Tag Archives: knowledge assets

Tweets from 18 May NetIKX / CLSIG seminar on making the most of Sharepoint


The NetIKX chair, Suzanne Burge (@suzanne_london), gave me the idea of collating my tweets @ecgoodman for further reference.  So here they are, in original form, and of course to be read in reverse order!

#NetIKX49 another write-up of the #Sharepoint seminar @tfpl_Ltd http://ow.ly/50qBe

#NetIKX49 Write-up of #Sharepoint seminar by @Valskelton http://ow.ly/50qy0

Noeleen Schenk doing final wrap up. July seminar Risk Management, September AGM & Chris Collison on competencies, Nov Web 3.0 #NetIKX49

Charity sector gets a significant discount for use of #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Goal this year to use #Sharepoint for online planning by individual departments w/ defined workflows for sign-off by central team #NetIKX49

Learning from other organisations & adapting learnings to own organisational context = 1 of the keys to success with #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Taking Agile approach to #Sharepoint software & methodology development involving continual consultation with teams & individuals #NetIKX49

Customising #Sharepoint heavily to help facilitate access in low bandwidth areas given international use & possible local damage #NetIKX49

Goals in using #Sharepoint were to improve records management, IM / #KM process management and integration of systems #NetIKX49

Next case study James Andrews, Knowledge and Information Officer, British Red Cross using #Sharepoint 2010 internationally #NetIKX49

@hughon22 The change has been abrupt and total. Keys to this being make it look good, don’t overdo it, respond to the need #NetIKX49

@hughon22 People really love ability to create e-mail lists ensuring key e-mails are retained on #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Follow @hughon22 for more tweets from case study presenter Hugh O’Neill #NetIKX49

Deliberately used only half functionality available so could respond to user demand for new tools & give them sense of ownership #NetIKX49

Set up pre-set searches for each client to enable easy retrieval of all documents relating to them on #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Using #Sharepoint for #CRM: holds emails, broker reports, Google news feeds, links to their sites etc. #NetIKX49

One of largest users of #Sharepoint, partnering closely with MicroSoft #NetIKX49

Self-taught and advising colleagues on use of #Sharepoint as intranet (40 countries) & extranet with clients #NetIKX49

Now exploring case study from Hugh O’Neill Knowledge Manager in EMEA at Jones Lang LaSalle #NetIKX49

Expecting better integration & to do more things more easily with #SharePoint 2010 with less need to customise functionality #NetIKX49

Follow @b00kmark for tweets by today’s speaker & case study presenter Mark Field on #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Case study Mark Field introduction of #Sharepoint improved control & compliance for quality & retention in records management #NetIKX49

Break out groups started around 3 case studies on #Sharepoint with Mark Field, James Andrews, Hugh O’Neill #NetIKX49

Question from the floor and discussion around how to find suitable cloud to join for #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Importance of intimate user engagement for successful implementation #NetIKX49

Built support through senior sponsor, visible business case, champions including IT laggards, pilot projects in difficult areas #NetIKX49

Culture of DofE meant better to start with making things easier for users re: requirements of them rather than starting with #KM #NetIKX49

Importance of good content standards to enable vision of internal private cloud and external public cloud #NetIKX49

Evolution in #Sharepoint use for collaboration and innovation: user pull rather than IT / #KM team driven #NetIKX49

Established comfort with #Sharepoint for document management first; wikis, blogs, discussion threads, team calendars etc. followed #NetIKX49

Consider taking various parts of a business & turning them into a commodity that can be provided via cloud as a shared service #NetIKX49

Importance of gradually influencing behavioural change for effective knowledge management in use of #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Information Workplace Platform on #Sharepoint providing primary workplace for 2,500 people for EDRM, collaborative working etc. #NetIKX49

Business Solutions Unit started with Business Case for new intranet to improve service levels & reduce overall operating costs #NetIKX49

2nd joint #CLSIG @NetIKX on #Sharepoint kicking off – room very full with about half being new to @NetIKX#NetIKX49

Mark Field kindly stepping in for John Quinn to give a strategic overview of use of #Sharepoint #NetIKX49

Speakers and delegates gathering for today’s #NetIkX49 seminar on #Sharepoint

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Knowledge management and creativity / innovation – valuable adjuncts to project management. A case study


Knowledge management and creativity/ innovation enhance project management.

