The A-Frame of Trust

May 20, 2007

I’ve had to do a fair bit of thinking about trust over the past couple of weeks.  It’s an issue that constantly raises its head quite a few times, but one that I have not really grappled with, or only in passing.  It’s obviously something incredibly important to successful relationships, working and social.

I like Dave Snowden’s view that trust is an emergent property of relationships – it develops through the actions and behaviours we observe of each other.  It is also an expectation that one can believe that another will be competent or hold their end of the bargain, etc.  So as an expectation  it has a future dimension, and as an emergent property it has a historical dimension.

But how do we build trust?  What are its elements?  Trust is like building a house, or more precisely, an A-frame house.  In the interests of alliteration (it’s easier sometimes to remember things that way), and along with a fellow co-designer (Ann whose name just happens to start with “A” as well!), we came up with the five items that make up the A-frame of Trust.

Adventure – trust requires someone to be vulnerable in some way, of being open to something that might affect them and of the possibility of being hurt or embarrassed. 

Agreement – trust requires an agreement between two or more people.  Trust can be lost when that agreement is broken.

Authenticity – trust develops when people act with integrity, are true to their word, and are authentic in their dealings.

Accountability – trust further develops when people understand that they will be held to account for their actions or inactions.

Apology – in order to restore trust, there needs to be understanding that trust has been broken, that there could either be fault or at a minimum a serious difference of perspective, that a conflict has arisen which is best overcome through an apology.

The arrangement of the five items in the A-Frame is intended.  Apology is the bridging device, Adventure and Accountability are the key supports, and agreement and authenticity help balance each other.

Thanks for Shawn at Anecdote for his interesting note on Trust which served as some inspiration. 

Model of Behavioural Change

May 5, 2007

Last year, I came across a great little model of behavioural change that features 7 steps.   I’m not sure of the source any more than what I have here – would appreciate it if anyone can enlighten me. I like it due to its simplicity and that it starts with knowledge – this means of course that it misses the precontemplation stage of behaviour change, ie the original state.

It clearly shows the social role that others play in encouraging, stimulating, facilitating and reinforcing behavioural change.  While the model is simple, actually changing behaviours is not!  It also shows how many government programs aimed at encouraging behaviour change fail as they may concentrate on the front-end (educating or skilling up) but don’t follow through with aspects of social encouragement at the community level.

The model can be reversed to identify areas where behavioural change fails. behaviour-inertia-model.jpg

Each of these stages needs to be overcome as it could block the embedding of behaviour change in individuals, workgroups, organisations and societies.

MORE :  Some other people have blogged on these models include Jack Vinson at Knowledge Jolt and Lauchlan McKinnon who has a great blog on creativity and innovation in organisations.  Lauchlan sources the above diagram to Les Robinson of Social Change Media – thanks Lauchlan.

EVEN MORE:  And thanks Helen for pointing to the website of Les Robinson where you can go for more details of his updated change model.

James Womack – Lean Thinking

March 10, 2007

Now finally I get to go to presentation that suits me perfectly.  As someone who has always been on the thin side of skinny (until more recently when the middle-aged post 40 love handles make an impression), the concept of the Lean Organisation and Lean Thikning really makes sense to me.  But the talk that James Womack gave to VPSCIN on 9 March was less on being lean physically but more on being lean organisationally.

I really liked his presentation.  It was simple common sense.  His self-effacing manner was evident – “I am not smart enough to be an inventor, what my gift is to make things simple”.  And simple is what he made it.  He asks simple but profound questions:
Why don’t you try it and see what happens?
What is your improvement process?
Who is responsible for a particular business process?  He has three key principles for Lean Thinking:

  1. Purpose. Which problems are trying to be solved – and in today’s world, many customers want a complete problem to be solved, not just bits.
  2. Process.  Remove wasted steps, make the remaining steps flow quickly and at the pull (or expressed demand) of the customer.  Try to even out the demand peaks.
  3. People.  Who need to see the whole of the value stream and be engaged in pursuing the creation of the perfect process.

Another key point he made was the need to substitute responsibility for authority.  He gave the example of Toyota (I’ve owned Toyotas as the family car for the past 13 years) that the people who are responsible for the process to achieve the purpose have no authority! 

Another point was the need to document failures – to create a book of knowledge that records the results of every experiment – whether it succeeded or failed.  This scientific approach of hypothesis testing was the best way to advance organisational knowledge on the subject.

I also liked his approach of making his work publicly available on the Australian Lean website (waiting for his presentation to be available as at 10 March 2007 – it’s not on the US Lean website either).  Finally, he put forward the challenge of implementing this thinking into the public sector and reporting the results back to next year’s Lean conference.

Six Eyes of Seeing Knowledge

August 29, 2006

At the actKM monthly meeting in Canberra in May, I gave a presentation titled Eyeing the Knowledge Management Seas: Exploring the Surface and Delving its Depths. 

It was a lot of fun creating the slides for the event.  I used a heavy dose of alliteration and simile (thanks Brett) to understand the eyes of KM.  In particular, I explored the hidden assumption that intellectual knowledge is the only lens for creating and sharing knowledge. Other eyes for seeing and sense-making have the potential to uncover new knowledge. The very brief overview of these six eyes of knowledge are:

Intellect – arguably the most important eye.  The basis of our logic, rationality and learning.  Uses science as the metanarrative.  Leads to Information and Intelligence (and knowledge of course). 

Instinct – knowledge gained from our initial response to sensory input without cognitive thinking processes.  Able to form quick conclusions in a “blink” (Malcolm Gladwell reference).  Knowledge here leads to Immediciacy of Response but can lead to incorrect generalisations and stereotyping.

Imagination – knowledge gained from our dreams, aspirations and visions.  From this knowledge we gain Intention and Inspiration. 

Intuition – knowledge gained from emotional rather than intellectual understanding based on our relationships with others.  From this knowledge we gain Integrity and Interconnectivity.  It includes the notion of morphic resonance (Sheldrake), microvita (Sarkar) and emotional intelligence (Goleman).

Insight – knowledge gained from our creative processes using theta waves.  Happens best in the shower (or in Archimedes’ case, the bath).  Happens when we are not thinking about things.  Knowledge here gives us Improvisation happening In-Time. 

There is a sixth eye but this is hidden (sort of like your third eye).   It is that of:

Ignorance – this is our hidden knowledge – what we don’t see.  By focusing only on what we know, we miss the areas that we don’t know.  KM is as much about managing our ignorance as it is about managing our knowledge.  See Patrick’s article for more or Sohail Inayatullah’s piece. From our ignorance, we gain Inquiry leading to Interventions.

So there they are, the six eyes of knowledge. Not intellect alone, but also Instinct, Imagination, Intuition, Insight and Ignorance. 

And that is enough alliteration for one evening!

The Knowledge Management Equation: E=mc2

August 25, 2006

Einstein’s elegant equation of his special theory of relativity linking energy, matter and speed rocked the scientific establishment.  It challenges notions of absolute time and space towards ones that are relative, depending on the observer.

I think that it is also an excellent mathematical equation for describing knowledge management.  Many of you who know me may wonder why I am going against my previous statements on the troubles with measuring knowledge and reducing complex things down to the bare essentials.  Quite true, but it’s an interesting exercise anyway.  Here goes:

Sveiby has defined knowledge as “the capacity to act“.  In this sense, it has an energetic dimension.  I remember from high school physics that you can have kinetic energy (an object is moving so that it can perform work on something else) and potential energy (such as an object on top of a cliff that might not be moving but could do work with its potential capacity if it is unleashed).  Both are like knowledge in an organisation – the potential for work to be done either by knowledge in an action or flow or knowledge that is not being used currently but has the potential to be used. 

Knowledge as energy!  But what then of the m and c you ask?  Well m of course is meaning.  Knowledge won’t work unless it has some meaning.  Some might say that this is circular – knowledge is only knowledge if it has meaning – otherwise it is just data or information.  True, but it also demonstrates the strong positive relationship between the two – if I can enhance the meaning to people (through story or through process or through rewards), then the value of the knowledge and its potential energy is increased.

Meaning – that’s easy I hear you say.  What about the c? And how are you going to square it?  Well c stands for connections.  And it’s not just about knowledge energy being increased when connecting people to information (through technology or content management systems for example) but also connecting people to people (such as through CoPs, shared visions, narrative or simple email systems).  Both sets of connections are important – hence why connections squared.  There are obvious links here to Metcalfe’s Law of the Networked Economy. 

Simple then, isn’t it?  E=mc2.  Knowledge energy (or the value of knowledge) is dependent on meaning, connecting people to information, and connecting people to people.  Cover all three bases and your knowledge energy will exponentially grow!



August 22, 2006

I first presented the concept of infoluenza at the AGLIN conference in Canberra in July 2006.  I later presented it at the Ark Group KM Australia 2006 conference in Sydney and then wrote a post on it on the act-km website.  As far as I know, this is a term that no-one else has defined; a quick Google search revealed nothing – apart from lots of misspellings of influenza.  If you know of anyone that has used it, please let me know by adding a comment.

Below is a description of what I mean by infoluenza.

A couple of years ago, Clive Hamilton from the Australia Institute wrote a book called Affluenza. In this book, he defined affluenza as:

  1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses.
  2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream.
  3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

His thesis was that we work hard to pay off the mortgage and buy material goods but that our growing wealth only serves to increase our desires for more material possessions. Our attachment to money and material possessions robs us of autonomy and fails to deliver happiness. It’s a disease and one that appears for many people, very hard to cure. It’s not affluence that is the problem but affluenza, our attachment to materialism.

I used this concept to describe the informational variant, infoluenza. I define infoluenza as:

  1. The frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled feeling that results from continued efforts to broaden information or knowledge management systems.
  2. An epidemic of confusion, vendor hype, paralysis by analysis, and suspect decision-making caused by dogged pursuit of a Technology Nirvana.
  3. An unsustainable addiction to incorporating more and more information.

The similar thesis here is that many people have a desire for more and more content and information but this attachment to information resources robs us of our search for deeper meaning. It fails to deliver contentment (which etymologically, is derived from the satisfied feeling that comes from being contained). Information is not the problem, but infoluenza – a disease of not being able to understand the limitations of deriving contentment from content alone.

Just as affluenza is a term that is increasingly being used in Australia to describe the disease of failing to master our affluence and therefore the need to broaden our goals away from material possessions and towards other contributors of happiness, infoluenza is a term that could be used to describe the failure to master our information resources and that to achieve contentment at work in solving our business problems, we need to turn our attention to other contributors of contentment apart from content (like relationships, stories, context, etc). 

Jack Vinson has identified some excellent cures for those inflicted with the infoluenza virus