Geert Willems

Geert Willems

woensdag 23 juli 2014

The solution star to determine your knowledge management methodology, tools and techniques

Building knowledge management solutions for almost two decades now, the following star to determine the knowledge management methodology, tools and techniques seems to be quiet stable!

vrijdag 11 juli 2014

Het meest interessante boek de laatste jaren over kennismanagement in het nederlandstalige gebied is hier te koop - ook de e-book versie:

Het meest interessante boek de laatste jaren over kennismanagement in het nederlandstalige gebied is hier te koop - ook de e-book versie. 196 bladzijden met daarin de meest gebruikte strategische doelstellingen die door kennismanagement ondersteund kunnen worden, de praktische regels en richtlijnen die te gebruiken zijn om uw kennismanagementinitatieven te ondersteunen en wat we praktisch moeten onthouden en kunnen gebruiken uit de laatste 20 jaar kennismanagement theorie,

Boek 2: kennismanagementprojecten

Boek 2 klaar voor laatste review door uitgever ! 182 A4's over het projectmatig aanpakken van kennismanagement en een overzicht van meer dan 100 regelmatig gebruikte tools en technieken en hun analyse!

dinsdag 3 juni 2014

The suicidal definition of knowledge management

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I'm out for a number of days, but I could not resist handling this topic.

Last week I saw some anti-knowledge-management articles.
I love critism, since it makes people grow - when it is justified.

But when I saw an article: Enterprise 2.0 is not about knowledge management, leave the people alone, and good times will arise - something very wrong appears.
And it's also in combination with recent customer visits.

I tend to ask a customer why they invite me and what there vision on knowledge management is.

And most of the time the answer is: it is about extracting knowledge, putting this in an expert system, and reuse this knowledge.
Than it takes some will-power not to show my natural reaction. That would be:

When people blog, or give presentations on knowledge management, I really advise them to take a good look at the current status of the field of knowledge management, including,
handling complexity, starting from the personal knowledge sharing attitude and capabilities, enabling culture to share and create knowledge, taking into account life-span of knowledge, taking into account the set of solutions without using expert systems... because THAT's what Enterprise 2.0 and KM is all about today.

It seems that in other management areas, KM is still perceived as a strict, process dependent, inflexible solution... which is far from the truth!!

maandag 28 april 2014

The Must of a Balanced Knowledge Management: the wave I ride

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I've been working hard on a specific customer project ànd delivering 3 books on KM these weeks, so instead of active blogging I took the opportunity to watch the types of articles published and tweeds sent around the world. To analyse the hot topics, and the trends.

Topics and tweets on personal knowledge management and wether or not it's coming back. IT companies still pushing their 'KM solution'. A rare (but valuable) post on handling all four domains of the Cynefin complexity model, instead of preaching one solution.

And then it stroke me: there are still so many tendencies in KM.

It should be obvious by now we need a balanced KM.
KM where indeed all complexities are handeled in their specific way.
Personal knowledge ànd knowledge in networks. Externalised and networked and modelled where needed. Depending on the organisational knowledge maturity - even upto the personal knowledge maturity. Linked to processes on the level they have added value. Supported by the appropriate tools - and where the role of the tool is indeed supporting. Including nets, questionnaires, knowledge cafés, visual capturing techniques where required. Based on business cases proving value or risk analysis for our customers.

In a strategic way. Solving concrete needs.

...guess I just wrote again how I believe KM should be approach....

Just another opinion, one wave in the sea of opinions.

But this is the wave I ride !!

zaterdag 22 maart 2014

Countering politics and shortsightedness with communication and trust

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I really hate politics and shortsightedness.

Most of the time, as a consultant, the games played are very easy, transparant and do not have an influence in my work.

But sometimes I have to deal with it.

Typically when a person does not know my background, is a control freak with micro-management style, does not know the added value of knowledge management yet, and does not think wider then the minimal short-term output to be delivered.

If this happens it's for me the sign that need to spend more time to communication and need to build trust - in 80% of the times I can prevent this situation. Who said KM was about technology?

Building trust, communicate... a lot! Up-front!
Balanced with low hanging fruit.

