29 September 2015

What else can KM can learn from Agile?

In response to my post a few days ago about Agile KM and also to a direct question to him, Stan Garfield kindly wrote this blog post in reply.

It really is a great post (not that I would expect any less from Stan) and I especially loved his reinterpretation of Bill Kaplan's manifesto as follows:

  1. Identify three key business objectives (rather than use maturity models, bench-marking, and me-too best practices)
  2. Focus more on helping people use processes effectively (rather than on rolling out technology)
  3. Improve decisions, actions, and learning (rather than vague concepts like "increase engagement," "add value," or "drive transformational change")
  4. Connect people to each other so they can help each other at the time of need (rather than focus on collecting documents or updating skills profiles)
  5. Implement, improve, and iterate (rather than plan endlessly)
If you are new to KM, please do yourself a favor and follow Stan's links. I guarantee it will be worth it for you.

I do think there are a few other things we can learn from the Agile Manifesto when it comes to KM and I offer them to you for your consideration (and hopefully feedback).  Stan may argue these are encapsulated in his last point, however I know people would simply see "Implement, Improve and Iterate" as a series of small waterfall-style pilots (some call this WAGILE), when in fact, your solution changes the initial problem space. You are not doing KM in a vacuum; your changes may effect something else which in turn can (and will) effect the success and possibly the viability of your well planned improvement.
Remember, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy”
So for clarification I would add:

  1. Strategy is about discovering what works by probing and measuring, (rather than assuming the world is linear)
  2. "What works" is measured by whole of business performance, (rather than an individual or local metric)
  3. Working solutions after each iteration (rather than phased rollouts of a large project with no results until the end)
  4. Pilots that are designed to teach you as much when they fail (rather than just when they succeed)
Are you an Agile expert? Can you think of any others?

As knowledge leaders I think we need to have these strategic differences front of mind. This seems to be reflected in Alex Bennet's new book "Leading with the Future in Mind - Knowledge and Emergent Leadership".  As leaders we need to be learners first and Alex points towards Experiential Learning as a tradition that points us in the right direction.  I also spoke about this in a talk several years ago extending the idea to culture change itself being a form of learning. But I think these ideas put some meat on those bones and I am wondering if it is worth developing these in to a more structured method.

Anybody interested in taking a stroll with me?

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