Friday, 18 June 2010
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
"Tell me about your staff," he asked Penberthy."Well," said Penberthy, "there's the farm hand. I pay him £240 a week, and he has a free cottage. Then there's the housekeeper. She gets £190 a week, along with free board and lodging.There's also the half-wit. He works a 16 hour day, does 90% of the work, earns about £25 a week, along with a bottle of gin every week, and, occasionally, gets to sleep with my wife." "That's who I want to talk to," said the inspector, “the half-wit."
"That'll be me then," said Penberthy.
Thinking that Penberthy and I have a lot in common!
Monday, 14 June 2010
A common and recurrent theme that I keep coming across is how to measure the value of knowledge management, e.g. the return on investment (ROI) of implementing a knowledge management strategy. This may cross over into having a social media strategy where the goal is to support knowledge sharing, so I’ll use these terms – KM Strategy and social media strategy interchangeably in this particular context.
I don’t doubt the importance of being able to measure results and it’s the job of managers to ensure they get value out of any investment in training, technology, organisational development or whatever. However, these things are notoriously difficult to measure – for example – how do you put a price on a conversation? This led to me thinking about turning all of this on its head and considering how we should measure the cost of NOT having a knowledge management or social media strategy, or NOT making any change.
Using this approach we can at least examine the current status quo and determine whether business processes, capacity, staff knowledge etc. are fit for purpose. So, rather than spending time and effort creating a business case for a KM or SM strategy, ask managers to justify why things should stay as they are.
Some pertinent questions for managers might be:
- Are your staff currently motivated and inspired?
- Do your staff have all the relevant information to do their jobs effectively?
- Do your staff have the right tools for the work they are being asked to do?
- Do your staff understand their place in the wider organisation and their input and output dependencies for the business processes they contribute to?
- Do your staff have adequate opportunities to share knowledge and information with other parts of the organisation? Are they encouraged to do so?
- Are you confident that you can react to rapidly changing demands on your staff?
- Do you have sufficient knowledge and information to consider the impact of external events on you and your staff and to plan accordingly?
- Do you know what your customers are saying about you (within and external to your organisation)?
- Do current policies and guidelines support or hinder you and your staff in their work?
- Does your manager fully understand what you and your staff do?
There are probably other questions that could be asked, but the key point is that any question which triggers a negative response is potentially a catalyst for change. This also means it could become a performance indicator if change is agreed, i.e. using qualitative or quantitative techniques.
So, we have the beginnings of a measurable approach to change; we know where we are now and we should know what the desired outcomes are. The difference is what we need to measure.
Of course, the problem remains that not all changes can be measured in strictly cash value terms, which is what many people consider to be the true meaning of ROI. I go back to the point I made earlier – how do you measure the value of a conversation or some information shared? The answer is, you don’t, and the sooner that everyone recognises this the better. Measuring impact can be just as important as measuring value. The impact might be things like improved customer satisfaction (measured using surveys), or less time to complete a task, or improved staff morale (measured using surveys). Any of these can – and potentially will – have an effect in terms of cash value to the organisation, but I firmly believe that converting impact to cash value is an exercise in futility, since more often than not, the formulae and algorithms have too many variables.
So, in terms of ‘ROI’, think ‘Return on Impact’ rather than Return on Investment when considering Knowledge management strategies, and develop the strategy from the starting point of getting staff to justify the present status quo. After all, change is part of life, and as Darwin once said:
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
LSE event - free to attend on a first come, first served basis.
Regretably I will be unable to attend this, but thought I could at least share the opportunity with any of my followers.
Department of Management public lecture
Date: Monday 28 June 2010
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speaker: Clay Shirky
Chair: Dr Carsten Sørensen
For decades, technology encouraged us to squander our time as passive consumers. Today, tech has finally caught up with human potential. In his new book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky examines the changes we will all enjoy as our untapped resources of talent are put to use at last.
Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He has consulted with a variety ofgroups working on network design, including Nokia, the BBC, Newscorp,Microsoft, BP, Global Business Network, the Library of Congress, the US Navy, the Libyan government, and Lego. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Harvard Business Review,
Business 2.0, and Wired.
This event marks the publication of his latest book Cognitive Surplus.
This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org