KM Singapore 2013: Operationalising Knowledge Management for Productivity

KM Singapore 2013: Operationalising Knowledge Management for Productivity

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Singapore; October 2-4, 2013

The tenth KM Singapore conference, one of my favourite annual KM events, kicked off this October with the theme “Operationalising Knowledge Management for Productivity” ( (See my earlier articles from KM Singapore 2011, 2010 and 2009: The event is organised by the Information & Knowledge Management Society (

I. Karuna Ramanathan, IKMS president

We are raising the KM discussion from beyond best practices to innovation, productivity, sustainability
IKMS began as a KM study group in 1998, formalised in 2001. Now – annual conference, publications, reports, awards
A new research report has been released on foundations and state of the art of knowledge management

II. Keynote address: Singapore’s Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin

Chuan-Jin cites Kofi Annan: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
Human Capital Index (WEF): Singapore ranks world No.3 for making the most of its workers (quality, education, work environment)
RT @michellelamb embracing KM practices helps organisations to innovate and increase productivity, this is achieved when people feel they are learning
Chuan-Jin stresses that culture is as important as processes and tools for knowledge sharing
Tap the wealth of ideas and experience of your team
Make sure you spend time to think and reflect – step back before you jump into action

III. Tom Stewart, Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer, Booz & Company: The Right to Win, the Right to Grow: Using knowledge to drive productivity, growth, strategy

I began reporting on intellectual capital 21 years ago!
Productivity is about input/output ratios. Fun is in the growth part of the business
If you are not managing your organisation’s knowledge, you are not managing its business
The business climate: extreme. The state of strategy: confused. The role of knowledge: essential
Companies and economies continue to face strong headwinds. Competitive landscape has become broader and more complex
The geography of capitalism expanded by 3 billion in one generation.
Hot industries are now cooling off (over a decade)
Traditional organisations are ill-equipped for this 24/7/365 world – making big decisions in realtime in an uncertain world
You almost need to go from a 5-year plan to a 5-hour plan!
Only a small percentage of companies is both lean *and* ready to grow
Categories of strategy: Strategically adrift, distracted, capability constrained, organisationally hampered, ready for growth
4 categories of strategies: new high ground; core competencies; quick adaptation; execution
Core of strategy should be on identity and capability, not marginal issues like short-term competition
How do we create value, based on what distinctive competencies
Apple is best at bringing the user experience to its customers
Zara – unique business model, based on market insights, innovation, flexibility, rapidity and manufacturing
Categories of offerings: not required, basic capabilities, competitive necessities, differentiation
KM should derive from and shape strategy. Building capabilities, monetising the knowledge
KM has to make life easier and business better. Essence of competition is knowledge. How will you swim in the Blue Ocean?
Bi-directional KM can help resolve tension between growth and productivity. Pyramid: processes/tools, capabilities/content, strategy
Strategy: what knowledge makes us different (create barriers, makes us the best)
My Q to Tom: Most CKOs are from IT, HR, info backgrounds. How can they take on a more strategic role?
They should think of themselves as a Chief Capability Officer, building capabilities across the organisation, aligned with strategy
If KM becomes more strategic, the next 20 years of the discipline will be even better than the last 20 years
The 21st century knowledge leader must mobilise to respond to these crucial strategic questions: What 3-6 capabilities are essential for you to win? What are the KM requirements? How will you build these and deliver value?
Always a delight to hear Tom Stewart, his book “Intellectual Capital” is a landmark in the KM field!

IV. Deputy CEO, Workforce Development Authority. Singapore, Winston Toh: Operationalising KM: WDA’s KM Journey”

I will keep it informal lah! I didn’t attend KM courses, so I hired a CKO to implement KM in the organisation!
WDA – focus on employability and competitiveness of Singapore’s workforce. Lifelong learning
Winston: There are 33 Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) frameworks
Business management has 9 functional areas – organisational management includes KM, innovation, change management
KM Competencies – knowledge/info strategies, KM systems, documentation/processes, collate workplace information
WOW! WDA will cover 70% of costs of building KM capabilities in Singapore’s workforce via IKMS
WDA itself has its own KM journey. KM is a key enabler in its dozens of initiatives
Change has to be sustainable, so the first person I appointed was a KM head! Staff engagement important for KM success
Knowledge mapping took us 9 months. Dozens/hundreds of business processes, objects, initiatives, teams, tools
In 2011 we did a knowledge and culture audit. 104 stories, about org comm., sharing, documentation, process logic
KM archetypes at WDA: Tanya Rules, Busy Bee, Brains, Young and Restless, Sharing Susan
Aims of digital workplace – task completion, centralised communications, brand & engagement
WDA KM milestones: Research (interviews, roadshows, consultant), Communications (audit, public gallery), Plan+Do (validate, communicate, implement)
KM quick wins: remove red tape, induction knowledge for newbies, info accessibility, retention, sharing exchanges
WDA KM examples – one-stop search portal; First 30 Days Onboarding Guide (newbies, buddies, reporting officer); taxonomy; contact list; glossary
WDA KM examples – identification/profiling of knowledge champions (change agents); social media CoP; team leads CoP. Content-writing workshops
Critical success factors – communications, senior management visibility and support, staff conviction (short term + long term wins), KM supports business, centralised KM

V. Zaid Hamzah, Intellectual Capital Strategist; Director, Intellectual Futures “Emergence of the Intellectual Capital Economy: Perspectives of a Small Nation”

Singapore is like a yacht, not aircraft carrier
Metaphors for Singapore in Asia – like Boston, New York, Silicon Valley. Monetisation of KM key for success
China has many knowledge workers; world’s largest patent filing nation (though many are “junk”!)
Singapore has allocated S$16 billion for 2011-2015 for research, innovation and enterprise. Creating a Global IP Exchange
Need to understand the geography of complexity. Singapore is small, but IC & strategic knowledge can liberate it
Singapore’s assets – financial, country brand, operating assets (airport, port), trust assets (political stability, IP protection)
Japan, Korea, China together file 20% of the world’s patents, more than US and Germany
Economic transformation – from factor-driven economy to efficiency-driven and then innovation-driven economy
Market value of S&P top 500 companies – component of IP etc has gone up from 17% in 1975 to 80% in 2010
It has been a challenge for startups to get paid for their IP; banks don’t listen to them! That will change in Singapore in 2014
PDF: Singapore’s IP Hub Master Plan (IPOS)
Next challenge for Singapore – exporting its brand, not just importing brands (eg. educational brands like MIT, Yale)
Have you heard of world-class software products from Korea, Japan?
Creation of IPR as an asset class will be a new addition in Singapore next year (beyond stocks, cash, etc)
In Silicon Valley, Indians and Chinese have added IP/value in greater proportion than their population base
My Q to Zaid: How does Singapore fit in ‘creativity’ into its master plan for IP?
Singapore must ‘loosen’ up a little. Our education system is too rigid.

VI. Madanmohan Rao, Editor, The KM Chronicles (me!) on KM Metrics

Frameworks, examples, impacts, evolution, maturity models
Categories of KM metrics: Activity, Process, Knowledge, People, Organisational/business metrics
Key ingredients of successful KM: Connectivity, Content, Community, Culture, Capacity, Cooperation, Commerce, Capital
Reporting KM metrics: quantitative, qualitative, semi-quantitative
Metrics governance: assessment, revision, communication, response, cost
Examples: Wipro, Unisys, Accenture

VII. Thomas Thomas, Executive Director, Singapore Compact: “Leveraging on KM for Corporate Social Responsibility”

We aim to increase CSR adoption in Singapore companies. KM helped us harness and develop stories of our case studies
See our Website for CSR case studies, leadership profiles:
CSR is the way ahead for society, especially Singapore. KM is the way we enable the takeup of CSR in Singapore
Superb presentation by Thomas Thomas on the importance of CSR in the 21st century, and how KM methods have helped increase awareness/participation!
Singapore is experiencing growing inequity, CSR is important eg. paying living wages, caring for elders

VIII. Yong Wui Chiang, KM Architect & CKO, Singapore Army; Head, Doctrine Development Group: “My Journey as a KM Practitioner”

Half the Singaporean audience in has served in the national service (defense)!
Army KM: transferring KM across successive generations, updating military knowledge, validating efforts
Tacit knowledge – SMEs (subject matter experts). Explicit knowledge – Doctrine. Learnt/transferred via experience
Measuring km impact is like asking why you invest in your child’s education.
Need to convert doctrine into ‘accessible small chunks,’ adjust to the way people want to learn today
videos are important for knowledge transfer for the younger generation; customised training and e-learning
Need to teach employees facilitation, coaching, collaboration
Army Learning System: 1. Self-directed learning (accessible small chunks). 2. KM (insights, collective experience). 3. Learning networks (facilitation, coaching, collaboration)
Key for KM success – skills, teamwork, leadership. We have created an ‘active learning network.’
LEARNet Vision 2020:
Singapore Army’s action learning process: BAR (before activity review), DAR (during activity review), PAR (post activity review)
“I do” (Chinese proverb from Madan’s book on Singapore Proverbs) – is the hard part for the army.
KM should become second habit for our soldiers
Q: Can KM work in a top-down environment also like the military, and not just in democratic environments?
Not a problem, because the knowledge is focused on key skills like battlefield survival. Knowledge is seen as critical

IX. Terry Smagh, Vice-President, QlikView Asia: “Productivity in Analytics: Big Data and the Data Scientist”

Information workers are today’s hunter gatherers. Follow the information scent; use mobile and social networks
FYI: Terry’s articles:
Gartner – kinds of skills: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive (moving from recording to differentiation and innovation)
Big Data requires a specialized skill set and level of technological sophistication that ordinary business users don’t have
Complex data still has to be presented to business users in a way that is easy to understand, and which enables them to ask questions and to explore their answers
Maturity of data analytics adoption: record, differentiation, innovation, optimisation
Challenges – dynamic data (getting data into warehouse fast enough for analysis), immediate analytics
Use big data to close the social business loop – listen (big data), engage (community management), guide (strategy)
Terry presents how QlikView helped (Candy Crush game) analyse number of players, games played, time/duration of plays

X. Nick Milton @nickknoco: “Learning from Lessons Learned”

90% of organisations have made an attempt at lessons learning, but 60% to 70% were not fully satisfied
Organisational memory can be shallower than individual human memory
Experience is inevitable, learning is not.
Nick is author of “Lessons Learned Handbook” (7 years of KM @ BP)
Basic premise of lessons learnt – learn from performance, apply new knowledge, improve performance
Nick shows Kepco chart of nuclear plant construction – costs came down from 1995-2005. Value of lessons learnt can be huge
Problems with lessons learned:
1. Lessons identified, but not learned (root cause analysis, generalisation, documentation, validation, distribution, follow lesson). Teams involved: Project team, Investigation team, Senior management team)
2. Lessons database is seen only as repository, not a management system
3. Lack of quality control
4. Lack of governance around lesson-learning process
5. New learning not reviewed/discussed (no ‘learning before’)
6. Human factors
7. Learning at the wrong scale
Metrics – What percentage of lessons lead to closure? Aspiration – 100% of our lessons should be applied and lead to improved performance
The lessons database is where lessons often go to die! You need a management system for it: workflow with notification alerts to push lessons (not just waiting to be found), and metrics to track usage
Quality ensures that a lesson can be taught. Stories in context, with specific recommendations and references
Metrics – was this a $5 lesson or a $5 million lesson?
A good facilitator gets to the heart of the matter in capturing lessons. Moves from observations to underlying causation, with specific explanations and no ambiguity, and then updates procedural manuals accordingly
Many orgs do ‘learning after’ but not ‘learning before’ – new knowledge is not incorporated into plans
It is very rare to find a project framework which begins with ‘pull out lessons learned from previous projects’
Peer assist is the most powerful KM tool you can use, the silver bullet of KM
Governance – accountability for closing lessons; metrics for tracking lessons used; expectations of lesson application; high level sponsorship
RT @michellelamb RT @mikaela_iras: having a neutral party facilitate “lessons learnt” may be useful, esp if it turns into a finger-pointing exercise
Governance elements for lessons learned: Expectations, Support (training, facilitation), Performance measurement (metrics, KPIs)
Role of the lessons team: coach, process champion, process manager, usage monitor; added value: look for trends, weak signals
Human factors – culture. Wishful thinking, overconfidence in our memory, unwillingness to analyse (success: showing off; failure: weakness), habituation (normalisation of deviance – it’s ok if things go slightly wrong all the time)
Chinese saying: The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.
NASA lived with its space shuttle problem and didn’t fix it; led to disaster down the road
Lessons learned are often only about tactics and not strategy
US Army is great at learning from tactics, but not from/about strategy. Learnt about avoiding roadside bombs, but what about national agenda?
Lessons learnt can be done. Metrics – less time taken to finish projects can lead to huge savings and productivity increases
Q: Many managers focus on doing things right, not doing the right thing. How can this be derived from lessons learnt?
KM is not just for employees, it is for managers and leaders too. They need to apply lessons learnt in their own domain also, eg. strategy

XI. Michelle Lambert “Shifting from Social Media to a Social Productivity Dividend” (internal social media)

70% of extra profit can be made through social technologies within the company (HBR)
20-25% productivity increase can be achieved through internal social media
A lot of time is spent on searching for things you know exist (30% of knowledge workers’ time)
The average ‘interaction worker’ spends 28% of time managing emails. Messages are also a form of content
Social productivity dividend = Change management + social technology + content strategy
Even successful change management can lead to some level of confusion and frustration
Survey – larger Australian public service organisations have less effective communication than smaller ones
RT @straitsknow @michellelamb shares case study of org who failed in info mgmt 3 times due to lack of change mgmt
You can post messages about change in lobbies, canteens, foyers and even the back of toilet doors!
Michelle showcasing data on content explosion, citing ‘InfoWhelm and Information Fluency’ video (
Change management components: Purpose, Pathway, Planning, People, Persistence
My Q to Michelle: What are the issues to overcome inter-generational differences in social media usage?
Use reverse mentoring to get youth to train elder digital dinosaurs in the company! But don’t generalise too much or make assumptions based on age, some managers are also good in social media
I am of the age when I remember email was introduced, and companies were worried about giving their employees email access!
Learn how to use social media within your firewall so your employees learn techniques and ethics; then you can turn it on outside as well
Q: What are the ownership, privacy and security issues of information with respect to internal social media?
Q: How to ensure social tools are not used in some companies for deviance and procrastination

XII. Carla Sapsford Newman: “Capturing Critical Knowledge in Organisations”

Fickle management winds can kill KM programs; defend/embed KM
Carla resorts to Grimm’s Fairy Tales as metaphor for KM journey! Grim turns but happy ending at the end :-)
KM is about marriage, not dating – need long term commitment
Need to allow for safe and (in some cases) anonymous feedback for knowledge sharing in organisations
KM is more than checklists, that won’t get you to the critical knowledge. KM is not the flavour of the month, and not a silver bullet to performance problems either
Top management should allow employees to talk past line managers and flag potential problems
Companies are averse to discussing failures, but should embrace it as a source of learning. Communicate failure in a culturally relevant way, not always necessary to write it down
Need to sustain KM, people’s expectations and trust rise after you launch it.
Challenges – KM results not seen as sexy enough.
Word of mouth is best ad/promotion of KM and tools
Common Sense isn’t common.
RT @mikaela_iras Common misconceptions about KM execs: IT helpdesk, bothersome change advocates, all play no work, profit parasites
Metrics – calculate also risks/costs of not doing KM, eg knowledge loss, what can’t be avoided, etc. eg. KM can improve safety and therefore protect brand (Chevron: $2B savings a year in 7 years from 1992-1999, 30% productivity gain, 50% improvement in safety)
Fear can be a fantastic motivator! Never let a crisis go to waste, show how KM could have helped. Every organisation has its internalised fears.
For long-term success, benchmark with other KM initiatives. Steer KM towards 5-10 year goals of the company. Build strong evangelists
KM should become buddies with HR and IT. Reward behaviour which improves employee + organisation.
My Q: How to harness fear as KM driver? A: Numbers can be numbing, need to show how can address manager fears, eg. market valuation

XIII. Vincent Ribière: KM, Innovation and Productivity: Combined approach of both disciplines

Globalisation: hearing a French accent describe KM in Thailand to an audience in Singapore!
iKlub (Info and KM Club) in Thailand has partnerships with France, Hong Kong, Singapore
Institute for Knowledge and Innovation, Southeast Asia: Bangkok University iKlub – The Innovation and Knowledge Management Club
Vincent reeling off beautiful quotes about innovation, creativity, initiative!
Need to connect operational cycle (routines, procedures) to innovation cycle (unlearning, speculation)
Learning forms in an organisation: intuiting, interpreting, integrating, institionalisation
Innovation does not happen in a vacuum, some of it includes recombination/extension of existing things/models (‘path dependence’)
Benchmarking – Great Ormond St Hospital, London, learnt from Ferrari F1 Pit Team about speedy handovers!
The hospital also learnt from dance choreographers how to help team members stay out of the way of others! ‘Discipline of quietness and calm!’
Best practices are like Western classical music; innovation is like jazz!
Me: Best practices are like the Bible, innovation is like the Kama Sutra?
Need different ways of looking, learning, leading. Cites Arthur Koestler “Learning from the Yogi and the Commissar”
“Innovation is also about being outrageous”
Visualising knowledge can be a source of creativity

XIV. Arief Amron Ariffin, MayBank: Nurturing a CoP for KM practitioners (Malaysia experience): Aspirations, forums, successes/failures

Malaysia started its KM initiative in 2000. “I am a student and will always be!” blog started in 2004; KM Association of Malaysia set up in 2005. 2011: KM Talk on FB. 2012: KM conference by BNM
Arief @ariefamron: Misperceptions of KM in Malaysia – it is about tech, it is a learning system, it is a variation of social media
KM should not become a silo, it should be connected to all departments. Should not be mis-sold as IT/portal solution and a temporary solution
Some people attended a 5-day certification programme and consider themselves KM experts!
KM CoP helps as a resource, sounding board, sharing platform
KMTalk CoP for KM in Malaysia has 155 members, largely Klang Valley based
How not to form local KM communities – formalise too early, politics, kill ideas, not communicating, giving up!
My suggestion to Arief: Get an academic partner (venue, faculty, student attendees), find a food/beverage sponsor!

RT @mikaela_iras A collage of the scribbles by the talented infographics people
Done with three roundtables on KM strategy! Other roundtables: social media, Intranets, etc.
Thanks to all speakers, attendees, organisers, sponsors, volunteers at #KMsg – see you all in 2014!


Knowledge Confluence 2013 hosted by Wipro Limited, Bangalore

Knowledge Confluence 2013 hosted by Wipro Limited, Bangalore

Wipro cordially invites K-Community members and other KM professionals in Bangalore to a full-day conference, Knowledge Confluence, at their Sarjapur Campus on Thursday September 5, 2013; 9:15 am to 5:15 pm. The event is free to all K-Community members.

9:30 – 9:45 Welcome Note
Devender Malhotra, Chief Quality Officer, Wipro Limited

9:45 – 10:30 Session 1 – KM Strategy
Sambuddha Deb, Executive Vice President, Wipro Limited

10:30 – 11:15 Session 2 – Building a Systematic Innovation Capability
Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Professor and Chairperson, Corporate Strategy & Policy Area, IIM, Bangalore

11:15 – 11:30 Coffee/Tea
11:30 – 12:15 Session 3 – Business Value of KM
Dayapatra Nevatia, Vice President and Global Delivery Head – ENU, Wipro Limited

12:15 – 13:00 Session 4 – KM Governance & Risk Management
Anirudh P Patil – Director, McKinsey Knowledge Centers, McKinsey & Company, Gurgaon

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:15
Panel Discussion – Developing and Deploying KM Strategy – Challenges and Lessons Learnt
Moderator – Dr. Madanmohan Rao, Author/Editor, The KM Chronicles, Bangalore
1. Ajeeth Jagannath, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, ITC Infotech India Ltd, Bangalore
2. Ravi Mani, Senior Vice President, Organizational Excellence Group, iGate, Bangalore
3. Krishnan KS, General Manager and Head – Culture and Competence (L&D) and Knowledge Management (KM), Mindtree, Bangalore
4. Ravi Ivaturi, Director Operations, Unisys, Bangalore
5. Dr. Hariprasad Reddy, Head of Knowledge Management, Wipro Limited, Bangalore

15:15 – 15:45 High Tea
15:45 – 16:15 Session 5 – KM Metrics
Dr. Madan Mohan Rao, Author/Editor, The KM Chronicles, Bangalore

16:15 – 17:00 Session 6 – Collaboration / Social Networking
Parameshwar P Iyer, Principal Research Scientist and Head, Placement and Industrial Liaison, Department of Management Studies, IISC, Bangalore
17:00- 17:15 Closing session
Rajeev V.S. General Manager, Mission Quality, Wipro Limited


Startup Estonia: Skype and beyond

Startup Estonia: Skype and beyond

by Madanmohan Rao

Achoo, Arambla, BlackBook, Cloudseal, Defolio, Edicy, Flirtic, Fortumo, GrabCad, Listhings, Monsavile, Newspin, Photry, Plumbr, Quotista, Sportlyzer, Talentag, Toggl, Utilimon, ZeroTurnAround.

That, briefly, is the A-Z of a new wave of startups from Estonia who have succeeded in the international marketplace.

[ See full article online at ]


Global Forum on Innovation: Top 15 Tips for Accelerating Entrepreneurship

Global Forum on Innovation: Top 15 Tips for Accelerating Entrepreneurship

Madanmohan Rao

The 5th Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship ( held this week in South Africa by the World Bank’s infoDev programme featured a range of entrepreneurs and experts offering tips and advice on how to accelerate the startup movement around the world. Here are my Top 15 takeaways from the opening sessions and startup showcases on Day One!

[ See full article at ]


KM and Organisational Alignment

KM and Organisational Alignment

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Bangalore; April 17, 2013

[ Also see article version on KM World website: ]

An important issue for long-term success of KM initiatives is aligning it with organisational strategy, especially in times of change. KM initiatives, however, can ‘drift’ over time if measures are not taken to align it with organisational mission, new turns in direction, management changes, and different product/service offerings.

The Bangalore K-Community meetup of April 2013 addressed some of the change management issues and process re-design needed at such times. Panellists from Unisys, Mindtree, CitiGroup, and Ernst&Young provided case studies and tips in this regard, along with inputs from the audience who represented Cap Gemini, GT Nexus, Societe Generale and Bosch. Here are my Top 15 takeaways from the engaging discussion:

1. Bring KM into mission-critical activities. KM is a great enabler of many business processes, but can be very relevant to ensure success and continuity of mission-critical activities in areas ranging from banking to security. Unisys leverages KM to ‘acquire, retain and propagate’ mission-critical knowledge in its global services.

2. Focus on knowledge retention during times of attrition. Globalisation, ageing workforces and economic downturns are leading to loss of valuable knowledge. Show how KM can help stem this gap in the near-term and especially in the long-term.

3. Use KM to improve understanding and execution of business re-organisation. KM sometimes gets shunted aside during complex organisational restructuring, but can actually be a useful support to figure out how to do effective re-organisation. Some companies seem to spend almost half their time on re-structuring, but are not using KM to be more effective or innovative in such re-structuring.

4. Go beyond connecting to networking. KM at the people level sometimes gets stuck at the stage of people profiles and a bewildering range of discussion forums. It is important to add collaborative tasks on top of such connections, so that actually networking takes place and collective intelligence emerges.

5. Conduct more research on knowledge work. With all the hype about social media in the enterprise, people tend to forget that knowledge work is essentially built on effective communication. More research is needed on the changing workplace/workspace to understand how KM is becoming even more critical to 21s century organisations, and how knowledge seeking/collaboration behaviours of knowledge workers are changing.

6. Pay more attention to design and visualisation. In a workspace of increasing information overload and multitasking, it is important to design knowledge interactions and interfaces in a compelling yet effective manner. Effective design can help in sense-making in fast-changing and information-intensive environments. But how many KM functions include roles for skilled user experience designers?

7. Pay attention to the requirements of mobile knowledge workers. BYOD is old hat now as more and more frontline employees and managers are using mobile devices not just for accessing information but for full workflow. Knowledge processes should be mobile-optimised, and not just in terms of device interface but also in speed of delivery, eg. fast-loading dashboards for sales teams.

8. Blend informal and formal activities in knowledge-sharing sessions. For example, a ‘knowledge fair’ format with each project team presenting its achievements and learnings drives home the KM message stronger for all those who participate. The very act of presenting a KM case study can help employees develop a deeper appreciation of the strengths and opportunities for KM at work in the long term, and instils a sense of pride.

9. Broad-base the KM initiative and don’t restrict it to only select managers or project heads. The more the number of people who engage with KM in full-time or part-time roles, the more buy-in it will get and the more value it will be seen to contribute. Unisys conducts a one week knowledge sharing event called UniLight which attracts over 60% of its employees.

10. Highlight KM practitioners across the board. Don’t just showcase the usual super-achievers, but also feature the employees who are coming up with their very first unique work insights, or first re-use of existing knowledge assets.

11. Don’t pitch KM as an ‘extra’ activity to be done after normal work hours; it should be embedded in regular workflow. Even ‘additional’ activities such as conferencing and industry meetups should be seen as a way of learning, brainstorming and benchmarking.

12. Avoid too much theory and jargon. While the core team certainly needs to be abreast of developments in KM models and research, their recommendations and implementations need to be demystified and simplified so that employees are not distracted or confused with more buzzwords.

13. Don’t get hung up on the name ‘KM!’ Some people seem to have problems with the word knowledge, management and even KM. Other terms such as collaborative work, or knowledge sharing/emergence seem to be in use as well. A particularly creative acronym I have come across in a Singapore office is FISH – Friday Information Sharing Huddle!

14. Use metrics and analytics effectively, and conduct KM course corrections as appropriate. Many KM initiatives stop their outcome studies at the level of activity metrics (as described in my book “KM Tools”), but fail to connect them to deeper processes, knowledge insights, people attitudes and overall impacts on productivity and innovation. One company reported that only 40% of its knowledge assets were being used, and some were being viewed only by the creator! At the same time, metrics are not the “be all and end all” of assessment.

15. Help ensure long-term success of KM by evangelising it to students. Unisys has created the Unisys Technology Forum India ( to bring workplace domain knowledge and practices to students – including activities like KM. This helps create awareness in students about the importance of KM, and strengthens the KM pipeline in the long run.

The panel ended with a further round of fascinating questions, which will be taken up in future meetups. Is there a future anymore for ‘centralised’ KM? How should KM be pitched to Gen Next – or is it the other way round? How does strategy guide culture – or is culture the dominant factor?


Rajlakshmi Borthakur is a seasoned user experience professional at Ernst&Young, with around 14 years of experience, specialising in content management, content strategy and usability. She helps to define online experiences that enable businesses to realise their goals and end users to fulfill their information needs. She defines holistic frameworks that bring together the best of knowledge management, content strategy, marketing, technology, and usability. Rajlakshmi has worked with several notable clients in the past, including Fortune 100 organisations.

Renu Rajani is Senior Vice President with CitiGroup Global Technologies. She was previously General Manager at IBM, in the Global Business Service and Global Technology Divisions. Renu has overall 22 years of experience in global organisations and her experience covers supply chain, testing and supplier governance. She graduated from Purdue University and is the author of a book on software testing published by Tata McGraw-Hill.

Ravi Shankar Ivaturi is the operations director at Unisys in Bangalore. He has been instrumental in defining and implementing KM strategy and aligning it with organisational goals. Ravi has over 20 years of experience. He has expertise in setting up teams from ground up, growing them into world class teams. Organisational development and change management are key focus areas that excite him.

Krishnan KS heads culture and competence (L&D) and KM at Mindtree. He was with Tata Infotech and graduated from REC Calicut (now NIT Calicut). He has a keen interest in creativity, culture and competence development, and how management should evolve in the knowledge era. He has been on four treks to the Himalayas.


Dr. Madanmohan Rao is a KM author and consultant based in Bangalore. He is the editor of The KM Chronicles and four other book series. He is co-founder of the Bangalore K-Community (, and can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao


KM India 2013: March 7-8, Mumbai

KM India 2013: March 7-8, Mumbai

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles

Logging in now from #KM #India 2013 in Mumbai: Knowledge Summit – KM for Double Digit Growth #KMers
If your city does not yet have a K-Community meetup for KM, please sign on at
If you have a KM case study, please contact me – I am publishing a KM casebook next year!

I. Workshop: Thomas Stewart, Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer, Booz and Company

“Don’t just manage knowledge, make it a competitive advantage”
I’ve been involved in KM since 1991. Value of intellectual capital. Sausage-maker in Milwaukee: “The assets that aren’t on the balance sheet are more important than those that are.”
The value is in mind, not just muscle.
Traces KM roots from Nonaka, Sveiby, etc. Computing power boom in 1990s led to rise of IT vendors in KM space.
Capabilities drive knowledge and strategy
Audience: L&T, KPMG, iGate, TCS, Mercer, Honeywell, Bharat Electronics, Infosys, E&Y, CapGemini, Unisys, eClerx, SAP, IMRB, GMR, Gunjan, Oracle, Mahindra&Mahindra, ITC Infotech, Wipro, EurekaForbes
Roles: KM, business excellence, tech, marketing, HR, global transformation; PhD
KM is like a baby – nothing but tears and poop for 18 months! Years? ;-)
KM has entered a new phase that promises to bring more value to orgs than ever before.
First 15 years – collection, connection
Next decade: strategic KM. Adding value, differentiating capabilities (“what you do better than anyone else”)
Info + knowledge strategy is equivalent of MBA of 20th century (Columbia programme)
Capable companies combine a clear way to play, a system of differentiating capabilities, and the right offering of products and services into a coherent whole.
KM – hype curve – now onto a new plateau of productivity
After dotcom bust, people asked me if KM is over! It was a bureaucracy, a cost.
We are now out of that. KM World conference is attended a lot.
Five truths about KM strategy:
Knowledge is our most important asset
Knowledge is the biggest part of our value-add
Source of differentiation, builds barriers to entry. Creates our ‘right to win’
Customers chose us because of our capabilities; need to understand what creates them
Real value of knowledge is what it does to our customers
Ben Franklin quote – interest
People think of KM as first internal value, second of the external role. Competitive advantage is ranked secondary!
How to take knowledge to market? Sell it (like a publisher), put it in your products, put it in your people
If you try to fix your culture, it will fix you! Convert it into a tailwind rather than a headwind.
Culture is driven by behaviour. It’s a collective habit, picked up over time.
Develop, deepen, leverage, monetise knowledge
KM is fit-for-purpose, not one-size fits all
KM should focus on the organisation’s defining moments, ‘where the rubber meets the stamp’
KM should look outward (markets, customers), not just inward
We lack robust models to manage the globalisation of intellect
Three kinds of knowledge networks
Internal (corporate memory), expertise networks (connect centre to the field), P2P
KM should create internal and external value. Bi-directional
Content/capabilities (eg. co-creation)
Outside – tools to help customers use our knowledge; concierge services. How easy is it for our customers to do business with us? Knowledge-turbo-charged salesforce
Organise KM to spring into action at key moments when value is created
Serve customers directly, or serve customer-facing employees
Instill/distill knowledge
KM can improve margins
WSJ ad 2001: Deutsche Bank – Ideas are capital, everything else is just money.
Session: Day Two
Success factors: Growth Culture, Aligned Organisation
A growth machine needs intelligent direction, 4-wheel drive and fuel

II. Inaugural Panel

Swati Piramal: India needs to be tuned in to internal and external shifts in knowledge industries, otherwise we will repeat the mistakes of the past, lose out on global opportunities, and be left behind. India should again become ‘bha-rata’ – reveller in knowledge.
Noshir Kaka, McKinsey: Growth comes from talent and KM. Organisations should develop an internal knowledge market. McKinsey KM approach – knowledge assets, seekers, brokers, systems. Harness self-interests of participants to make KM work. People are evaluated based on thought leadership, entrepreneurship, people leadership, client leadership, professional behaviour.
Lessons: Align KM to business goals. Improve quality of knowledge contributions. Leaders should celebrate knowledge. Launch pilots quickly to get people excited then ruthlessly iterate to improve.
Adi Godrej: CII helps KM in India through KM India conference, K-Communities, KM portal.

III. MAKE India Award Winners announced – looking forward to moderating their panel tomorrow!

IV. Panel: View from CEOs

KM helps you learn from failures, and avoid reinventing the wheel. KM is also important for startups, not just large firms. Need a sense of context – you are not just laying a brick but building a wall, a temple.
KM can help organisational transparency.
Case studies cited by Accenture: NYC improving customer service on helplines.
But many CEOs only pay lip service to KM.

V. Panel: BI and Corporate Learning

Jayesh Chakravarthi: Info age characteristics: velocity, volume, variety
Speed is a competitive advantage
Arun Gupta: When you allow knowledge to flow, magic happens.
Leaders must walk the talk, sustain the momentum.
Vadim Shiryaev: Knowledge is created where a tough decision is made. If you look into the future, you will see the future. Bake your bread in a good mode. It does not matter what you think of yourself, what matters is what Google thinks of you!
Q: How to deal with cross-cultural barriers to sharing and using knowledge?
A: Zensar uses Vision Communities to bring participation and alignment across the organisation. Case study: how we acquired a US company.
Q: What skills are needed of knowledge managers these days?
Karuna Ramanathan: problem solving skills, inquiry, advocacy.
My Q: What is the role of mentoring in the midst of all this buzz about CoPs and social learning?
Ganesh Natarajan: We have a mentoring program for students in Tier 2 schools/colleges – it features 2,000 CEOs via a portal. Mentoring is going through some transformation. Online mentoring is becoming big; coaching is important at high levels.

VI: Panel: Unlearning

3M: New Product Vitality Index – design new products which make your own ones obsolete
Higher tolerance for failure needed for innovation. No one gets fired for mistakes – unless you repeat the same mistake twice!
Need to promote a culture of taking risks and learning from failures. eg. FailCamps, Failcon

VII. Panel: Social Media
Some knowledge is perishable anyway
Need to ensure trust in taking inputs from social media – look at exodus to NE India caused by rumours on social media
But don’t be overwhelmed by negativity – planes carry passengers as well as bombs!
Enterprises have to be aware that consumer techs are cooler than enterprise techs; comfort factor has become important, CTOs/CIOs need to keep up to date.
Young employees expect workplace to be tech friendly; companies need to keep up with social media movement.
Social media has empowered employees as well. Increased diversity of opinion and increased tolerance for different views. Helps get ideas for new business much faster.

VIII. Panel: Highlights of KM Practices from MAKE India 2012 Award Winners
TCS: social quizzing as a knowledge sharing platform
L&T Hydrocarbon: KM is embedded in all project management
Infosys: blend of social and professional networking
Wipro: 5 Ss (share, standardise, simplify, sustain, segment): metrics for engagement and effectiveness
Tata Steel: blending KM with innovation, KM for executives as well as shopfloor workers
MindTree: storytelling for knowledge sharing; publishing book on project learnings
MahindraSatyam: KRAs on KM for managers; reusability as a key KM metric
EurekaForbes: Mobiles for knowledge mobilisation among travelling salesforce

IX. Panel: Consumerisation of IT and BYOD
L&T IT introduces app usage via apps about menus and bus schedules – later for travel arrangements and leave applications
Knowledge is the only asset which grows when you share it. – Thiruvalluvar
Consumer adoption of smartphones/tablets is staggering and will only increase

X: Panel: Building Knowledge Societies
B V R Mohan Reddy: I recall first using computers 40 years ago at IIT Kanpur!
D.B. Phatak: IIT is using “distance-less” teaching for not just students but also to create excellence in teachers. Need to promote many more apps for educational sectors. Need to re-use best lectures from best of students, make classrooms the focus of discussions and not just lectures. IIT Bombay has a remote centre in Kakinada.
It is important for India to promote colleges and increase enrolment of women, give them more opportunities in life.
Students from remote parts of India such as Kashmir and Agartala told me that distance education has helped them feel part of India and that India cares for them! A student who walked 6 km to school because his parents could not afford bus fare told me that he wants to create a company like Infosys, like my student Nandan Nilekani did. What aspiration – that was a lifechanging incident for me!


EDUtPRO 2012: Tech Transformation in Education

EDUtPRO 2012: Tech Transformation in Education

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Hyderabad: December 14, 2012

Logging in from #EDUtPRO India 2012: Using Breakthrough Technologies to Transform Education
Arundhati Ghosh, IIFA: Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. (Socrates)
Questions to Poonam Singh Jamwal, Extramarks: Can tech teach skills/knowledge or just trigger them?
Q: How to make up for lack of access to nature for kids in urban Indian schools?
Q: Are Indian teachers willing and able to learn from students about ICTs?
Looking forward to my sessions on (i) enterprise learning/#KM (ii) digital re-definitions of classrooms!
My message to the audience: check out how Indian startups are re-shaping education: and EduSparks!
Saahil Sood, Teach for India: We want teachers with the best minds and hearts. Inspired teachers are as important as inspired students
Shefali Jhaveri: Canadian International School, Bangalore: tablet uses in classrooms: iTunesU, iBooks, Qwiki, EdModo, Scribble Press
Q: How to give students a sense of focus, priorities for what they do online instead of frivolous activities?

My session — Best practices in Tech Transformations:
Social media usage:
Level I: filter, rate, tag, relay
Level II: social profiling, social networking
Level III: remix, modify, mashup
Level IV: compose original content, applications
Level V: collaboratively create content, applications
Level VI: online + offline
Tech can help students in collaborative activities, peer-rating/ranking, asking questions (not just answering them)
ICT metrics in education: activity, process, knowledge, people, organisation, business
Educ 1.0: transforming resources, Educ 2.0: transforming activities, Educ 3.0: transforming roles
Children should learn role/importance of trust, safety, ethics, relevance, focus in cyberspace
How Indian #startups are transforming education: gamification, cloud solutions, interactive e-books, test preparation, integration
EduSparks startups identified by – BrainNook, DreamNotion, MangoReader, OliveBoard, RedBytes, SharpEdge
Digital education: Manthan/mBillionth award winners: ILFS/Sparsh, Kisan Sanchar, BBC Janala, NIOS Online, CLT e-Patshala, M-Pustak

Harish Chaudhry, IIT Delhi, jokes that “Smart Boards” have made the boards smarter but not the students!
Can ICTs help develop attentive listening, discussing, debating, discussing, skills developed by drill, self-development
The computer is a tool, but the teacher is the magic. Both have a role to play.
There is no evidence to show that schools with significant ICT investments have shown better results or produced better human beings
Main role of teacher is to inspire, motivate and empower. Students’ criticism should be more than spellchecking
ICTs help visualisation, show trend analysis, expand school’s resources, reduce class wastage of time in drawing diagrams
ICTs can produce more informed teachers, parents, principals; track student progress across years/subjects/concepts/teachers

Udai Lauria, President, CRISP, jokes that learning is also about ‘earning!’
Children are living in times of unprecedented exponential change. And we accuse them of getting bored in schools!
The 21st Century teacher has to be a collaborator, risk taker, thought leader, networker
21st century calls for critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity
CRISP: Consortium for Research in School Pedagogy
UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers

Arundhati Ghosh, Deputy Director – India Foundation for Arts, jokes that teachers are expected to create super-kids these days!
ICTs can be used to enhance arts (music, theatre, film, heritage, customs)
Arts = human context; connects us to our past and will connect to the future.
What arts offer: impulse, inspiration, instinct, passion
IFA works with government school teachers in Karnataka, and students of IIM Bangalore
Managers should look not just at managerial issues but art and creativity in problem solving.
Find your self and pursue your calling. Art education can help you integrate the personal and professional
Some see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not

Anjum Babakhan- Director Education, Glendale Academy: The Practical Application of Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner)
The more ways you teach, the more children you reach
India still has ‘industrial age hangover’ in education: assembly line metaphor, one size fits all
Adults in the digital age need even more education/skilling than youth (digital immigrants v/s natives!)
Multiple Intelligences chart: Verbal, logical, visual, spatial, bodily, musical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, naturalist
Knowledge is experience, everything else is just information (Einstein)
Intelligences: Analytical, Introspective, Interactive
As @MadanRao mentioned, encourage blogging/tweeting to start journey in creative writing
Verbal (writers, journos), logical (engineers, accountants, law), visual/spatial (designers, planners), bodily (surgeons, athletes, dancers), musical (rhythmic), intrapersonal (philosophers, counselors), interpersonal (social: teachers, politicians, leaders, facilitators, therapists), naturalist (farmers, botanists, conservationists)
Use ICTs to create more pathways to learning
India will have the largest proportion of young people in the world, we have to address their creativity in every way possible
Anjum shows how each intelligence type leads to different professions/careers, and how each can be taught in school
My Q to Anjum: How do these multiple intelligences change over time, with growth? Nature v/s nurture v/s evolution

Day One of #EDUtPRO wraps up; Day Two and next year/city’s editions also seem terrific!
Thanks to Syed Khaleel and team for a superb job with #EDUtPRO!
May a million digital activists bloom and blossom in India… :-)


KM Asia 2012: From Knowledge to Innovation

KM Asia 2012: From Knowledge to Innovation

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Singapore; November 6-8, 2012

I am back again in Singapore for one of my favourite annual knowledge management conferences, KM Asia! I will be conducting a workshop on creating knowledge-sharing cultures on Thursday ( See some of my posts from earlier conferences (

Here are my tweetnotes, will massage them into a Top Ten Takeaways piece later! In addition to the keynotes, it’s always great to meet the delegates, this time from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Fiji, UK, Nigeria!

Feel free to DM questions/comments to me via Twitter.

1. David Snowden

David Snowden tore into KM myths and practices in his trademark witty and controversial style.
Some nice quotes cited by David (see also my earlier post on KM from Indian Proverbs:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain
“One must learn to listen to one’s own humanity.” Hugh/Gaping Void cartoon
“Intuition is compressed experience.”  – Lawrence Prusak
KM has focused on static assets, but should focus on creating an ecosystem where knowledge can be discovered.
“Sharepoint is to knowledge management what Six Sigma (sick stigma) is to innovation”
Resilience, strategic surprise are important in knowledge strategies
Knowledge is contextual, situational. Can’t over-script it. KM departments are highly vulnerable during recession – especially if under IT department!
Ideational cultures are more resilient than scripted cultures
Too many shared values in an organisation is a dangerous thing; need a lot of diversity
Messy coherence – whatever structure you build today will be out of date or irrelevant or ineffective in shorter and shorter periods of time
Go beyond algorithmic search – build human sensor networks and not just information systems
Dissent is far better at weak signal detection than consensus
Human networks that are messily coherent are more effective than CoPs, taxonomies, etc.
Shared values and common purpose may be more comfortable but they damage resilience
Obliquity and serendipity are more important than purpose
Serendipity can give you something more valuable than what you were originally looking for
Early detection, fast recovery, speedy exploitation (great ‘when shit hits the fan!’)
Urban planners in the UK are looking at 18th century homes to learn about local design, local materials – new methods have not worked out well
In Agile, systems are built for resilience and not original specifications, since client may change his specs along the way
You need to plan for a future you cannot anticipate
Scenario planning is based on hypotheses which often are invalid over time
“From Good To Great” Jim Collins book – causation is confused with correlation.
Snowden showing intriguing chart comparing “probable, possible, plausible” – from anticipation to anticipatory awareness (derived from Max Boisot
When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
External rewards can actually undermine employee motivation.
KM has been creating recipe books – not chefs. Have destroyed ability to innovate
Snowden takes a dig at Deloitte delegate. Deloitte = “do little hassle and sell”!
Q: All this ‘free flow of knowledge’ talk is fine – will it work in structured organisations like MNCs, with risks of IPR, confidentiality, etc?
You need a ‘resilient boundary.’ Too much reliance on one system makes you open for risk. Restraints only where you have to, only where resilient
You need rules about when to break the rules. Heuristics to be able to re-assess rules when context changes
Chefs also have recipes – but they know how to adapt when the situation changes
My question to Snowden: What are the limits to the size and quality of human sensor networks, and how to work around them? Snowden: You can use software here. Not to be confused with social networks, these have limits
US manufacturing culture from the last decade is a failure in the present context, no point in adopting it to the present context

2. Patrick Lambe: High Stakes Knowledge Management – Black Swans, White Swans (case study: SMRT breakdowns)

I disagree with Snowden – it is not all about mess, but structure to succeed
(Snowden responds: I didn’t talk just about mess, but messy ‘coherence’!)
SMRT got Twitter account only after the breakdowns! And then it was only from 9 am to 5 pm; radio DJs tweeting about the accidents were told not to do so!
Black Swan incidents can’t be predicted. Happens often in situations like war. Need rapid learning networks.
US Army – Lessons Learned took several months, need faster ways to respond to terrorist methods. Informal sharing network –
Can’t depend only on recipes and standards
Need Lessons Learned integrator networks – embedded KM analysts who pick up faster lessons
White swan – some mistakes happen and you accept it, eg surgery risks.
Nancy Dixon: some percentage of heart bypass surgeries will not be successful. New England hospitals began to compare data. White swan becomes a bit gray.
Nancy Dixon: Knowledge sharing in New England hospitals in 1991-2002 helped halve mortality rates for heart bypass surgery
You need good data quality to share and compare and benchmark data
Another white swan – deaths during stampedes in concerts, matches.
SMRT breakdowns last year were embarrassing, they were not supposed to happen. Dec 14, 15, 17. Dec 15 problems were still unresolved on Dec 17. Crowd control and public communications was disastrous. Preparedness: emergency equipment unreliable, roles of different stakeholders not understood or rehearsed,
Singaporeans get very angry if aircon does not work!
In Singapore systems are over-standardised. Functional silos inhibit collective sensemaking.
Need more predictive maintenance, better sharing of technical knowledge
KPIs sit only at functional levels, at the expense of collaborating across boundaries. No sharing, not even curiosity about the big picture
KM should help address incident planning, sensemaking, situation awareness, customer communities, social media
Can’t always put your bets on one plan. Need leadership commitment to learning across boundaries
Problem is that just sharing and having conversations will not scale, easy to argue with hindsight #kmasia12. Curiosity is a key point

3. James Mann, Financial Times

Having a research mindset can open the doors to new knowledge, insights, strategies, markets
Data in digital environment unearths new insights about customers, eg. reader behaviour
FT Intranet is called ‘Neo’ (‘Working as One’). Global social channels drive FT consumption. Shares top bookmarked content
Knowledge is the catalyst to innovation. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Red Adair
My question to Mann: How is mobile affecting your innovation and strategy?
Mann: We pulled out of iTunes and switched to HTML5. More readers now, two-thirds on mobile devices

4. Ron Young: “Driving #Innovation through Knowledge Creation Activities”

Great to hear Ron Young connecting #KM with #innovation – here is some of my writing in this area:
Need to bridge the gap between knowledge creation and innovation. Vision for “Innovative Asia 2020”
Young’s book (2003): Knowledge Asset Management
Young cites his work on KM in Asia: “From productivity to innovation”
Young’s books: KM facilitation, tools, case studies, SMEs. Next book: KM in the public sector
How can KM and innovation help realise the vision of ASEAN in the knowledge economy?
Dimensions of Knowledge and Innovation – communication, collaboration, processes, creation/innovation
My Q to Young: Is this connected to TRIPS, patenting, etc?
Young: These old instruments are outdated and restrictive, we need a better understanding of the global knowledge economy #KMasia12
Lifecycle, shelflife of saleable knowledge products is becoming much shorter than it used to be

@ShobDecloitre  We have to learn to better trade our knowledge, not just share: Ron Young #kmasia12
@giechew  Ron Young:  #kmasia12
Countries need to understand competitive collaboration and effectively trade their knowledge assets internally and externally
@snowded Trading model and ‘what’s in for me’ are bad ways to think about knowledge flow. Asset thinking. #kmasia12

5. Ku Yuen Wah, OCBC Bank: Customer Insights

KM is not a common term in our organisation, but we interpret it as using customer insights to design a great customer experience.
“Outside-In thinking” knowledge flow: Acquire, Analyse, Capitalise
Customer-centric innovations: full-service Sunday banking, eAlerts, offsite cheque deposits, experience labs, children-friendly banking on Sundays!
Diary research – analysing customer behaviours (“moment mapping”
Amazing insight: customers are much more relaxed on Sundays in our bank branches than on weekdays!
@giechew 5Cs from Ms Ku, OCBC. Customer think, Challenge, Change Mgt, Collaboration, Core to the business #kmasia12
My Q to Ku: What about learning and competitive intelligence? A: We learn from other industries and not from other banks #KMasia12

6. David Galipeau, UNDP: “Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Approach: Hybrid CoPs in Afghanistan”

UNDP: Empowered lives, Resilient Nations
@ShobDecloitre David Galipeau from @UNDPasiapac presenting at #kmasia12
KM used to happen only at the end of a project/cycle. Need to push it to the design phase.
KM has to help governments become inclusive, real-time, integrated (mixed social modes), customer-based
Case studies: KM for government of Thailand, Afghanistan
Knowledge goals: awareness, influence, knowledge sharing, dialogue/outreach
Unfortunately Arab Spring has made many governments afraid of social media and the Internet
UNDP Solution Exchange KM phases of communities – Connect, Grow, Generate Impact
Prototyping can help you bring flexibility into the KM rollout. Focus on results-based sustainability
Focus on communities of practice/experience, not just communities of opinion
Metrics: faster plan-to-action, better response time, increased resilience, challenges identified by scenarios
Indian government has given UNDP a US$1 million to accelerate knowledge sharing for decision-making

7. David Gurteen, Knowledge Cafes

Knowledge cafes are about better understanding, decision making, innovation – and thus tangible outcomes. They can unlock the value of work in organisations.

Theodore Zeldin:
Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits.
Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.
When minds meet they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought

David Weinberger:
KM shouldn’t just help us know more, but understand better. Through stories, conversation

David Bohm:
Principles of dialogue: welcome and explore differences; slow the discussion; search for underlying meaning; do not judge; listen to your inner voice

Fiji delegate: We have conversations around kava (western Pacific pepper drink)
@ShobDecloitre Just shared the eg of the talanoa around the kava bowl as the Pacific’s model of Knowledge Cafe

How to run a Knowledge Café – David Gurteen #KMasia12
In some K-Cafes, the conversations go all over the place, which is fine if as they provoke new or interesting thoughts!

8. David Snowden: Innovation: Managing Your Organisation to a Future You Couldn’t Have Predicted

“For the last few decades the ‘norm’ in management practice has been to define an ideal future state (in numbers, market position, values, etc.) and then attempt to close the gap between the two. A new emerging paradigm in management challenges both the theory and practice of this. Many of the organisations we most admire today have, at key points in their history, muddled through, adapting quickly to changing contexts to arrive at a destination that they could not have anticipated two or three years in advance but which has turned out to be more advantageous. Entrepreneurs seize half understood opportunities with the result that their markets become redefined. Nation states such as Singapore have, in less than 50 years, grown from a fragmented and incoherent ‘start up’ position to become one of the world’s major economic players. Sometimes called managing for serendipity, this new approach to management seeks to create the conditions under which such opportunities can not only be spotted and exploited, but also deliberately and purposefully created.”

Service environment is open-ended, as compared to manufacturing. Managers need to be ‘contextually aware’
My background is in physics and philosophy – gave me a contempt of social science and a love argument!
Snowden shows example of Thai ingenuity – car owner drives car into huge plastic bag to keep it dry during 2011 floods!
Apple are brilliant at taking at things from other domains/examples and connecting them
@leahdarby In US left & right wing is essentially 2 wings of British right wing (Conservative party) = no left wing, @snowded at #kmasia12
Key to maintain serendipitous open environment during exploration. Purpose, goals, direction are important for exploitation.
Spider web is coherent in general but broken in parts.
System is any network with coherence.
(i) Ordered: system constrains agents (6 Sigma, Waterfall method)
(ii) Chaotic: agents unconstrained and independent of each other (Wisdom of Crowds)
(iii) Complex: system lightly constrains agents; agents modify system by their interaction with it and each other; they co-evolve and enable exaptation
People will share knowledge on their own if the culture is right. You can’t ‘create’ it or ‘trade’ it
Good example of complex adaptive systems – drivers in Italy and India (but I haven’t tried driving in India yet!). Also see the “children’s party” metaphor (video)
Problem with KM has been over-engineering. “Centralised cognition”
Build on natural flows and architecture, reinforce the good behaviours and disrupt the others
Simple systems (sense, categorise, respond): Best Practice
Complicated systems (sense, analyse, respond): Good Practice
Complex systems (probe, sense, respond): Emergent
Chaos (act, sense, respond): Novel
Need to absorb complexity rather than reduce it.
Need not just daily reports but regular streams and alerts
Wisdom of crowds is not crowdsourcing. Crowds and herds are different. Crowds are people with deep knowledge; factors: how much do they know of each other’s current activities
Kinds of Ideas and their Lifecycle in Organisations:
Unknowable. Unknown. Knowable. Known.
Experiential. Falsifiable. Empirical.
Gut feel. Abductive. Inductive. Deductive.
2 dimensions: level of consensus, level of coherence. From evidence to buy-in. Radical new ideas ‘oscillate’ in the beginning; later – groupthink. Galileo effect – no one believes your new idea.
You can’t train people when the event happens, but before. Need ritual (even dress code), not just niceness.
Complex adaptive systems: highly sensitive to small changes. Proximity and connectivity to the system and agents are key. Fail-safe to safe-to-fail design.
Don’t confuse correlation with causation and simulation with prediction.
Hindsight doesn’t always lead to foresight
Managing in the ‘situated now’ – in the here and now. Not in a sanitised past or clear view of the future.
US Army had good knowledge gathering but worst dissemination. Now they are getting better: blogging instead of reading doctrine
Risks of using Twitter – can’t be trusted fully due to fake messages and faked IP addresses
CAS are not causal but dispositional. Need to identify outliers also.
KM people have to get strategic fast otherwise they will be fired!
@leahdarby #km not considered essential by 99% of orgs, do it cos every1 else does. get strategic fast, solve real problems instead @snowded #kmasia12
KM should address real world problems, solve operational and strategic issues
Human sensor network, usable databases. Don’t ask people for an hour of their time unless they get three hours back
My Q to Snowden: How does this knowledge and innovation flow happen in startups?
A: Startups manage knowledge well because the number of employees is small, they trust each other and communicate often. As they grow, politics (after 15 people) and structure come in, (after 150 employees)

