I was fortunate enough to attend KMWorld2011 in Washington D.C. this. The line up of speakers was impressive and from all over the world. Here is a brief summary of my take-aways from the conference.
1. The same challenges are being addressed regardless of the industry or location in the world.
The World Bank, The Singapore Air Force, the U.S. Forces, SNC-Lavalin… you name it, they are all trying to get a handle on how to leverage the knowledge and information within the organization to improve outcomes.
2. Collaboration is not the end… it’s a mean’s to an end – from Sameer Patel’s Presentation. This is a very good point. I spend a lot of my day talking with people about collaboration – “we need a collaborative environment” (it is a big discussion in the SharePoint community). The reasons that are touted for collaborating are generic… it will improve productivity, it will________ fill in the blank. But within a business context, What are they trying to accomplish through collaboration? Providing the technology is the easy part, getting people to buy into doing their work differently is the hard part. This challenge of getting people to participate in wikis, community of practices, or working collaboratively on a deliverable was repeated again and again. There were sessions on how to keep people engaged. The reality is though, it is hard to be engaged if it doesn’t have anything to do with my work, my incentive package, etc.
– Take away: Build it into the business process and tie incentives and performance to the usage of these features.
3. Organizations have a knowledge-challenge on their hands. The baby boomers are retiring – 10,000 per day for the next 19 years I believe. That could have a staggering impact on an organization. Couple the retirements with the Gen X, Y and Z:) penchant for moving between employers and a company has a big challenge to keep, use and build on the knowledge assets in an organization. Fluor, an international engineering firm, is doing a great job of career management within it’s core knowledge-base. A complete career path has been identified for engineers within the field of engineering – They can obtain increasing responsibility and challenges, commensurate with pay and benefit increases without having to move into the management field. A clear benefit for those who don’t want to move into an managerial role. Another example leveraged retirees knowledge through Ideagoras – putting a challenge out to the alumni community and paying for the most effective response. The implementation of the response is then done by employees.
4. Innovation is rarely a big bang, usually it is an incremental change to something that achieves a better outcome. To achieve a better innovation outcome, a structured approach, that is never-the-less agile, is required. Almost sounds like an oxymoron, but by using a structured approach to guide the innovative process, buy-in from senior management is higher, it allows for incremental changes to ideas to be applied as they get tested, and it allows activities to be stopped before there is too much investment of time, money and reputation.
5. People don’t like the term Knowledge Management – you can’t manage knowledge. But what you can do is support knowledge-sharing.
6. Business-led structuring of information at the enterprise level is the next big wave of activities within organizations. There is, and has been, a lot of work being done on information architecture around a targeted solution. I believe the next wave will be a broader adoption of an enterprise information architecture – led by the business and not the IT sector.
7. KM, Enterprise 2.0, Digital Workplaces/Workspaces… KM, enterprise 2.0, digital workplaces, etc. are all terms being bandied about. Some of the concepts seem to be overlapping, so are they complimentary, are they different? In my opinion, KM is the conceptual framework that is being realized through the tools and the techniques provided by enterprise 2.0 practices and digital workplaces. To increase adoption, terms have been created that audiences can more easily relate… and in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that.
But the best part of the conference for me was the ability to speak with people whose work I read and respect.