I am a firm believer in the value of knowledge management to enhance project management.  I also believe that the use of formal structures, such as those advocated in Lean and Six Sigma (or process improvement), and project management, give people more rather than less scope for creativity and innovation.  Creativity and innovation in turn, of course also enhance the quality of our processes and projects.  So, I was delighted to read the Turner & Townsend case study in April’s APM (Association for Project Management) magazine: Project1.  Even more satisfying is that this feature article was the result of T&T winning the APM Project Management Awards in 2009.

Why would knowledge management and creativity / innovation be important to an organisation such as Turner & Townsend?

T&T is a project management consultancy, with more than 2,400 employees, 770 of which are project managers, operating worldwide across 59 offices.  So they are a prime example of an organisation that would benefit from effective knowledge management to ensure that employees can:

  • Learn from their successes as well as their mistakes – so that they neither reinvent the wheel, nor repeat the same mistake twice
  • Continuously improve the way they do things – in this case, the ‘art and science’ of project management
  • Tap into the whole organisation’s experience and insights when working with their customers, and so not only achieve customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty

Creativity is the precursor of innovation:  it generates the new ideas which if accepted and applied within an organisation result in innovation.  An organisational structure that encourages and supports new idea generation and follow-through, will not only enable continuous improvement of its processes, projects and resultant customer experience, it should also result in greater employee satisfaction, morale, personal development and ultimate retention.  A recent internal staff survey suggests that T&T is achieving this kind of result with 86% of staff feeling proud to work there, and 84% indicating that they would recommend it as a good place to work.

How does T&T enable knowledge management and creativity / innovation?

Fundamental to the T&T approach is the emphasis they place on a range of formal and informal communication opportunities, using both face-to-face and electronic media, across all levels of the business.  Examples of these include:

  • An ‘excellent ideas’ intranet portal – a platform for posting new ideas, suggested good practice, and tools / products.  Apparently more than 200 ideas have been posted since the initiative started two years ago, and 50% have been applied or are in the process of being so, with another 18% under review.
  • Knowledge breakfasts – an opportunity for junior staff to discuss specific project related topics and then present the outcomes to their teams.
  • Intranet feedback – an opportunity for employees to submit best practice and guidance for continuous development and improvement of technical and service knowledge and delivery.  The intranet thereby functions as an online knowledge base that is continuously improved.

T&T also have a strong infrastructure to support knowledge management and creativity / innovation.

These knowledge management and creativity / innovation practices are supported by the organisation’s emphasis on continuous development, with people being encouraged to participate in various training programmes.

1% of turnover is invested in research and innovation, resulting in new project management tools and techniques.

T&T also have a well-defined model or set of processes for their work with clients:

  • Assess and engage: understanding client requirements, building a business case, building strong working relationships with the client and key stakeholders.
  • Develop & improve: strategies and plans for implementing the project.
  • Project execution plan: i.e. the manifestation of the previous step.
  • Deliver & benefit: implementation for successful delivery

Although the article does not discuss this model any further, it is this kind of infrastructure that supports the identification and sharing of experiences, insights and new ideas that lies at the heart of knowledge management and creativity / innovation.

Notes

1. Head Turner. Project – the voice of project management, issue 227, April 2010, pp34-35

2. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, using process improvement, knowledge and change management to enhance team effectiveness.

Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

Achieving more value with less


As Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England point out, in their one-hundred-and-ten page “Predictable results in unpredictable times”1: “in bad times, the distractions are more severe than ever… As people get laid off, the survivors have more to do.  The distractions pile up to the sky as the economy grows rougher…”

In our increasingly lean organisations, we all need to achieve ‘more with less’.  But rather than indiscriminately piling on more work with the stress and burn-out that this will entail, we need to find ways to ‘work smarter not harder’.  We can do so by focusing on what our customers value, and examining how we and our teams can deliver that value more effectively.

Covey et al’s book is a very readable synopsis of modern day thinking on how to tie a strong focus on strategy, keeping score and customer value with process improvement, engagement and empowerment of the people in our teams.  This blog picks out and discusses some of the book’s main points.

Build customer loyalty vs. customer satisfaction

We all know the importance of understanding what would satisfy our customers, but the concept of ‘customer loyalty’ takes this further.  What would it take for our customers to be emotionally connected to us, so that they would miss us if we were gone?  How far do we understand what we would need to do to achieve either customer satisfaction, or customer loyalty?

Covey et al quote a Bain survey of senior executives in 362 companies where:

  • 96% said their companies were customer focused
  • 80% believed their companies delivered a ‘superior customer experience’
  • Only 8% of their customers agreed

From my conversations with people in various organisations, there are many opportunities for companies to gain a much better understanding of what constitutes value for their customers.

Covey et al suggest that companies should look for opportunities to reduce the complexity and diversity of what they offer to their customers, and so do less than their competitors, but do it better.

Develop employee engagement, empowerment and loyalty

It’s a sad paradox that in difficult times, many of the people that get laid off are those who have the knowledge that could help the organisation out of recession.

Covey et al make a number of references to how Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox in 2001, managed to turn the organisation around.  One of the key ways she did this was by making fewer people redundant than others might have done, and by appealing directly to people throughout the organisation for ideas.  It may seem obvious but, as the authors point out, “only knowledgeable people can create the solutions you need to succeed in a crisis.”

These 2 other extracts from the book are also I think particularly pertinent:

“Even in tough times (perhaps especially in tough times) people want to contribute, they want to help, they want to make a difference.”

and

“When a company aligns the customer experience with the employee experience, they create employees who are passionate about what the company stands for.”

These thoughts remind me of the points Stephen R Covey makes here and in his book “The 8th Habit”2, which I’ve written about elsewhere3 about how much more effective we can be in our work if we find our ‘voice’, and also in my commentary4 on Goffee and Jones’ book “Clever”5 about the need to clearly and regularly communicate the organisation’s vision and goals to your  ‘knowledge workers’.

Push the ‘reset’ button to align around goals and continuously improve your work

Covey et al close the loop on ‘doing more with less’ by having organisations realign what they do around the priorities set by customer value and employees ideas to address them.

The priorities are in effect the organisation’s one, two or three ‘wildly important goals’.  Effective team leaders will ensure that everyone understands what they need to do in relation to these, and also that there are good measures in place to monitor performance against these measures.

Covey et al differentiate between ‘lag’ measures and ‘lead’ measures. Lag measures are typically the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or output measures that organisations use to demonstrate to what extent they have achieved their goals.

Lead measures are more effective indicators of anticipated performance because they are based on ‘in-process’ performance.  Teams should be able to regularly review how they are doing against these lead measures, and share knowledge and lessons learnt to continuously improve their performance and so achieve the final goals more effectively.

Closing thoughts

Large sections of Covey et al’s book are devoted to the importance of execution and trust.  To me these are enablers of the 3 main themes I’ve pulled out above.

Effective execution relies on focusing on a few key goals, making sure everyone knows what they are, keeping score, and ensuring that the team reviews and improves performance.

Trust is the trust between leaders and their teams in ensuring that there is transparency around the goals and where the organisation is in relation to them, keeping commitments (on the leaders’ part), and extending trust to the team.

