#SeriouslySocial The Podcast
with Simone Douglas and special guest James Price
This episode of Seriously Social, Simone talks to James Price, the founder and managing director of Experience Matters.
You can connect with James here: https://www.experiencematters.com.au/
Check out our page for updates and teasers about upcoming episodes, links, and details about Simone’s best-selling books.
Hosted by Simone Douglas
Videography by Marie Carbone and Shivam Wadhawan
Audio by Chris Irving
Music used in this episode is “Alte Herren” by KieLoKaz, used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence
This production is protected by a creative commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.
Chris Irving 0:00
Welcome to the seriously social podcast with your host, Simone Douglas. Today’s guest is James price. We hope you enjoy the show.
Simone Douglas 0:10
Okay, so on this week’s episode of seriously social the podcast, I am joined by the lovely James price from experience matters. James, thanks for coming along today. Absolutely. My pleasure. So for our listeners who may not know you as well as I do, can you give us the short version of you know, how you find yourself here today and inexperience matters itself.
James Price 0:34
I came out of the IT industry having graduated as an economist. And I realised that in and of itself, it adds no value. It’s the data, the information, the knowledge that people use to conduct their daily lives and to make their business decisions that adds the value. So in 2000, I started experience matters initially, as a change company. That was a complete disaster. Because people couldn’t get their heads and wallets around what we were doing. Yeah. We decided to do something technical, and do that fast. So our first ever project was a records management project. Okay. What we brought to that was the business stuff, the people stuff, the finance stuff, to augment the straight records management. And it was a very successful project. The problem that I found was just straight records management was that we were leaving a lot of money on the table for two reasons. Firstly, records management was a very compliance and fear driven discipline. Where as opposed to information, asset management, which includes all data, all documents, all content, all knowledge is very much along the lines of how do you how do you manage risk, but how do you drive real business improvement? Yeah. And that’s where we are today. Now that that journey has been really interesting, because for the last 10 years, we’ve been conducting a project in which we’ve been researching the barriers to the benefits of managing data, information and knowledge. Well, that’s been a global project. We’ve had some really nice things said about that work. Gartner, as an example, wrote to us and describe that work is groundbreaking. Oh, wow. And we are now we’re taking that research. We’ve we’ve built a bunch of instruments, including maturity assessments, and health checks, and so on risk assessments. And we’re now taking that and doing what I’m really proud of as arguably the best with the best work in the world. And that’s coming out of a dinky little town and a funny little country over the other side of the planet. And I’m really proud of
Simone Douglas 2:50
that. Yeah. So for our global listeners, James is talking about Adelaide in South Australia. And as locals were quite fond of saying that, you know, it’s a big country, town, capital city that hasn’t been country town. Really? Look, I think that knowledge management is one of those like fascinating areas that is under appreciated, underutilised and mostly misunderstood by business owners and decision makers, particularly in well actually across even large scale multinationals. And all the way through, they have stab at it. But what you’re talking about is, is actually a much more holistic strategic approach to the whole process, isn’t it?
James Price 3:31
So one of the things that an economics degree will give you is an understanding of what the means of production, as defined by the early modern economists, and fundamentally, land, labour, capital and enterprise. So if we look at our businesses, so your business mine and my business, what we look at in January when sitting on the beach, or whatever, is, what what financial assets do we have? What’s our annual budget gonna look like? What physical assets do we need? We need computers, what are we doing desks, or we need to join a new mine site? Which people do we need. And in my business, my people are absolutely critical to the success of my business. And the last and and only the last asset is the data information, knowledge, wisdom, judgement, intellectual property that those people use every minute of every day in order to conduct their businesses and make those business decisions. Now, if our job as managers is to deploy those assets as efficiently and as effectively as possible, in order to deliver the greatest value for our clients whilst consuming the fewest resources, which should be what all organisations are about, if we elect not to manage one of those asset classes as well as we could, or should. What does that saying? And the answer is it’s not very good. No, when I speak My mates and I’ve got a lot of mates who are board members and directors I say to them. So tell me, how often do you as a board member asked to see the financial statements, the reports on how well the financial assets of the organisation are being managed? And they say James
Simone Douglas 5:17
unity, every board meeting, every
James Price 5:19
board meeting every month, we asked to see those statements. Yeah, that’s great. And how often do you ask to see the information statements? That the reports for how well you’re managing that critical business asset? And they say, what’s that? What’s that information
Simone Douglas 5:33
James Price 5:34
So globally, we still do not know how to manage the data, information and knowledge assets of our organisation. We see management, handing, or even abdicating responsibility for the management of that asset to it. Yeah, I T are really smart. They’re really helpful. They’re lovely people, but they cannot manage the quality of the data of the organisation. So as an example, if you are the chief legal counsel for your organisation, do you know more about the manager that the practice of law than it does do more? Do you know more about what data information and knowledge and judgement is required to practice law and it is worse than the quality of that data? So the hospital all those questions is, of course, yes. So why on earth just because a part of the organisation has information in its title, do we give the management of that critical business asset to a bunch of people who are really good at what they do, but they’re measured on throughput and uptime, not on the quality of the data?
