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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) and our inaugural PMI® Global Summit 2022, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Viewing Posts by Benjamin C. Anyacho

Presentation Recap: The Knowledge Café: Power of Knowledge-Centric Projects, Co-creative Innovation, Curiosity, and Conversation

By Benjamin Anyacho, PMP
Strategic Senior Project Manager and Enterprise Knowledge Management Lead 
Texas Department of Transportation

I presented at the PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 on 6-7 October2021. This was a great event with featured speakers, exhibits and networking activities.

My presentation, The Knowledge Café: Power of Knowledge-Centric Projects, Co-creative Innovation, Curiosity, and Conversation, focused on how to create and manage a knowledge-centric project environment, why it is needed now more than ever, simple tools to optimize project knowledge and explore the indefectible knowledge café-power of co-creative innovation. Key takeaways include how to:

  • Create a knowledge-centric project culture
  • Utilize the Knowledge Café to stir our knowledge exchange and stewardship curiosity
  • Design and implement a knowledge café
  • Activate conversational leadership and learn agile
  • Turn your meetings into a knowledge café.

Many people will walk out of the door or even to their graves with about 80% of their knowledge. What a travesty! The absence of a knowledge-centric environment means systems and people talk at each other rather than “to each other.”

You cannot force people to share their knowledge. Even the best knowledge management tools are toothless unless people feel motivated to share their knowledge. Therefore, it is important to create an environment of collaboration—conversational knowledge café and trust—so that PMs feel intrinsically motivated to share their knowledge with their colleagues.

During my presentation, I received a lot of great questions that we didn’t get a chance to cover, and my responses are below.

Question 1: In a knowledge-sharing environment, how do you manage misinformation?

This is a great question. There could be misinformation if you debate, but there’s no room for misinformation in a knowledge café dialogue. The Knowledge café is a knowledge exchange mindset and a space to cross-fertilize ideas, test our crazy ideas. It’s the antithesis of a typical social media mud-slinging, a tribal, toxic cesspool of online political debates. Not in my café! Consider the cadence of genuine conversations, the willingness for café goers/participants to acknowledge counterpoints, the aversion to ad hominem attacks, and real knowledge exchange. There’s no place for misinformation. In my research, I found that the most incredible ideas in the world often started as stupid ones. Better ideas always win the day in a café.

Don’t you think that there’s a need for a non-judgmental space where conversations are covenanted? Empathy and understanding replace sympathy or vengeance. Shouldn’t every voice count?

The café is that environment where you can bring any crazy ideas for other caffeinated and curious learners to test them out. Yes, because there’s listenability, respect, civility, and reciprocity. Dialogue replaces debate and arguments.

Data and information are the lowest spectra of the knowledge management continuum. In the knowledge café, we share knowledge. Do you often welcome misinformation in your project space? No. We don’t peddle misinformation in our projects and programs.  If you want team members to unleash their creative geniuses in a project space, you create an environment where learners can share their ideas.

Manage misinformation with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Use the cafe ground rules (see question 2). We are not in a café for debate but for dialogue. More ideas and conversations equal knowledge innovation.

 

Question 2: How do you address knowledge cafe participants who act like they are the smartest person in the room or like they know everything?  What do you do about the person who has all the answers?

The Knowledge Café creates room for empathy, understanding, and knowledge rejuvenation. Dig deep into your compassion wells. Yeah, 2020 seems to have sacrificed every sense of dialogue at the alter debate, but knowledge and dialogue are the proper ways. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathize with all knowledge workers. Isn’t it an oxymoron if a champion of tolerance shuts down the know-it-all? All voices should be heard.

If they think they know it all, they probably know something. There is always something—some knowledge—curiosity that is driving a know-it-all. Meet them in a Knowledge Café. Listen, engage, be empathetic. We come to the knowledge café for dialogue, not debate. Pick your battles. Café is not the place for fighting.

The end goal is to learn and exchange knowledge and unleash co-creative innovation. Ask probing questions. Café is about asking and answering knowledge-provoking questions. In the worst-case scenario, take the know-it-all person aside if they are disruptive and offer constructive feedback on their behavior.

 

This is why I modified Gurteen’s Knowledge Café Ground Rules:

  1. “Embraces conversational covenant—David Gurteen and David Creelman
  2. Bring our crazy ideas to be tested by others
  3. It is driven by a powerful question
  4. Promotes dialogue, not debates or argument
  5. Preserves conversational flow
  6. Everyone has an equal voice
  7. Eliminates fear of judgment or rejection
  8. Prevents preconceived outcomes
  9. It does not allow coercion
  10. Stirs your learning agility
  11. Voice your “crazy ideas” and let others test it
  12. Safe to fail
  13. Open and creative conversation
  14. Diversity of perspectives
  15. Small group conversations
  16. Elicits deeper understanding of issues
  17. Lively facilitation
  18. Develops and evolves thinking
  19. Eliminates fear                             
  20. We are all in the learning process” (Anyacho, 2021)

      

  Question 3: Any ideas for virtual knowledge cafe “tables”?  Maybe small MS Teams groups?

“Some project teams use visual management tools, rather than written plans and other documents, to capture and oversee critical project elements. Making key project elements visible to the entire team provides a real-time overview of the project status, facilitates knowledge transfer, and empowers team members and other stakeholders to help identify and solve issues.” [PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition, 4 - Project Integration Management, p. 73.]

In 2020, a poll on Twitter surveyed who was instrumental to their company’s digital transformation: Your CEO, CIP or COVID-19? The majority answered COVID. In the post-COVID project space, a hybrid of face-to-face and virtual café learning and knowledge exchange has become the norm.

I used to have monthly knowledge of café in cafes and meeting places in Austin, Texas. When the pandemic hit, I began to have a virtual café. More people RSVP’d from Africa, Europe, Asia, and outside Texas than in the pre-COVID era. In October 2021, I had a hybrid knowledge café, and there were attendees virtually. The unique thing about the knowledge café is human interaction. Face-to-face is great, but technology has made it possible and easy to café virtually. You can use Zoom, Teams, etc., as your virtual tables. We have 50+ communities of practice in my organization. Most of them have an MS Teams site and knowledge-sharing wikis. Yes, you can have a virtual café.

 

Question 4: Can time be a restriction when conducting the “Cafe”?

Any restrictions are mutually agreed upon. David Gurteen’s café runs for 60 to 90 minutes. Mine run from one hour to four hours. It depends on your objectives, type of knowledge café, participants, and consensus. 

 

Question 5: How does one react to a situation whereby a knowledge shared is being used against one in the workplace? For example, you train someone on a job skill, and because of company politics, they are placed above you.

This is real. It does happen. If organizations want knowledge workers to share their knowledge, they should create the right environment where knowledge project managers are excited to share their knowledge and incentivized for doing that. Nonetheless, you can still share your knowledge. If you want to know everything I know, I’ll buy you lunch. When I share my knowledge, it makes me more powerful and smarter. It may be the same with you. Powerful PMs are not afraid of sharing their knowledge.  My retention increases by more than 200% when I share my knowledge. As I give back by sharing my knowledge across the world, it makes me fulfilled and more potent because the hand that gives is always on TOP. I even got a HOT book deal after speaking at a PMI global conference. Please share your knowledge. Be politically savvy, too (that’s for another day). Don’t mind the losers who take advantage of your generosity. 

In my experience, human beings and organizations don’t always gleefully embrace a system of knowledge management. In response to surveys and audience participation at conference presentations, results suggest that employees tend to hoard their intellectual assets. More people in the workplace see their knowledge as their job security. This information hoarding and knowledge silo is a significant challenge to implementing a culture of knowledge sharing.

Participating in knowledge-transfer activities makes employees feel empowered to assume ownership of processes and initiatives of common organizational objectives. A cafe facilitates an interactive and collaborative crossroads for cross-fertilization of ideas.

Creating an intentional knowledge transfer environment and knowledge transfer culture guarantees succession and builds resilience. Therein lies knowledge sustainability. 

 

Knowledge is power... but how powerful is the knowledge if pigeonholed, not shared, un-transferred, unrejuvenated, and DEAD?

 

I had a great time presenting, and the full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2022.  Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 for more details.

Posted by Benjamin C. Anyacho on: October 26, 2021 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Knowledge Transfer Culture for Succession and Resilience

By: Benjamin Anyacho, PMP

In a world of breathtaking changes, constant and quick learning of new things, openness to new ideas, and adaptation are no longer optional, but necessary. Learn or become irrelevant! Learning agility, versatility, feedback, knowledge exchange, making meaning of our experience, and collaboration are woven into the fabric of all high performing organizations. However, the way we learn and transfer knowledge has changed forever. Any profession or organization that ignores knowledge transfer and knowledge management will slip into inconsequence and oblivion. We can’t do that! Hence, the efficacy of a knowledge transfer culture. Friends, culture eats any strategy or idea for kahuna breakfast any day.

As hyper job mobility and the aging workforce have come to stay, the test of success is succession. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or disruptions such as the pandemic is our toughness, our resiliency. Knowledge transfer transcends handover-notes and must be intentional. You cannot force people to share or transfer their knowledge; instead, you must create the right knowledge transfer environment. Human interaction is the most significant enabler of the transfer of all human capabilities.

So, what’s the solution? A knowledge culture is one where knowledge has been identified as a significant factor of production, enshrined in the organizational strategy, celebrated, and rewarded. Knowledge transfer is not another program to be adopted, but philosophy in culture—and a way of life. Imagine,

  • Organizations that are most effective at knowledge management improve project outcomes by nearly 35%—PMI 2015 Pulse of the Profession
  • For the first time in our lifetime, five generations interface in the project management space!
  • Millennials will job-hop up to 20 times in their career—Education Advisory Board.
  • By 2029, the 76 million baby boomers retire and walk out with decades of knowledge and experience.
  • Employees get 50-75% of their relevant information directly from other people—Gartner Group/CIBC World Markets.

If these statistics don’t wake us up for strategic knowledge transfer, sleep inertia must have numbed us! There needs to be a direct link or action plan to get all these five generations, including those who think they know it all, to exchange knowledge. It may be challenging, but every one of them goes to the café—hence knowledge café, which could be face-to-face or virtual.

 I will be presenting a session entitled “Knowledge Transfer: Culture for Succession and Resilience that is Pandemic-Proof” on 20 October. This fun and intriguing session unravels how to create a culture of shared knowledge for succession, have the courage for learning agility, and produce a resilient comeback!

Knowledge transfer is critical in today’s environment of multiple generations in the workplace, a move towards project-based roles, a hyper-competitive global economy, and the incredibly fast pace of technology change. So, it’s time to create the right culture and environment, activate knowledge transfer tools, incentivize knowledge workers, bring everyone that knows something to the café.

  • The intangible values like knowledge are more important than the tangible capital in the factor of production.
  • Yet, learning and knowledge exchange should be as simple as walking into a café. We cannot learn at the pace of tortoise in a race-car-world of the knowledge revolution.
  • If we can’t keep up with footmen, what will happen when we race with automation, robotics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence (AI)? We’ll be left behind. Skilled and experienced workers are screening within.
  • Everyone’s voice needs to be heard. You cannot get a high degree of participation unless there’s a breakout session, even if learning is virtual and social distancing is a new norm.
  • The presentation style is being replaced with a collaboration-style of learning. A 45-minute presentation with a 15-minute breakout session/questions and answers session is a one-dimensional exchange of knowledge. It must be replaced with a 15-minute presentation and 45-minute knowledge café, where learning is two-dimensional and inclusive. Hence, a high degree of social and emotional intelligence and a new knowledge environment is coveted.

In this session, attendees will gain practical skills for creating a knowledge transfer culture, learning agility for efficiency, and resilience in the new reality.

  • Gain tools for moving knowledge from the head to the hands of employees.
  • Identify practical applications to manage project knowledge intelligently, become a knowledge worker, and create a knowledge culture.

Interested in learning more and furthering the dialogue? Join me on October 20, 11:25 am - 11:57 am at the PMI Virtual Experience Series event for this presentation and take part in the question and answers with me and the rest of the PM community.

Posted by Benjamin C. Anyacho on: October 06, 2020 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
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