Optimizing Global Delivery Models in IT-Collaborative Distributed Development

The so called Global Delivery Models of many IT service providers relies on well defined processes which in turn depend on a fragmented “tools zoo” to coordinate and execute projects across time zones . However, this fragmented tool set allows inefficiencies to creep in across the application life cycle.Using different tools as islands for knowledge management ,project management, project communications management and application life cycle management leads to silos of information that needs to be rolled up to make any sense and have an impact on decisions being made. How do organizations deliver true value from their Global Delivery Models? They need to embrace “Collaborative Distributed Development” platforms to tie up project management,knowledge management and project communications management across the application life cycle to achieve a true 24*7 development cycle.

Information Workplace-Mental Models are the threat and opportunity

Forrestor has been touting the idea of the Information Workplace that will redefine the way work gets done. Knowledge worker productivity will increasingly be a key distinguishing factor among organizations.Proliferation of collaborative technology will definitely address parts of the productivity problem. However, there has to be a more holistic approach if we are to reap the true benefits. Collaborative technology without getting the paradigm right is dangerous. Unless there is clear alignment between collaboration and business strategies organizations run the risk of facilitating employees to do make the wrong decisions more efficiently. There is a need balance technology with change managment frameworks that affect mental models. Mental models determine what you do with the collective knowledge that you have access to. In my view a true information workplace is possible when technology is augmented using a grassroots level and participative change managment framework.

Attacking the Unschooled Mind-A Community Approach

How do we create a environment where employees make the best decisions? How do we ensure that they aren’t drawing on the “unschooled mind” to make crucial decisions? Some of the key areas to address are:

1.Creating an awareness that an “unschooled mind” exists that may not necessarily tap into what you learnt in your B-school.

2.Creating a framework based on Communities Of Practice that would allow members to validate and perhaps debate their assumptions. Trained facilitators would play a key role here in helping members surface their assumptions and test them against collective experience of the community.

3.Making learning central to work by providing time and space to employees to engage in meaningful conversations within and across communities.

The Unschooled Mind and KM

I had written earlier that the right people had to be in the right roles for effective decisions to be made. From a KM perspective what this means is that creating and sharing so called “actionable knowledge” is not sufficient. There is a need to act on it. To act on it and make effective decisions, one has to be aware of the possibilities and the perils of the “unschooled mind” (Borrowing the phrase from Howard Gardner). Gardner speaks about the “strength on initial conceptions, stereotypes, and “scripts”‘ that affect how students apply concepts they learn to real life situations.Bottomline is that we tend to fall back on so called “primitives” or intuitive understanding of the world to solve new problems. Unfortunately primitives are not always correct. Extrapolating this further, I wonder why organizations fail to make the right decisions even when they have access to the right information. Are managers basing their decisions based on a set of flawed assuptions that in turn has its roots in the “unschooled mind”? What are the implications of organizational culture(specifically stories and anti-stories) on “mental models” and hence on the quality of decisions being made?

The Need to Act on "Actionable Knowledge"

Collaboration helps build and understand context around content. And understanding context is the key to applying knowledge in new scenarios.In other words collaboration plays a key role in creating “actionable knowledge”. It makes sense to start thinking of knowledge creation as a process of negotiation between the producer and his/her peer community.By co-creating knowledge and having it validated as it gets created by a peer community would create truly actionable knowledge. However,the road doesn’t end here. Would people act on the “actionable knowledge” they have access to? It is not about getting people to “use” KM systems. It is more to do with ensuring that people act differently and that they make better decisions using the knowledge(This could be content or the collective knowledge of the community) that they have access to. Doesn’t all of this seem to be boiling down to more fundamental questions:

1. Has your organization succeeded in disseminating its vision and mission to all levels?

2. Has your organization succeeded in aligning coporate values like “Learning and Sharing” with individual values?

3. Are your employees engaged at work and are they willing to learn?