2 Learning ObjectivesDescribe ways that key disciplines can help knowledge leadershipIdentify and describe the generic attributes of knowledge leadersDescribe the specific leadership roles the knowledge leader, core leaders and knowledge workers may take
3 Learning Objectives (cont'd) Identify leadership strategies which support knowledge teamsOutline the ways knowledge networks can be supportedIdentify issues to consider when selecting and recruiting knowledge leaders.
4 Today’s focus: What do knowledge leaders do? How does leadership affect a knowledge community?How does leadership support knowledge teams and networks?How can good knowledge leaders be identified and supported?Are you a potential knowledge leader?Lecture reference: Debowski, Chapter 3These questions can be used to focus students at the beginning, and to encourage reflection and discussion at the end. They draw together the key points from the text.The lecturer may wish to pose one or several of these questions at various points during the session.
5 IntroductionKnowledge leaders play an important role in building effective knowledge communitiesThey ensure the knowledge vision and concepts are translated into real activities and practiceThere are many different knowledge leaders within a knowledge communityPage 58.Knowledge leadership provides the vision, energy and direction for members of the organisation to understand, apply and monitor their knowledge activities.They are critical contributors to providing a clear view of where the organisation needs to go, and determining how it should achieve the desired outcomes. More importantly, they are the connecting link between that vision and the people who make the vision a reality.There are many different knowledge leaders in a community – executive leaders guide the direction and goals of the community, while others working as managers and team leaders ensure those goals are implemented. Each plays an important part in building a cohesive approach to knowledge management. This process of distributed leadership is one of the keys to successful knowledge management.This session explores the various influences which have guided knowledge leadership and the various roles knowledge leaders play.Students are encouraged to reflect on their own skills and potential as knowledge leaders throughout the session.
6 The Contribution of Disciplines to Knowledge Leadership Effective knowledge leadership is core to successful integration of a knowledge-centric organisationContributions come from four disciplines:LibrarianshipInformation technologyHuman resource managementBusiness managementLO1, Page 58As a new field, knowledge management has been fortunate in being able to draw on many established disciplines as foundations. Four disciplines which have been particularly instrumental include librarianship, information technology, human resource management and business management.Each of these has assisted with the development of the knowledge management process, as they have provided the building blocks which .Knowledge leaders should have a good grasp of these four areas, as they are strongly embedded in the emerging knowledge strategies.While they offer some useful insights, it should also be recognised that knowledge management is rapidly expanding into new areas as well. Knowledge leaders will also need to build familiarity with new strategies and principles as they evolve.
7 Collection management LibrarianshipSystems managementEnd-user supportCollection managementPages 59 – 60.Librarianship has guided three key elements of knowledge management, namely, systems management, end-user support and collection management.Systems management was strongly developed to ensure effective management of library collections and services. The development of information databases and resource management strategies has been used to assist with developing various knowledge tools, including repositories. Systems which have assisted knowledge management include advanced processes for indexing, classification, cataloguing and retrieving information.End-user support is an important focus of library services. The end-user is the person who uses the services and systems which have been developed. Librarians work extensively with their end-users – through face to face contact via their reference services, and through online support. An important focus has been the guidance of users in sourcing and using knowledge. They also provide learning programs which assist users.Collection management is a sub-discipline of librarianship, and is used to ensure the library collection is well suited to the user requirements. This area has also guided the ways in which knowledge policies, systems and repositories are constructed.Overall, the field of librarianship has enabled a better understanding of the ways in which knowledge management can effectivelyDefine, categorise, disseminate and retrieve knowledge andProvide end-users with suitable support and educationIn effect, these are focused on effective use and application of the knowledge within the community. As Figure 3.1 (page 58) suggests, these could be called knowledge products as they relate to the end-users application of knowledge.Familiarity with these areas provides knowledge leaders with a better understanding of the ways in which the user and the knowledge management processes can be integrated and assisted.
8 Information technology How knowledge is digitised, captured, retrieved and distributedSystems and their managementTechnical features and usabilitySystem versus user considerationsPage 60,Information technology (IT) has also been a very strong influence on knowledge management. The systems which are still being developed draw on the best knowledge and techniques which have been discovered across many disciplines.IT is an important contributor to knowledge management success. Users need to be able to readily digitise, capture, retrieve and distribute their knowledge to others. The use of electronic services greatly contributes to the development of effective knowledge management. The ways in which systems are both developed and managed, and the degree to which technical features and the usability of the system are ensured play a major role in determining user acceptance of the system.A potential challenge for many IT based organisational systems is that the focus becomes too slanted to the technological and technical components. It is always important to recognise that systems are a supportive device to facilitate the user’s interaction with the knowledge within the system. While they need to be well-designed to ensure an easy and responsive system, they are only one component of a successful knowledge management strategy.Figure 3.1 (page 58) indicates that the IT strategy influences the knowledge system in a number of ways. In particular, it ensures the knowledge system design, implementation, integration, features, distribution and the platforms for communicating with various sub-systems, all operate effectively. The knowledge leader should possess a good working knowledge of these principles, as the field is advancing rapidly in these areas.
9 Human resource management Social capitalCultural contextContinuous improvementKnowledge management as core business(Page 60, 61)Human resource management (HRM) has gained increased recognition as a vital element of successful knowledge management. This reflects the greater recognition of the motivational elements of building a knowledge community.Social capital reflects the concern for creating a strong collective identity to which users subscribe. People need to feel that they benefit from contributing to the knowledge strategy. They need to feel ownership and satisfaction. Strong social capital ensures successful knowledge outcomes.To encourage social capital, an appropriate knowledge culture needs to be developed. The context in which knowledge management operates will strongly determine success or failure. Human resource management provides guidance on many of the processes which influence user acceptance of knowledge management.Similarly, HRM is concerned with continuously improving the way an organisation and its systems work. Changes to processes need to be handled carefully.Further, the importance of knowledge management is largely determined by its placement in the human resource systems which are used by the organisation. If it is linked to important processes, it will be well supported. If it is seen as “something to do when one has time”, with little obligation to implement the principles, it will be largely ignored.Thus, the knowledge management leader needs to have a good understanding of how people can be encouraged to adopt knowledge management processes, and to see them as core business. Leaders may need to review and evaluate existing systems and architecture regularly to ensure the principles are compatible with the knowledge users and their priorities.
10 Business management Marketing Strategic planning Knowledge philosophy Financial managementProject management(page 61)Knowledge management is big business. It expands right across the work community, and needs to be understood by every member. The knowledge leader needs to be skilled in a range of business practices, as they will be applied regularly in the process of building and refining the knowledge processes.Particular skills relate to marketing, strategic planning, creating an understandable knowledge philosophy and managing the projects and budgets which operate.The credibility of the whole process often rests on its successful implementation and the understanding of the concepts throughout the community. A good knowledge leader needs to be able to promote the processes and to ensure they are realistically planned for successful implementation and adoption by the users.
11 Generic Attributes of the Knowledge Leader Strategic visionaryMotivatorCommunicatorChange agentCoach, mentor, modelLearning facilitatorKnowledge executorLo2, Page 62 – 65The knowledge leader – whatever level in the organisation – needs to build some common skills to enable effective knowledge management. These operate across six areas.Strategic visionary:This is the process of providing the direction and vision to guide and sustain the knowledge activities. Strategy can operate as an overall corporate strategy, through to the strategy applied in an organisational unit or by the individual. Whatever the level, the individual needs to maintain a sense of what should be encouraged. Strategic vision guides knowledge workers as to the values, purpose , desired outcomes and benefits which knowledge management should demonstrate. Good leaders offer realistic strategies to achieve the future goals.Motivator:Knowledge management relies on the strong commitment of each individual. The knowledge leader encourages members to contribute to the processes by building strong relationships, recognising the contributions of individuals and providing opportunities to discuss and learn about the knowledge management strategy. This assists with the creation of a positive knowledge management culture.Communicator:Communication is critical to knowledge management. Knowledge leaders need to maintain strong connection with their various constituents. They should ensure all members remain affiliated with the priorities, strategies and ongoing initiatives. The more people are kept informed and linked, the more they will see the relevance and importance of knowledge management.Change agent:Knowledge management often requires structural, cultural and strategic change. A number of processes and systems will be developed and then enhanced. Knowledge leaders need to be adept at assisting change in a non-threatening and collaborative manner. Knowledge leaders provide information on the changes taking place, and can also collaborate with many people on how best to effect change. They are also important mechanisms for identifying the need for change. Their role as a boundary spanner also enables the sharing of information across various members of the community, so that change is more rapidly accommodated.Coach, mentor, model:Knowledge management encourages the development of many new skills and capabilities. The knowledge leader can act as a mentor, coach and model to encourage others to develop these skills and to build them into the work processes. Knowledge leaders need to be able to “walk the talk”, that is, demonstrate capabilities as well as encourage others to build them.Learning facilitator;Knowledge management also encourages ongoing learning, in both knowledge content and knowledge applications. Te knowledge leaders plays an important part in encouraging and applauding learning. The creation of a positive and constructive environment where learning is valued and promoted, is a critical aspect of the knowledge leader role. K Viewpoint 3.1 (ages 65 – 66) outlines how knowledge leaders can also learn from each other – this can be particularly valuable when change processes are being undertaken. There are often many lessons and insights which can be gleaned from others. The knowledge leader can also encourage greater sharing of stories across the community. (Students may wish to try this model with a story of their own.)Knowledge executor:Knowledge leaders need to ensure that the goals and vision are fully implemented. To manage this, they will need to plan carefully, ensure the systems are technically and operationally efficient and effective, monitor outcomes and adapt strategies as needed. The provision of effective feedback and a positive approach to mistakes and errors also encourage more successful change processes.It can be seen that these attributes are important for all knowledge leaders, as they reflect an open and community based approach to leading others. Knowledge leaders play a critical role in relationship building across the community. This can be a time-consuming, but most important role.
12 Specific Knowledge Leadership Roles The strategic knowledge leaderLO3, Pages 67 – 69Strategic knowledge leaders (SKLs) influence the direction and desired outcomes of knowledge management. They may operate at very senior levels within the knowledge community, or may be found within smaller operational units. While some may operate quite broadly across a number of knowledge agendas, others may be quite specialised. However, they all act as major drivers of organisational change and development.As Figure 3.2 (page 69) shows, the strategic knowledge leader needs to be very flexible, adapting to different conditions and needs as they arise. Each organisation builds different systems, and will need to focus on different aspects of change as the knowledge management systems evolve. The strategic leader will need to adapt as different issues arise.For example, the organisational systems might be an initial strategic focus, as systems need to be established effectively to encourage systemic adoption by users. A SKL might be responsible for ensuring effective integration of various systems, greater user awareness of the system potential and the achievement of a highly functional system.However, the SKL might then need to move toward the encouragement of a positive and knowledge-focused organisational culture. This might include emphasising flexibility, sharing, knowledge-focused work and a strong learning orientation.The role of the SKL can be strongly influenced by the nature of the support operating within the organisation. The attitude of the CEO, the role core leaders play, the ways in which knowledge teams and networks are operating, and the overall knowledge philosophies and priorities are all factors that will influence the level at which the SKL can operate. If some of these do not exist, or are poorly established, they will be important aspects to cultivate, as they strongly affect the knowledge culture and the implementation of any strategy.Similarly, the SKL may need to devote considerable focus toward the organisational structure, as the ways in which organisational systems operate can greatly hamper or facilitate knowledge management. Some critical systems include reward systems, control and governance processes, political structures, communication channels and the type of business the organisation promotes as its core focus.The SKL may also need to consider how the organisational capability can accommodate the knowledge management strategy. Staff members may need encouragement to build stronger knowledge competencies and team skills. Leadership encourages the recognition of the importance of these capabilities.It can be seen from this brief overview that the SKL needs to be very flexible, and to accommodate new priorities or emphases as the organisation evolves. The challenge for an SKL is to remain strategic, constantly monitoring the directions and approaches which need to be pursued.
13 Specific Knowledge Leadership Roles (cont'd) Core LeadersManage staff and resources within local operational unitsPut the strategic vision into practiceAct as gatekeepersNeed to see the value of knowledge managementMay experience conflicting loyaltiesReality checkPages 69 – 71Core leaders work in local operational units as managers. They have responsibility for staff deployment, resource management and the achievement of the group’s outcomes. The successful implementation of knowledge management relies on the sponsorship and support of core leaders.In particular, they are important contributors in ensuring the strategic vision becomes a reality. In fact, core leaders can act as gatekeepers – determining how much information and change will seep through to the members of that unit. If they perceive the knowledge management agenda to be counter-productive or unsuitable to the group’s priorities, they may choose to ignore the processes. Their leadership of the implementation therefore needs careful nurturing and encouragement. The SKL will need to work closely with core leaders to obtain their support in promoting knowledge management as an important organisational strategy.On the other hand, the core leader can be most useful as a reality check – making sure the vision and intended outcomes will work in practice. The sharing of these insights with SKLs need to be encouraged, as they prevent likely crises. Thus, the communication across these two leadership levels is most critical to successful implementation of the knowledge management strategy.The BHP recognition of core leadership (KM Viewpoint 3.3) reflects recognition of the importance of all staff in taking responsibility for the carriage of organisational initiatives (including knowledge sharing). As all members assume a more active role, the need for effective communication will be even greater.
14 Leading Knowledge Teams Knowledge teams rely on interaction, communication and the sharing of expertise to achieve a common goalEach knowledge worker operates as both leader and collaborator / contributorTeams require different forms of leadership at different stages of their developmentLO4, pages 71 – 74.Knowledge teams are an important element of knowledge work. Most knowledge workers will experience the need to work with others in a highly interdependent context. Knowledge teams are different to communities of practice. Communities of practice normally draw together individuals with common interests who choose to interact due to a common need or desire to share their knowledge. Knowledge teams are more focused on achieving a defined outcome. They may be focused on creating products, services or outcomes. They usually comprise members with complementary skills who can offer different expertise to the group.In these contexts, each member may act as either a leader or contributor, depending on the particular stage of the project or activity. The different forms of expertise will be prominent at different times, and may provide opportunities to become more integral to the progress. At other times, the individual may be a collaborator or contributor, rather than a leader.However, the nature of the leadership may alter, depending on the stage of development of the team. New teams need strong leadership as the individuals gain a sense of collective identity and loyalty. They may need assistance in clarifying the culture and common purpose, and to identify the skills and capabilities of each member. A respectful and courteous culture will also be important.As the team develops, it will move toward a more self-managing focus. Generally, members of self-managing teams need to ensure they remain focused on the achievable outcomes they can accomplish, given their resourcing and time availability. Communication and monitoring of progress are important issues for all team members to encourage. The distribution of leadership to all group members places greater responsibility on each individual.
15 Leading Knowledge Teams (cont'd) Self-managed knowledge teamShare the leadership, depending on stage of developmentDynamics of group need to be fluid and openScope and timeliness of project need to be carefully controlledLO4, pages 71 – 74.Knowledge teams are an important element of knowledge work. Most knowledge workers will experience the need to work with others in a highly interdependent context. Knowledge teams are different to communities of practice. Communities of practice normally draw together individuals with common interests who choose to interact due to a common need or desire to share their knowledge. Knowledge teams are more focused on achieving a defined outcome. They may be focused on creating products, services or outcomes. They usually comprise members with complementary skills who can offer different expertise to the group.In these contexts, each member may act as either a leader or contributor, depending on the particular stage of the project or activity. The different forms of expertise will be prominent at different times, and may provide opportunities to become more integral to the progress. At other times, the individual may be a collaborator or contributor, rather than a leader.However, the nature of the leadership may alter, depending on the stage of development of the team. New teams need strong leadership as the individuals gain a sense of collective identity and loyalty. They may need assistance in clarifying the culture and common purpose, and to identify the skills and capabilities of each member. A respectful and courteous culture will also be important.As the team develops, it will move toward a more self-managing focus. Generally, members of self-managing teams need to ensure they remain focused on the achievable outcomes they can accomplish, given their resourcing and time availability. Communication and monitoring of progress are important issues for all team members to encourage. The distribution of leadership to all group members places greater responsibility on each individual.
16 Leading Knowledge Teams (cont'd) Virtual knowledge teamsGeographically, temporally or organisationally separated teamsRely on technology to communicateCritical success factors include technology, member training, team and organisation processes, leadership, leader and team capabilitiesPage 73 – 4.Virtual knowledge teams are teams which work collaboratively despite being separated by distance, time or organisational structures. Although members cannot meet face to face, they need to communicate and work together to achieve important outcomes. Instead of meeting personally, they rely on technology to provide communication channels.Duarte and Snyder suggest that some critical success factors include effective and functional technologies which facilitate easy communication across members, training for members in working in a virtual setting, encouragement of effective and respectful team and organisation processes, and the building of leadership and team capabilities.While many teams are less reliant on effective leadership, virtual knowledge teams rely on a number of effective strategies to ensure the maintenance of a group identity. In particular, the opportunity to meet regularly, to share issues and to work collaboratively via technological platforms assists with ongoing connectedness. Leaders play an important role in monitoring how often members meet, and how they are working in a collaborative manner. If members are having trouble interacting, it may be necessary to mediate and reconcile differences. The group needs to feel that their meetings and interactions are both rewarding and fruitful. This requires careful management of the interchanges that occur.If possible, virtual knowledge teams profit from the opportunity to meet face to face occasionally. This can assist with gaining a sense of identity and reducing potential conflicts through miscommunication. It also assists with team building.
17 Leading a Knowledge Network Knowledge networks are important forms of knowledge activityEnable access to expertiseAssist in building more advanced knowledge across the communityVolitional involvementTransient leadership rolesLO5 – page 74Knowledge networks are important to knowledge communities, as they provide a channel for the free flow of information and communication. Members of the community can share expertise and build more advanced knowledge through their interaction with others. These forms of networks are voluntary – with members choosing to engage or disengage as they choose. Members may often “lurk” on the edges – choosing to participate only when a topic or issue is of significant interest.Leaders in knowledge networks are much less defined. Individuals may lead a group discussion on a topic to which they can contribute strongly, or may have a desire to build a strong community to support an area of interest. Those with a “knowledge advantage” will be prominent for the time their knowledge gives them a leadership opportunity. They may then become more passive once the discussion moves to other topics. Some challenges networks face relate to members who are over-engaged (dominant contributors who generate a number of s); abusive or rude responses (often called “flames”); networks where no activity occurs; or where the intellectual quality of the discussions are insufficiently engaging to sustain member interest. Clearly, there is a need to have some individuals play a leadership role to ensure the network supports the members’ expectations as to both quality and quantity of interaction.
18 Recruiting and Selecting Knowledge Leaders Knowledge leaders need to be recruitedOrganisations need to accommodate the different ways in which knowledge leaders workOrganisations may also need to consider the core competencies it requires of all employees as knowledge workers/leadersWhat should an organisation seek in terms of knowledge leadership?LO6 Pages 74 – 75.Organisations need to recognise the leadership qualities they require in their knowledge workers. This may require some careful consideration as to the type of organisation which is being developed. If one considers Figure 3.2, for example, the organisational context plays a significant part in determining how much a leader can contribute back to the organisation. The appointment of knowledge leaders can place greater expectations on an organisation to provide an appropriate knowledge context. Among other things, this may require changes to organisational structures, decision-making and communication processes (from knowledge chains to hubs and webs [page 42]).Each organisation needs to consider what it expects of its knowledge workers – and what it seeks in new appointees. A number of competencies are mentioned on page 75, such as a willingness to learn, adapt and collaborate, the capacity to manage projects, work in teams and communicate with others. As the rate of change escalates, the capacity to work flexibly and learn new skills will be increasingly critical. The chapter suggests that good knowledge workers might need to be chameleons! Changing their characteristics to meet new and different challenges. Certainly, many knowledge workers will find themselves adapting to different roles and working with many different communities.In these settings, the nature of leadership needs to be revisited – it is more complex than traditional models, as it anticipates high flexibility and sensitivity to other individuals and the organisation’s own needs. These expectations will need to be clarified and clearly reflected in recruitment processes. Similarly, potential employees will need to be very alert to the real context of a workplace. If they anticipate working as knowledge workers, providing leadership and creative support to the organisation, they need to review the evidence of a real knowledge context before taking a position in a firm. Figure 3.2 and the next session will help to evaluate the rhetoric versus reality of an organisation.
19 Concluding PointsKnowledge leadership should operate throughout the organisationEach knowledge worker will provide leadership at some point or otherDifferent forms of leadership will operate in different contexts and timesOrganisations will be strongly influenced and changed by these practices, as new ways of working and interacting occurThis session has explored the nature of knowledge leadership, looking at a number of different contexts and levels of leadership. It has explored the nature of strategic knowledge leadership and its close partnership with core leadership. It has also examined the ways in which other disciplines have influenced the nature of knowledge management and the skills and expertise knowledge leaders will need. This lecture should have demonstrated four key points:Knowledge leadership should operate throughout the organisation.Each knowledge worker will provide leadership at some point or other.Different forms of leadership will operate in different contexts and times.Organisations will be strongly influenced and changed by these practices, as new ways of working and interacting occur.All university graduates should be encouraged to build knowledge leadership skills – they will be strongly encouraged by employers in the future. (The students may wish to discuss how well prepared they are to undertake roles of this nature. )
20 Today’s focus: What do knowledge leaders do? How does leadership affect a knowledge community?How does leadership support knowledge teams and networks?How can good knowledge leaders be identified and supported?Are you a potential knowledge leader?Lecture reference: Debowski, Chapter 3The lecturer may wish to finish with these questions. Some potential ideas are listed for initial discussion.What do knowledge leaders do?They build the knowledge community by helping to change the organisation, by working with other leaders to identify changes and new initiatives, by sharing insights and strategies, and by communicating the knowledge agenda to others. In essence, they are the catalysts for the development and implementation of the knowledge agenda.How does leadership affect a knowledge community?Knowledge leaders provide guidance, direction and support during major change processes. They stimulate stronger consideration of the knowledge priorities across the community, and thus, encourage greater engagement by members. They also monitor the acceptability of the processes that are occurring. In particular, they are motivators, coaches, models and executors of the processes. They ensure the knowledge philosophy is embraced across the whole community, not simply by small groups.How does leadership support knowledge teams and networks?Teams and networks generally anticipate different forms of leadership, with most members taking on leadership roles as required. Leaders may act in a number of ways: as content experts, as culture facilitators, as process managers, or as quality controllers.How can good knowledge leaders be identified and supported?Good leaders will be identified through their contribution and engagement with their teams, networks and allied roles. The provision of good models and effective learning and development opportunities are useful support strategies.