I already talked a lot on culture, and on cultural analysis up-front - which in this case I did not do.
The project will be fine - even not delayed.

When implementing KM, the best way is not always from A to B.
You need to go via C sometimes, against your will, but for the sake of the greated good: keep smiling and waving ;-)

The value of guided failing in knowledge management

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Creative and passionate people, having a good set of brains do not tend to following other ideas and people without questions.

"yes but"
"my experience says"
"there is a shorter way"
"I used to do this in another way"
"I'd like to do it another way"
"Can't the software really do that?"
"What if"

These remarks are very useful. These are personal remarks. And as a part of change - human change - it's a good idea to have these questions answered.

Last week I went to a company, delivering 2 days of consultancy to check if a certain tool could support their knowledge sharing.

There were a few ways to do this exercise:

One way to prepare this meeting was:
investigating the information model that they already had,
investigating the features of the tool,
downloading it, installing it, testing it.
That way I could propose a solution. Knowing it won't be perfect with the preparation I had.

But I looked to solve the concrete problem which triggered them to hire me, discovered how to solve it but saw that plenty more were coming, and lot's of them I couldn't predict.

So I looked at the information model upfront, at the tool capabilities and I knew that these smart people, who wanting to set-up the environment themselves, so I decided to follow the strategy of guided failing, the day after...


So I went with a rather blank mind and a very simple strategy: let's sit together, pick a part to implement, and start implementing. The low hanging fruit was to defuse the problem had, and use the momentum to start implementing.

We worked in team for about five hours. I guided them through failures and successes, every idea they were enthusiastic about we implemented, or hit the bounderies of the tool.

And the result after those five hours were phenomenal:
- The most complex part of the information architecture was implemented in the tool
- The people who are using the tool:
    - did the implementation themselves
    - know why the way things is implemented
    - know the bounderies of the tools
    - know why the implementation is done the way it is
    - know all the failed ways of implementations and why

Instead of 2 days, we spent five hours.
And my customer was really happy, and more important, the knowledge of implementing their architecture really was internalised!

Compared with: presenting "this is your solution", this approach really proved his value!

And what's more - for me as a consultant - it was really fun to do!

zaterdag 1 maart 2014

The counterproductivity of knowledge management - and some answers

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I'm currently writing a trilogy on KM. First part is summarizing the last 20 years of KM in about 150 pages - this book is in print. The second one I'm writing now is on how to handle KM - yes, there are already books on this - but you'll see it's different. The last book will be example implementations.

From time to time subjects pop-up in my mind that won't belong in one of these books.

One of these items is that KM really can be counter productive.

When it is handled the wrong way.

But what are typicalities for a counter productive knowledge mangement implementation.

- Wrong choice of technology enabler. A tool with a fool is still a fool. Lot's to be said here. Choose the right one. It's not that hard when you know the guidelines.
- Wrong choice of project management. Archaic forms of knowledge management which are not agile enough to be succesfull in complex environments.
- Not enough focus on the people pillar. A KM initiative must be carried by the staff throughout the organisation. Knowing how people are sharing knowledge is key here.
- To much engineered processes and measurements. In engineering environments engineers love to engineer... too much sometimes.
- Over simplification: it by handling the whole of complex systems that you can sometimes come to solutions that are better and even simplier compared with handling a system which was simplified first.

Geert Willems

dinsdag 25 februari 2014

The goal of knowledge management - one-liner wordcloud

I asked on LinkedIn in a KM specialist group to define in a one-liner what the goal of KM should be.... to play around a little, I put the result (first 18 answers) in a word cloud.
This is the result - follow us on Twitter: @GSWconsulting.

maandag 17 februari 2014

Learning skill independent knowledge management strategies

It's about a year ago that a remark during a KM training came "OK - waw, you really introduced us in knowledge techniques and how to approach this strategically, but you didn't tell anything (yet) on learning techniques". A few moments later the same person shared that indeed her - hospital - colleagues learned in different ways. 
And today I had a conversation on representing a framework. During the discussion it became clear that - in contradiction to the audio-visual person I am, the other person clearly had another way of absorbing knowledge. In a very constructive way - realising that her colleague structured and absorbed information in another way.
The same discussions over and over again when structuring document management systems: do we use metadata or a directory tree to structure everyhting? And as a result faulty implementations occur because either one of the two directions are taken. Unfortunately technology is not (yet) evolved to a point where metadata is generated and searched and structured automatically, although some really good efforts have been made on this point.

So what is the solution?
It's staring us in the face,

because, in fact there are no options.

There is no choice.

When you want to have a great knowledge and learning flow - wether it is internally or even towards customers - you need to create a solution strategy where all forms of learning are provided.
Fortunately training techniques have evolved so far that for a minimal add-on in cost and effort, compared with developping material that can be used by one type of person, can be used by every type of person.

although this insight is so clear,
it has been made troubled by solution providers only supporting one or two learning techniques.

woensdag 5 februari 2014

Strategic knowledge management - the value of your pieces of chess

Today I visited a CEO of a world famous company, leading in their field.
Doesn't happen to me often that I'm nervous - well I was today. These persons have the tendency to ask all kinds of strange questions and not sharing any information unless they are sure they know who they are dealing with. They tend to surprise me.
So I was surprised, because this very relaxed, open, unstressed, likeable CEO asked very logical questions. And sometimes those are the hardest when you are really in depth in your area of expertise (...I should write another time on that).

But an intresting topic was raised:
I try to avoid slides, but this time I used some of them. And on one of those slides more than 160 used techniques popped up. One by one. For 80 seconds, a new topic every half a second: "document management system", "CoP", "Knowledge Café", "Capturing meeting".

And this CEO surprised me really reading what was appearing saying "yes, we have this, we use that, yes, virtual teams too,..."

But the question was not "Do you know or use these tools and techniques".
The question is: do you use the right tools the right way in a coordinated way to grow in knowledge maturity?

When CoP is considered as a killer application within KM - it's a Queen on your chessboard.
A use of a knowledge based quality management system can be the king. And knowledge café's your horse.

But when there is no strategy behind all using these different tools and techniques,
when there is no strategy in coordinating alle the pieces of game,... you'll loose.

A knowledge strategy is not about 'hé, this is a new tool or technique - let's use it!'. It's not about 'we are already implementing a plan do check act cycle and continuous improvement'.

It's about unleashing the power of asking 'why'. Why are you moving your Queen, and does that effect the tower? Tools may be great in distributing knowledge - but is this knowledge reused?

The value of the field of expertise called knowledge management is the added value that you get when you coordinate the why with the how with the why again and with the whose, again asking yourself 'why'.

Just a pitty I didn not came up with this chess analogy this morning!

vrijdag 31 januari 2014

Unleash trust in KM

Trust can be described as existing out of the willingness to increase vulnerability with persons you can't control, in a situation where the possible disadvantage is smaller than then possible loss, when those other people decide to abuse this vulnerability".

This willingness is key in knowledge management.
Since you only have a good knowledge sharing when this willingness is available.

There is something unique about knowledge management and knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing MUST happen volunteereliy. You can do many things to force employees to share knowledge, but in the end these methods will not be effective.

Without trust, there is no fun in work.
Where there is trust, there is no fear - fear for colleagues, fear for management.
Without trust, persons and the company can not grow in knowledge maturity and knowledge sharing.

Everything what existis in a company which decreases trusts decreases knowledge sharing.

Without trust values and motives of others are easily interpreted.
The communication is distorted in a company where there is no trust.
If there is no trust, good ideas are not that easily recognised and accepted.
Without trust, it is difficult to get the needed information leading to frustration.
A lack of trust leads to multple control mechanisms, again preventing knowledge sharing.
When there is no trust, there is no self control, but control from above only - decreasing motivation, and knowledge sharing.
Without trust implementations are slowed down.
In an atmosphere without trust there is more defensiveness, hostile reactions and refusals.

Trust on the other hand, stimulates innovation, leads to a higher emotional stability, facilitates acceptance and openness and supports the taking of justified risks. 

Forcing employees can work up-to a certain level, but if the actions do not enforce trust, they will be counterproductive.
A huge responsibility is for the management, not only building the trust, but monitoring trust in their company networks. Scans are available for this.
Building up trust, good examples can be rewarded, but in the end the culture will be changed so that not trusting is just not accepted within the company.

Without trust there is no feeling of safety, there is no motivated staff. There is no knowledge sharing.

I know companies who don't accept this philosophy and still keep 'represive' control. They say it works good enough for them. They would think different if they would unleash trust in their company.

Without trust, you're blocked.

Next to mapping this the management needs to get behind the idea that trust is so important. As for the whole knowledge management strategy, the management needs to be behind it. And for some it is not easy, or just not done to change their management style.

But when the responsible believe, and acts,
the results will be beyond expectation.

This is easily said, the traject can be complex - since you're working with people of which all of them are different. I'm not having it for teambuilding activities, although a few selected of them can really increase trust - if the team is open for it!

Note: trust must be accompanied by professionalism

Trust is one of the items I'm really passionate for - book us for a workshop on this topic!

------------------------------Twitter - @GSWconsulting

woensdag 29 januari 2014

KM: silo's versus interactive networks: why this dependency is just wrong!

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Organisations come in all kinds of forms. Large, small. Hierarchical, networked. Functional
structured, divisional structured, multiple matrix structured. A pool of silo's, flexible communities.

If the goal of knowledge management is an optimal use of knowledge throughout the organisation, is the best knowledge management solution depending on the current organisation?

To create common ground: knowledge is in my approach not only what resides in the head, but what is also present in the body - and transfered to 'the organisation'.

In the end, in whatever company you work for, the task needs to be done.
If I take for example the job of a technical writer, creating customer documentation.
His goal is to deliver quality documentation (nowadays I should call this quality information because it's very easy to create a mix of different media today) in the most productive way.

From knowledge point of view, should the tasks to be done differ whether or not the technical writer is working in a silo organisation or in a variant networked team with no strict hierachy?

The answer is: no.

Practical objections (most of the time starting with "yes, but") could be:
"in a silo organisation the processes are different than in a networked organisation"
and my answer is (also starting with "yes, but"):
"Should it be different. And why is it different?"

The answer I could get here ("yes, but")
"And then you move one level-up in the organisation, because, what about the technical writer teamleader which needs to report to his superiors in the hierarchy. It's very clear that the way he reports is depending on the organisational structure - silo's or network".

And I could get an answer ("yes, but")
"Why? If the reporting is partially the job of the technical writers themselves, and everybody can see the figures immediately on line? What's the difference?"

...there the answer could be ("Aha, now I've got you")
"There it is, you live in an ideal world where people can report themselves, have and take responsibility.".

Where the answer is ("Aha, now I got you").
"That does not come down to the organisational structure. That comes down to the people - and their culture. When you have staff which is not responsible and not willing to share, they will not feel comfortable in a networked variable team. But they will feel safe in their fixed position in a silo. The funny thing is that the way around can also be true."

And than for the first time a question as reply: "So the best way to share knowledge is depending on the people? And not on the company structure?".

Where the answer is (Confirmation of "I really got you - thanks for the sparring"). Yes. And it is the job of knowledge management to help the company increase in knowledge maturity. The challenge is to create an environment where knowledge sharing is that obvious that people feel comfortable in whatever organisation they work in, be it the silo-dependants ànd the network junkies.

---ps: this conversation was in my head - no people were harmed during the interview-- comments welcome.

vrijdag 17 januari 2014

GSWconsulting and K3cubed


GSWconsulting, based in Belgium is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership for 2014. As of January 1st,  GSWconsulting will be representing K3-Cubed (K3-Cubed Ltdservices throughout mainland Europe.

img_3718x“This strategic partnership between GSW Consulting and K3-cubed adds new top-notch knowledge solutions in complex environments to our current solution portfolio. Combined with our existing, more conventional knowledge management solutions and training portfolio, this partnership unleashes an additional spectrum of solutions focused on company resilience and leadership. GSWconsulting as a strategic partner with K3cubed is thrilled to share it’s own knowledge and to further contribute in the quest to create the best solutions for our customers.”
"Geert has been working in the KM space since 1998 and I look forward to bringing his vast expertise to bear on joint projects over the coming months. This is an exciting development for K3-Cubed and I am thrilled to be able to support GSW Consulting in delivering the latest solutions for KM, resilient strategy, agile HR, decision-mapping, resilience and complexity." David Griffiths, Founder, K3-Cubed Ltd

maandag 13 januari 2014

The lifespan of knowledge

Last weeks I had some more time for discussions on LinkedIn. I want to commit to constant contribution, but in the end workload always takes over - until a period such as holidays to be involved in discussions again. And I'm doing that for a number of years know.

I'm always curiuous to the direction discussions are grown, detecting trends in the discussions. And one of them is clearly handling complexity and knowledge and leadership in complex environments.

And sometimes old school KM things are mentioned. I still see questions as 'what is the definition of knowledge', and 'what is the difference between data, information and knowledge'. 
And I try to keep an open mind, since I believe every point of view, and every knowledge model - even though I find some of them completely wrong - has at least learning value.

So also the discussions of quotes, that knowledge is not depleted when it is shared. And sometimes, such an old discussion still have value - I'm always looking to go one step beyond - even beyond my own initial view and comments. I would be an idiot not to be able to go beyond my own opinion - I still have the choise to do with wathever comes up.

So there is the discussion: is knowledge indeed not depleted when shared?

Well, the factor time is often neglected.
Time to handle existing knowledge.
Time to analyse the reaction patterns from the past.
Time to build a community.
Time to introduce for change.

Remembering a slogan: 'I've got a lifetime of knowledge'.

Now, I've to Masters - at a young age.
And they mean squat.

I'm 20 years further, and in rare occassion I need knowledge that I built. At least technical knowledge.

Today I was remembered that one of my hobbies is SEO of websites.
It's war. And I rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreaaaallly want to win - in a fair fashion.
So from time to time I, when I'm asked, I do the SEO for a website. And in one occassion it gave me a bad feeling. Since the competitor of one of my customer had to close the doors: our SEO had over taken theirs with long term catastrophical results - that's life in the world of webshops.

But even in knowledge management, due to new insights, due to the change of market, due to the fact that a lot of companies do their basic knowledge management well, due to technological improvements and new standards - it's clear that knowledge has a lifespan. And that this lifespan becomes shorter and shorter.

So instead of stating that shared knowledge does not deplete, I would state that shared and evolved knowledge does not deplete. Because if you don't evolve your knowledge, it gets outdated - you can share it as much as you want.

And then the questions pops-up:
Why should we spend a lot of time on knowledge built up in the past?
Because it 'may' be used in the future?
Should we classify knowledge on their estimated lifespan?

...I guess you know the answers to these ones ! - Twitter: @GSWconsulting - Facebook - Book us for a passionate KM talk

maandag 6 januari 2014

About mildew and KM: Shared knowledge should not always be multiplied - Twitter: @GSWconsulting - Facebook - Book us for a passionate KM talk

As I used to state sometimes: knowledge is the only thing that grows when you share it.
(until one of my course members remarked (thank you Marc DB) this is also the case for bacteria, mildew and virusses I had to change this into: knowledge is the only good thing that grows when you share it).

But is this always the case?
There is one danger I see: bad quality of knowledge may be infecteous.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.
A real life example.
A company where IT is built by a person who followed the evolutions from IT from let's say the 1995's. And because of that he's still responsible for the IT infrastructure. Because in the eyes of the management he did a great job, they are really trusting him - not aware of the evolutions today. 
And the IT responsible just did his job - but not evolving anymore. 
So when I met this company the infrastructure and rules for workers to connect to the intranet etc were in one word archaic.

A question to be asked: what if the IT responsible would not share his knowledge with the management. Knowing that company a little bit, they would hire a consultant for a few days to be advised. And the chance of a better IT solutions would have been a lot higher.

The IT responsible shared his knowledge - but there was totally no quality control.
Now you can start point fingers and say this is a special case, and that the IT responsible didn't do a good job, etc....

It's just one example - and there are others. E.g. in a team of SW developers where the input of the very assertive engineers are taken into account, and the better input of very introvert developers is neglected - if they dared to share their input.

I flagged this in this company, but it was not my assignment, so I don't know they did anything about it.

One should absolutely strive to a culture of knowledge sharing.  In a conscious way. Having one eye on quality and the other on quanitty.