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Sharing Know-how

As many of you know a good part of my work is to help CEOs of associations with innovation, especially disruptive innovation. When I was at the World Bank, from 1995-1997 I worked on a fledgling initiative, Knowledge Management, that was all about recognizing that the most important asset we had was in the hearts and minds of our staff, their knowledge. We were set on how to leverage that know-how and experience to help the organization with its mission of alleviating poverty. That initative was extraordinarily successful, going from an unfunded idea to $60M in annual allocations in just 2 years. What I learned about leading change I put in my book, Getting Change Right. I was very fortunate to have that book become a bestseller. But, the most important learning were not about change leadership. They were about sharing what we know.

Knowledge Management is a horrible moniker. Everyone on our team hated it. But, it’s what people used to call our work and so we relented our protests and allowed our efforts to travel under that name. What was really going on was that we were getting people to share what they knew. We were building business processes for making know-how visible so it could be put to broader use. It was a ton of fun for me. I loved hearing the stories as people opened up about their successes and failures.

Storytelling played a major role. We learned all about the uses of storytelling in today’s organizations. And I had the privilege of organizing a series of think tanks that included Disney, Lucent, Ernst & Young, Kodak Chemical, the International Storytelling Center and others. We studied how stories make visible the context and therefore allow other people to transpose the knowledge that is embedded in the stories, and transfer it to their own application. For someone like me, that is oh so cool!

We also developed “liberating structures” for bringing people together to share their experiences in service of a larger effort. This reminded me of my experimental theater days when I brought actors, dancers, poets, musicians, and enthusiastic amateur performers together to create art in public spaces. In fact, there was so much in common between the two that I was able to transfer what I learned as a performance artist to my new role as an agent of transformation at the World Bank.

Today I am gathering what I know about the future of associations and distributing it to association CEOs and leaders including their boards of directors and senior management teams. I just sent out my report Driving Results 2018, which you can check out, too, if you are interested.

How will you build on your passion to create your future this week? That’s some Monday Morning Mojo I would love to bottle!


“God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”
– Billy Graham