KM and Monte Carlo simulations

The attached paper, "Using Monte Carlo simulations to predict outcomes of KM interventions" is a brief summary of the results of some exploratory research I have been doing in this area.

Monte Carlo simulations are a very useful way to explore non-deterministic systems using a combination of deterministic calculations and random numbers. In particular, the outcomes of my experimentation suggest that many across-the-board KM interventions are are risk of being dropped due to lack of results.

Planning for mistakes

For a while now, I have been thinking about the seeming conflict between the safe-fail experimentation approach advocated by Dave Snowden and Patrick Lambe's push for better accountability and professionalism in KM.

Rethinking collaboration

This is a presentation that I did for the Ark Group seminar "Strategic Email Management" back in March 2007. The presentation deliberately steers away from any mention of specific Web 2.0 applications (eg no Facebook or Twitter). However, I think it's still pretty relevant today as a useful intro on how an organisation can change its mindset around email.

Telecommuting and remote offices

Is telecommuting a Knowledge Management issue? On the face of it, it would seem not. Surely it's just a technical question of plugging router A into slot B and typing password C.

But it's not that simple. As anyone who has ever worked for a multi-site company knows, those at the smaller, remote sites can easily feel excluded from the decision making process that goes on at Head Office. And really, what is telecommuting but an office of one?

Plus/minus metrics

I was a little surprised that Tom Davenport's post about basketball analytics and the New York Times story it was based on didn't get better coverage in the KM community.

Making the case for KM (part 2)

In my previous post on justifying KM through demonstrating reduced rates of critical failure, James Grey wrote:

in the current financial circumstances, I think a horizon of 5 years is way too far in the future to consider. We are looking at how we can apply current knowledge quickly to realise business benefits ... looking for [knowledge] gaps and how to fill them. By doing this you can quickly realise benefits for the organisation based on cash saved or generated rather than claiming you prevented something that [might] or might not have happened in the future.

Applying current knowledge to realise business benefits is a useful and valuable activity, of course.

However, there are dangers in this approach when trying to justify KM:

Defining KM RoI in terms of critical failure cost

As we all know, trying to pin down a tangible return on investment (RoI) for Knowledge Management initiatives is often difficult.

What we do know is that KM implemented properly reduces risk profiles. For example, less chance of having to re-learn a process because your critical staff member just moved to Rome, or less chance of a critical failure driven by inadequate communication.

Convergence / divergence

One of the key components of Knowledge Management is to improve an organisation's ability to solve problems. When analysing a problem to determine possible solutions, there are two dominant modes of thought:

Divergent thinking is exploratory - brainstorming, reframing the problem, looking to expand our evidence base and identifying alternative solutions are all divergent activities.

On the other hand, convergent thinking seeks to narrow our focus - whether by concentrating on only a specific aspect of a problem, choosing between identified solutions or improving on a particular solution.

Living with organisational risk

One of the topics gaining prominence in the field of KM is the question of how closely organisations mirror human biology.

It is well accepted that there are at least superficial similarities -- both are complex adaptive systems, for example -- but the use of a metaphor which resonates so strongly with our personal experiences as a human is both enlightening and dangerous.

Describing social and community relationships in Chinese

English is quite weak at describing concepts around interpersonal, group and community relationships. By contrast, most Asian languages have many more subtleties that can be expressed. No doubt a whole series of anthropological essays could be written around why this is the case, although I don't intend to delve into that here!

I read the term guānxi in a newspaper article the other day, and wondered what other Chinese words could be usefully redeployed for KM purposes. Here are three: