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 TED.com 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, http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/ . 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.