Friday, 18 December 2015

'Serial' season 2 - and how the US Army failed to rotate its knowledge

Bowe Bergdahl is infamous as the US Army soldier who in 2009 voluntarily walked of his post in Afghanistan and into the arms of the Taliban. His gripping story is currently being told in the excellent 'Serial' series 2 podcast. 

The US Army is renowned for developing the original 'after action review' during the Vietnam war. This was the genesis of the US Center for Army Lessons Learned, which generously shares it's innovative techniques that maximise organisational learning. So, how did the Army use it's knowledge in tracking down Bergdahl? Badly, according to Major Jason Dempsey, a military planner with huge experience on the ground. In episode 2 of Serial entitled 'The Golden Chicken', Dempsey explains that that the US Army "rotated a few thousand dudes through there every seven to twelve months". He continues that "after 7 years of war there is no institutional knowledge of the in Afghanistan, nearly none. We were not there long enough to get fully engaged".
It seems that knowledge continuity and handover continues to be problematic even for the most mature knowledge organisations. In this case, with potentially lethal consequences. 
Tip; start with the first episode of Serial, before listening to 'The Golden Chicken'. Warning; you will be hooked!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Boardroom automation? The implications on knowledge activities and senior positions

There is currently no consensus on how closely...

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the impact of workplace automation and in particular the latest developments in artificial intelligence on knowledge work. This McKinsey article points out that senior staff, proxied by a high hourly rate, are also likely to be impacted. It notes that it is not jobs per se that are being affected, but many of the activities that those jobs entail.

We know that the KIN professional services firms (consulting and legal) are well aware of this development. For example, in legal decision-making and finance using the blockchain. How about other sectors? How do you see non-manual and knowledge intensive jobs being impacted?  Is this being received as an opportunity (for example to release time to focus on high-value customer activities) or as a threat to job numbers?

What are the organisational learning implications?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)