2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
July 2013 - Magazine No. 166
July 2013 - Magazine No. 166
Edition:

We all deal with telling the story of our life's events, whether done consciously or not. We constantly share stories about different occurrences with others and others share with us: stories about what happened, stories about what may happen. We tell our story usually accompanied with body gestures, face expressions, vocal intonations all used in order to create a dramatic effect to emphasize what was said.

This is obviously not a new phenomenon. Since the dawn of human history, man has been telling stories as a form of conveying knowledge and culture. We are telling stories in any moment and state of our lives. Also in business and workplace situations, stories can be used as a means for describing complex multidimensional situations as well as presenting creative complex solutions. A good story, optimally constructed and presented, can serve as a invaluable lesson for emotionally and conceptually learning visible and concealed knowledge in regard to a specific situation as well as in regard to learning lessons for future situations.

 

Telling Stories within the organization

Telling stories within the organization can serve as a means to several ends:

  1. Sharing organizational norms and values: telling and sharing stories is a means to spreading the organizational culture between workers and instilling important organizational values.
  2. Developing trust and commitment: telling stories contributes to building trust between workers, communicating reliability and developing a sense of mutual security.
  3. Sharing concealed knowledge: telling stories in a quick efficient way to exchange complex knowledge which can assist in solving complex problems. Sometimes, the organization's canon knowledge which was documented and stored in organizational systems is found insufficient or inefficient when dealing with real problems. In these situations, knowledge experienced when dealing with the problem in real time can provide the perfect solution.
  4. Reevaluation of work methods: sometimes the work method becomes so deeply rooted into organizational conduct even though it isn't the most successful or efficient solution in the organization. Using storytelling, in which the narrator does not stick to the dry facts rather adds an intuitive or emotional element, can provoke reevaluation and as a result coming up with creative original methods.
  5. Creating emotional connection: Stories usually deal with special / extraordinary situations which we have gone through. These situations arouse emotional feelings on behalf of the listener. This makes the knowledge easier to retrieve in future situations.

 

Storytelling as a means to sharing complex knowledge:

In the organizational circle, defined knowledge can usually be utilized effectively so that purchasing the knowledge is the main point of the organization-it is merely only purchasing the knowledge according to which you can conduct oneself morally in the organization.

A story which contains organizational knowledge must have a detailed narrative of previous conduct, of interaction between workers, and a description of intra-organizational and extra-organizational activities unofficially communicated within the organization.

A story conveying knowledge should serve the following purposes:

  1. Conveying an experience in narrative form: a story conveying knowledge is simple and clear, includes a number of important points assimilated into the general story, can be retold and passed on, and in most cases anyone can find a point of contact to a field or aspect of their lives.
  2. Conveying an alternative experience: a story conveying knowledge is indirectly teaching performance-it contains information regarding conduct/course of action and grants the listener an indirect learning experience.
  3. Providing information on performance: a story conveying knowledge deals with conduct or course of action found by the storyteller (or narrator) particularly effective/conducive and can usually be dissected to action units of beginning, middle and end.

 

How can we utilize this type of communication for sharing knowledge in the organization and increasing organizational efficiency?

Reaping a story: producing insights from a story of conduct in a project

One of the most important processes in storytelling is knowing how to efficiently utilize information which was intermediated by analyzing the information, dissecting it to information units and drawing conclusions in order to implement the information in future situations. There are 4 stages in the process of 'story reaping':

  1. Writing the story: by transforming the experience into a story through its writing, the storyteller is forced to place the experience in a context, to instill logic into it and create an orderly sequence of conduct that may the listeners understanding of the described occurrence.
  2. Interaction: Constructing the story must be the result of a collective effort and team cooperation. This way, the listener has the opportunity to ask questions in order to deepen his/her comprehension as well as a chance to build shared meaning and understanding.
  3. The listener internalizing the story: request the listener to write down the main things he/she learned or understood from the story and refine points that weren't comprehended correctly.
  4. Documentation: in the end of the process, document the important point produced from the story such as: positive and negative results, how to apply this knowledge in future projects, the lesson learning performed. During the documentation process, aspire to "release" the story from the specific situation in which it took place and search for general insights and main patterns of action.

 

How to encourage storytelling in the organization:

  1. Creating opportunities for an informal discourse: the environment in which the story is told is very important. Usually, the story will be told during informal meetings between workers: in the line for the coffee dispenser, on the way to a meeting and even during a meeting when unfortunately there is hardly time to tell exchange information. The organization should aspire to create spaces and locations in which workers will feel comfortable to tell stories and exchange information.
  2. Raising Awareness: workers are unaware of the importance of storytelling as a means of exchanging information. The organization must aspire to enhance workers' awareness to this form of information exchange by communicating through organizational means of communication and by allocating time for performance.

 

In conclusion

Storytelling is another means to intermediate information between workers along mentoring, simulation, reading and learning. Research has shown that storytelling encourages building trust, instills organizational norms, exchanges concealed knowledge, stimulates learning from others and creates emotional connections between workers.

Storytelling is a means to get people closer, to create friendships and relationships that enhance the sense of mutual trust and as a result the continuation of collective performance and cooperation between workers.

We should aspire to create opportunities for sharing stories between workers, not only as a creative and expressive means for sharing information and experiences but also (mainly) as a way to create work partnerships and mutual commitment as well as a means for creating a work environment that supports knowledge sharing.  It is important to know how to reap the fruit of the story and produce the best of the learning experience in order to reuse the insights acquired from other working processes and other situations.  

 

References
Application of storytelling in knowledge management , Eric.D.Brown, Amit Deoker, Presentation for INFS , 2009, Storytelling in organizations: the power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations, Deborah Sole, Daniel. G. Wilson

http://www.providersedge.com/docs/km_articles/Storytelling_in_Organizations.pdf

 

Written By Maya Fleisher

User Experience (hereby referred to as UX) is a human experience that affects the way a person thinks, feels or acts when using a system (website, software), product or service. In many cases it is synonymous with a user interface (excerpt from Wikipedia).

A UX, in my opinion, should provide an experience in its simplest form. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the real final product indeed includes the components that create the UX (such as: usability, reliability, esthetics, comfort, easy navigation etc). Yet what happens on the way (which is not always short and simple) to the real product? Do we make sure to provide the interim clients with a presentation of our solutions? Do we even need to provide them with such, and if yes-why?

From my personal experience, the answer is obvious: yes!

Why? When attempting to answer this question simply, I recalled the title of the movie "Play it forward".

 

What is a product?

A product is a concept from the field of finance that describes goods or service with monetary value; usually goods or service that endured human processing and production processes related to the knowledge and cultural/social settings of the development (excerpted from Wikipedia).

In the World of Knowledge Management products are usually organizational / professional portals or professional material (such as presentations, courseware, procedures, documents, etc). A product is developed due to the need and aspiration that it will indeed answer its final consumer's needs/wishes, yet the stages between the initial need and the final product can act as a meaningful factor in the product's success.

As knowledge managers we are required to present solutions for arising needs. The manner in which the solutions are presented is important and helps illustrate the real product. Therefore, the approach to solution we suggest should be as serious as that to the final product.

Presenting a detailed visual solution which resembles the final product has many advantages:

  • Our client will have an easier time understanding what we meant.
  • An illustration that resembles the real product will enable coordinating expectations.
  • This solution enables performing an early usability test.
  • We can locate further needs or discard excessive elements before investing time and money in the real product.
  • We can create a common language with our client.
  • The client's enthusiasm is usually high which contributes to the product's assimilation.
  • We (the knowledge managers) are perceived as more professional and overall serious.

So, how is this done?

 

My tips on:

An organizational/content area/professional portal:

  • Be careful to regard UX components as early as the prototype: use correct spacing, straightening, and hyperlinks.
  • Insert text and pictures from the same content world: don't write "text text…" and do not put unrelated pictures. Real text and pictures will connect the user and assist him/her in quickly understanding what you meant.
  • Aesthetics: refrain from excessive color, stick to the company's brand colors (logo).
  • Crate a prototype as similar to the real system as possible in terms of visibility and abilities: do not integrate options and components that cannot be applied in the real system. This way, you will avoid needless disappointments.
  • Be open to changes and criticism: in the bottom line, the most important thing is that the final product answers the client's needs. The prototype is merely to open the discussion.

Presentations:

  • Integrate suitable pictures: the visual aspect creates an experience and makes the viewers remember the presentation.
  • Use short substantive
  • Also here, Aesthetics are important. Avoid excessive coloring and stick to the logo colors.

Documents:

  • Be careful to use: straightening, spacing, correct numbering, highlighting, and concise writing.
  • In long documents: create a visual index that will assist you in accessing the content of the document easily.
  • It is recommended to hyperlink between the document's different sections (to its beginning or continuous content).

In conclusion, regard the products you produce seriously and creatively, and so will the client!

Good Luck.

 

Knowledge Management is a new field, established around 1995. Therefore, it is not that common in organizations at all. Nevertheless, since knowledge is increasingly becoming a critical factor assisting organization to succeed, many wish to join and begin managing their organization's existing knowledge. The challenge is not a simple one as the amount of organizational knowledge is infinite and the way to control and treat it all is unclear.

Some premises before I begin:

  • A journey: Knowledge Management is like a long (perhaps infinite) journey comprised of sections. A certain subject is promoted; we assist in reaching another destination and improving the level of organizational/business objectives related to it.
  • A means to an end: Knowledge Management is a means to an end. Therefore, some knowledge should be managed; other knowledge should not be managed. It is recommended to invest in places in which there is a justification in terms of cost/benefit (the cost of Knowledge Management is less than the potential derived from its sharing and management).
  • Prioritization: knowledge cannot be managed all at once. It should be prioritized, with several central criteria affect this decision, including: the level of the related knowledge; the potential benefit from managing the knowledge (as compared to the current situation); the cost of managing the knowledge; adapting the treatment as an initial activity; the chances the subject succeeds (i.e. the chance that a suitable solution will indeed be attained); the market level of the subject: how much, if the knowledge will be successfully managed regarding the aforementioned subject, will this affect the expansion of this process to a Knowledge Management process on an organizational level.
  • Aspects: In every Knowledge Management solution should be invested in five complementary aspects: the organizational-cultural aspect; the managerial aspect; the procedural aspect (work processes); the computerized aspect; and the content aspect.
  • Variety: the world of Knowledge Management deals with various types of solutions that emphasize different means of Knowledge Retention, Knowledge Sharing, knowledge Accessibility and/or Knowledge Development. Other examples of solutions from this vast variety include: learning lessons (mainly knowledge development); professional knowledge websites (mainly knowledge sharing); retiring experts' knowledge retention (mainly knowledge retention); knowledge-bases at call centers (mainly knowledge accessibility) and the list goes on and on and the world of solutions is wide and varying. When we start managing knowledge, we can and should examine our needs and choose suitable solutions-not the other way around.

How do we start?

There are several approaches to initiating activity. Each approach has its advantages:

  1. Top Down initiation: developing a strategy, mapping all organizational needs and establishing a technological infrastructure. Establishing designated solutions only in later stages.

R Main advantages: organized; methodological; easily understood.

Q Main disadvantages: long waiting time till product is visible; occasionally, organizations despair and give up; it is also less focused than a specific field of content; therefore it is less connected to concrete business objectives.

  1. Bottom-Up initiation:

This method involves an initial focus of the activity on two focused subjects in which it is known that a business/organizational problem exists. Establishing inclusive infrastructural solutions and building a strategy only in later stages.

R Main advantages: cheap; relatively quick production; assists proving the necessity of Knowledge Management in the organization (and as a result, cooperation).

QMain disadvantages: Sometimes, initial solutions will be based on less-than-optimal technologic; sometimes inclusive thinking is flawed due to a focused perception rather than examining the entire organizational situation.

Of course, the two can be combined in different ways as suitable to the organization's nature:

In small organizations, mapping needs and developing strategy can be performed without delaying the whole move; in other organizations, the mapping or partial can be performed on a representing group and/or develop strategy first. In some organizations the technological infrastructure already exists which grants them a better starting point, which affects the decision.

It is also possible to start with several Bottom-Up pilots regardless of the size of the organization and after getting the gist of it trying the Top-Down approach.

In any case, regardless of the chosen approach, make sure that:

A member of organizational management is leading the subject. Without such a sponsor, the organization will find actualizing a central important move as Knowledge management in the long run in an orderly manner. An appointed knowledge Manager (part or full time)- a person whose job it is to promote Knowledge management in the organization in practice, whose measured by this.

 

If you think your organization’s success depends on its knowledge; if the examples above sound too familiar to you, do not hesitate: BEGIN managing knowledge. Jumping into the water isn't easy; the road is a long one, perhaps even a winding one. Yet one who does not start the journey will never complete it. In the words of Peter Drucker (1999): "Organizations' most valuable asset in the 21st Century will be knowledge workers". Go for it !

I met the client for the first time a few months ago. Prior to our meeting we spoke on the phone, briefly discussed the objectives she wishes to promote in the organization, the current situation and the organizational background. I told her of my past experience, my agenda and generally described how my consultation can contribute to her campaign to promote her objectives and her organization's objectives. In short, these conversations included some small, a little shameless self marketing and a tad of practicality.

Our first meeting naturally continued the conversation but this time the emphasis shifted from practicality to her organizational needs and ROM's Knowledge Management methodology. From the client's stories I began to understand the organizational history, the participating parties and of course the pains the organization is nowadays experiencing. From this point we actually started the consultation process.

 

Something changes during on our fifth meeting. We were ready at this point to present the organization's management with a simple focused solution for a specific problem we have been treating and start promoting it in practice when the client surprisingly said: "maybe we should take this specific idea and develop it to a wider solution, to be used by the entire organization?" This was a substantial expansion of the frame of the project we agreed on. Of course I was very pleased with the idea. Now, with a wider, organization-wide perspective the client's basic need has changed. This perspective has raised new more complex needs which have also raised the will to promote more subjects. As the old saying goes "with the food comes the appetite".

But our meetings and the amount of time assigned to us and the resources we utilized, those were unchanged. We therefore understood that we cannot actualize all our wishes here and now. What we needed was a work plan. In order to build a work plan of Organizational Knowledge Management I suggested my client purchase the KM standard for general organizational knowledge. I offered my client to purchase the Knowledge Management standard IS 25006 of the ISS.

The client's response slightly surprised me: "True, the standard is quite cheap, and would not be a big investment for the organization. But the organization is not planning to pass the ISS's certification test, so why should we actually purchase it?" she asked.

So we talked about it. And the conversations lead to an insight which I would like to share with you:

The KM standard shows the way, the objectives and activities required in order to be performed by an organization aspiring to get certified (a standard) in the field. The standard states the high standard that organization (should) aspire to. Furthermore, the standard describes the requirements and rules to implement Knowledge Management in organizations and details the various definitions, the processes, tools, solutions and means to actualize, document and measure the organization's Knowledge Management.

The standard serves as a guide for both Knowledge Managers and those interested in the field of Knowledge Management. And so in practice the standard can be utilized in every organization, even an organization that does not plan to take the certification test in the near future: in order to show the optimal way for promoting Knowledge Management in the organization, to define organizational objectives and goals and provide the organization with tools and solutions to attain its objectives and goals.

To conclude the story: the client purchased the standard for the organization and it assisted it in building a long term work plan for promoting the subject of Knowledge Management in the organization.

And I ask you: what happens in your organization?

For further reading:

About the Knowledge Management System Standard, click here.

About our personal certification story here in ROM, click here.

 

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
Fax 077-5020772 * Tel 077-5020771/3 * Bar Kochva 23 st., Bnei Brak Postal: 67135