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We are inviting proposals for papers, case studies, workshops and indabas to be presented at the 2016 Southern African Knowledge Management Summit (#2016SAKMS). The Summit will take place from 10-12 May 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The #2016SAKMS provides a platform to showcase and interrogate the strategic value and practices of knowledge management as a key management discipline for the 21st century. It also serves as an opportunity for leaders and professionals in the knowledge management realm to connect and engage in robust dialogue and meaning making, participate in stimulating deep dives, as well as learning about latest developments, opportunities and challenges in the field.

The following proposals are invited:

• Academic and practitioner-orientated papers will be considered. The evalution for papers will be done in two phases – firstly the abstract, and secondly the full paper in a double-blind peer review process. Successful papers and case studies will be published in the Summit Proceedings (digital only). Read the rest of this entry »

Ladies and gentlemen, as we come to the end of this Summit I must say that I hope that when we come together again, we have some very different conversations. We’re still talking about obstacles, we’re still talking about “knowledge management isn’t receiving enough attention”.

Which is a tragedy because the World Economic Forum has in February identified Knowledge as one of the key things for the world to be competitive, and the global environment to be competitive. The work of the world is evolving is such a way that knowledge, and knowledge skills are going to be paramount in being competitive in our careers. And it seems to me that top management is not yet paying enough attention to this.

There are articles written about how knowledge is the new capital – three or four years ago the previous president Thabo Mbeki wrote an extremely interesting article and delivered a keynote speech at Stellenbosch University about the value of knowledge and the importance of knowledge. And it seems to me that we are not really advancing.

At least, what I can say on a positive note, is that we’re not just taking about it anymore, at least there are some companies that are doing it – as you can see from the case studies presented to us. So at least we are talking from an action stage – what we think is knowledge management – and at least we are doing it.

Herman van Niekerk & Ryno Goosen at the Summit Dinner.

Ryno Goosen & Herman van Niekerk at the Summit. 

Which brings me back to a key question for this conference – have we maybe not lost focus on what is knowledge management? I spoke to Patrick (Lambe) last night and he quite interestingly referred to the article where he was talking about the antecedents of knowledge management, where knowledge management was coming from. And I’m wondering, is knowledge management not becoming everything for everybody? We tried to bring business intelligence under knowledge management, we tried to bring competitive intelligence under knowledge management, everything is being drawn back to knowledge management. Are we not losing the roots of knowledge management? Isn’t it maybe time to revisit knowledge management and see, what are those traditional roots?

Knowledge management – before document management came into the picture – was all about the capturing of tacit knowledge – the people aspect of it. Which now has obviously been made much easier with the use of technology that can enable that – like we’ve seen with the use of SenseMaker today – where we can start capturing that tacit knowledge. I’ve heard very little about that in terms of how we are going to move forward in capturing and using tacit knowledge. Isn’t that the key thing where we should focus on and keep our focus on?

The differences between knowledge management and business intelligence and competitive intelligence – the process is the same for all three – but the tools and techniques and the values for each of those disciplines differ fundamentally. Business intelligence is more about structured data, where CI and knowledge management traditionally was more about your unstructured data, your tacit knowledge. So I think it is time that we all sit back and reflect and see how can we all move forward, and emphasise the learning aspect, using technology to make us more competitive.

Because that is what we essentially need to do. I’m worried about South Africa, because I think as companies and as a country, we are lagging behind, every single day. We are not talking about the skills that people need to work with knowledge. I’ve recently become very involved with critical thinking – I don’t think there is even a university in South African that has included critical thinking in their curriculum. I’m not being negative – it’s about those cues that you are getting and those are the cues that are worrying me. So I’m not talking about this in a critical way – I’m talking about it in the sense that we need to tackle these issues and these challenges.

Let’s move knowledge management forward. It is of extremely strategic importance… I think that top management underestimate the strategic importance that knowledge assets in the organisation have – and how those knowledge assets should be optimised to make organisations and countries competitive.

By Gretchen Smith & Ben Fouche

The recent South African KM summit held at the Roodevallei Convention Centre near Pretoria from the 27th to the 29th of May was one of the best events of its nature that we have ever attended. It brought together a wide spectrum of KM practitioners, academics, consultants and technology providers from South Africa and beyond. Not only did the programme cover a rich variety of relevant topics and issues in the field of knowledge management, but a variety of approaches in addition to formal presentations were used to create and hold the interest and participation of the delegates.

The mix of recognised local and international KM speakers and attendees/participants set the scene for lively small group discussions and interaction. In particular the presentations and contributions of Patrick Lambe of Straits Knowledge were highly regarded by all the delegates.  The summit clearly indicated that knowledge management is alive and healthy in the public and private sectors of the South African economy. It is our hope that the KM summit will grow in strength and that more participants in the Southern African subcontinent will attend.  This is necessary for the continuous development of the KM, organisational learning and innovative capacity of organisations in all sectors of the economy.

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On Wednesday 27 May, Prof Adeline Du Toit and Dr Andrew Kok hosted the #2015SAKMS Roundtable discussion around the theme of creating effective transformational knowledge leaders.

A roundtable is an informal interactive format to engage in in-depth discussions with colleagues with similar interests, sharing problems and successes regarding knowledge leadership themes and issues.

Successful knowledge leaders each hosted a table with rotating groups of delegates and facilitated a conversation related to themes such as:

  • Promoting the knowledge agenda
  • Developing the knowledge infrastructure
  • Connecting, coordinating and communicating with providers of information and knowledge
  • Improving the process of knowledge creation
  • Measuring the value of knowledge in an organisation

The discussion identified needs, gaps and actions to strengthen knowledge leadership in our organisations, and concluded with recommendations on how to create the ‘ideal’ knowledge leader. In the voice of our community, through the knowledge leaders who summarised the insights from the roundtable discussions, we discovered a portrait of the Knowledge Leader of the future…

 “We need to be realistic. Given that you are the CEO and you have resource constraints, do you still see a role for KM? You have HR, Strategy and IT and you say ‘where is the role of KM now?’” –  Akhona Damane, Transnet Freight Rail

Knowledge leadership means different things for different people and different organisations, depending on their context, level of maturity and strategy.

“In terms of a KM strategy, you need to define where you are in your organisation and what you want to achieve. The critical factor is to make sure that the people in your organisation see that KM is an asset to the organisation – not just a nice to have or something we should do.” – Hein Spingies, Road Accident Fund

In fact, ‘context matters’ was a recurring theme through the roundtable and the #2015SAKMSknowledge management must align its approach and application to the organisation’s culture, strategic priorities and context. There is no one-size fits all approach.

“Most of the time, we put the cart before the horse.  We focus on the system – SharePoint etc – but we lose sight of the strategy, the need – what do we need knowledge management for? There might be a company that says we are not really going to innovate, or do a lot of R&D… then your knowledge strategy must focus on THEIR strategic imperatives – maybe that is a focus on quality, or low cost. Then you must align your KM strategy and approach to the organisation’s specific needs, bridging the gap between the strategy discussion and the technology one.” – Akhona Damane, Transnet Freight Rail

A key element of context was open innovation that includes customers – customer knowledge management, collaborating more with customers and linking knowledge management to customers for competitive advantage. For example, in co-creation projects, creating new services or improved products by bringing together knowledge from customers as well as internal resources.

“Innovation will follow learning. And we feel that learning is incredibly important. Innovation without a foundation of learning or knowledge is a buzzword.” – Olwynn Garratt, Fasken Martineau

Prof Kingo Mchombu reminded us of the story of the iPhone… “One of the things that needs to come out is the acceptance of genuine mistakes in innovation. If people always get it right, it’s not necessarily innovative. At iPhone, they were at first laughed at, but they learned from their customers how to get it right.”

