Thursday, May 11, 2006

Knowledge retention workshop

Yesterday I got the chance to participate in workshop that was held in conjunction with an AwwaRF project on knowledge retention. The workshop had about 20 representatives from water utilities to discuss tools for knowledge retention. The final results from this project will be tools and strategies for implementing KM.

The research team from EMA and APQC did a great job. Some of their descriptions of knowledge and knowledge management were some of the best I've heard. I'll try and cover them in a later posting.

Below is a sampling of the discussion. Sorry I don't have time to add the context for each, but hopefully y the majority hopefully will make sense.

"KM can't stand alone. You must build into an existing effort." i.e. KM within workforce planning

Disconnect between upper management and middle manager. There is frustration at the middle manager level. These folks often don't get the vision for KM brought to them. Need more training for middle managers on strategy items like KM.

The old paradigm is doing more with less. Now that we are at less, we're being asked to do more with even less." The first thing that gets cut, is programs like KM. "We just don't have time to do it."

Challenges with knowledge retention are increased when you factor in different generations. Values and learning styles are so different.

"We all talk about leadership buy-in. How do you define your leadership?"

The "crusty old guy syndrome." You should put the crusty old guy on a pedestal and capture his knowledge. Instead he is often shunned.

In some models we try to take knowledge to the point where you don't need to think anymore (i.e. explicit knowledge is so well defined or the process is automated. Think about someone who learns to cook only TV dinners, what happens if they get the raw ingredients? What happens if your automation fails? Do we continue to generate new knowledge?

In looking at roles:
- Finance is on the back-end of projects, they'd love to be in on the upfront planning.
- Front-line people (i.e. the guy repairing the water line) needs as much information as the press guy. They usually talk to the customer first.
- Customer service vs. the field guy - either might be the first to identify a problem. Both need information at the same time.

The shift from "built it and they will come," to "find the need, fill the need."

There was a whole lot more covered, but these were the ones that caught my attention.


At 1:03 PM, Blogger Tomer said...

Hey there Jeff,
Two and a half years later - Do you have any new insights?
Can youdirect me twards practical materials, such as qustionaires ans such?


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