ISO 9001 and Knowledge Management

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ISO 9001 certification of a fish wholesaler in Tsukiji (Image Source)

A question at work reminded me of some research I had done recently about the new organizational knowledge clause in the latest revision of ISO 9001. It had nothing to do with fish mind you, it’s just not that easy to find a related visual.

I stumbled upon this article from Quality Digest mentioning the change in the context of a strategic KM program:

Now, ISO 9001:2015 has a new clause, 7.1.6, on organizational knowledge and its management. This clause has no equivalent in ISO 9001:2008. In fact, it seems to be the only clause that is completely new. The other clauses seem to have some equivalent in the earlier version, in letter or in spirit.

The author goes on to differentiate between a strategy and technology-only approach to KM; I quote the strategy definition here:

Look at one definition of knowledge management: KM is an enabler to achieve an organization’s objectives better and faster through an integrated set of initiatives, systems and behavioral interventions, aimed at promoting smooth flow and sharing of knowledge relevant to the organization, and the elimination of reinvention. KM seeks to facilitate the flow of knowledge from where it resides, to where it is required (that is, where it can be applied or used), to achieve the organization’s objectives.

The article continues with an outline of a strategic approach that is worth a closer look. Now I’ll have something to read over sushi tomorrow.


The Cynefin Framework (and children’s parties)

I had the good fortune of attending Dave Snowden‘s workshop at the KMWorld conference in Washington D.C. last week. As I feared (or suppose hoped), this has ballooned my reading list.

This video above is a brief introduction to one of his central ideas, the Cynefin Framework, detailed in the HBR article A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making.

One of the more memorable items from his talk was about how to organize a children’s party (within the context of complexity). Anyone who’s been a parent and/or worked in a large corporation will find it amusing and insightful. I was happy to see it captured in this video below:

CIO: Why happiness beats money when choosing a tech career

Some of the best career advice I’ve ever gotten was to sit down and really think about what things you’ve done or experienced in your career that really made you happy. Things you enjoyed doing and were proud of. Write them down. Formulate a plan to pursue more things like those.

So often you start a career listening to the “should’s” of parents or aiming at what pays well. You may even be fortunate enough to know what you want to do and get to pursue your passion from the beginning. But invariably, I think most intelligent and self-aware people reach a few different points during a career where they look around and have to consider, “Wow, I’ve arrived, but is this really like what I thought it was going to be like?”.

In this piece at, the author provides some great questions to ask early in your career, and when you find yourself at one of the question points later:

Figure out what you like doing and what you hate doing early on
Figure out what size and kind of company you want to work for
Do you want to be a CEO?

After gaining some experience, thinking about what you hate (or conversely love doing), how the size of the company you work for impacts that, and what your life will be like when you reach the job you strive for (the CEO question), can really illuminate your path forward.


Knowledge Management is Dead. Long Live Knowledge Management.

Clearly a title like “Whatever Happened to Knowledge Management?” is going to catch my eye. In this WSJ piece, Thomas Davenport sheds some light on the present state of affairs for KM, and touches on some interesting points about SharePoint:

The technology that organizations wanted to employ was Microsoft’s SharePoint. There were several generations of KM technology—remember Lotus Notes, for example?—but over time the dominant system became SharePoint. It’s not a bad technology by any means, but Microsoft didn’t market it very effectively and didn’t market KM at all.

and something quite prevalent in my world (you may have heard of this “big data” thing):

KM never incorporated knowledge derived from data and analytics. I tried to get my knowledge management friends to incorporate analytical insights into their worlds, but most had an antipathy to that topic. It seems that in this world you either like text or you like numbers, and few people like both. I shifted into focusing on analytics and Big Data, but few of the KM crowd joined me.

In my view, one thing is certain: there is tremendous value locked in the heads of employees, hiding in content of all types, and waiting to be found in large data sets.

Enterprise tools of all kinds, from content management to search to analytics, are continuing to evolve. The increasing demands of global competition are driving a more collaborative workforce.

Regardless of wether we continue to label efforts to unlock that value as knowledge management, they will remain important.

Long live knowledge management.

Adm. William H. McRaven: Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training


When it comes to leadership, the US Special Operations Command is probably about as good as it gets. I had the privilege to see Gen. Stanley McChrystal speak once and was impressed not only by what he had to say, but also in how both practical and nuanced his points were.

This WSJ piece includes Adm. William McRaven’s recent commencement address at the University of Texas. Now as an Aggie, I won’t comment on the UT elements of his remarks but the lessons from SEAL training are worth hearing—summarized in his conclusion below (Source):

It will not be easy. But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.

Now I’m off to go make my bed.

Theodore Roosevelt sets a high bar for slacker America

I enjoyed this article about how productive (one of my personal heroes) Theodore Roosevelt was in a time before modern technology. (Source)

We live in an age of great distraction. Everything from Facebook and email to video games and binge TV watching can give us the sense we have done something useful with our time when, in fact, we have merely wasted a lot of days we will never get back. Many young American men, the slacker generation, would benefit from adopting Roosevelt’s “strenuous life” as a model of manhood, but it is not just a boy problem. Most of us have a slacker inside. We could do worse than to strive for the energy, disciplined time management and moral core that made Roosevelt a man worthy of a place on Mount Rushmore.

What better inspiration than that to get this blog moving again.

A guide to Jack Dorsey’s 80-hour workweek

As a fan of having a weekly framework to drive productivity, I loved this article about Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey’s weekly routine that accommodates 2 full-time jobs… (Source)

Monday: Management meetings and “running the company” work

Tuesday: Product development

Wednesday: Marketing, communications and growth

Thursday: Developers and partnerships

Friday: The company and its culture

Weekends are a bit slower: Saturdays are for hiking and Sundays are for “reflection, feedback and strategy,” Dorsey said. But from Monday to Friday, he clocks in eight hours at Twitter and then walks two blocks over to put in another eight hours at Square.

Neal Stephenson: Innovation Starvation

In his piece in World Policy Journal… (Source)

Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.