But trust is also about having trustworthy systems and processes such that, as for the Formula One pit crew: each knows their job: “Silently they do it, and they get out of the way.”  Great Ormond Street Hospital, London studied the Formula One team’s approach to improve the serious issues they were facing and, as a result of this, “introduced a system that defines carefully who does what, and in what order.  Every action is focused and productive; everyone has a contribution to make.”

In all of this thinking, there are strong analogies with Stephen Spear’s 4 main steps in “Chasing the Rabbit”6, which I also describe in one of my blogs7: design (or define customer value, processes and roles to achieve them), improve and share knowledge (involving everyone in these), build capabilities (through the interaction between leaders and their teams).

I’ll close with this quote in the book, which I particularly like:

“Focus on your customers and lead your people as though their lives depended on your success” Warren Buffett

Notes

1. “Predictable results in unpredictable times”, by Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England. FranklinCovey Publishing, 2009.

2. “The 8th Habit. From effectiveness to greatness”, by Stephen R. Covey. Simon & Schuster Sound Ideas,1980.

3. Empowerment and self-employment; (A consultant’s) life is like a game of rummy; Aptitude, Attitude, Plenitude and Servitude.; Social networking tools, empowerment and knowledge management; Project leaders empower, project managers organise; Powerful quotes for strong performing teams… – see https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com”

4. Why conventional knowledge management, process improvement and project management won’t work with ‘clever’ teams.  Or will they? http://wp.me/pAUbH-1n

5. “Clever. Leading your smartest, most creative people.” By Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Harvard Business Press, 2009

6. “Chasing the Rabbit. How market leaders outdistance the competition and how great companies can catch up and win”, by Steven Spear. McGraw Hill 2009.

7. High performing organisations – interweaving process improvement, knowledge management and change management http://wp.me/pAUbH-1V

8. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, using process improvement, knowledge and change management to enhance team effectiveness.

Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

Deep Visuals Ltd – how Kodak’s knowledge assets did not quite ‘walk out of the door’


When Alan Payne, then Director of Kodak’s European Research team, found out that his 25 strong Cambridge unit was to close in early 2009, he spotted an opportunity that was to prove irresistible.  He suggested to one of the US business heads that they could continue the project they had been working on, outside of the Kodak umbrella, and do so at a lower cost. His US colleague had been very upset by the upcoming closure, and Alan’s suggestion made his day.  Alan’s colleague persuaded others in the US, and, before long, the contract was signed and in place.

I met Alan at one of Cambridge Network’s events, and when he told me about this, I asked if he would be willing for me to put together a ‘case study’, as a response to some of the comments I had received to an earlier blog: Knowledge assets have been walking out of the door – is anyone taking note?’ Alan kindly agreed, so here then is the rest of the case study.

Kodak’s European Research team had itself been the result of substantial organizational change when, in 2005, the umbrella organisation decided to consolidate the previous teams in Harrow, North London, and in France, to create the Unit in Cambridge. More than 200 people had been cut back to just 25 when the new Unit opened in January 2006.

The Cambridge team had been instrumental in introducing a new culture as a result of the transition from film to digital images. Whereas Kodak had previously been one of only a few companies in the world with expertise in film, they were suddenly vastly out-numbered by all those with digital expertise.  Alan, and the previous Director of the unit, Sam Weller, convinced Kodak Research to adopt what became an example of the ‘open innovation’ model.  As Alan describes it, the model is like a pair of scales: you give some of your technology away, but this is vastly outweighed by the expertise that comes in.  Although the US really liked this model, they could not afford to continue funding it, hence the closure of the unit.

Now Alan, and Peter Fry, each with more than 30 years experience at Kodak, co-own Deep Visuals Ltd, and run it with 2 other members of the original team, as well as a 5th team member that they’ve recently taken on.  They provide Kodak with an invaluable worldwide perspective on their client base and on product design and development – an important counterpoint to Kodak’s otherwise strong US focus.  They draw on a wide network of consultants, many from Cambridge University’s student population.  And they use a strong user-centered approach for product design, an important strategy where large organisations often risk relying too much on a technology-centered approach.

