Leadership

Key Snowden

Dave Snowden has come up with a lot of complex and interesting ideas over the years, but often mixed up in a way that makes it difficult to tease out the individual strands.

However, a recent blog post is an excellent summary of his current state of thinking and is well worth a read. But from this and by chasing down the relevant originating blog posts, here is a summary:

The benefits of KM are:

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

Risk, uncertainty and confidence

I read the following today:

[Risk, traditionally formulated, is a quantifiable metric, while] uncertainty is risk that is immeasurable, not possible to calculate. [However, both] risk and uncertainty are about expectations ...

If we cannot frame sufficient expectations, we have no basis on which to act ... Uncertainty is fundamentally based on information, because our ability to calculate risk is a function of the information available ... The centrality of expectations to action ... is why law and economics analysis by people such as Richard Posner has been so fruitful; law is all about creating pattern and structure to frame expectations ... the two key insights of C20th economics—transaction costs matter and information and action are not separable.

Just because something cannot be calculated does not mean we will not frame expectations to cover that uncertainty: it just means that such expectations cover more than is directly inferable from such information as we have ... “confidence” ... is, to a large degree, how what cannot be calculated is being framed in a given time period ...

The wider the range of uncertainty ... the more unstable confidence is likely to be ... If confidence is how we frame uncertainty ... then it is a central obligation of a [regulator like a central] bank to narrow such uncertainty, to [publish] a clear [framework] for ... agents to frame their actions.
  — On the stupidity of (some) Central Banks:

The idea of uncertainty (or how many "unknown unknowns" there are) is a concept that is well understood by KM people. Fundamentally we accept complexity theory and the notion of root unpredictability as key to the understanding of modern organisations.

However, the use of "confidence" to describe how uncertainty is treated is novel (to me at least). And it's a powerful visual and tool.

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

Types of organisational work

Organisational work can be broadly classed into four categories:

  • Process – work that needs to be completed in a defined manner to ensure consistency and repeatability, eg call centers, surveying, project management reporting.
  • Practice – work that requires people to use their judgement to determine the appropriate method of completing a particular task.
  • Discovery – innovative work that extends the range of available solutions within a field through invention or research.
  • Management – oversight and ongoing improvements of organisational work undertaken

Each type of work requires a different approach to staff retention:

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

Path dependent reform

The New Yorker has a fantastic article about the history of universal health coverage across the world.

Set in the context of Obama's health reform bill, of course, it makes the excellent point that where we have come from determines where we can go next:

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

Chasing the Rabbit, Sharing the Knowledge

Bob Lewis is an IT columnist who I find consistently worth reading because of his clear and dispassionate insight into how organisational politics really works.

He is the ultimate pragmatist, with a low tolerance for cheap insights and bullshit. So I was pleased to see that he recently finished reading Chasing the Rabbit by Steven Spear and found it worthwhile.

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

Organisational flow

There's a great story in The Boston Globe about work being done to improve a children's hospital's capacity to help people without a single additional dollar being spent.

The thing that really struck me was that I'm sure everyone in the hospital was genuinely trying to deliver the best service to their patients:

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

50 scientifically proven ways to persuade others

One thing that most practitioners of Knowledge Management find out very quickly is that deciding on a KM initiative is, at best, only 10% of the battle.

The other 90% is change management: assembling coalitions, getting stakeholder buy-in, and above all communication, communication and more communication.

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.

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.

Did you know...

Our expertise in complex systems analysis, combined with a deep understanding of technology and modern, agile management and leadership techniques makes knowquestion uniquely positioned to find strategic solutions to your tough problems. Contact us today.