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KM Singapore 2015:
Twelve tips to unlock the knowledge-ready advantage

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The twelfth annual KM Singapore conference was organized by the Information and Knowledge Management Society in September 2015, with the theme Unlocking the Knowledge-Ready Advantage. The four-day event included workshops, panels, keynotes, “unconference” sessions, an expert panel to field audience questions and site visits to KM practitioner organizations. Here are my top 12 takeaways and tips from the conference for KM practitioners and educators.

1 Agile KM helps to stay focused and deliver quick wins. Agile methods can contribute to KM in a number of ways, said Bill Kaplan, founder of the consulting firm Working Knowledge. Pilot projects are a way of testing KM initiatives, direction and assumptions. KM challenges today include keeping up with operational tempo, adjusting to or creating new behavior and evolving new metrics. “KM is a long-term journey but you also need to show quick wins,” he said, pointing to after action review (AAR) methods as an example of a quick win. Agile KM helps an organization develop new possibilities, new mindsets and new capabilities.

2 Tie knowledge to learning. “It is not enough to promote a knowledge sharing culture; you need to promote a learning culture,” advised Nicole Sy, KM specialist at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She shared a range of case studies of Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) Award winners from Hong Kong and China. KM metrics will also have to evolve and cover a range of activities and impacts, such as user adoption, knowledge sharing, user benefits and customer satisfaction. Different kinds of learning tools and channels can be explored. MTR, Hong Kong’s metro train system, uses its own video channel called M-Tube for training, and has produced a hilarious but effective video of KM practitioners in a rap song about the organization’s KM features.

3 Map the different types of leaderships and narratives. John Girard, founder and chief knowledge strategist at Sagology, cited books like Tribal Leadership about different personality and culture types such as lone warriors, apathetic victims and stable partners. Girard has also published the book Sage Sayings on Native American proverbs (or “microstories”), which offer timeless insights into knowledge (e.g. “Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.” – Lumbee proverb).

4 Build bridges between KM and data analytics. As KM thought leaders like Tom Davenport have argued, it is important for KM to build bridges with emerging fields like big data and analytics. “KM and data analytics are connected—both are new ways of thinking out of the box,” said Girard. Correlation, however, must not be confused with causation, he cautioned. In consumer, corporate and industrial workplace contexts, analytics can yield useful insights—if the right questions are asked—and that is where KM can help.

5 KM education and industry need to forge deep ties. Full-time, part-time or executive education in KM helps practitioners stay on top of global trends and findings, and industry linkages help educators get insights into the trenches of KM. The site visit to Nanyang Technological University showcased its M.Sc. program in KM and some of its contributions to creative learning spaces, such as a museum on Chinese diaspora history as well as The Hive, a futuristic educational hub designed by top U.K. architect Thomas Heatherwick.

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