Conference Notes

“Retaining Organizational Knowledge” (James Thomson)

James is talking about retaining organizational knowledge; would like this to be somewhat interactive.

– What is knowledge retention?
– How did he manage the staff at the Beehive
– How do you manage technical knowledge organizations

Knowledge Retention
– lots of people doing knowledge work
– how to retain knowledge with shifting demographics
– identify critical knowledge
– know where it resides
– preserve and put it to best effect

See PDF for more (16 pages).

Do we need a formal strategy?
– “people are our best asset”
– senior management know this is important … but only 20% of firms from the US have a knowledge strategy
– why is there such a disconnect between “what we say” and “what we do”?

Problems with knowledge sharing:
– culture doesn’t value knowledge
– don’t or can’t identify critical knowledge
– no incentive to share
– no tools or technologies available
– HR managers know the “need” but not the “how”

Challenges issues:
– measuring the program’s effectiveness (43%)
– measuring the ROI
– identifying the best knowledge
– management support
– short-term focus
– identifying when knowledge / workers are at a risk of leaving
– building the business case

Lots of different tools available:
– email, company meetings, file share, after-action reviews … and many more.
– high adoption for some, low adoption for others

Case Study: Managing Knowledge at the Beehive
The Beehive is the seat of government in New Zealand … see
– huge number of silos (political and geographical)
– James’s style was to walk around and talk to people … but that was very different to embedded approach
– hard to know what knowledge was where
– turf issues
– cross party difficulties (especially when coming up to an election)
– extreme pace and work load

What they did:
– make it a dedicated effort
– put in place a learning training strategy
– drive for commitment, not just compliance
– there were some very knowledgeable people … came on board quickly
– knowledge cafes
– documentation, from experienced staff
– centralized experience on tap
– availability after departure … for mentoring / consulting after they’d gone

About Temporary Knowledge Organizations
– bringing people with different skill sets together for a temporary project
– look up Dave Snowdon on complexity theory
– multiple disciplines working together
– agile development

Questions and Answers
Q. With retiring staff, what about allowing them to come back on a part-time basis?
A. We did at the Beehive. It’s a cultural thing.

More Information
More on the conference: see #bs7im on Twitter

Categories: Conference Notes