Resilience and errors in Knowledge Management and Project Management design
Resilience: the ability to design systems and projects that rapidly anticipate, sense, react to and learn from change.
The ability of a system or project to bounce forward, to rapidly learn in the event of changes in the wider environment is a capability that, arguably, every Knowledge Manager and Project Manager should be interested in.
Ask yourself, as a Knowledge Management or Project Management professional, what are you doing to embed resilience into the DNA of the systems and projects you design, develop and deliver (i.e. nudging of behaviours, and the design, development and delivery of processes and structures)?
In our experience, this is a critical problem, where rarely do we find Knowledge Managers or Project Managers considering what limits the project’s/organisation’s ability to rapidly anticipate, sense, react to and learn from change. This happens because Knowledge Managers and Project Managers get caught up in the here-and-now, missing the limiting risks that bring about longer term project or system failure.
To achieve resilience (adaptable behaviours, processes and structures) and limit risk of system or project failure, organisations (Knowledge Managers and Project Managers) must have awareness of the limiting competence, competency and capability of the people within the system or project.
Competence is often the basic requirement, the passport, to a job or profession (e.g. a Project Management qualification), where “what” is known is validated via qualifications or experience. You would hope that all organisations could assess the competence of their people. But what does this tell you about your ability to adapt, to make decisions, to sense change? Not a lot.
Competency is more subtle and hard to see; think about “how” people do the things they do. Here people become interested in skills such as leadership, communication, decision-making, networking and critical thinking. What is interesting is that very few firms look at workforce planning through this lens. People agree that the talent advantage is based on a hard to measure mix of knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours (emotional intelligence). So, when looking at the horizon, why do so few organisations consider the level of skills available to them and the opportunities/threats associated with such levels. HR tends to look at the total amount of resources available to the organisation, missing the scarcity of the limiting knowledge, skills, experience and/or behaviours available at a given point in time. Big mistake!
Capability is characterised by the ability of a person to make appropriate decisions, to solve problems, through the application and extension of their knowledge, skills and experience in non-standard, some might say “novel,” conditions. Basically, an ability to adapt. How many organisation could report/assess such a level of capability? How many organisations consider this in terms of workforce planning?
As a Knowledge Manager or Project Manager interested in building resilient systems and projects, are you considering the starting conditions (competence, competency and capability) that inform their success?
To not do so is to ignore the risk of wider system or project failure.