Kodak is very supportive of Deep Visuals current attempts to broaden their client base and strengthen their financial footing.  One area that Alan is exploring is museum collections.  He sees parallels between the challenges that we as individuals face in managing our personal historical photographic collections and those that museums have in making their vast collections of artifacts accessible to the public.  He is applying for grants to research the museum sector and to develop demonstrations of what might be possible.

This latter is in itself an example of Knowledge Management: an area that Alan also previously championed within Kodak.  He and his then colleague John Trigg believed that Knowledge Management was all about culture and people.  They were cognizant that people’s knowledge could be easily buried and lost and they promoted the use of electronic Laboratory Notebooks (eLNBs) as a way of making their knowledge more accessible.  Additionally, when the European Research team was due to be closed, Alan and his peers in the US set up a few interview sessions between the UK and US staff to enable sharing of knowledge.  They also ensured that all work in progress was fully documented, and of course that the eLNBs were available.

Finally, the existence of Deep Visuals Ltd itself, has obviously ensured that their invaluable ‘knowledge assets’ continue to be available to Kodak.

For Alan, the experience has been very liberating.  Like many who have spent most of their working life in the corporate world, he assumed that it would be very difficult to start up his own company.  With encouragement from his friends, and the support of Business Link, Alan was encouraged to go ahead, and was amazed at how easy the whole process was.  The hardest thing was coming up with a unique name!  Now, Alan is keen to ensure that the development of his staff is not overlooked.  He is beginning discussions with individuals to understand their technical and personal goals, and to ensure that Deep Visuals continues to be an exciting place to work.

Note:

This case study is one of a series that I am pulling together along my company’s, RiverRhee Consulting, 4 main areas of expertise for enhancing team effectiveness for improved productivity and team morale:

  1. Focusing on your customers
  2. Simplifying and streamlining what you do
  3. Optimising information and knowledge assets
  4. Ensuring successful business change

If you would like to share a case study relating to how your organisation is addressing these topics do please get in touch and I would be happy to discuss documenting it in one of my blogs.

You may also be interested in taking advantage of one of my complementary monthly Friday afternoon clinics

You can find more information about RiverRhee Consulting, and about me, Elisabeth Goodman, Business and Information Consultant, on http://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethgoodman, and in the Cambridge Network directory, http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk

URS – a case study of an organisation that values the resources and knowledge of its employees


A few years ago, URS had a change in Managing Director for its UK business, and an opportunity to re-appraise how it was running the business.  It recognised that a key factor was the resource and knowledge of URS’s employees, and its desire to not only retain people, but also ensure that they had a strong career path, and a sense that their contributions are valued.

URS is an extremely large environmental and engineering company, with 55 thousand employees spread across the US, Asia-Pacific, and most of Western Europe, and a turnover of $10.5 billion per year.  Its HQ is in San Francisco.  It is split into 3 divisions: the URS Division, which focuses on engineering and environmental consultancy and design; the Washington Division which focuses on programme, construction and project management for transportation and energy sector projects and for the nuclear industry in particular; and the EG&G Division which focuses on defence projects.

I spoke to Malcolm Weston, Knowledge and Information Manager in URS Corporation Ltd the UK-based company within the URS Division, and Treasurer on the NetIKX (Network for Information and Knowledge Exchange) committee, to get a better understanding of what URS was doing to build strong teams, foster knowledge sharing, and generally enable good morale within its organisation.

URS are recipients of the Investors In People (IIP) award. When the new UK Managing Director was appointed and URS Corporation Ltd was established as the company through which the URS Division would operate in the UK as part of the wider URS group, it was an opportunity to take what was already a core of good practice in the Bedford office, and introduce it as a model for the rest of the UK organisation.  The Divisions’ clients also strongly encouraged them to apply for the IIP award as a formal badge of approval for the way they worked.  URS got its first certification in 2003 / 2004 on the strength of what they already had in place, and were again successful on the IIP’s second visit, despite increases in the level of standard expected.

