Many of you know Ditte Kolbaek from Oracle. She will be joining us at Henley on 29th February. Many members will remember she presented her work on Proactive Reviews at the June meeting of the Henley KM Forum. Members can download her slides from here
Proactive Review is a method of knowledge sharing, knowledge creation and knowledge implementation that results in learning at three levels: the learning of the individual, the learning of the team as well as organisational learning. The method is based on dialogue between the people who have completed a task together. A Proactive Review is a way of conducting a dialogue with a certain structure and a given time frame. Using this structure ensures that the group creates a result within the given time of the Proactive Review.
Having talked with Ditte myself, I know that the method really depends a lot on good facilitation skills in generating a very high quality of conversations within the group. (If you haven’t already, then why not download the Knowledge in Action No 15. which focuses on improving the quality of conversations to enable effective knowledge sharing. It’s free on the Forum web site). Ditte spends a lot of her time travelling the world and developing and enhancing people’s ability to facilitate high quality conversations in these Proactive Review sessions.
Facilitation is something that is often underplayed as a practice, and there is a lot of debate as to whether those who do it need to be experts in the subject area or not. Having expertise can predispose you to bias, whereas facilitating content free means you are a dispassionate observer and so more likely to be a supporter of the conversation, rather than colouring the process based on your own preferences. The downside of this is that someone who doesn’t understand the topic may not pick up on the subtleties of the conversation or the critical turning points where the emotional state of the group changes because a particular element of discussion affects the tone or the sensibilities of participants.
One of the other interesting aspects of this is facilitating across cultures. If members of a conversation come from different backgrounds and cultures the assumptions that underpin the way they communicate are going to be very different, and a facilitator needs to be aware of these in order to pick up on the differences. One of my DBA students is studying the adoption and absorption of certain Western techniques for facilitating and co-coaching. Some Japanese companies are adding training about these topics into their approach to management development because they want to encourage more creative thinking. They seem to feel that they should challenge some Japanese cultural traditions of learning by listening to the voice of age and experience. Traditionally Japanese education is about absorbing from wise masters in the field. So challenge and questioning has not been encouraged. It seems that many Japanese managers find our western approaches to management education quite alien. Our Western assumptions that adults learn best from their own experience, certainly can neglect the wisdom of age and experience, but it brings in the contribution of meaning and engagement. In an uncertain world where the past is not always a predictor of the future, there is benefit in learning from the experience of youth, too. Performance comes from harnessing the diversity of relvant and valid experience and co-ordinating it so that it delivers on some coherent and worthwhile purpose for the business. What we have to be careful to discriminate against is the tyranny of anecdotal evidence that is opinion without any repetitive pattern, whatever generation the view comes from. Encouraging learning across generations rather than up and down generations is one way leadership can impact on a climate for knowledge and learning. It’s something which we need to investigate further in this era of social media. Possibly this might be something that comes into our action learning groups this year under the topic of mindsets. Alternatively it might be part of the research project we propose for 2012. Get your thinking hats on and consider what would be most useful for your practice in the coming year.