Friday, November 21, 2008

Characteristics of a KM Change Agent

Jim Markowsky posted results of a survey he did using the social networking site LinkedIn. Jim surveyed the audience of various LinkedIn groups, asking for the top 10 characteristics of an organizational change agent. I found reviewing the survey results to be quite interesting and it made me consider how these characteristics might change if we focused on KM change agents.

Two characteristics not mentioned here which I believe crucial for KM change agents are trust and respect of their colleagues and leaders. I am surprised they did not show up here but I think it is well worth a bit of discussion.

Trust, as I consider it, has 3 attributes:
1. Sincerity-- knowing the person means what they say or promise. 2. Competency--knowing the person can do what they say or promise. 3. Reliability-- witnessed over time, you know the person does what they say or promise. Those whom you trust you often also respect.

As we continue in a time of uncertainty, trust becomes more and more important. As individuals or as leaders, we must never underestimate the value or impact of having or holding trust. If we want to bring forward the knowledge critical to organizational sustainability and success, trust is the ultimate enabler.

Posting of Survey Results (Organizational Change Network on LinkedIn): What are the Top 10 Characteristics of an Organizational Change Agent?
Survey Results: Based on a 1 - 10 rating scale, 10 being highest.

Average score:
1. Skilled Communicator 7.13 / 10
2. Emotionally Intelligent 6.45 / 10
3. Strong Leader 5.92 / 10
4. Excellent Problem Solver 5.81 / 10
5. Persuasive 5.41 / 10
6. Courageous 5.22 / 10
7. Strong Analytical Skills 5.04 / 10
8. Effective Educator 5.03 / 10
9. Flexible 4.79 / 10
10. Accomplished Project Manager 4.23 / 10
Survey Participants: There were 159 global participants in the survey. The survey was posted on the following Discussion Boards: Organizational Change Network, Network of Organizational Change Managers, Innovative Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators Network, Change Agents, SAP/ERP Training & Change Practitioners, Organizational Change Practitioners, Organization Development Network, Change Consulting. Survey close date: October 30, 2008. Survey conducted by: Jim Markowsky, X-Factor Business Solutions

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The challenge and payoff of managing knowledge

It never fails. About 3 times a week, sometimes more often, I am reminded that knowledge management (like personal growth) is not for the faint of heart. It is not easy. Occasionally (though not often) it is not fun. But it is almost always worthwhile, if we keep an eye toward the goal of building trust, collaboration, communication and respectfully sharing critical knowledge.

Even with good intentions, the work can be challenging. Just recently, I was asked to speak to a potential client who was well aware of the need in his organization to retain and transfer deeply held knowledge from those about to transition out of the organization. He knew there was business risk when that knowledge was no longer available, knew he may lose customers as new employees took over long standing accounts. He knew his business operations were not as well codified and understood as they needed to be to sustain success. He could look me in the eye and point out why he needed to use knowledge management.

Yet, he wanted one silver bullet, one answer quick and easy to solve the fact that he and the leadership team had not developed a culture of trust, had not role modeled collaboration and had rewarded heroism and individual contributions over collaboration and communication.

He was upset that I could not provide a 2 month answer to a problem it took 20 years to create. I could not, would not, lie to him.

I will not support the short sighted view of business I witness so often in today's environment. Managing knowledge, even the deeply held tacit kind, can be done in a timely, well considered, organized fashion but it will still take effort, time and patience. Knowledge is accumulated over time, through decisions made well and those not made well resulting in learning. Anything accumulated over time is worth taking some time and effort to sift through and pass on.

No, KM is not for the faint of heart. However for those who put their heart in their work, in their organizations and want to see sustained success, satisfied employees and returning customers, the challenge is well worth the pay off. I have participated in and witnessed that payoff many times and it is always worth the time it took to make it happen.

A new blog for you to review. kindness and excellence. Great topics and a well done blog:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

knowledge sharing on the deepest level

We all know the importance of sharing knowledge in our organizations. How do we do that on a personal level? Do we do that on a personal level?
I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to share knowledge with 4 of the most brilliant women I know in beautiful San Carlos, CA.
Sharing knowledge on the deepest levels is not for the faint of heart. You need to listen carefully, share openly, and consider what you hear mindfully. But what an incredible experience.

As you are each learning to share knowledge in your companies, your organizations or communities, I suggest you begin at home. Learn to share deeply with your friends (trusted friends) and you will experience first hand the benefits, the fear and the joy of truly sharing what you have learned respectfully.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What Communication Takes

Blogging has many of the same characteristics of relationship building. You make contact, check out each other's ideas and values.... if there is interest in the ideas and commonality in the values, you may continue the communication and learn more about each other.

Good blogging also requires feedback and give and take from both the audience and the blogger. Additionally blogging requires nurturing and time. These characteristics are true with all knowledge management just as they are with relationships in general.

After a hiatus, I'm about to announce a new blog and a new website (same location, but a few updates) which will both get the nurturing and time they need. There is more call now than ever for assistance in managing knowledge and we need good forums to dialogue with each other on how to ensure we all continually learn and grow, individually and in our organizations. We must. The alternatives are evident and staring us directly in the face. I look forward to building this with you, to learning from you and to sharing my learnings with you once again.

In the meantime, if you want to see knowledge painstakingly shared from well before the year 1000, check out the website now housing the ongoing work to share the library from St Gallen, a collection of the oldest medieval books in the world:

144 manuscripts from this Swiss Abbey library are already available online. This is NOT part of the work being done by Google, but rather by separate grants and donations. And we complain about sharing 50 years of knowledge in organizations?

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Ideas in Print

The December 2007 issue of the Utne Reader magazine, ( ), listed a number of new print magazines and online zines they deemed worthy of note. I reviewed a few and was quite interested in both the varied subjects covered and in how they organize and share knowledge.

These days it takes a lot of courage to put out a print anything. The Internet has shifted print media forever. Yet, you really owe it to yourself to take a look at these well designed print publications and online zines.

Esopus ( ) is one which caught my eye. They describe themselves as follows:
'Published by the non-profit Esopus Foundation Ltd., the magazine has a simple mission: to provide an unfiltered, non-commercial space in which creative people and the public can connect in meaningful, productive ways.'

The magazine and related website include prose, poetry, visual arts, video, interviews and more. I was impressed by the variety of the content and again, by the spirit of those putting the magazine and site together. These publications remind us all to keep speaking up, speaking out and expressing our ideas and opinions. We don't have to agree with each other but we do need ways to be heard. So take a look, enjoy the formats/designs, the ideas, the writing and the continued drive to express.

A Few of the additional magazines listed: Canadian culture with a sense of humor merging literature with art and other venues covering information for those with HIV

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Shifting Perspectives

As we begin a new year, we can take the opportunity to begin a new way of thinking. In managing knowledge, as in life, we can choose the perspective we wish to embrace. We can choose to see the world as a place where knowledge is hoarded, people are unwilling to share and teach, and we can choose to see knowledge sharing as a huge and difficult task.

Or, we can shift our perspective. We can choose to see the world differently. We can decide that those who do not easily share knowledge do so out of fear. We can decided the best course of action is not to simply judge the person but rather to understand the fear. Maybe the fear is justified. Perhaps the person believes people have been adversely affected by openly sharing.

We can choose to see the world as full of challenges, as a difficult and harsh place or we can shift that perception and see the world as a huge classroom, teaching us to be the best we can be at every moment. It's a new year, why not make it the best year yet, for knowledge sharing, for developing a healthy culture, for yourself. What have we got to lose.

If you want to see the world in a new perspective, try: