KMGN Newsletter. Issue 5
January 2023 Issue #5
KMGN’s latest news, views and insights
Happy New Year!
It has been an honour and delight to put together this newsletter, particularly to kick off the New Year!
At a time of economic and political uncertainty around the world – and rapid change due to digital transformation and stiff competition – it is all the more important for organisations to step up their investments in ‘smart’ strategies. Knowledge management (KM) plays a key role in this regard.
We begin this newsletter with a welcoming editorial by Faiz Selamat, Chair, KMGN (2023). He sets the tone by reviewing KMGN’s achievements over the past year, and charting our course for the year ahead.
Our first article begins with the phenomenon that seems to have taken the online world by storm: generational AI and Chat GPT. Randhir Pushpa (Acies Innovations) describes how this will impact content processes in KM, as well as the role of digital assistants, digital avatars, and other applications.
We reinforce the importance of digital platforms in this day and age with a review of the insightful book, Making Knowledge Management Clickable: Knowledge Management Systems Strategy, Design, and Implementation by Joseph Hilger and Zachary Wahl. Zachary also delivered a keynote address at an online meetup of our Bangalore K-Community forum.
Organisational KM is powered by effective and inspiring leadership. We profile a true pioneer of KM in India: Ritu Grover, Director - KM, Khaitan & Co. We trace her KM leadership through five companies, and share her success tips for the KM community.
Nothing speaks to KM professionals like an actual case study, and we are delighted to present insights into KM festivals at Afcons Infrastructure (by Jayadatta Lad). Involvement of Knowledge Ambassadors is an important aspect at such events.
Industry and academia are close partners in growing the knowledge movement in the long run, and we present perspectives from India from both sides of the table – corporate and university. The industry view is shared by Mohan Bellur (Bosch Global Software Technologies), while Dr. Molly S. Chaudhuri (Manel Srinivas Nayak Institute of Management) shares the academic perspective.
In this newsletter, we also present creative blends of global and local perspectives on knowledge. For example, proverbs have been used across cultures and centuries as witty capsules of life hacks and local culture. We present a sampling of Indian proverbs about knowledge and learning, and invite you to find and share witty proverbs from your own languages as well!
Rudolf Dsouza (Afcons Infrastructure) wraps things up in fine style by digging deeper into Indian culture. His article showcases four ancient techniques of knowledge sharing. They span storytelling, mentoring, sculpture, and pictorial design.
We hope this newsletter helps you kick off the New Year on a right note, with insights, tips and inspiration. For more KM perspectives from India, check out forums like the CII Global Knowledge Summit in May 2023 and our regular meetups of the Bangalore K-Community.
All the best for 2023 ahead!
Dr Madanmohan Rao,
YourStory Media / TiE Bangalore / CII Knowledge Summit
The View (Editors Letter)
January 2023 Editorial
As the new year beckons, many people tend to look back upon their past year’s achievements, and think of new resolutions for the coming year. There would certainly be some hits and some misses. Some people might regret their misses (mistakes), whilst others seek to learn from them, and find ways - to not repeat them.
This act of self-reflection by millions of people all around the world is actually a practice of ‘lessons learnt’ - a key process in knowledge management (KM).
Not many people realise that many KM practices have already been embedded in their day-to-day lives, from taking notes during meetings and lectures (knowledge capture or documentation) to having discussions amongst experts on specific topics (community of practice or CoP).
In this issue, we will cover the evolution of KM through the years, from the oral traditions (stories and songs) to parchment and paper, and in more recent times, how technology and the digital age have made knowledge even more accessible - hence easier to capture, collate, curate, communicate and co-create.
KMGN constantly endeavours to provide the most relevant, useful and innovative solutions for KM professionals through various platforms, including the following.
Newsletter: Published monthly with articles from various partner networks
YouTube Channel: Repository of videos which includes past online courses and implementation toolkits (ISO30401)
Online Course (The New Collaboration): Commencing Feb 2023, and delivered over 19 weekly one-hour sessions by KM experts
Telegram Channel and LinkedIn page: For latest updates on KMGN matters amd connect with other KM professionals
Knowledge Base: Repository of KM resources - produced by KM professionals, for KM professionals. This is still in development.
Beyond providing solutions, KMGN actively facilitates collaboration amongst KM professionals. Arising from HacKMthon 2022, KMGN will be sponsoring three teams to co-develop the following projects. A call-out for participation in this global initiative will be announced in February 2023.
Business Aligned KM (led by Dr Pavel Kraus)
Collaboration & Co-Creation Culture Standards (led by Vadim Shiryaev)
Emergent Technologies (led by Dr Randhir Pushpa)
We hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter, and would greatly appreciate any feedback on the newsletter, or other efforts by KMGN.
Chair, KMGN (2023)
Article of the Month: Disruptive Technical Trends in KM
Randhir Pushpa, Founder, Acies Innovations
We knew it was round the corner, but it arrived just as we were saying ‘bye’ to 2022. Generational AI may probably have brought to us what the future would look like for KM. In this article, we review a range of other emerging tech trends as well.
For those who are yet to get onto the bandwagon, generational AI makes content creation ‘a piece of cake’. Its applications are immense. I even got a poem recently written by AI, and I didn’t have to do any coding except send a request for a poem from Chat GPT.
What can generational AI do? Essentially it is content creation. It looks into existing patterns and based on that, it create new contents. Well, that is good enough to resolve many of the challenges that KM is facing.
Once we have generational AI trained for content generation within an organisation, then case studies, client presentations, and proposals can be generated in a matter of time. This frees up users to focus on fine-tuning the content generated.
Content generation in KM
What does this mean for KM? Well, one of the biggest challenges that KM practitioners have been facing is in ensuring quality content. Creating relevant content would become easy going forward. As a matter of fact, the role of KM practitioners would be to ensure relevant patterns are available for content curation. They will have to work on exposing content from which patterns could be identified and content could be created.
The skills expected of KM practitioners would definitely change. They will have to be even more technology literate. With the supply part of content being taken care of, what now needs to be looked into is the demand side.
Well, the demand side is not that bad. We have technology seeping in there also. All the relevant technologies are there. It is only how we bring it together that matters.
A key disruption that has been looming large for some time but yet to make an impact are digital assistants.
Digital assistants are common these days and we have become comfortable with them. However, they are not being used in organisations. Yet, they can be very powerful and can help individuals access information and perform tasks quickly and easily.
“Digital assistants can provide answers to questions, help users find information online, schedule appointments, and perform other tasks based on voice or text input. Digital assistants can also integrate with other productivity tools, such as calendars and email, to help users manage their time and stay organised. In this way, digital assistants can assist with the acquisition, organisation, and dissemination of knowledge, making it more accessible and useful to users.” (ChatGPT)
When we are talking about digital assistants, we should be also talking about our own digital avatars. That’s right, our avatars in the metaverse. In a few years’ time, every company will have a presence in the metaverse. The way websites are today, in future you cannot think of having a company without a virtual presence in the metaverse.
Metaverse is going to disrupt the way we work. If physically we are distributed, virtually we will be united. That is what metaverse is going to offer to you. What would be the role of KM practitioners?
Some of the key reasons why a KM practitioner was required will disappear with Metaverse. Everyone will be in the same location. It will be easy to find experts and work with them. Metaverse will boost sharing and collaboration and the role of KM practitioners will be to build a culture of sharing and collaboration in metaverse. They need to make individuals comfortable in sharing and collaborating via their virtual avatars.
Learning and knowledge
One area, however, that continues to be ignored by technology companies are tools that can help in managing and practising KM. While there are tools for the majority of the key areas of KM practice – including content creation, storing, searching, sharing – we do not have tools that facilitate lessons learned and institutionalisation of knowledge.
Technology for this is already there, however since there is no clear market, technology companies will not jump into it. It will be left to individual companies to design and build a tool for the same.
