E-book on AI systems by Kyield

My ebook “Ascension to a Higher Level of Performance” is now available to the public.

Learn about the background of Kyield and the multi-disciplinary science involved with AI systems, with a particular focus on AI augmentation for knowledge work and how to achieve a continuously adaptive learning organization (CALO).




INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………..



MANAGEMENT CONSULTING ……………………………………………………………………

COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PHYSICS…………………………………………………………….

ECONOMICS AND PSYCHOLOGY ………………………………………………………………..

LIFE SCIENCES AND HEALTHCARE……………………………………………………………


KYIELD OS …………………………………………………………………………………………..




BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES ………………………………………………………..

THE PILOT PROCESS ……………………………………………………………………………..

EXAMPLE: BANKING, PHASE 1…………………………………………………………………

PHASE 2…………………………………………………………………………………………….

PHASE 3…………………………………………………………………………………………….

PHASE 4…………………………………………………………………………………………….



Visit our learning center to download this ebook and view other publications from Kyield at the confluence of AI systems, crisis prevention, risk management, security, productivity and organizational management.


Priority Considerations When Investing in Artificial Intelligence


After several decades of severe volatility in climatology across the fields involved with artificial intelligence (AI), we’ve finally breached the tipping point towards sustainability, which may also represent the true beginnings for a sustainable planet and humanity.

Recent investment in AI is primarily due to the formation of viable components in applied R&D that came together through a combination of purposeful engineering and serendipity, resulting in a wide variety of revolutionary functionality.  However, since investment spikes also typically reflect reactionary herding, asset allocation mandates, monetary policy, and opaque strategic interests among other factors, caution is warranted.

The following considerations are offered as observations from my perch as an architect and founder who has been dealing with many dozens of management teams over the last few years.  The order of priority will not be the same for each organization, though in practice are usually similar within industries.

Risk Management and Crisis Prevention

The nature of AI when combined with computer networking and interconnected emerging technology such as cryptography, 3D printing, biotech and nanotech represents perhaps the most significant risk and opportunity in history.

While the global warnings on AI are premature, often inaccurate, and appear to be a battle for control, catastrophic risk for individual companies is considerable.  For most organizations the risk should be manageable, though not with traditional strategies and tactics.  That is to say that AI within the overall environment requires aggressive behavioral change outside comfort zones.

Recent examples of multi-billion dollar investments in AI include Google, IBM, and Toyota, though multi-million USD investments now number in the thousands if we include internal investments and venturing.  To be sure much of this investment is reactionary and wasteful, but the nature of the technology only requires a small fraction of the functionality to prove successful, which can be decisive in some markets.

For appreciation of the sea change, common functions employed today were deemed futuristic and decades in the future just three or four years ago.  So it’s not surprising that a majority of senior management teams we’ve engaged in the last two years confirm that AI is among their highest priorities, though I must say some are still moving too slow. We’ve observed a wide range of actions from window dressing for Wall Street to confusing to brilliant.

The highest return on investment possible is prevention of catastrophic events, whether an industrial accident, lone wolf bad actors, systemic fraud, or disruption leading to displacement or irrelevance.  Preventable losses in the tens of billions in single organizations have become common.  Smaller events that require a similar core design to prevent or mitigate are the norm rather than the exception, but are often nonetheless career ending in hindsight, and can be fatal to all but the most capitalized companies.  We’ve experienced several multi-billion dollar events in former management teams that likely could have been prevented if they had moved more quickly, including unfortunately loss of lives, which is what gets me up at 3am.

Talent War

An exponential surge in training is underway in machine learning (ML) along with substantial funding in tools, so we can expect the cost of more common technical skills will begin to subside, while other challenges will escalate.

“In their struggle against the powers of the world around them their first weapon was magic, the earliest fore-runner of the technology of to-day.  Their reliance on magic was, as we suppose, derived from their overvaluation of their own intellectual operations, from their belief in the ‘omnipotence of thoughts’, which, incidentally, we come upon again in our obsessional neurotic patients.’’ — Sigmund Freud, 1932.

The challenge is that the magic of the previous century has evolved and matured by necessity from the efforts of many well meaning scientists, but some of the magicians on stage still suffer from neurosis.  Technology is evolving much faster than humans or organizations.

Examples of talent issues commonly found in our communications:

  • Due to long AI winters followed by the recent tipping point in viability, the number of individuals with extensive experience is very small, and most are at a few tech companies attempting to displace other industries.

  • Industry-specific expertise beyond search and robotics is rare and very specialized with little understanding of enterprise-wide potential.
    An exceptional level of caution is warranted on conflicts in AI counsel due to competency and pre-existing alliances.

  • Despite efforts to exploit emerging opportunity, ability to think strategically in AI systems appears to be almost non-existent.

  • CTOs may win some key battles in tactical applications, but CEOs must win the wars with organizational AI systems.

The talent war for the top tier in AI is so severe with such serious implications that hundreds of millions USD have been invested for key individuals.  Of course very few organizations can compete in talent auctions, which is one reason why the Kyield OS is so important.  We automate many AI functions that will be common in organizations and their networks for the foreseeable future while also making deep dive custom algorithmics simpler and more relevant.

Historic Opportunity

Not only is AI a classic case of ‘offense is the best defense’, when designed and executed well to enhance knowledge workers and customers, the embedded intelligence with prescriptive analytics can accelerate discovery, uncover previously unknown opportunities, providing historically rare potential for new businesses, spin outs, joint ventures and other types of partnering.  Managed well, this is precisely what many companies and national economies need.

Architectural Design

Impacting every part of distributed organizations, the importance of architecture cannot be overstated as it will influence and in many instances determine outcomes in the distributed network environment.  AI is a continuous process, not a one-off project, so it requires pivotal thinking from two decades of fast fail lean innovation that our lab helped pioneer.  Key considerations in architecture we incorporated in the Kyield OS include but are not limited to the following:

  • Optimizing the Internet of Entities

  • Governance, compliance, and data quality

  • Accelerated discovery and innovation

  • Continuous improvement

  • Real-time adaptability

  • Interoperability

  • Business modeling

  • Relationship management

  • Smart contracts

  • Security and privacy

  • Transactions

  • Digital currency

  • Ownership and control of data

  • Audits and reporting

  • Productivity Improvement

A priority outcome for most organizations in competitive environments, productivity improvement is increasingly derived from optimizing embedded intelligence, which is also desperately needed to improve the macro global economic situation.  A large gap remains in most AI strategies with respect to enterprise-wide productivity, which represents the foundation of recurring value to organizations and society, regardless of the specific task of each knowledge worker and organization.

While cultural challenges and defensive efforts are common obstacles to any productivity improvement, strong leadership has proven the ability to triumph.  Internal and external consultants and advisors can help, particularly given the steep learning curve in AI;  just be cautious on unhealthy relationships that may have interests directly opposed to the client organization, as conflicts are pervasive and tactics are sophisticated.


Just when we thought trust couldn’t become more important, it seems to dominate life on earth.  We’ve come across quite a few trust related issues in our AI voyage. A few examples that come to mind:

Intellectual property:  Trust is a two-way street, particularly when it comes to intellectual assets, so upfront mutual protection is a necessary evil and serves as the first formal step in establishing a trustworthy relationship, without which the other party must presume the worst of intentions.  Once the Kyield OS is installed with partners this problem is effectively eliminated with smart contracts and digital currency based on internal dynamics and verified intelligence (aka evidence).

Fear of displacement:  Since AI is new for most, suffice to say that fear is omnipresent and must be dealt with in a transparent and intelligent manner. At the knowledge worker level we overcome the problem with transparency, which makes it obvious that the Kyield OS is likely their strongest ally.