9. David Gurteen: The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems (Pascale and Sternins)

Social innovation: let the community define and frame the problem, and seek and own the solution
If the project is repeated in another community, then start again. Don’t give people the solution, let them discover it themselves.
Avoid the concept of best practice – NIH syndrome
Be a catalyst or facilitator, not a consultant selling solutions
It is easier to change behaviour by practicing it rather than being taught about it
Q: This works well when time is on your side, but not under conditions of pressure and time constraints

10. David Ludlow: A Decade of KM – The Schlumberger Journey

KM connections – people to people, communities, information, solutions. Schlumberger has been doing this since 1930
@ShobDecloitre #KM in organisations starts with management commitment: Schlumberger’s David Ludlow #kmasia12
KM especially important in orgs where there is a big age gap between large group of retiring experts and new employees
“We need to create companies that learn quickly and do not forget.” Andrew Gould, CEO, 2002
KM: Share collective wisdom to make good decisions
KM components: InTouch Support, kPod, SPeedia, BlueTube, Coll@borate
What’s hard: including dynamic activities without losing the ease of use and autonomy of self-authoring; keeping older vetted information fresh; pushing right info to right people; deciding balance between standardisation and freedom to be innovative.
Schlumberger KM metrics: knowledge items (tickets and content), views, tickets, logins; reduction in time to resolve tech queries, update engineering modifications
Worldwide survey revealed that many people think some info is old and unusable (response: re-visit info every 3 years at least)
The Hub: Structured Knowledge Portal. Centralise ownership of infrastructure, distribute ownership of content
One Schlumberger, One Customer: CRM system. Rollout and training are critical
Speedia community glossary and encyclopedia (like wiki). People like to share, especially while a contest is being held!
Eureka: CoPs. Source of innovation ideas, white papers, tech roadmaps. Challenge – ensuring that leaders are active and effective
KM challenges: incorporate knowledge of new employees after company acquisition; inter-cultural differences; maintaining the human sensory networks (talent pool shortages)
My Q to Ludlow: How do you share knowledge with partners?
A: There is a clear line. A lot of the knowledge sharing happens in person-to-person meetings, and not online. Info is shared only with committed business partners after a deal is struck
David Gurteen – I wonder why so many speakers in #KM are named David! Me: David and Goliath syndrome?!  :-)

11. Ramesh Narayanaswamy, Chief Information Officer, Singapore Post: Transformational Knowledge – Transitioning What Your People Know to Make it Relevant in the New World

“Globally, postal services are at a major crossroads and Singapore Post is no exception. The increase in e-substitution has led to a decrease in the number of letters being sent and, with many banking, government and service functions going digital, the industry is undergoing a major transformation. There is a wealth of knowledge in long-standing employees so the challenge is how this knowledge can be captured, changed and utilised in the new business.”

Singapore Post also runs a regional logistics company
It is as important for people and organisations to re-learn and un-learn as to learn on their knowledge journeys
Ramesh shows interesting tag cloud of ‘knowledge’ – education, links, relevant, media, quality, reputation, social, and “etc!”
Ramesh narrates superb anecdote – his son does not know what is ‘digital camera’ – all cameras are digital to him, didn’t know analogue/Polaroid cameras
KM challenge today: dealing with VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity
Ramesh jokes that he never sends letters, but sent one anyway to see if his postal system works!
Singapore Post has greeting card apps (bringing together people with card + e-card skills)
Ramesh: Belief transformation and habit transformation are key for us in this transitional era
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Rohn
Very good table discussion on ‘the cost of unlearning’ in an organisation. And how will massive re-training fare in a blue-collar organisation?
My Q to Ramesh: Will we see the day when mobile operators buy out the postal services of the world?
Ramesh: Unlikely, no one wants to own the last mile! But maybe DHL will buy all the postal services of the world?!

12. Nikita Tete, Vice President, Knowledge Management, Deloitte, India: Social KM at Deloitte

Nikita runs through her life/events/name through numerology!
Social KM at Deloitte: Internal crowdsourcing, corporate presence on external tools, minimising reputation risk
Library view of knowledge (validated knowledge, records, stocks, just-in-case storage) is becoming bazaar view of knowledge (flows, engagement, wisdom of the crowds, engagement, just-in-time access)
Deloitte has full suite of internal social media tools (on SharePoint): DeloitteNet, DStreet (“one degree of separation”), EdgeFolio (blogging), Deloitte Media Portal (team sites), D.Think (crowdsourcing innovative ideas – Innovation Quests), YamJams (microblog discussions). Mobility: 49,900 mobile devices supported (as of Sep 2012).
Nice visual: ring of inter-locked safety pins
CEO has supported our external presence on all social media. We were named as one of Top 5 B2B companies by OneForty
@LifeAtDeloitte talks about a day in the life of a Deloitte professional. There are 12 Deloitte US Twitter handles
Facebook: Deloitte University reaches experience hires. Green Room – talent advisors
Managing social media risks: Social Media Working Grooup – NDAs, regulations/guidelines, moderation dashboard. Mix of talent, KM, risk, innovation, brand, IT
We have a mandatory social media e-learning course, supplemented with guidance and policies. Required within 90 days of joining
Deloitte’s KM journey with social media continues: learning, streamlining, integrating
Gen N or Gen C – networked/connected, very open to sharing knowledge. These are lucky times for KM
Table discussion: what is a good metaphor for a KM system? Library, bazaar, cafe, jazz
My Q to Nikita: Do you have restrictions on what hours are permissible for social media usage in the office?
A: No, but there are guidelines on what topics are off limits, tone of voice to use.

13. Pee L.G., Assistant Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan: Encouraging Knowledge Contribution in Organisations

Knowledge contribution by employees is an important basis for other value-adding KM activities such as knowledge reuse and knowledge creation. This presentation discusses the findings of an academic study addressing questions such as:
Are monetary rewards more effective than intrinsic rewards in encouraging knowledge contribution?
How can we design jobs to facilitate knowledge contribution?
Do organisational values matter in promoting knowledge contribution?
Some suggestions for fostering an organisational environment conducive to knowledge contribution will be provided.

Q&A: Refer to the book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ by Daniel H. Pink

14. David Yeo, Senior Project Officer, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and Research Fellow, Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), Singapore: 21st Century Military Learning

At the turn of the 21st Century, there is a paradigm shift occurring in human and knowledge capital development efforts, driven by social-cultural-economic and technological imperatives. This change is particularly pertinent for the military, where the human dimension is key to operational success. This talk will explore how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has developed a learning transformation masterplan powered by an ambitious organisation-wide Learning Network (LEARNet) programme. Your speaker will share with you how SAF has studied similar efforts by organisations such as Singapore’s Ministry of Education and the US military, to develop a unique interpretation so that it can become a “Learning SAF” with “Thinking Warriors”. Finally, the talk will give a glimpse into the future of knowledge and learning, with specific applications for the government sector.

KM has to be tied to personal growth and development, organisational leadership – not just performance improvement
Paradigm shift: story first, then parts; trainers are also learners; learning should be not just effective and efficient but also engaging
“The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools.” ? Thucydides
Digital learning can make manuals come alive. AR, mobiles. Workplace learning at time of need. “Learn faster, fight better”
SAF LEARNet: Learning transformation: methods and processes + belief, attitudes and competencies
Focus on results, not just details. “It’s the outcome, idiot!”
There are three sides of the coin. Heads, tails, the side! Don’t ignore the human side!
My Q to David: How different is Gen Next in the armed forces?
A: They have different learning behaviours. Weakness – they talk more online than face to face, even when sitting next to each other! We must allow this culture to exist in the workplace. Collaboration is good, but they need to know which things they cannot say.

15. Mukund Prasad, Director – Group HR, Business Transformation and Group CIO, Welspun Group, India
“Overcoming the Barriers to Implementing Knowledge Management in a Manufacturing Organisation”

Is KM isolated today? Why is KM not seen as strategic in many organisations? Why did it become just another tool or jargon? KM needs repositioning, should it need another name in that case?
Organisations lose their relevance when the pace of internal change lags the pace of external change.
KM capacity – passion, creativity, initiative; expertise, diligence, obedience. Intrinsic motivation is more important than external/hygiene factors. Intrinsic rewards matter the most.
People want to find meaning in their work. Underdevelopment, underutilisation and ineffective management are key problems
Employees are dissatisfied not because work sucks but management blows
The Internet has accelerated self-formation of groups, networking among dissenters
My Q to Mukund: How to go beyond extrinsic to intrinsic motivation?
A: Need to go beyond cost structures, KRAs. Cost is not the best way of managing an organisation, though we have been trained to do that

16. AW Siew Hoong (ASH), Knowledge Management Advisor, Shell Global Solutions, Malaysia
Case Study: Maximising the Value of Lessons Learnt

“Lessons learnt is a KM tool that is commonly used, across many organisations, but, since 2009, the KM team at Shell has reinvented lessons learnt to be more than just an online database. Elements from structured interviews, technology, and people engagement are combined to make the lessons learnt more human and business relevant. The pilot project for this new, improved lessons learnt process has already contributed USD 100 million of savings and cost avoidance to the bottom line. In fact, the valuating of lessons learned is also a cornerstone of the new lessons learnt process.”

Barriers to KM: info not relevant, tools too cumbersome, not enough time to ‘do KM’
@ShobDecloitre “If you want teams to do KM, do it for them 1st, show the value”: ASH, KM Adviser Shell Global Solutions, Malaysia #kmasia12 & I agree!
Knowledge is expensive to capture but cheaper to re-apply!
Measuring RoI on lessons learnt: we improvised, and measured how much risk was avoided

Day Two of #KM Asia 2012 wraps up; see my updated tweetnotes at #KMasia12

Workshops tomorrow: CALM programme (a mashup of Complexity, Agile and Lean) by Dave Snowden; Knowledge Cultures by – me! #KMasia12



KM and Product Management

KM and Product Management

by Madanmohan Rao
Editor, The KM Chronicles
Bangalore; October, 17; 2012

The monthly Bangalore K-Community meetup had a ‘product’ focus this time. The distinguished panel addressed a range of issues including knowledge management (KM) and innovation in product lifecycle management, competitive engineering, product quality and evolution, product development processes, KM methodology frameworks, internal and customer social networks, and global collaborative products. Participants at the forum came from a wide variety of sectors: aerospace engineering, IT hardware, logistics, textiles, software services, airport infrastructure and BPO.

Here are my Top 12 Takeaways from the discussion:

1. KM helps product companies keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in high-growth markets, develop a range of diverse products for emerging economies, and deal with the high attrition of the tech industry. KM helps re-use of components and engineering processes across product lines. KM is important not just for engineers and developers but also sales and business development functions. It helps engage with customers and business partners as well.

2. For product companies with a global workforce, social computing takes on enterprise significance. A socially enabled workforce can leverage modernised enterprise apps and participate in realtime conversational streams and knowledge flows. Benefits of social computing include productivity gains, humanised connections in a global workforce, and better customer value. Social media brings meaningful dialogues and knowledge nuggets out of the ‘email cemetery.’

3. A maturity evolution path for the ‘social app fabric’ of a company can consist of the following phases: using off the shelf social tools, harnessing enterprise-quality social platforms, enterprise integration of social and legacy IT, and embedded social functionality in all enterprise communication.

4. CEOs and top management should realise that using social media should not be a one-way street. Just blogging and posting micro-blogs on Twitter/Yammer is not enough; leaders should also read blogs of their colleagues and employees and comment on them. Only then will there be truly multi-directional flows of knowledge on social channels; only then will country-level heads follow the example of global heads of the organisation.

5. KM has been effective in B2E and B2C channels; more effort will be needed to nurture and harness KM in B2B channels. KM has helped innovation management (IM) in incremental innovation, but not as much in radical innovation. KM has not helped inter-firm IM much in incremental innovation, but can enable inter-firm IM in radical innovation (eg. industry cooperation to adopt new standards). Strangely, professionals in KM and IM seem to operate in different worlds; more dialogue is needed between them.

6. Companies should evolve clear metrics to assess impacts of social KM tools, eg. percentage of people moving down the adoption diffusion curve (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards); percentage of top management with active social media profiles on the Intranet.

7. Traditional organisations need to creatively engage Gen Y employees, who expect a ‘social layer’ on top of enterprise tools and have different knowledge gathering behaviours (eg. they read less print books). But care must be taken to protect privacy and security, tone down ‘show off’ behaviours, and reduce frivolous uses of social tools.

8. In any culture, innovative capacity lies at the intersection of psychological factors, sociological conditioning, and economic drive. Nations with less recognition and protection of IP will not perform as well in international patent-driven innovation. Emerging economies have done well in service innovation, the next prize is product innovation.

9. KM should not just be about internal flows of knowledge, but also involves external absorptive capacity, eg. employees going to teach in schools and colleges and interacting with academia and students, which does not seem to happen as much in emerging economies.

10. Startups will eventually need to formalise KM and IM to scale up effectively. This can be a challenge for some founders to relinquish ‘people-based’ approaches to knowledge communication and move to more formalised ‘process-driven’ knowledge exchange.

11. Acquisition of product startups can be an effective way for larger product firms to get new technology and expertise, but not all parent companies and startups can manage the culture change effectively.

12. Truly visionary global players have expertise in a range of knowledge and strategy domains: scenario planning, KM and IM (eg. Shell). KM principles such as reusability can kill creativity. KM is a left-brain activity, innovation is right-brain. Not all KM-award winning companies are IM-award winners — and vice versa!


J Subramanya NarayanaMurthy, Director Engineering Operation, Honeywell

‘JS’ is responsible for driving product development excellence in RDE projects of Aero, ACS & ITSS executed at HTS India. He leads primarily process quality, program management, Six Sigma and Reuse and Knowledge Management functions.  He is working with the engineering team in ensuring that the highest level of CMMI maturity practices is followed and is well integrated with HOS and lean practices. JS has 17 years of experience in product development and engineering in Honeywell. He holds a bachelor degree in Electronics from Bangalore University. He has undergone a general management program at IIM-B.

Swaminathan C V, Solution Consultant, Unisys
Swaminathan CV is a SharePoint Solution Consultant with diverse experience in  implementing KM solutions, designing portal solutions for business/function/strategic programs, social computing, usability designing and business collaterals. He has also worked on social computing tools, scalable solution designing and client services. His current focus is enabling user’s access and harvesting information in the most effective way.

Pavan Soni, Innovation Evangelist and Research Scholar, IIM-Bangalore
Pavan Soni is the author of 15 papers and articles on innovation and co-authored two books on the subject. He was previously innovation evangelist at Wipro and consulted with firms on innovation and creativity agendas. He pioneered the concepts of Let Sparks Fly and Innovation Bazaar, and other creativity events in India. He is an active blogger, at and

Moderator: Dr. Madanmohan Rao, Editor, The KM Chronicles (

Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab (Kalyani)
Doraisanipalaya, 151/1, Bannerghatta Road, Bilekahalli, Bangalore 560076


Techsparks 2012: India’s Top Product Startups

Techsparks 2012: India’s Top Product Startups

by Madanmohan Rao
Research Director,
Bangalore; September 8, 2012

Kicking off shortly in Bangalore: #TechSparks 2012 showcase of top product #startups in India!
If you are just logging in – see background to Techsparks 2012 at

Shradha Sharma, Founder/CEO, YourStory Media kicks of Techsparks 2012
6,000+ startup are now profiled on A third of the #startups we profile have got funding
Over 52% of the startups we profile have received business leads and deals
YourPages feature on has over a 1,000 startups in the database
Growth of Techsparks: 1 city (2010), 2 cities (2011), 6 cities (2012: 2,000 entrepreneurs, 800+ applicants)
Shradha shows timeline of Your Story’s growth since 2008; new research reports on the way


An honour to be in front of so many top entrepreneurs of India
I have been involved with 25 investments in India. We are 40 years old (US, China, India, Israel)
Internet, tech, mobile, big data, payments – our key investment categories in India
Companies are built by teams, sacrifices. Need balance of talent, energy, skills, experience
Some business need more of execution (eg. e-commerce), others need more of technology (eg. product)
Case study: Druva – we built a dual-shore team (US, India) in the last tow years
Common mistakes – hiring under time pressure, inadequate ESOP pool
Common mistakes – trade off cash for equity, not hands-on, only big company experience, low motivation
I would trade off enthusiasm for everything else; translates into good culture at the company
Indian startups do not provision for enough ESOP. Team does not feel part of the company. This is valuable but finite currency
Recruiting Ideas – “top 3 picks” test, test project, weekend interview, independent references, post-offer ‘love’
Qualities of a good product – usability, tech innovation, analytics is your map. Land and Expand. Drive usage first
You should be your own customers also. 10% of features are used by 90% of customers
Case study of company which started off with just a few features then expanded to a full suite of features
Pay attention to attrition of your product – why do people not stick to your product? Have an attrition metric
Our current favourite product in our portfolio is DropBox – they embody many of the features I listed
Sample cohort chart – how customers are contributing to your revenues over time
Leveraging customers – involve them with your stakeholders (eg meet board), train them; service is a marketing tool
Keep process for feedback. Testimonials rock!
Case study: Mu Sigma – analytics was sold as a capability. “Go beyond biceps/triceps to general wellness”
What investors look for – integrity, ambition, passion, sacrifice, frugality, conviction, understanding of market, articulation
It’s ok even if investors don’t understand your USP in the beginning, have the conviction to stay the course
Case study – JustDial – founder failed the first time but re-started it; did not invest in other firms
More mistakes – omitting key facts (eg family ties!), over-selling, “I will resign my other job when you fund me”
More mistakes – opportunism, don’t know your numbers, too flexible on strategy, obsession with valuation
Be honest about what you don’t know. Don’t needlessly trash your competitor
Do unit economics – value from products, customers; margins, break-even points. Holds up even with early-stage losses
How to choose investors – have they done it, often; will they help not just start but build the company?
How to choose investors – do they work beyond normal hours, speak to their entrepreneurs, look for transparency
Get to know your investors well in advance of fundraising
India has seen a massive explosion of angels, advisors on their boards
Check with domain knowledge of advisors, time commitment, references; build clear expectations, fair economic understanding
Common mistakes – busy advisors, not enough chemistry, living in the past, inadequate diligence
Other tips: build a great culture, over-invest in communications, focus on what you can change. Work-life balance is a myth!
Culture is build on Day One! Every decision, meeting, communication counts
Pay attention to detail, that is what great companies are known for
Don’t feel compelled to put numbers you don’t believe in; guesstimates are OK for investors
Q from TaxMantra: What are investors more interested in – products or services?
Investors are not looking at me-too services businesses; they want you to lead a niche. Product mixed with services is OK
If you work for a startup, your CEO’s problem is also your problem. The ball is in all of your courts!
Startups should treat failures/problems as a blessing in disguise


Moderator: Ravi Gururaj, Vice President – Cloud Products, Citrix
Panelists: Sequoia, Intel, Google, Amazon, Philips; Karnataka government

Narendra Bhandari, Director, Intel Software & Services Group: We are going through startup phases of our own
Narendra: Coordination and culture can be a problem for companies as they scale
Dr. Wido Menhardt, CEO, Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore: Inflection points in growth – relationship with VCs on board
Wido: Challenges – board member VC wants to sell your firm, hire another CEO, merge you with another company
Wido: Inflection point of starting company into exiting the company – need to understand this transition
Gautam Gandhi, Head – New Business Development Emerging Markets, Google: Ask yourself why you should scale
Shailendra Singh, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India: You have scaled when you have won your market
Gandhi: But success is not necessarily winning your market! Each company has its own vision.
Joe Ziegler, Amazon AWS Evangelist for ANZ: We live in a massively inter-connected world, as compared to my Netscape days
Joe: ‘Scale’ means different things in India/China as compared to Australia! <laughter>
Joe: Infrastructure has scaled up now, makes it easier for startups to launch and scale now (servers, data centres)
Maheshwar Rao, Industries & Commerce Department, Government of Karnataka: We would love to have more startups here; jobs and taxes for us!
Maheshwar: Gov needs to scale up investment for startups to grow, create an enabling environment
Ravi: Amazon is showing that you can grow slowly as well. Amazon is the most valuable IPO company in the world
Shailendra: Amazon is focusing on the very very very long term; exceptional story (cloud, AWS, Kindle)
Shailendra: We are willing to take long-term bets with Indian companies too. In this day and age companies can grow very fast
Shailendra: JustDial never grew more than a 100% a year, but never less than 40% a year
Gandhi: Startups are in fashion today, but only passion to solve personal problems you can relate to will help you succeed in the long term
Gandhi: There are more opportunities today for #startups in India than anywhere else in the world – have to be seized
Ravi: Some startups have ‘malnutrition’ problems – not enough funding!
Narendra: Another problem for startups – you bring in talent but don’t believe in them.
Maheshwar: Gov should become a co-creator for entrepreneurship movement. VC funds in BT, semiconductor space
Narendra: There has been talk about policy paralysis in India, but there is movement on skills development, UID, e-services
Narendra: Look for ‘blue ocean’ opportunities right here in India

Q: It is easy to start up companies in Australia, can we have a similar gov services portal for us entrepreneurs in India?
Q: How should Indian product companies expand from India customer base to global?
Shailendra: Barrier to creating global tech product companies from an India base has been broken several times, eg. InMobi
Shailendra: Indian travel startup is now largest online travel company in the Philippines!
Q: When should a young startup start investing in marketing to foreign markets?
Gautam: If you have the mindset of being global, make sure your Web presence is also global eg. US phone number, social media presence
Q: Startup growth journey is just like navigating Bangalore’s roads!
Joe: Notions of profitability and margins are changing year by year
Guatam: Advice from my mom – you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with!
Gautam: Surround yourself with smart people. Don’t become the smartest person in the room
Gautam: The right team will help you get to the right product, even if you don’t get it right the first time
Q: How should startup approach B2B v/s B2C markets? How to negotiate the tradeoffs?
Shailendra: Look at stickiness of product, use-case scenarios, engagement metrics
Shailendra: Not all businesses are meant to be invested in by VCs. But VCs want scale in their investments
Q: How important is business model for those of us who do not have an MBA?
Gautam: Do you come from a wealthy family? <laughter>
Gautam: Google, Amazon help startups scale in a way that was not possible even 5 years ago
Shailendra: Large numbers of companies/investors are willing to take investment risks; unprecedented in the Bay Area and India now
Shailendra: Disruption – you can launch a product today with $10-20K, not millions as in previous times
Gautam: Conviction comes from showing what your personal investments are in your business, eg. your own savings
Ravi: Q to panel – when to stay focused and when to spread wings and go global?
Narendra: I travel across Asia and meet audiences like this. Not all startups can go global within a year
Joe: Solve a problem that you know really well, and make sure that it is a problem a lot of people have
Shailendra: I have a different view – you can go global fast. Look at Scandinavia and Israel, there is only a small local market
Gautam: Pick something you are passionate about and will immerse yourselves in for the next 10 years. Hunter who chases two rabbits catches none
Wido: You can scale in terms of features, geographies – and customers can suddenly emerge in different parts of the world

Shradha Sharma, YourStory -  #tsparks is now trending worldwide! <applause>
Tech30 2012 report on top product startups of India is now being unveiled


Pieter Kemps, Principal, Business Development & Venture Capital, Asia – Amazon AWS: Instagram had 14M users within a year, just 3 engineers
The cloud fertilises startups. Amazon changed the VC industry
(i) 1990s startups had to pay for their own servers, software, etc. (ii) 2000 – rise of open source (iii) 2005 – cloud
Series A funding requirements have come down (i) $15 M (ii) $5 M (iii) 0.5 M
2007 – Micro VC/seed funding, spurred by public cloud. Boom in incubators also
Pieter – you must read The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, by Steven Blank
DropBox, Druva used Amazon Web Services – quick launch, reliable, secure, uninterrupted
IndiaGames (acquired by Disney) also used AWS. Removes ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’
Other Indian startups who used AWS –

Joe Ziegler, AWS Evangelist for Australia and New Zealand: I used to be with Netscape, which shows you how old I am!
Netscape’s model was selling server software; at one point every online eyeball in the world was on our site
Joe contrasts Netscape’s 1990s example with today’s AirBnB, Pinterest using AWS
Netscape IPO – $1B, 250 people. Pinterest – $1.5B, with 31 people
Joe cites Newton – #startups today are standing on the shoulders of giants

Looking forward to the networking lunch at Techsparks 2012!


Anuj Roy, Partner, LongHouse Consulting Human capital challenges for startups – choice of CEO, alignment with investors, structure v/s skills, risk v/s reward structures
Evolution of leadership needs: i. Tech ii. Business acumen iii. Leadership/strategic view
Aligning entrepreneurs’ and investors’ objectives can be a challenge. Loyalties v/s expertise, global v/s local, near v/s long term plans
Should structure follow people, or people follow structure?

PROFILE: Two winners from Techsparks 2011

Sriram/United Mobile Apps (founded 2009) Kepplr solution for synchronising cloud data
We make things Simplr, Safr in our Lockr (including information you don’t want to share)
With Kepplr you can work Fastr and organise your life beyond a Foldr
Next phase – Kepplr for enterprises (B2B apps) – securing data and devices. Also Internet of things

Mukund Mudras, Managing Director of Heckyl Technologies We provide realtime financial information, news, analytics
We have been selected to present at Finovate 2012 in Singapore


David Thomson –1 in 50 ideas becomes a business, 1 in 20 funded business sees an IPO, 1 in 20 public companies achieves $1B turnover
Success factors – clear value proposition, collective articulation, treat people as part owners, get the balance right
We worked with Cambridge Tech to position ourselves as specialist Internet solutions company.
Success factors – willingness to learn from others, mutual respect, seeing every problem as an opportunity
Leadership – benchmarking with the best cross-industry practices
Six Golden Rules for #Startups: divide and conquer; differentiate; focus; niche=loyalty; opportunity; simplicity
Respect stakeholders, treat investors’ money as your own (eg. don’t splurge!)
Startups fail when they don’t see their own blind spots. Some don’t know when to let go
Have the humility to learn from unusual sources, especially in these times of unprecedented change
Startups should plan for segmented pain! Have plans for continuous learning


Intel awards its App4India winners:
MetroPhoto, GoLive, Tvparty, RemoteControl My Phone, PollingWizard, etc.


(i) Little Eye: We do power profiling tools for mobile app developers. Power consumption is a painpoint for smartphone users – we will have enterprise/individual subscription models

(ii) Treetle – Location-specific interest networks. “Connect, do.” Neighbourhood connections
Treetle target markets – individuals, NGOs (eg. volunteers), corporates, alumni. Filed for search/discovery patent
Treetle USPs – hyper-local communities, free to use, e-wallet, strong recommendation engine
Pankaj Dugar/Treetle – I am a Marwari, so I wouldn’t be doing this if there was no business model! We have 1K clubs, 2K users

(iii) JusPay Creating simple and secure payments. Payment dropout rates – 30%
We are ‘angry nerds’! Vision – digitise 25% of transactions in India by 2020
Future of digital payment in India is mobile. Demos: IndiaPlaza, RedBus, Hoopos

(iv) Diabeto Tackles problem of monitoring glucose readings, managing eating and lifestyle
Diabeto device wirelessly transmits glucometer readings to mobile phone app, can also be sent to doc’s device
Shreekant Pawar, Diabeto: key target is B2C. I was formerly with YouSendIt. Initial angel funding – Amir Shaikh and Startup Chile

(v) Gamooz Mobile AR apps, enterprise services. 50 AR apps in a year. Ford India – AR app based on Layar browser “Ooze games!”
Gaurav Wadhwa/Gamooz – we have filed for patents, some have been awarded. Manufacturing scenarios – scan for defects. SAP apps

(vi) Impact Index Alternative statistical analysis tool for cricket
We have been selected for cricket analysis in Australia. People take us seriously in India now!

(vii) Harness HandiTouch “Create. Connect. EnGauge.” Learning OS – touch on cloud. Makes class collaborative
Superb demo – instructor can see what students are doodling on their tablets while answering questions! Students can collaborate also
Vision – students will go to class only with a tablet in their hands. Scale to UAE, Singapore, beyond
Business models – bundled tablet; tablet lab; BYOD. $2/$3 per student per month
HarnessTouch currently works with schools/teachers; next – B2C.

(viii) Pankaj/Colimetrics Organisational fat = excessive bureaucracy. We monitor emails to determine lipid levels in a company!
In large companies, managers do not have visibility into operations; lots of escalation, firefighting. Our tool analyses emails
Use case scenarios: security hole in admin module, long reference check times
We don’t mine the email body but metadata (eg. response times)

(ix) Anil Srivatsa We would love to use Impact Index stats!
I am 45 now, been doing radio since 7; my co-founder was with Radio Mirchi. We do B2C and B2B2C radio
We customise radio programming for retail chains (SpotRadio). Revenue – ads, monthly management fees, revenue share
Radiowalla is like Worldspace – curated content, not mass content; with subscription. Channels – All That Jazz, fitness, recipes, books, etc.
We have our own non-music content also, eg. Art of Living radio; Kiran Bedi talk show
Big B2C market – cultural music for diaspora markets. We can do this in any country, not just India
We are running 75 radio stations with only 30 people.

(x) Praxify Cloud based practice management solution for doctors
Praxify synchronises records between GP and specialists. In India, EMRs often not used at point of care
Eliminate typing at the point of entry (apps, tablets). Single point of reference for docs and their patients
Target = 80K doctors in India in 3 years (10% of overall market). Docs, clinics, hospitals.

(xi) JustUnFollow We help unfollow people on Twitter! Helps you remove spammers
Vision – be the friend management dashboard for all social networks, eg. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

(xii) Amardeep/MilkOrWater We provide unbiased stock ideas to long term retail investors and consumers
Need to democratise financial info, bring in financial inclusivity, ensure transparency
Our proprietary software makes stock recommendations based on consistent performance of analysts
We track analysts’ forecasts plus their performance. “Analyst of analysts”

(xiii) DataWeave Data is the new soil. Indian government is looking at Open Data. How to harness this data from apps and analytics?
Data verticals that we tap – price intelligence, open government, content driven data
Customer segments: app developers, market research/BI firms, media houses

(xiv) CollateBox We organise your growing data lists from spreadsheets. Showcased at in SF
We collect data and clean it. User can also add rules. We add visualisation features

(xv) Mango Reader “We bring books to life” – using videos, animation, quizzes, maps, graphics
“The next lesson in learning” – content becomes an action item. We have e-books in our store, add engaging apps
Vision – become the iTunes of interactive books. Bring together publishers, educational developers
Appropriate to hear this presentation on World Literacy Day! <applause>

(xvi) Teach A Class “Education everywhere” – volunteers can signup to connect with orphanages to teach a class
Started in Indonesia and Mongolia, now in India too. Take the cloud into the classroom. ‘Micro-cloud’ device + aggregated content
Education micro-cloud is more than an offline server – can be synchronised with cloud to update content
Used in a slum school in Mumbai. We have also received requests from schools in Africa.
Q: Are you a for-profit company or an NGO?
World Bank, Mercy Corps are using our device in Mongolia
We have a for-profit and non-profit arm

Winners of Techsparks 2012: (3) DataWeave, Diabeto (2) HarnessTouch (1) JustUnFollow


Jury comments – quality of contestants this year is better; diversity (domain, geographic focus); focus + creativity in India
Shailendra/Sequoia: It is humbling to see startups here today doing so much with so little. This will affect India’s future development
We are fortunate to be a part of this ecosystem
Rousing applause for Shradha and YourStory team, what an honour to be part of this group!
My compiled tweets: Techsparks 2012

See TECH30 Report 2012 for profiles/URLs of top 30 product #startups in India: