Coffee and conversation

Are you in Bristol or Birmingham this month?

I am hosting an open coffee and conversation afternoon in each city to meet some new KMers (and also to introduce people to my Knowledge Network in each city – don’t worry about hard-sell, it’s more about the conversation).

 

 

 

 

When and where?

Bristol – Monday 4th December 2-3pm Cozy Club, Corn Street

Birmingham – Monday 11th December 2-3pm, Opus Bar, 1 Snow Hill

 

What is Knowledge Network?

KN-UK is an annual subscription learning service for KMers in professional services, where:

  • you sign up for a year and meet the same faces at events
  • the annual programme is tailored for the group
  • you can share membership with other people in your organisation (so if you don’t fancy a particular event or you are on holiday/off sick, the space isn’t wasted)
  • there are always plenty of opportunities to share your experiences, learn from each other and have a conversation
  • it is pretty cheap compared to one-off events
  • it is held in a city centre over a long lunchtime, so no need to rearrange your family life

If all that sounds good, come along and have a chat. If you are unsure, come along anyway for the coffee and conversation.

Please let me know if you are interested in coming. I’m assuming we won’t swamp the venues, but a rough idea of numbers would be good just in case. Ways to contact me here, or comment below.

 

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What makes an expert?

Johan Brown Grant, KMer at USPS OIG, asked an interesting question on twitter (he’s @KMbyDrGrant) earlier this month: “When does someone become an expert? At what point do they cross that threshold?“.

I often talk and write about the importance of enabling all employees to connect with experts inside their organisations, so that they can talk through really tricky problems and access complex and deep knowledge, but the “when” is a really interesting question. 

You know “an expert” when you see one, but trying to it break down and describe how “expertise” occurs within a business isn’t straightforward. Is it down to development of tacit knowledge (how would you measure that) or demonstrations of transferable explicit knowledge?

My (slightly humorous) answer to Johel referred to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Experts are those who realise that there is so much to know about their field of expertise that they will never know enough in a whole lifetime of studying, practising and learning.

So why am I writing about this today?

It served as a useful reminder to me of some of the practical ways we can all make sure any experts’ database/White Pages we design actually works as an “expert finder”.

 

My main recommendation is always:

Don’t ask people to self-identify as expert and complete their own entries in an internal experts database/White Pages.

You will lose out on:

  1. Those who feel too busy for an administrative task.
  2. Those who know so much that they understand how truly un-knowable their field of expertise is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).
  3. Those who lack confidence to put themselves forward, especially if they are junior and work within a strongly hierarchical organisation.
  4. Those who are very busy with their existing work at that moment and fear an avalanche of requests for help.

How can you identify expertise to ensure that only true and useful experts get a billing in your database?

I personally think that you need to establish three things:

  1. whether would-be experts have learnt more than most people in a field (both through academic/traditional and experiential learning);
  2. whether they have had opportunities to/been able to apply that knowledge; and
  3. whether they are able to convey/share that knowledge to others.

 

These are some of the questions I use, but obviously there will be lots of other ways to identify expertise.

  1. Have they published any peer-reviewed research articles in respected journals or textbooks by traditional publishers?
  2. Have they any postgraduate or specialist qualifications in the field (beyond the norm)?
  3. Have they published any articles in external journals or created any textbooks or handbooks?
  4. Have they been involved in/had success with any particularly tricky relevant projects or issues?
  5. Have they worked with, been mentored or been supervised by any recognised experts in that field?
  6. Have they run any successful training for clients or staff?
  7. Have they helped with the creation of any useful precedents or knowledge artefacts?
  8. Are they well networked within the organisation and someone people turn to informally for help with tricky questions?
  9. Do they perform well in 360 appraisals regarding teaching and knowledge-sharing?
  10. Are they recognised by Legal 500 or Chambers or an equivalent (recognising that there can be a big PR effect here)?
  11. Do clients give great feedback, ask for them personally, and/or trust them to help with a particular problem?
  12. Are they known by their clients and peers for being curious and up-to-date about a particular topic?

 

Three last thoughts:

Firstly, think about including two types of expert within your database – one for people to refer clients to and one for internal people to ask about their knotty problems/nightmare files. Your very junior staff will probably not wish to disturb senior people with their knowledge problems, but they need access to knowledgeable people.

Secondly, think about breaking down areas of expertise into smaller chunks and make sure you look beyond titles and look widely for your experts. A junior member of staff may have had particular experiences and the opportunity to become highly expert in a small field, whilst still quite junior and inexperienced in many others. He/she can be an expert despite formally being quite “junior”.

Lastly, don’t feel constrained in the design of your database. There is no reason why it needs to look like an old-fashioned Rolodex or address book. It could be a beautiful knowledge map or include video clips. As long as it is practical and works for the people who need it, be as creative as you wish. Make it not only easy to use, but also a delight to use.

 

What are your thoughts? How do you identify expertise in your organisation?

If you are interested in uncovering deep knowledge within your organisation, I run an afternoon workshop on the topic in London. To see all my training events, click here. And to find out more about what I do and how I could help you, click here.

And lastly don’t forget to follow the blog (button – top right) or sign up for the monthly summary here.

 

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A conversational webinar

On 23rd November I’m speaking to the Knowledge Into Practice Network (KIPN).

(You can sign up to watch here)

It will be a conversational webinar all about conversations and how they facilitate the sharing of complex knowledge within an organisation and add value (which if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know is a topic very close to my heart).

If you have any questions on the topic, email them to  knowledge2practicenetwork@gmail.com

I’d love to have as much of a “conversation” with everyone watching/listening as I can, so get your questions sent in.

In the meantime, I’ve written about the topic in the past here:

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2018 KM training

Just organised next year’s open training calendar for London events:

January 31st KM: The Works (day-long foundation course)

February 28th KM: The Scores (afternoon workshop on measurement)

April 26th KM: The Strategy (workshop + coaching afterwards)

May 17th KM: The Works (day-long foundation course)

June 28th KM: The Scores (afternoon workshop on measurement)

July 11th Deep Knowledge (workshop on uncovering & circulating complex knowledge)

September 27th KM: The Works (day-long foundation course)

October 24th KM: The Scores (afternoon workshop on measurement)

All training is in small-ish groups (never more than 12) with lots of friendly discussions.

You can read a review of my Foundation course here.

You can book any of these on Eventbrite (there are early bird discounts if you know you want to go now).

If your firm is going to book more than 3 events over the year, then email me or comment below and I’ll invoice you with a multi-buy/corporate discount.

IMG_1113

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Celebration!

It’s Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night here in UK on Sunday 5th November.

If you are non-UK and wondering what it is all about, this summary is a good place to start, but be warned, like most things from 1600s, it is a bit gory.

These days it is a friendly bonfire festival where communities gather and enjoy parkin and sparklers, and watch massive firework displays – an autumnal celebration of life – fun at a time when Winter is coming and the days are getting short and cold, and a bit miserable.

Which got me wondering, how often do we arrange celebrations in our organisations? And how often do we arrange these to coincide with difficult times?

All KMers know the power of learning from experiences, both failures and successes, but in our enthusiasm to analyse and understand the lessons which are learned, there comes a risk that we don’t share and embed those lessons well enough (I’ve written about this previously here).

A celebration of some kind is a great way to spread the word about a new lesson. If you can arrange it for a time when people are feeling a bit tired or overwhelmed, it will work even better.

If you are stuck for ideas, I wrote “5 ways to thank your contributors” a while ago. Perhaps it will spark some ideas.

Have your own firework display of great lessons learned this November!

Beautiful_sky_with_fireworks

If you enjoyed this post, sign up to the blog or the (generally monthly-ish) busy-person’s summary. And head over to my website to see how I could help your organisation.

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Ready steady … write!

I know this is slightly off KM topic, but one of the things that I do is write textbooks.

And I find it *hard*.

I’m not the kind of person who can dash something off.

It has to be practical, informative and good (I won’t say perfect, because nothing ever is, but it does have to be good enough). Now that means that I get nice reviews, but it also means that there is real intensive time and sweat in each book in order to give the reader valuable knowledge.

Which is why I have real respect for those who take part in NaNoWriMo each year.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it is a month-long period when writers, fuelled with left-over Halloween sweets and coffee, commit to getting 50,000 words written and support each other in their attempts to do it.

If you have ever wanted to write a book (not just a novel, any kind of book that is more than 50,000 words long), November is the time. I won’t pretend that it will be easy. Writing something useful/good is hard, but there is a tonne of encouragement, enthusiasm and support around and a *deadline*, so it is a little easier now than at other times of year.

If you are interested, have a look at the NaNo website here, and follow #NaNoWriMo on twitter. And perhaps let me know how you are getting on in the comments below.

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What is KM? A snippet tip.

There are so many definitions of KM …

But what do KMers actually do?

 

Create/support connections

Encourage conversations and learning

Collect content

Improve processes

Do this strategically for successful organisations

 

Previous snippet tips – “Information & knowledge” and “Innovation”

 

For more snippets, follow the blog or sign up for the busy-person’s monthly summary here.

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