The road ahead
Before I sign off, let me share what Chat.openai.com has to say about future of KM:
“It is difficult to predict the exact future of knowledge management, but it is likely that technology will continue to play a significant role in the field. There may be increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist with the organisation and analysis of knowledge, as well as the development of new tools and platforms for storing and sharing information. There may also be a greater emphasis on the use of collaborative and social tools to facilitate knowledge sharing within organisations. In addition, the use of mobile technologies and the proliferation of remote work may lead to the development of new approaches to knowledge management that are better suited to distributed and virtual teams. Ultimately, the future of knowledge management will depend on the needs and demands of organisations and individuals, as well as the evolution of technology and changing business practices.”
Making Knowledge Management Clickable: Knowledge Management Systems Strategy, Design, and Implementation
Authors: Joseph Hilger and Zachary Wahl
Publisher: Springer, 2022
Review by Madanmohan Rao
Many leading organisations have successfully implemented and harnessed KM initiatives, but gaps continue to emerge between strategy and technology implementations. KM foundations, systems, and project implementation are comprehensively covered in this aptly-named book, Making Knowledge Management Clickable.
“Organisations today face great challenges in the form of remote work, global diffusion of resources, tightening budgets, and greater competition,” the authors begin. They are co-founders of leading KM consultancy Enterprise Knowledge. Their 320-page book is packed with actionable advice, tips and checklists.
Here are my key clusters of takeaways from this comprehensive book. See also my reviews of the related books The Handbook of Community Management, The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook, Virtual Teams across Cultures, KNOWledge SUCCESSion, and my book series The KM Chronicles for KM case studies.
The authors describe the KM Action Wheel as consisting of six phases of knowledge work: create, capture, manage, enhance, find, and connect. There are five core elements of KM: people, process, content, culture, and technology.
The authors show that KM has a number of outcomes: improved content findability, reuse, organisational alignment, learning, collaboration, delivery, sales, and future readiness. Based on these dimensions and impacts, they describe a number of surveys for business leaders to assess and improve their KM quotient.
The authors advise leaders to come up with a ‘future state vision’ to set the KM transformation on the right path, based on perceptions of ideal states and industry trends. This should also include enterprise ontology and content governance, and be charted onto the roadmap’s phases like findability redesign and semantic search implementation.
II. KM systems
The authors describe three layers of a KM solutions ecosystem based on the KM Action Wheel. For example, the phases of create, capture and manage call for an effective content and learning management system, collaboration platforms, and asset repositories.
Enhancement is via analytics and taxonomy tools, while search and graph databases enable the find and connect phases. The authors compare a wide range of industry-leading tools in each category, based on effectiveness and impact. Application areas include digital asset management, metadata, faceted search, API integration, and discussion threading.
“KM needs to be in place before knowledge-centric AI solutions can be successfully implemented,” the authors recommend. They describe five levels of AI in this regard: answer, recommend, combine, infer, and advise.
III. Running a KM systems project
Rolling out an integrated KM system can be challenging due to the complexity and the need to break down organisational silos, the authors caution. However, benefits lie in robustness, productivity, and security.
Chosen tools should have the right community support and features. Design should span architecture, security, and user experience. A cautionary chapter lists common KM project implementation mistakes: lack of leadership support, missing design foundations, lack of end-user engagement, and overt focus on technology.
There should be clarity on governance, KM roles, and change management. While traditional taxonomy implementations are designed by scientists and librarians, the authors advise that a business taxonomy should be run by the business community and should be usable and natural.
“Define ownership and accountability. Plan for the length of the transformation,” the authors sum up.
The road ahead
At a recent meetup of the Bangalore K-Community, co-author Zachary Wahl was a keynote speaker. He explained how KM technology solutions should be use-case driven, implemented in an agile manner, and be based on semantic web standards (eg. SKOS, OWL, RDF) for interoperability.
KM should not be just about finding knowledge but making it understandable and actionable. “The key is to connect KM outcomes to business outcomes,” he emphasised. He described seven layers of KM portal architecture, and a maturity continuum for semantic solutions (see Figure 1 and Figure 2).
“The last 10 years have been very interesting for KM. KM is becoming synonymous with digital transformation, and KM is the foundation of AI. As data velocity continues to increase, KM will play a greater role in providing context,” Zachary signed off.
KM Pioneer Profile: Ritu Grover, Director
KM, Khaitan & Co.
Ritu Grover is regarded as one of the women pioneers of knowledge management in India, and has received numerous awards for her role and contribution in the field of KM.
Ritu Grover began her knowledge management journey almost 20 years back with Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecom company. KM was a relatively new concept in India then, much newer in the telecom industry and before advanced level portals or platforms existed in the organisation.
Since then, she has held various operational, consulting and leadership roles in enterprise KM, including all its aspects from knowledge creation, knowledge technology implementation, business research, training, communication and collaboration.
She has expertise in leading KM programs and transformations and has worked with large organisations like Bharti Airtel, Ernst and Young (EY), and KPMG India. Her vast experience has helped many clients and teams transform their KM practices.
In the initial period of her first KM role in early 2000, it was a daunting task to convince people in the organisation to share their knowledge and experience (their prized possessions!) with others who could benefit from it. This was in complete contrast with the knowledge hoarding trend that was in vogue and had made everyone a king in their small kingdoms. A much bigger challenge was convincing people to user others’ knowledge and experience over their own!
But as they say, Necessity is the mother of all inventions. Ritu shares with us how she went about drawing people’s attention to the benefits of KM.
In order to create awareness about this new concept, she began with creatively using the most easily accessible tool - e-mail –to communicate the concept through interesting messages, teasers and pictures, leaving aside the lengthy and theoretical gyan (‘wisdom’ in Hindi).
In the initial days, her focus was encouraging people to share and replicate ‘Best Practices’ across the firm. A ‘Share’ (documenting a new practice/process/checklist) would get them 20 K Points (Knowledge Points) while a ‘Replication’ (acknowledging use of an existing best practice and documenting its benefits) would fetch 100 K Points!
So messages like ‘Why create when you can copy (replicate)’ or ‘Replicating is fun, easy and saves time’ were floated across the firm, which were a major shift from what we are all taught in the schools (‘copying is punished,’ ‘use your own knowledge and learning’). This was a big change management exercise, Ritu recalls.
And then came the ‘age of experience’ – intranets, websites, centralised portals and loads and loads of documents.
When Ritu joined KPMG India, she was tasked with taking the function to the next level, to establish the processes, technologies and systems that would enable the thousands of employees across multiple offices in India to learn and utilise the firm’s collective knowledge. This meant architecting product (the platform), processes and developing applications from scratch internally and also deploying some of the global processes and platforms.
The biggest challenge in bringing this together, she affirms, is always building the value proposition and addressing ‘What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?’ She went about addressing this through extensive stakeholder engagement and is credited with upscaling KPMG India’s KM initiatives and being one of the frontrunners in the firm’s global KM network.
Under her leadership of the KM function, the firm got awarded for Best Implementation of Knowledge Management by BBC Knowledge.
Ritu also feels that much of KM work is about winning people over and keeping them engaged.
In her current role at Khaitan & Co – one of the oldest and largest full-service law firms in India – she is overseeing the transformation of the KM function which focusses on removing redundancies, creating efficiencies through processes and systems, and supports business development and enhanced client delivery.
Ritu has been acknowledged as a Top Law Firm Management Professional by Forbes India.
She believes technology has a very big role as an enabler and a pillar of success for any KM programme, as long it is focussed on the users, not the creators. With the advent of newer tech solutions, the KM journeys have now become shorter and smarter for organisations. Coupling it with constant reviewing and reinventing of KM practices helps in reducing the clutter and improving productivity.
For KM to be successful, it is important to create user-friendly processes and systems, communicate the value preposition constantly, and connect with people and share their success stories.
Ritu sums this up with her mantra for the success of KM – Create, Communicate and Connect!
Transforming Industry Academia Collaboration
Mohan Bellur, Bosch Global Software Technologies
Most of the top tech companies hire talent from the top engineering colleges in the country. The big advantage is that this talent is raw and can be easily molded into the organization culture and technical needs as per requirement. Over the years, the function of University Marketing has transformed into University Relations. This aims at harnessing the latent
potential of campuses, with professors who are subject-matter experts and students who are eager to work on industry relevant problem statements.
Here are some insights into how Bosch Global Software Technologies (herein referred to as BGSW) is doing its bit that would go a long way in transforming industry-academia collaboration.
Liaising through campus ambassadors: For any relation to flourish, we need that one person who has vested interests in the success of both the institutions. This campus ambassador, an employee of BGSW and an alumnus from that college, serves as the key connect between the industry and the academia and frontends the engagement. It is always a pleasure and proud feeling for the students at the campus to see their college senior talk about their journey from campus to corporate. Tech talks, career counselling conversations, marketplace at the college campus are just a few examples of how we engage with the talent.
Joint curriculum design to make students industry ready: Very often we ‘complain’ that the students are ill prepared to face the challenges presented by the industry. BGSW experts and leaders are represented on the Board of Studies of many leading universities and have a chance to influence what gets taught as part of the curriculum.
Taking this one step forward, we have been able to design, develop and jointly deliver electives at various colleges on topics like Automotive Electronics, Human Machine Interface, System Engineering for Electric Vehicle Technology, Thermal Management for EV, Automotive Embedded Cyber Security, Multicore Programming Concepts etc. For a successful execution of these courses at the campus, an extensive train the trainer program for the college faculty is done. Guest lectures from the industry experts is factored in in the course design to ensure the relevance & industry applicability of content from time to time.
Another interesting facet of this joint curriculum is the rollout of higher education upskilling programs for working professionals. Here the aim is to co-create learning content to enable working professionals to upskill on trending technologies through a hybrid mode of learning. Recently BGSW, in collaboration with National Institute of Technology, Calicut announced a new M. Tech program in Electric Vehicle Engineering. We have similar courses running with other institutions like NITK Surathkal and other leading institutions.
Hacking innovative solutions thereby kindling the passion for technology: The current generation of students are intrigued by problem statements and hackathons are a sure-shot way of involving them in co-creating solutions for the future. At BGSW, we have multiple levers wherein we enable students to solve industry relevant problem statements.
The annual BGSW-IEEE EV hackathon, jointly organized with the IEEE Kerala chapter, is a pan-India hackathon that throws open various problems in the electric vehicle technology to students across the country. The recently concluded hackathon saw ~1500 students across over 100 colleges in India innovate. The hackathon had various segments including a boot camp wherein the students were educated on the design parameters that they need to consider during their solution phase. The top performing students have been offered an opportunity to intern at BGSW and take their solution to the next level.
BGSW has also been sponsoring problem statements in the inter IIT tech meet over the years and runs periodic hackathons to kindle the passion for technology amongst the campus goers.
Accelerating research through academia industry partnerships: While we invest extensively on the student fraternity to bridge the industry academia gap, we go an extra mile in investing in the faculty and leveraging their talent for co-creation. Periodic faculty development programs (FDP) on trending topics like Autonomous Driving, Functional Safety, Applications of Artificial Intelligence etc. are held. These FDPs help the practicing professors to better understand the application of the theoretical concepts that they teach the college students.
BGSW also offers professors an opportunity to do their faculty sabbatical at the industry. During their sabbatical, these professors work closely with industry experts on solving real life statements.
Another area where we work extensively is to do joint research with the academia. We currently have problem statements in the areas of autonomous driving, 5G, digital twin to name a few, where we are working with the professors and their research scholars. Most of the professors on the campus are doctorates & are subject matter experts. Their expertise is used to solve the industry relevant problem statements thereby paving the path for co creation.
There is immense potential to be harnessed if the industry & academia come together and engage in a more structured way.
About the author
Mohan Bellur, General Manager HR, responsible for Learning & Development and Industry Academia collaboration at Bosch Global Software Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has over 23 years of industry experience. An engineer by qualification, he has played various roles in software development and leadership before transitioning into his current role in HR. He can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohan-bellur-always-learning/
Knowledge Transfer through Industry - Academia Interaction
Dr. Molly S. Chaudhuri, Director, Manel Srinivas Nayak Institute of Management
Industry and the business environment are dynamic and continuously evolving. The world of education has to continuously update itself to keep pace with the changing business environment. Educational institutions are gearing themselves up to this continuous transformation by making students more industry-oriented with updated curriculums and through industry-academia interaction. Such collaboration encourages knowledge and technology transfer. Industry professionals with several years of experience, known as Professors of Practice, are engaged as faculty who share their knowledge with students in academic institutions.
The Government is also playing a very important role in this transformation. India’s Ministry of HRD, UGC, AICTE and other government agencies have undertaken several initiatives in this direction. The triple-helix innovation framework is a collaboration between universities, industry and government. Universities are engaged in basic research, industries produce goods, and governments provide the required boost through regulations. Today, it has become a powerful tool in the country to build innovation and incubation centers in higher education institutions.
There is a growing trend from industries to look towards educational institutions to set up R&D centers. All the premier institutes of the country like the IITs, NITs and IIMs have already established research and innovation centers funded by the government and supported by the industry. It promotes knowledge production and knowledge transfer, with universities playing a key role in supporting the development of a knowledge-based economy.
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), set up by the NITI Aayog, is a Government of India flagship initiative to encourage a culture of innovation and to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in universities, research institutions, private and MSME sectors. As per the data available on its official website, 10,000 Atal Tinkering labs at the school level are engaging 7.5 million students in 7000 schools. 69 Atal Incubation Centers in higher education institutes have created an ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs in 18 states and 3 union territories and have created 32000+ jobs in India.
To enable all the initiatives under the Atal Innovation mission to succeed, the Government of India has also set up the Mentor of Change programme. It involves the public and private sectors, NGOs, academia, and institutions. It has a huge response with over 10,000+ registrations responding nationwide.
The industry also supports the universities and higher education institutions by providing internships to students. Internships help students apply the knowledge learnt in the classroom to real-time projects in work environments and live interactions with colleagues in the workplace. What is theory in the classroom, students get the opportunity to learn further by application. A lot of tacit knowledge transfer happens in the process.
A continuous transfer of knowledge from industry to academia and vice versa is seen in all institutions of higher education. Many institutions of higher education in India have established incubation centers to encourage their students to innovate and set up their own startups with the support of the industry.
Some of the other initiatives involve creation of chair positions, provision of incentives, setting up of Centers of Excellence, cells for entrepreneurship development and technology incubation, formation of a National Knowledge Network to connect institutions, facilitating flow of technology from laboratory to market access, enhancement of technology transfer towards commercialisation, creation of research parks, and setting up of venture Funds to support innovative entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, while industries gain a skilled, work-ready talent pool, and academic institutions get hands-on experience with challenging problems alongside gaining access to new technologies, this collaboration helps everyone in the process to become more innovative through the transfer of knowledge.
KNOW-vember to DISS-ember – Afcons’ Annual Knowledge Sharing and Dissemination Festival
Jayadatta Lad, Executive Assistant to the Director, Afcons Infrastructure
Each year, as November comes closer, Afconians across the head office (in Mumbai) and various project sites (across India, Middle East and Africa) excitedly await the launch of K2D. Afconians speculate on the various categories – and of course, the prizes – in each category. Strategies are devised and alliances for teams are made. It is K2D season after all!
What is K2D you ask?
K2D or KNOW-vember to DISS-ember is Afcons’ Annual KNOWledge Sharing and DISSemination Festival. It is held from 1st November to 31st December. It began in 2017 as the brainchild of Rudolf D’Souza. It was developed and designed to gather the ‘Knowledge Gems’ that each Afconian possesses but do not have time to package and share with others. Afcons has adopted the Learn Before, Learn During and Learn After model to capture Structured Knowledge. The nuggets of experienced knowledge are collected through K2D.
You may have noticed the clever wordplay in name of the festival. This helps in stickiness and to reinforce the fact that this is a festival for Knowledge Sharing and Dissemination!
Typically, K2D consists of several categories. The nature of the categories includes submitting innovations, success stories, failure stories, best practices, moments of Project Pride, Afcons Book of Records, challenges overcome, developing standard SOPs, checklists or training materials, and even selfies or finding errors in the Knowledge Portal. Initially, the categories were mostly for individual submission. Over time, emphasis has been on collaboration and the category design has been also modified to encourage team submissions or project submissions.
Each year, K2D is designed around a theme. This can be Knowledge Capture, Whole Organisation Engagement, or Knowledge Application. This theme is reflected in the announcements, launch posters and other collateral. The launch of K2D is celebrated in the presence of the senior management along with all the project teams. Post the launch session, several briefing sessions are conducted either at the head office or at project sites.
Involvement of the Knowledge Ambassadors is a critical aspect of K2D success. At Afcons, each Project appoints at least three Knowledge Ambassadors each year. These Knowledge Ambassadors are encouraged to conduct small briefing sessions on K2D at their respective project sites. Whereever feasible, the HO KM team visits the project site to facilitate these briefing sessions.
Furthermore, to involve the whole project team, project managers and project department heads are encouraged to spearhead and be involved in developing a project level strategy for the site/department participation. The project leadership team debates with the project team members on what they will submit in the categories, how the information will be collected, and by whom. To facilitate these discussions, the briefing presentations include helpful suggestions into the instructions of each category on how to involve more people in the activity. A similar approach is adopted by department heads at the head office. Constant engagement is maintained to mailers, desktop wallpapers, and posters to keep the spirit of participation alive.
At the end of K2D, a panel of experts evaluates the entries based on broad criteria such as innovativeness of solution or method, cost savings, better utilisation of resources, increase in productivity, and learnings for the future. There are exciting rewards to be won including gold coins or Amazon vouchers. For winning projects, a significant cash award is given to the project to be used for the project employees’ welfare or amenities. Submissions which deserve special recognition are flagged and shared with senior management.
Over the years, KNOW-vember to DISS-ember has served as an excellent platform for knowledge capture, dissemination, organisation engagement, and talent identification in the organisation!
Traditional rangoli of K2D logo
Creative branding of K2D at prominent locations
Journey of K2D from 2017 to date
K2D launch with senior management
Traditional lighting of the lamp
Traditional lighting of the lamp (2)
Glimpse of prizes – gold coins, vouchers and trophies
Knowledge Management Through Indian Proverbs!
As witty capsules of wisdom, proverbs have been popular through the ages as carriers of local culture, educational tips, and life hacks. In a sense, proverbs can be seen as precursors of today’s social media and crowd wisdom.
Many facets of knowledge management (KM) can be found in proverbs from cultures around the world, as I came to find in my book series on proverbs. The publications include Indian Proverbs, African Proverbs, Singapore Proverbs, and Proverbs & Quotes for Entrepreneurs (link: https://bit.ly/3CcHQUL)
Here are 20 English translations of proverbs from Indian languages, that capture the importance of experiential knowledge, communication focus, community knowledge, decision making, failure lessons, and application of expertise.
We look forward to hearing more from you on KM learnings captured in the proverbs of your own languages and cultures!
A day of experience is better than a thousand words of advice.
- Tamil proverb
A drop of reason is better than a flood of words.
– Sindhi proverb
An old patient is better than a new doctor.
- Kannada proverb
Be like a bee, taking only the nectar from your experiences.
- Tamil proverb
Elders’ advice is like gooseberries; at first sour then sweet.
- Malayalam proverb
Experience is as important for knowledge as education.
- Tamil proverb
Experience is the mother of all knowledge.
- Hindi proverb
If a ship sinks, salvage the iron.
- Sindhi proverb
If you are ignorant at least listen to others’ advice.
- Tamil proverb
Known is a drop, unknown is an ocean.
- Tamil proverb
Listen to popular opinion but follow your own mind.
- Marathi proverb
Misfortunes tell us what fortune is.
– Sindhi proverb
One plus one makes eleven.
- Kashmiri proverb
Only he who gets burnt knows the fury of the fire.
- Kodagu proverb
Personal experience is as important to follow as the scriptures.
- Marathi proverb
The one who teaches is the giver of eyes.
- Tamil proverb
The rain of tears is necessary for the harvest of learning.
– Tamil proverb
The wise never starve when fools have money.
- Bhojpuri proverb
To lose is to learn.
- Hindi proverb
When you have silver in your hair you should have gold in your pockets.
– Sindhi proverb
Ancient Knowledge Sharing Techniques of India - The Great Land of Learning!
Managements across the globe are grappling with the challenge of capture and transfer of critical knowledge. We have the latest technologies at our fingertips and our understanding of the cognitive processes has never been better. And yet we struggle!
Perhaps it’s time to pause and reflect on some of the techniques used for knowledge sharing in ancient India, which had a thriving economy and culture. Could there be some learnings that can be replicated in some way?
I. Guru-Shishya (Teacher- Pupil) system
The Guru-Shishya system required the pupil to live with the Guru- up to the time the Guru felt that the pupil had imbibed all there was to learn from him - and the Pupil was as good as the teacher! Tradition says that this took around 14 years.
The advantage of this system is that the pupil absorbed the thought process and the emotions involved, as well as the knowledge and wisdom of the Guru. Many of the Shishya’s (pupils) went on to eclipse the Guru.
In today’s business world, it is unreasonable to expect a 14-year dedicated process of knowledge transfer. But can a ‘shadowing’ system be initiated? Juniors are invited to attend all meetings as ‘absorbers’ when key long-term decisions are being taken.
The scope is better than elsewhere at infrastructure and construction projects which typically exceed three years, and the staff stay in camps together; or when townships are created for staff around a mine or manufacturing plant.
The important point of the ‘Guru-Shishya’ System? PERSON TO PERSON transfer of knowledge, emotion and thought process!
II. Temple Carvings
The ancient temple carvings in India are an astounding method of ensuring the accurate transfer of not just information, but of knowledge itself. The detailing in each stone sculpture adorning the temples speaks volumes of the thought that went into the design and execution.
Each panel was comprehensive, and a complete section told the whole story. ‘No stone was left unturned’ to ensure that there is no misinterpretation (pun intended). Thus, knowledge and traditions transferred intact from generation to generation across millennia.
The closest analogy one can think of in today’s day and age, is of the 3D animation and graphics that allows one to zoom inside a machine to know how it works.
The important take-away from temple carvings is about ‘accurate transfer’ of knowledge across the ages!
III. Story Telling through ‘jagaran’s (all night recitations), folk dances and drama
Oral story telling has been a rich source of culture transfer down the ages. On special days (based on the lunar cycle) all-night recitations take place (even today). The village storyteller (or a wandering storyteller), along with a back-up cast of musicians, will regale the villagers in the audience by re-telling the tales in poetic form. They also interpret the recitation.
Dance and drama have reinforced storytelling and this form has transcended boundaries to the Far East like Thailand and Cambodia, where it is a huge tourist attraction as well.
Today, businesses are scrambling to put their management teams through courses on storytelling after castigating the method as ‘soft’ and ‘out of place’. The realisation has now dawned, that storytelling, folk dances and drama, that have been around for centuries, are key tools for transfer of culture and to reinforce values.
IV. Written and Painted Tal-patta-chitra (palm-leaf-picture)
The written text is also an important method but was not popular due to the limited number of literate people in ancient India. But this was supplemented with a whole body of paintings and related arts and crafts.
The date palm leaves are boiled and the sap removed. After drying in the sun, the leaves are treated with turmeric (preservative). A sharp instrument is used to etch the details. Then natural dye is used to fill the etches and extra dye washed off. Tal (palm)- Patta (leaf)- Chitra (picture) is this art form that conveys stories pictorially.
In organisations today, a lot of explicit knowledge is captured in documents, The overload of information means that it is important to ensure the right information is available to the right person just in time. The Importance of Talpattachitra was about sharing stories with everyone in a form that was simple to understand and recall.
There were other techniques too. But the objective of this article is to create awareness of how complex knowledge of Ancient India, was transferred accurately across generations in the absence of ‘modern’ communication techniques. The lessons and philosophies of these techniques cut across the veils of time and are relevant even today and beyond!
About the author
Rudolf Dsouza is CKO of Afcons Infrastructure, and former Chair of the KM Global Network in 2019 and 2020.