Simone Douglas 6:37
Absolutely. And I suppose to then that whatever that knowledge management system is, it’s then applied that it magically creates for us. Again, the the judgement, and the data that’s being imported and exported by proxy, is kind of what’s the word is kind of mandated or decided by what they think is going to be important, as opposed to, if my sales manager is making the decisions about what’s important for the sales team, that’s important. I think the other danger though, is how often we lose human capital out of the organisation without capturing any of their knowledge or judgement.
James Price 7:16
So there’s, there’s a lovely story, I can tell you this. So a really quite a good mate of mine. So I won’t tell you who this organisation is, a good mate of mine, was identified at a board meeting by the Chief Executive as the most valuable and risky asset in the entire organisation. So the chair of the board said to the chief executive, if that’s the case, I want you to, I want you to double Louis’s salary on Monday. Now, that starts to create some problems, because it meant to say that Lou was being paid more than the chief executive to which the chair applied, I can get one of you tomorrow, I can’t get another Lu. So when we look at when we look at the value of the information assets in the organisation, we look at the the value of those assets, when look at the risk of losing them, it is really significant. So there’s a great piece of work was has been recently done by a mob called Ocean timeout out of Chicago. Ocean time I looked at the at the value of the s&p 500. So this is the grubby old manufacturers and pharmaceuticals and so on. It’s not the sexy NASDAQ. So in 1974, the value the value contributed the market value of of the s&p 500 by intangible assets, so, so not money, not people, not property and infrastructure, the value contributed to the market value of the s&p 500 by intangible assets was 17%. Wow, they redid that study in July last year, it is now 90%. So if we don’t think that we’re living in the knowledge economy, perhaps it’s time we did. Absolutely. And if we if we are living in a knowledge economy, and we do need to manage our information, data, information and knowledge will we need to think about it in the way we think about managing the other critical assets like our money. Yeah, but we don’t.
Simone Douglas 9:18
How do you start?
James Price 9:21
That’s, that’s always a really interesting question. We start by we recommend that organisations get a handle on what it costs to manage the information, that information assets, the value of their information, assets and the benefit of doing it. Well, now that doesn’t have to be a big and hairy exercise that can be anecdotal. And the reason I say it can be anecdotal is because no chief financial officer worth his or her salt is going to even look at a business case. If they don’t fundamentally believe that there’s a problem to solve. Yes, once they’ve got it It once I’ve got a pain in the tummy and saying, crikey, we’ve got a problem to solve, then they’ll say, let’s have a look at the numbers to see whether this stands up. Yeah. And once they do that piece of work, they will not reinvest in continuing to improve the quality of the data of the organisation if they can’t see what the ongoing benefit is, yeah. So the place to start is to say, what, what are our information asset management practices today? And what’s the business implication of those practices? And sometimes it might be as simple as saying, How much time do I waste doing emails that I should never have been sent? Yeah, how much time do I waste looking for stuff? Goodness, I know I’ve got here somewhere, I just can’t find it. How much time do I waste messing about with versions that have documents that
Simone Douglas 10:46
are out of date, and I’m trying to find the current one now. And then if
James Price 10:49
you look at the risk associated with it, and again, I won’t tell you who they were who this is, but we had a client who was in the electricity industry. A project manager gave an excavator driver, and obsolete site plan. And the teeth of the excavator went through the plastic coating on the outside of an 11,000 volt cable. So a couple of a couple of a couple of centimetres low, and they would have incinerated that, Jesus. So this stuff, this stuff gets really, really serious really quickly. And if, if as if it’s your mindset, your number one priority is your human safety. Absolutely, yeah. And if you don’t have the information available to ensure that those people are being kept safe, that’s really problematic. Yeah. And
Simone Douglas 11:37
also, like you were saying, from that perspective, the potential cost to the organisation of completely stuffing that up, like, hello, Safe Work, hello, you know, court cases, and God knows what else, I think. So that I guess he’s looking at that larger scale business level. So what if you’re, you know, Joe tradie, you’ve got five guys on the tools and you know, but knowledge management is still a thing. It’s still so where did I start?
James Price 12:08
Well, look on my bride. Jackie. Yeah, it’s united, she runs this little business. Yeah, quite a successful little business. But there’s only Jackie and two or three girls who come in and give her a hand. And she says, James, I can’t find anything. So. So it’s, it’s, it is a matter of simply being organised. Yeah. And that stuff is not hard. So having a system really isn’t it is having a system. And and the best systems are the ones that match the business, because it’s intuitive. The best systems, the one, the ones that use the language of the business, again, so it’s easy to because at the end of the day, the only thing that’s important about information is being able to find it. If you can’t find the information, it’s no longer an asset, it’s a liability. So all you’ve got to be able to do is to find stuff. And that means so you’ve got to know where it is, and what it’s called. And that’s basically about it.
Simone Douglas 13:07
Yes, I location and naming conventions is as a starting point, that’s a pretty good place to start. Absolutely. Yeah, I think too, one of the things that has fascinated me in recent history with working with a business coach to identify where the holes were in the business. And I love it, he came out to me, he goes process process process and the Tibet test. And I was like, Okay, please explain a process I get. But he said, If any one of your staff decided to get on a plane to Tibet tomorrow for two weeks. Where would it hurt? Yeah. And I was like, had an you know, going back 12 months ago would have hurt all over the place. Because all the knowledge of large scale bits of it were in their heads. But yeah, once you get it out of their heads and document it and get it down somewhere where you can find it. And we know what it’s called, so we can find the process and the systems. I accidentally made myself redundant in my own business, but actually documenting everything, which is a perfect place to be. Yeah, absolutely. What has been the best outcome that you’ve been able to get for an organisation that you’ve worked with? Because I know you said you’re doing some of your best work ever. Currently, wouldn’t you get very excited when you were talking about it?
James Price 14:20
It’s so exciting. Yeah. Look, this I’ll get I’ll give you one tiny little example, was a little winery. Yeah. That’s 34 people. And we did a piece of work we gave them we help them build is because it’s up of course all their work. A file plan the match the business, so it’s intuitive, some naming conventions and some email guidelines. And that was it. Yeah. We got stopped in the car park of their headquarters by a bloke who’s not even in the back office. He’s in the pumps and taxis. A winemaker. Yeah. And he said, This is fent So we can find stuff. Ya know, there’s someone, that’s what I get out of bed. Yeah. And then the winery manager said, listen, I’d like to, I’d like to measure what the benefit to the winery has been of improving the productivity. And they drove $10,800 per person per year wow, in productivity improvement. And that’s about half of what we think, from all of our studies around the world, we can bet we can potentially achieve
Simone Douglas 15:30
James Price 15:32
He said, There is no other investment in our entire portfolio, they could have delivered a greater return more quickly with better staff satisfaction.
Simone Douglas 15:44
That’s fantastic. Absolutely. I think that’s a really good spot to finish on. If you are listening to this and going I would like that kind of increase in productivity, or I’d like some help identifying, you know what we’ve got what we need to call it and where we need to put it. Then all of James’s contact details and the link to experience matters will be in the show notes on the podcast. James, thanks very much for joining me today.
James Price 16:08
It’s been absolutely my pleasure.
Chris Irving 16:10
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai