Knowledge Management Asia Pacific Congress 2011 – Write-up by Nicole Punsalan

30 August, 2011

From Nicole Punsalan:

I attended the Knowledge Management Asia Pacific Congress 2011 (KM APC 11) on 19th July. I now have more knowledge on knowledge! and am quite invigorated in bringing back what I’ve learnt to both my studies and to my organisation. Here is my personal recount of the KM APC 11.

Nicolas Gorjestani, Former Chief Knowledge and Learning Officer of the World Bank, now the Executive Director and Secretariat of Global Indiegenous Knowledge and Innovation Partnership, opened the KM APC 11. He spoke about how knowledge is the dominant factor of production in today’s era and that it is the source of wealth. Many problems can be solved quicker and in a sustainable way by following a traditonal route – gathering ideas – than by a scientific method, such as, data mining. Management often have this systematic mindset of solving problems which make it difficult for them to take a knowledge approach, which is more compex. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Gorjestani quoted Albert Einstein. Management should pay more attention to their “invisibles”, key people who strive for impact and inspire individuals in their organisation as these “invisible” discover solutions, providing organisations with knowledge wealth.

NAB’s Manager of Virtual & eLearning, Cheryle Walker, presented on how such inspirational individuals in the organisation were given the opportunity to create podcasts to share their knowledge. Podcasts distributed through the company’s “Academy” are short, quickly produced videos, “by the people for the people”. Everyone has experience or coaching advice to share. Education only contributes to 10% of an individual’s knowledge, Walker claims, while 20% comes from coaching, and 70% from experience. Rob Wilkins, Head of Learning and Development at Aussie Home Loans, (and also fellow UTS Alumni) also agrees with this, and that 70% of what is learnt is gathered from the “network”. The network consists of trusted nodes of people, content and technology.

I got to speak with Rob after his presentation and he told me that the difference now in knowledge management since when he first began his Masters degree in Knowledge Management at UTS, is that people understand more about the values of KM. They understand that KM is an organisational practice rather than a technology platform, and people take the time to see how the KM approach develops in their organisation. Rob’s key lesson in his presentation “Catering for the modern day knowledge work: skills and capabilities that facilitate collaborative knowledge work”, is that trust is key. He said that trust in a network is developed through collaboration.
The trusting culture of Peter Williams’, CEO of Deloitte Digital, organisation stems from their knack to collaborate with one another. The two factors of successful knowledge sharing – trust and collaboration – is encompassed with Williams’ statement about Deloitte: “We learn by doing”. There is no business case, no risk analysis; Deloitte’s employees gain new knowledge from giving it a go and not having a negative connotation with “failure”. They use enterprise social networking tool, Yammer, to create connections and rapidly commercialise ideas internally. While externally, they’ve embraced social media such as Facebook, to give prospective employees an insight into their organisation, and Kaggle, holding data prediction competitions for companies across the globe. Deloitte Digital learn by doing, creating a trusting and collaborative network.

Trust is carefully given to those who work in the US Army, Joseph Oebbecke, Chief Knowledge Officer of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command presented. Ever since Wikileaks, there have been a lot more rules and regulations on information and knowledge management in the US Army, and collaboration is often done “behind 2 to 3 doors.” Collaboration is the antithesis to rule making. How do you provide command and control for such a dynamic knowledge sharing technique? Sharing information and knowledge is important, especially if it saves a soldier’s life.

Other presentations included Susan Murray’s (the George Foundation), where she discussed the great amount of health knowledge being unfortunately disorganised and scattered. She also gathered insight from the audience on how marketing a business partners with knowledge management. Kim Hai Neo of the Singapore Armed Forces showed us knowledge management has been in the DNA of the military, e.g. after action reviews are a knowledge management tool derived from the military. Kim’s interest was to gather military knowledge through the latest technologies (i.e. iPads) and web 2.0 technologies (e.g. wikis and blogs), which he thought would be easy as younger, more tech-savvy soldiers join the armed forces. Over the lunch break, Kim told me that social media can harness tacit knowledge and that social media will not disappear. Social media can only improve and become more intuitive, and if brought into an organisation, will allow employees and their bosses to work on the same page.
Alan Thompson of Production Services Network in Scotland, talked about how a knowledge management strategy rewards both the organisation, the employees, and the clients. James Robertson, Managing Director of Step Two Designs, spoke about how a fragmentation of technologies overwhelms everyone and there should be a consolidation and simplification of tools. And, as a fun break throughout the conference, Stuart French of Daniels Sharpsmart and Dr Helen Hasan of the University of Wollongong, taught the attendees how to play the ancient game of ‘Go’. As knowledge managers, they said, we had to be able to be strategic in the complex environments we work in. Knowledge managers are complexity experts.

I got to speak with chairperson David Gurteen, Founder and Director of the Gurteen Knowledge Community, during the lunch break. When asked what he found so exciting about knowledge management, the short answer was: “everything”. “The reason for my interest in KM is if we look at our global society it’s filled with so many issues, economical issues, resourcing issues, etc. Life is becoming unsustainable. We have, maybe, 30-40 years to survive? We’re going to collapse in some way… and a better understanding, better collaboration, better reasoning skills… these skills, KM skills, will help us survive.” David is less interested in the physical world (though he studied physics and is interested in cosmology), but more in people and how we acquire knowledge. As with the majority of the presentations at this year’s Conference, technology isn’t everything. David believes that there will be an inflection point where technology is so far advanced that we can’t see beyond it or how we as a race can improve ourselves through infrastructure. Does our existence and advancement rely on knowledge?

Anthony Loshiavo concluded the conference with the statement: unlike capital and labour, the sharing and distribution of knowledge makes all individuals “wealthy”. Therefore we all benefit from knowledge sharing through collaboration and networking, and take something away that will make us all more valuable.

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