Self Portrait of a Knowledge Manager

Hi, my name is José Carlos Tenorio Favero and I’m a Knowledge Manager (Kmer-in twitter slang). I began my blog knowledge management in practice over a year ago because I’m truly passionate about the field and I wanted to show everyone that KM is not complicated at all and that your organization can really benefit from it.

As many of you who have visited my blog in search of answers, my younger self was also in need of answers at some point. My search drove me to names like Nonaka, Firestone, Davenport, McElroy, Snowden… They became my teachers for a long while even after my university days.

I studied information science. It´s not one of those careers everyone is well aware of. Many times when someone asks me about my career I’m greeted with shrouded shoulders. “No, its not computer science….” “It´s not communication studies…” unfortunately information science is often misunderstood and in most universities the agenda is in urgent need of updating in order to meet the demands of a globalized and social media driven world.

However the career is the closest you will get to understanding how information and knowledge can be managed in order to generate value for organizations. Its precursor, library studies made it possible to manage information beyond traditional information entities such as libraries, archives and so on. With information management, the field expanded to new territories: business, commerce, government and so on.

So that’s how I got started in KM. from the various specialties I could choose, I must say it is the one that intrigued me the most. I wanted to do something different. I felt it back then and I know it now. I’m part of what you may call a new generation of Kmers. I wasn’t there when the first generation of KM was born and I picked up the lessons learned of the second generation. I was fascinated by the human component but it all felt difficult to grasp.

I remember my first day at office knowing that I had to work on the human side. Culture, people, values…it all felt like a giant alphabet soup. I wasn’t sure how it would all come together. Finally we got there and I’m proud of what we achieved as part of the KM team. Not only did we achieve quantifiable business results; we also touched people. This is the part of being a Kmer that I enjoyed the most. We helped fellow workers, our friends, to gain new competencies, change paradigms and become better professionals. Many of them thanked us for allowing them to take those teachings back home and share it with their families. This was the “culture” part of KM.

When I joined GMI 4 years ago, KM was in need of some heavy polishing. Too much attention was being paid to the portal, lesson learned were not generating value (and we all know that KM is not technology driven), communities of practice lacked a business driven vision, worker rotation ratio made it hard to work on the culture part, but great things had been achieved: communities were engaging and sharing experiences, conducting knowledge days, participating in forums…but we needed to push further.

Fortunately I had great mentors. Both my boss and the CEO were extremely passionate about KM. It was the CEOs “brainchild”. He hadn’t formally studied KM, but he knew where he wanted to go with it. He created the communities of practice and supervised the development of the KM portal which years later became one of the most admirable intranets in the country. It was through him that I understood the business side. He took me under his wing, and I will always be grateful for that. Walter, you are and will always be my mentor.

Unlike many Kmers, I got the chance right away to deal directly with the business scenario. I dealt first hand with decision makers, learned from the rest of the engineers, lived with them, shared their problems and most importantly, I learned to listen.

All that allowed me to get things moving right away. Nilton, my boss at that time, also guided me all the way. He once told me that in order to learn, you must surround yourself of knowledgeable people.  He was right. I wasn’t sure where I could find other Kmers, so I decided that he would become that person along with Walter. Just like me, Nilton learned about KM from the books. But he had years of experience living it. He made me see beyond the vast ocean of theory and helped me to find my own path. I knew I was winning valuable flying hours because there are many Kmers that only get to sit at the copilot seat and provide directions. I was actually there, driving the plane to its final location.

So that’s what this blog is about. I want to share the experiences I earned as I began to fly. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I want you to learn from the great things we did. Feel free to copy them. But don’t just copy our experiences. Learn from others as well and make your own story. Along the way (thanks to linkedin) I have made some valuable contacts and found new teachers. You might want to look up names like Rob Koene (thanks for sharing your experience at Fluor),  David Gurteen, David Griffiths, Arjan van Unikk, Albert Simard  and many others that are out there, happily sharing valuable insight in Linkedin groups or through their personal blogs or web pages.

I think KM has come a long way. I might sound pessimist but I really don’t want to see much more theory on the subject. I love it the way it is. Let’s not make it more complicated. David Griffith discussed the momentum of KM in a recent post:

 I will wager you will find, for the most part, that the KM profession today seems to be stuck in a poor version of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day.”

Right now I’m back on the saddle again. My experience at GMI has brought me to a whole new scenario. I’m now in charge of KM at GMD; a leading outsourcing IT firm in Peru. Over the past weeks I have been documenting my first days as it were a diary. I regret not having done that in GMI and hated myself for not “managing” my own knowledge!

So now I walk around with a note pad in hand so that I can readily write down important learnings and ideas. Finally I put them together in order to bring you a post which I’m sure will help answer the questions you need. Why? Because I’m sure my younger self would have appreciated it back in day 1.

During those flying hours at GMI I learned a lot. Also as a lecturer, author, researcher, I have being able to learn more from the people I crossed paths with. Teaching the subject allowed me to interact with people from diverse fields. Their questions opened up new ones within me and pushed me to find answers in places different to KM. So I read about organizational development, communication, marketing and so on. I even did my masters on Community Management and Business 2.0. I’m extremely happy for taking that decision. I knew ideas had to come to from other places and I found them. My favorite teachers nowadays expand the field of KM. I enjoy reading Jack Howley, Brian Solis, Ismael Cala, Austin Kleon, Jeremy Donovan. Even spiritual leader Sai Baba has inspired me with teachings regarding human behaviour.

So fellow Kmers, I invite you to follow my blog. As many of you already know, I’m always happy to answer your question. Sometimes my tweet deck and facebook page overflow with messages but I am sure you know that in due time you will get a reply. Rui in Brasil knows it best. I helped him all the way through his thesis research ( and I am still waiting for the coffee packs!).

Finally let me share the following video which describes GMI´s KM practices. It was a video we made for use in-house but later felt that it could also help others, so we decided to make an English dubbed version of it. (click here to view it)

Cheers.

© Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero

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josecarloskm

Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero

Here´s a picture of my younger self at GMI. I was at a project location (in  a mining plant in Ica), sharing some of the KM plans we were undertaking.  

At Aitken & Spence (Sri Lanka)

At Aitken & Spence (Sri Lanka)

Workshop I conducted in Aitken & Spence- Sri Lanka

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