Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Leadership Crisis and KM - Huh?

As we're preparing for another best practice study on Leadership Development Strategy, one of my colleagues, Darcy Lemons, shared a research brief just released the by Hay Group and Chief Executive magazine on "The Best Companies for Leaders." The following quote, as usual, caught my eye:
  • In fact, there is an impending leadership crisis facing large and small businesses across all sectors: According to a recent report on National Public Radio, 50 percent of the management workforce can retire in just five years. As 46 million members of Generation X step into 76 million baby boomers’ shoes, today’s leaders are justifiably concerned about how to identify and prepare their successors. Considering these demographics, the issue is quantitative as well as qualitative: The question for companies isn’t simply "Do we have good leaders?" It’s also "Do we have enough leaders?"
KM'ers have long been concerned about retaining valuable knowledge in the form of technical skill and expertise - sales skills, specific technical domains, knowledge of "the way things work," etc. We haven't spent as much time talking about how knowledge management approaches can impact/improve leadership. As one of the generation that has to attempt to fill the shoes of the Greatest Generation, I'm looking for any edge I can find. Experience suggests that communities of practice can provide a wonderful link to both leadership development and talent management programs inside organizations.
Community leadership provides a unique opportunity to learn leadership skills that seem more and more important every day - leading disparate types of people across time zones, virtually, and outside of your direct report sphere. Effective community leaders at Schlumberger, for instance, have repeatedly taken advantage of the talent management aspects of the position - they are recruited into the role, put their participation into their performance goals, are rated by peers and leaders on their ability to achieve results collaboratively. Ultimately they are rewarded/moved into new roles. As of 2003, all of the initial wave of community leaders (the InTouch variety), had rotated into a role of their choosing upon completion of their term (no mean feat at an intellectually elite organization like Schlumberger). Further, you can use community participation to drive better development programs for future leaders - communities (and their participants) typically sit at the juxtaposition of daily business and thought leadership. What better way to identify the kinds of knowledge and the kinds of people that leaders will need to understand in order to lead their part of the organization into the future?
An intriguing topic - one I hope we learn more about in our study and personally over the next few months.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Day 2 of the Virgin Blogger - Thoughts on the future direction of KM

Over the last few weeks, I've had the chance to think a lot about where organizations are taking KM. I participated in a study APQC just completed called "Leveraging Knowledge Across the Value Chain" that caused me to examine some of the ways we've been thinking about KM. My number one takeaway - sophisticated organizations don't have stand-alone knowledge management anymore. Instead, they've begun to integrate...with their organizational learning initiatives (talent management, leadership development, training and development), their process improvement programs (6Sigma, lean, Baldrige), and their supply chain management areas. We coined the phrase "Performance Program" to describe this - focusing knowledge management, process improvement, and learning tools to improve process performance and the performance of the people who engage in those processes. I don't know if that's a good phrase or not, but it seemed to capture the mood.

I found it particularly intriguing that the KM practitioners of old who have survived and thrived are concentrating on helping the process performance of the entire value chain - internally of course, but also with suppliers, customers, regulatory agencies, academic partners, and other vendors. KM may not be the right answer for every situation (we all know this intuitively) - so these people have pulled together an "awesome set of tools" (one of my favorite quotes from Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") to focus on driving business performance. We actually revised APQCs Stages of Implementation KM roadmap based on these findings - we'll discuss and hope for feedback on our KM community call on February 28 at 10am central. I'll be interested to hear other's thoughts.

On another note, as we bask in the beautiful spring-time weather in Houston (yes, we can have good weather February, no less!), I've had a few days without intense project work to catch up on articles on organizational learning, marketing in associations, and developing leaders virtually. It reminded me of how important it is to occasionally stop, step back, and fill up your head with new thinking - it's certainly helped me regain some perspective that I lost in the last 6 months of working on tons of projects and traveling all the time. I've found that content feeds like BNETs leadership, human resources, and supply chain newsletters have helped me find relevant information without having to remember to search. Here is a link:

I'd love other people's suggestions for sources of relevant business information outside of the traditional Fortune, Business 2.0 etc.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blog Transition and Musings on CoPs and Content

Our previous blogger extraordinaire, Farida Hasanali, has bequethed me her blog...she's moved on to an exciting new role at Expediant Solutions. I'll do my best to continue to provide something of interest and look forward to your comments and input.

Today's thoughts - last week I worked with a large client that is rolling out a community of practice for its global Black Belts. They're attempting to create regional chapters of the community of practice (a "federated" model) because their geographical spread and lack of funding for face-to-face meetings precludes having everyone get together. Since they didn't have a history of sharing or knowledge capture, they are putting together monthly conference calls by region (and with the regional chapter heads as a group) to push interesting project findings, identify common source problems, and establish relationships. They'll be using a typical repository/discussion tool to facilitate ongoing dialogue between meetings. We spent a lot of time trying to craft the right messages to drive participation - communication is so difficult with time-zones and different native languages. They had a successful launch - but I wonder if anyone has created successful ongoing communication plans for such groups? In an article in in the 12/05 issue "Association Now" magazine I came across these 5 tips for framing messages from Rebecca Leet:
1. What action do you want to affect?
2. Whom must we motivate to achieve that action?
3. What desire of theirs is met by taking the action we want?
4. Where does our desire overlap with theirs?
5. What do we say so that they hear their desire will be met by
taking our action?

Each of the region CoP facilitators is working on putting together 2 tracks for driving participation - identifying 2-3 goals that the regional BBs can work on across sites to drive better performance and mining the group for "hot topics" that they can discuss anytime, anywhere to solve problems. I like their a disciplined project environment like 6Sigma, more structure seems to work better than the more organic communities we see in other places.

On another topic - we're seeing more and more interest in how organizations are using content and document management tools to impact the way they comply with regulatory issues (like SOX and HIPAA, etc.) as well as respond to lawsuit subpoenas. With the ever expanding capability to "hide" the damaging memo or piece of content on thumb drives, CD, hard drives, email, IM, etc, it looks like more and more organizations are struggling to manage their processes for discovery and compliance. KM processes and technology have an immense impact on, APQC will launch a best practice study on the topic in June of this year to see what we can discover - should be an interesting topic.

More later...