Friday, 23 November 2012

Creating value from intangibles

In an effort to discourage women from wearing of a veil, Attaturk had the imaginative idea of making it compulsory for prostitutes to wear one.

I was casting around (well actually spending a couple of fun hours this evening browsing YouTube and TED) for inspiration about how to value intangible assets. I was really looking for a metaphor for how to value knowledge sharing activities.

The veil story came from this funny and inspiring TED video from advertising genius Rory Sutherland, in which he relates some hilarious anecdotes about how to create 'messaging value'. This is perceived value from existing assets. He opens with the story of why and how the humble potato was successfully 'rebranded' in 18th Germany and closes with an example from Canada involving breakfast cereal that is simply breathtaking in its simplicity and effectiveness.

OK, so I admit this video is is only peripherally associated with 'valuing intangibles', but if nothing else take a look at a master storyteller at his best.

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

A sad indictment

English: The NASA insignia. EspaƱol: Insignia ...
I recently came across the 2012 report from the Office of the Inspector General into NASA's Lessons Learned system. It appears that many of the recommendations are  similar to that from the NASA Lessons Learned GAO report in 2002, and others such as the 2003 Columbia Accident Investigation Board report. As a result, the conclusion of this latest report is pretty damning.

As I learned some years ago madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different resultsHere are a few thoughts about what NASA might do differently:

  • As well as fixing the 'supply' side and codification of information; what about really stimulating the 'demand' side of the learning loop? This barely gets a mention. KIN Associate Nick Milton has advocated this for ages
  • Things are not helped by the report conflating information management and knowledge management, when the two require quite different approaches and processes. The recommendations should use this differentiation and resources be applied appropriately.
  • There is a fascinating tension between the need for accountability / due-diligence and the informality that effective knowledge sharing often needs to foster trust. The legal ramifications of high profile and expensive disasters (Challenger, Deepwater Horizon, Buncefield) have done us no favours in this regard. The answer: Communities of Practice remain the most effective vehicles for the stewardship and accessibility of 'latent' knowledge and know-how. Large organisations such as NASA do recognise this but rarely do they see the same level of investment or monitoring as Lessons Learned Systems.
Let's hope we do not see yet another NASA 'Lessons Learned System' failure report in 2013.

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Friday, 2 November 2012

KIN's maturity modelling reaches a new level of maturity


It is two years since KIN carried-out our second comparative study of the 'organisational learning maturity' of our member organisations. We subsequently used the results to:

  • Shape the KIN programme of events
  • Give an empirical benchmark for members to judge whether they are improving 
  • Identify the gap between member organisations that are very mature in certain aspects and help those with a need to improve bridge the gaps identified
In Q1 next year, we will repeat the KIN Maturity Model exercise, culminating in the KIN Spring Workshop, where we will present the results. We have several new member organisations that have not participated in either of the two previous modelling exercises and it will be useful to how others have improved against previous benchmarks.

KIN itself has matured. Whilst last time we used some Google Forms to collect the data, our resident Google Guru, Phil Ridout, has done wonders using the new web tools available in Google Sites. Phil has developed a smart online tool that takes care of the entire process from data collection to presentation of results. Not only will this make the process much easier and simpler, it will be 'packaged' as a tool for ongoing use by member organisations.

The completion and analysis of the maturity model has spawned many interesting discussions along the way. One of these is 'to what level of granularity should we apply the maturity model'? This is important, as a high-level perspective may mask many different islands of excellence and poor performance. It is for this reason that we are packaging the tool so that members can also use it to identify and bridge the excellence gap within their own organisation.

The KIN Maturity Modelling Tool is still undergoing development and will be available for testing by December. I look forward to telling you how it progresses and the results we achieve.

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