Knowledge Management

The exchange as well as the generation of knowledge within an organization; may be in the form of databases, best practice seminars, technology fairs, cross-functional teams, e-mails, and groupware.

Take KM to the Next Level

"For more than a decade, Nancy has been providing strategic insights to ConocoPhillips' development of KM. Her initial ideas spawned the creation of our knowledge sharing program that is flourishing today. Nancy was instrumental in getting our executives onboard, convincing them that how a company connects and acts and operates like a global company should would drive additional business value. Today, Nancy is one of the top 5 thought leaders in the KM space...in the entire world." - Dan Ranta, Director, Knowledge Sharing, ConocoPhillips

Since the term “knowledge management” came into popular usage, there have been three significant eras in how organizations have thought about their knowledge. Each successive era has expanded the type of knowledge that organizations considered important without eliminating the need for and use of the previous type of knowledge.  
The first era is Leveraging Explicit Knowledge and is about capturing documented knowledge and making it readily available - connecting people to content. The second category is about Leveraging Experiential Knowledge and it gave rise to communities of practice and reflection processes. It is primarily focused on tacit knowledge and connects people to people. The third category is Leveraging Collective Knowledge and it is about integrating ideas from multiple perspectives to create new knowledge and innovation.  In the third era management values the sensemaking capabilities of employees, that is, the ability of employees to jointly make sense of complex situations.

Of course, management being interested in the opinions, ideas, and knowledge of employees is not new. Organizations have long made use of employee surveys, fireside chats, suggestions boxes, and town hall meetings to collect ideas from employees. But in the past management has reserved for itself the right to make sense of what was collected from employees. The subtext of such practices was, “Tell us [management] your concerns and suggestions and we [management] will figure out a way to fix it.” Now working with leading edge organizations are, by their actions, saying something quite different. Now I hear, “Let's convene the people who do this work and have them think together about how to make sense of this issue.”

A recent example of convening is a meeting I facilitated for NASA. Over the years each of the ten NASA Centers has grown its own KM strategy, quite independent of the other Centers and Offices. NASA administration, in recognition of the variability in the effectiveness of the various KM strategies, and spurred by a somewhat critical government report, appointed a CKO, Ed Hoffman, and asked him to develop a NASA-wide KM strategy. Ed is a seasoned KM professional, fully capable of developing such a strategy. But rather than doing that, he chose to convene a three-day meeting that brought together fifty KM professionals from across the ten NASA Centers, to think together about what the knowledge strategy of NASA should be. The meeting made use of the collective knowledge and analytic capabilities of the KM professionals.

Much of the consulting work of Common Knowledge Associates continues to deal with the second era, but increasingly we are also being called upon to help organizations create new knowledge.  We are excited about the direction knowledge management is headed - drawing out deeper insights and more profound knowledge that can address the increasingly complex issues organizations are facing.

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What Clients Say

"Nancy provides strategic insights to ConocoPhillips. Her ideas spawned our knowledge sharing program (still flourishing today). She was instrumental in getting our execs onboard: a company that connects and operates like a global company would drive business value..."

Dan Ranta
Director, Knowledge Sharing, ConocoPhillips

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"I am impressed by Nancy’s work on knowledge transfer and sensemaking. Her recent work on collective sense making, harnessing collective wisdom to handle organizational complexity, is ground breaking and fascinating..."

Eric Tsui, Professor, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and
VP Hong Kong Knowledge Management Society

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“I know that Nancy understands better than anyone the difference between mere talking and real communication. She is expert at helping groups of people speak listen authentically and intelligently as an important step toward shared understanding, effective problem solving, and innovative thinking..."

Don Cohen
Managing Editor, NASA ASK Magazine

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"HEMA Academie is the largest online academy in the Netherlands, we made the course "Common Knowledge Organizational Learning" because of an interview with Nancy. She is gifted with a special kind of energy and has the power to analyze complex problems as an enthusiastic team player..."

Drs. Helma van den Berg,
Head of production, HEMA Academie

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"Working with Nancy, I've seen first-hand the power of collective sensemaking. Bringing analytic tools to bear provided new insights into interdependent activities, overall system functioning, and leverage points. Collective sensemaking helps teams work smarter."

Mike Silver
SVP of Corporate Operations, HealthInsight

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"Nancy pulled off a great feat at the US Army KM conference. She got the whole room talking, all 200 of them! It broke the mold of presentation after presentation. The feedback was overwhelmingly, "Let's do more of this at the next conference."

COL Charles Burnett
Deputy Director, Center for Army Lessons Learned, Fort Leavenworth, KS

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"Her approach to collective sensemaking drives how we teach knowledge management, facilitate communities of practice, and coach highly effective teams of leaders. There is no better way to create competitive advantage in the 21st Century knowledge environment."

Mike Hower
Chief Learning Officer, Strategic Knowledge Solutions, Inc.

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Recent Client Successes

The US Army KM conference had a very traditional format, three or four speakers in a row, with a few minutes of Q&A then on to the next speaker. Working with the conference design committee, we introduced interaction opportunities spread throughout the conference that made a huge difference for participants...
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Ecopetrol, the largest company in Colombia, held a Technological Environment Forum to build a knowledge management strategy for the company through the work of more than 100 leaders. The Forum contacted Nancy and asked her to come to help them understand effective knowledge management strategy...
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Huawei had twice attempted to implement KM without having achieved the results that had hoped for. When Huawei contacted Nancy, they knew they wanted to focus on the human side of KM, drawing on what people were learning through their on-the-job experience and how to spread that knowledge...
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The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is a leading innovator in health and health care improvement worldwide. I have had the pleasure of consulting to IHI, particularly in the area of “spread” for over 10 years. But until recently IHI has not had a knowledge management program or staff...
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We were able to help save the knowledge developed in the canceled NASA Constellation project. Working with NASA’s Dave Lengyel, we brought together engineers from all 10 NASA centers to develop a knowledge capture strategy...
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