Tag Archives: Influencer

Knowledge Strategy – one of two #NetIKX51 break-out discussions

By Elisabeth Goodman

Knowledge Strategy was the theme of one of the two break-out groups at NetIKX’s 22nd September 2011 seminar led by Chris Collison.

(For a more detailed account of the seminar itself, you may like to read Nicola Franklin’s NetIKX blog, or for a more cursory insight, Elisabeth’s NetIKX51 tweets.)

A knowledge management strategy is something you should be able to hold in your head

Our discussion kicked off with what proved to be a slightly provocative but very helpful statement from Steve Dale: “A knowledge management strategy is something you should be able to hold in your head, not in your hand”.

People felt that you needed to start with something more explicit such as:

  • An internal audit to discover what’s going on in your organisation and to identify what is needed
  • A white paper to stimulate discussion amongst stakeholders

The ideal is to get to the point where the strategy has become the way people act, their way of working.  Then, yes, it can be something ‘in the head’ (or tacit).

A knowledge management strategy depends on organisational culture

Stuart Ward in particular reminded us of the need to set the definition of the knowledge management strategy, and how it should be introduced, within the context of the organisational culture and values.

We agreed that we need to clarify organisational values first e.g. how open it wants to be, as these will influence attitudes towards knowledge sharing for example.

Organisational change will put knowledge management strategies back to zero!

Members of the group had direct experience of having had a relatively clear knowledge management strategy in their organisation, only to find that they had to start all over again as a result of mergers or acquisitions.

In addition, not only did redundancies result in loss of key knowledge with the departing staff, but in some cases they also resulted in the loss of those who were key drivers of the organisation’s knowledge strategy.

A key consideration is how to implement knowledge management strategies

We came back many times to the factors that were needed to enable successful implementation of knowledge management strategies.  Participants mentioned the importance of leadership from the top, champions, opportunities for presentations combined with Q&A sessions, training, case studies / stories demonstrating the value of knowledge management etc.

For those wishing to explore this subject further, I recommended reading “Influencer – The Power to Change Anything”, by Kerry Patterson et al, McGraw Hill, 2008.  This provides an excellent framework for shaping implementation strategies.  A brief overview of “Influencer” is available in one of my earlier blogs on change management.

Technology is not the answer for knowledge management strategy, but it helps

Our discussion ended with a recurring theme for knowledge management practitioners: the role of technology.

One of the participants described the situation in their organisation where people carry out After Action Reviews or Learning Retrospects because this is something that is expected.  However, they don’t necessarily understand why they are doing these, or what the outputs can be used for, so that the results effectively end-up in an IT ‘bin’ (or black hole).

Conversely, I mentioned the recent inspirational talk by Jimmy Walls, organised by the Cambridge Network, where he showed powerful video clips of individuals of all ages and backgrounds enthusing about sharing their knowledge with others through Wikipedia articles.

One of our participants suggested that knowledge sharing needs a social context: we share with our friends more than with our co-workers.  The old ‘water-cooler’ scenario, lunch-time seminars (with lunch provided), creating open spaces for networking, were all approaches that we discussed for creating this kind of social opportunity.


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale.

Elisabeth is also Programme Events Manager for NetIKX.


Why thinking in terms of burning platforms and tipping points is not sufficient to drive change

The term ‘burning platform’ has its origins in a real life/death scenario faced by an oil worker in the North Sea and now commonly used to help change agents and stakeholders articulate organisational or personal motivation (WIIFM – What’s In It For Me) for change. ‘Burning platforms’ form the basis of ‘sticky’ or unresistable messages to motivate change.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘The Tipping Point’ explored how ideas, messages and behaviours can spread through a combination of opionion leaders (social influences) and ‘sticky’ messages. Ideas reinforced by Andrea Shapiro’s ‘Creating Contagious Commitment’ – an excellent reinforcement of the role that people (contacts), infrastructure / environment (context), and messages (content) can play.

Change agents recognize the importance of training to build the capabilities that people need to adopt new ways of working.  They also understand the importance of leadership in role modeling, rewarding and reinforcing the right behaviours, and the influence of the organisational ‘climate’: what has gone before, and interdependencies with other competing changes.

What the authors of ‘Influencer – The Power Change Anything’ add to all of the above is a focus on identifying the ‘vital few’ behaviours that will enable change.  They describe how demonstrating or practicing these behaviours can result in the development of new personal beliefs, i.e. through direct personal experience, or through the vicarious experience of storytelling: anecdotes, television series etc..

Their approach is further supported by a coherent synthesis of 6 sources of influence acting on motivation and capabilities.

The basis and support for this approach is graphically illustrated by examples drawn from society and organisations around the world.

The ‘vital few’ behaviours are identified by the equivalent of root cause analysis: what is the root cause of the problem in situations where unwanted situations are occurring?  The authors also identify the equivalent of ‘good practice’ situations where people are demonstrating the right behaviours: they call these people ‘positive deviants’.  They recommend detailed observation and analysis as a way to identify the ‘key vital’ positive behaviours occurring in these situations.

The 6 sources of influence are summarized in the following table:

Level Motivation Capability

(Drawn from psychology)

Making the undesirable desirable

(intrinsic satisfaction)

This is about getting people to try the new behaviours, perhaps adding an element of competition, creating a sense of pride and ownership, tapping into personal passions, helping people appreciate and aspire to what can be.

Surpassing your limits

(coaching and practice)

People need an opportunity to practice new behaviours in a safe environment, with clear and frequent feedback , interim milestones and deriving learnings from any setbacks.


(Drawn from social psychology)

Peer pressure

(social motivation)

Peers can influence each other through approval, disapproval, praise, ridicule, acceptance, rejection.  They can act as opinion leaders (champions) if respected (knowledgeable, trustworthy, helpful) and well connected.  This is where leaders can influence through role-modelling and where it is important to understand resistance.

Strength in numbers

(social capital and the wisdom of crowds)

Groups working together will perform better than an individual: they will build on each others’ ideas, and help an individual to succeed.  It requires collaboration and a recognition of interdependence: a translation of ‘me’ problems into ‘we’ problems.


(Organisational theory)

Rewards and accountability

(structural motivation)

The important thing here is to reward the right behaviours and to do so in a timely and appropriate fashion without compromising expectations of what constitutes everyday or long-term behaviour.  It also includes effective warning and ultimate action against what is the wrong or unacceptable behaviour.

Change the environment

(structural ability)

This includes buildings, space, sound, sight i.e. non-human interventions.  There is a connection here with some Lean and Six Sigma concepts in that it includes the use of visual information or data: signs, guidance, metrics.  It also includes the concept of ‘propinquity’ (physical proximity) of people and things, layout, design (e.g. to avoid mistakes).

What ‘Influencer’ implies but does not spell out, is the importance and approach for effective communication to support change.  Our previous blog: Communicating change – some practical procedural guidance may still be a good source for such information!


  1. RiverRhee Consulting enhances team effectiveness using process improvement, knowledge management and change management.  Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting and about Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell
  2. Influencer – The Power to Change Anything, by Kerry Patterson et al, McGraw Hill, 2008
  3. Communicating change – some practical procedural guidance http://wp.me/pAUbH-2z
  4. How to successfully implement business change http://slidesha.re/gskGyJ