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Join us at KA Connect 2018

KA Connect 2018 will take place at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on May 1st and 2nd, 2018.

Senior and emerging leaders from top AEC firms will share their insights on topics such as:

  • Knowledge Strategy
  • Critical Knowledge
  • Knowledge Mapping
  • Mentorship
  • Learning & Development
  • Expert Interviews
  • Lessons Learned
  • Best Practices
  • Intranets

Take advantage of early registration while we plan!

Author: Christopher Parsons

"We don't have 20 years to develop a 20-year architect."

BWBR, a Minneapolis-based design firm, faced a converging set of business challenges over the last few years, including:

  • the retirement of their long-serving technical director
  • an influx of new talent direct from the college classroom
  • an increase in the complexity of their projects
  • accelerated project schedules driven by client demand, industry competition, and technological disruption

Sound familiar?

Enter the Landmark Learning Series—a wildly successful, grassroots technical learning program—created by BWBR to help bring architects and designers with less than five years of experience up to speed on the fundamentals of designing and documenting buildings.

Dan Hottinger and Stefnee Trzpuc share their behind-the-scenes story of creating the Landmark Learning Series in their KA Connect 2017 talk, Teach Them How to Fish: Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies.

If capturing and sharing technical knowledge is a top priority for your AEC firm, you won't want to miss this talk.

Teach Them How to Fish: Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies

Dan Hottinger and Stefnee Trzpuc of BWBR at KA Connect 2017.

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Posted: August 29, 2017 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

All 18 talks and interviews from KA Connect 2017 are now available online.


Posted: July 11, 2017 | View this Post
Author: KA Connect

In his KA Connect 2016 talk, Christopher Parsons shares his vision for the future of Knowledge Management in the AEC industry, which is based on Knowledge Architecture’s client work with over 90 leading AEC firms and producing seven KA Connect conferences on AEC Knowledge Management.

Watch this video to learn what knowledge management is, why it matters, and strategies for managing knowledge and building knowledge management teams.

Smarter by Design: A Knowledge Management Manifesto for the AEC Industry

Christopher Parsons of Knowledge Architecture at KA Connect 2016.

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Posted: April 18, 2017 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

You are surrounded by knowledge in your AEC firm. If you reflect for a few minutes, you'll likely agree that not all of that knowledge is equal. Some knowledge in your firm is commoditized and easily replaced when people leave the firm. Some knowledge is outdated, wrong, and/or irrelevant, not missed when experts retire. However, there is another category of knowledge which comprises unique, hard-won, experience-based knowledge, which is essential to the success of your firm today, and in the future. Knowledge Management professionals call this "Critical Knowledge." Critical Knowledge is the high-hanging fruit in your firm, located deep in the brains of your wisest people.

From September of 2016 through April of 2017 Knowledge Architecture sponsored an eight-month research project into Critical Knowledge Transfer. Dorothy Leonard, Chief Advisor of the Leonard-Barton Group and Professor Emerita of the Harvard Business School, led four firms—Shepley Bulfinch, SMMA, Dewberry, and HGA—in this project.

Below you will find Knowledge Architecture's Critical Knowledge Collection, a boxed-set if you will. This KA Connect talk collection shares the individual experiences of each participating firm, as well as a deeper dive by Dorothy Leonard into the theory and practice of Critical Knowledge Transfer.

By watching these talks we hope you will walk away with a well-rounded perspective of the complex challenge of transferring Critical Knowledge, various Critical Knowledge Transfer strategies, and inspiration to move forward more effectively with Critical Knowledge Transfer within your firm.


Experiments in Critical Knowledge Transfer at Shepley Bulfinch

Jim Martin of Shepley Bulfinch at KA Connect 2017.

In the fall of 2016, Shepley Bulfinch embarked upon an initiative to identify pockets of scarce, important, and hard-to-replace knowledge within their practice. Jim Martin shared lessons learned from the discovery process, approaches for capturing critical knowledge, and tactics for disseminating it to others in the firm.

Play Video >

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Posted: October 18, 2017 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

Trying to manage knowledge without a strategy is like trying to sit at a table without a chair. In this video from KA Connect 2016, Drew Wiberg will methodically walk you through how he used search data to build a knowledge strategy for Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Take notes as Drew outlines the four legs of his knowledge strategy:

  • Search: Improve the reach of search queries and control preferred results
  • Navigation: Use Navigational Queries to inform efficient intranet design
  • Content: Identify and fill gaps in the knowledge base with new content
  • Education: Make educated guesses on the training needs of your firm

Don't end up like Ichabod Crane, without a seat at the table. (I know that doesn't make sense to you now, but Drew will cover how his experience with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow relates to knowledge strategy in the first minute and a half of his talk.)

Building Knowledge Strategies with Search Data

Drew Wiberg of Eppstein Uhen Architects at KA Connect 2016.

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Posted: September 06, 2016 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

"The best thing that could ever happen to you in KM is that you find a business problem you can solve. Start with a business problem, fix it, and then you have the creds to do whatever else you need to do in KM."

So began Carla O'Dell's fantastic keynote talk at KA Connect 2016. Carla is the CEO of APQC and is widely considered by the knowledge management community to be one of leading experts in the world. Her KA Connect 2016 talk, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Knowledge Management Organizations," distilled decades of researched best practices and hard-won insights into forty minutes of pure KM gold.

As Carla would say, I hope ya'll enjoy it.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Knowledge Management Organizations

Carla O'Dell of APQC at KA Connect 2016.

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Posted: March 06, 2017 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

AskFinch Defining Moment

The Defining Moment

In 2014, Mark Finneral, a director and technical architect at Shepley Bulfinch, logged over 177 questions and answers in an excel spreadsheet.

Mark was a magnet for questions because he is both technically savvy and a "nice guy." Folks from both inside and outside the firm asked him very detailed, technical questions. While he was more than happy to answer the questions, he was starting to become concerned that the value he was providing to other project teams was coming at the expense of his utilization rate on his own projects. Perhaps even more concerning to Mark, was the the fact that only the people who asked him questions got value out of the face-to-face exchanges. (Well, Mark found the exchanges personally valuable as well.)

When the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at Shepley Bulfinch learned about Mark's spreadsheet, they realized they had a problem, which led them to ask the following questions:

  1. Is the quality of answers people are getting dependent on who they know and where they sit?
  2. Are we answering the same questions over and over?
  3. Are we learning from the experience of others?

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Posted: November 11, 2016 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

Do you want to improve knowledge sharing within your firm? So did KieranTimberlake.

They believed the obvious solution would be about technology. So they gathered a handful of smart people, and those smart people created a plan.

And then they threw the whole thing out.

Their original plan was inflexible, too static, slow... They needed something more dynamic, agile. And that was okay. They failed fast, and they moved forward.

Their new goals were about a framework. A framework they could grow and contract. A framework people could dial their time up and down within. A framework that would make people feel empowered. A platform versus a plan.

Give yourself a gift. All you need is about 15 minutes. Take a break and let Matthew Krissel tell you how this successful Knowledge Sharing Platform story ends.

Design Diffusion at KieranTimberlake

Matthew Krissel of KieranTimberlake at KA Connect 2015.

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Posted: December 01, 2015 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

Have you ever thought about knowledge sharing as a component of your firm's strategic vision? How about connecting internal and external knowledge sharing? For instance, translating a piece of internal communication, such as a post on your intranet, into a piece of marketing content, such as a post on your firm's blog. Sound good? It gets better. Andy knows how knowledge sharing can generate leads.

If you haven't seen Andy's KA Connect 2015 talk about activating knowledge sharing at DLR Group, I believe it's time. Grab some popcorn and press play.

Activating Knowledge Sharing at DLR Group

Andy Ernsting of DLR Group at KA Connect 2015.

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Posted: October 26, 2015 | View this Post
Author: Christopher Parsons

Arup has taken an innovative approach to capturing the culture of their firm---they've created a film series. This series, Arup Legends, is a compilation of interviews with members of Arup's senior leadership team and founding partners. The stories they've documented over the last ten years will allow Arup to share with future generations of employees how they became the leading global engineering firm they are today.

This is just one of the many components of Arup's inspiring and best-in-class university program. Watch Kyle Fisher's KA Connect 2015 talk to learn more about Arup Legends, Arup University, and Knowledge Management.

The Evolution of Arup University

Kyle Fisher of Arup at KA Connect 2015.

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Posted: September 02, 2015 | View this Post

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