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K
Kata: a routine of optimization

'Kata' is another term from the far-eastern culture that means "the way an organization runs". A Kata describes innovation and optimization processes as part o the organization's regular routine. Any process is comprised of three stages:

  • Learn (Shu)- learning according to a certain pattern and internalizing it: through existing knowledge and experience, the organization can formulate a business conduct and execute it via work processes, procedures and management decisions.
  • Break (Ha)- breaking the pattern: after internalizing the basic principles that led to a business routine, the organization mustn't be content with this outcome. The organization must break through the template and search for better and more diverse methods that can lead to a competitive edge. Establishing an initial business conduct enables creative and innovative thinking that breaks the pattern while optimizing it.
  • Create (RI)- creating a new and improved pattern- the new business conduct retains the core values and sticks to the organization's long-term objectives while optimizing the way it chooses to attain these goals.

The Kata's criteria are derived from the organization's nature and as such aren't absolute. The Kata represents each organization's ideal routine according to its own criteria. A good example of this sort of organizational conduct is the Toyota's management approach. Toyota successfully combines explicit and tacit knowledge and implement it among its workers, sets ambitious goals (i.e. not compromising on temporary success) and mainly invests resources in learning and analyzing the organization and its workers' potential via intra-organizational and extra-organizational comparisons.

 

K-Log (Knowledge Blog)

K-log is a new term in the world of Knowledge Management. The term is an abbreviation of Weblog and is a kind of "favorites", i.e. saving personal/organizational information items. In its simplest form, what is saved is: the name of the item, its URL address and saving date. In a more advanced form, category and a short description are saved as well. There are two main kinds of blogs: 1. a personal blog-a free format about any subject of any kind possible. 2. Informative blog, related to a defined subject, meant to point out information sources, a specific focused subject such as Lotus notes or a wide subject such as Knowledge Management. Of course, you can create shared blogs in which in which several people or a group publishes one shared blog. This concept was developed into another term called a K-log which represents the individual's knowledge through the item he/she saved. K-logs enable the worker to publish articles, perspectives, links, documents, important emails and organizational interant in a way that allows searching, skimming and storing the published content and thus share knowledge. The information is sorted by time in an individual manner. K-log is simple to operate and provides the users immediate benefit: sharing information stored in the worker's desktop or head as well as personal publication.

 

When beginning a new project, an important part of its planning is identifying "Stakeholders" by mapping out all those people that affect the project or are affected by it in order to prevent and reduce future conflicts that may harm the project's success. Many projects are stalled or stopped because someone forgot to involve a certain factor, either by ignoring this person or by not taking this person's importance into consideration. Many a time it is enough to forget to email someone and the tension begins building up. In order to deal with all these factors that can affect the project, I'll explain in this review the importance of the subject and will also suggest several ways to deal with Stakeholders. Let's begin.

What does the term "Stakeholders" mean?

The term refers to anyone actively involved in the project or those whose interests are affected (for better or worse) by the project (according to the PMBOK's definition). In other words, anyone who the project concerns somehow: suppliers, clients, government agencies, employees, interest groups etc. if these aren't taken into consideration when during the project planning process, there is a big chance this project will fail.

I will now describe a few phases that will assist in recognizing these stakeholders and channel them for the success of the project:

Stage 1

Identifying stakeholders: the first stage is to define the goal of analyzing stakeholders, to identify all potential users that the project effects and map them out (this mapping can be done in map-form, table, etc).

How do we identify?

Besides the project's distinct stakeholders: the client, the supplier, and the users, there are others affected by the project vicariously-and they should be identified as well. This can be done by paying careful attention during different events (office, meetings, hallway conversations, status discussions) to questions like "who is dominant now?" "Why does this person react positively/negatively?" "who is associated with this person?" (For example, if this stakeholder is a manager- who does she/he listen to, who are his/her friends?).

Stage 2

At this stage, after we understood who the "main players" and "supporting roles", we'll try to understand how and  why they affect and are affected by the project either positively or negatively, how much influence  do they have, are they close to other influencers in the organization etc.

Stage 3

This is the practical stage in which we invest thought to the manner in which we can get these "influencers" to influence the "stakeholders" for the benefit of the project.

Hereby are a few examples of utilizing stakeholders:

  • Constant updates during the project
  • Participating in launching/conclusion events
  • Attaching and forwarding mails
  • Hallway meetings
  • Lunch together, coffee etc.

In conclusion, it is important that this process is not performed only at the beginning of the project; rather accompany it throughout its duration. Furthermore, during the project check if any new stakeholders have suddenly appeared. If these are indeed located, perform the three stages described above again.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge Audit

Knowledge audit is the evaluation of the organization's current achievements in Knowledge Management, the knowledge environment, and mapping the available tacit and explicit knowledge sources.

Knowledge Bot

The term knowledge Bot is a term popularly used by those dealing with the IT world, especially those dealing with WEB. Despite the mysterious aroma clouding the term, it is actually referring to a software named so as reference to the term 'robot' and expresses the human intelligence allegedly related to this software. The same characteristics of intelligence or human discernment abilities gave this software nicknames such as 'smart agent' or 'smart bot'. The Bot is actually a software which can complete a mission independently for a person or other entity. As soon as the task is given, the robot executes it till its completion, without any additional involvement required. This is the software's uniqueness.

Nowadays, the most common use of programs of this sort takes place in the internet.

 

What can a Knowledge Bot do?

  1. Search for information automatically-for example, a request to map out your competition's financial status will not only provide you with a detailed answer but also commence the search independently: if said competition launches a new website, the knowledge bot will expand its searches to this site as well with no further command from the user necessary.
  2. To answer specific questions. For example: "where is a X type of TV sold for the cheapest price?"
  3. To send notifications. For example, when an article in the predefined field is published, the requested book is now on sale, traffic status, etc.
  4. To 'tailor' content especially for the user. For example, only sports and finance news.

 

Sophisticated knowledge bots can be purchased from SPCs, but can also be found for no cost on the web.

Knowledge Chain

A collective instinct which stems from knowledge flowing through four different levels:

  1. Internal awareness: represents the organization's collective understanding regarding the advantages and disadvantages beside a structural silo and functional principles of faith.
  2. Internal responsiveness: represents the organization's ability instantly organize skills based on unfiltered evaluation of the chances the external market offers as well its demands.
  3. External awareness: represents the organization's ability to understand the visible market value of the organization's products and services in accordance to the market's inclinations and requirements. Paired with inner awareness, outer awareness can lead to the discovery of new and successful markets.
  4. External responsiveness: emphasizes the constant ability to meet the market on its terms- even when the market itself cannot express them. This is a substantially quick level of responsiveness to environmental conditions and is based on better relationships between sources and markets.
Knowledge City

The term Knowledge City is concept in the world of Knowledge Management, which refers to a city planned and designed especially in order to encourage knowledge cultivation within the city.

In order for a city to be recognized as a knowledge city it must, as a start, have a university (knowledge development facility) and an airport (knowledge sharing facility).

A knowledge city is:

  • A city which possesses tools for creating knowledge for its citizens;
  • A city with a chain of public libraries which meet the European standard;
  • A city in which all citizens have access to all new communication technologies;
  • All devices and cultural services share a central educational strategy;
  • A city which has a local newspaper and a book-reading level similar to the European average;
  • A city with a network of schools connected with a center for arts education in their field;
  • A city which respects the variety of its citizens' cultural specializations;
  • A city which directs its streets to cultural services;
  • A city which simplifies the cultural activities of shared communities and associations in the city by providing the required space and resources;
  • A city with urban centers opened to the public and encourage frontal interactions;
  • A city which provides visitors from out of town with tools required for the visitors in order to self-express.
Knowledge concierge

A term used by some organizations to refer to workers who distribute knowledge throughout an interest group.  The term is also used as a title for an individual whose position requires authorizing knowledge prior to its public publishing. A knowledge concierge is usually the community's leader or a content expert.

Knowledge Discovery

The increasing growth of the gap between the capacity and abilities of the storage and data retrieval systems and the users' ability to analyze the information usefully and act according to the conclusion of the analysis prevents many times to exploit the information inflation in the organization. Nowadays, as information is the most critical resource in many fields and nearly every organization accumulates vast amounts of information, there is a growing need for smart tools that can enable maximally benefitting from the raw information accumulated. The process of refining the relevant information from the vast amounts of the existing data, searching for trends, connections and patterns of interest are referred to professionally as "Data Mining", referring to an enormous mountain of data from which pebbles of knowledge are extracted. Mining the information is defined as an activity which includes discovering information, predicting and searching for tacit connections in the large databases. Data Mining is sometimes referred to as KDD (Knowledge Discovery in Databases).

 

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Knowledge Ecology

Knowledge exists in ecological systems with mutual fertilization of information, ideas and inspiration. The ecological image is used to emphasize that the organizations are acting as organic system, i.e. the more diversity they feature the more they are adaptive and therefore stronger. Knowledge ecology works in a similar manner. The assumption is that knowledge is dynamic, is constantly changing and is essentially a product of social activity by which individuals, teams, organizations and communities evolve.

The conversation is the heart of knowledge ecology, whether it is a face-to-face conversation or a virtual one via internet or interant. The term reminds us that we cannot manage knowledge in the same manner that we manage tangible assets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Knowledge Enterprise Leaders

A number of functionaries in the organization participate in the field of Knowledge Management: A knowledge manager, a content expert and a knowledge worker. Each is defined both regarding who is manning the position and its requirements and what the position includes. In some organizations, another position exists- a manager who manages the knowledge managers in the organization. In large organizations which operate a headquarters and several factories, there is a knowledge manager in each factory and on top of all these managers- an organizational manager managing the knowledge managers in the different factories. This manager is usually responsible for defining the organizational KM strategy, defining a vision for Knowledge Management in the organization, monitoring the uniformity of the different KM tools and methodologies used in the organization and providing professional enrichment for knowledge managers.

Knowledge Graph

If there's something that Google has mastered, it's search engines. Anybody involved in website analysis and promotion is trying to find the Google-like solution that will reach precise, relevant and concise search results.

The Knowledge Graph was developed by Google back in 2012 and is being refined and improved over time. It is a technological tool that has changed the world of data searching and is meant to provide users with direct and precise answers for their search queries. This is done by presenting selected facts beside the regular search results. The graph narrows the gap between what the user is looking for, the amount of data that must be filtered and the direct answer to their query.

The Knowledge Graph is not necessarily presented in the usual graph form that connects the objects from which it is comprised. It represents a shift to a new kind of internet search and information accessibility. It displays information besides the dry description and thus enables the user to make decisions, perform further actions and provides added value. For example, if we search for "Steimatzky", the regular search results displayed on the left will include the official website, a list of chapters, the network's history, etc. However, the Knowledge Graph beside this information will present us with the immediate facts that may call us to action: a phone number, opening hours, customer reviews, which social networks hold information on Steimatzky, etc.

This new search isn’t based on keywords. It is based on the entities these words describe, such as personnel, areas, musical styles, businesses, etc. An entity can be a football team, related to another entity through various contexts, such as geographical area. If you look for information on Barcelona Football Club, you will also be presented with information on another entity: the region of Catalonia.

 

 

 

 

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Knowledge Half-Life

 

Like many subjects, knowledge too has a delicate balance between the cost of maintaining and retaining the knowledge and repurchasing. Regarding knowledge, the middle of the way is defined as the period in which purchasing new knowledge is most worthwhile (in terms of cost vs. benefit) than maintaining/recycling the existing knowledge. Nowadays, when planning and constructing new knowledgebases, including updating devices, it is noteworthy to remember this period, signifying the middle of the road for our product. It will be relevant earlier than we might think.

Knowledge Harvesting

It is a known fact that there are two kinds of knowledge in organizations: explicit knowledge- knowledge which is located in the operative systems and information systems, knowledge which is easy to access, share and utilize and tacit knowledge- informal knowledge which is usually acquired through intuitions and experience and differentiates between those "dealing" with a certain subject and those who specialize in it.

That is nothing new.

What is new is the knowledge harvesting approach which enables the organization to locate, document and simplify said tacit knowledge held by key workers and thus make it explicit and available to others active in the field. The aspiration of this approach is to reflect the internal decision making processes of said experts on a level that others can learn from, mimic and (hopefully) produce similar results.

Using the knowledge harvest approach is efficient in many situations such as:

When the organization wishes to "know what it knows"; when the knowledge is required for a specific, well defined purpose; when the organization wishes to retain the knowledge and experience of workers retiring from the organization; when the organization wishes to perform a change or improvement process in the organization or as part of a routine Knowledge Management activity.

The advantages of knowledge harvesting are obvious:

  1. The knowledge held by few people becomes available to others who might need it.
  2. The vital information isn't lost when people leave or retire.
  3. The information is accessible regardless of time, location or availability of the expert.
  4. Efficiency is enhanced thanks to improving the organization's "knowledge level".
  5. It can be performed relatively and cheaply.

 

How does one implement the knowledge harvesting approach?

Unfortunately, There is no miraculous formula that will instantly actualize the process, yet there general guidelines which may assist the organization to advance towards the implication of this method. These guidelines can be divided into a number of steps:

  • Focus: clearly define which knowledge you wish to focus on. Do not try to collect "all of the knowledge", since that is an impossible task. Follow your organization's goals, examine what needs improving or conserving and what is the knowledge you must collect in order to achieve these goals. Examples of critical knowledge include:
    • Knowledge concerning central activities/systems/equipment
    • Knowledge concerning retaining strategic client/supplier relationships
    • Informal knowledge concerning organizational culture, required in order to understand "how to get things going around here"
  • Select a defined target audience and learn it: consider whoever might use the knowledge, how many people this definition includes, their specific needs and average level of experience. Consider the best way to distribute knowledge for these users, and thus ensure efficient resources investment.
  • Locate your experts: locate those individuals who hold tacit knowledge from which you wish to "harvest" the knowledge. Remember, these are not necessarily the organization's veterans. In order to locate these experts, use an organizational chart (if one exists), consult managers or locate important documents and check their writers' names. After locating the experts, collect information about them: position description, area of responsibility, education, training and experience. You will need this information in order to validate their expertise.
  • Select your "harvester": The harvester is the individual who will actually perform the research and discover the tacit information. Choosing the right person for the job is critical as much of the process's success/failure depends on the harvester's ability to perform the research, interview people and get the right information "out of them". This process isn't an easy one, since experts aren't always aware of the knowledge they hold and require assistance in "recovering" this information and interpreting it. Do not write off the option of employing a professional interviewer. There is a correlation between the harvester's level of expertise and the quality and efficiency of the harvested information. If you wish to use an organization worker, it is recommended to use those naturally inclined to this sort of task such as consultants, instructors and researchers.\
  • Harvest the knowledge: The most recommended method is face-to-face interviews. Request the experts to describe their conduct in specific events. The more focused the interview, the higher the received information's quality. Prepare yourself for the interview by preparing your own questions as well collecting questions from others. Examples of recommended questions include:
    • What is the first thing you do when…?
    • What would have happened if…?
    • Who do you involved when performing X?
    • What are common mistakes you see others make when performing X?
    • What do you believe will make X easier and better understood?
    • What is the most important thing to remember when performing X?

It is recommended to use a recording device when interviewing. It is faster than handwriting and ensures that no information is lost in the process. Another method involves interviewing in pairs. After performing a limited amount of interviews, stop. Return with the results to the users and review with them whether you "hit home", i.e. is the information new and contributive? If their answer is positive- you may proceed with the interviews. If not, this is the right time to perform the appropriate adjustments.

  • Organize, summarize and distribute: when you are finished collecting the knowledge, organize and edit so it can be appropriately presented to the target audience (this adaptation is critical). Consult your target audience regarding their preferred presentation method (database, systems, incorporation into work procedures, query system). Do not take this matter lightly: ensuring accessibility to information that all the work you've done doesn't find itself without a target audience. After a certain period of time, review your work and its contribution to the target audience. Like any knowledgebase, as soon as you are done- the knowledge begins to age...

 

Knowledge Junction

In the world of Knowledge Management, there are many partners. We are familiar with the community leaders, the experts, the content managers and, of course, the knowledge workers. One group of knowledge holders is usually neglected. I am referring to the knowledge junctions.

The knowledge junctions are not necessarily the knowledge holders themselves. Yet these are the workers that know who to turn to in every situation. They are those that will know the intra-organizational knowledge experts as well as the extra-organizational ones. They are also those that will know the pros and cons of utilizing the different experts. In the networking world they are referred to as "coordinators".

Apparently, once we begin to manage the knowledge and its experts, the knowledge junctions are redundant. This is incorrect, as Knowledge Management is a gradual process. Furthermore, KM cannot possibly encompass all subjects, neither breadth of activity not depth of expertise. Knowledge junctions complete the knowledge which was not managed.

 

How does one manage knowledge junctions?

  1. Cultivate them and acknowledge them as you would knowledge experts.
  2. Provide them with a platform, both human (referencing when credit is due) and virtual (in portal, white pages or any other homepage relevant to the organization).

 

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management deals with retaining, sharing, structuring and developing knowledge, using well known methodologies, and serving organizational goals.

This is not the only definition of this term. There are actually tens of definitions for Knowledge Management around the globe. There's even a website which concentrates many definitions for Knowledge Management (At time of this writing- 62 definitions @ http://blog.simslearningconnections.com/?p=279).

Yet this definition and its simplicity encompass meaningful descriptions of the objective of Knowledge Management:

  • Retaining- that the organization will know tomorrow what it knows today. For example: retiree knowledge retaining projects.
  • Sharing- that worker A knows the same as worker B. For example: communities of knowledge managers, a professional website.
  • Structuring- in order to make it easier to reach the knowledge (external structuring)- i.e. arranging documents in a website; and understand it (internal structuring)- i.e. use of templates.
  • Knowledge Development: creating new knowledge so that the organization will know tomorrow more than it knows today. For example: learning lessons, innovation, developing a professional doctrine.

 

Note: Every activity listed above contains some additional activities (each sharing includes structuring, every development includes sharing etc). Nevertheless, we view the dominant component and brand the activity accordingly.

It is also important to point out that every activity contains aspects of computerization, process, culture and content.

Knowledge Management should be methodological, because if we don't act according to orderly methods, we will make great efforts and produce very little, alike any other managerial field. It should be goal-oriented for two reasons:

  1. There is an infinite amount of knowledge and this is the only managed way to prioritize correctly.
  2. Because sharing for the sake of sharing and so on might be interesting yet is not always suitable. Management includes defining objectives.
Knowledge Pumps

One of the challenges we face as Knowledge Management project managers is content maintenance. It is easier to set up a project than to ensure its usage and ongoing update in new and existing content. The way to overcome this challenge is by creating 'knowledge pumps':

Automatic pumps: 'cut' the knowledge from the operative systems or external databases automatically, with (nearly) no human interference.

We are not always lucky enough to have automatic pumps. We then require the use of other pumps:

Passive pumps: pumps which require minimal effort on behalf of the user in order to assist us and provide us with the required knowledge. These pumps usually serve as update tests for existing content and only rarely are of assistance in adding new content. An example of a passive pump is a pump which appears at the end of a tip given to a worker and requests the worker for feedback. One technique is the Dual Enter technique in which the worker can click on two Enter buttons on the screen in front of him/her. There is no choice between right and left, but by choosing the user is contributing knowledge to the database.

Active pumps: pumps in which we actively turn to the worker and interview him/her on the existing he/she holds. In most cases, despite the difficulty involved, these too are required in order to complete the process.

Knowledge Raffle

 

How do you get an audience, specifically your workers, to get closer to new knowledge subjects which we wish to promote?

This is a question which we discuss repeatedly during the initiation of Knowledge Management activities (sometimes even during their maintenance). There are different methods; some are only suitable for a specific organization, some are general. One of these methods is the Knowledge Raffle.

The method consists of a quiz on the knowledge subject, followed by a raffle and prize. The challenge is to raise the interest and occupation with this specific knowledge subject in the organization.

Quizzes and questionnaires with prizes can increase activity and use of KM technology tools (especially if the tool is a forum or knowledge community). The prizes should be somehow related to the field: a book or course, for example. This can be performed in knowledge communities or any other Knowledge Management system in the organization.

Knowledge Topology

A platform which catalogues Knowledge Management into four main segments:

  • Intermediation of the knowledge; sharing the knowledge around communities and groups.
  • Externalization of the knowledge (from the individual to the public).
  • Internalization of the knowledge (so it can be used).
  • Cognition of the knowledge; making it defined and explicit.

This topology somewhat represents the lifecycle of managed knowledge items.

 

Knowledge Tree

A knowledge tree, also named- navigation tree is a hierarchical mechanism which represents items with a common denominator, thus creating "knowledge branches" on different subjects represented on different levels: 'branches', 'sub-branches' and 'leaves'. The basis of a knowledge tree is the "trunk" of central subjects, the "branches" represent the names of the different items sorted logically in folders and the "leaves" i.e. each branch ending in one or more basic content items.

The knowledge Tree is not merely a logical term; it is a real body in every computerized Knowledge Management solution such as portals, content websites and communities and serves for as the "spine" which contains all organizational knowledge on a certain field. 

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Knowledgebase

A database which stores knowledge items: quality lists, experts or lessons and insights. Many times, the knowledgebase is varied and is not structured uniformly.

KQML – The Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language

This term refers to ARPA's efforts to develop techniques and methodologies for the construction of large, shareable and reusable knowledgebases. KQML addresses both the structure of the message and the structure of the protocol which contains it and can be used as a common means of communication (a language) between different knowledge agents (usually Knowledge Management computerizing systems). This might become a fixed standard, but can also end up as just one more academic research. Time will tell.

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