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For every

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For every initiative, discipline (action, research etc), normal, or even some cases truth, technology trends above are played with in some form.

E.g.
If I try multi disciplinary, you can counter with anti disciplinary or trans disciplinary.
If I act normal you are free to choose paranormal even during appraisals.

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cognoise

2 Culture models

There are 2 models I use in my job primarily to understand a culture and act within it. Both have different origins and language.

Hofstede’s theory comes from an anthropology background, where the construct is based on 5-6 dimensions that are found to be key in understanding a culture and hence to be considered while communication, negotiation or any other activity that involves action across groups in different cultures. I have used it in a couple of different ways, such as when specifically making case for an investment it is important to position for the listener/investor’s culture than from where the idea is coming from. So I figure from one of the existing tools to find the cultural dimensions that is important and lean on it majorly, but still make sure the other dimensions are covered as well. For example for US I lean on individualism than collectivism, for India power distance and uncertainty avoidance.

Archetype extraction comes from a narratives background, just to be clear this is not to be confused with Jungian archetypes or motifs but there exists some relationship. Relationship being about memories (typically a collection of stories / events / even pictures from the field), that triggers some reaction (in a group setting). Instead of just labeling once, you do it twice, first labeling a stereotype and then extracting attributes, and then grouping the attributes (or their extremes) and try depict them as an archetype. This way there is no one single person / character that the archetype representing, but rather every archetype represents a part of the group’s make – up. Closest example I give is from Dilbert, you see part of your manager in the pointy headed boss, part of yourself in Wally and Dilbert, etc, but never can you point the one single representative.

I have always felt that people use culture as an excuse to not doing something. So if there is one most useful thing to pick about culture and innovation, by using these models you can quickly move away from useless abstractions and perceptions about an existing (always assumed static) culture especially by the old timers and ask them questions on either the dimensions or effects the narratives have on actions now.

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metaidea

Innovation Cues: Force Field Analysis

When Kurt Lewin came up with the framework for Force Field Analysis it was only applied to social situations, as in conflicts/society. If we take the same framework to innovation it becomes hugely applicable in developing ideas within an organization, which in itself is a complex social setting. In this post I will try to explain the basic form of force field analysis and how I think it can be applied in an innovation context.

First the concepts, “force” is a factor that drives movement within a setting, and “field” is an overall/gestalt setting as combination of many elements including motives, needs, ideals, values etc. In the analysis we list down forces that move a goal in opposite directions as is like below

Goal: _____________________________________

Worst Outcome aka Hell: _____________ Ideal Outcome aka Heaven: __________
Forces in the negative direction

  •  
Forces in the positive direction

  •  

Key questions to ask in the analysis after you list forces are

  1. What can I do to eliminate/reduce the forces that are against developing an idea further?
  2. How can I reinforce/strengthen the positive forces that will push the idea further faster towards an ideal outcome?
  3. Can I add a new positive force?

It is interesting to note the similarity between Ideal Final Result or Future Backwards here. But the key difference is force field analysis is centered in the “NOW” (not on a future or past), thereby assessing the current setting and draw a path to creating favorable conditions for innovation to flourish.

Even if it means communications/messaging, building relationships, having an open conversation, resolving conflicts of interests, agreeing to share credits/power/outcomes, among other “political” action that an innovation manager does. 

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When people discuss innovation, strategy gets tied in for various reasons,

  1. to prove the company will remain committed for the longer term
  2. to state that company’s future depends on it
  3. to show that it was a deliberate action

My cynical take why people tie innovation with strategy is for the following

  1. not having to do anything immediately (as it is for the long-term)
  2. not having to do it as a habit (as it is done only once every year or decade)
  3. someone else (usually senior leadership) can be held responsible if it did not work

Innovation is the opposite of all the above 3, i.e. I have to do something, I have to do it regularly and if something goes wrong, I take personal responsibility, learn and start again with trying something else.

Now the call is simple, do you want to make innovation a habit, everyone’s everyday responsibility more like operations? or orphan it?

Innovation everyday or strategic, your call

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cognoise

Notes on Knowledge Continuity

I was part of a content creation for the bspin conference recently held at Bangalore on Knowledge Continuity. These notes of mine which were part of the first version which got morphed into totally something else when we finished. I felt there were some key points here that may interest Knowledge Managers. So here it goes…

Knowledge Continuity 3 D

Business continuity (for target vectors like performance, functionality, availability, ability to change, etc in IT Services) is provisioned by Knowledge continuity.

Knowledge Continuity cuts across 3 dimensions

1. People Interface/Relationships

· Such as between roles that work only in few phases (tester, BA, Architect) or between vendor and business user

2. Time

· Such as tenure in domain/account/technology

3. Content

· Such as standard operating procedures and heuristics of how experts handle crisis and how it is traded or exchanged

Common reasons that lead to loss of continuity include

1. Forgetting

2. Attrition

3. Too much or too little governance/processes

KM Strategy

Knowledge management as a strategy for achieving continuity intervenes by each of these dimensions

1. Interface: Building newer relationships across diverse groups

· Participative culture builds relationships and sustains rituals

· Diverse (not in bred) relations are formed as part of social network stimulation

2. Time: Bridging gap between expert and novice

· High Cost Experienced Resource versus Profitability equation

· Concept mapping and expertise transfer as methods to reduce time to become expert in the knowledge domain

3. Content: Sustained Knowledge creation socially

· Wiki as a preferred tool, how peer review helps in increasing quality of wikis, differences between closed and open wikis

· Structured Story Listening methods and AARs (after action reviews)

Success Determinants

Success of such KM strategy will be determined by the following

1. Culture prevalent in the enterprise, specifically drivers that create habits

2. Information and Communications Technology and its social utility value (the bargain)

3. People Policies

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How to deal with Avoid Task and Seek Attention behaviours?

Below 2 behaviors are common in the workplace that is necessary for every change agent to understand. They are critical to every change and system roll out.

Task Avoidance Behavior

Task avoidance behavior manifests as excuses even when there is agreement that the system or change is a worthwhile thing to try. There are many games like the Yes, but… that makes it difficult to spark action. To work around this issue, what I do typically is keep collecting excuses, and for each of the excuses find what “the precious” is, it could be time, effort, attention, presence among many others and gift them free.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Attention seeking is not really a problem, but it requires significant effort usually in the form of habits to sustain action. Social media actions like "like", +1 or transactional superlatives like "awesome" or even a simple "pat on the back", “Bravo” are undervalued. So to sustain attention it is necessary to come up with ideas that are high pedestal and keep coming up with ideas for different actions. If the prize or attention is easily gamed then it diminishes in value and no longer encourages action. So here the change agents’ job is to come up with large number of ideas using simple techniques like Forced Association, on what is available and direct attention to the action and not the pedestal.

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To Indianise a Cartoon, please dont

I saw 2 curious editorials about importing Archie to India in Point Counterpoint in Times yesterday.

If I were to take sides, mine will be on the side of not trying to Indianise anything.

Simply because of the variety and colours that India offers, cannot do justice on any “Indianise” process however clever.

Secondly my personal experience with 2 of my kids with Cindrella, which they just don’t relate.

While fables are most easily transferable across cultures, (see how Panchatantra got the reach and derivatives across cultures)

stereotype transfers (like this Archie transfer) from another culture will fail to convey anything or even be mildly entertaining.

Archie will be in for a rude shock in India…

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Community at the verge

I had this naïve understanding of CoPs, that there will always be only one dominant identity (location, technology, role, batch, gender etc). But the more closely I observe them, the more interesting they get. In reality conversations in groups get richer only when 2 identities collide, mingle, may be even conflict and disperse.

As I reflect on my own professional life in hostile client locations I have worked from, it starts with the conflict of identities, the typical consultant (aka the devil) versus client (aka been here done that). When I took conversations forward towards any objective even with conflict, trust relationships were always built by default.

So it is with CoPs. Trouble comes when K Managers are given responsibilities of nurturing communities but not necessarily improving the conversation quality. Hugh Macleod, Doc Searls all say conversations can be controlled only by improving them and for that independent thinking from multiple perspectives (hence identities) is necessary and that only smart conversations scale (without the central KM team probably)

If you are a K Manager here is a measurable objective, of the N conversations that you enable (?) or participate, what % of them improved (?) by your action, opinion, setting.

PS:

? defined by someone else as always…change this

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Say no to ROI

Michael Mitchell made a presentation on Travel Industry trends recently. Key take-away from the session personally was on the fitment between cultures and systems and on RoI. Having been part of many M&As, made hard choices on systems, benchmarking systems, deciding where to invest for the travel industry, Michael is uniquely qualified and his perspectives are unique as well.

He started from his experience with a couple of mergers and how the choice of systems actually is not of systems itself but of culture. In any M&A does not necessarily mean the best systems will prevail but systems that support the culture that is conducive for business will be picked and sustained. Making the wrong choice means erosion of brand value (in industries like travel the brand development takes as much as 20 years) and service to customers which are actually closer to culture than IT systems. On a follow up question from Jas on how will a conglomerate like SITA develop and deploy across cultures, Michael reinforced the point that it was still a matter of choice on culture that is dominant. So as always systems fit culture and not the other way around.

There was this trend that IT leadership in the industry showing positive outlook on investing in initiatives that had "shorter RoI cycles", commenting on it he said it was not the right thing to do. My question to him was when does RoI cease to be a measure of impact, and what are the alternatives. His response was if an investment was being made to reduce costs (typically cost of transactions around a core service delivered) it is relevant, but the equation becomes murky when revenue is involved. Take advertising for example, it is hard to quantify revenue that came specifically from a marketing initiative and applying RoI is erroneous here. Incremental revenue analysis was suggested as an alternative, but in my opinion that will still have the issue of attribution of credit.

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Fitting KM

Business drive comes in different flavors,

1 Take state bank of india that is predominantly process driven average age of employees is in the high 40s and there is a huge wave of retirements upcoming, and without understanding of the processes it will be difficult to improve productivity beyond a point at branch level. Other than the usual training, employees seem to have no access to other learning methods, and networks seem to form only around personal magnets, people who get transferred most or as part of some union or an executive initiative. Really there is no in built support for natural communities to form and develop. Is this not a problem that KM can solve?

2 Or Idiom whose business is really creative endeavors When we vis,ited Idiom (equivalent of Ideo in India and has done some great work) the entire KM system (they don’t call it that) was with one librarian (they don’t call him that), who simply knew from the company’s history what work had they done and where we can find references (which are typically pieces of design). None of this is re-used, just because of the nature of their business. What they do with these design artifacts is observe how it had evolved and retain them as props to tell better stories and give all employees a sense of history. Much of their ground floor in the Bangalore office is occupied by these artifacts, it is really a walk down memory lane. Is this not great KM?

3 Or a Qualcomm that is purely technology driven, Where weak signals on technology evolution direction need to be surfaced and magnified. Tremendous scope for multiple safe-fail experiments outside the scope and investment of RD department that will have direct business tie-in. Most likely there is already something brewing, is it not necessary to know where techies are putting their time outside of their day job just on pure passion? If we came to know of it, will the company invest to just encourage it. (OK lets for a moment forget privacy, IP concerns etc). Is this out of bounds for KM? Point I am trying to make is “fitting KM” comes from understanding the organization drive, nature of business and culture and designing actions to suit the motives at ground level. I am sure then KM will not be called “intervention”.

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