I’m not a political animal, either in the political manoeuvring often seen in the workplace sense or, in terms of the people that are running, or want to run the country. The latter to the point where I have no idea who my local MP is or which of the gangs parties they represent.

However, neither am I unthinking or apathetic, and I’ve been thinking, seriously thinking, as we approach today and I have three main thoughts:

Firstly, I would like to be able to vote for a party, not a local representative of the party for directly for the party itself.

Why? Well, in an area that strongly leans toward one or other of the parties that claim to represent us, any individual vote, to my mind, has little impact

I know there have been examples where apathy or complacency have led to a surprising outcome and I know that in the past there have been major perturbations such as the Labour Party but in general, my feeling is that in the current system I can have little real impact in any of the so called ‘safe’ seats.

I also know that in the post-election post mortem things like ‘they may have a parliamentary majority but, it’s not representative of the number of people that actually voted for them’ will be said. That doesn’t really help does it? 

It seems to me that there is a simple solution: let us vote for a party and have the parliamentary representation ratios reflect the outcome of the vote. This would seem to make more sense these days when analysts are warning us that the days of outright majorities are past and coalitions are likely to be the norm.

Secondly, UKIP worry me. For a number of reasons but mainly because:
– I don’t trust them. To my mind, their tactics are very similar to those used by an extreme right wing party back in the 1930s and look where that led us.
– Their people say some of the most outrageous, divisive and disgusting things. Even though they are officially denounced by the party, it does give one cause for concern I think.
– There seems to be nothing of substance behind their promises.

Did I mention tactics?  They prey on people’s fears (of outsiders, scroungers, etc. etc. etc.) with little or no evidence to support their blustering.

Finally, I don’t trust the other main players either: the Tories sound like a reincarnation of Thatcher and her mob to my ears; Labour sound more and more like Tories; LibDems no longer have any credibility and generally sound to me like a schoolchild trying to get in with the ‘in-crowd’ to appear popular and substantial.

So, my dilemma is this: who do I vote for?

I think my initial, emotional response is to vote Labour but, I’m not totally convinced by them. My thinking reaction is that the LibDem’s stated goals more meet my ‘sensible head’ need but, they lack credibility and have proven to be untrustworthy. I don’t want the Tories or UKIP, what’s more UKIP actually scare me. My thinking is that to vote for a local representative of one of the fringe but forward thinking parties is a bit of a waste.

My Mum died today!

It wasn’t unexpected as she had cancer and, apparently, a brain tumour. However, this expectancy doesn’t help the reality that a mainstay of my life has now gone.

I felt that She deserved something better than a cryptic Facebook status, and I felt the need to say something, so here we are.

I went up to Darlington last weekend, Darlington Memorial Hospital in fact as that’s where She’d been taken on Saturday. I couldn’t get up there straight away as I’d accepted a dance event commission for that evening…the celebration of a Golden Wedding. I felt a tad guilty but, I know my Mum, she would have expected me to meet my commitments.

I went up Sunday, gathered my kids together and we went to see Mum (or Nana in their case). She was very, very pleased to see us….she felt “wonderful”. I had to come home again on Monday as again, I had commitments that I couldn’t cancel at short notice; and I know Mum would have expected me to meet then unless there was an urgent need not to.

I found it impossible to concentrate through the remainder of the week on anything; for instance, it’s taken me most of the week to do the washing up…and as for remembering to buy milk, that was doomed to failure I feel. People have been very sympathetic to my need.

Dancing is ok; in dancing I can lose myself and I don’t need to think. My teaching may have been a little disjointed but, that’s not always unusual as things occur to me as classes and lessons go along,

An that thing I needed to say: at the start of the week I felt guilty not being by her bedside, watching and waiting with siblings. As the week went on however, I realised there was little I could do for her; she was on her way out and nothing I could do, or not do, would change that. She was unconscious and at ease (I had updates from my Brother through the week). What’s more, and more to the point I think, my Mum was very proud of whet I’d achieved and continue to achieve in my dancing; to not work at my dancing to no real good end would have bought a scowl to her face; to not meet commitments would have added to it…she would not have been gruntled I can tell you. So I stayed at home and I danced and I taught. I don’t feel guilty, well not much, because she would have approved (I think).

I’d been there when she did need me in life, and I could do some good (like the time she set fire to her bedroom wallpaper); I visited quite frequently for some years, bringing some of her grandchildren to see her, which she loved; in the latter years, I’ve gone to visit as often as I could…and I even remembered Mothers’ Day and Birthday cards.

This Sunday I will enter a few of my pupils in an area dance competition, my first and theirs also. It’s quite an achievement for me I think, and Mum would have been proud I think. I will dance for her, and hopefully, she’ll be watching.

That is all!

This is one of the HSE’s ‘Myth Buster’ cases, I’ve copied from here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/myth-busting/index.htm

Case 340 – Hot drinks not allowed in a health centre
Issue
A local health centre has a flashing notice saying that the Practice Manager does not allow hot drinks in the surgery because of health & safety regulations.

Panel opinion
The practice manager’s decision to ban hot drinks from the waiting room seems a sensible way to avoid scalding accidents in a busy area and to avoid spills and mess in an environment which needs to be kept clean and tidy. It would be much better if this was properly explained though rather than just resorting to “for health and safety reasons”.”

and, I have a problem with this!

The panel say it “seems a sensible way to avoid scalding accidents” and yet complain that the centre are “just resorting to “for health and safety reasons”.”

Surely, the prevention of accidents *is* about Health and Safety? H&S is not about complying with legislation surely, is *must* be about preventing accidents…mustn’t it?

In many quality professional discussions, compliance with ISO 9001 is often confused with effective management of quality…they are not synonymous.

Similarly, compliance with H&S legislation and regulation is *not* the same as managing people’s health and safety!

Rant done.

I’ve usurped Thomas’s title, but having just had a quick read, I think there is some justification.

No-one, or at least very few folk want to die or be harmed…it’s part of the basic survival instinct methinks but, every now and then, we really do need to stand up to be counted.

In the past, I stood with my brother on the Bandstand in Crawley to protest against the National Front; more recently, I’ve been outspoken on Facebook about the fascist ‘Britain First’ group and their cynical use of real heroes to spread their vile message…I notice more recently that the BNP are trying the same thing and will keep an eye out…this is not always a healthy pastime as my brother found out.

I’ve just read, with sadness, that certain cartoons are being ‘blurred out’ in the media as a result of today’s shootings in France. This is a shame: cartoons are, and have been for many, many years a legitimate and effective tool of political satirists and commentators. Unfortunately, as a result of today’s shootings, that seems to have changed and fear seems to have taken over.

As I say, no-one wants to be harmed but I believe that ‘The Media’ around the world should be publishing the cartoons, on front pages, under the headline of Je Suis Charlie to show these evil people that they/we won’t be intimidated. This is a far better response that violence I think and, in my opinion, will be far more effective in getting the message across.

No I haven’t…I just spent £87.53!

As you can see, I’ve just been shopping, not Christmas shopping, just shopping. Also, as you can see, I’ve been riled!

They’re very good at work in that they pay us early at Christmas time. We normally get paid on the last working day of the month (at the moment anyway); this means that I shouldn’t get paid until tomorrow but, it was in the bank this morning.

The down side to this is that my normal monthly shop has to be completed during the festive shopping riot; you know, the one that looks like the earth is going to end on Thursday rather than the celebration of the middle of the winter months.

I know winder started on Sunday but, it’s been wintery since September (before?) and we still have a way to go, so we feast and the like at winter solstice time to give us a boost. I know we call it Christmas and the Romans (before they became RCs) called it Saturnalia but, I suggest its probably been around for a long time before even that and the ‘feast’ was usurped for various political purposes…just a personal view, no data to support it but…

Now, during this time of shoppi celebration people go mad. It seems the rules of the road have been set aside for the duration judging by the way some people drive. Also, the normal politeness that most people have seems to have disappeared too (although one nice chap did tell me where I could get some of the stuff I wanted cheaper). All I wanted was my normal shop but, it seems that you have to barge around, push people out of the way, grab stuff from the shelf before someone else gets it (who knew that Radox ‘For Men’ shower gel was essential to the Christmas celebration Thinking smile)

Anyway, short rant over…oh, and I didn’t save £1.50, I spent £87.53…if I’d bought the same stuff at Asda maybe but, as I picked up stuff that wasn’t on the list and would have picked other stuff if I had ventured to Asda then I doubt there’d be much saving. and, am I likely to go to Asda instead of Sainsbury’s? No! It’s 15 miles away (32 minutes in good traffic) and while I can’t be bothered to do the math, I suggest that the ‘saving’ may have been eaten (drunk?) up in petrol.

I’m orf out again to shop…some few ‘special’ things for the break, cheese, wine and Italian ‘antipasto’ platter stuff…wish me luck.

Have a good break, celebrate if you do, rest if you can and I hope that you become rested and ready for the New Year and all that that will bring

I’ve recently read Judith Hackitt’s blog ‘Risk Assessment’, the piece
entitled “The mysterious case of the dog in the park…“. In this she refers to a couple of articles that have a rant about the rise in the use of the phrase “health and safety” as a way of not doing work, or some other activity that may cause some inconvenience to the people doing said activity.

I personally agree with what Will Young wrote on the subject, but I do have an issue sometimes when some folk, Judith being one of them, blandly say “it’s not a health and safety issue”. What they actually mean is, “it’s not a Health and Safety legislative or regulatory issue”, i.e. there is nothing in the rule book to stop you doing said activity.

In actual fact some of the things they talk about could adversely affect
people’s health and/or safety irrespective of the presence or otherwise of legislation/regulation. For instance, Judith quotes a Myth Buster ‘case’ where knitted mini-jerseys were not allowed because of “concerns over the structural integrity ” of the lamp posts. Judith states in her blog “I do know this is not health and safety and I can’t comment on the whys and wherefores of lamppost integrity”. However, I say: it IS about health and safety…safety at least…if one of those lampposts falls on someone it will be unsafe and their health is likely to be impaired. It may not be covered in H&S legislation (except from a risk assessment perspective) but,
it IS a safety issue.

So if you mean there’s no legislation to cover it, say that; if you mean
that you don’t want to do something because it’s inconvenient, state it! But, don’t say it’s not about health and safety when people’s H&S can be adversely affected and don’t blame H&S when you can’t be bothered.

Rant over!

I have recently been accused of having ‘twisted knickers’ in an online forum of which I am a member, which to be honest I don’t find a problem…I have had much worse things said about me.

The context in which this argument developed was one where I was defending (and trying to educate people about) Ballroom and Latin American (B&LA) dancing and where competition dancing and choreography fit within that style of dance.

I got the distinct impression that my protagonist had a limited view of B&LA dancing and dancers…similar to one that I had many years ago; my view was that it was the only way to ‘properly’ dance…I was young and immature and have since radically changed that view.

I think that in addition to B&LA (in which I feel I am quite accomplished, but not in competitive mode) I have also gained some proficiency in other styles: Argentine Tango (AT) and Modern Jive (MJ). I will defend these dances with as much vigour as my recent defence of B&LA as I am ‘speaking’ from a position of knowledge and understanding of the dance forms…if not total proficiency or the same broad experience as I have of B&LA.

I have taken the trouble to find out, not assume and I will therefore continue to ‘twist’ when ignorance is revealed as I believe that education is the cure for ignorance. When a subject of which I have no experience / knowledge is discussed, I will either find out facts or desist.

This posting had been intended to open a discussion in the afore mentioned forum, but it seems to have become a statement of my position in relation to ignorance and knowledge and discussion and education. Hence, I have published it as part of my musings.

Comments are welcome if constructive, unstoppable but ignorable if not (but in here, can be deleted)

Mark

I’m home again now after KMUK12, tired as as soon as I hit Didcot (Oxfordshire, UK) I was getting ready to go teach some Ballroom and Latin American Dancing…for the record, we recapped a Cha Cha Cha routine we’d done earlier in the programme and developed the Jive a little, working on “Change of Hands Behind The Back”. Anyway, back to KMUK12.

The day with Jane McKenzie of Henley Business School (just up the road from me) remining us of Paul J Corney’s mission and swimming pool exercise…as per the title, I’m still in the changing room but think I may have gained a rubber ring or two to help the swim. Jane suggested that the question for this year’s conference was “what is the value of what you’re doing to [with perhaps a better word] the organisation to the organisation”…put another way (my words), is it all worth it? Unfortunately, I had to leave a little early so didn’t take part in Chris Collison’s (@ChrisCollison) session or the final panel discussion which were intended to answer that question…hopefully other attendees can add comment to this posting, or even do their own. Jane noted that the word “CONVERSATION” was used an awful lot during day 1.

To be honest, I guess most of us really weren’t listening that well to Jane until she introduced Dave Snowden (@snowded) with the words “no KM conference is complete without…”. Now, people who work in or study KM will have real difficulty not knowing Dave’s name or work so little point in going on about Cynefin and suchlike. I do need to say though that I like Dave’s work; he doesn’t dismiss the stuff I did in the past (or even now for that matter) like Scientific Management or Business Process Reengineering. He recognises there is a place in the ordered world for these things (unless you make a religion of it of course). But his focus in in the unordered world, particularly the complex domain. Today Dave is talking about Expatation: using existing ‘stuff’ in a way that is totally different from what the ‘stuff’ was developed for. He showed us a picture of cars that had been wrapped in giant plastic bags to protect them from floods. It’s always going to be difficult to summarise a Snowden presentation in a paragraph so I won’t try (too much). As ever, Dave promises that the presentation slides are made available on the Cognitive Edge website. What did I take from the presentation…in the non-Gaussian world we need to recognise that best practice is a nonsense concept…because things are unlikely to happen, irrespective of consequence, good practice is unlikely to have been worked out, let alone best practice. Dave used the phrase ‘conceptual blending’, which I take to mean the brining together of different view points/perspectives (is that a view point?) exeriences and knowledge to develop solutions to what are essentially one-off problems. This is relevant to my work; in the nuke industry we are required to have effective (the regulators use the word adequate) arrangements for handling emergency situations. Now, while you can have certain ways of acting in these situations, you can never really define a problem solution. We need emergency response teams that can react to a situation and bring together diverse skills and experiences to deal with the situation at hand…not unlike in the film Apollo 13 where engineers had to ‘Heath Robinson’ an air scrubber (I think that’s the word) using only what was available to the astronauts .

I didn’t envy Brigitte Ireland’s (@Briginthjing) task, to follow Dave with her presentation about how Ernst & Young (referred to as EY throughout) developed a global knowledge organisation. EY (see how adaptive I am) are big…we are talking hundreds of thousands of people delivering services to much of the world. They have ‘knowledge professionals’ all over the world who need to provide an effective and efficient service to the company. They have set up what is essentially a triage process to deal with service requests so that much of the mundane (my word, not Brigitte’s) work is facilitaed through on-line self-service tools. This leaves the knowledge professionals free to deal with what EY call the ‘priority’ request…the areas that will add most value to the company. She talked about balancing the need for global (standard) approaches with the desire for local solutions…in the OU’s Managing Knowledge  course, we called this ‘glocalisation’…something the apparently MacDonalds are good at. A major ‘takeaway’ (no pun intended…though it is good don’t you think) for me is the need to ‘get stuck in’; KM needs to be part of the conversation, needs to be proactively ‘taking a seat at the table’ something for me to work on here I think.

Again, it was time to choose: Adrienne Monteath-van Dok with ‘From zero to hero: A knowledge management ‘comeback’ story  or Dr Johannes Müller’s ‘Global knowledge exchange using Web 2.0 at Siemens, Building Technologies Division’. I’m afraid that Dr Müller’s session sounded far too techy for me (I was considered an ‘expert’ before Windows 3.1.1 but since then have lost it) and the fact is that we have 400-500 people on two sites in the UK and global networking is really not an issue. So, I went with Adrienne.

Adrienne described how Plan International (referred to merely as ‘Plan’ during the session) are in the ‘business’ of ‘Promoting child rights to end child poverty’. She also told us that, in spite of a KM Strategy that was good, KM was not regarded as important by the powers that be…to the extent that the strategy on 2008/9 was not approved by the global leadership. The KM community in Plan did some navel gazing (or root cause analysis for some) as  identified some of the reasons for this lack of interest: KM, as presented, was too conceptual, people were unclear what it was an what benefits could be gained from it’s use…people wanted to see the benefits before they’d buy-in (I know, chicken and egg stuff, but not unusual). There was also frustrations within the organisation around participation: Plan took on board outsider views, but seemed to have forgotent their own staff. So, Adrienne and her KM organisation started to work on this. They sought to gain credibility by building a portfolio of case studies to show the benefits of KM; they admitted mistakes but parked them and moved on; they started to build networks and trust within the organisation. They were also helped by a change in the leadership and culture of the organisation (Snowden’ serendipity?). They now present practical solutions to problems without being too ambitious, they manage people’s expectations. Their strategy is iterative and in two parts: the bits that must be done, the minimum amount of sharing that is expected and the stuff that while being the ideal is not mandatory. I think that Adrienne’s obvious passion for the work of Plan and KM also added greatly to KM’s comeback.

Sue Mucenieks from Deloitte now told us how they were using social networking to generate business value. Hank Malik was suppoed to have been there to but I guess he was delayed (I did see him in the room later). Deloitte, like EY is a vast organisation providing services throughout the world. They are a global network of member firms that need to collaborate in order to maintain the Deloitte ‘frontage’. They have a number of tools that are used for this collaboration, but the presentation ‘Turning ‘social’ networking into business value: Transforming collaboration at Deloitte’ concentrated on their use of Yammer. A couple of ‘fun experiments’ in the use of Yammer in Austrailia and the UK led to global adoption in November 2011. Membership of the network, which is voluntary, grew virally from just a few in October 2010 to more than 50000 in May 2012…and this continues to increase. The implementation initially was very hands off with no formal training people learned by doing. There were challenges such as: how much ‘social’ was to be allowed so it didn’t detract from serious use, the information security risk, people’s attachement (no pun) to email being a few. They learned lessons in that there is a need for a suporting infrastructure to help people get real value from the tool, there is a clear policy of purpose (social is ok, but this is a business tool). They now have some structure, some support together with Yammer ‘champions’ to promote it’s use…and social: one of their Directors is a regular contributor…of jokes (e.g I’m getting pretty nervous about my maths exam, I think I’ve got a 40:40 chance of passing…don’t blame me, it’s on the slide)…his view is that the jokes make him more approachable in his business role. The final message? ‘Don’t give up. It’s a long term challenge, taking a long time’  in my notes I added ‘for a long term effect’.

Once more, a De Vere lunch, always very nice but presented very much in a production line fashion. This was followed by a presentation from Lieutenant Colonel Minham LIM of the Singapore Aremed Forces. The presentation, entitled ‘Knowledge management at the frontline: KM as a key enabler of Singapore Armed Forces’ full-spectrum capability’. SAR (as it seems to be affectionately known) are not a big force (~30k regular and ~40k conscripted for 2 year with a 300k strong reserve force that receive annual training for a futher 10 years) but they want to have a big presence in the world. As part of training, they equip their people to make judgement calls rather than referring to standard operating procedures all the time (sound familiar? See the splurge above on Dave Snowden’s session). They learn before through planning and use of their eSILK knowledge repositiory. They learn during with quick reports/logs that are referred to during things like shift changes; they have During Action Reviews when things go wrong to stop, review and react (similar to ‘probe-sense-respond’ perhaps?). They learn after, using their experienced people as trainers to share and spread experiential knowledge. Their goal in the field is that a battle is not 1 SAR combattant against 1 enemy combattant, but the entire SAR through the network against 1 enemy combattant. It seems to me that SAR, through its use of technology and KM fights well above its weight.

Another choice: efficiency and effectiveness with Colette Bewley of Innovation Burges Salmon LLP or walking the talk with Dr Susanne Etti of ERM. Now, while I’m well known for my desire for effectiveness and efficiency, I have a great deal of regard for walking the talk, so downstairs to see how ERM are ‘Walking the talk: Using a knowledge sharing approach to drive change’. ERM are in the business of ‘delivering sustainable solutions in a more competetive world’ and the knowledge sharing community are playing their part in delivering this goal. In ‘Let’s Shout About Sustainability’ local projects make short videos to describe the project, documenation is made available and together the videos and documents are held in a database that is searchable. We saw one of the videos and heard feed back from the video maker about how energised the project had become because of the enterprise wide recognition of the projects worth…and the personal electronic ‘card’ of thanks from the CEO did no harm either. A second case study shows how ERM are preparing for Rio+20, the UN’s Conference on Sustainable Development. Through the use, and reporting of events, like knowledge cafes, the whole company is helping prepare the three person delegation. ERM are able to show how individuals within the organisation are contributing the sustaining the planet, energising their people to greater effort…my view? Recognition of people’s work and worth goes a long way to increasing their motivation in delivering organisational goals.

This unfortunately was the end of my conference…I had to be somewhere else quite urgently, apart from getting back to Didcot in time to teach.

What did I get from KMUK12? Well, in other years I’ve gotten a broader view of KM…I originally though it was just glorified records management (I know, I know…I was naïve…uneducated). My question to Dave Snowden at KCUK09 “Why do we do KM” started to change that…his answer then? ‘To support better decision making’. In KMUK10 & 11 I got more conceptual information, more pointers about what KM is. Now I have a view of what KM is, and what it isn’t and from KMUK12 my ‘takeaways’ are more practical. Positive Deviation is a tool I think I can use in my work of business improvement; the difference between installation and implementation and, more importantly, how to articulate it; effective presentation through emotional engagement (this has utility in my dancing too…I know, I tried it last night); thoughts of how my understanding of my inner animal, and other people’s, can help me interact effectively with those people; the need to be involved in ‘the conversation’, to have a seat at the table; the need to restrain ambition, to be practical and to deliver on promises (although I guess I knew that one already, but it’s always good to be reminded).

Work of the conference: CONVERSATION…it’s all about conversation and generating common usnderstanding of what’s needed and how we are to get there. We do business with people and people are social animals, so conversation, effective conversation, is an absolute necessity.

This may be my last KMUK, who can tell but it was certainly the most practical…and by the time I’ve finished today, my network will have increased some more…more following and (already) more followers to hopefully make me more effective.

My apologies to the lovely people I’d met over the last two days for not saying goodbye…as I say, it was quite and urgent call-away. Hopefully we can connect with twitter (@Mark_Harbor) or on LinkedIn (Mark Harbor) or even Facebook (guess what…Mark Harbor). My work email is mark.harbor@research-sites.com and my personal email mark_a_harbor@hotmail.co.uk, I hope to hear from you. Takle care all.

I’m up ‘that London’ again for the UK’s Knowledge Management conference known as KMUK…this year (remarkably) it’s KMUK12…the twitter hashtag is #kmuk12 if you’re interested.

Before I start, can anyone tell me why my laptop takes in excess of 10 minutes to start up, my phone grudgedly takes about 2seconds to respond to a screen touch and the telly in my room takes 3 presses of the ‘standby’ button to ignite? I remember my Commodore days (if not the spelling) when one push of a switch gave me a C: to work with in milliseconds, a phone was ready as you picked it up and tellys just needed a push of the button to show me the ‘dancing figures’. Am I getting old and nostalgic or are we just more demanding these days?

I thought, two years late, I might just blog about the day’s events…especially as Mark Gould (@markgould13) isn’t here to do his normal fine work.

The day started well, and was kept muchly on-time by Paul J Corney of Sparknow LLP. Paul tried gamely to give us a mission, namely: Making the most of this conference; something no doubt the powers at work would agree whole heartedly with. He introduced us with a Swimming Pool exercise: where were we with our KM efforts, pool side, changing room, diving board, shallow end, deep end or had we made it to the bar? I positioned myself in the changing room, ready to go…I just needed the ‘top management’ diving board to get me going. Something I took away from the session was the power of words: a brief video with a blind man’s sign “I’m blind, please help me” verses “it’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it”. He got more help (money…is that help?) with the latter…the words we use are important. We also had a reading from ADB Reflections that reminded us that, however obvious the words we use are to us, the people we are talking with may not understand where we’re coming from: singing from the same hymn sheet is not enough, we need intersubjectively viable communication…to have the same coding to make the SMCR model of communication work for us.

Paul then ‘introduced’ David Gurteen (@DavidGurteen), who let’s face it needs none…David will talk about having conversations…won’t he. Well, no, not today. Today he talks about Positive Deviation. Based on the work of Jerry and Monique Sternin, David gave us a story of how looking for the ‘outliers’ we can find how to improve things quickly and with acceptance from the people we are trying to improve. I guess the book The Power of Positive Deviance by Jerry and Monique is worth a read. My interpretation? “Positive Deviance: perhaps a way to allow people to improve themselves by seeing the healthy trees in the less healthy wood

Next we had Andrew Lambe and Sofia Layton (@Sofia_Layton, I met her last year) talking about their work in trying to prepare the NHS for changes being introduced as a result of Health & Social Care being introduced to (forced upon?) the country. There is a major risk of fragmentation of and loss of knowledge resulting from this reorganisation that Andrew and Sofia are trying to address through various knowledge sharing activities to help the ‘learning after’ the old scheme advise the ‘learning before’ of the old scheme. Use of video feedback from people involved helps them engage with more people, thus improving the chances of success.

Now we had to choose: John Day from Sellafield with their ‘Risk Based Knowledge Retention and Transfer Programme’ or Simon Moran’s ‘Creating sustainable change and overcoming resistance’. As I’d talked with John a lot and have seen him present the subject on a number of occasions, I went with Simon. As Simon promised, it was 45mins or so of ‘common sense’: top level management sponsorship, overcoming people’s resistance not to change but to being changed and maintaining the urgency/pressure for change. However, Simon articulated something I have known but not been able to put into words: there is a difference between merely installing new systems (the physical placement) and actually implementing the change. Implementing is making sure that hearts and minds are changed and that is where the real RoI is found, when people change the way they work.

Time for lunch…followed by Nick Davies giving is KM managers a few hints on effective presentations. Nick is a funny man, but he uses humour to very good effect. I can’t in this blog give you what Nick gives us in his presentation except his message (as interpreted by me): Persuasion is through emotional connection and you have 6-7 seconds to make that connection. You have to get creative to engage emotionally with your audience.

Andy Boyd of Shell had to follow that…and he did a fine job. His message (my view) is that KM is “getting people to talk to each other at the right time”. Andy told us that we need to develop the ‘asking mentality’. Things like “in knowledge retention we have to accept that experience takes time” and  “the more senior a manager, the broader their responsibility and the thinner his knowledge…they have to ask more questions”. I have to admit, few notes as I was engaged…maybe he listened to Nick…or maybe the message struck a chord with me.

Now Keith De La Rue (@kdelarue) took us down the path of the Art of Conversation. Not the first time conversation had been mentioned today, but certainly the first time that the results of research had been referenced. For example, Friends with cognitive benefits from Ybarra et al 2010 tells us that brief friendly conversations can improve our executive functions (working memory, focus and the like) while what he called ‘competitive’ conversations have no effect. You need to be open to the other person and their point of view otherwise you block off openness and creativity. Essentially what Keith was telling us, certainly what I took from this session is that social sensitivity is key to effective conversation, as is diversity of view…as David Gurteen says “We risk impoverishing ourselves if we ignore the personal”. Keith gave us five rules: properly introduce all participants; ensure everyone is open and willing to change; make sure everyone has and equal turn to talk; make sure the conversation is friendly and constructive and have sufficiently diverse viewpoints.

The last presentation of the day from Arthur Shelley. Arthur tells us that we need to understand how our behaviour, and that of the people we interact with, affects the outcome of that interaction. He intimates that with this understanding we can change the way we behave and begin to get what we want. He used that word conversation a lot and that understanding where the other people where coming from would allow us to tailor what we said to the best effect.

Paul finished off the day with a panel ‘discussion’. Not much discussion to be honest (it was a long day), but there were a number of examples of good KM practices that the panel had been involved in…I got the following from the session: “people will change if you create the right environment” and that using newly retired people to mentor/guide graduates can deal with issues of grinding axes.

It’s late, and my recollection of the day may be a tad misty, but it was an enjoyable day and useful in helping me take my KM efforts forward. Hopefully tomorrow will be as useful with Dave Snowden, Chris Collison and Hank Malik amongst others join us.

 

I’m writing this very brief note to explain how I feel about the Open University and their approach to exams and the people that are ‘allowed’ to resit following an initial failure. I’m writing it now in an attempt to avoid the ‘well he would say that, he failed again’ comments were I to post after my predicted (second) failure.

The background to this is the OU’s course B823 – Managing Knowledge. I started this course last November in the hope that it would give me some underpinning knowledge and understanding of the field of Knowledge Management. It culminated in an exam in April this year…that I failed.

I failed by 5%, gaining 35% when the pass mark is 40%. I was a little surprised (not a lot) as I didn’t feel uncomfortable after the exam…I’d answered all the questions and had not finished desperately early; I’d left out some of the more modern thinking picked up from Dave Snowden and similar people (as I’d been told to by the tutor in his comments on my second TMA. Obviously though, my underpinning knowledge and understanding was not as deep as I’d thought is was.

Heigh ho, I thought…I’ll find out where I’d gone astray…you know, her some feedback, brush up where I need to and resit, hopefully second time being lucky. Ah, says the OU, we don’t do that, you can’t have that feedback…it’s not our policy (check their FAQs).

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever played Mastermind? That game where one player makes up a pattern of four coloured pegs and the second play has to guess that pattern. At each go, the guesser is given feedback with black and white pegs that tell you if you have selected correct colours and whether the colours are in the correct position. I wasn’t too bad at that game, though not at all perfect (it’s not as easy as it sounds for those of you that haven’t played).

Anyway, the point of that reference is that re-revising for an exam when you have no feedback regarding where you went wrong is a little like playing Mastermind but without the black and white pegs. That’s ok thinks I, I’ll join in the exam preparation discussion on the B823 FirstClass forum and I’ll scan the books and the combination should give me an inkling of where I went wrong.

Oh no says OU, you can’t have access to the current B823 fora, you can’t even have access to your old forum…we will let you have access to the previous exam preparation forum, but that’s it…so now they have taken away one eye…I am revising 1/2 blind.

Ok, the tutor…nope…no tutor information…you’re on your own! Fully blind.

Well, there is a dim haze, I have my TMAs and I have the course books that it seems I must re-read in their entirety…something I don’t have time for. Work were very happy to allow me study time first time round, but as I failed and am resitting, they have not been as generous.

So, I have my exam tomorrow…I have done some revision, it’s not been very successful I don’t think. Like many students, I feel I know nothing and I do fully expect to fail the exam once more.

I will take some solace in Dave Snowden’s view of ‘certification’ in KM:

I have a passion for KM as one of the first disciplines that used properly puts people first and is itself a learning environment which should encourage diversity. That passion means that I will fight attempts to standardise or "certify" the discipline. Dave Snowden Founder & Chief Scientific Officer – Cognitive Edge

I too am passionate about KM, or rather the management of knowledge and I don’t think I don’t understand modern KM, I just think I am not academically minded enough to pass the exam.

Thanks for your time, and now it’s back to the books and a drop of wine (rather than dancing, which as you know is my other passion).

 

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