Short(ish) answers are shared here for the questions asked of myself at the IKMS KM Singapore 2014 conference.
To set the context for these answers, I emphasise that as knowledge workers we need to be role models. The answers may seem simple, perhaps even overly simplistic. However, our reality is many KM initiatives fail because they try to over complicate or oversize their early goals. Genuine sustainable change requires persistence, hard work and time. This is accelerated by early benefits (both tangible and intangible). Find a few willing enthusiasts who will act to support your “quick wins”, rather than waste your time and limited resources trying to convince huge number of people to participate in generic megaplans. Demonstrate commitment yourself by being a role model – show others you are more productive and innovative when you implement the principles of knowledge leadership and hold their hand when they too make their early steps.
Successful actions speak louder than words and demonstrated value generation engages. Vacant non-specific promises of potential gains are ubiquitous and often unfulfilled…
Longer and more details answers could have easily generated for each of these questions, but as people are too busy to read (see question 3), only the highest priority points are included.
1. How much is humour used/tolerated in a serious business meeting?
Humour is a surprisingly powerful tool and like any tool is best and most constructive when used in context and appropriate to those you are engaging in your conversation. Edward de Bono stated that humour is underutilised in management contexts, highlighting that (used well) it is a creative way to introduce alternative thinking and stimulate a mindset shift.
This can be both a tactical and a strategic tool to enhance performance.
The key with use of humour (as with behaviour) is to ensure that you create the right environment for it to be accepted. You can’t just start telling jokes at a funeral to cheer people up! Although that said, there is an increasing trend towards “celebrating the life of people” at funerals now that see people sharing humorous stories about their recently departed loved ones and this socialisation of grief benefits everyone involved.
Introducing humour helps move people’s mindset from analytical to more creative, which helps to open the opportunity for engagement.
When engaging colleagues, sponsors and senior stakeholders use humour to carefully (respectfully) highlight the irony of the situation in order to move them towards considering creative alternatives. I will write more in a separate blog post about an annual satirical pageant we used to highlight errors made by the company so a wider audience would learn about them and be aware of what not to do.
2. How do you create value for your knowledge workers?
This is an excellent place to start a knowledge program. Start with questions and WHY!
What is of value to you? How is this aligned with organisational goals?
Then engage with them in Conversations That Matter to assess how you can help them to achieve this value through knowledge based initiatives (and who else may be able to collaborate with you on this).
3. How can one promote sharing & trust in an organisation that seems is too busy to reflect? [tight deadline/heavy workload]. Is there any example/case study that any of the speakers can use to illustrate the above question?
There is absolutely no doubt that people who take the time to reflect and learn are more productive and innovative than those who don’t. However, our current world is short term task obsessed and too busy being too busy. Many pay a much higher price for this than they realise. Much of what many people do is address tactical “band aid solutions” rather than strategically address the key priorities. Lack of prioritisation to balance longer term important work with less emphasis on short term urgent activities is the main cause of this.
Everyone gets 24 hours a day allocated to them! It is how we chose to leverage these 24 hours that determines long term success or eternal frustration. We can invest our time (create ongoing future value from it) or spend it (basically “burn” it, often for a little short term return at best). The short answer is ask your stakeholders what their key strategic challenges are, and then help resolve them. Doing this well often reduces the continuous, self-propagating short-term issues and enables more time to do what really adds value.
I have case studies I can share if you email me and ask for them.
4. What is the best strategy to develop KM as corporate culture & what resources are needed for that?
The short answer is, be successful at creating value through the implementation of knowledge principles, then share success stories about this. People will slowly join a movement that they can see is generating value (and run away from those trying to add more work to their schedule). Many (mistakenly) perceive being “invited” to “do KM” as “extra work”. They visualise more tasks to get through that will burn their time and reduce the value they create, distracting them from everything else they are doing.
So approach from a different perspective. As stated earlier, start with “What is your biggest challenge? “What stops you being productive and reduces the value you generate?” or “What frustrates you most?” To engage, ASK what problems they have and show/help them address these more efficiently, more effectively or reduce negative impacts they have. TELL them they “have to participate in a KM workshop” and most often they disengage (mainly because they have misinformed perceptions of what it is about, and will not allocate the available time to truly understand).
Once you help one, ask them to share with others, the benefits you have helped them achieve (Success Stories). This drives awareness and interest, leading to others asking for your help. You from “PUSH” of your agenda approach, to a “PULL” strategy. That is you get asked by your stakeholders’ to participate programs and teams (because you add value for them). Implementing KM from inside is easier as you continue to build stronger trusted relationships with them.
I am happy to continue to support further discussion on these through feedback comments.
Next post I will answer the 3 “general questions” asked.