Having explored these themes of leading innovation, learning and experimentation, the roundtable leaders were asked to reflect on the future of knowledge management in organisations in Southern Africa. The identified the key role of the knowledge leader including,

  • Being able to close the strategic gaps – ask ‘what are the business challenges?’ and bring knowledge management to bear on directly addressing those.
  • The future role of the knowledge leaders is as facilitators or instigators of KM across the organisation – collaborating and leading collaboration across organisational silos.
  • Leading innovation management, bringing the experience and principles of knowledge management into innovation management.
  • In essence, it’s about taking responsibility and building trust, amongst our profession, as well as in our different organisations.

The conclusion was that knowledge management is definitely not dead! Rather, it has a strong role to play in the competitive advantage of organisations, crossing over many siloes.

“Knowledge Management practices will be the thing that sets companies and organisations apart from each other into the future, creating competitive advantage. It does currently and as information and knowledge grows, this will only be more essential.” – Ronel Davel, SARS

Our roles as knowledge leaders in the future will be as facilitators or instigators, leading a knowledge management culture, processes and strategy across the organisation.

“It’s important as knowledge managers to realise that we are not going to change the whole company by ourselves. We need to tap into and make use of all the skills, expertise and knowledge in the organisation when it comes to creating a culture of knowledge sharing – HR, change etc.” – Ronel Davel, SARS

We were called upon to take ownership and being accountable – with many agreeing with Patrick Lambe’s bold comment that he would like to see the day when we as knowledge leaders can be sued for not taking accountability!

“To be a knowledge leader, you don’t necessarily need to be a librarian, or an alchemist. The key qualification as a knowledge leader is PASSION.” – Hein Spingies, RAF


—  Originally published by Akhona Damane on LinkedIn Pulse (June, 2 2015) —

Yesterday (27 May 2015) I was participating at the SAKMS (Southern African Knowledge Management Summit) in Pretoria, as a panel member at the Discussion on Knowledge Leader workshop. We had fun, and lots of learning with KM experts including Patrick Lambe of Straits Knowledge (Singapore), Prof. Adeline Du Toit (University of Pretoria) and Dr Andrew Kok (Western Cape Government).

Central to the deliberations was the question of the future of Knowledge Management. Earlier in 2015, one of the prominent KM expert in another conference raised the pertinent question of the future relevance of KM. He asked the question, “Is KM dying?”

This is the question that requires a well thought out response. In my response I am taking the South African context in mind given the initial adoption (excitement), followed by disappointments (due to slow returns on investment (unmet expectations), and indifference (an attitude held by some executives on the existence of KM in their organisations).

Some executives argue that they do not need KM. Reason being that they confuse it with HR or IT, due to lack of understanding and misconceptions. In some organisations, they have already made significant investments in other management interventions such as Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, etc.So they don’t see the need for KM.

Some early adopters have not seen the real benefits of KM since it was well marketed but the badly implemented. In some instances, a limited view of KM was introduced. For instance, KM was introduced as Records Management, or as Document Management System, or as Mentorship. These are instances when KM is presented with a single view; KM is a multi-faceted discipline.


Personally, I am of the view that KM is at high risk of extincting if we continue to take a single approach to it. However, if implemented holistically KM has a bright future. KM is not about to die anytime soon.

I have raised three points to support my argument:

(1) One of the ways we can ensure that KM remains relevant is when it answers strategic questions or business problems. One should have a meeting with the CEO / Executives and ask the proverbial question, “what are your top three business challenges or strategic issues?” And then devise a plan of how KM can assist in addressing such strategic issues.

(2) Innovation Management. The principles of KM must be applied in introducing or reviving the culture of Innovation within the organisation. There are limitless opportunities in operating Innovation with the KM principles of knowledge-creation, knowledge-sharing, in view.

(3) Customer Knowledge Management. KM needs to harness customer interaction opportunities, especially that the existence of the organisation depends on the customer. When you engage customers by sharing your knowledge as well as gathering their knowledge; this can assist in improving your service offerings. One of the most practical aspect is Co-Creation of solutions jointly with the customer as you engage in purposeful knowledge sharing.

Lastly, in future the KM professionals may need to consider changing the name  “Knowledge Management” to something like “Strategic Knowledge” discipline.

When we approach people to suggest that they share a case study or a presentation at a summit, many of them respond the same way. “Oh, no.” they say. “I don’t have a case study or a story to tell”  – And why not? Surely every KM professional must have a story to tell?

Many of us hesitate to share our stories because we are stuck in the idea that a case study should be a shining example of best practice, and when we look at our own experiences we see the ‘failures’, the things that didn’t work out as planned, the disappointments. Intellectually, of course, we know as KM professionals that failure leads to learning and insight, but when it comes to measuring ourselves against others, we pull back.

It sometimes seems that we have all become experts in framing and showcasing our lives, our stories and experiences in a shiny, edited way. While we can’t really blame Facebook and Photoshop, but they offer a good example of how this plays out in the personal sphere – just think of how many photos of smiling families on the beach you see, and how few of the same family later that day when both kids are having a tantrum! Read the rest of this entry »

Complexus offers you lessons from the field and new tools to manage challenging change, in their pre-summit workshop – “Using KM tools to improve Enterprise Change, Project Outcomes & Business Capability Maturity”

The speed and volume of technology based change in today’s digital enterprise is faster and larger than ever before. According to the 2014 PMI Pulse report, organisational change continues to be a challenge for the vast majority of businesses, with only one in five organizations reporting highly effective change management.

As business leaders and knowledge practitioners embark on enterprise and systems transformation the pressure for these projects to succeed and for investments to show a positive ROI increases year on year. With 70% of major change implementations yielding sub-optimized results and the average time taken to develop mature business capabilities exceeding 5+ years, how can the transformational leader of today deliver a successful change program on a finite budget in an ever more complex information and collaboration landscape?

Lessons from the field – “The Change Challenge”
In 2014 Complexus conducted an assessment in our local market of South Africa with 100 respondents. The research was performed using their best practice SharePoint App, ReadinessPoint. The App asks a series of questions to assess organisational, people, process and technology readiness for any given change program in the Enterprise. The results presented a remarkable set of findings:

  • 60% had challenged or highly challenged projects.
  • 13% were recommended to stop their change project.
  • Poor process readiness scored highest as the most common issue.
  • Only 10% had any form of maturity plan in place.

Provide the CxO, PMO, Change & Knowledge Practitioner with something new

Read the rest of this entry »

The implementation of Knowledge Management is no trivial task, involving multiple streams (people, technology, process) and requiring changes in infrastructure and the collaboration of stakeholders all over the organisation.

International KM expert Patrick Lambe describes the knowledge and information infrastructure as “like one jumbled mass comprising several tangled up balls of string: it’s hard to figure out what’s connected to what, where all the interdependencies are, and what we need to untangle and realign if we want to make a particular, significant change.”

Read the full article, “Why KM Is Hard To Do: Infrastructure, KM and Implementing Change” at Patrick’s blog,

Often, this organisational infrastructure can seem like an impossibly complex barrier to implementing effective KM and we find many organisations falling into the same – avoidable – traps again and again. Patrick will share his experience, insights and learning from his years of experience across various industries, through two events at the 2015 Southern African Knowledge Management Summit:

  • Knowledge Auditing and Mapping (Pre-Summit Workshop, Wednesday 27 May), and
  • Implementing for impact: how to make a difference with KM in your organisation, and avoid common pitfalls (Keynote session, Thursday 28 May)

“My wish for the Summit is that participants will share, learn, and return to their workplaces energised, inspired, and equipped with useful insights and methods to do great work!” – Patrick Lambe



Read more about the Pre-Summit Workshops and Summit Agenda at

We are cross-posting this invitation on the Summit blog as well, as the preparations for the Summit was a catalyst for this Coaching Circle. We have decided that in stead of learning and doing knowledge transfer one-on-one, we would like to invite others to join this learning journey. Not only can more benefit from the learning, but our learning can also benefit from more perspectives and inputs.


Social media engagement is an integral part of events. Live Tweeting with #-hashtags, sharing updates on Facebook & G+, live blogging etc. provides a so-called back channel or complementary channel for wider participation in the event conversation. It also takes the messages and impressions of the event beyond the walls of the venue, and invite voices not present at the event into the conversation. This practice is thus also referred to as Event Amplification or Social Reporting.

For some professionals the use of social media at such event is the first time they post on social media platforms with a professional identity. This is a catalyst and opportunity to find learn how to use social media as a professional. There are also associated practices, such as the curation of the story of the event on social media and analytics that can be learned.

Jeanette Seko will be a Social Media Champion for the 2015 Southern African Knowledge Management Summit. She sees this as an opportunity to find her professional voice on social media and to learn some useful practices that she can also take back to her organisation. She is looking forward to meetup with other professionals on her journey. We would like to invite others to join a Coaching Circle where we will explore, learn-by-doing and reflect together about the use of social media as a professional. Here are some of the topics of the topics on the living agenda –

  • Social media, social reporting & event amplification
  • Curation of social media engagement
  • Finding your professional voice in social media
  • How do I keep my private presence separate from my professional engagement on social media. Is it necessary?
  • Looking at social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, G+, blogs (Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger). LinkedIn (also LinkedIn updates), etc.

If you are interested to join this peer learning opportunity, please send an e-mail to Elmi Bester. Only 6-8 people can join the Coaching Circle. Our first meetup on Google Hangout will be Friday, 24 April 2015 (12:00-13:00). Preference will be given to those who will also be attending the 2015 Southern African Knowledge Management Summit.

Please familiarise yourself with the way Coaching Circles work before you sign-up. You need to be prepared to be an active participant in a co-learning process. (See overview below).

The coaching circle will get together every second week on Google Hangout, and in-between we will share, discuss and deliberate on G+.

What is Coaching Circle?

Coaching circles are regular meetings of a group of peers exploring a common area of interest. They provide an opportunity to share your experience and to learn from your peers. Circles run for about two -three months, meeting once every 2 weeks at a time and place that best suits the members of the circle. Once a quarter members get together with others in the community to discuss how are working, wins and pitfalls, lessons learned, new opportunities.

What’s the format?
Coaching circles are usually 6 to 8 people
Circles usually have a host who provides the space (online, office, home)
Circles usually have a co-ordinator who makes sure everyone knows when the next circle is happening, what the topic is and who is facilitating
Facilitation is shared between all the members of the circle, so this rotates to different members.
Circles usually meet every 2 weeks
Who are the KMers Coaching Circles for:
Professionals who are passionate about knowledge management & seek to grow their knowledge management practice
People with enough experience to facilitate sessions on topics of interest to them
Beginners to advanced KM professionals
People in any role and any size company, diversity is better.

Originally posted on

untitledRegister now and qualify for the early bird discount (only valid until 24 April). We have a very rich and exciting programme in store for you,  including –

  • perspective shaping keynotes (Implementing KM for impact; Openness as the key to KM innovation; Strategic & burning platforms ito SA’s competitiveness)
  • presentations about latest developments & thinking, such as Open Innovation & Gamification
  • presentations about how KM can shape and influence topical issues, such as rhino poaching & empowerment of upcoming farmers
  • perspective making Indabas – KM in the development sector; KM In the public sector,  a Case Study Café and a session where we together will re-author the KM narrative for greater impact. Experience the facilitation of robust knowledge sharing, learning, and sense-making in action.

Remember to register for the interesting  pre-Summit workshops to be held on the 27th of May. Use this opportunity to learn from and with the best and innovative experts in the KM profession!

  • Conduct a knowledge audit – Patrick Lambe
  • Informal networks & Social Network Analysis – Aldu Cornelissen
  • Knowledge Sharing Masterclasses: Playback Theatre & Building a narrative knowledge base – Petro Janse Van Vuuren & Kyra Wainstein
  • The role of the Knowledge Leader: a roundtable discussion – Prof Adeline du Toit & Dr Andrew Kok
  • Using KM tools to improve Enterprise Change, Project Outcomes & Business Capability Maturity – Nick Bradshaw

Click here for all the details you need to register.

We are looking forward to meet you at the Summit!

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