Friday, June 15, 2012

Knowledge Management, the good, the bad & the ugly

Roland Wagner at KM Seminar
UJ Dep of  Information & Knowledge Management

Notes from a seminar by Roland Wagner (Project coordinator at Damietta Peace Initiative) about Knowledge Management, with specific reference to organizational culture. 

The seminar on 31 May 2012 was hosted by the Department of Information and Knowledge Management at the University of Johannesburg (Kingsway Campus).

Roland Wagner has extensive experience with regards Knowledge Management. See his biography that is copied from the invite below.

Some notes that was taken at the seminar:

- "Knowledge is a social construct - generated in collaboration and interaction with others"

- Culture comes to play in this social interaction! 

- A company's culture is the reflection of the macro-economic culture.

- "Good" or "bad" culture can be identified by the impact of corporate culture.
  Positive which makes it an enabler in the organization
  Negative where it is seen as a barrier in the organization.

- The role of Knowledge Management is to create an enabling environment. It can't be done    without the active role of Human Resources. They should be involved!

- KM is multi-disciplined and there should be a marriage between all teams.

- Understanding of the sub-cultures (units, regions, departments) within an organization enables KM.

- Leadership has a direct impact on the culture in an organization.

- KM needs to map the organization's existing culture.

- Tacit knowledge very important, especially with regards risk management. KM & HR need to work closely on this!

- Storytelling as a KM output extremely important; although it is time-consuming.

- KM should be sensitized continuously in an organization.

- Roland Wagner believes it is sometimes better to getting consultants in for KM.

- Another important learning outcome: Knowledge sharing should not be rewarded! It should be part of the organizational culture. The employee's thinking is the organization's intellectual property.

- KM should create a culture of trust in the organization. It is done by communities of practice, office retreats, social events, open environment, and knowledge cafés.

Roland Wagner suggested some KM vs Culture Videos on Youtube:

It's All About Culture - What is Corporate Culture?

Overcoming Resistance to Change - Isn't It Obvious?

What is Organisational Culture ? Why Culture Matters To Your Organization

Notes by Karen du Toit, Archivist, SABC Radio Archives.

Roland Wagner Biography:
"Roland holds a Master’s degree in Information and Knowledge Management and currently manages knowledge management initiatives at Damietta Peace Initiative, a non-profit organisation. Roland’s previous KM role at Anglo American is to implement knowledge management initiatives for various business units including transportation, safety and sustainable development, Anglo Research and Anglo American Projects. Roland’s key role for KM at Productivity SA was to introduce a holistic KM inititiative within the organisation, including the development of a KM strategy.  The KM strategy was guided by the research (qualitative and quantitative) approach that resulted in a “current assessment report” (CAR). He was also project leader in the development of a knowledge management strategy for the Department of Science and Technology (DST) as well as the Film and Publication Board (FPB).  The development of these KM strategies also included knowledge and information audits, as well as evaluating the feasibility of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. Roland also mentored and coached the Anglo American engineering team in applying Lessons Learnt projects.  This activity took place in 2008 where he held a Lessons Learnt workshop. He is also a member of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP).
Completed projects include:
Development of the knowledge management strategy for Productivity SA
Development of the knowledge management strategy for the Department of Science and Technology
Lessons learned project and knowledge management strategy for the Film and Publications board
Knowledge management consultant to assist Kumba Iron Ore (Anglo American) in completing three knowledge management projects. The projects involved are part of knowledge mapping within Kumba’s supply chain: A lessons learnt project within Kumba’s Sishen Expansion Project (SEP) and the development of a briefing and de-briefing tool for Kumba’s Human Resource department as well as developing a benchmarking project plan for Kumba Iron ore’s heavy mining equipment.
Project manager in developing an agricultural information system for the Department of Agriculture in the North West Province.
Local Economic Development (LED) expert to assist the Government of Limpopo in establishing an LED Resource Centre in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. This is an EU funded project (as part of the larger EC supported LED Program for Limpopo) and work entailed conducting research, assisting the development of a Business Plan for the Centre, benchmarking similar centre locally and internationally and capacity building support to the hosting institution.
Team member on the Manstrat consulting team that assisted the Free State Department of Agriculture in developing a Training Strategy for its Non-Formal Training Unit (VET program).
Team member on the Manstrat project team that assisted the Department of Agriculture in the North West Province to undertake feasibility studies and develop business plans (turn-key projects) for a total of 15 agricultural ventures." 


  1. Thank you for sharing this summary of Roland's presentation.

    Was there any suggestions on how to reward knowledge sharing?

    1. Hi Elmi, As far as I understood, Roland believes it should not be rewarded, but should be part of the organizational culture! It is part of every employees' job!

  2. Thank you for the response, Karen. O dear, I was not reading properly. Just show that the meaning can change completely if you read like I do. Thank you also for following up with Roland - here is his answer received via LinkedIn Mail -

    Thank you for you interest. Yes I think you answered it correct. I think many organisations are addressing this in HR by a Performance Management System - where the Ballanced Scorecard is used. Knowledge sharing is part of a persons KPI and evaluated on a "weighted" criteria i.e. knowledge sharing "weighs" a certain percentage to the other KPI's. And yes there are enabler and barriers to knowledge sharing. The trick of KM is to add value i.e. enhance the enablers and mitigate risk i.e. address the barriers.


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