E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

theTeam – Knowledge Management Done Right

Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas in the WinterYou may have noticed how, over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have started to share over here in this blog a whole lot more video (related) content than anything else, to the point where I can imagine how there may be a few of you folks out there who may be wondering whether this blog will turn itself into a videoblog eventually. Well, not likely. At least, not at this point in time. What happens though is my ever growing addiction to one of my all time favourite iPad Apps I just can’t get enough of: Showyou. If you are a big fan of Flipboard, it’s pretty much the same, but for video. So now you know why I keep bumping into some pretty amazing video clips and why I just can’t help the urge to share them across with other people who may be interested as well. And today is no different. Have you seen “Using Knowledge Management” (Further info details can be found over here)? No? Ok, then, can you spare 5 minutes? Go and watch it. I will be waiting for you over here till you are done. It’ll be worth your time, I can surely guarantee you that!

Specially, if you are one of those folks who feels that Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business are pretty close to some of the basic key principles behind traditional Knowledge Management, drafted back in the day, like I have blogged about, just recently, under the heading “KM, Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business: One and The Same“:

The video clip describes how theTeam, a design agency based in Borough, London, and which specialises in communications, seems to have nailed it as far as adopting and deploying a rather successful Knowledge Management programme, mainly, in my opinion, because it’s based on two core components or key success factors that permeate throughout as well in any Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business strategies: focus on the people (Along with the experience and expertise they bring forward to the business) and effectively tie it (KM) into business goals.

In the video clip itself you will see how Phil Whitehouse, Programme Director, describes very nicely how they have approached it with lots of practical and sensible advice based on their own know-how and experience, developed over time, and you will see what I mean shortly… His take on how they do meetings is brilliant and I surely wish more and more people would adopt and embrace similar practices. It’s also interesting how they have moved away from that focus the corporate world has been having over the course of the last 15 to 17 years around KM being just tools and technology and instead place an emphasis on the outcomes to achieve and consider KM as the enabler to make it happen. Does it ring a bell?

Another important, and rather critical aspect, that Phil touches base on and which we are finally starting to see permeate the Social Computing area as well is the clear connection they have made, and advocated for, between KM and Learning, specially, informal learning, leaving it down to employees to take, and share, a rather active role in that responsibility to keep up with their skills, what’s happening in the industry, and with their customers and business partners, to the point where (customers) relationships have become paramount for them to be able to conduct good business.

And that’s probably the main reason why they have, eventually, embraced fully that wonderful open, public, participatory knowledge sharing culture, as Phil mentions, where they are all leading by example even going all the way to the top! Priceless! Now, I am not going to spoil the rest of the video interview, since he has got a couple of other golden gems to share with you all, but his conclusion on how to get things going with a KM framework for your business could surely apply, and very accurately, to any E2.0 / Social Business frameworks as well: “don’t try and boil the ocean”. Basically, start small, learn quick, move faster, and build from there!

As you can see, once again, traditional KM done right is pretty close to what we nowadays have with both Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. Perhaps far too close for comfort, but, then again, on the other hand, if theTeam has learned about what works for them, and what not!, while embracing that open, knowledge sharing culture supported by KM / social tools, as enablers, to meet business objectives, right there, I think you would agree with me, we have got a GREAT success story of what it is like that final transformation into an engaged, transparent and nimble social business!


Who is next?

0 votes


    1. Hi Gerald, thanks a lot for dropping by and for sharing those great comments to a rather good blog post on the topic of KM failures. Fascinating read which reminded me of another blog post I put together a while ago on sharing ideas across that perhaps, to us, are a bit too obvious, but certainly not to others. And I think that’s also applicable to our ability, or inability to want to learn from failures, based on that corporate culture of neglecting and rejecting failure by nature, even the learning process behind it.

      I, too, wish we would have a much more relevant opportunity to learn from our own failures, whether KM related or not; I think we surely need to start shifting gears and start embracing failure, even at KM, in order to be able to evolve further, otherwise we are bound to make the very same mistakes all along…

      Hopefully, not this time around! 🙂

      Thanks again for the feedback!

      1. Just to add to these thoughts, Luis, in my opinion (and in my experience), too many organizations focus exclusively on “Best” (not “Better”, but that’s another story) practices and see Lessons Learned as merely the things that go right. Few people seem to realize the knowledge that can be gained from understanding why things went wrong. There seems to be a general fear of discussing it. There are surely times when an organization does look at the things that went wrong, especially if it affects their core competencies or the use of their product(s), but the overall integration of what can be learned (and passed on) as a result of those failures is seldom (again, in my experience) passed down as part of the organization’s useful knowledge.

        This video is a wonderful example, btw, of an enterprise that appears to have figured out how best to apply a KM framework and, as you have pointed out and you know I agree with, successfully integrated both KM and Social Business tools and practices. Thanks for sharing.

        1. Hi Rick! Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the wonderful comments! As insightful as ever, for sure! While reading through them I just couldn’t help about the huge amount of damage that mentality of focusing on best practices has produced within the corporate environment and beyond. It’s amazing to see how even today we still rely so much on those best practices to get anything done, forgetting completely about lessons learned, failures or good / next practices.

          A few years back I was at a conference event watching Dave Snowden talk about KM sharing some insights on how we, as human beings, seem to learn a whole lot more from our failures and lessons learned (Where there’s always something to improve and learn from) than from best practices, where everything has been done already and there is no room for improvement. Ever since them I am more and more convinced by the day that our focus should be on those lessons learned and good / next practices in order to become better at what we do. Best practices are not going to get us there.

          And this example over here, is a clear proof of how they have learned from previous / past mistakes, corrected them and become better at what they do by applying those new adjustments, and in this case, combining the best of both worlds! That’s why I just couldn’t help sharing it over here to show that it is possible to make it happen. Even for smaller companies 🙂

          1. You bet, Luis. You hit on that “other story” I mentioned. The words themselves – Best Practices – imply there is nothing else to do . . . when we know better. At my former place of employment there was a thing called “Standard Work”. I doubt even the least critical thinker there was convinced it was possible, or even productive, to reduce everything to a standard set of instructions, but the concept was like a beacon that led everyone in that direction. If it does nothing else, striving to develop a set of “Best” practices (or Standard Work) can’t help but hinder many of the things we believe Social Media facilitates, e.g. serendipity, emergence, even “organic” collaboration. Once again, thanks for all the great stuff you share. You make me wish I were back in the corporate world. Well, kind of . . . only if I could work at an organization that at least approaches “getting” it.

          2. @Rick, what a great follow-up! Thanks much for adding further up on describing some of the main problems, I, too, see with the whole concept behind best practices that seems to have drown most of the collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation at corporations. I, too, wish we would be able to move on forward into learning about the real value and where it is, not on those best practices, but on the ones that are about to be defined! That’s where the key learning experience is, for sure!

            Thanks a bunch for sharing those insights and, not to worry, it will eventually come up! 😉

  1. Yes! i think the key diff between traditional KM and 2.0 is that in traditional KM, KM was an activity that was not inherently part of work, but a separate activity. E20 is the integration of work and knowledge creation, capture and sharing. We are harvesting work, rather than building knowledge. The 2.0 tech makes this possible. The high level aspiration hasn’t changed – the way we think about it and execute has.

    1. Hi Deb! Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the wonderful commentary! Really good stuff! You are dead on! Actually, the primary basis behind KM was almost identical of what we have today with Enterprise 2.0. However, once vendors and consultant took over KM to place a far too deep emphasis on technology and processes and help manage KM become an umbrella of everything, it became the umbrella of anything, and why it was always kept isolated from what was happening in the business.

      I, too, am hoping we may have all learned that lesson from the past on what KM and failed to do, and we can move forward to help prevent make the same mistake again. For Enterprise and Social Business they need to go through that transformation of being integrated with processes, using the right tooling, and with the people focus KM never had, and all of that in the context of being work, doing work, sharing work across. That’s the good starting point in my opinion we once had and hope we can still retain from Enterprise 2.0.

      Thanks again for the lovely feedback and for dropping by!

  2. Hi, Luis and Rick,
    coming to your party, but bringing my own music, sorry for that.
    I agree with you on the term “Best Practices” (not good as static …), and when I had earlier read your posts, Luis, on BP, I was always amazed that anyone would handle BP as such a rigid straight jacket, and not just quasi-static. There is in KM the intention no to start from the scratch all the time, but also not to invent another wheel all the time. So creativity is on purpose traded for effeciency in a conscious decision (ambition is conscious) so time (the static part in quasi-static), temporarily, untill requirement analysis comes up with the re-use to dump (quasi as static situation is overcome within tiny steps). So yes, you are right in all your arguments, but don’t neglect the effeciency side.

    1. Hi Gerald:

      I believe we are in agreement. However, your use of the word efficiency is a red flag to me. Rather than say much about what I mean, I will leave you with the words of Professor Russell Ackoff, who was quite likely “stealing” a bit of wisdom from Peter Drucker when he wrote:

      “Science, technology, and economics focus on efficiency, but not effectiveness. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is important to an understanding of transformational leadership. Efficiency is a measure of how well resources are used to
      achieve ends; it is value-free. Effectiveness is efficiency weighted by the values of the
      ends achieved; it is value-full. For example, a men’s’ clothing manufacturer may efficiently turn out suits that do not fit well. Another less efficient manufacturer may turn out suits that do fit well. Because “fit” is a value to customers, the second manufacturer would be considered to be the more effective even though less efficient than the first. Of course, a manufacturer can be both efficient and effective.

      “Put another way: efficiency is a matter of doing things right; effectiveness is a matter of doing the right things. For example, the more efficient our automobiles have become, the more of them are on city streets. The more of them on city streets, the more congestion there is. The efficiency of an act can be determined without reference to those affected by it. Not so for effectiveness. It is necessarily personal. The value of an act may be, and usually is, quite different for different individuals. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is also reflected in the difference between growth and development, and development is of greater concern to a transformational leader
      than growth.”

      I can’t speak for Luis, but I find being effective far more challenging and alluring than being efficient. Not that we can’t, as Russ said, be both.

  3. Hi, Rick,
    first: that is what a good blog is about; born by an author, raised by a community (but you are welcome, Luis 😉
    second: fully agree, what I was after is the competetive advantage (in the end we are in business) by re-using, and this – after you’re comment I see the problem clearer – is not only effeciency (which is a clear “advantage” of Best Practice, but effectiveness (as re-use in a “good practice” approach, making sure the suit fits the customer.

    1. Whoahh! What a brilliant conversation developing over here, folks! Fantastic! Both Rick and Gerald, many many thanks! Sure thing! The value of the community conversation! hehe

      I think Rick brings in a very good point of the several flaws behind best practices and his quote of Ackoff is spot on! I think in our nature of reaching for perfection we keep forgetting that some times it pays off, quite a bit!, to leave things out to creativity and innovation developing further ideas rather than trying to reproduce what’s been done already. Now, I am not saying we should reinvent the wheel over and over again, in fact, I am pretty much against it. That’s why I like good practices or next practices better. Something to start off with, but an interim step to reach to a higher level.

      With best practices there isn’t an opportunity for doing that, which clearly brings in the great quote by Rick on the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. I think we need to strike a balance for both, but nowadays, in most cases we only seem to be focusing on one and may be losing out on the other one. In fact, I, too, agree with Rick about effectiveness being the most exciting and challenge of both to achieve and somehow we’re starting to witness how that balance seems to be falling into place with our use of social tools out there.

      Again, outstanding contributions, folks! Thanks much for the inspiring morning! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Deb Lavoy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *