One of the key things in understanding and managing a complex adaptive system is getting the granularity right. Things that are too chunked are too big to change, to allow combination and recombination; too small and any such combination is not going to be visible or significant. Granularity is one of the key factors in scaling success and one of the easiest to manage. For example using smaller organisation units rather than a structured hierarchy or worst still a matrix structure with its two competing hierarchies. The same applies to knowledge strategy and mapping; we simply can't afford to start with a high level what things should be approach as the risk of missing how things are around here is too high. Now the decision mapping I talked about yesterday is one way to get to that and it has high impact, but it's not the whole story.
Showing the gap between how things are on the ground and contrasting it with executive perception is one thing. Once the gap is visible then we can start to create projects to close the gap, something which is a two way process. But that is in a sense a corrective action, we also need to be more proactive in addressing current problems not past process engineering mistakes. That is where the dependency matrix creeps in. Again it is something I started to use and refined over three decades ago before I had any inkling of the importance of complexity theory, with that understanding it has more significance and applicability. In the context of knowledge management it requires two inputs:
That complete we can issue the grid to a representative group of employees (at all levels) and ask them to mark each box where there is a high dependency between problem and a knowledge object. The results can then be combined to identify common agreement and also maverick scores. Both are useful. By now it should be evident that the method of creating the data is part of the process of getting buy in to the results.
Once we have the combination we can now look for two patterns. Those in blue show where a single problem can be addressed only if we effectively manage multiple knowledge objects; easy to sell more difficult to implement. Those in red show where managing a single knowledge object could have an impact on many problems; more difficult to sell easy to implement. This process which takes place in a workshop creates a portfolio of projects that work with the reality of both what we know (or don't know) and what is concerning decision makers.
That complete we can move to the overall process; I will summarise that tomorrow.