Archives for category: Workshops

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.

identity-683963_640Knowledge Management has always sounded like a bit of a misnomer to me…  How do you “manage” something as organic, contextual and “nebulous” as knowledge?  Management always conjures up ideas of top-down, mandated processes; whereas knowledge (in the words of Dave Snowden) can only be volunteered, not conscripted.  The two concepts have just always seemed to contradict each other.

Time has proven me both right and wrong in different ways, and it’s been interesting to watch from the sidelines as the field of KM has evolved over the years.  At the same time I’ve also seen business evolve: especially in recent years concepts that business used to find hard to accept such as Complexity and Narrative have become part of the normal discourse.  Dave Snowden, my long-time mentor, will even be teaching an MBA elective on Complexity and Sense-making at Stellenbosch Business School later in the year.  The business context is changing, and therefore so should we.

My own journey has led me deeper into the fields of complexity and narrative, specifically as applied to culture and change.  I find myself focusing more and more on how human beings make meaning of their contexts and experiences through narrative.  I’m also realising anew how deeply that links to knowledge.  Much of what we’ve come to see as knowledge is part of rich meaning-making processes that human beings engage in all the time.  Some scholars see narrative as basically a linking of cause and effect in ways that allow us to make meaning of our life events. Over time this meaning making becomes the way we see the world and ourselves. These narratives of meaning don’t emerge in a vacuum, they are informed and co-authored by those around us, as well as larger narratives that inform our daily realities but are largely invisible to us.  For example, we might have stories about our identities as parents, whether we see ourselves as good/bad parents.  These are heavily influenced by the stories we hear from peers, our own parents, what we see on television etc.  But they’re also influenced by larger narratives such as the role of women and men; what success means in a capitalist society etc.

So in light of this, it is interesting for me to reflect on the field of Knowledge Management through this lens.  What are the stories of identity that we tell and privelage in this community?  What are some of the other subordinate stories that are seeking prominence?  What has the impact been of some stories gaining pre-eminence over others?  What are the unquestioned beliefs and assumptions that are almost invisible to us, yet has a tremendous impact on what we believe and the stories we tell?  These are some of the themes we will explore during the Re-authoring Knowledge Management session on the last day of the #2015SAKMS conference.

If these thoughts have stimulated some ideas or reflections of your own, please contribute those to our e-journaling tool, powered by Sensemaker.  You can access it here:  or you can download the Sensemaker Collector App from the iStore or Playstore and use the activity code 2015SAKMS to access it on your Apple or Android mobile devices.

The Playback Theatre Master Class on 27 May 2015 will provide an opportunity to experience and reflect upon the power of theatre practices to facilitate knowledge sharing and sense-making.

In the video below, Destin (of YouTube channel Smarter Every Day)  shares his story of how he learned to ride his bicycle after the engineers decided to fasten the handles backwards. This backwards brain bike turns right when you turn left, left when you turn right. Easier said than done.

It took Destin eight months of dedicated practice to override his memory of riding a bike. And then again 20 minutes to ride a normal bike again. His toddler could ride the backwards bike within two-hours.

This story reminds me of the stuckness we often experience when we need to unlearn to learn. The challenge is that knowledge can become so embodied, like riding a bike, that we cannot access it in a rational manner to be able to change it. How can we access such embodied or encultured knowledge.

One method that we could use is Playback Theatre. Playback is a form of theatre 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 »

According to Aldu Cornelissen, co-presenter of the workshop about Informal Networks and Social Network Analysis –

“Most organisations are well versed in the art of managing the formal, that which can be committed to paper, be defined and managed. Due to this bias towards the formal, for most organisations, the informal is normally seen as unwanted, the source of risk, unpredictability, unmanageability and inefficiency. However, a surge in research on social networks and a subsequent network theoretical description of organisations and how they work, we are now equipped with tools, concepts and theories to help us understand the informal organisation and use it to our advantage. When I say ‘our’ I intend to point out those in management who want to understand and improve the organisation further through understanding the informal. “

A key dynamic in knowledge management is the relationships and patterns of interaction in informal networks. Social Network Analysis provides a way to visualise these patterns of interaction. Such maps provide answers to questions such as Who communicates to who?, Who is the most trusted?, What are the real roles?, Where are the blockages?, etc.

In this video, Rob Cross discusses how a network perspective helps managers and leaders to see where ideas are flowing, where best practices are transferring, etc. This understanding impacts how we nurture innovation and cross-functional collaboration.

Managers and leaders can leverage the insights gained from understanding the informal networks in their organisation to  –

  • accelerate the flow of knowledge and information across functional and organizational boundaries
  • identify the thought leaders, key information brokers and bottlenecks
  • target opportunities where increased knowledge flow will have the most impact
  • inform smarter decision making during mergers, acquisitions, restructuring,  and the need to retain people who are vital in the knowledge system
  • plan for the development of communities of practice.

Join the workshop about Informal Network & Social Network Analysis on Wednesday, 27 May 2015. The purpose of the workshop is to introduce individuals from various organisations – both private and public– to the idea, and subsequent value, of surfacing, understanding and using informal networks within their organisations. Participants will also learn about the tools of the trade for conducting social network analysis and discuss real-life examples.

Click here to download the Pre-Summit Workshop Brochure and Summit Agenda.

Find out more:

  • An authoritive summary on SNA: Borgatti, S.P. et al., 2009. Network analysis in the social sciences. Science, 323, pp.892–895.
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