The fascinating interview covers a great deal of ground, including why anecdotes can often be more relevant than dry facts and figures when charting performance.
He also touches on ways to promote idea generation within companies, and prevent knowledge gaps when experienced employees depart.
Business leaders who want to get the most out of their organisation, and learn some of the best knowledge management tips can watch or listen to the interview below.
How to Create Innovative Knowledge Management Solutions
Highlights of the Interview
1.10 – Paul introduces his background. He started in the banking industry in late 70s, working in Saudi Arabia: “Customer relationships were key. It’s a different culture in the Middle East – you have to deal with the person as well as the transaction.”
2.40 – He describes the building he worked in being blown up, and confidential papers going missing down the high street as a ‘wake-up call‘. This inspired him and his company to create a one-screen view of all client activity, which was a forerunner to intranet.
This was his introduction into the knowledge management solutions and information arena.
4.25 – Paul says knowledge management is about clients, markets, people and past experience. The biggest challenge is when people with vast experience depart from a company. Their networks go with them.
6.00 – In terms of definition, the World Bank says their knowledge strategy: ‘provides insight for decision making.’
6.50 – No knowledge is ever safe in an organisation, it’s about context. Companies need to ask ‘What are the critical knowledge assets that drive their business?’ There are techniques you can introduce to make sure you learn from what’s gone before.
8.50 – “In a nutshell, it’s the ability to pull together the critical knowledge assets that you as a business have, and how can you make sure that they are shared in the best possible way”
This might not be through putting it in database – it might be through the use of dialogue or narrative and stories. Kenny adds that a story can help people identify with knowledge and identify reference points.
10.30 – “The value of stories for me, are in collaboration, communications (internal and external) and for engagement.”
He says this can be used with strategy, or for engaging people within the organisation itself and sharing experiences.
11.15 – Next, he tells of how insight can be captured and shared through stories: He gives an example of how a Swiss government foreign aid project worker liked the way storytelling could illustrate the differences between what a project actually does for people, far better than dry statistics.
13:20 – Paul gives another example of a company that ran a storytelling competition. They were able to bring back knowledge that would otherwise have been lost when employees moved on, while also integrating new employees into the organisation’s culture and knowledge base.
“We learn best when we communicate with each other and exchange ideas. You have to have ways of provoking and promoting discussion.”
18:36 – He is going to travel to Sudan to help the health industry think more about how it uses knowledge and gathers information to get better patient outcomes.
20:13 – One of the best examples is the Olympic movement. Frequently needs to pass on knowledge from host city to host city.
20:30 – Kenny asks how this is completed, and Paul explains there are 39 organised steps to the process, and it involves heavy videoing and shadowing, which are both knowledge management techniques.
Says the Russians would have had around 5,000 people at the London Games following what was going on and involved in meetings.
22.00 – Paul acknowledges that stories are not a one-size-fits- all solution. Says it’s a horses for courses situation – some companies just need hard data. Makes the point that some companies dismiss the benefits of anecdotes and narratives too early, however.
He says interactions that shape businesses often take place at water coolers, coffee shops and spaces for talking.
23:45 – Talking about changing the culture within organisations, he gives an example of a time when he was tasked with turning his golf club around. The issue for him was it was a service business that didn’t have a website or social media presence.
Says the right foundations were needed at the start, so interviewed staff who had experience in the business, and asked what changes they would make.
“It was a great lesson how many people actually volunteered ideas.”
Says it is important to then respond and explain, whether ideas are implemented or not.
26:27 – Paul says companies need a visible mechanism for the generation of ideas.
27.30 – Another anecdote from the golf club highlights the importance of being open and transparent when things go wrong, and turning negativity into opportunities. “That is one of the biggest things you can do in a situation like this.”
“Occasionally you’re going to screw up, but it’s the way you acknowledge that and go back to people that changes the way they perceive you. You’re looking for people to be advocates for your brand.”
31.25 – He says we are often, “driven by numbers and statistics. Instead of taking a step back and thinking about what have we actually achieved, we get into a spiral of incremental performance improvement that is not necessarily positive.”
Wrapping up the interview, Paul promises to return for anther video to discuss managing acquisitions and mergers, so keep your eyes peeled for that.