Monday, 26 December 2011

José Mourinho and knowing

Español: José Mourinho.
Image via Wikipedia
I'm not a follower of football, but have always been impressed by the wide knowledge and eclectic interests of José Mourinho, Real Madrid's manager. Seb Coe, guest editor of the Boxing Day edition of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 invited Mourinho to talk about his approach to his career. Reflecting on those who had been the greatest influence on him, Mourinho recalled his university philosophy lecturer telling him that "a football manager who knows only about football, knows nothing about football".

Let's leave aside for now how a university philosophy professor knew that a young José was destined to be a great football club manager.  Mourinho's success is evidently founded on taking as wide a perspective on collaborative working and team dynamics as possible. In the interview he eschewed a focus on individual technical ability, statistics and tactics.  These things "mean nothing without man management... football is a human science". 

I was reflecting on how true this is in all walks of life, including how we use expertise and individuals' knowledge in organisations. Too often firms focus on technical solutions for organisational learning, at the expense of the 'human science'. A holistic view of why a team would work together as well as how and where is often overlooked.

I heartily recommend that organisations aspiring to move to the Premier League listen to the BBC Radio 4 interview.

This is probably the last KIN Bloggin' post of 2012, so Phil, Erica, Dawn and I would like to wish all our readers a happy and healthy New Year.

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Monday, 19 December 2011

Virtual Training

Sometimes inspiration can come from some of the most unexpected places!

When I invited Bex Ferriday to come and present to the KIN Winter Workshop in 2010, my main concern was that maybe a foray into the virtual world of Second Life was just a step too far for most of our members. Would it be really relevant to them?
And so I was delighted to find that one of our members was sufficiently inspired that his organisation have now reached the prototype stage of virtual training ‘game’ that came about as a direct result of the presentation given that day.

The extract from the flyer for the day read:
“Bex Ferriday of Corwnall College will showcase their work on the use of virtual worlds for training and education using Second Life to bring Bloom's Learning Taxonomy and Wenger's Community of Practice model to life. Students can move about the diagram, voting literally with their (virtual) feet about where they (or their chosen topic) stands on the taxonomy – and so remember the model with their spatial and episodic memory, as well as their semantic memory".

It turns out that the member in question, Dave Holley, is quite a story teller . So here’s Dave’s story in his own words.

I’m not a knowledge manager as such. In fact I’m what every knowledge manager hates, a technical expert in a subject who’s managed to keep what he knows locked in his head for the past thirty years and not written anything down. It’s true I’ve managed to pass some material onto others the way it was passed onto me - via a mixture of practical teaching and coaching. But the opportunities for teaching in a hands on fashion are getting few and far between. You’re not allowed mistakes anymore!

I learned because my bosses took the time to teach me. Good fellows, all of them. And I had the good grace to listen and remember. The sorcerers taught their apprentices who in turn became sorcerers in their own right and trained yet more willing volunteers, expanding the knowledge in the domain as we went. We also learned by getting it wrong and were given sufficient rope to do so. It seems in this litigious business driven age both time and rope are in short supply.

A man from Rolls Royce had told us that you may know what the ingredients are in a cake but you may not possess the knowledge to turn the ingredients into something that is a delight on the palate. It’s a similar thing when making pyrotechnics, my particular field of expertise. It’s a matter of understanding the mixing of powders and using the tricks of the trade to install them into a device that works.

Story telling has always been a favourite method of mine for getting the message across and one or two horror tales with something of a funny twist will help some of the lessons learned over the years stick in someone else’s head. There have been various knowledge hubs, wikis and ask the expert concepts presented by other KIN members but the written word can be so, well, bland!

I’d started to write down my stories and tales of the unexpected. So far they are some 85 pages long, each hyperlinked to the 160 odd lessons generated. The stories tell of escaping purple smoke grenades, an accidental call out of the coastguard in the Largs Channel, the mischievous use of thunder flashes, and fitters with their trousers alight but how do you get this across to the audience that needs it?

Then came the “light bulb” moment.

During Bex’s presentation I found myself visualising what could be a serious advance in the training of staff who handle explosives and other hazardous substances for a living. Could I obtain the same degree of communication and knowledge exchange with an “Ask the wizard” type game? The building blocks would be different but the thought of building an interactive asset with the power to virtually link the apprentice with the sorcerer became very appealing. Sorcerer here, meaning any technical expert, manufacturing expert or safety official. I’ve seen this type of character in some of the kids’ adventure games. If your progress up to the next level is blocked you can “go and ask Gandalf” how you move onto the next phase. This was one facet of the proposed game but we needed to get our “apprentices” exposed, albeit virtually, to some of the hazards and manufacture and rules of the game.

I drew on another link for the next part.

I coach cricket and sort of made the connection with ‘having an incident’ and ‘getting out’. The kids who played virtual cricket on the X-box, Wii and Play Station were actually getting better at the real game. The shot selection in particular (even the “leave”!) was improving. They had “made” themselves as avatars in the games and were progressing well as a result. When it came to a real net they were imitating the shapes made by the avatars in the game to good effect.

There were rules to obey. Just as there are when handling explosives. There were precautions you’d take so you didn’t get “out” - just as you do with handling explosives - and equipment that protected you if you did get hit. So how do you put the game together? I started by playing with some fault tree software building up a fault tree for the cricket scenario. Play the wrong shot to the wrong delivery and you increase your chances of a mistake and you end up getting out.

Similarly with explosives and other hazardous materials. Each has a particular set of sensitiveness characteristics and if mistreated and handled inappropriately they will catch you out - sometimes with disastrous consequences. Now I can build my fault tree for a particular handling process.

Our initial forays into the game proper have taken us as far as the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University. A demonstrator has now been created and we move on from there, developing each scenario as we go.

I recently saw a demo of the application and it's looking very impressive. It just goes to show that sometimes even the most left-field of presentations can spark a flash of inspiration.
Thanks for sharing, Dave!

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

"Quirky" Innovation

Image representing quirky as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseUp to this week, Jake Zien had earned nearly $36,000 in profit from his PowerCurl Apple Cord Wrap. For a $10 stake. Zien's is just one example of an idea bought to market through the unique 'Quirky' process.

I just love this approach to innovation, not just because it has come up with winning products, but the model itself is so innovative.  Initially developed with US retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond in mind, Quirky takes the best from Crowdsourcing, social networking and entrepreneurship.

Zien's $10 represents the standard submision fee. However 850 people had a say, and a stake, in the success of his product. 

The Quirky principle is fairly simple:
Submit an idea > the Community votes > influence the design > Quirky manufactures > everyone cashes in.

The community is 70,000 members strong, growing by 20 percent a month and includes fellow enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals and students. Potential inventors submit their concepts online - they must retail for less than $150. Quirky has a large team of professional product engineers and others that can make the ideas that make it through the process a reality, and fast. Amongst it's toolkit, Quirky makes use of one of the largest 3D printers available.
Some of the smartest aspects are:

  • The community is involved in every stage of the process; voting for ideas, design, naming and logo.
  • Those whose improvements are accepted, get a financial stake in the product
  • The idea does not go into production until enough items are pre-sold
  • Risk, always a problem in bringing innovative products to market, is managed in a transparent way, at every stage, for all parties

To find out more about Quirky, read the article in Entrepreneur Magazine.
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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Six little words

red and white baby girl booties with flower motifsImage by Funky Shapes via Flickr
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn"

Last week Carissa Bub ran a KIN Masterclass on 'Journalism Skills for Knowledge Sharing'. One of the exercises demonstrated the art of succinct story writing (rather than story telling). We were asked to pen a tale of only six words, chosen from a list of only one hundred.

We quickly found that the maxim 'less is more' is perfectly true. What to leave out? What's the narrative? And most importantly, the question every editor asks; 'so what?'

'Lunchtime gossip; wrong friends, no job" was my meagre effort.

My reason for participating was that I intend writing some new KIN case-studies and wanted to learn how to communicate more effectively using the written word. I suppose that should be the typed word.

By the end of the day even those responsible for communicating dry, technical stuff saw how stories can engage rather than just convey. For example, what's the story behind the change in policy?

In case you were wondering, the 'baby shoes' story was written by Ernest Hemingway. When you stop and think about the nuance of those six words, the man was a genius. Have a go yourself and you will see what I mean.

Here are a couple of good websites on storytelling using six words:

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Friday, 21 October 2011

So where was I?

Recent attendees at the KIN 10th anniversary workshop may have noticed that I was not there. This is a somewhat unusual occurrence since the KIN facilitators always attend every quarterly workshop and this one was a biggie. So why wasn't I there and where was I?
Well I was in sunny California attending the first Google Top Contributors Summit.

As you are may be aware, KIN decided last year to migrate their online MemberSpace to Google Sites. To facilitate this migration, I immersed myself in Google Sites to learn as much as possible to ensure we built an online repository that provided KIN members with what they needed. In the early days of this, I found the Google help forum for Sites and asked a few questions. Very soon, I found I was answering more questions than I was asking. One of the side benefits of answering other people's questions - and looking at other people's answers - was that I learnt more about the product. And it became a bit of a hobby. I was enjoying the learning experience and sharing knowledge with other Sites users. I even built my own website to help with answering frequently (and some not so frequently) asked questions. After a few months, I was invited by Google to become part of the Google 'Top Contributors' community. This gave me direct access to a 'Google Guide' for Sites, some moderation 'powers' in the help forum and some advance warning of and exposure to forthcoming changes to Google Sites.

The TC Summit
And then earlier this year, out of the blue, Google decided to invite  all of its Top Contributors (TCs) to a Summit meeting (expenses paid) on September 13/14th, part of which was to be held at their HQ at 'the Googleplex' in Mountain View, California.

Fortunately for me, Gary and Erica agreed that this was too good an opportunity to miss and that they could manage without me at the KIN workshop (and so it proved!)

Day 1 was held at the Santa Clara Marriot (right next door to Yahoo!) and was a full day of presentations and demos by Google employees including Senior VP of Knowledge, Alan Eustace and VP of Global Advertising and Product Operations, Francoise Brougher.

Day 2 was at 'the Plex'. Breakfast on Google's terrace was followed by product group breakout sessions. Naturally enough I attended the 'Docs and Sites' session where we were given demos of things to come. This was probably the most interesting session of the two days for me. Google are notoriously reticent about telling anyone what product developments they are working on so to have sight of what's in the pipeline (and some pure experiments that may never see the light of day) was a real treat. I am pleased to say that I am even more convinced that moving the KIN MemberSpace to Google Sites was the right decision! (Unfortunately I am bound by the same NDA that all TCs have to sign before they are allowed to be TCs, and so I can't tell you what I saw. But it was cool!)

In the afternoon was a tour of Google's campus, a stop at the Google store and a party on the terrace with loads of wine, beer and great food.

The best part about the whole event (apart from the free beer!) was the opportunity to meet and talk with people whom I had only ever interacted with 'on-line', both Googlers and non-Googlers. The level of trust and understanding just sky-rocketed! (Another highlight has to have been experiencing one of Google's 'space toilets'.)
The Googlers I met were all bright, enthusiastic (and so young!) and were plainly enjoying working for Google.

They're already talking about whether they do it again and I sincerely hope they do! (And, of course, that it doesn't clash with another KIN conference)

If you are interested, all the pictures I took at the summit can be seen here, and other photographs I took while I was on holiday with my family on the days either side of the summit are here.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Networking wars !

I'm bored!
I'm bored of the "Facebook is better than Google plus because.."
"Google plus is better than Facebook because.."
"Facebook is dead..." "Google plus is stillborn..."

They're different, OK!
They will compete, yes. But competition is healthy. Competition is good. Competition doesn't mean that there has to be just one winner.

Currently I use both. I use them in different ways and for different reasons. That may change, it may not. It depends on whether the underlying reasons for the different uses change.

I have 180 'friends' on Facebook. Every one of them is either someone I have personally met or is a member of my extended family. I wouldn't dream of 'friending' anyone I didn't know.
I use FB as a light touch way of keeping in touch with these people and their lives.
I'm interested in them as people since their lives and mine have touched in some way in the past.

Google plus:
I have 195 people in my circles (and I am in the circles of 134). Very few of these have I ever met. I am interested them primarily because of what they have to say. A large proportion of my interactions on G+ are more like professional networking than 'social' networking.

Could/would I do my 'social' networking on G+? Possibly. Probably.
Could/would I do my 'professional' networking on FB? Very unlikely.

(That last point bears some examination. I have some 'friends' on FB who my relationship with is purely 'professional' but in the absence of anything else, FB was a way of establishing a more personal connection. If/when those friends find their way to G+, I am likely to cull them from my 'friends' list - sorry!)

There is some overlap, some people who are FB friends in my circles. However I suspect that a great number of my FB friends may never move start using G+ (first mover advantage). So I am likely to continue using both. If all my FB friends started using G+ then that might be a reason to abandon FB. But will my sister stop using FB in favour of G+? Will my mother ? (I'm amazed she started using FB in the first place!) My wife ? Unlikely.

So what about Linked In? Or Twitter ?
Well Linked In just feels too impersonal. It's more like a place to put your CV and achievements than to engage in conversations with people. (One of the things I'm hearing a lot from G+ users is about the high level of engagement it seems to engender.)
Twitter? Well I never really took to Twitter. Again, too impersonal and not engaging. I hardly used Twitter at all as a 'tweeter' and not much more as a 'consumer'. But since G+ I hardly use it at all (although I'm sure there are some for whom it will continue to have a role - just not me)

So, people, stop all the "The king is dead, long live the king" nonsense and let people work out for themselves how they want to use these terrific tools.

And if you've never used FB/G+, don't knock it until you've tried it.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

KIN 10th Anniversary Event

Last week, KIN celebrated 10 successful years with a 2 day event at Warwick Business School.
As well as current members, we decided that many others had contributed to KIN's success, so invited everyone in the KIN Alumni Group to the first day and the Awards Dinner.  It was great that so many took the time to participate and it was lovely to catch up with some old faces. One of the exercises was for everyone to post up their reflections of significant knowledge or innovation events over the last 10 years.

Later on, after we had a scary but exciting glimpse of what the future world of work might look like from David Smith, we asked everyone to post their ideas for what the next decade might look like.


It was nice that so many of the KIN Associates could join us from all round the world, including Ian Corbett, Nick Milton, Carlota Vollhardt and Richard McDermott. Carlota and Richard performed admirably in a staged debate. I still can't decide whether the motion 'Social Media is making us dumb' was actually passed or not, but that wasn't the point; getting us to think about it in an amusing and engaging way was. Good stuff.

The KIN Awards Dinner was a hoot. There was some well-deserved recognition for items such as Most Q&A Forum Contributions and too many others to mention. Just look at the sort of excitement receiving a KIN Award generates!

Our keynote speaker on day 2 was Charles Leadbeater, who got us to think deeply about whether we do things 'for' people or 'to' people. He used the qualities of Barcelona FC and Johan Cruyff's leadership as a model for behavioural change. Even for a non-footbalist the analogy worked very well.

Thanks must also go to all the other speakers; Harry Scarbrough & Davide Nicolini of WBS, Steve Cassidy of BT,  Laurence Lock Lee via Skype from Australia, Eddie Obeng for the most energised post lunch talk ever, Helen Mullinder and John Day of Sellafield, Karen Shergold of PwC, and Andrew Parker for his fascinating analysis of the new KIN Social Network Analysis. It is nice to hear that the network is strong and getting stronger!

The entire 2 day event was 'captured' for us in real-time on an enormous wall panel by Vanessa Randle of ThinkingVisually.

Reflecting on this workshop, I think one of the reasons that participants in the network get so much out of it is, quite simply, it's enjoyable. Here's to the next 10 years of developing new insights into organisational learning and innovation at KIN.

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Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Cover of "Nudge: Improving Decisions Abou...Carolyn is Director of Food Services at a large school in the US (I suppose that's the pc term for head dinner lady). Prompted by the way supermarkets layout their aisles, she experimented with the layout of the lunch choices on offer to the children. Without changing the menu, Carolyn made a dramatic impact on the take-up of healthier options chosen by the kids at the counter. This story is one of many related in the book 'Nudge', by Thomas Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago. I highly recommend it to anyone in the business of getting others to adapt their behaviour. I suspect that is all of us involved in organisational learning.

I have previously posted on the topic of 'Choice Architecture' here, but reading Nudge really brought home how the simplest changes can have significant impact on the decisions we, and others, take. With regard to knowledge sharing in an organisation, the book reminds us that it is the re-use part of the process that gives real personal satisfaction, not altruism. Think about the micro-buzz that you got when you saw 4 people had rated your hotel review on TripAdvisor as 'useful', or that someone had posted a comment on one of your photos on Flikr. The nudge suggested here is that a virtuous circle can be created if the system is set up so that
1. It is really easy to give qualitative feedback
2. The contributor can easily see that feedback

An edict from upstairs to 'share your stuff' is unlikely to make that happen. A nudge, such as being shown that your stuff is of value to others might.
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Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Sunday Times Social List

Sunday Times Rich List 2011Image by HowardLake via FlickrSteve Dale pointed out to me that the Sunday Times started a social 'wealth' index earlier this year. The Social List is a development along the lines of the Rich List.
Well, not quite.
The list takes four of the big online social networks (LinkedIN, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook) and calculates your 'connectedness' and activity. It expresses the result as an index of 'social worth'. I always thought social worth was what you gave back to your community in the shape of volunteering, charity work and the like.

The list will undoubtedly appeal to the narcissists, but I couldn't help pointing it at my social networks (I belong to 3 of them, but not Foursquare). Surprisingly, out of over 47,000 people registered, I came out 27,344th. I was surprised because I almost never look at my Facebook account and rarely Tweet.

There are some obvious omissions in the social stock that the list looks at. There is no way that prolific bloggers with huge followings (including Steve), and users of other microblog sites, Ning, Flikr etc can add their preferred channels. In my mind, the most significant omission however is Google+. Google Circles was touted as the next big thing in social connectivity, but is notable by it's absence from the Sunday Times Social List.
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Monday, 1 August 2011

How much knowledge do you need?

The different classes of ODN elicit different ...Something that I am commonly asked when training individuals in knowledge elicitation techniques is 'How much does one need to know about a topic to be to elicit valuable knowledge from 'experts'?'

The answer is 'not too much'. This is particularly true where the process includes a knowledge 'recipient'. Having an in-depth understanding of the subject-matter can be a significant limiting factor for a facilitator and at worst, reinforce commonly held misconceptions. An peer-expert conducting such an interview might be significantly inhibited in...

  • Being able to ask the 'dumb fool questions'
  • Asking for clarification or for examples to illustrate a point
  • Recognising and testing assumptions, cultural or organisational norms
  • Demystifying acronyms
  • Questioning political expediency

All of these go towards validation of the knowledge being provided - a vital part of the process of knowledge transfer. Any resulting 'knowledge asset' should not make assumptions, for example that outputs that are generally accessible will only be used by someone who is already an expert.

