Monday, December 13, 2010

KM India Summit 2010-Observations

Last time around (during KM India Summit 2009) I ended up writing one of my longest ever posts and attempted to cover too many things in it. Some people did come back and appreciate it but I suspect, for many, it must have been daunting to read such a lot. This time, I plan to share my key observations and interpretations rather than cover the whole event as if I were a journalist.

KM India Summit 2010 lasted 2 days and there were three master classes (covered in one day) before the conference. I was fortunate enough to attend all of it as I got a free invite in return for speaking at the event (My topic was KM and Social Networking).

@MadanRao has done a great job of live-tweeting in case you're interested. He also has a blog post here. Atul Rai (Wipro Infotech) covered a lot of stuff through his FB updates. I think there were a few random tweets from many other participants as well. Search for #KMIndia (on Twitter) to check them out.

Meanwhile, for me personally, here are key thoughts and discoveries from the Master Classes:

  • Mindtree undoubtedly has a super-exhaustive KM initiative to boast of and they've attempted to give equal attention to all forms of KM (culture, process, tech, ideas management, knowledge creation, collective intelligence mechanisms and tools, KM embedded in projects etc)
  • The Millers' work on innovation and the role of spiritualistic thinking/human values is extraordinary. I was completely tuned into their session and it felt wonderful to listen to them though I think the time period we are looking at for the whole world to move to thoughts that combine spiritualism with business is, well, very huge
  • The Millers conducted a very sincere workshop with a lot of exercises to help participants understand their level and styles of thinking. They had a wonderful exercise that brought out some interesting facts for me personally. It helped me understand I am an "intention" person more than a "connection" or "action" person. (Intention people look for a meaningful contribution and tend to look for a purpose before getting down to actually doing things. Connection people are those that value relationships above everything else and Action people don't like to waste time thinking any more than they can help it :-)). The exercises also helped participants analyze whether they are short-term or long-term oriented
  • Verna Allee's workshop was very interesting and brought to light the advantages of Value Network maps as opposed to social network maps or process flow charts. Her website will give you most of the details that she covered during the workshop. I believe this is a concept that is worth the time and energy and you never know what it may lead to. I hope to be able to apply this somewhere

****************  The conference talks  **********************

  • One aspect that disappointed folks who have been in touch with KM in the Indian IT industry was the presentation of familiar - same old - case studies (without any significant changes from the previous versions) 
  • Infy's Suresh delivered a sophisticated presentation that urged us to bring together multiple disciplines, related to KM, for better results
  • Ron Young explained the four dimensions of KM (Creativity, Collaboration, Innovation and Knowledge) and reiterated that we need to bring eastern and western thinking together to be able to make the best of knowledge
  • William Miller (in his talk) brought out the relationships between and importance of combining spiritualistic thinking, innovation and KM - the first time I have ever heard such a talk at a KM conference. It goes some way to prove that KM could perhaps be the pathway to such a business (r)evolution!
  • In general, presenters from non-KM fields made a greater impact on the audience because of the freshness in their perspectives. Vinita Bali from Britannia spoke about knowledge of the customers' needs as one of the superior dimensions of KM. She had some intriguing examples from the domain of medicine. She spoke about holistic thinking and treatment of symptoms in the context of knowledge and the importance of cross-learning between sub-fields. She had a simple definition of innovation that everyone appreciated after it followed a knowledge cafe that resulted in sophisticated perspectives ;-). Innovation, she said, in simple terms is "something that creates new value"
  • Anil Menon, Pradeep Kar and Sadagopan spent some humorous, inspiring and thought-provoking minutes on innovation in the context of countries and dwelt upon the culture in India vs that in China. One of the interesting things that stuck on to my mind was Anil's emphasis that knowledge of theory was essential for business leaders :-)
  • Dr.Sandhya from IIT Madras Research shared the results of an interesting study she had conducted that revealed that organizational learning support systems can turn around the innovation ecosystem. Her study revealed that innovation increases from 13 percent (with just availability of knowledge) to 66 percent if the organization has a good org. learning support system. She also mentioned that co-location of the concerned entities was found to be very important for innovation
  • Mr. Trivedi representing the Govt. of India shared an impressive performance management model that has been implemented for assessing the performance of Indian ministries! 
  • There was a debate on whether KM has fulfilled its potential or not and arguments were justified on both sides. It seems like the lack of concrete measurement techniques for KM will remain a pet peeve amongst those who like to say KM has not reached its potential. It would be interesting indeed to see if KM crosses this limitation in a convincing manner. Also, it later occurred to me that we are perhaps talking about the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly but things don't end there....the butterfly then needs to fly, collect food, "get" its colours and what not
  • The knowledge cafe on KM and innovation brought out familiar thoughts on the two subjects as well as proved that people are still confused and unsure when it comes to categorically defining intangible concepts
  1. We need to have more specific and detailed case studies on KM process improvements and cultural endeavors which probably means more workshops that are targeted at a specific audience, surveys before the conference is planned, and finally, more non-IT companies in the fray
  2. We need to spend more time on creating and using frameworks rather than simply rattling off a laundry list of things that companies do. We need more sessions that help people understand principles so they can then act on their own
  3. Also, another idea that I recently mentioned in a previous post is to include a session that presents ideas that are completely against the topic and the flow of the conference. That would be funny, provoke creative thinking and result in some unusual combinations of concepts etc


CM Carmean said...

Great read and complex summary of event. Nice convergence of life, spirituality and KM...but where's the famous Nimmn-nonsense piece of the puzzle? This was very serious stuff ;)

Nimmy said...

Thanks so much, Colleen! :-) Generous comment! said it. There's been less of Nimmy-Nonsense of late. Not a good thing, I know. Not a good thing. Hmm. Gotta get back into the groove. Maybe a Wodehouse book or two will take me back to the world of silly & innocent joy (=nonsense)! :-)