Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Buddha Speaketh Thus

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Buddha

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Monday, October 30, 2006

KM Course - Post #4

Having said that KM, simply put, is a management philosophy that deals with leveraging on existing knowledge and creating new knowledge from old knowledge...we went on to see that a good starting point would be to understand how to make best use of existing knowledge by aligning our activities with the business goals. What could be the business goals (and corresponding road-blocks) that need to be considered in the context of KM...and especially in the context of existing knowledge? Which of the typical business goals can be achieved with KM as an enabler? Which of the corresponding road-blocks can be cleared with the aid of KM?

Let's take some examples: Typical business goals would concern themselves with revenue growth, cost-cutting, innovation, productivity, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and brand image. Logically speaking, cost-cutting, productivity improvement, employee and customer satisfaction are areas which involve making best use of existing knowledge in an organization. Making best use of existing knowledge simply means making knowledge accessible to the right person at the right time and in the right format. This will ensure that employees are able to go about their duties without unnecessarily wasting time, effort and money. They end up reusing artifacts already prepared by others in the organization thus not only improving productivity and cutting costs but also improving employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction in case the activity concerned has a direct impact on services provided to the customer!

The underlying KM principles among others would be:

- Designing and executing processes so as to identify the importance of the knowledge being handled and capturing/sharing the same. Systems need to be designed to capture explicit components of the knowledge and alert concerned people about the availability of explicit knowledge. Systems also need to remember the people who can provide more information on the project when needed thus capturing information about the availability of tacit knowledge

- Making knowledge capture and sharing a way of life for each and every employee by not only designing processes appropriately but also providing them with the right tools to do so. These may be sophisticated tools that are on a network 24*7

- Most importantly, people need to educated about the importance of (and opportunity loss involved in not) capturing and sharing the knowledge. They need to be encouraged, acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated for such activities.

Next post: Continuation of the discussion on how to leverage on existing knowledge

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Friday, October 27, 2006

KM Course - Post #3

Ok! Let's start off.....Having said that KM is about leveraging on existing knowledge and creating new knowledge for business benefits....how does one go about it?Let's take it one at a time. Let's focus first on leveraging existing knowledge...Leveraging on existing knowledge for the logical sense that it makes is one thing and doing it because the business situation desperately calls for it is another!

Ideally, unless the business leader under question is inherently a believer in the logic that existing knowledge needs to be circulated and made best use of and that it is worth INVESTING in financial terms and otherwise (time, other resources), it is better to let the business objectives dictate to the KM plan.So, what we ought to do is to study the existing business objectives and the future business objectives and look at how it needs to be achieved and the role that existing knowledge would play in the same. We also ought to look at the problems or the stumbling blocks/pain areas that the business faces currently and the role that knowledge has to play in the given scenario and prepare a KM plan accordingly.

Next post: So, how does one plan to leverage on existing knowledge.....?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A short -blog- course on KM...

Ok! Here goes! I've been stimulated enough to think about the definition of KM which you can read below. So, I think it's going to be easy for me to keep the momentum and go on and build on this and prepare a short blog course on what I know about KM...! :) What say?

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My new (?) definition of KM.... :D

KM is a management philosophy that deals with the optimal utilization of existing knowledge and the creation of new knowledge to meet business requirements while satisfying corporate values. - Nirmala (24th Oct 06)

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Doctor. Different!

I came across a very unconventional Doctor in Dubai. An Indian by birth, he has studied to be a heart surgeon but is now pioneering a different kind of service for people (not really patients). He has taken up idea of being a health consultant for people who are willing to get proactive about their health. But it works for reactive cases too. He apparently promises an improvement for the better based on the person's needs and does this once he has studied the person's health at length. He analyzes the person's health and looks into the future to prescribe proactively, at what is perhaps a reasonable fee for a well-to-do family. I guess there is a significant difference between a dietitian's inputs and inputs from a person of this sort. Come to think of it, the benefits this may have would be related to early diagnosis of health problems. The doctor says his 'customers' are forced to sign an agreement to the effect that they'll make themselves available for discussions with the doctor anytime he chooses and vice versa! Prescriptions may range from exercise, food, lifestyle recommendations, etc. Well, whatever it is, I think it takes guts for a well-established doctor to move away from what could be a well-paying job to something that is quite risky and uncertain! A surgeon without practice may not even find a job if he has been away from his profession for too long a time!It is not only about being visionary, innovative, different, unconventional etc but also about knowing when (the right time) to take the less-trodden path!

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Unwanted advice?

If there is...

- no top management support for KM (includes their willingness to talk about the importance of KM when talking to the workforce)
- no Management/HR-driven culture of acknowledging knowledge sharers/mentors rather than individuals who accomplish but hoard

...KM will not work!

You can as well get ready to see 80% of your effort going down the drain. It is indeed the pareto rule at work. 80% of KM will arguably happen if there is just 20% in place - management support and a culture that pampers those who share. The KM's job is a lot easier then....(she of course then needs to work on improving those processes, communicating effectively, making the technology fascinating, evangelizing et al)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Keep It Short, Stupid

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible. - George Burns

:D ah! and ha! as well... :]

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Under the Table

During a presentation yesterday, the speaker was having continuous problems with the power chord & the projector and in the process had to go down on his knees to reach the power point just under the table. After grappling with the technical problems for a while, he said with a grin that barely hid his disappointment "You know when a presentation is going really bad when you have to go under the table!" :D LoL

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Principles and Values: A Life's Life?

How many of us formulate our own principles of life and live by them?
I have begun to see a pattern and 'am curious and excited to explore it further. (High time I did I guess....I am sure there are plenty of people out there who are smarter and have observed a lot more....much earlier than I have in my life....and I would love to hear from them).

Every person who has created waves in the world, every person who has accomplished something extraordinary, every person who is admired and respected by the world has a key principle/set of principles that (s)he follows and swears by... Among these are some who are so passionate and sure of themselves that they influence and mentor others to adopt those principles (Spiritual Gurus, Political Leaders etc). Is there something that can be called a common principle that makes an appearance in almost every famous person's diary? Or can these be categorised roughly into a dozen/half-a-dozen buckets? Won't at least one of these sets of principles appeal to any given person? (I am sure it will...).

I think schools should have a subject that stimulates such thinking in children. The subject of principles and values. Not necessarily forcing children to adopt something but inspiring them to discover (can't be invent I think) the principles and values that drive him/her. The world will be a better place to live in if each one has wonderful principles/values that go along with others' principles/values or at least do not clash with those that others have...

All Relegious leaders definitely seem to have advocated a few common principles like kindness, tolerance, honesty, sacrifice et al. Principles by MK Gandhi, MLK, and Nelson Mandela belong to one category that was driven by similar causes. Swami Vivekananda was a man with wonderful principles. Ayn Rand's principles may not have been accepted universally but there are many people who are influenced by them. Many Indian sages (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharishi, Adi Shankaracharya) including Sri Sri and Swami Chinmayananda are examples of principle-led lives that influence a huge circle of people.

I think it would be wonderful for each one of us to spend time and study the lives of great people, listen to contemporary principle-led leaders with an open mind and then form our own set of principles and values that drive us and inspire us come what may. It would mean a very satisfying and fulfilling life and what more does one want? I guess some of these principles may be based on a goal (for example, Gandhi's) while others are just principles that help one lead one's life well...

...I will start my conscious journey today. :-)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The RUSTing of TRUST

Just been reading an article on Trust in HBR (This month’s – September 06 - Issue). Written by Robert Hurly and entitled ‘The decision to trust’.

The author says trust is more often than not the result of analysis and not blind faith or paranoia. He says there are ten factors that determine whether one resorts to trust or distrust in their dealings; 3 of which are related to one’s own personality and the remaining 7 to the situation one is in.


The three personality related factors are: (statements in parenthesis reflect my interpretation)


-          Risk-tolerance (are you ready to take a risk and trust someone?)

-         Level of adjustment (how much adjusted are you with life? do you believe no one can cheat you?)

-         Relative power (how much can you ‘get back’ at the person if he cheats?)


The situation-based factors are: (not necessarily in the below-mentioned order)


-          Security (is the situation that involves delicate security-based issues?)

-          Similarities between the two parties (similarity breeds trust)

-          Aligned interests (does the person want the same things as you do and will she do everything for it?)

-          Capability (is the person capable enough to carry it out)

-          Predictability and integrity (uncertainty never helped?)

-          Level of communication (frank, open and complete communication improves trust)

-          Benevolent concern (you will trust a person who is genuinely kind and lets you know that she wants you to have the best)




KM thought-leaders have for long screamed from roof-tops about trust being one of the most essential ingredients for it (KM) to be a success in any organisation. But how much of it can be influenced by the KM function/initiative? It is clear that trust is too fundamental, person-based and situation-based for KM to play the role of an influencer. Underlying enablers like communication, capability, risk-tolerance etc can be worked upon with adequate top management support but most of the factors on the list are out of control and hugely associated with the individual’s character and attitude. Knowledge sharing is truly effective only in teams where all the above barriers are crossed….and the situation based factors are difficult if not impossible to handle. Extending this topic a little further…into a slightly different direction, this is a selling point for K-Logs. A knowledge blog written on a personal note with details about the good and the bad (not just the former) is trustworthy and a good candidate for knowledge sharing mechanisms; One of the sure-fire ways to build trust in the online world, as there is a sure but gradual movement to online presence and interaction from conventional methods of interaction…