Posted by: Katherine Raleigh
Programme Manager on Thu 19 Nov

Dr. Davide Nicolini, Warwick Business School, joined this month’s Innovation Day to present how senior managers can develop, refine and test their personal knowledge infrastructure in order to ‘stay in the know’.

In theory, it’s often said that staying in the know is a mental process – finding, collecting and comparing cues then using these for decision making. However, this is not what happens in practice.

Dr. Nicolini explained that, in an era of information overload, building and maintaining a personal knowledge infrastructure is important. Senior managers’ challenging roles and tough environments demand that they scan for new sources, tools and knowledge – but it’s important to filter out the noise and find the right information.

There are three habitual routines to build your personal knowledge infrastructure:

  • Routine practices: Every senior manager has a set routine. For example, checking the news, one-to-one catch-ups, walkabouts, and regular weekly meetings. Such practices are useful for gaining a panoramic view of what is happening and gathering work ‘intelligence’.
  • Relationships: The use of inner conversation circle, old colleagues’ networks, and peer groups. It relies on ‘sound bites’ and triangulating conversations to establish more concrete, reliable information and keeping a pulse on what’s happening. Effective CEOs build strategic relationships – with both breadth and depth of intelligence.
  • Tools and technologies: Monitoring systems, Twitter, blogs and other social media can provide in-depth information on a regular, systematic basis and is useful for keeping tabs on what’s going on outside the organisation. CEOs who are reluctant to use social media should still have processes in place to receive this information (e.g. a weekly summary report from the social media team).

The whole is more than the sum of the parts. None of these routines in isolation can build a personal knowledge infrastructure. Moreover, one size does not fit all. Managers need to adapt their personal knowledge infrastructure building routines that make sense to them.

Clients at the Innovation Day, including Interserve, Environment Agency, Airbus and Birmingham City Council, emphasised the importance of having a purpose to their personal knowledge infrastructure. Be clear on what it is you really need to know and make sure you cover this.

Next, this group will be looking at The Next Big Thing. For more information and to join, please view the event page.

Assess your personal knowledge infrastructure: What works, what’s missing, what don’t you know to make better decisions?

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