Modeling:  While motivation to change is often needed from external sources such as regulatory or competition, it’s probably not a good idea to trust a company that has the capability, desire, culture and incentive to displace customers.  Another problem to avoid at the confluence of networked computing and AI is lock-in from technology or talent, including service models.  Beware the overfunded offering that attempts to buy adoption and/or over-reliance on marketing hype.

Authenticity:  Apart from the serious structural economic problems caused by copying or theft of intellectual work, consider the trustworthiness of those who would do so and how much know-how is withheld because of this problem.  Authenticity is especially important in this field due to the length of time required to understand the breadth and depth of implications across the organization and network economy.


Given the strategic implications to organizations, AI should be a top priority led by senior management.  However, since supply chains face similar challenges with AI, traditional methods and channels to technology adoption may not necessarily serve organizations well, and in some cases may be high risk.  Whether for strategic intent, financial return, operational necessity or any combination thereof, investing well in AI is not a trivial undertaking. Integrity, experience, knowledge and freedom from conflicts are therefore critical in choosing partners and investments.

About the author

Mark Montgomery is the founder and CEO of Kyield, which is based on two decades of self-funded R&D.  The Kyield OS is designed around his patented AI system, which tailors data to each entity in the digital network environment.

New Video on Kyield Enterprise – Data Tailored to Each Entity

Book Review: What’s Holding You Back? — By Robert J. Herbold

While I rarely seem to have time for book reviews, the timing, content, and match to current needs of Bob Herbold’s new book is even more rare, so I wanted to share some thoughts while fresh. I read the book while on annual vacation in the San Juan Mountains with my wife at the end of September.

As a previous business and organizational consultant with dozens of similar cases in my past, combined with years of pro-bono advisory for the public sector and non-profits, and recent partner negotiations with multinationals, I can confirm that the operational guidance throughout the book is spot on.

Indeed, many of the current economic challenges facing the U.S. and EU can be directly traced to the consensus cultures in large organizations of the type highlighted consistently in the business cases Bob shares. In case after case, he shows us how lack of accountability, fear of negative impact on careers, refusing to take decisive bold action meeting actual needs, and poor cultures for innovation have led to failure in our hyper competitive global economy. We know what works and what doesn’t, but the truth is what works is quite often very difficult and uncomfortable; not unlike team competition on the football field or climbing mountains.

I suspect that this book will clash sharply with the predominant idealism found in government, academia, unions, and multinationals that have sufficient market power to ignore competitive issues during the tenure of current management, or so many believed until very recently. For decades now the most common response to increased competition has been to circle the wagons and kick the can down the road for the next generation to worry about, which is of course why western economies in particular are suffering today.  However common and popular, any such culture and practice is failure by any credible definition of leadership. This is why most strong leaders agree that we are suffering from an era of leadership crisis; it’s impossible to conclude otherwise.

Some managers in consensus cultures might even consider Bob’s message as brutal, claiming that such a management philosophy is politically unacceptable in their organizational culture. Such a conclusion would be accurate in many organizations I’ve worked with, which is why crisis is so common today. The mathematical truth in a world with finite resources is indeed often perceived as brutal, particularly for those who have enjoyed a life of surplus and subsidy. These are precisely the cultures and managers who need to fully embrace the teachings offered by Bob, if for no other reason than everything such cultures claim to care about are being economically devastated by uncompetitive philosophies and practices. It is ironic that what’s holding our economy back are so many cultures and leaders who are refusing to follow the proven practices that work in the real economy and attempt to protect a world that no longer exists, rather than deal with the reality we face on planet earth today.

While I found a few items I could quibble with relating to my own specialty work in Kyield, they are minor compared to the much needed broader message. A few of my favorite conclusions include:

  • Avoid commodity hell

  • Staff for success

  • Move weak performers out quickly

  • Creativity and six sigma don’t mix

  • Demand accountability and decisiveness

  • Value ideas from anywhere

  • Exploit inflection points

In each of these areas and many others, Bob provides some detail on how to execute, whether in large global companies like his role at P&G and Microsoft, or in business units dealing with many of the same issues.

Finally, I’d like to share a few personal thoughts. While I’ve never met Bob in person, as is often the case in business we do have multiple shared acquaintances in our past, so I pinged him when reading the book and we’ve exchanged a few emails since.  I often thought about Bob in his role as COO at Microsoft when his duties included dealing with the DOJ on one hand and Bill Gates on the other, which frankly must have been among the most difficult positions any modern executive has endured. The outcome for Bill Gates and Microsoft was exceptional by any known metric, which can be largely attributed to Bob Herbold in my view.

In a recent interview and podcast with the Puget Sound Business Journal (my old stomping ground), the editor asked Bob about his experience at Microsoft and why the company has not been more innovative. His answer was almost verbatim to my own in answering the same question for my late partner Dr. Russell Borland who was on the founding team of Word, and a key person in many of the early products that still deliver most of the profits for MSFT.

Paraphrasing the answer: “It’s very difficult to voluntarily cannibalize two of the most profitable products in the history of business (Office and Windows)”.

Frankly, this reality was not easy for Russell to digest, nor even myself who was an early booster to MS. However, based on fiduciary responsibility that requires quantitative reasoning to guide decision making, a CEO in a public company wouldn’t voluntarily cannibalize such cash cows, and Steve Ballmer hasn’t, so it’s up to customers and innovators–that’s why we need new companies; creative destruction and disruption are essential to our economy.

Unfortunately for the world, when companies who dominate our work environment with commoditized products fail to innovate, and fail to provide easily adaptable tools that enable differentiation and competitiveness, the risk of failure becomes systemic to the entire global economy, acting like a wet blanket to creativity and economic growth. That’s why we spent 15 years creating Kyield—organizations simply can’t afford commoditization of the digital workplace environment, and the world cannot afford not to embrace the rare generational leap Kyield represents.

If you are a senior executive in a mid to large size organization, you will hopefully already have this book, but if not—buy it for all of your managers, then call me and let’s talk about what it will take to install Kyield in your organization so that your organization can execute and optimize the lessons learned:

What’s Holding You Back?
10 Bold Steps That Define Gutsy Leaders
By Robert J. Herbold

New paper: Optimizing Knowledge Yield in the Digital Workplace

I am pleased to share a new paper that may be of interest:

Optimizing Knowledge Yield in the Digital Workplace
A new system design for thriving in the data-intensive universe

From the abstract:

The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, it briefly describes how the digital
workplace evolved in an incremental manner. Second, it discusses related structural
technical and economic challenges for individuals and organizations in the digital
workplace. Lastly, it summarizes how Kyield’s novel approach can serve to provide
exponential performance improvement.

Semantic enterprise elevator pitch (2 min video)

Preventing the next Fort Hood tragedy, by design

The recent tragedy at Fort Hood was only the latest in a series of crises that would likely have been prevented if the U.S. Government had adopted a logical holistic system design when I first began making the argument more than a decade ago. Since that time we’ve witnessed trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives lost; 9/11 and two wars, Katrina’s turf battles and incompatible communications, the mortgage bubble and global financial crisis, and now the Fort Hood massacre. The current trajectory of systems design and dysfunction isn’t sustainable.

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” – Thomas Jefferson

While this particular tragedy is still under investigation, patterns are emerging that are very similar to previous crises, including 9/11. So let’s take a closer look at this event relative to what is currently possible with organizational design and state-of-the-art technology in order to better understand how to prevent the next crisis, for it will surely occur unless prevented by a logical holistic system design.