The kind of practices that URS has adopted to qualify for the IIP award include:

  • Strong employee empowerment in areas such as safety and employee / team recognition.  Safety is a key aspect of URS’s work, and any employee can stop a piece of work if they see that something unsafe is taking place.  Likewise, any employee can nominate an individual, or a team that they feel has gone out of their way to help others or to contribute to the organisation’s work.
  • There are also strong employee benefits such as sports & social clubs in most offices – which build the quality of interaction within teams; opportunities to take part in charitable events during company time, and with matching company sponsorship; the ability to buy extra holiday time; medical membership for the individual plus reduced rates for family members.
  • There is an annual staff satisfaction survey, the results of which are reviewed as part of the quarterly team briefings relating to the IIP award held by Department Heads.

There are examples of how URS values expertise and knowledge sharing:

  • The career progression path enables individuals to be recognised and to progress as technical experts, rather than having to become part of the management progression.
  • Strong relationships are maintained with those who decide to leave, such that some of them continue to collaborate as external consultants with URS, or indeed return to URS on a higher grade after gaining external experience.
  • URS will sometimes support smaller specialist consultancies, for instance by providing Health & Safety advice.
  • There is a UK Business Improvement Board, on which Malcolm sits as an advisor for knowledge sharing strategies and techniques.
  • The corporate intranet includes subject / group areas for sharing knowledge and experience, and Malcolm is also introducing ways to capture and share knowledge between projects.

Altogether, URS illustrates an appealing range of approaches for building strong teams, fostering knowledge sharing, and generally enabling good morale within its organisation.

Knowledge assets have been walking out of the door – is anyone taking note?


When I was leading our knowledge management strategy development at SmithKline Beecham in 2000, and then, briefly, part of the team driving GlaxoSmithKline’s KM strategy in 2001, there was a lot of talk about conducting exit interviews to capture people’s knowledge before they walked out of the door.

Reading Melissie Clemmons Rumizen’s very good and comprehensive “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management” brought this back to me and yet, whatever’s happened to this concept?  She describes how the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) adopted a very structured approach to identifying in advance who was going to retire, and then prioritising interventions for immediate action based on the business impact of the knowledge that would be lost.  Presumably, exit interviews are equally worth considering in the case of maternity / paternity leave, and of course in the current climate in the case of redundancy.  Yet I’ve heard very little about any organisation addressing the need to capture knowledge before it ‘walks out of the door’.

I wonder how far organisations have really come in recognising that people are knowledge assets, rather than expenses? Karl-Erik Sveiby first raised this in 1979 when he left Unilever and started a business weekly: he recognised that the most important assets in an organisation had no value.  The knowledge that is held within people is a very intangible asset, as opposed to physical buildings or computer equipment, and yet this asset is so important to an organisation’s success.

As Melissie says, the difference between the book value of an organisation, and its market value can be very revealing about this intangible asset: IBM bought Lotus for $3.5 billion, whereas its book value was a fraction of that at $500 million.

Tony Buzan, in “The ultimate book of mind maps”, maintains that it would cost well over a couple of billion dollars to make a machine that could do everything that a human could do.

Of course the best solution is to capture, share and re-use knowledge within the organisation on a continuous basis.  My slide set on learning reviews in http://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethgoodman give quite an in-depth overview of how to do this.  Other excellent approaches are through the use of Communities of Practice, and best practice repositories.

However, it would be reassuring to know that organisations are not only taking note, but acting on the need to conduct structured exit interviews to make the most of the tremendous knowledge resource available to them before people retire, go on maternity/paternity leave, are ‘let go’ or otherwise leave the organisation.  Again, there are some excellent tools and methodologies available to help people to do this.  I’d be more than happy to discuss..