3 Benefits of KM, 3 Types of Community and Online Facilitation, Analytics and Visualization Software, X-teams

13-Feb-08 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Q: What are some key benefits of knowledge management?

A: There are many benefits. Here are three of the major ones.

Knowledge management allows organizations to:

  1. Avoid redundant effort: No one likes to spend time doing something over again. But they do so all the time for a variety of reasons. Avoiding duplication of effort saves time and money, keeps employee morale up, and streamlines work. By not spending time reinventing the wheel, you can have more time to invent something new.
  2. Avoid repeating mistakes: George Santayana said, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will experience them over and over again. Knowledge management allows us to share lessons learned, not only about successes, but also about failures. In order to do so, we must have a culture of trust, openness, and reward for willingness to talk about what we have done wrong. The potential benefits are enormous. If rocket scientists learn why a space shuttle exploded, they can prevent recurrences and save lives. If government officials learn what went wrong in responding to Hurricane Katrina, they can reduce the losses caused by future disasters. If engineers learn why highways and buildings collapsed during a previous earthquake, they can design new ones to better withstand future earthquakes. If you learn that your last bid was underestimated by 50%, you can make the next one more accurate and thus earn a healthy profit instead of incurring a large loss.
  3. Take advantage of existing expertise and experience: Teams benefit from the individual skills and knowledge of each member. The more complementary the expertise of the team members, the greater the power of the team. In large organizations, there are people with widely-varying capabilities and backgrounds, and there should be a benefit from this. But as the number of people increases, it becomes more difficult for each individual to know about everyone else. So even though there are people with knowledge who could help other people, they don’t know about each other. The late Lew Platt, former CEO of HP, is widely quoted as saying “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” Knowing what others know can be very helpful at a time of need, since you learn from their experience and apply it to your current requirements.

KM Blog of the Week

Platform neutral by Ed Mitchell

Three types of community

This is a brief overview of three community models. They are theoretical models, but they are ones I have used with a variety of people on a variety of real projects. They are very useful tools to abstract and discuss the myriad issues that communities throw up for their hosts to handle, starting with the one big question: “So, what sort of thing do you mean when you say — we want a community?”

  1. Centralized community
  2. De-centralized community
  3. Distributed community

Three types of online facilitation

To give you an idea about the challenges and opportunities offered to facilitators and community managers in an increasingly distributed online environment.

  1. Centralized facilitation
  2. De-centralized facilitation
  3. Distributed facilitation

KM Link of the Week

Trampoline Systems: Data mapping & analytics for business clusters

Trampoline is a London-based specialist in data analysis and visualization for business communities. Our lightning-fast, flexible platform turns complex data into compelling insight.

KM Book of the Week

I attended Deborah Ancona’s presentation at the Positive Links session at the University of Michigan Center for Positive Organizations. From the event description:

“Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Faculty Director of the MIT Leadership Center. She has served as a consultant on leadership and innovation to premier companies such as AT&T, BP, CVRD, Merrill Lynch, and Newscorp. Deborah’s pioneering research into how successful teams operate has highlighted the critical importance of ‘managing outside the team’s boundary as well as inside it.’ This research has led directly to the concept of X-Teams as a vehicle for driving innovation within large organizations.”

X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed by Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman

Why do good teams fail? Very often, argue Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman, it is because they are looking inward instead of outward. Based on years of research examining teams across many industries, Ancona and Bresman show that traditional team models are falling short, and that what’s needed — and what works — is a new brand of team that emphasizes external outreach to stakeholders, extensive ties, expandable tiers, and flexible membership.

The authors highlight that X-teams not only are able to adapt in ways that traditional teams aren’t, but that they actually improve an organization’s ability to produce creative ideas and execute them — increasing the entrepreneurial and innovative capacity within the firm. What’s more, the new environment demands what the authors call “distributed leadership,” and the book highlights how X-teams powerfully embody this idea.

Publisher Site

Table of Contents

Introduction: When Bad Things Happen to Good Teams

Part I: Why Good Teams Fail

  1. Into a Downward Spiral: How Our Old Models Lead to Failure
  2. A Changing World: New Kinds of Organizations, New Kinds of Teams

Part II: What Works

  1. X-Team Principle 1: External Activity
  2. X-Team Principle 2: Extreme Execution
  3. X-Team Principle 3: Flexible Phases
  4. X-Factors: The X-Team Support Structure

Part III: How to Build Effective X-Teams

  1. Tools for X-Teams: From Theory to Action
  2. Crafting an Infrastructure for Innovation: The X-Team Program
  3. X-Teams: Distributed Leadership in Action

X-Teams: Teams get extroverted

It’s about “Team” by Paul B. Brown, CFO.com

Review by Tom Duff