Tidying my office this morning I came across all the notes, scribbles and emergent thoughts I have collected over the years working for English Nature. One sheet, dated around 2005 on my aspirational and generic ideal Knowledge Sharing Strategy for the newly forming Natural England, caught my eye and I thought I would share it here to see if still has any resonance.
- A sustainable and diverse knowledge base upon which decisions can be taken
- Communities of people clustered around areas of knowledge (not restricted in any way by organisational boundaries)
- People need to have, and to show, knowledge sharing behaviours
- The organisation needs to build knowledge sharing into all our business processes
All four of the above are emergent. They rely on millions of separate interactions, the outcomes of which cannot be predicted in advance.
To achieve this we therefore need to:
- nurture the starting conditions for the above
- seed interventions that demonstrate the benefits
- give feedback to encourage or dampen behaviours as appropriate
- nurture the emergence of attractors that fit the organisations emergent culture
When the merger came and we became Natural England we were all asked to identify our key targets and the beneficial outcome [costed where possible]. I wont list them all but my primary target went like this.
TARGET: At least 400 staff will have attended a facilitated knowledge sharing workshop that leads to changes in knowledge sharing behaviour and greater social interaction.
BENEFICIAL OUTCOME: £260,000+ [see note below] Changes in knowledge sharing behaviour. Increased sustailnability of organisational knowledge. Greater alignment, connection and collaboration.
NOTE: Based on the feedback following Ron’s one day facilitation of a Team event.
Your sessions immediately highlighted what members of the Team had in common and brought out their shared values. It was a surprise to me how much we found in common (more so to many of the others). It would have taken months of traditional “management” and communication to achieve anything like the same effect.”
This single event has saved 2 months of management time so if repeated 12 times as planned will achieve 2 years management saving = £60,000+ before taking into account the benefits of a shared understanding, sense of belonging and cohesiveness as a team which if valued at £500 per individual (the going rate for one of Ron’s workshops in 2005 was £850 per person per day) could be worth £200,000 for the planned 400 individuals per annum.
Now I cannot say that everyone agreed with my ideas or my assessment of value. In hindsight I probably couched the language of my Sharing Strategy too close that of Dave Snowdens complexity ideas on which it was primarily based. My assesment of the value of benefits was poorly understood as this is an uncertain science but I hope it shows that genuine feedback can be used to add stories that support the approach taken.
Back to my pile of papers, more musings from the past to follow…