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Guest Blogger Jacquelynn Seymour 

Jackie is a Sr. Project Portfolio Manager/Clinical Systems within the Information Technology Division Project Management Office at a large healthcare organization in Northeast Ohio. She is anticipating graduation in May 2016 with a Master's Degree in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management – Health Informatics. She is zealous about the possibilities of the application of this field in health care.

We are a big organization, and one trying to fundamentally change how we deliver health care.  Certainly it is a true statement that massive change is not an easy task and we have heard many times that the larger the ship, the harder it is to change course.  Is our vision of KM as the way doomed? Despair not – others have boldly gone where no one has gone before.  We can learn their secrets and blaze our own KM trail.

When it comes to size, IBM comes to mind in the top tier of large organizations (in 170 countries and 370,000 employees seems to qualify as large don't you think)? They are legendary for their mainframe systems and technology solutions, yet times changed and they diversified and expanded their services into five global lines of business: global business services (GBS), technology services, systems and technology, software, and global financing.   The GBS division is a consulting team of over 150,000 employees geographically located across the globe. The team offers clients consulting and systems integration and application management services.  Wow, think about the complexities of discovering, capturing, sharing, and applying knowledge in this context!  Lots of people, many locations, consultants that need to be experts in their area or locate and connect with other experts in the moment, and share knowledge with the other 150,000 experts when they are working for their client or guess what?  The client could become dissatisfied, lose confidence, or worse, fire them.  By the way, this is an important point for our organization and our KM journey – thinking like a consultant reminds us that delivering value to the client (our patients, our peers, our communities, outside agencies) is a top priority. IBM made a conscious decision to embrace a KM strategy to give them competitive advantage and be recognized as the best of the best.  Simply put, they saw learning as an outcome (Morris, 2015).

They had some distinct knowledge-sharing challenges.  Much like health care, the sheer volume of information and knowledge was overwhelming, exponentially increasing, and not likely to all be captured in codified format.  Much of the most valuable knowledge lives in people's brains and experiences.  They are facing retirements and the risk of that tacit knowledge not being codified or transferred and this is a new generation that is not interested in learning old programming techniques.  Locating and connecting to an expert with which to seek or share knowledge was problematic.  It was like finding a needle in a haystack, especially when the term "expert" is contextual and may not even be on a resume or in searchable format.  And, it is not easy to create relationships and network across such a large group in diverse locations.  There had to be a way to help the teams find and interact with each other and gain trust in each other as experts and colleagues, to find the "go-to" people.

It didn't happen overnight.  The transformation began with their vision of creating a knowledge organization and sharing information including technology, processes, content management, and Communities of Practice (CoP) that evolved over three phases and that was tied to the business value.  They are simplifying the process of knowledge sharing and contribution in hopes it will be perceived as an enhancement to every-day activities versus an interruption and time-consuming activity.  Getting a little excited here thinking about how we can use this, it could definitely be a "WIIFM" proposition for our teams!  You know, the What's IIFor Me.

The outcomes look promising based on their indicators and measures of success trends.  Considering themselves in constant beta-mode they continue to evolve and change the culture to transform the way they do business.  One of the most interesting facts is that participation in portal usage and as an expert is voluntary and employees control what information they want to be accessible.  Privacy concerns are honored for content and individual data   This will play well in our world – especially with our physicians.

Some considerations from their lessons learned here:

  1. Make sure we are on solid legal ground early on (so very important for health care and HIPAA regulations). Our legal team can help.
  2. Make sure the experts for the blog strategy are more than interested parties; they are the experts in their field.  This is especially important for patients who will follow the blogs.
  3. There is a tradeoff between privacy and analytics.  Not everything should be mined and accessible.

So one big ship is changing course using KM, what about others?  Is this a one-off example and can size be an advantage?

According to Bonchek & Fussell (2012), there is a "tradeoff between size and speed", yet there are advantages of being large.   It is seen in biology – As an example whales are large, efficient and live longer than birds that are faster and may be more resilient.  The tradeoff is size vs. speed and adaptability.  Contrast this with cities that as they grow become faster and better, boasting higher incomes and more innovation.  If turning the ship is related to size, how do cities get better and faster as they grow?  The article suggests it is due to the creativity and versatility of networks seen in social systems like cities and communities, or virtual communities such as Twitter or other social communities.

Large organizations operate more like whales (economies of scale yet slow and not agile).  Yet, if a large organization runs more like a social network they stand to gain speed and agility, just as IBM did.  Back to the size advantage – bigger organizations have larger networks with more information, so we can extrapolate that organizations that act like a city or community can move faster BECAUSE they are bigger.  Skeptical?  The U.S. Military is a large organization, very whale-like wouldn't you agree?  The 9/11 event highlighted the need for nimbleness and speed, relationships that are network-based vs. hierarchical models.  They used their size and extended network of organizational relationships as an advantage.  The four strategies outlined in Bonchek &Fussell are worth a look.

So we leave you with these examples we can use and apply to our very large organization and this thought - it is not a "do it once and you are done" type of program.  Transformation is not an end point; it is a journey.  IBM thinks so according to their future plans for digital transformation and the reinvention of the modern corporation!

Guest Blogger Jacquelynn Seymour 

Jackie is a Sr. Project Portfolio Manager/Clinical Systems within the Information Technology Division Project Management Office at a large healthcare organization in Northeast Ohio. She is anticipating graduation in May 2016 with a Master's Degree in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management – Health Informatics. She is zealous about the possibilities of the application of this field in health care.

Sources:

Bonchek, M. & Fussell, C. (2012, November 5). Can bigger be faster? Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/11/can-bigger-be-faster

Joshi, Y. (2015).  Digital transformation – will IBM attain its aspirational leadership position? Sherpas in blue shirts.  Retrieved from http://www.everestgrp.com/2015-06-digital-transformation-will-ibm-attain-its-aspirational-leadership-position-sherpas-in-blue-shirts-18007.html

Morris, E. (2015). IAKM Week 8 Foundational principles of KM [Lecture].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu/webapps/bb-collaborate-BBLEARN/recording/play?course_id=_121458_1&content_id=_4584684_1&recordingId=8984243

O'Dell, C. & Hubert, C. (2011). The new edge in knowledge: How knowledge management is changing the way we do business. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons.  Retrieved from https://kent.ares.atlas-sys.com/ares/

Satell, G. (2015).  How IBM plans to help reinvent the modern corporation.  Retrieved from   http://www.digitaltonto.com/2015/how-ibm-plans-to-help-reinvent-the-modern-corporation/

Image by Seymour, J. (January, 2016).  Organization culture transformation. [Image]. Words adapted from Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Sabherwal, R. (2015). Chapter 3 Knowledge management foundations: Infrastructure, mechanisms, and technologies, Power Point] in Knowledge Management Systems and Processes. New York, NY: Routledge

 

By Guest Blogger: Lindsey Millan is an employee and graduate student at Kent State University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, roller skating, and spending time with her daughter. She is incredibly grateful for her husband Nate, who is supportive all of her endeavors.

  

Over the past 10 years or so, higher education systems have seen a demand for more online courses and programs of study. This demand has forced institutions to think about course development and the overall learning community in a different way. We often refer to the "traditional" student in higher education: the recent high school graduate who lives on campus and is working on their degree full-time.  However, student demographics are changing, and the "traditional" student is becoming less of a reality at many institutions. A growing number of students fall into the "non-traditional" category: working professionals who have more pressing demands outside of the classroom. These students need more flexible course schedules and different types of learning tools in order to succeed in their academic pursuits.

So, how does knowledge management fit into these scenarios?  Well, how can we provide students with the tools they need to be successful?  What can we do to meet students where they are and on their timeframe? How can we help non-traditional and online students connect with their peers and other resources?

Utilizing an online community of practice (CoP) can help us solve some of the issues presented by the shift to more non-traditional learning methods. Communities of practice can help us move from the teacher to student learning model to learning as more a social and collaborative experience (Smith, 2003, 2009).   So far in this blog, we have thought about communities of practice in the context of the workplace or a professional group.  Creating communities of practice in both traditional and non-traditional settings could help students make connections in their fields of study that could eventually translate to personal or professional connections.

A community of practice is a group of people that come together over a common interest or subject (Smith, 2003, 2009). The members of the group learn together over time and create a collective memory of experiences and ideas (Smith, 2003, 2009). In a university setting, we could create communities of practice for each class, program of study, and area of interest. We could also give students the tools to create their own communities of practice, enabling them to learn in innovative and creative ways. Those tools could be blogs, wikis, discussion boards, and instant messaging and videoconferencing software (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2015).

When people first become involved in a CoP, their participation is usually less significant than that of more experienced members (Smith, 2003, 2009). The community helps them learn the vocabulary and processes of the group.  They also learn how to interact with others in the group and what is important to the community as a whole (Smith, 2003, 2009). As they learn, they contribute more frequently and provide more pertinent information to the group (Smith, 2003, 2009).

This pipeline diagram is my vision for moving students through via a community of practice model.  A type of pipeline is created as students move through their studies and enhance their knowledge.  As students move through each of the various groups, they develop more complex skills and more specific relationships that will help them continue to grow and ultimately make connections with employers.  Once students graduate, they can still contribute to some of the communities and help others broaden their own knowledge.  This would help graduates stay connected to their alma mater and also foster the idea of lifelong learning.

As students' progress through the pipeline, they will be able to see how the connections they are making will help them in their future careers and be able to apply that to their courses and programs of study.  The students may decide through the help of the communities that they want to go in another direction.  These CoPs would help the university community become more innovative and creative and break out of the traditional mold (Smith, 2003, 2009).

Today's students can become easily frustrated by the slow-moving traditional structure of most universities (Smith, 2003, 2009). Look at how fast everything else in the world moves!  Using CoPs can help us transition to a fast-paced organizational model that supports online learners (Smith, 2003, 2009). They can also help all stakeholders become more informed participants in their own careers or areas of focus.

Ultimately, CoPs, along with other online learning tools, could create a more collaborative, community-focused environment for all students, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of student types. The communities can help students be better prepared for the workforce when they graduate, while fostering connections and mentors that can help them in academics and beyond.

By Guest Blogger

Lindsey Millan is an employee and graduate student at Kent State University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, roller skating, and spending time with her daughter. She is incredibly grateful for her husband Nate, who is supportive all of her endeavors.   

 

References

1. Smith, M.K. (2003, 2009). Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/

2. Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Sabherwal, J. (2015). Knowledge management: Systems and Processes(2nd Ed). New York, NY: Routledge Publishing Company

3. Millan, L. [Community of practice pipeline for universities]. Created March 2016.