridors, office walls – pretty much every piece of available  wall-space has a poster describing a project, initiative, programme, summary of an event, description of a team and its responsibilities.  Every corner you walk around, you pause and think “hmmm, that’s interesting!”.  They prompt interaction and conversation.

It’s a surprisingly simple low-tech thing, but it goes a long way to helping people discover what’s going on. No surprises. No closed doors.  It puts clear labels on the silos. (see my earlier post – “in defence of silos”)

The same company ran a workshop/conference to update the group on progress on several projects. Rather than using PowerPoint, went to the trouble (and expense) of producing large posters so that people could be walked-through their story.  I joined the groups who were circulating between different poster sessions, found myself reflecting on the dynamics.

Yes, in many cases, the posters looked a lot like several PowerPoint slides arranged side-by-side.  But even where that was the case, as the reader, I was still in control of which ones I read.  Whilst the presenter was talking, I could still flick my eyes back to the material she had just covered, and get a sense of what was still to come.
If she’d showed me exactly the same slides, but in the more conventional linear sequence, projected on a screen, driven by the presenter – it would have been different – and I would probably have lost the plot.  In the poster environment, I had more control over my own journey through the story.  Pointing and asking “could you just clarify what you meant in that bit”, is much easier than interrupting the flow with “could you go back 4 slides – I think it was 4, perhaps 5 – no one more…”

In other cases, the poster-makers took full advantage of their canvas, and drew timelines, rollercoasters and journeys to illustrate their talks, and provided pockets of depth and detail in parts of the poster.  You just can’t do that with a conventional 4×3 slide.

Did it cost more?

Yes – $100 per poster – and large posters are unwieldy, require space and take time to put up.  Most companies don’t have 2A0 chart-plotters/printers in house – but don’t let that stop you.

Did it add more value?

Disproportionately yes, I would say.  Spend the money.  Plant some trees to offset the extra paper. Revel in the fact that you don’t have a projector in the room.

Did it make best use of the knowledge in the room and encourage dialogue?

I hardly need to answer that.

Yes.  After my poster renaissance moment last week in Switzerland, it’s a +1 from me for this form of social media.

Came across this creative view of social networking on Flickr today.

I wonder how the plate tectonics of social networking have changed the landscape since this was drawn a year ago?

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers