January 26, 2010

Quick & Dirty: Is 2010 The Year KM Grows Up?

You know, the joy of these 'Quick & Dirty' posts is supposed to be the speed with which I can drop some knowledge and get back to other things, but on days like this...grrrrr!

(Re-filling my sweet iced tea...aaaahhhh, all better now.)

It is truly amazing to me how the most unexpected situations can teach us so much about who we are and what we're capable of. I've been navigating the murky waters of family (melo)drama lately (in my capacity as middle child and official "damn-giver...er" and something I said today resonated with recent thoughts I've been journaling regarding the State of KM in 2010 and my own personal goals for the year as a practitioner.

First, lemme just say that you know you're a tennis fan when you stay up all night (and I mean ALL night...in the middle of the week) to watch the Australian Open. Damn that Roddick for costing me $5! Just when I thought he'd changed his losing ways...!

Anyway, I'd been working on catching up on my blog-reading and getting a feel for the current state of KM with my regular review of newly posted KM jobs (and, btw, there are some interesting opportunities for those of you in the market; clearly a sign that there's continuous recognition of the need for KM. It's also pretty cool to see the number of references for KM skills in non-KM titled jobs, particularly in project management roles) when I came across this position description that I'd like to acquire (well, most of it, at least) by the end of 2010 to give me my dream resume.

Thinking about the ways in which I hope to grow had me thinking about the ways in which I've already grown (that's what resonated). And, in typical Christian-fashion, this had me thinking about The Pussycat Dolls.

Yes, my brain actually works like this; it's a thin line between brilliant and crazy...a thin, scary line.

I've been re-building my music library following The Great HD Crash of '09 (which followed the '08 Crash much too quickly; and it didn't help that I responded to the first one like FEMA during Katrina). Heart failure and a hard-drive crash in the same year?!?! I am such a survior. I deserve a Symphony candy bar (the one with the toffee, mmmmh).

I was bananas for PCDs "When I Grow Up" when it blew up the charts in '08 and while re-stocking my media library, I came across a sick Lil Wayne/P Diddy remix that I just canNOT stop listening to! (Sorry, scrambling back across the line). Anywho, all of this talking and singing about growth and growing up had me thinking about the need for knowledge management and Knowledge Managers to experience some of their own in 2010 (growth, that is...maybe a little singing too).

For KM (the people) that can mean either growin' a pair (and droppin' 'em) or simply empowering yourself to be the expert you know you are (or would like to be; I get that, depending upon your situation and organization, it ain't always simple...just work with me). Now, I'm not calling anyone spineless or pushing an aggressive, bad-ass, Sam-Jackson-in-Pulp-Fiction approach to KM, I'm just saying that in championing KM and generating ongoing support it's important to know when to be assertive and aggressive versus collaborative and accomodating. (Even though a Knowledge Manager should embody all of these qualities.) Like the song says, "know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em/know when to walk away/know when to run".

I also recognize that some organizations staff their KM roles with the intention of creating change in accordance with the perception(s) of whomever pitched the idea of KM in the first place (and to whom you probably report) but, to be an effective Knowledge Manager, you be must capable of evaluating the organization yourself and creating awareness of the true State of KM (versus the often blurred, less than objective renderings of others) and re-set expectations accordingly. Your success, in this regard, will speak highly of your abilities as an educator and communicator (and, if you're serious about your career in KM, it gives you an idea of how much the organizational climate will support or hinder your growth and development). Again, I know your yoke ain't easy and your burthen ain't light, but being good at what you do means constantly pushing yourself to be better.

For KM (the field) growing up means being relevant and providing a solid value proposition. Gone are the days of the wordy-but-empty KM sales pitch where KM is a "critical necessity" whose ethereal, far-reaching benefits are many, yet hard to quantify. The flavor's in the fat, but the meat is what we eat. Over the years, I've observed a lot of folks who cling to fast and loose definitions of KM that, essentially, leave the concept open to much interpretation (and bastardization). While this might appease theorists with a penchant for defying labels, it makes our field look flakey and disorganized. From my perspective, if everything is KM, then what's the point of KM?

At close to 4am, it's waaaay to early for me to try and explain what (I think) KM is and isn't (especially in a Quick & Dirty post) beyond my usual description, but if I were to say a few words on the subject (as if a blogger is looking to keep their thoughts to themselves) to those folks who are either exploring what KM can do for their organization or went about executing a KM strategy without seeking expert counsel, I might say that you don't need a KM strategy to:
  • Build a website or a database - hire a techie;
  • Re-organize your filing system - get an intern;
  • Get your employees to document their work-related activities and/or critical reflections - put it in their MBOs and tie it to their bonuses; or even,
  • To get your employees sharing information with one another - an open-bar Happy Hour with chicken wings gets the job done juuuust fine.
Ultimately, the bottom-line goal of a KM strategy is to help organizations improve their market share and profitability. This is accomplished by getting at and coming up with ways to leverage critical knowledge. If, as a consquence of this activity, you happen to make some people happy by improving some processes and general working conditions...fuckin' 'A' fantastic! However, know that all of the tactics undertaken to identify, organize, and share knowledge and information are purely meant to support the bottom-line goal...if yours isn't, welllll, I'm not sayin' it's right and I'm not sayin' it's wrong, I'm just sayin' you might wanna look into that.

While everyone else is prepping for the end of the world in 2 years (and who can blame them in this economy?), KM (both the field and the people) is in a position to experience some exceptional growth. Here's to seeing what the coming year brings...and to scrounging up 500 pennies - just 'cause I lost my bet doesn't mean I have to be cool about it.

January 18, 2010

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House

Tomorrow is MLK Day and to celebrate, I'll be attending the 2010 Atlanta Bayard Rustin-Audre Lorde Breakfast which was founded in 2002 "to provide attendees the opportunity to connect before participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. March, educate communities about the contributions of Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde and other activists; and enhance mutual support and continued learning among people engaged in social change efforts."

I was introduced to the musings and poetry of Audre Lorde in a Women's Studies course I took as an undergrad and I can truly say, without the least bit of melodrama or pretense, that her work changed my life. In particular, this piece, "The Master's Tools..."

During the class discussion of her writing I was thrilled that my classmates either had no opinion or were uninterested in sharing one, because I could spend all day talking about what I'd read the night before(and I pretty much did).

As a Knowledge Manager, I draw a lot of inspiration from the most unlikely sources and "The Master's Tools..." is one that I reference religiously and will continue to cite and share with people over the entirety of my career. The way in which it challenges me to think outside of the box in search of new, better, and more inclusive approaches to organizational change has been...well it's been a gift, really.

On this day, when we recognize the contributions of a man who was, quite literally, a Change Master, and as people all over the world continue to seek inspiration to overcome so many different hurdles and oppressive conditions, I thought it would be cool to post this piece in its entirety. Perhaps it will inspire you to "be the change you wish to see" in your organization, your community, your country, and our world.

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House
By Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

This essay is from Sister Outsider, The Crossing Press Feminist Series (1984)
"I agreed to take part in a New York University Institute for the Humanities conference a year ago, with the understanding that I would be commenting upon papers dealing with the role of difference within the lives of American women: difference of race, sexuality, class, and age. The absence of these considerations weakens any feminist discussion of the personal and the political.

It is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians. And yet, I stand here as a Black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of Black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable. To read this program is to assume that lesbian and Black women have nothing to say about existentialism, the erotic, women's culture and silence, developing feminist theory, or heterosexuality and power. And what does it mean in personal and political terms when even the two Black women who did present here were literally found at the last hour? What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable.

The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of Third World women leaves a serious gap within this conference and within the papers presented here. For example, in a paper on material relationships between women, I was conscious of an either/or model of nurturing which totally dismissed my knowledge as a Black lesbian. In this paper there was no examination of mutuality between women, no systems of shared support, no interdependence as exists between lesbians and women-identified women. Yet it is only in the patriarchal model of nurturance that women "who attempt to emancipate themselves pay perhaps too high a price for the results," as this paper states. For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world. Only within a patriarchal stucture is maternity the only social power open to women.

Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being.

Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.

Within the interdependence of mutual (non-dominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes which can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.

As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference - those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older- know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support.

Poor women and women of Color know there is a difference between the daily manifestations of marital slavery and prostitution because it is our daughters who line 42nd Street. If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?

In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action. The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the
first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.

Why weren't other women of Color found to participate in this conference? Why were two phone calls to me considered a consultation? Am I the only possible source of names of Black feminists? And although the Black panelist's paper ends on an important and powerful connection of love between women, what about interracial cooperation between feminists who don't love each other?

In academic feminist circles, the answer to these questions is often, "We did not know who to ask." But that is the same evasion of responsibility, the same cop-out, that keeps Black women's art out of women's exhibitions, Black women's work out of most feminist publications except for the occasional "Special Third World Women's Issue," and Black women's texts off your reading lists. But as Adrienne Rich pointed out in a recent talk, white feminists have educated themselves about such an enormous amount over the past ten years, how come you haven't also educated yourselves about Black women and the differences between us - white and Black - when it is key to our survival as a movement?

Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master's concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women - in the face of tremendous resistance - as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.

Simone de Beauvoir once said:
"It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting."
Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices."

January 17, 2010

Out of The Box - Week Ending 01/15

The Winter ALTA season is off to a fairly rocky start. We're at Week 3 and already we've had two weeks of weather-related delays and we've only managed to eek out 2 practice sessions. I'm hoping my team kills it this week to make up for the combined hot mess of Weeks 1 & 2. The only real advantage of no tennis today is that I got to spend the afternoon at Panera catching up on my reading...yay!!!

I've been digging up some new reading sources over the last few weeks with a slant towards some local publications to give Atlanta a bit more representation. This week's reads are a grab bag...no major themes.


Oh, and Happy Birthday to The First Lady too!!
  • Could bartering also work as a feasible strategy for improving knowledge sharing and building community in your organization?

  • Is your ego getting in the way of your effectiveness (or growth) as a Knowledge Manager

  • Quote of the Week: If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much. - Donald H. Rumsfeld. Not sure if Don's the right person to be making this statement, but I'm lovin' it nonetheless.

  • How To of the Week: I'd add some more non-compensatory options to the list of incentives, but there's some pretty good ideas here on How to Motivate Your Employees.

  • WTF of The Week: Avatar leading to depression? Really, people? Really!?!?!

  • Just a good old fashioned reminder not to be too obnoxious with all that blogging, tweeting, and online chatting you might be doing to build up your customer base

January 13, 2010

Lil Jackie's 2010 KM Roadmap

I've never been a starfucker.

Forgive the indelicacy, I'm still waking up.

I was reminded of this (in a roundabout way) during a brief conversation with my mom this morning. I mean, I still care enough about being "in the know" to pay attention to pop culture, but I'm just not one of those people who look to celebrities to give meaning to my life or provide me with non-stop entertainment...well, maybe Sarah Palin, I manage to get a chuckle out of everything that involves her (to the dismay of my mother who LOVES her). But, I don't get gaga when I pass famous people on the street (not even Lady Gaga), I'm not impressed to find out someone has more money than the combined GDP of every Latin American country, you'll never see me breakin' down cryin' 'cause some singer waves at me or says "hello", and even if you could ruin my life with a snap of your fingers, I still ain't studdin' you.

And why should I?

For one thing, my life is good - warts and all. For another, it's incredibly interesting (to me) and so unbelievably entertaining (to everyone around me) with equal parts high comedy and salacious drama (truly stuff that only seems to happen on daytime TV) that it's a crime I haven't written my own little "Peyton Place" to share with the rest of the world. (When I'm past the point of caring about what my friends and family will do to me - or simply out of their reach - I just might do it, lol.)

No, I'm not impressed with celebrity or status. What impresses me is realness and authenticity; having values and relationships that are more about being true to oneself (even if they clash with mine) than trying to fit in, be "better than" (whatever the hell that means), and/or impress others. And this is the same mindset I bring to my KM work. I'm not trying to win popularity contests, suck up to anybody, or get embroiled in bullshit office politics. Like hairstylist/salon "guru" Tabatha, I'm there to help organizations address the problems that are preventing them from being successful (though with slightly less colorful language than she uses on her show or I use in my blog). With KM that means improving how critical knowledge is identified, shared, and leveraged across an organization.

Obviously, it helps to develop positive, collaborative, constructive relationships in the workplace and if you're able to do your job well AND have fun, more power to you. But, sometimes, I think we tend to treat the workplace like an elementary school playground or, ugh, high school. Guess what? It's not. It's a place of business. You're paid to be there to do a job - it's not therapy (unless it is) or a dating service (unless it is). And from where I stand, often it's that high school/playground mentality that contributes to a sloppy knowledge sharing ethic and a poor KM environment.

(Note: If this is the first time you're reading one of my posts you should know that one of my biggest pet peeves are organizations that equate themselves to being "one big family". Families don't fire Uncle Earl, even if he does act kinda pervy around the ladies or layoff Nana 'cause she's gettin' up there in age. And when there's a crisis or money gets tight families (are supposed to) close ranks and tighten the belt to come through on the other side together, not distribute pink slips and have security escort you out of the building...I'm just sayin').

Anywaaaaay, that's my soapbox rant for the day.

The real goal of this post is to introduce y'all to Lil Jackie! I'm forever exploring ways of simplifying my KM message to my various audiences and Lil Jackie is going to be my muse and assistant in 2010 ("Lil Jack-ehhh, wants to be-e a staaar...).

About six months ago I challenged myself with the task of re-modeling my KM Roadmap to reflect the intersection of people, process and technology. And then my harddrive crashed (which, honestly, sucked more than getting heart failure from a bronchial virus). Luckily, I'm brilliant enough to be able to re-create my work from scratch and old notes/documents. I really think this roadmap is even better than the last one and Lil Jackie and I would like to share it with the masses!

Click to englarge!
The graphic displays my six major mile posts. Previously, I had these as five phases (Knowledge Audit, KM Strategy Blueprint, Development, Deployment, and Evaluation) but after plotting things out and looking at the relationships between each phase, I realized it was better to flesh out the design work from development activity. It was also important to represent both the cyclical nature of each mile post as well as the fact that education and/or buy-in should be occuring between each transition. Sometimes you'll be doing one or the other and sometimes both. And, to clarify, although learning is inherent (and effort should be made to document lessons learned) during every mile post, the LEARN mile post is concerned with the formal process of synthesizing all of the information and knowledge acquired throughout the project lifecycle in preparation for the next cycle.

To the left of the cyclical graphic, I've presented examples of the roles that people, process, and technology might play as well examples of possible output or yield. These examples are by no means exhaustive and should serve purely as a starting point for anyone looking to build their KM strategy.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or criticisms (I'm always looking to improve this thing), please post your feedback, otherwise enjoy!

January 9, 2010

Guerrilla Knowledge Management

OR, "How To Be a KM Revolutionary"

Soooo, 2010...
Considering how crappy the latter part of '09 worked out for me (what with that heart failure and all) I'm sure that I should be excited just to be vertical and walking, but I'm gonna hold off on any major celebrating for the moment and just see where this new decade leads. I'd hoped to end the year with a few new posts but I've been trying to shed the 30 lbs I've gained in the last 4 months from not being able to do any type of physically demanding activity (thank God for tennis)...and catching up on all of the shows I stopped watching mid-season 2009 (Is Vanessa Williams not the best reason to watch Ugly Betty?!?!)

Hey, I gotta broken heart; sue me!

Anyway, I hear confession is good for the soul and in the spirit of kicking off the year with a fresh start, I'm about to confess something that is so utterly embarrassing I've debated whether or not it should ever be committed to cyberspace. But, one day, when I'm in preparation for my confirmation as US Secretary of Knowledge, I might have to sit before a Senate sub-committee and spill my guts about these sorts of things so I might as well offer up some transparency now.

I rented Twilight.

I know, I know, the shame of it all! There are tacky and sordid hook-ups I'd rather spill my guts about, but there it is. I haven't watched it yet, but in my defense it was only a buck via RedBox and I'm curious to see what all the hype is about in a way that I was never curious about either sex or pot (my folks had a sure fire way to kill those curiosities - open dialogue! Thanks a lot mom and dad!)

Anywho, ever since my 2008 post on Green KM I've been itching to write one on Guerrilla KM. I coined the term years ago (for myself, at least, I don't know if anybody else is using it, although I'm familiar with Stealth KM) when I was a wet-behind-the-ears Knowledge Analyst at Ariba looking for ways to reduce my stress levels (that didn't involve a shotgun or Xanax) over my seemingly ineffectual efforts to promote KM.

The goal: "To increase knowledge sharing activity by any means necessary."

Yeah, I know, I was feelin' all "Knowledge Analyst X" at the time.

My initial strategy, which focused on coalition building and establishing an "army" of KM Champions across the organization, reflected my Adult Education and Policy Analysis studies more than true Guerrilla tactics, but I happen to see a lot of Adult Ed undertones in guerrilla warfare and the more I read on the subject the more potential I see for leveraging these tactics in a KM context.

While its possible (and advisable) to overtly pursue a "green" approach to KM, I definitely lean towards a more discrete use of guerilla KM tactics. Which is not to imply that these tactics are necessarily underhanded and shady, but nobody likes to feel as if they are being manipulated (especially if they are). In fact, stealing a page (or two, or three) from Machiavelli's The Prince might be just what your KM strategy needs to succeed!

In guerrilla warfare, a small contingent attempts to undermine a larger military force, usually in pursuit of a political agenda. Contrast that with knowledge management, in which a small contingent (maybe even a party of one), attempts to "influence" the larger organization, usually in pursuit of a politically and culturally charged objective.

For anyone who questions the comparison between 'undermine' and 'influence' and/or doubts the political nature of organizational change...get back to me when the green begins to wear off. Organizational change is inherently political and the more KM (or any functional area) attempts to influence (read: create change in) organizational behaviors, strategies, and policies the more likely it is to arouse the ire of any number of persons across the organization; making the use of guerrilla tactics an intelligent and savvy way to proceed in our line work. After all,

"the underlying strategy in guerrilla warfare is to harass the enemy (organizational leadership) until sufficient military strength (cultural momentum) is built up to defeat him in battle (influence evolutionary change in the culture) or until enough political and military (cultural) pressure is applied to cause him to seek peace (change strategies and/or policies).(Encyclopedia Britannica)"
Perhaps my favorite quote on the subject comes from Mao Tse-tung in his treatise "On Guerrilla Warfare" from which a lot of my approach has been derived,
"A revolutionary war is never confined within the bounds of military action. Because its purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new state structure, any revolutionary war is a unity of which the constituent parts, in varying importance, are military, political, economic, social, and psychological".
The effective implementation of knowledge management requires the use of a similarly composed strategy, addressing organizational politics, economics, culture, and psychology.

In developing a guerrilla approach to knowledge management, my biggest hurdle has been identifying a methodology that doesn't employ the negative tactics commonly associated with guerrilla warfare. Just because (the very "green" tactic of) transparency isn't necessarily a critical success factor in guerrilla actions (although, it can be part of the plan if it suits the agenda) doesn't mean that anything goes. As activist, writer, and Change Diva, Audre Lorde, wrote in her seminal essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House”:
“The may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
So, for my part, I prefer to rely on working with positive, lasting tools as a means of facilitating positive, lasting change, which takes tactics like ambush, deception, sabotage, and espionage entirely out of play (yes, even if Sun Tzu says it okay). Of course, this is just me – feel free to be as janky as you please.

Although, I might make an exception for espionage. I'm not morally opposed to a little clandestine intelligence gathering particularly if you're working in an environment where knowledge hoarding is the norm. I know from experience that sometimes, the only way to get at critical knowledge and information is to be sneaky about it - just be cautious about how you gather your intel. I firmly believe that in business, as in life, what goes around comes around and the people you step-on on your way up the ladder are the very ones you'll be seeing on your way down.

In his 2007 article, Guerrilla Warfare, Change and Innovation Agency founder Ken Miller offers up the following tips for creating change when you're not in charge:
  • Find a supportive manager."Guerrilla warfare starts with two people — a brave change agent and an enlightened manager. No matter how backward your organization may be, there is at least one manager who "gets it," who wants to make her unit the best it can be. Find this person and indoctrinate her."
  • Implement the change initiative in one unit. "Don't make the mistake of piloting the concepts on low-hanging fruit. Think big. If nobody notices what you've done, you've missed the point of guerrilla warfare. And if everybody notices what you are doing before you're done, you have also missed the point."
  • Create a buzz. "If you have selected a high-impact, high-visibility system, you won't need to broadcast the results — people will notice."
Ken goes on to suggest some strategies for creating buzz, but to craft strategies unique to your organizational challenge(s) consider these 8 Principles of Guerilla KM. As usual, these are presented in no particular order.
  1. Intelligence

  2. Whether you're planning a long-term offensive or a strategic "hit", having the right intel is vital. In addition to having a thorough understanding of the organization's strategic goals (because, regardless of your approach, alignment with these goals is key to KM's credibility in your organization), it's also necessary to know where critical resources lie (human, technological, and economic), who potential allies (and enemies) are, and recognizing areas of opportunity (particularly ones that have been long ignored by the current régime). Being revolutionary isn't just about fighting with passion, it's also about acting with thoughtful deliberation.

  3. Strategy

  4. As a strategist, I'm inclined to think that this is the most important principle of all. After I've achieved some awareness and understanding (based on the 'intelligence' I've gathered) of the where the organization is at and where it's trying to go, developing a comprehensive strategy is a natural next step for me. It doesn't matter how well supported and/or funded your KM efforts are, there needs to be some sort of roadmap laid out that details what goals are meant to be achieved and provides a framework for making it all happen. Otherwise, it's like playing darts in the dark wearing a blindfold; you might hit something but it's a helluva lot easier to hit your mark when you can see your target.

  5. Relationship Building (Networking)

  6. When it comes to the Principe of Networking, there are two quotes that perfectly frame my opinon on the matter:
    "The 'base of the people' is thus the key lifeline of the guerrilla movement. An apathetic or hostile population makes life difficult for guerrilleros and strenuous attempts are usually made to gain their support." — "Strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
    We all get by with a little help from our friends and making common cause with various organizational constituents and stakeholders (especially those who feel least appreciated) is a classic element of guerilla warfare aimed at getting that help when it's most needed!
    "[T]he guerrilla fighter is a social reformer…he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery." — Che Guevara
    "Angry protests", "unarmed brothers", and "ignominy and misery" might be a little 'dramatical', but I love this quote because it reminds me that I don't do what I do purely for myself; the work of KM is meant to benefit the organization. For the leadership that might mean improved efficiency and increased revenue while for the rank-and-file it could mean improved working conditions/procesess and increased opportunities for career growth. In order to realize these goals I need to build and maintain relationships that matter.

  7. Mobility & Adaptability

  8. One of the constant complaints I hear from KM folks is about the lack of pretty damn near everything - funds, staffing, exective buy-in, organizational support. My response: wah wahhhhh (you need an audio clip to really appreciate me saying that). Yes, it's nice to have those things, but ask around and you'll find that most people (in roles across the organization) had to make do (and do well) without the very same things you're whining about when they got started. The lack of these resources not only provides incentive for creative, out-of-the-box thinking, but it also affords a measure of mobility, both of which are invaluable assets. Working with a small staff means fewer chances for miscommunication and dropping the ball (who hasn't done that icebreaker?); working with a smaller budget also gives you a little less visibility and makes your accomplishments that much more impressive; poor or non-existent executive buy-in (with the proper spin) can actually help to legitimize KM efforts with change-weary employees...you get the picture? Guerilla KM sees the value in flying below the radar and looks for ways to capitalize on this advantage whenever possible.

  9. Tactical Initiative

  10. Typical guerilla campaigns involve the (quite annoying, from what I've read) use of brief, offensive strikes (hit and runs) that make the best use of a small, organized force with limited resources exploiting a high tactical initiative. In English - they study their enemy/situation earnestly, plan well (anticipating and mitigating potential problems), choose the time and place, and take advantage of the element of surprise. The ability to demonstrate high, moderate, or weak tactical initiative is a reflection of how much control you're able to maintain during a campaign; the better your plan (strategy), the greater your control and, thus, your success.

    Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be able to pump out a few metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of your campaigns just in case you piss off the wrong person (gotta remember to cover your boo-tay, KM revolutionaries still like a steady paycheck and benefits!)

  11. Time

  12. In my 7-plus years of KM I've never once heard it said that the time involved in facilitating change is a good thing, but for guerrilleros time is a friend. Since guerilla tactics focus on the bigger picture, not merely short-term gains, a drawn out conflict that takes its toll on the opposition is beneficial. Not so for most (if, any) business functions. However, it's past time for knowledge managers to reframe our perspective on the time factor; it's only an obstacle if you continue to see it as one. As Mao Tse-tung writes in his treatise, On Guerrilla Warfare, "Guerrilla strategy must be based primarily on alertness, mobility, and attack. It must be adjusted to the enemy situation, the terrain, the existing lines of communication, the relative strengths, the weather and the situation of the people." Using a guerilla approach, we mitigate the time factor by remaining diligently alert and continuously adapting our strategy to make use of the intel we're gathering. Unlike the bottom-line goals you're setting out to achieves, the KM strategy shouldn't be some static document that gets reviewed and modified once a year; it should be a living document that evolves in tandem with the various (and almost certain) changes happening across an organization. By staying on the grind, keeping abreast of what's going on in your organization and making the necessary adjustments to your strategy you are able to stay one step ahead at all times.

  13. Leadership

  14. In his treatise, Chairman Mao also provides some characteristics of the type of leadership necessary for guerrilla warfare:
    "unyielding in their policies - resolute, loyal, sincere, and robust; well-educated in revolutionary technique, self confident, able to establish severe discipline, and able to cope with counter-propaganda."
    While I think that all of these qualities are perfect in military leaders, we're not exactly running a Communist régime so 'establishing severe disclipine' ("share or die") might be overkill. Where Mao and I agree is that leadership should be models for the people, leading by example. Coincidentally, that's one of the reasons why I also propose discretion in the use of guerilla KM tactics. It may seem hypocritical, but as Desperate Housewives character Tom Schiavo extoled to wife Lynette earlier this season: "There are sometimes in life when you have to break the rules to survive." (I told you I've been catching up on my shows). Besides, it's not as if we're concealing any illicit activity (I hope), we're just not broadcasting behavior that might give the impression that anarchy is okay (even if we dabble in it from time to time).

    Gosh, I'm starting to feel dirty now.

  15. Promotions/Branding

  16. One of the most well known - much maligned, though often utilized - aspects of guerilla warfare is propaganda (it isn't just for "commies" anymore). However, considering its unsavory connotations and applications, I prefer the terms "promotions" or "KM Branding". KM Branding is a particular passion of mine. I view the intersection of marketing and education as a critical component of any successful strategy. Unlike propaganda though, branding doesn't have to be fed on lies, half-truths or fuel dissent. On the contrary, KM branding can be employed using a very 'green' approach - openly, honestly and with much transparency - using marketing tactics and adult learning techniques to generating buzz around KM activity and build social capital. As retail entrepreneur Sy Syms sagely proclaimed, "an educated consumer is our best customer".

    I'm working on an article explaining the concept of KM Branding more fully, but in the meantime guerilla marketing guru Jay Levinson is a fantastic resource for great ideas. Levinson coined the term in his book Guerilla Marketing as an unconventional - and unexpected - system of potentially interactive, promotions that rely on time, energy and imagination to create unique, engaging, thought provoking campaigns.
The net effect of this approach is to position yourself to deliver what Chairman Mao called The Lightning Blow, "select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack; withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision." And, when you get right down to it, isn't this why most organizations invest in KM in the first place, to be stronger, more efficient, more agile? Clearly, the benefits of KM aren't strictly limited to improving how knowledge and information is shared.

Happy New Year!