Thursday, 30 April 2009

A different world

I was privileged this week to spend some time with Anna Acland, from Save the Children and Chris Catton from Amnesty International. Whilst the topic of discussion for both visits was knowledge and innovation management, I was stuck by the passion with which Anna and Chris spoke about their work and the difference that they are making. Anna told me that, like all large organisations, silos in sharing learning and expertise exist, there is a a huge amount of goodwill to change and adapt. This is because of crystal-clear and measurable organisational goals that everyone buys in to emotionally. Oh, were that the case everywhere!

'Necessity is the mother of invention' (Charles Farquhar 1678 - 1707)...
The other thing we discussed was the wonderful way staff on the ground innovate. Teams faced with both very limited budgets, resource and central support (Central Africa anyone?), finding unconventional solutions and working in unorthodox ways becomes a necessity. What these NGO's do is collect these stories and use them to envision other teams trying to innovate. Big organisations don't seem to have that imperative; instead relying on complex 'innovation strategies' and investment. Anecdote do a good job at corporate storytelling, but for real innovation, get out to Angola.

KIN Bookmarks, the experiment continues...

It's all very well setting up a KIN Social Bookmarking group, but unless the results are easily visible to KIN members, it's not achieving it's purpose. We now have three active bookmarkers: myself, Gary Colet and Matt Hill from Lloyds Register. So how can KIN members see what is being bookmarked?
Well, there are a number of ways.
  • You can visit the Diigo KIN group web page where all the bookmarks are listed in reverse chronological order of bookmarking. (From this page you can also request to join the group and start adding your bookmarks.)
  • You can visit the KIN Tags and Bookmarks page in memberspace which has a number of groups of bookmarks displayed according to how they've been tagged and a tag cloud of all the bookmarks made so far.

    But remembering to visit a web page regularly is a chore. And do you really what's changed since your last visit? So...

  • You can put in your favourite RSS reader and updates will be brought to you rather than you having to go to the updates. (You do use a RSS reader don't you? - See this post!)
  • Finally, as an experiment, I'm going to use a feature of Diigo and have the week's bookmarks automatically posted to this blog.
As ever, feedback on the above options is very welcome.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Collecting Connections

Discussion Forums and Blogs are very good at capturing current thoughts and opinions. They are, by their very nature, chronological. This is fine when you regularly follow them but can be unhelpful if you only visit occasionally or happen to stumble across them.

Take Blogs. How do you know whether the information / knowledge / opinion given in the post made 12 months ago, has (or has not) been superceded by something more up to date in a later post. So, for example, if you came across my post about social bookmarking made in June 2008 - KIN Bookmarks - how would you know it had been superceded by the more recent Social Bookmarking Take 2 without trawling through the intervening posts or at least reviewing posts that have been tagged Social Bookmarking? (Actually, not such a huge issue since I haven't been a prolific poster; but you get my point).

Take Discussion forums. We frequently have threads where people post recommended links. (See for example Recommended Blogs and New Generation Expertise Location products.) A newcomer to the boards would be hard pushed to find links relevant to a topic they are interested in by trawling through all the boards.

This is where Wikis and Social Bookmarking tools can help. But they do need a little process and discipline.

Wikis (by which I include any form of user modifiable web pages) can be great for summarising and or aggregating information gathered over time as described in my post in February: Connecting & Collecting. To continue the examples above. If you came across the social bookmarking posts above and wanted to know for example, if you wanted to know what - if any - social bookmarking tool is in use at KIN, where would you go for a definitive answer? Well you could go to this list in Memberspace which is (or I hope will become) the definitive list of who uses what tools in KIN. (I use the term 'Wiki' very loosely here - subject of another blog post maybe!)

Likewise, I believe that use of a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo can provide a powerful means to collect and aggregate recommended bookmarks. So I have bookmarked using Diigo the links shown in both the above threads and tagged them 'Blogs' and 'Expertise Location' as appropriate. So now the easy way to see what Blogs have been recommended by KIN members and what 'Expertise Location' tools people have recommended looking at is to visit the tag cloud (and some associated lists of bookmarks generated from Diigo) on this KIN Tags and Bookmarks page.