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Harnessing KM to support change mastery and continuous improvement

The increasing beat of globalisation continues to drive complexity that is volatile, uncertain and ambiguous (VUCA) in the business environment. This creates unprecedented change, making it very difficult for organisations to maintain focus and work effectively towards goals. Traditional service excellence, driven by communications, attitudes, product knowledge and leadership, is falling short in terms of helping organisations achieve market leadership, much less maintain it once achieved.

In response to VUCA organisations have variously developed strategies to aggressively manage talent and strengthen the employee feel-good factor in their culture, thereby continuously improving their capabilities to effectively reconfigure operations to meet customer needs. Organisations are aware, however, that their own abilities to be forward thinking and encourage transformative approaches driven by change-oriented mind-sets, will be key factors in the success of these strategies. Such and similar approaches promise employees in organisations becoming masters of change that keep the organisation competitive on the market.

Employees, particularly those talented and high performers, are forever pursuing excellence in execution of their roles. That pursuit will, invariably, produce the vital learning moments that can help meet the challenges of VUCA. Indeed it is in these learning moments that competitive advantage is created for the organisation. But, unfortunately, in many organisations, a few people only experience these learning moments, and the experiences tend to be at individual level, rather than shared.

The key questions for organisations looking to harness the power of these learning moments are:

  1. Whether those experiencing those learning moments are aware of them as they happen; and, once they are:
  2. Can they, and are they able to, share them across the organisation, to enhance competitive advantage

The answer to both questions lies in skilling people for perpetual change mastery within a dynamic culture. This is critical to mitigating the impacts of accelerating change, thus ensuring organisations’ continued competitiveness.

HR, in particular L&D practitioners, and or whoever is the knowledge officer on the ground, can work with team leaders to actively seek out and capture these learning moments, extracting developing and disseminating the lessons, insights and knowledge products they can generate; thus nurturing new capabilities that improve organisational effectiveness and efficiency.

Such active pursuit of learning moments can feed and sustain the systems for organisational competitiveness. Subsequently this creates a dynamic organisational culture, which is fertile breeding ground for the kind of change masters who become stewards of organisational effectiveness in pursuing the service excellence essential to maintaining competitive advantage.

With a change mastery skill set the team must master transformative organisational effectiveness strategies, drawn from learning moments anchored in organisational learning perspectives, whose main purpose is to advance organisational effectiveness. The learning perspectives must embrace non-judgemental values, rather focusing on driving service excellence. This way change mastery capabilities feed directly into how team functionality ensures organisational knowledge and talent requirements are met in ways that promote utilisation of organisations’ collective knowledge.

Change mastery within dynamic cultures breeds masters of change who have the ability to scan their own, business and or market, environment, analyse it and have the courage to reconceive their strategy and act on it. It is really a paradigm shift, where employees, particularly the talented and or high performers, have the ability to see their work anew and, imbued with self confidence, reflectively develop creative and innovative solutions to effectively manage change.

This process is by no means smooth, however, this is because employees and leadership capabilities, with respect to their targets, tend to vary widely.

The learning moments discussed here will only happen in organisations whose cultures are dynamic and strongly oriented towards change mastery supported by a strong learning perspective. It would be of interest to practitioners to further concentrate on building learning environments to assist organisation staff in developing self-assessment capabilities for new knowledge areas, to improve their behaviour change with renewed skill set. Organisational cultures that nurture dynamism, change mastery, with strong learning approaches, are intricately organically designed, making it critical that there be a set of guiding principles from which all organisation staff, especially the talented and or high performers, draw part of their value system.

Such guiding principles may include:

  • The Principle of Belonging
    This is the most defining of all the principles. While staff come to pursue personal goals through the organisation, it is very important that they become, and feel intimately part of the organisation. Hence individual actions are always viewed from an organisational perspective. The individual can never, and must never, become bigger than the whole. Organisational/Brand identity is collective.
  • The Principle of Inclusivity
    Talented and high performers tend to be lone voices, if not rangers. They also tend to experience their learning moments on their own. For these learning moments to be accepted, and enjoy the widest possible ownership and legitimacy, there must be a process that guarantees access to relevant staff – especially team leaders – most broadly representative of the entire organisation. Further, it is critical for these learning moments to be open to constructive criticism from the entire, relevant, span of the organization – different perspectives must be welcomed. The progression to a final knowledge product should involve as many staff members as possible.
  • The Principle of Communication
    In every organisation communications are both formal and informal. It is very important for practitioners to understand the power and intricacies of their organisations’ communication nodes.
  • The Principle of Continuous Learning
    The gleaning of lessons and insights from learning moments to their development into full knowledge products, to the creation of sharing and learning platforms for the entire organisation to learn from, must be a continuous process. As these processes interact to produce results, continuous learning becomes habit for organisation staff. Consequently talents will become masters of change while others will remain followers; but, ultimately, the whole organisation will enjoy enhanced effectiveness and efficiency.

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