Crisis prevention by organizational design

It is true that some crises cannot be prevented, but it’s also true that most human caused crisis can be, particularly those that are systemic, including all cases cited here. In fact many tragedies are reported to have been prevented by intelligence agencies without our detailed knowledge, some of which would undoubtedly help inform our democracy if declassified, but we are still obviously missing preventable catastrophic events that we can ill afford to endure as a nation; economically or otherwise.

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exist.” – Eric Hoffer.

In each of the cases mentioned here, including Fort Hood, actionable evidence was available either on the Web or within the content of digital files residing on agency computer networks, but were not shared with the appropriate individuals or partners in the decision chain, usually due to careerism, turf protection, and justified fear of retribution.

It is difficult for leaders to understand that members in a hierarchical bureaucracy are often punished by micro social cultures for doing the right thing, such as sharing information or taking action to prevent tragedy. A good report from the field on 9/11 is Coleen Rowley’s Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2002.

Interests are not aligned: Denial does not a better system make

“The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime.…” – Albert Einstein

The reality is that interests of the individual and that of the organization are often not well aligned, so system designs need to include intentional realignment. However, in the case of the Fort Hood massacre, red flags were so prevalent that many of us are asking the logical question: How explicit must a threat be before the systems will require action?

Red flags were hidden from those who need to know

In the case of Fort Hood, as was the case with 9/11, the U.S. Government apparently again experienced a data firewall between agency cultures, supported in previous cases by fear-induced interpretation of regulations and defensive micro cultures within agencies. The Washington Post reported that an FBI-led task force was monitoring emails of the suspect Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, some of which were shared with a Washington field office, but were not shared with the military, to include apparently Hasan’s supervisors who clearly were in the camp of ‘need to know’. A properly designed architecture as described in our recent hypothetical use case scenario for the DHS would have automatically alerted those in the decision chain who were pre-determined to ‘need to know’ when certain phrases are present, including the base commander and security officer in this case who may have prevented the tragedy in a manner that did not compromise the subject’s rights to privacy or freedom of religion.

“The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed.” – Clark Kerr

One such semantic phrase for example that should probably be immediately shared with base commanders and counter terrorist experts would be: “communicating with known terrorists”. No one in the chain of command, including criminal investigators, should be empowered to prevent that information from reaching those in a position to prevent tragedy, whether a national security threat or localized. Indeed, logic suggests that local surveillance might be necessary in order to define the threat, if any.

Crisis Prevention by Technical Design

Among the many academic disciplines influencing modern enterprise architecture are organizational management, computer science (CS), and predictive theory, which manifests in the modern work place environment as network design, computer languages, and mathematical algorithms. The potential effectiveness of these disciplines depends primarily on three dynamically interrelated factors:

1. Availability and quality of the data

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”– James Madison

The problem reflected in the decades-old phrase GIGO (garbage-in garbage-out) used in computer science influenced the holistic semantic design of Kyield more than any other factor. Rather than attacking the root of the problem at the source and investing in prevention, CS in general and consumer search in particular have teetered at the edge of chaos by combining clever algorithms and massive computing power to convert unstructured data (GI) to relevance (GO). While search and conversion of unstructured data has improved substantially in the past decade, it cannot compare to a logically designed QIQO (quality-in quality-out) system. Evolving to a QIQO environment from GIGO in organizational computing requires a holistic solution that is focused on prevention, improving work quality, and enhanced innovation.

It became apparent during several years of extensive applied R&D shortly after the commercialization of the Internet and WWW that embedding intelligence in files would result in far more functionality and efficiency, particularly within enterprise networks.

Without availability of high quality data that provides essential transparency while protecting privacy, the potential of enterprise computing is severely hampered, and in some cases has already become more of the problem than the solution. Once essential data is collected containing carefully tailored embedded intelligence, the task of preventing crises can be semi-automated.