Pamela Hinds of Stanford University describes experts' cognitive handicap as 'the curse of expertise'. In referring to education, the most obvious form of knowledge transfer, psychologist Susan Birch of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver says "to teach effectively, you need to see things from the naive perspective of the pupil - and the more knowledge you have acquired, the harder it becomes".

Of course it is important that the facilitator does their homework and has a good understanding of the topic area, the nature and scope of the work and a 'heads up' of any big issues to be explored later. Important avenues of enquiry or 'difficult' topics could be missed or avoided without this prior understanding. A skillful facilitator can recognize fruitful avenues of enquiry and probe for detail, without having a detailed understanding of the topic.

How much understanding? Just enough.

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Friday, 1 July 2011

Liar, liar, pants on fire

If you are picked out at airport immigration as an 'unwelcome' visitor, you'd better hope that it is not as a result of a video-based eye tracker or pulse detector.
An article in last week's New Scientist suggested that attention to human factors, particularly speech, are always more accurate in the detection of untruths, than any technology that might be employed.

A study by psychologist Aldert Vrij at at the University of Portsmouth has shown just how much less accurate lie detectors (machines) are, than lie detectors (people). This is worrying, given the huge amount of investment by Homeland Security agencies in malintent indicator technologies. What people say and how they say it, turns out to be a significantly better indicator of veracity than visual cues.

And so it is with other forms of knowledge transfer. Many organisations invest heavily in 'virtual collaboration spaces' and 'knowledge sharing technology' without thinking much about the human determinants of how, why and if we share what we know. I was pleased to see that in the Xerox Parc Slideshare presentation on 'Knowledge Work 2020', this was strongly acknowledged in their prediction for how technology will impact work 10 years hence:

I came across this presentation whilst researching the topic for the KIN Autumn Workshop (which is also KIN's 10th Anniversary celebration) 'Knowledge at Work: Futures and Options'. Click here to see the full line up of great presenters and activities. This event will run over two full days, 14th and 15th September, with the first day being open to both KIN Alumni, and non-member guests who meet our membership criteria and are interested in seeing what KIN has to offer.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Network Visualisation and more

I attended a networking event organised by TFPL yesterday. If you know me well, you know I like playing with software tools, and I was intrigued by some tools mentioned by Jemima Gibbons, Author of "Monkeys with Typewriters: Myths & Realities of Social Media at Work".
You may have seen some or all of them before and I am sure there are others out there. I thought I'd have a quick play with some of them.

Linked IN
If you are a LinkedIn user, you might be interested in INmaps which enables you to visualise your network.

Here's mine:

I'd not seen friendwheel before which generates images like this:
But another Facebook tool which did the rounds a few months back was Social Graph

If you are a Tweeter, then you can understand your 'social capital' on that network by using Peerindex. I'm not a big Twitter user so the results for me are really not worth looking at. But if you are a Twitter user (and care about these things) then it may be worth a look
In the same vein we also have Klout which measures your 'Klout' across several networks.

These tools are all very well but what are the use cases ? When I look at the social graphs generated by InMaps and Social Graph, they don't tell me anything I didn't already know and there's no action I would take as a result of seeing these. But if I were trying to become known as a thought leader or 'influencer' in some field these tools might help me see if I was succeeding and suggest ways of increasing my reach. What would really be interesting is whether there are any similar such tools operating 'within the firewall' and how are they being used.

If you know of any such use cases then please come along to the Business Networking & Collaboration tools Roundtable (KIN Members only) on July 11th

Monday, 23 May 2011

Shoelacing with purpose

When talking to groups about knowledge transfer I like to contrast the relative effectiveness of communicating in different ways - by getting participants to think about shoelace tying.

Imagine you have to instruct someone who has never tied a lace before...
In the first instance, you can talk to your pupil and describe the action of what to do, but not show them or touch their laces (impossible)
Secondly, you can write down what to do and provide diagrams (better, but really difficult to follow)
Lastly, you can show them a video of precisely what to do for them to follow (pretty easy)

I'd never actually got round to making the video to demonstrate this. Now I don't need to.
This 3 minute talk from Terry Moore could change your life. It shows how to tie your shoelaces, correctly. As Terry says "By the age of 50, you would have thought that one of life's skill I would have really nailed was tying my shoes".

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Invention and innovation

Whilst researching the topic of 'Innovation Challenges for Large Organisations' for the next KIN Members' Quarterly Workshop, a colleague came across this impressive (and presumably expensive) video from Corning glass.

There are some fascinating ideas being presented, many of which will probably, pardon the pun, never see the light of day.
What interests me is how Corning came up with these ideas. Were they technical or materials developments (such as flexible polymer display films) that they then looked for ways in which they might be deployed? Or did they think of environments where there products might be used (such as the glass-clad sides of buildings) without actually having the technology to build them yet? Who was involved in the process and how will they decide in which of these to invest what are presumably large amounts of research $?
We are using this as a discussion catalyst on 'the relationship between invention and innovation' in the KIN Members' Forum.

The KIN Summer Workshop 'Innovation Challenges in Large Organisations' takes place on 14th June at The Swan Hotel, Streatley on Thames, near Reading. More details are here.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Future Forward - KIN's 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, Enron filed for bankruptcy, China had the 6th largest GDP in the world, Wikipedia was launched, and of course the 9/11 attacks took place. 2001 was also the year that the Knowledge and Innovation Network was established by the IKON Research Centre at Warwick Business School.

In the last ten years, the world has changed enormously. Your current top three competitors may not have even existed back then. China now has the world's 2nd largest GDP. Today, Amazon sells as many e‐books as hardbacks.

At the KIN 10th Anniversary Workshop in September, we will be taking a brief look back at the world of work and comparing it with what the next ten years may hold. The celebratory event will be over two full days at Warwick Business School, on 14th and 15th September.

Whilst we will spend a little time looking back, the focus will be to look at the World of Work as it might be in 10 years time. We already have some great speakers lined up to give us their insights; Charles Leadbeater, Prof Georg Von Krogh, Richard McDermott, Scott Gavin, Andrew Parker, Eddie Obeng, Steve Cassidy from BT and David Smith, a futurologist to help us look forward. All this, and of course a number of member case studies. All the KIN Associates have been invited to give their specialist views on what the future holds. From Warwick Business School, Profs Harry Scarbrough and Davide Nicolini will give us the research perspective.
CelebrateImage by Furryscaly via Flickr
Representatives of all previous KIN member organisations are welcome to attend the first day of the event - it will be great to reconnect. If you were previously part of KIN, you can stay in touch through the KIN Alumni LinkedIn Group.
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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Choice Architecture

Choice architecture is not about nice buildings. It's about encouraging people to do stuff; the architecture of choice. Not a new concept by any means - the entire ad industry is based on it. There are some wonderful examples of how behaviour can be influenced in VW's The Fun Theory website. My favourite is the bottomless trash can. Originally designed to stop people dropping litter, it was so successful that folks actually went around looking for rubbish to deposit.

Choice architecture is also a central component of the UK Coalition Government's 'Big Society'. For example, encouraging individuals to volunteer in local initiatives, something that could never be coerced or mandated. Thaler and Sunstein's book 'Nudge' uses some interesting examples from organ donation and energy consumption to illustrate how our lifestyle choices are subtly, but deliberately, being influenced by government policy.

So how does Choice Architecture relate to Organisational Learning and knowledge sharing across firms? Well, the verbs encourage, persuade, influence are central. This is neatly reflected in Dave Snowden's heuristic of "Knowledge will only ever be volunteered it can not be conscripted". We need to be cognizant of the fact that, irrespective of corporate edicts about collaboration, or investment in web2.0 technology, every individual has a choice in whether they share or not.

My boss in a previous job used to talk about 'the pain principle'. If something is easier (or in the case of the trash can, more fun) to do the new way, it is more likely to happen. If it is more difficult, or a pain, it won't. Every intervention, technology, policy or tool we develop should be subject to the Choice Architect's slide rule; 'is it easier, quicker, less costly or (heaven forbid) more fun for the individual than the old way'? At this level, 'easier' probably trumps the others.

I am amazed at how many change programmes and technology projects miss out on applying this simple test.

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Friday, 11 March 2011

KIN Member Organisation Maturity Benchmarking

We presented the results of the KIN 2011 Maturity Model at yesterday's Spring Workshop.
The results graphically show the delta between those with a high level of maturity in certain components and those with a desire to improve.

The components assessed were: Knowledge sharing strategy, Measuring impact, Learning and innovating, Collaborating and Re-using. We will use the benchmarking results to ensure the KIN programme for the year reflects this need.

It is also an invaluable signpost to how KIN Members themselves can:
  • Connect peer-to-peer to learn and improve in those knowledge-sharing aspects where they see a capability gap
  • Benchmark their own improvement over time (we will make this an annual exercise)
  • Identify pockets of excellence and demand within their organisation (the tool is available for use by Members at a more granular level)Thornton Abbey - Benchmark.Image via Wikipedia

Monday, 14 February 2011

Event Tweeting

I've been thinking about our use of Tweeting during KIN Workshops. For some time, we have encouraged the twitterati present to tell us what they are thinking through an event hashtag. As organisers, we find it useful to look back at what contemporaneous chat was going on. However those who don't Tweet, or don't want to look at screens during presentations and discussions, are excluded or unaware of that particular channel.

Dextr allows you to have a very simple feed to display tweets, one at a time and writ large on a second screen, or as Russell Davies did, a projector. We could use Dextr to project on a wall to display these comments and even questions in real time and to everyone participating in the workshop.
Has anyone displayed Tweets at an event? Was it inclusive or a total distraction? What about for the speaker? Is this any different to the 'chat' channel during a webinar?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Enforcement or Engagement?

controlImage by secretlondon123 via FlickrEngagement. It's a word that, in most cases, is associated with a pleasant or worthwhile experience. Why is it that so many of our efforts to engage in sharing knowledge across organisations resort to exhortation, pleading or enforcement. 'If you don't do this, this will, or won't, happen'.

Thomas Goetz presented at a TEDMed salon last year and brilliantly illustrated the ineffectiveness of such approaches. The most powerful example, and one I had vaguely heard before, is the change in behaviour resulting from the installation of vehicle-activated 'your speed is...' signs, compared to the universally hated speed cameras*.

Goetz posits that by personalising the information we receive, we are much more open to act upon it. The collection of personal data is now so commonplace and inexpensive, that providing comparatives between individual and aggregate data can be used to call-to-action, much more effectively than generalised edicts.

He neatly inserts personalised data as the relevance engine in his feedback loop. It would be worth stepping back and examining whether the interventions we propose as part of our knowledge sharing stategies, pass this simple 'how is this relevant to me?' test.

Heck, we may even do this at the KIN Knowledge Strategies Roundtable that we are holding on 23rd March.

*According to a 2007 report the reduction in the number of UK road deaths attributed to speed cameras, at a cost of £100m, could have been achieved at a cost of £2m for the equivalent number of vehicle-activated speed signs.
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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cognitive deficit or surplus?

I've been taking a look at some of the more rational predictions for what 2011 holds for us. I recommend JWT's eclectic forecast*

I was left wondering where we would get the time to embrace all the new things trying to grab our ever-more fragmented attention. My son then pointed out this item* that suggests Recreated :File:Neuron-no labels2.png in Inksc... one thing alone could provide a huge cognitive surplus that many of you could surely better employ. You know who you are...

(*Thanks to #corblimey for pointing these out)
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