November 2011

Is the HKKMS board biased towards the HK Polytechnic University?

Knowledge Management has its roots in multiple academic disciplines and most universities in Hong Kong offer KM related courses, some of them for several decades.  When the “management” focus on knowledge became more prominent in the early-90s, several universities developed post-graduate diplomas, certificate and master courses in Knowledge Management.

Our internationally top-ranking universities such as the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) provide information and knowledge management courses as does the City University and the HK Polytechnic University with their MSc programmes in KM

There are also plenty of KM programmes in Mainland China.

So we wonder why Mr Hales, the current president of the HKKMS, recently claimed that the PolyU  “is the only tertiary institution in Hong Kong and Mainland China that offers a MSc degree in Knowledge Management”.  Is it just an oversight, ignorance or misleading information?

Could it be that Mr Hales is promoting the HK PolyU KM programme out of vested interest since he is advising the KM research and consulting unit of the PolyU ISE department?


The HK KM society is an open and non-profit society and serves the whole community, including the academic community.  If individual board members are promoting services or products, the independence of HKKMS might be compromised.

The board of the HKKMS board should actively build relationships with all universities in Hong Kong, support diversity in KM approaches and serve as information centre for the whole KM community, as outlined in article 2 of our statutes.

18 January 2011

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To learn more about the background of the developments in the Society,  please visit our page on “History” (updated December 2010)

For more information about current governance issues in the Society, read the blog of former HKKMS member Bill Proudfit

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Moving from HKKMS 1.0 to a new, collaborative knowledge management society?

In her recent blog,  Nancy Dixon describes the development of KM concepts and ideas in the past decades.  The different themes are also reflected in the topics and themes that we discussed in the HK KM Society over the years, however, the organisation of our small professional society is still largely committee,  not member-driven.
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Dixon suggests that the current phase, KM with a focus on  Leveraging Collective Knowledge began to appear around 2005, there are only a few leading edge organizations that have developed new practices for making use of their organization’s collective knowledge.

“Those that are inventing processes for collective knowledge are finding ways to bring the whole organization to bear on strategic issues. Processes like Knowledge Cafes, Appreciative Inquiry, and Search Conferences bring together all levels of the organization – the whole system in the room. The processes used to leverage collective knowledge are conversation based, alternating between small group and large group configurations. Even regularly held organizational meetings such as staff meetings, team, and project meetings in these organizations are turning to conversational forms to address their most difficult organizational issues. ” (…)

“Leading edge organizations are taking advantage of Web 2.0 social media, building more user controlled platforms such as Wiki’s, blogs and social networking that bring with them greater organizational transparency and give rise to more diverse perspectives in the organizational conversation. The use of crowd sourcing, cognitive diversity, and predictive markets draw on a wider base of thinking, both internally and externally, that increases organizational innovation.

Over the three eras, each new set of knowledge management practices has been created in response to an ever-expanding understanding of 1) where knowledge lives within organizations and 2) what knowledge is important to organizational success. We can anticipate yet greater understanding as organizations move further into the third era.”
_ _ _


August 2011

Discussion on information and archives law in Hong Kong at the Information Professionals LinkedIn Group

Join the open group at

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January 2011

A Talent Crisis in KM?

Where is KM going in 2011?

To stimulate the discussion on KM developments in 2011, we chose a post by John Maloney, who was a speaker at the Asia-Pacific KM conference in Hong Kong a few years back.  Is there a talent crisis in KM in Hong Kong?  –

Knowledge management (KM) has enormous problems. Virtually all of them can be traced back to its most serious problem: talent.

The intention is not to indict all KMers. However, the observation over the last decade of clusters and three decades in KM is there has been a qualitative decline in talent and profile of KM people. In particular, the ability of these people to initiate and lead required, large-scale transformational activities has gone down sharply.

Leading transformation is a key KM behavior and skill. Mostly in KM today are very, very nice senior administrators. They have lots of great organizational knowledge. Unfortunately are just not capable of leading KM, innovation, adoption or diffusion. The people are not bad, it is the expectations that are at fault.

There is a popular social network and KM axiom that the person with the most important and useful knowledge in the organization is the receptionist and executive assistant. They have a unique perch to see and facilitate most all of the essential knowledge flow paths. Problem is, KM people took this anecdote literally, often promoting these lovely people to KM positions.

KM, first and foremost, is about leadership. The administrative skill profile in KM is ill-suited for leadership. Same goes for the technical whiz, IT wonks or SMEs, also found in KM. They all fall down badly in KM because they lack primary leadership abilities.

KM has become just like IT. It’s primarily a back-office risk management and document control operation. Again, there is nothing wrong with document processes, it is certainly important and needed. Thing is, it is just not meeting the expectations of the organization. This is why so many, most, KM programs collapse – missed expectations.

Also, rather unfortunately, it is very difficult for KM to recover from this organizational and talent trajectory. Unless KM develops the courage and talent to fundamentally lead, then it is far better to reset much lower expectations for the KM role, its people and information processes. Setting lofty expectations when you do not have the talent, vision or support to deliver is not a good practice for KM; it is not good for anything.

There are two other major problems to correct. The first is the soaring farce of KM ‘certification.’ These KM certification charlatans have driven out a lot of the leadership capability of KM by pretending to make it a vocational discipline. Beware of these phonies. The second is KM’s hypersensitivity to coaching and feedback. Rejection of advice and coaching perpetuates poor KM performance. Correcting these major KM defects will help put KM back on the agenda and put KM people on the path to prosperity. 

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July 2010

MAKE Knowledge Management awards for BP?

The MAKE knowledge management awards created by a private consulting company in the UK are a major PR and benchmarking campaign a promote KM. MAKE stands for Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises, however, looking at the result of the awards over the past years, some suggest it should be Most Advertised Knowledge Enterprises.

Quoting from a MAKE press release: “The 2009 European MAKE panel has recognised BP for developing knowledge workers through senior management leadership (1st place), and creating a learning organisation (1st place). BP is a nine-time European MAKE Winner, including the overall 2001 European MAKE Winner.

In the past weeks since the oil spill, we are beginning to understand that BP is rather an example of ignorance than knowledge management, illustrated by the  public statements of senior managers, in particular its CEO Tony Hayward. As the disaster unfolds, a systematic breakdown in corporate decision making, risk management, lack of knowledge sharing and learning from past mistakes at all levels and corporate culture becomes visible.

Here are selected MAKE award criteria contrasted with statements by the management of BP quoted from the Financial Times, New York Times and others over the past weeks:

Success in establishing an enterprise knowledge culture

Tony Hayward in Congressional Hearing: “I clearly am the ultimate power…”

Top management support for managing enterprise knowledge

Tony Hayward in Congressional Hearing: “I had no prior knowledge.”    Note: BP has a well documented history of risk management problems.

Ability to develop and deliver knowledge-based goods/services/solutions

BP said the accident “was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment”. It added: “There were multiple control mechanisms– procedures and equipment–in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.” These did not succeed

Success in maximizing the value of the enterprise’s intellectual capital

BP’s stock price has lowered its market equity from around $200 billion before the Gulf Oil disaster to around $100 billion (June 2010). BP has always been a high risk investment and never been in the category of sustainable long haul companies with proven standards for environmental, social and governance goals. As a result, the asset-rich company is now trading for less than its book value, which is essentially all the assets it has — oil fields, oil rigs and so forth — minus intangible assets and liabilities. This means that investors and traders think that the company is now actually worth less than all the hard assets it owns, which means it’s intellectual capital is a liability.

Effectiveness in creating an environment of enterprise knowledge sharing

BP’s preliminary findings indicate that there were other events in the 24 hours before the explosion that require further inquiry”. Information about problem was there, but it was neither shared nor acted upon. The documents also revealed that the well failed several pressure tests on the day of the explosion, but that at 8pm – two hours before the disaster – BP decided operations could resume, with Transocean apparently disagreeing.

Success in establishing a culture of organizational learning

Tony Hayward:  “I wasn’t part of the decision-making process… I wasn’t involved in any of the decision making… I simply was not involved in the decision-making process… I was not part of that decision-making process… I was not involved in that decision… I was not involved in the decision making… That was a decision I was not party to…. I wasn’t involved in the decision making on the day… I wasn’t involved or aware of any of the decisions… I wasn’t involved; I’m sorry.

Effectiveness in managing customer knowledge to increase loyalty and value

Chairman of the Board Carl-Henric Svanberg  ” “And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people.”

The oil spill was a kind of accident that was predictable, and therefore preventable. Had BP taken effective steps to improve, this most recent disaster likely would not have occurred, or at least the outcome wouldn’t have been so severe.

For us in the KM community we are wondering: why was BP repeatedly nominated for the MAKE awards despite non-existing KM principles? The MAKE awards have always been considered a questionable PR campaign by KM professionals, and the BP case certainly proves that these awards don’t say anything about the actual capability of an organisation to act upon knowledge and follow basic principles of information governance.

Should the HK KM Society continue to sponsor MAKE awards?  What are your views?



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