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KM Australia Congress 2012—an interview with Chandni Kapur

An annual event since 2004, the KM Australia Congress will be on again this July 24-26, in Sydney. With a focus on social media and collaboration, change management and culture, learning and performance, and communication and leadership, this year’s congress has a terrific lineup of speakers. There’ll be representation from the Federal Transit and Aviation Administrations from the US, the Australian Department of Defence, Telstra, KPMG, Toyota (US) and lots more. One of the highlights is bound to be the debate on capturing tacit knowledge using social technologies, but the one I’m really looking forward to is seeing Signe Lønholdt from LEGO, Denmark, talk about her experience as Online Community Editor.

For those interested in knowledge management, it will be a great event packed with case studies and real life strategies. I’m pleased to be sharing a few brief interviews over the next week with LEGO’s Signe Lønholdt, Woods Bagot’s Felicity McNish and today, Rio Tinto’s Chandni Kapur.

Chandni appears on day one of the programme with her session “Using knowledge as a change lever to create process improvement”.

 

1. Can you explain what your role as Rio Tinto’s Change Manager for Strategy Execution involves?

The Strategy Execution team sits within the Delivery arm of Rio Tinto’s Global HR team. The team comprises project management, change management, communication, strategy design resources who support the the projects and programs within HR. My role as change manager is to ensure we deliver sustainable change through positive stakeholder engagement.

 

2. How did you find your way to knowledge management and were there any particular experiences that led you there?

In 2003 I was working for a manuscript editing company. I was the only editor with a Masters in science and 80% of the manuscripts were scientific and written by non-native speakers. I mentored some of the other editors and they often asked me how I just knew when something was an error or the author was expressing it incorrectly. Our CEO was an ex-McKinsey consultant who had seen first-hand the benefits of knowledge management. He encouraged me to set up small initiatives to share my knowledge with the others. That grew into developing training programs and other knowledge assets and in a year’s time I was heading a small team called Knowledge Development. That was a time when you could try almost anything because there was no risk of failure.

 

3. In your session for the coming KM Australia congress, you’ll be talking about KM’s role in continuous improvement and customer support. Does KCS (Knowledge Centred Support) play a part in your KM initiatives and how do you measure those service improvements?

Continous Improvement is a mindset and knowledge centred support or practices are tools one can use to achieve results in CI. Effective knowledge systems enable people to make better decisions as a result of the experiences they have, information they comprehend and tools they can use to process or analyse. By creating effective knowledge systems or tools, we provide people with a means to process information faster or make a better decision thereby reducing errors. Quite broadly, the first measure is reduction in errors and the second measure derived from that is reduction in rework time. The third measure, which is usually a combination of several aspects of a process, is customer satisfaction.

 

4. This isn’t your first appearance at a KM Australia conference, is it? Indeed, you’re on the committee for the actKM forum. What are your thoughts on the KM community, globally and in Australia, and has the greater awareness of KM evolved over time?

This is my first appearance at KM Australia. I’ve been a part of actKM for over 6 years now and 4 years as Treasurer. actKM was one of the first groups I joined way back in 2002 when I first got interested in Knowledge Management. I got some great advice from member of the group, they were very helpful and welcoming, and through this informal mentoring I found myself quite engaged in this area of work. I’m sure there’s many more people with similar stories and this is a great testimonial for  how to run and sustain communities of practices. actKM has started collaborating with many other KM forums interstate such as the KMLF, NSW Roundtable etc. Similar collaborative efforts need to happen at a global level. Currently, the exchange across countries is limited to a few KM presenters who travel the globe presenting in different places. This needs to be stepped up a level to increase awareness of KM practices globally. I think the other opportunity is for forums such as these to mentor young students and professionals and work more closely with community groups in both urban and remote locations to fully realise the value that KM practices can serve in our day to day lives. Finally, there is more engagement required with Business. And what I mean by that is, currently KM conferences attract only KM practioneers – we need more interdisciplinary work and engagement. KM with Change and Communication is emerging but there’s more that can happen around KM and Process Improvement; KM and Lean Practices; we need to dissociate from the shadows of information management and embrace all functions within a Business environment.

 

5. Do you have any advice for anyone who might be trying to sell a KCS or KM strategy to the Executive?

Solve a Business problem using KM. Don’t try to sell KM. Just solve a problem – whether it’s making a process shorter and more effective by empowering people with the right information to make smart decisions or ensuring knowledge loss from baby boomers is harnessed. If it doesn’t link to the Business Strategy it’s not worth doing, so ensure that you understand the business strategy and make a fantastic effort to show how the KM interventions will help realise the strategy and the benefits (people, cost, time) of doing it that way.

 

Thank you, Chandni, for taking some time out to answer my questions.

You can see Chandni Kapur and many other fantastic speakers at Crystal Palace, Luna Park, in just five weeks. View the full programme here. On Friday, I’ll bring you an interview with Felicity McNish from MAKE award winners Woods Bagot.