Posts Tagged ‘KM’

KM in Healthcare – Focus for 2013

March 23, 2013

Since November 2012, I have been expanding my KM efforts in healthcare, and this blog will show that change in emphasis.

In 2011/2012, I was focused on KM in the electronic commodity aftermarket repair industry, and while this really was a very productive time and allowed me to develop some tools and methods, I felt that the healthcare industry was a one that was undergoing a revolution, and that there was a significant part for KM to play.

Of course much of the KM applied in the electronics repair arena can be transported to healthcare, for example, the activity-based knowledge audit process (Loxton, 2013) published in the JKMR&P can be seamlessly adapted to the healthcare field.

Since November I have visited hospitals, interviewed a wide range of people in both clinical and administrative parts of hospitals, and I have been wading through a huge pile of information on a variety of technologies and areas in healthcare.

In addition to touring and talking and reading, for good measure I also made use of courses available through the Coursera MOOC.
Health Informatics in the Cloud” by Dr. Mark Braunstein of Georgia Tech in particular has been very helpful, but there really is an amazing amount of free and high quality materials online these days.

Healthcare is a very wide field, and I have been focusing firstly on hospitals and hospital systems, and more narrowly on the inpatient flow management part.

Flow Management involves some very interesting aspects of Lean, KM, and modeling, and includes (but not limited to) Bed Management, ED Management, Utilization Management, Surgical Workflow & Quality Management, and Real Time Location Management.

Some of the people I have met have included Emergency Department Nurses and physicians, Ward Administrators, Utilization Managers and Reviewers, Housekeeping staff, Admissions Clerks, and my absolute favorite, the Bed Czar.

A Bed Czar is described by the IHI as follows:

The centralized bed authority (or “bed czar”) is a person or location responsible for processing all admissions and transfers. Key responsibilities of the centralized bed authority include: active participation in daily bed meetings, convene AM bed huddles; oversee placement of admitted and transfer patients in beds; visit units to identify available beds with staff assigned to them and assess staff capacity to safely take additional admissions; communicate with units about placements and anticipated needs; and serve as a conduit for all physicians admitting patients. The centralized bed authority in most effective when it is incorporated into an overall system for managing real time demand and capacity.

My next blog will have some specifics on flow management from a KM perspective, and I hope readers find it useful.


Loxton, M. H. (2013). A simplified integrated critical activity-based knowledge audit template. Knowl Manage Res Prac.

On the Psychosocial Determinants of CoP Success

August 30, 2012

Over the past few years I have been inching along with a thought – what if we looked at Knowledge Management through the lens of psychology, what would we see and what problems and issues would stand out in relief against the many prickly problems faced by KM practitioners.

One that stands out to me is the question of whether CoP success (and we get to define that however we like) is proportional to variation in how much and how its members share knowledge.
When we look at this from a psychosocial perspective, the question that pops out to me is why do some people share knowledge and others don’t, why do some share more and others less.
Is there perhaps a character trait that predisposes people to sharing knowledge, are their environmental pressures and social norms that cause the behavior to vary, are these relatively stable over time and place or do they vary according to some sort of root cause?

Success Factors

Here is the first pass at a list of facets for what constitutes “success” for a CoP:

  1. Longevity
  2. Membership Factors
    1. Member Count
    2. Member Seniority
    3. Member Diversity
  3. Activity
    1. Level of Interaction
    2. Number of meets
    3. Participation
  4. Productivity
    1. Creation of a Controlled Vocabulary
    2. Innovations
    3. Creation of Operational KPIs
    4. Documentation of Best Practices
    5. Degree of Outreach
    6. Efforts in Training & Induction
    7. Mentorship

Psychosocial Constructs

So far this is what I have noted as potential constructs.
The list needs to be expanded somewhat and then trimmed back to only those things that really contribute towards explaining variation in success.

  1. Emotional Intelligence
  2. Locus of Control
  3. OCEAN
  4. Individualism vs Communitarianism
  5. Emotional Investment
  6. Great Leader / Cult of Personality
  7. Action vs Reflection
  8. Conservatism vs Liberalism
  9. Q
  10. Creativity
  11. Frustration Tolerance




Matthew Loxton is a Knowledge Management practitioner, and is a peer reviewer for the Journal of Knowledge Management Research & Practice. Matthew holds a Master’s degree in Knowledge Management from the University of Canberra, and provides pro-bono consulting in Knowledge Management and IT Governance to various medical institutions.

Communities of Practice – Behaviours and Benefits

September 27, 2011

This blog post entitled Communities of Practice – Behaviours and Benefits is hosted on Elisabeth Goodman’s blog page.

Please view it there

Will this be the Year of SharePoint?

January 12, 2011

Most of my blog posts avoid discussing products and technology, and while I hasten to add that I really do love the techie side, the point is that while the technology is really cool and makes a significant contribution, it has a very short shelf-life and is never going to account for more than 30% of the success factors.
Technology comes and goes and mostly needs massive hype and spin to make it crack open the budgets and get the dollars rolling out, which inevitably leaves a lot of people embarrassed or frustrated, and disillusioned by the whole Knowledge Management idea because they equated it with a specific brand or technology .

So I tend to focus on the other 70% more or less stable side of the equation, which includes human behavior, organizational structure, and all those other bits that make up the socio-behavioral complex.

However, something is going on in techieland that is worth talking about – According to Global360, the adoption of Microsoft’s Sharepoint will hit 97% this year and has already reached a user-count of 130,000,000.
Of course they are very bullish on the topic because they sell Sharepoint stuff for a living, but still, even in the 90’s when Knowledge Management was something many software vendors and gurus were proclaiming as the next big thing, nobody ever thought that all the products put together would get near 97%, and 130 million licenses is a big number in any language.

Towards the end of 2010 I briefly flirted with a company that pretty much only does Sharepoint add-on’s and seemed to be doing just fine, although I thought they were way too focused on plumbing and pipes i.e. the software and technology, and far too little on the human side – which is where the action really is and why this time Knowledge Management may be rising as never before.

During 2010 I actually tried to stamp out SharePoint at a previous employer, but failed, and now I am a strong advocate of Sharepoint adoption (yes Christy, I am).
So what led to this Damascus Road change of heart?


At the start of 2009/2010 SharePoint was just another (yet another) file-sharing toy that users had discovered and had started to put things into – just like the wikis, Lotus Notes groups and folders, fileshares, portals, and all the other bits and pieces that proliferated over the years and slowly gathered dust under layers of corporate accretion. We already had an order of magnitude too many file-sharing/storage methods, most of which were hidden and not spidered by the corporate search engine, and some of which were backed up onto expensive RAID while other repositories should have been but weren’t.
There was also already a huge investment of time and money in Alfresco, and I didn’t want to simply attenuate focus on another contender.

However, as the year drew on, and just before I left, I had changed my mind and was actively pushing for adoption.
Why did I change my mind? – It was simply that there was a strong user desire that was capable of pushing through the resistance.
My view is that when users put that much effort into something, then that enthusiasm should be supported and guided where possible and not left to rust out in the cold.
A KM solution is less than 20% technology, and over 70% culturally determined in my view, so where you find a high degree of engagement and desire from users, especially where it will help to form Communities of Practice, then this is worth supporting.

… and it seemed that SharePoint wasn’t going to go away anytime soon.

What can SharePoint do for YOU?

Well, it’s a bunch of code that costs money, so it can eat some of your budget and keep the IT guys out of mischief for a while.
It can also be a reasonably good document repository with passable workflow for approval and control and reasonable version-control, which means with a modicum of effort you can shift files that were lying in a nice orderly canonical structure on a server into another nice pile in SharePoint. Naturally you can start corralling all those stray files and index them, but of course that was possible with canonical file-shares too.
SharePoint also allows searchable Knowledge Bases to be built, but before you get too excited about that remember that retrieving hundreds of hits that are infojunk is no better than not getting any at all.

What it adds that canonical file taxonomies can’t however, is folksonomies via tagging that give multiple taxonomical hooks to a single file, and it can provide a far more social environment for people to access than regular traditional fileshares could – and this is where SharePoint can bring you real value.
By bringing information closer to people in a more natural ecology than before, SharePoint can make a real contribution to your operation.
It also allows add-on products that build out the social side, and can bring learning, socializing, chatting, and people’s biographical pages to cohabit in an informational ecosystem that plays far more naturally to our inbuilt preferences.

One thing that you can use it for that probably dwarfs everything else if you have an organization with more than 150 staff, is to make people searchable in terms of their skills, training, and experience by adding them as knowledge artifacts. Why this isn’t done more completely baffles me, because a “facebase” was something we were experimenting with long before Bill Gates brought out Windows.
Using technology like integrated search and content management to help find people should be a no-brainer.
The point is to give people a page that can be modified to suit their tastes but that contains scrapable information that says what they are good at, trained in, and willing to help with, along with their availability and rules of engagement – how to contact them, when, for what, etc. If you tie this in to the more modern B&N/Amazon idea of “what I am reading”, and also to what articles they have authored you can do some magic that goes far beyond a semantic web will ever get.

Allowing the thought leaders to emerge, and to allow people to see what informational sources they are producing is probably worth the investment, but add to that the ability to see what informational sources they use and how they rate them, and you will have as close to a miracle as ICT can deliver.

Life After SharePoint

Not that I go in for predictions much, but until exobiology produces something better, humans are always going to be way faster at finding semantic information than machines. Long after Microsoft is just an historical footnote, people will still be the fastest way to get meaning out of information, and that’s what knowledge is all about.

This is SharePoint’s year, and with it an opportunity to use technology to support and sustain very ancient and effective human abilities to share and create meaning – we should not let it slip by.


Matthew Loxton is a Knowledge Management expert and holds a Master’s degree in Knowledge Management from the University of Canberra. Mr. Loxton has extensive international experience and is currently available as a Knowledge Management consultant or as a permanent employee at an organization that wishes to put knowledge assets to work.

Knowledge Management and Knowledge Transfer

July 16, 2010

Specialized and functional knowledge is what organizations run on and what gives them both identity and their competitive advantage – but all too frequently it is not easily accessible to the people who need it, and may be locked up in private stashes, file stores, or in the heads of isolated individuals.

Knowledge Management as a discipline has a variety of techniques to address this situation including deployment of Knowledge-Bases, creation of Technical Libraries, and implementation of information architecture approaches including portals, and other technological solutions. However, technology is the smaller part of the pie, and the lion’s share is in how knowledge can be spread from person to person to person in the form of insight and understanding.

Knowledge Transfer (KT) is the process of spreading understanding and insight so that the organization gets more operational value and realizes more advantage from it. With this in mind, KT should be primarily focused on getting business advantage, so the kind of knowledge that should be predominantly transferred is that which has operational value.

Knowledge transfer in an organization can be done in many different, and hopefully, synergistic ways. Those organizations working along ISO9000 or ISO20000/ITIL guidelines should have formal procedure maps and documents stored for all to see and have an advantage over firms that don’t, but the following KT techniques can be applied even if no formal quality and standards system is in place, and would be in addition to rather than in place of formal systems. (although I strongly advise looking into adopting ISO or ITIL).

There are three standard “classroom” style KT environments:

  • Formal product or operations training through an internal Educational Services group
  • External training of both soft-skills, and tech or industry related courses
  • Lunchtime presentation sessions of typically 1 hr covering product or “tricks & tips” subjects.

Classroom-style KT is not the whole picture though, and other components of KT need to be considered.

Informal but scheduled KT sessions can be highly productive and should include regular meetings expressly for KT – such as weekly team information and knowledge transfer sessions with both the local staff as well as their peers in other regions if the organization is geographically dispersed.

Daily “stand-up” transfer sessions for operational updates can be held so that each team lead can hear what others are up to and tell everyone what their team is doing. These need not run longer than 10-15 minutes and should be focused on the most important or significant topics.

Externally facing sessions can be used to reduce customer-support or business-partner costs, and could typically be offered as monthly webinars in which a staff member does an online presentation to customers, partners, and internal staff in short and focused sessions typically as an hour-long tutorial on some aspect of the product-set or ancillary/environmental subjects. These could be recorded for re-use by the Educational Service group and seen as Intellectual Property.

Ad-hoc transfer can be done very effectively by “swarming”. A typical scenario is one in which a person may struggling with a customer problem or has a high-impact internal issue and they call for help. Team members “swarm” around them and provide help and alternative theories or suggestions and then disperse as soon as the person has enough to continue with.

One-on-one teams can also put together on an ad-hoc basis when the situation demands it so that a junior person can have a “guru” help them think through a tricky problem.

Another valuable KT mechanism is to have a mentorship/coaching program where more experienced staff can pair up with a junior member for a longer period.

Sending staff from one geography to another a few times a year can also be valuable in order to exchange specialist information and knowledge in classroom settings, in hands-on small group settings, and also 1-on-1 mentorship sessions.

In a similar way, some staff members can be rotated through other domain areas to gain insight to how other parts of the organization or product-set work and how other teams do things.

Borrowing from academia, it is worth considering a sabbatical system in which a staff member can visit a customer site or another industry, or just work on a particular subject, and then internally publish a formal paper and conduct KT sessions on what they have discovered.

It is also important for subject-matter staff to belong to industry groups and to attend the seminars and workshops offered, and then to bring back knowledge and transfer it to other staff, and to regard that as part of the deal – attend external training or informative sessions and on return you have a duty to deliver at least a tutorial.

Finally, a very high-value KT method is to send staff to customer sites to help the customers with specific problems, but also to simply observe the customer environment and how they use your support services and your product set, and then bring back their observations for you to use to change the product or how you interact with the customer.

These observations may simply trigger lunchtime KT sessions, or customer tutorials, etc. but also have the potential to lead to dramatic innovations in services or product direction – there is nothing quite like seeing something in action to gain insight.

In conclusion I would say that these components should not be seen as isolated solutions, but be mixed and woven into a coherent KT strategy but that can be fluid enough to adapt to internal and external demands in order to deliver the most value.

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