2. Through data barriers

“It doesn’t work to leap a twenty-foot chasm in two ten-foot jumps.” – American proverb

Unlike other industries in previous technical revolutions, the U.S. has generally embraced a laissez-faire approach to technical standards, resulting in proprietary standards that are leveraged for market share. Unfortunately, the result in technology has been much like that in finance, although largely invisible with costs of inoperability transferred to customers. Unfettered innovation can have tragic consequences. In the network era, inoperable systems have increasingly contributed to some of our greatest challenges; including failure in crisis prevention, cost and inefficiencies in healthcare, and reduced innovation and productivity in the workplace. So in our case, even though voluntary standards are less than ideal, we’ve embraced the W3C standards for public transactions.

3. Data constructs and analytics

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” — Edward R. Morrow

Once the essential data is collected, many of our current great challenges in organizations become within reach:

  • Red flagging can be automated while protecting jobs and privacy.

  • Realignment of interests between the individual and organization.

  • Accountability and meritocracy is far more achievable.

  • Original work by individuals and teams can be protected.

  • Information overflow can finally be managed well.

  • Creativity and innovation can be enhanced.

  • Predictive and ‘what if?’ modeling /algorithms are much easier.

  • Formerly essential unknowns about the org become known.

  • The organization can become more adaptive to change.

  • Cultural management and continuous learning is manifest.

  • Rich visual metrics of formerly unknown patterns become routine.

Crisis Review

To his credit Secretary Gates has called for a system-wide review of the Fort Hood tragedy, which will coincide with reviews by the Army, White House, and Congress.

However, it would be irresponsible not to emphasize that the underlying stresses that likely contributed to this tragedy are directly related to failure in preventing previous crises. The result of previous failures to adopt logically functional systems is that our macro-fiscal situation in the U.S. is now so degraded that future prevention requires a much greater effort than would have been the case a decade ago.

Preventing systemic crises and related security (economic and warfare) are the foremost reasons for our government agencies to exist, and was the primary motivation for creating Kyield, even if the holistic design provides many other side benefits. The system problem has now been solved by design; but it has yet to be adopted.

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.” – Thomas Jefferson

Mark Montgomery

Alternatives to the CKO, continued….

This post is a continuing discussion (Chief Knowledge Officer, or CKO) in response to Franz Dill’s post on his blogThe Eponymous Pickle.

There is so much history surrounding this issue (CKO) that I would write a book series about it if I had time. After years of running a management consulting firm, which we then converted to a knowledge systems lab and incubator, I found myself working increasingly as a citizen volunteer attempting to convince the U.S. Government to adopt advanced knowledge systems. The conversation began in the mid-1990s and then reached decision levels when so many of the world’s leading thinkers and analysts joined our online learning network from ’97 to 2000. Among dozens of other topics, we offered a high quality global news filter on KM, complete with intel briefs, and companion discussion list. With each major crisis since that time we’ve been able to confirm that with a state of the art semantic system in place those crises could have been avoided, and most probably would have been. The result is that if the U.S. had invested tens of millions a decade ago, we may have saved trillions of dollars by now, and thousands of lives.

KM started as a sincere early science that combined the research in learning organizations with information technology, which became far more complex for everyone with the commercialization of the web. Unfortunately, KM became a trendy buzz phrase and consulting practice before the majority offering services could even define it. Global self- accredited organizations sprouted up and many universities began offering PhD programs in KM before it had matured into a professional practice. In fact, of the many doctoral theses I reviewed on related topics in the1990s, a work in progress by Michael Sutton then at McGill University was among the most interesting, for it looked at the university programs themselves, which required deep consideration of the science and practice. I recall a pleasant meeting with Dr. Sutton and his wife when they visited Sedona, AZ during this time. Dr. Sutton is now assistant professor at Westminster in SLC — his completed thesis is available here (5+ MB pdf – a must for serious students and practitioners) .

