The Bangalore K-Community, a forum of professionals in knowledge management (KM) and organisational learning, recently held its online meetup on the theme of Resilience and 2023 Outlook.
Hosted by Dr Molly Chaudhuri, Director at Manel Srinivas Nayak Institute of Management, it featured a keynote session followed by a panel discussion with five speakers. As the moderator, here are my clusters of takeaways from this wide-ranging and informative discussion.
As the media partner for the annual CII Global Knowledge Summit, see YourStory’s coverage of the editions from 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019. Check out our session takeaways from the earlier Bangalore K-Community meetups on Career Prospects, The Digital Edge, Internal Branding, Metrics, Case Studies (HGS, Unisys) and Work From Home.
See also our profiles of the Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise (MIKE) award winners: Dubai Municipality, EY, Tata Steel, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Afcons Infrastructure, Petroleum Development Oman, BINUS University (Indonesia), and Mobarakeh Steel Company (Iran).
Resilience and knowledge
The field of knowledge management focuses extensively on best practices and success stories, but companies also need to learn from setbacks.
The keynote on How Organisations Frame and Learn from Failure was presented by Sara Tate, co-author of The Rebuilders: Going from Setback to Comeback in Business and Beyond (see my book review here).
Based in London, Sara is the former CEO of TBWA London, and co-host of the ‘Rebuilders’ podcast. She shared a range of insights on the importance of resilience to convert setbacks into comebacks, and tools and tips for companies to rebound from challenges.
While best practices are often captured in templates and case studies, it is important to refresh them through cycles of ‘freeze, unfreeze, refreeze’ in the face of new change and uncertainty. Organisations need to capture lessons from setbacks in their “muscle memory,” Sara advised.
Businesses should set aside time to reflect on setbacks, but many do not set aside such adequate time for “organisational grief.” The time allotted to such reflection depends on the size of the mistake and size of the organisation, she suggested.
For example, the loss of a big client or missing an important target can lead to a sense of disappointment. Feelings and attitudes should be shared for an adequate period of time, along with lessons for moving on. Some companies do set aside regular time for reflection on misses and losses, she observes.
Some organisations even have a failure day, failure learning sessions, or some time at the start of weekly meetings to take stock of such issues. (See my reviews of the related books The Other ‘F’ Word, The Messy Middle, Who Blunders and How, Adapt, and The Up Side of Down.)
Such treatment of failures and mistakes calls for humility, patience, and curiosity. Sara offered a range of reflective and corrective tools, such as the use of branch questions (to inspire optimism) and root questions (to inspire realism). She also explained her creative acronym for CURIOUS to promote open-minded learning and unlearning (see figure below).
“Artists deal with uncertainty the best,” she observes. It is important to find a balance between realism and optimism, particularly in current times of geopolitical uncertainty, economic setbacks, and pandemic waves.
Unfortunately, it is hard for people to be anxious and curious at the same time, or be able to accept the inevitability of some failure in the innovation journey. (See my annual quotes compilations on Failure Lessons from 2022, 2021 and 2020.)
The CURIOUS framework (source: Sara Tate)
KM achievements, plans, and tips
In a ‘3+3+3’ format, KM experts shared three key KM developments in their organisations in 2022, three plans for 2023, and three tips for the KM community.
Insights were shared by Manfred Bornemann, President, Intangible Assets Consulting, Austria; Ved Prakash, CKO, Trianz; Ritu Grover, Director – KM, Khaitan & Co; Sandhya Nagaraj, Assistant General Manager, Sagility; and Pankaj Sharma; Knowledge Management Specialist at Afcons Infrastructure.
For example, at companies that are going through restructuring or mergers, knowledge professionals are restructuring KM for each new business unit, and managing the transition process. KM has clearly helped many employees overcome information overload and help make sense of content repositories and feeds.
Trianz will continue to hold its two annual knowledge festivals six months apart from each other: The Knowledge League (to promote knowledge consumption) and the Festival of Knowledge (to acknowledge knowledge contributions and contributors).
Afcons hosts special knowledge-sharing camps each year in November (Knowvember) and December (Dissember). Each project has three Knowledge Ambassadors, and in 2023 a new title called Knowledge Senator will be created for ambassadors with 15-20 years of experience.
In the infrastructure sector, on-site visits and physical interactions will continue to be important for knowledge work as they help in project skill discovery, and in assessing knowledge needs at sites in different countries.
The experts advised other KM professionals to demonstrate clear RoI benefits to sponsors, and continuously engage with the actual end-users of KM. Their testimonials, needs and aspirations should be clearly captured and communicated.
Roadshows and other activities can help create visibility for KM, as well as periodic knowledge digests and podcasts. Gamification via challenges and awards can improve knowledge-sharing excellence.
Metrics of KM initiatives should go beyond mere downloads of knowledge assets. Enterprise portals should be harmonised and up to the mark in terms of tech use of analytical predictive tools. Community engagement through informal ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions will also help learn from individual experiences.
It is important to regularly challenge assumptions on workflow and organisational culture. Annual surveys should be conducted to assess and refine the quantitative and qualitative impacts of organisational KM practices.
CII Global Knowledge Summit 2022
The road ahead
The speakers acknowledged that while different sectors and contexts can make it hard to compare KM initiatives in various organisations, wider adoption of the ISO 30401:2018 standard for KM can make such comparisons easier.
More collaboration is called for between industry and academia to design KM courses and research projects. KM communities in around two dozen countries have collaborated to create the KM Global Network (KMGN) for peer learning and the overall growth of the discipline.
The Gesellschaft für Wissensmanagement (KM Society of Austria) and KMGN have launched a survey to assess the status of knowledge managers around the globe. The survey is structured into three sections: demographics, KM role, and learning perspective. Members of the Bangalore K-Community agreed to promote the survey across their networks.
In sum, growing uncertainties in the world coupled with the rise of useful digital tools call for more co-creation and resilience in knowledge work.
Future sessions of the Bangalore K-Community will feature more case studies of KM and emerging technologies, and discussion points for CII’s upcoming Global Knowledge Summit 2023.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta