Sep 182015

CollaborationEarly this month on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Greenville South Carolina I read an article in the Southwest The Magazine, by Katie Rich entitled “Comedy of Errors, Five lessons on teamwork and failure from the halls of Saturday Night Live”. After reading this article I began to think about how the lessons discussed in this article applies directly to our ability to successfully collaborate and share knowledge. As a Knowledge Management practitioner I’m always looking for keys to improve how individuals and teams collaborate. Collaboration is at the cornerstone of sharing what we know. On that note… The Five (5) Ingredients of successful Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing are:

1 – Be present

Being present means participate in the conversation! I know that there are many personality types that we work with. However, if you are an introvert this is the time to come out of your shell and participate in the conversation and the free form exchange of ideas. Believe me everyone in the group will benefit from you sharing what you know and the questions that you may have. If you are an extrovert, by all means share but let others share and I guarantee that you will also learn something in the process.

2 – Know why you are there

When you are brought together to participate in a group discussion it’s more than likely you are there to share your expertise on a certain subject(s). Understanding your significance to the overall team dynamic will allow you to focus your participation in the way that the team will benefit the most from. Contributing your knowledge and experience will bring about positive outcomes that the entire team can benefit from and contribute to a successful collaboration session.

3 – Do not try to change the people you’re working with

Please understand that “you cannot change the people you work with. However, you can change the way you react to the people you work with” (a direct quote from the article). Listen to the ideas, views and comments of all of your team members regardless of how you may feel personally about them. You may feel that someone may annoy you, always produce less than quality work, always has to have the last word and/or constantly dresses inappropriately at work … don’t shoot the messenger … always respect everyone’s input.

4 – Know (or see) the Big Picture

There should be stated issue(s), subject(s), problem(s) or reasons the team has come to together. This information should have been communicated before the collaborative session is held. However, if that is not the case, stating (or restating) the reason(s) everyone has come together at the beginning of the session is always a great idea. Seeing the big picture, everyone is more likely to understand better how their expertise fits and are better able to focus on contributing to the overall discussion.

5 – Treat everyone with respect

At the end of the day no matter how we feel about each other (see #3) just be good to one another and treat everyone with respect. Sometimes people make it hard, and sometimes it may be you! If you have a difficult teammate just lay on additional kindness and respect. Treat everyone like they are the most important person and their contribution matters to the big picture. Everyone likes to feel that they are respected and that they matter.

One Final Note

An excellent KM method to use to conduct a collaborative session is a Knowledge Café. A knowledge café brings a group of people together to have an open, creative conversation on a topic of mutual interest to surface their collective knowledge, to share ideas and to gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved. Ultimately the conversation should lead to action in the form of better decision-making and innovation. This will be a great opportunity to practice the five (5) ingredients of successful collaboration and knowledge sharing. Click here for more information on knowledge café’s.

Dec 192011

Drinking the KM-Kool_AidMany organizations have begun to understand the value and promise Knowledge Management (KM) can bring to their workforce.

Delivering innovation through collaboration and sharing remains the cornerstones of KM; however, once your organization has established its KM strategy, and/or rolled out it’s initial KM offering (i.e., KM system, KM process, tools, etc.) what happens next?

What happens next is the adoption process.

Whether its a new process, procedure, or system; getting your workforce to leverage and use it in the course of executing activities and delivering on their task will be essential to your KM program’s success. In order to achieve this there must be processes and vehicles in place to allow, encourage, and reward staff members as they work within this new paradigm.

It will not be easy.

As with anything new, it will take some time for adoption to occur. To move this along there must be KM supporters, mentors, and/or evangelist at all levels of the corporate infrastructure to encourage the workforce to “drink the KM Kool-Aid”. In other words buy in and practice KM in all aspects of performing tasks and activities.

Developing an organizational culture of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and lifelong learning should be the goals of any KM program. Organizations such as Fluor Corporation have been successful in infusing KM within their culture. From human resource activities, to leveraging knowledge for strategic purposes to engaging with clients, Fluor remains an example of how KM can be leveraged effectively at an organization.

Drinking the “KM Kool-Aid” is a slow and deliberate activity grounded in a basic KM process of Connect–>Collect–>Catalog–>Reuse–>Learn and Innovate. When practiced effectively this process will be a cornerstone to enabling the adoption of KM throughout your organization.

I am very interested in hearing comments on this subject as well as examples of how your organization has or suggestions or will adopt KM.

Feb 012011

knowledge management at your organizationHave you ever wondered what all the fuss is about concerning knowledge management (KM)? What is knowledge management anyway?

At its core KM is about sharing and collaborating about what you know, capturing what you know, and reusing that knowledge so as to not reinvent the wheel and/or to combine with other ideas to foster innovation.

Recently I had the privilege to attend a KM meeting conducted by the APQC (APQC’s January 2011 KM Community Call), which had representatives from Conoco Phillips, Fluor, IBM, GE, and Schlumberger. What I came away from this meeting with is the need to have KM become part of an organization’s culture. I believe that this is important because we do not want KM to be “another task to complete on the checklist”, but the way we conduct business. This includes the business between the various individuals and entities within our corporations as well as with our customers. Talking, listening, capturing, and applying what we learn from each other is a constant never-ending and always evolving process.

I challenge all of us to take this attitude into our workplace and remember that when you share what you know you don’t lose that knowledge, but rather you enhance that knowledge with the other individuals you share it with. Take a minute to review the slides from the APQC Jan 2011 KM Community Call as well as this video from YouTube Discover What You Know.

Feel free to comment and share your knowledge!

Feb 262009

This will be my final entry (for now) concerning President Obama’s use of Knowledge Management. This post will focus on the Obama campaign and administration’s continued use of Knowledge Management in particular Knowledge Management (KM) Systems. KM Systems can come in various forms. Its use however is very specific. The KM System is put in place to facilitate knowledge sharing (tacit and explicit), collaboration, creating new knowledge through eLearning as well as Knowledge transfer activities that can be distributed across the organization. Barack’s team instituted a series of technologies under the web 2.0 umbrella. These technologies include: blogging, Ajax and other new technologies, Google Based and other free Web Services, social networking, mash-ups, wikis and other collaborative applications, dynamic as opposed to static site content, as well as interactive encyclopedias and dictionaries.

These technologies leveraged the Internet as its community or organization in which to distribute its message and create an environment of knowledge sharing (tacit and explicit), and collaboration. Obama’s KM strategy served as the catalyst for the new generation of Knowledge Management. Incorporating the use of blogs, YouTube, and other social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin) the Obama team was able to push out the latest news, information and knowledge about every aspect of the campaign and now many aspects of his administrations’ policies and initiatives.

In understanding the general view of the composition of a KM System you must consider that a Knowledge Management System (KMS) addresses the needs of an organization (in this case the Obama Team) that desires not to re-invent knowledge, spend excess time locating difficult to find knowledge, unsuccessfully absorbing and using the growing volumes of new knowledge, while seeking to collaborate and bring in new knowledge. However, one point must be stressed here is that knowledge management also combines cultural and process changes along with enabling technology to achieve bottom line results. It seems that President Obama will continue to leverage Knowledge Management and KM Systems through out his tenure as president.

I look forward to everyone’s response and comments!

Jan 092009

As the President-Elect moves to select/fill his cabinet appointments as well as selecting his vice presidential running mate, the Obama Team leverage another important aspect of the Knowledge Management Strategy: Collaboration and Acquisition. Understanding that Barack Obama had to fill his knowledge gap in foreign policy the Obama Team selected Senator Joe Biden, essentially acquiring the necessary knowledge Obama needed or perceived to need in order to strengthen the opportunity for the democratic ticket to get elected. As cabinet selections proceeded, Barack Obama and his team worked together to acquire the “best” folks to fill cabinet positions, bringing in former opponents to work with him. The vetting process included collaborating with key team members to select candidates based on certain criteria to meet the duties of the cabinet positions ( ).

Collaboration ( to leverage existing knowledge and knowledge acquisition (, ( ) to acquire new knowledge is a cornerstone of the Obama governing policy. Evidence supporting this policy is rooted in Obama’s actions to reach out and speak to the nation’s governors for input into the proposed stimulus package to “kick start” the economy and his actions to engage in dialog with past presidents about life in the White House and the day to day function as President of the United States, and by building a coalition to support his job creation and other economic policies. I see this Knowledge Management Strategy for President-Elect Obama continuing to evolve and being leveraged throughout his presidency. Let me know your thoughts!