Early on I found that the members of the Special Librarian’s Association (SLA) were among the most skilled at the functions organizations actually needed as the web grew exponentially; particularly those specializing as digital librarians. It may not be surprising then that Dr. France Bouthillier was Michael Sutton’s Dissertation Advisor. Dr. Bouthillier is a professor in Library Science and Information Studies at McGill University, which is one of the stronger programs worldwide. Academic KM programs have improved substantially in the past few years, although significant overlap still exists in KM, Organizational Management, Library Science, and CS, among others. It became obvious to me in our small pioneering lab that not only did we need better educational programs, skills, and tools, but more importantly we needed much improved system design.

When I joined the U.S. Gov CIO WG on KM, I quickly discovered an enormous difference in competency and culture within the agencies, some of which were predominantely focused on turf protection, careerism, and agency power rather than their true mission; as was clearly evidenced in the Katrina experience. I also discovered that some of the CIOs were focused on hardware, with very little if any understanding of the many other areas affecting organizational management, learning, productivity, and innovation; so it was foolhardy in many cases for the CKO to report to a CIO, which was the case for the entire U.S. Gov effort.

I then learned that any multi-agency effort — where the real need existed, must be placed on the WH agenda for any actual movement. After Katrina revealed blatant flaws in the system, I wrote a business case and submitted to agency heads, members of Congress, and many other leaders. We finally succeeded in achieving a mention for a generic KM system in the Katrina report, making the WH agenda for the first time, but nothing happened. Meanwhile, most other leading countries have adopted some variation of a national knowledge system, with the EU now leading the world in related investment. Australia recruited me a decade ago to discuss designing and managing their national system; an impressive $200+ million effort that was more advanced in many ways than the U.S. now — particularly in human systems, cross agency, and community-wide efforts. Australia has a smaller population, but is similarly dispersed and happened to sail through this global recession better than most — as did Canada — even given the more commodity based economies this connection is probably not a coincidence, based on my understanding.

So we continued to advance our own applied research, which includes a module that performs the functions of a CKO in the digital work environment we deemed necessary in what has been frankly a very chaotic working environment (a virtual CKO of sorts, although it does require a human to operate, set policy and security issues, and approve business unit modules.). Rob Neilson is one of our advisors — he was grandfathered in and approved by the DoD because he joined when he was consulting — now KM advisor to the Army. Rob was a pioneer in the CKO role where he held the position at NDU — although a decade old now and not nearly as deep as we have gone with functionality in the design since — his paper on the role of the CKO is still popular.

To say that it was challenging to overcome the design challenges in knowledge systems is a vast understatement; technical standards, meritocracy, alignment of interests, behavior, propogation throughout the organization, security issues, IP, rating systems, metrics, and more; each of which had serious challenges, and all interconnected both in terms of technical and organizational architecture. Did I mention culture?

We are focused on the corporate market now, where interest has been strong, particularly since the financial crisis provided ample motivation for smarter systems, but I am hoping that the Gov and Edu markets will finally embrace the state of the art and focus on their true mission rather than constructing barriers to improvement. There has been an effort to create a CKO for the U.S. Government, similar to the new CIO and CTO roles. I’ve been told by senior U.S. staffers that the CIO doesn’t have budget authority, which is the point where most of the turf problems are created — decisions on standards, silos are created, etc. I am not certain how effective a person with a title can be if they have no budget authority, if architecture is very poorly designed, and the tools are primitive relative to need. My position has been that far more can be accomplished by enterprise design.

A well designed architecture not only encourages departments to ‘talk’ to each other, but provides the opportunity and functionality within system parameters (regulations), improves on economic efficiencies/sustainability, improves innovation, and enhances security substantially. When properly designed such a system can actually manage the learning yield curve of an organization with ‘valves’ for quality and quantity, and provide rich metrics to visualize the process and results in the entire organization. That’s what is possible today. It seems to me that the recent evidence is abundantly clear justifying such a system, as we have been saying now to all who would listen for over a dozen years.
A very important topic that deserves a brighter light with a deeper explanation and historical background.

Mark Montgomery
Founder & CEO – Kyield
Web: http://www.kyield.com
Blog: https://kyield.wordpress.com
email: markm@kyield.com
Twitter: @kyield

Alternatives to the CKO

My response to Dave Snowden’s blog post on alternatives to the CKO:

Thought provoking and refreshing; rarely have found fresh thinking on this topic– we could have benefited greatly from your view over the past few years David as we struggled through our design work, which forced us to deal with these issues.

I came to some similar conclusions after years of R&D and thousands of discussions with organizations at the top, bottom, and in-between– might be of interest. We found that in most orgs the philosophy, process, and functions (intent of KM) need to be distributed, but each situation was different — at times radically different for pragmatic and necessary reasons (legal, security) — frankly causing the software architect some grief (me) until we over came the adaptability issue in an affordable manner (a recurring theme here and elsewhere).

Given that an enterprise or organization exists for a mission (albeit questionable at times), is a legal and economic entity, with management sometimes held accountable for policy and decisions, centralization of the CKO role is necessary. But like David suggests — we made a mistake even calling the module a CKO module — revealing the buzzword definition problem in KM circles — some took it the wrong way — did more damage than good in many cases. However, we were able to automate sufficient tasks that the centralized role is very much a part time position on the computing side, need not be conducted by a titled person (we know of a few dozen CKOs), and in many cases shouldn’t be– in some orgs that are so blessed to have capable leadership– I like the CEO taking that role as much as he/she is able. Again the need for adaptability, particularly in the digital work environment which is historically rigid– was a key.

The system design should include some centralization functions (in digital world or real– security, policy, legal, meritocracy), but also have a similar function enabling large business units, project team leaders, and last but certainly not least the individual, where most of the future value lives in modern organizations. From a KM perspective, dealing with how the org and individual personalization interact was among the most interesting of our design process.

I am agnostic on the revolving CKO issue, except that agree that whatever label one puts on it– everyone should be exposed to the learning organization philosophy — in order to convert that philosophy to reality however, we had to employ a deep systems approach to organizational design.

The primary challenges not only had to overcome the organizational challenges, but also the many — in some cases more difficult– in computing.

–allowing adaptability without needing to reprogram– essential for differentiality and affordability

–providing the ability to align interests between the individual/project/unit/ and org

–prevent empire building and all that comes with it — easier said than done

I worked on our system design for many years.. after two leading online learning networks. One key was interoperability between units and orgs, which required either a fairly predatory approach with entrenched vendors — very expensive integration, or adoption of ‘universal’ standards.

In the end I embraced the W3C standards for the semantic web– followed for years and they moved in the direction we needed to go, eventually providing most of the functionality we needed. Several start-ups embraced early and finally Oracle offered a major product, making it more doable — slowly but almost surely, adoption is occurring. Google just embraced a video standard for example.


An interesting related article by Jenny Zaino discusses two important benefits of a good semantic design– meritocracy, and crisis prevention.

Realize you are speaking organization and not only computational here, but given the intrusion of the beast into virtually every organization, unlike many in KM, I found these issues necessary to address in computing.

Thanks for the discussion – MM

Alternatives to the CKO continued…..

Understanding the Semantic Enterprise

I released a new white paper: Understanding the Semantic Enterprise (PDF)

The meaning of the word semantics in broader society involves
such a variety of contextual intent that it can obscure or
misrepresent the underlying science and technology, which can
then damage the integrity of the term and slow the adoption
process of essential innovation. This is particularly problematic
when overly promoted by evangelists to highly informed
knowledge workers and their organizations. 1 2 3

“The meaning of the word “semantics” in broader society involves such a variety of contextual intent that it can obscure or misrepresent the underlying science and technology, which can then damage the integrity of the term and slow the adoption process of essential innovation. This is particularly true when overly promoted to highly informed knowledge workers and their organizations.”

Download the rest of the paper here: