Monday, 21 December 2009

Using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter et al

Prompted by a comment in a discussion thread on the KIN discussion forum, I am current reading "Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges". I'm only part way through but I think it's very good. Seriously good. This will almost certainly not be the last post I make inspired by this book. (KIN members: look for my book review in the forthcoming edition of Kinections).

I'm currently reading the chapter 'New Approaches to Old Problems'. McAfee presents a very simple model - The Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye - of different types of ties for knowledge workers, which I think is very useful. He goes on to describe how, in complete contrast to many organisations, Serena Software have actually adopted Facebook as their corporate intranet! That's not an in-house, behind the firewall version of Facebook but the out there in the world wide web version. McAfee contends that Facebook has attributes that make it "particularly appropriate for the second ring of the bulls-eye which contains large numbers of weakly tied collaborators".

 It was a story I had heard about but McAfee puts the pieces together in a compelling way. And it led me to thinking about the way in which I use SNS (Social Networking Services) tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I was particularly struck by a quote from Serena VP Kyle Arteaga: "At any given time I know as much about my colleagues as they want to share via Facebook ... So now I have a context when I next speak to each of them".

Until now I had - broadly speaking - tended to keep my LinkedIn contacts and my Facebook contacts separate. "LinkedIn is for business, Facebook is for friends and family". My Facebook network of 'friends' has very little overlap with my network on LinkedIn. Which, of course, includes KIN members. When it comes to status updates, I shall continue to make that distinction. I am unlikely to post about work I am engaged in on Facebook. Likewise, I am unlikely to post about the idiosyncacies of my children on LinkedIn. And it is unlikely that I shall start adding many of my Facebook 'friends' to my LinkedIn network. But maybe I'll start adding a few more KIN members to my Facebook friends list to provide me (and them) with that social 'context' Arteaga referred to. To that end, I've just added a link to my Facebook profile on my LinkedIn profile to make it easier for people in my 'professional' network to connect to my 'social' context.

What about you? How do you use these and similar social media tools? What strategies do you use? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Don't laugh - humour in the workplace

Who can forget those classic 'corporate videos' that John Cleese made in the early 1990's? Or David Brent's Office embarrassments. When KIN members asked if there was any research into the role of humour in knowledge sharing, I was hoping that these might be amongst examples and case-studies that might show up.

John Cleese as a civil servant in the halls of...Image via Wikipedia

KIN steering group member, Steve Conway, of Leicester University has been looking into this for us and came up with three well-researched papers. Whilst the papers are peppered with words such as 'jocularity', 'parody', 'absurdity' and 'irony', unfortunately none of these describe the actual treatises. The papers are worth a read from an academic perspective, but what I'd really hoped for were some actual case studies on how humour helped workplace communication. Maybe there is some space for research amongst and by practitioners in the use of humour in knowledge sharing?

BTW here are a few things you will see, but never hear at work:

1. Never give me work in the morning. Always wait until 5:00pm to give it to me. The challenge of a deadline is always refreshing.

2. If it's really a "rush job," run in and interrupt me every 10 minutes to enquire how it's going. That greatly aids my efficiency.

3. Always leave without telling anyone where you're going. It gives me a chance to be creative when someone asks where you are.

4. If you give me more than one job to do, don't tell me which is the priority. Let me guess.

5. Be nice to me only when the job I'm doing for you could really change your life.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009


ErasingImage by dweebydude5 via Flickr

I love unusual and obscure words, especially if they are onomatopoeic. I came across 'palimpsest' today and just had to look it up. Now why was 'wiki' (Hawaiian for 'fast') so named, when palimpsest would have been much more fun and appropriate...

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

'Open' data in companies features Google Maps MashupImage by earthhopper via Flickr

I've been doing some work recently for IDeA on their ambitious and innovative 'Knowledge Hub' concept. During the course of talking to various local authorities, I came across the phenomenon of local activists taking 'open' local authority data and doing really innovative things by mashing it with readily accessible external data (eg Google Maps) and making it more relevant and accessible. A great example is Birmingham DIY

This got me wondering what might be achieved if creative, motivated and technically skilled staff in private sector organisations we let loose on their organisation's data, within the firewall, but outside of functional and organisational hierarchies. There is a degree of risk of course, but who knows what patterns and new insights might emerge for the organisation by looking at 'operational' data in a completely new way.

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Friday, 6 November 2009

Changing behaviours

Exhortations to 'collaborate more' or 'share more' are likely to be ignored unless you make it easy (or less painful) to do so. Similarly, unless you are in the military, edicts or 'policies' to change behaviour are doomed to fail. Leaders changing their behaviour or making it easier or more fun to so something one way, rather than another, are more likely to have a lasting impact and uptake. Barry Jones of BAE Systems has pointed out this wonderful example of how making something mundane fun, can change behaviours (you will need speakers or headphones on and watch out for the dogs)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Unthinkable

The far-fetched concept of automated tacit knowledge transfer is a little nearer following a report from Jack Gallant and Shinji Nishimoto, neurologists from the University of California, Berkeley. They claim that they can reconstruct visual images through scans of neural activity. Their Bayesian decoder uses MRI signals from visual areas to reconstruct complex natural images. Visual responses to stimuli and hours of YouTube images are used to train the model. Semantic encoding then characterizes responses and recreates the image. As the Sunday Times suggests, it's not quite 'Minority Report' but the possibilities as another tool for tacit knowledge transfer are fascinating - and a bit scary.

Do you find my brain? - Auf der Suche nach mei...Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr

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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Intangibles, valued

Rory Sutherland is a larger than life Ad Man, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy UK and regular columnist for the Spectator. Take a look at his wonderful, erudite and very funny, take on intangible value in this talk. Those of us struggling to explain the value of 'tacit knowledge' and the need to steward and nurture it can learn much from Sutherland's insights and convincing narrative. In the age of Twitter and unending technology innovations, he finishes with a nice quote from GK Chesterton 'We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders'. Watch out for the Canadian Shreddies advert - pure genius in creating value from absolutely nothing.
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Thursday, 15 October 2009

It's about applying the lessons, not just learning them

The Ofsted report, published today, 'Learning lessons from serious case reviews: year 2' is fairly damning with regard to the impact of these reviews in tackling child abuse. 34% of the reviews were judged inadequate. Despite the introduction talking about actions as well as 'lesson learning' the upshot is that not enough applying the lessons from previous cases seems to take place. Indeed the previous report in 2008 was even entitled 'Learning lessons, taking action'. All too often organisations put huge efforts into gathering evidence and understanding root causes but not enough into finding ways of expediting the necessary changes. The KIN 'Learning from Practice' group emphases that lessons are not actually learned until they are applied.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Sensing and connecting

2008-11-16 Electronic billboard at Rome-Hillia...Image by geocam20000 via Flickr

This excellent article by Chris Heathcote suggests that the advertising industry has a great opportunity, not yet realised, in using 'presence' and 'sensing' to give a tailored user experience. Whilst utilising innovative technology, in this case outdoor electronic billboards, Heathcote suggests that a more sophisticated, timely and relevant experience can be delivered using 'sensing' technologies. Organisations are already using RFID extensively for operations, phones and cameras are GPS enabled; I vaguely recall that this has already been used to connect individuals and map personal networks at a conference. Is anyone using presence or sensing technology to connect individuals or expertise at work?
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Monday, 5 October 2009

Connecting people via the CCTV Control room

Last week, some KIN members were fortunate to attend a Masterclass on the subject of 'Connecting People' led by previous KIN member, Nick O'Doherty. This event was an excellent opportunity to learn more about how to connect people across your organisation, exploring ways to create and develop sustainable networks across the

Global Control RoomImage by jaygoldman via Flickr

organisation by making best use of tools that are available to help people to connect, both within and outside of the organisation. The focus was not just on the tools themselves, but on how to use the tools effectively to maximise the value of the connections made.

As is always the case with KIN events, discussions in the breakout sessions ranged far and wide (not always keeping to the topic in hand). At one point I found myself trying to convince a member of the usefulness of an RSS reader. In a 'aha' moment, she suddenly said "Oh, you mean it's like a CCTV control room for the Web". I thought this was such a nice analogy, I wanted to share it here.
And for those that want to know what all the fuss is about, I'll just refer you to my earlier posting on the subject 'The RSS Evangelist'
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Sunday, 4 October 2009

'Fusion Officers' knowledge saved lives

Having recently written about the wartime knowledge saboteur’s handbook, I heard another fascinating WW2 knowledge-sharing story this week. You are probably familiar with the incredible tale of how Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park, building on work by Polish cryptanalysts, decoded the hugely complex German Enigma codes. Less well known is how the codebreakers themselves were organised and how they shared their knowledge.

For security reasons, the various intelligence gathering teams were physically separated in huts, known only by their numbers. For example, the codebreakers concentrating on the Army and Air Force cyphers were based in Hut 6, Hut 8 decoded messages from the German Navy and Hut 4 German naval intelligence. Others included Log-Reading, Direction-Finding, Wireless Telegraphy, and the Technical Section. In order to overcome these necessary boundaries and make sense of the whole, ‘Fusion Officers’ moved between the paired huts, looking for trends, sense-making, connecting loose ends and preparing reports.It occurred to me that the huts are analogous of Business Unit silos and 'Fusion Officers' of network or community facilitators or organizational knowledge-brokers.

Allied military intelligence was acutely aware that if information from Bletchley Park analysis were to be intercepted by the Germans, the entire Enigma operation would be compromised. For this reason, agents sent to brief front-line command were only allowed to give verbal briefings; they were not allowed to carry documents, encoded or not. In modern jargon, tacit knowledge transfer.

Graham Robertson of Bracken Associates was kind enough to tell me about this story and point me to the archive of Tony Sale, . Tony was founder and first curator of the Bletchley Park Museum

I am looking into a KIN Members' site visit to Bletchley Park in the new year, possibly in conjunction with an event looking at the importance of physical space on knowledge-sharing.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Saboteur's tools - nails and knowledge

A fascinating Saboteur's Field Manual has been declassified by the US Military. As well as the usual nails and home-made explosives, surprisingly it presents sophisticated methods of disrupting organisational knowledge. A kind of knowledge management, in reverse. Knowledge mis-management?

For example:
"A second type of simple sabotage requires no destructive tools whatsoever and produces physical damage, if any, by highly indirect means. It is based on universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt an uncooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit. Making a faulty decision may be simply a matter of placing tools in one spot instead of another".
Sounds familiar? For tools, read documents.

How about: "More important ... would be to create a situation in which the citizen-saboteur acquires a sense of responsibility and begins to educate others in simple sabotage".

And my favourites in relation to Knowledge Mis-Management:
  • "When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  • To lower morale... be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers.
  • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done".
Remember this was 1944. Those damn office saboteurs have been perfecting their technique for 65 years.

Finally, I couldn't resist this one:
"Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks".

I am indebted to Jenny Ambrozek for pointing me to Don Burke of the CIA who referenced the Handbook in his talk to The Tap Collective

Friday, 18 September 2009

IDeA's innovative ideas

I was a guest at the IDeA 'Community of Practice' facilitators' conference in London today. This organisation, which supports knowledge sharing and improvement across the 367 UK Local Government Authorities, has achieved some remarkable results since I last looked at it a couple of years ago. An example is the really interesting way of recording the conference. They start simply with the agenda and embedded presentations (in this case hosted on Slideshare) in a Wiki page. They then add content to it contemporaneously during the event. This includes specific quotes, notes, links, bookmarks, a twitter feed, vox pop video snippets and audio clips. It does take a lot of dedicated effort, for example several people using Flip videos, someone dedicated to updating the page and a red hot broadband connection. In effect it appears as a narrative and would replace an Event Workspace/ site or a set of PowerPoint slides. IDeA have some very ambitious plans to utilise 'social technologies' to create a knowledge hub over the next year or so. If their success with online communities of practice (they have about 800) is anything to go by, they will be way ahead of most other public sector organisations and dare I say it, many private sector too.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Great TV ratings, but a disservice to the wisdom of crowds

Like many, I was enthralled to see Derren Brown attempt to predict the National Lottery numbers last week 'live on TV'. The 'how it was done' follow-up however, looked to me like the very worst kind of pseudo-science. I've always been a fan of Brown, and admired his honesty in admitting misdirection and manipulation. By persuading an open-mouthed audience that it was done with 'automatic writing' and 'The Wisdom of Crowds', he lost all credibility in my eyes. The wisdom of just 24 people, all sitting in the same room?
This article from a member of the British Psychological Society neatly captures the essence of crowdsourcing 'The group must be independent and diverse, with members having unique insights into the problem at hand'. The article perfectly sums up why this was a missed opportunity to explore to a proven and useful phenomenon.
As it happens, the KIN Members' Winter Workshop on 2nd December will include an examination of Prediction Markets. This takes Surowiecki's principle examined in his book the Wisdom of Crowds and applies it to a commercial context. With the help of Jed Christiansen, we will look at several case-studies that have successfully been undertaken. Snake oil will not be available.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Instant knowledge capture

My first video camera, bought when my son was a baby, was a miracle of engineering in its day, but its analogue tapes consigned to the recycling bin a while ago.

We all know that things are most memorable if you can capture a spontaneous moment. For knowledge capture, a photo is a good reminder, but you can't beat video for context and nuance. I've played around a bit with the video facility on my phone, but it is a real pain to set up, the controls are unusable and quality lousy. I've just ordered one of the new Flip Mino soild-state video gadgets. Incredibly, these 2GB miniscule devices have now come down in price to under £95! For only slightly more you can get 4GB HD version, though this is unnecessary for the quick video grabs I'm going to use it for. With these things the size of a box of matches, controls as simple as pressing a red button, and uploading consisting of not much more than pushing the flip-out USB into your PC, knowledge capture just got easier.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I've read this really good article ....

OK, so by now you will have got the message that I'm a big fan of sharing useful and interesting stuff I find on the internet. I've started a Diigo Group for KIN members to which I and a few others now regularly share bookmarked websites

Seated man reading a bookImage by National Media Museum via Flickr

. (See Kin Tags and Bookmarks)
But I've been in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to whether or not to Bookmark individual Blog posts. I bookmark Blogs which I read (regularly or occasionally) which I think would be of interest to KIN members. But should I bookmark individual Blog Posts? By their very nature, many (but not all) individual blog articles can be somewhat ephemeral and transitory in nature. So if I am using the Diigo group to see what has been shared on a specific topic (using tags), would I want to see a bunch of short, ageing blog posts which may or may not still be relevant. Well, it's a judgement call. There will be some Blog posts which are so good that they 'deserve' to be bookmarked and I will do so. But what about those posts where I think, 'that was good - other KIN members might also like to read that' but which I don't feel warrant bookmarking?
For posts such as these, I've decided to make use of a feature of Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice) which allows you to easily share blog posts that you find. I've set up a page in the KIN memberspace called Phil's recommended reading with three sections: a) Blog posts of interest to ET SIG members, which is a subset of b)all Blog posts I share and (for good measure) c) all my Diigo bookmarks (whether shared to the KIN Diigo group or not).

So are there any other KIN members who would like to share the blog posts they find with everyone else but are not sure how? Reply to this post and we'll try to find a way to get you started.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

'House MD' as a Knowledge Manager

I came late to the party, but now I am a confirmed fan of 'House'. For those of you who are not familiar, 'House' is an American television medical drama. The show's central character is Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), an unconventional medical genius who heads a team of diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton‑Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) in New Jersey. The character has similarities to Sherlock Holmes: both are forensic geniuses, musicians, drug users, aloof, and largely friendless. But that's not (necessarily) why I wanted to draw the comparison between House and Knowledge Managers.

For those who aren’t familiar with the character of Dr. Gregory House, he is the cantankerous diagnostician of the eponymous television medical drama. He limps along with a cane and pops Vicoden as if they were Skittles. Each episode features a baffling medical case that endangers the life of the patient. House’s staff wrestle with the problem, proposing and rejecting diagnoses until House, having heard enough, insults them, correctly identifies the malady, prescribes a treatment, and saves the patient’s life.

So what has House to do with KM. Well there are two basic tenets I was introduced to when I was learning about KM that it appears to me are at the heart of each programme.

'None of us are as smart as all of us'. Despite House being 'a genius' and tending to believe that he is always right, the fundamental process at the heart of the series is 'differential diagnosis' involving all members of the team including House where they participate in essentially brainstorming all the possible causes of the malady affecting a patient. Bouncing ideas around the team is seen as fundamental to the diagnosis. In one episode House was seen to reject a possible recruit to his team because he thought too much like House himself and House recognised that the value of the process was having a variety of thought processes (avoiding groupthink)

Learn Before, During and After
Like all good physicians, the characters in House rely on taking a patient history and reading their charts - learning before. As each episode unfolds, they uncover new symptoms and reconvene as a team to review their differential diagnosis before moving on. Learning during.
Where they appear to fall down (or maybe it just doesn't make good television) is on the 'Learning After'. I've yet to see them get together at the end of an episode and say, 'ok, what did we learn. How can we do better next time'. There was even one episode where it was made plain that House had not been updating his patients charts because that was not as interesting to him as moving on to the next case. (Sound familiar?)

So if I were so bold as to offer a suggestion to the script writers it would be that perhaps they should consider having House's team conduct an After Action Review once in a while.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why is it not like Google

Recently, one of our members posted the following on our KIN-only discussion forum. With his kind permission, I am re-posting it here.

Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...Image via Wikipedia

Here's one for a Friday afternoon. I was having a drink with some friends the other day and one was asking me why can't enterprise search be like Google. I started rattling off a bunch of reasons and thought that perhaps I ought to capture these thoughts so other's asking the question (and I am sure there are some) could see the answers. When I wrote them down, it seemed like a bunch of excuses so I have tried to add some learning points so that anyone reading it might feel a little more informed how to do things better.

I don't suppose that this is uncommon in our organisations and thought that together we might be able to contribute more/better points and then have them available to all.

So, here is my starter for 10 (well a bit more, I have already had a few comments and some is prompted from similar articles - of couse found through Google ).

Of course, what I would really like to be talking about is findability, no one wants to search, just find - that is a whole other debate.


1. Search Engine Optimisation
Many millions, if not billions of pounds are spent by marketing departments ensuring that their service or product appears in the first few results. In the enterprise, the attitude of publishers is that once they have 'put it on the intranet' the job is done. There is little thought on how the user might then find that information that has probably had quite a lot of effort spent in creating it. If only a fraction of the effort spent on the creation was put to the task of ensuring the content was findable (through many, many routes, not simply search) then the intranet would work better.
Learning point: Publish the rules by which the search engine works (link to go here). Encourage people to 'game' the results. Teach them that the value is in people using their content, not simply creating it. There is perhaps also a role for social or enterprise bookmarking tools - although not strictly search, these tools provide users with another means of finding material, in a way that isn't dependent on content publishers. As I sometimes say when delivering our portal maintenance courses, "don't put up with being a putter upperer" make sure you are given the opprotunity to ensure your site and content does the job not simply exists.

2. Advertising.
In all the years that I have been involved in enterprise search no-one has offered me even a penny to ensure that their content is top of the search results list :-(. Compare that to the millions/billions spent on advertising with Google. Remember that the advertised results are not just the ones on the Right Hand side, in many cases the first few 'normal' results are also there through advertising.
Learning Point: Consider how you can put in place a process (and promote it) to enable people to have 'best bets' so that their important content is very explicitly linked to prominent results.

3. Enterprise search is based around document silos and a number of fairly independent web sites.
Google has got to the lead in the internet search engine space partly due to its patented PageRank algorithm. This algorithm uses the fact the web sites link to other web sites and those that are the most useful have most links to them. Google is effectively harnessing the power of us, the users, and our intellect to determine the best links. Although this is a little simplified it is mainly true and does not reflect the typical intranet in an enterprise.
Learning point: ????Perhaps some things are just different.

4. THE one or ANY one?
In many cases when looking for content in Google the user just needs a web site for their holiday, DVD, opinion etc. In the intranet it is one single specific instance of a thing that they have in mind and nothing else will do.
Learning point: ?????Again, perhaps some things are just different

5. Missing Content.
Once our intranet search got past the stage of people feedback little niggles about features, the single largest reason for people clicking the 'Dissatisfied - help us improve' link was for content that did not exist. Even the best search engine in the world cannot create links to content that is not there.
Learning Point: After all else, a real person with a very good knowledge of the organisation is best placed to put the requester in touch with the likely sources of information. In this regard an enterprise is in a much better place to react than 'the whole world'. Again, there may be a place here for some of the more "Web 2.0" tools, allowing users to find not just content but also individuals with relevant expertise, or communities with related interests - as always this would require both good tools and a significant change in behaviours!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Members, Beehives and Bookmarks

It's always nice to catch up with ex-KIN members. Not long ago I had lunch with Nick O'Doherty who some of you may remember. Along with another ex PwC employee he has set up a consultancy business

They "...offer services to companies looking to make use of tools such as wikis and blogs, and websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. Collectively we call this Social Computing. We believe there are huge benefits to be gained for companies who are using this technology and we want to assist those who would like to engage and who feel that they are being left behind."

Like any self-respecting internet consultancy business, they have a blog, they're on LinkedIn - they're even on Twitter (FWIW!). But the other thing that really interested me was that they also share their bookmarks using Delicious.

Since the subject areas of interest to them are of interest to me also, I have added the RSS feed of their Blog and their Delicious bookmarks to my feedreader. If you also have an interest in these topics, you might want to do the same. But you can be assured that anything they bookmark that I think is relevant to KIN members I will also bookmark using Diigo and they will appear in the KIN memberspace, here and relevant blog posts will appear here.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Cash for knowledge

I had the privilege this week to talk to a number of the leading executive search firms (research, not looking for a job, you understand). All have been hit hard by the recession and, unsurprisingly, there have been mergers and radical cutbacks. This sector is completely dependent on knowledge networks. Personal relationships, particularly at the top end (CEO and board level placements) are critical. It was interesting to hear that remuneration policy for the top people in this sector, whilst predominantly performance related, still has a very large element for tenure; 'the longer you stay with us the more we will pay you'. Whilst many organisations have moved, largely or wholly, to linking reward to performance, for organisations that fish in small, specialised pools, knowledge retention by £$€ still works.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

More uses for Diigo

Regular readers and some KIN members will know that I have been promoting the use of Social Bookmarking. The tool I have been promoting for use by KIN members is Diigo. This video shows some of the wider uses of Diigo beyond simple bookmarking.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Innovation - a verb not a noun

Erica Hurley and I ran an 'innovation visioning' workshop for a KIN member organisation this week. The organisation is faced with a number of significant new external finanical and regulatory influences and constraints. This means that delivery of their services to the cost and quality required will require a radical rethink of the way they operate. The emphasis of the workshop was creating an innovative culture and climate, where ideas can flourish, be evaluated, nurtured and implemented. We were doing some post-workshop feedback which resulted in an 'aha' moment from one of the participants; 'I get it; innovation is not a noun, but a verb'. This neatly sums up what we were trying to do - create the conditions in which people can do smart things differently.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Advanced level product innovation, but where's the service or management innovation equivalent?

I was looking around the websphere for inspiring case-study examples of product and service innovation. I came across the following interesting examples of approaches to product innovation:
BMW's blurb is certainly hyperbole “We have created the perfect synthesis of architecture and process-oriented thinking”, but you've got to hand it to them when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is. I'm sure it's a terrific R&D facility, but I wonder if it does truly create innovative products? Their Open Innovation facility may do so but is not very 'open'. See their paper here
More inspiring is this 3 part McKinsey video presentation on product innovation at Italian design house Alessi; as you would expect, it is superbly well designed. Most impressive is the third segment, where founder Alberto Alessi explains why and how measuring the success of innovation is so important. His 5 measures, combining form, function and commercial metrics are really interesting.
OK, so there's lots out there on product innovation, but where's the equivalent for service or management innovation?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Eames' implicit knowledge transfer

I was enthralled by Eames Demitrios' charming presentation about his grandparents' work. Charles and Ray Eames will be familiar to most through their iconic furniture, particularly their wireframe and timeless office chairs. What particularly struck me was Demitrios' engaging way of communicating, particularly his 'broth of images' (see about 5mins 40 secs). We all know that the best presentations are a good combination of visual imagery and narrative, but he takes this a stage further and provides a wave of simultaneous moving images, leaving an impression or gestalt, rather than facts or information. We deal in tacit knowledge transfer, explicit knowledge transfer; I guess this is an example of implicit knowledge transfer?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Enabling Technologies

Last week we held the first non-specific Enabling Technologies (ET) Special Interest Group (SIG). It was, I think, a success!
We had an ambitious agenda but just about managed to get through it all.

This meeting took place at the Swan at Streatley the day before the KIN Summer Quarterly workshop.

Scott Gavin was our guest speaker. Some of you may be familiar with Scott's work in the 'Meet Charlie' series of Slideshares - I've certainly used them at a couple of meetings I have run and if you haven't seen them and have an interest in things 'WEB 2.0', you should.

At this meeting, one of our activities was to define what technologies we want to focus on. It was emphasised that Enabling Technologies are not 'just about the Technology' but have People and Process aspects also. So we won't be just talking about the technologies themselves, but looking at the pragmatic issues around their implementation and effective use.

I found this little clip which helps illustrate the issue!

We started the process of constructing a map of the technologies that KIN members are using (of which just the central part is shown here. This will be expanded over time so that KIN members will be able easily to identify who to talk to if they want advice and expertise from other KIN members in the use of any given technology.

We developed a draft 'charter' for the SIG to clarify it's purpose, scope and objectives:

The purpose of the SIG is to share Knowledge and Experience to enhance members' ability to select, implement and support enabling technologies in their organisations taking into account people, process and culture implications
IT Tools to facilitate and enhance the KM processes of Location, Collection and Connection within organisations
  • To enhance awareness of what's available by mapping what KIN members are currently using and/or have considered using.
  • To add to the map other technologies/tools that might also be considered
  • To use results of the mapping exercise (and other feedback) to drive focussed K sharing events between member organisations and acquisition of K from expert
  • To develop an ET 'toolkit'

Following on from Scott Gavin's presentation where one of the things he talked about was the benefits of tagging and social bookmarking, I continued to encourage SIG members to try out Social Bookmarking both as a benefit to KIN and to look for the value such a tool could bring to their own organisation. To help anyone who would also like to 'have a go', I've adapted two presentations I found that shows you how to get started.

Get Started with Diigo Pt1 - Set up your account

Get Started with Diigo Pt2 - Using Diigo

And a simple demonstration of just one of the benefits of using Diigo (there are many others - but one step at a time!)

Diigo vs adding links manually

All the web resources referred to at the meeting can be found in this list.

And Finally: A look at how the future was expected to look in the 60's. Interesting that the 'people aspects' were probably more inaccurately foreseen than the technology itself!

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Thinking about the mojo

As an expert in something, have you ever been asked 'just how do you do that' and not being able to really say how? Working in knowledge transfer, it is sometimes better to just observe expertise rather than get the expert to try and describe what comes naturally to them. Have a go at writing down how you tie a shoelace. See what I mean? This is why video is such a great medium for conveying complex or technical processes for knowledge transfer.
There is a fascinating article in this week's New Scientist about Ralph Guldahl, the PGA champion of 1937 and 1938. There is a story that after writing a step-by-step guide for golfing beginners, he completely lost his mojo and his ability to win. The suggestion was that by 'capturing' this knowledge he lost his natural golfing ability; was he thinking too much about what he had previously done instinctively? A cautionary tale for those of us in the knowledge transfer business? No. It seems Guldahl, having a young family and being fed up with life on the road just got bored with that life. Getting an expert to describe what they do is not risky, just difficult.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

KIN vs Orks

'Greetings, welcome to the High Elve's Citadel' is not the normal salutation you receive at any large corporation's reception desk. On the other hand, the Games Workshop is no ordinary company. We spent the day touring the impressive facility as part of the KIN Innovation special interest group. Having missed 'Warhammer' as a spotty teenager, I was completely unaware of the parallel universe that millions of afficionados, or 'hobbyists' as learned to call them, inhabit. Our introduction revealed that the Games Workshop has an enviable 86% market share of the table-top gaming market (worth approx £60m). With a presence of that size, we were keen to hear how the Games Workshop innovated without putting such a market presence at risk. As it was a KIN network visit, I shan't go into details here, but suffice to say they nurture and value their company memes in much the same way they develop their Warhammer and War of the Rings mythology. As one of our KIN members observed 'They seem to carry their creativity and transfer their knowledge in their bones'. Design, marketing, toolmaking, manufacture, packing and distrubution are all done on the same site, with a large chain of own-brand stores. This vertical alignment seems to have tangible benefits for knowledge transfer through the value chain, with any individual able to see the impact they have and easy connections between functions and individuals. A very successful and enjoyable KIN site visit.
Note to self - stop answering the phone with 'greetings, welco
me to the dark side' .

Friday, 29 May 2009

Blog vs Discussion Forum

Recently, I was asked about the rationale behind posting some things on the KIN blog vs posting in the KIN discussion forum. The distinction I make (and I freely admit it's a bit fuzzy) is that I see the discussion forums as a place to ask questions (and hopefully, get answers) of other KIN members and to make short snappy announcements about things that may be of interest to KIN members. I see the blog as a place to make longer, more thoughtful posts about things of interest to KIN members. I definitely see the Blog as an extension of the KIN memberspace and would recommend that all KIN members subscribe to the blog much as they would subscribe to the KIN memberspace (you can subscribe for email alerts or use a reader - see panel on the right of the blog). Also, the blog is public and visible to non-members. So it does provide a public view of some of the thoughts of KIN members and an indication of some of the activities we undertake which is a potential marketing tool for KIN.

I would remind all KIN members that member contributions for the KIN Blog are welcomed. Any KIN members that would like to participate in adding entries to this blog, just email me and I will set you up as an author.

Any KIN confidential information - including individual members' names - will only be posted in the KIN memberspace and linked to from the blog. KIN members posting comments - which we encourage you to do - will be moderated to ensure they do not to include KIN confidential information.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Wolfram Alpha -brilliant, but not quite yet

Having listened to the hype around the 'Google Killer' Wolfram Alpha, I was downright sceptical. Prior to its launch I even posted a discussion on the KIN Members' forum suggesting that its founder, the British mathematician Stephen Wolfram , was either a genius or fraudster. I now acknowledge that Wolfram is the former. What he has achieved is remarkable; the results of scientific based queries such as comparing species or resolving formulae are impressive.

My hope was that this would be leading the way for a semantic engine to make sense of the deep web and linked data, as Tim Berners-Lee has predicted. This may still be the case; the issue is not what it does, but what data it makes use of. It is therefore deeply unfair to position Wolfram Alpha as a 'Google Killer'. It is not using the web as it's information source. The data, unlike Google's raw material is well researched and verified and therefore bounded. I have no doubt that Wolfram is looking at both how to apply Alpha to the web, and also how to monetise it. When he figures that out, Google will be worried. When Wolfram Delta 'Corporate Edition' is available, connecting knowledge across the organisation becomes a reality.

Friday, 22 May 2009

To auto-post, or not to auto-post

In my last post, I initiated an experiment whereby I utilised a feature of Diigo to automatically post the latest bookmarks to the blog. The results can be seen here and here. It has to be said that they're not pretty. And do they add value? Maybe. Maybe not. The one feedback I did get was negative so I have discontinued this. Instead, I have created a new blog - 'KIN TAGGIN' - to which all such auto-posts will go in the future. So if you do like to see these posts, that's the place to point your reader. (And in any case, a one line link for the latest KIN Diigo group tags can be seen in the right hand side-bar)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

To KIN Blog (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of KI-Network group favorite links are here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

What's in a title?

Having met with a few organisations that are interested in joining KIN, I was struck by the absence of the term 'Knowledge Management' in our discussions. Whilst all these firms are doing interesting and innovative things around organisational learning and knowledge sharing, none of them have 'KM Teams' or 'KM Programmes'. I discussed this with two organisations that I met recently; one a top recruitment consultancy (no, I was not going for a real job, though it did cross my mind) and the other an international NGO/charity. Both confirmed that knowledge sharing, knowledge transfer and other related techniques were central to their collaboration and change programmes. It was the 'KM' term they had problems with. One told me " 'Knowledge sharing' is something everyone here has an immediate and common understanding of. 'Knowledge Management' is a much more obscure concept, is interpreted in a variety of ways, or even worse associated with a failed information database project".

I absolutely agree with Nick's Milton's premise that knowledge can be managed. Techniques and interventions for transferring and sharing knowledge are well proven. However, Nick's considered blog postings on coming up with a common definition for Knowledge Management underlines the problem for me. If someone can't envisage what you mean without a formal definition in front of them, you are starting with a handicap.

A KIN member organisation that I was with today has a sophisticated knowledge sharing programme underway, simply but effectively 'branded' as SHARE. They are considering dropping the term 'knowledge management' as the sub-brand as they realise it simply didn't add anything.
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