Friday, February 24, 2012

My personal KM learning's, ideas and insights from Singapore

This is the longest period, in one trip, I have stayed in Singapore. Almost three weeks.

Naturally, Singapore weather is always great, around +31C, but especially so when you have had to come from a cold snowy Europe, as I did a few weeks ago at -14C.

So I spent virtually all of the three weeks working at the National Institute of Education, Singapore (NIE) and I have recently blogged about them and their special interest in both 'Learning Organizations', and becoming more 'Knowledge Driven'.

I also ran another masterclass for Ark Conferences on 'Understanding and Realising the Four Dimensions of Knowledge Management'

However, this blog is to capture my personal new learning's ideas and insights this past three weeks, from running these courses, as a basis for further KM and Innovation course improvement, in Singapore.

1. Again, during this trip, I realized just how strongly people are 'wired for pictures and stories'. We, all around the world, do much prefer smaller, digestible, rich stories to engage fully and keep our attention, and to satisfy our curiosity and desire for learning. I intend to use more and more short, powerful ten minute videos and also teach in short ten/fifteen minute segments, for each learning topic, wherever possible.

2. This will help me to further develop my web based, online, learning management system, and enable practitioners, consultants and students to create their own personalized learning curriculum and topics.

3. Following on from this chunking of short learning topics, I also realized even moreso this trip, that it's too powerful, in fact too overpowering, to teach both Learning Organization concepts together with Knowledge Management concepts.

Although learning and knowledge are 'both sides of the same coin' LO and KM are both incredibly deep and potent disciplines. Each one deserves it's own proper attention and focus and I think it's too much to introduce two powerful disciplines, with quite different strategies, emphases, methodologies, tools and techniques within, say, the same two day programme. I think I risk students becoming confused, or at best, unsure of what to best practically apply first? So I will now teach these disciplines quite separately, and instead, offer a simple and brief discussion and demonstration of how these two disciplines complement one another and how they form a symbiotic relationship.

4. The teaching must be innovative, with rapid two way and engaging interaction, otherwise we risk the 'lecturer' trying to compete with the smart phone, iPad, netbook etc. Why would anyone now want to listen to a one way lecture, unless it is unique, when you can obtain the best of breed in the world video lectures on your iPad?

5. Local case studies and examples are always very interesting to the audience. In Singapore this time, I was asked by several groups to present the Singapore Armed Forces knowledge driven case study about the 'learning Army and the thinking soldier'.

6. In the Asian culture, generally, where many people are reluctant, and even of their own admission, can be shy, I get far more constructive discussion and work done in small workgroups, who then share and discuss across the teams.

7. Asian people, generally, really enjoy fun exercises much more than my European counterparts.

8. The idea of 80/20 time, that is to say giving people 10-20% of their work time to better reflect, contemplate, consolidate and capture new learning's, ideas and insights, as opposed to, in some cases, 100%+ performance driven and measured, is still quite alien and rare, but people really like the concept.

9. Several of my Singaporian friends tell me that they were brought up through the education system to 'shut up and listen' and also, that it is certainly disrespectful to question a teacher, and absolutely not in public. This is quite different, of course, to my American and Australian friends who tell me that it's often difficult for the teacher to speak, due to the constant challenging and discussion from the audience.

10. I teach a model which is a 'virtuous spiral of value' from a foundation of 'trust' to more 'open and two way communications', to increased cooperation and 'collaboration', to 'accelerated learning' and 'knowledge creation and innovation'. the model is very well received in Singapore but, I think, generally considered ambitious in the current culture.

11. I am a very late, and new convert, to creating iPods. But this trip, I recorded everything on a Sony voice recorder and very easily created mp3 files. I now intend to record all my teaching sessions in raw mp3 libraries.I should have started this library a long time ago.

12. Generally, around the world, I am still so surprised that many people are not able to easily assimilate the idea that we need to capture new learning's and ideas and then turn them into better knowledge?

People readily accept and fully understand the sharing of good/best practices, but not as easily the creation of new knowledge through collective and systematic methods and techniques to turn new learning's into knowledge?

13. Too many people around the world talk about 'knowledge needs analysis'. This is vitally important, of course, but it is incomplete. How can we expect people to tell us what they really want if they still don't yet know what is possible with the new breakthrough innovative ways of creating new knowledge? Did people say they wanted the iPhone and iPad in their needs analysis, or was it the result of Apples's vision?

What I believe we need is both good knowledge needs analysis and innovative insight from leading practitioners/consultants.

14. A good Singaporean friend/colleague reminded me again, on this trip, that we need to let people come to their own understanding through the slower process of self discovery. Sometimes we have to patiently wait until people realize some key fundamentals, at their own pace.

15. Even moreso, from this trip, I realize that as KM practitioners, we need to 'teach people to fish' for themselves, through providing and teaching internal KM teams proven KM methods tools an techniques, and coach and support them, rather than just telling them and ' giving them fish', as one way KM consultants.

Last, but not least, I always (seem to) write better with my iPad, and a glass or two of good Chardonnay wine, and especially, as I am writing now, on an Singapore Airlines Airbus 380 back to London :-)

Ron Young

More at:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Knowledge Management Field Guide

I was very glad to meet again, my friend of many years, KM practitioner and Principal Consultant with the Singapore Civil Service College (CSC) Gopinathan R. at the Centre for Organisation Development.

We had coffee and hot chocolate at Starbucks in Orchard Road, Singapore.

CSC has just published the 'Knowledge Management Field Guide' and Gopi is the author.

For the past 10 years, Centre for Organisation Development (Centre for OD), has been educating public agencies on the practice of Knowledge Management (KM) through its workshops, and has been advising agencies how their KM efforts can be shaped. CSC decided, as a result, that it is timely to develop a field guide which will serve as a starting point for KM practitioners.

The field guide will provide a point of view on how KM can be practised effectively in the Singapore Public Service, drawing on the body of knowledge and experience the Centre for OD has gathered through work samples in the public agencies as well as good practices of the larger KM community in Singapore and globally.

I was very glad to be involved in KM training development and delivery, in the early years at CSC, and I am so pleased to see the developments over the years.

For more details, Gopinathan R can be contacted at

Ron Young

more at