A long day, starting with an early morning alarm to make the 0701 from Swindon and ending up with a late night arrival in Trieste for State of the Net 2014 of which more over the next few days. The reason for the early morning train was to give the opening keynote at KM UK. David Gurteen opened the event as Chairman by referencing the fact that this was the eleventh year at the conference. I started my keynote (available as a podcast) by referencing my surprise that this was the eleventh year at which I have given a keynote at the event and that in that time I had seen three cycles of knowledge management adoption with the same mistakes being made each time. The opening minutes of the podcast will give you my views about that.
One of the main points I made, and the purpose of this post, was the need to work with reality, to manage the evolutionary potential of the present rather than starting with an idealised statement of how things should be. That meant I ran through the complex domain of Cynefin making the point about the need to start a programme with safe-to-fail experiments and the need to understand the existing flow patterns of knowledge use in the organisation. That means two key outputs which fortunately are part of the same process.
The process of creating both of those is technique we teach on day three of the training programme (not to late to book any of the stand alone one day sessions next week in London by the way, there are a couple of places left on most days). It can be run as a consultancy exercise, or at wider scale & more objectivity/persuasive power with SenseMaker®. The latter approach means that your knowledge mapping exercise also creates a first narrative based knowledge system which is a side benefit. I describe it briefly in the keynote but the key point about the decision map is that it is built bottom up. The process is pretty simple:
Now this contrast is key to allowing senior executives to see things for themselves, it also urgent knowledge projects to be defined to close the gap. A choice is always made then between conforming the actual to the real, the real to the actual or something between the two. At the same time the decision clusters allow key knowledge to be identified and then the dependency of the organisation to be mapped into a portfolio of projects. More on that in a future post (stages 6 plus) as the overall method is undergoing revision and greater formalisation to accommodate the wider capabilities provided by SenseMaker® so watch this space (or book in for next Wednesday). It is one of the first formal methods I created over two decades ago and the utility is undiminished by the passage of time.
The main point of all of this is to create a contrast, or gradient of meaning to lapse into specialist language for a moment. Contrasts enable insight, and insight based on descriptive self-awareness. People are far more likely to change if they can see something for themselves and this method does that. Another of those key complexity principles, change the gradient and the system changes. Its consultancy guided by heuristics and principles not a recipe; an artisan approach not a manufacturing one. The artisan creates unique and contextually appropriate solutions, manufacturing standard product is too compromised for the nuances of effective knowledge management.