Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Sometimes, you have to state the obvious because it's often overlooked. As Michael Norton of KIN Members the Local Government Association puts it  "why go to all the effort of attracting new members if they don’t contribute to the community?"

Many will join a community of practice just for what they can get out of it. There's nothing wrong with that; presumably it creates value or disseminates new insights or learning for the organisation. Those insights have to come from somewhere though. 

As Michael puts it "You want to make contributing to your group irresistible. Don’t expect to write the acceptance message and leave it at that". But that's often what happens. Michael has some practical help and some communication tips and templates that can help make more joiners active rather than passive. You can read his blog on Membership Acceptance here.

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Friday, 19 October 2012

Last week I facilitated a KIN Members' site visit to Schlumberger. (See the KIN Calendar entry for November 11 here http://www.ki-network.org/jm/events-and-activities/kin-calendar)

We were delighted that Schlumberger - who were previously KIN members - were prepared to share with us their latest insights and tools in knowledge management.

As the host,  Dave Staughton described and showed to us their family of knowledge management initiatives.

As always with these type of events, the real value came not only from learning from Dave's experience at Schlumberger, but just as much from the discussion with and input from the other attendees. They were able to relate what Dave was showing us to their own environments and provide alternative viewpoints and valuable insights into tools, techniques and processes - what works and what doesn't.

My biggest single takeout form the day was that KIN should organise these events more frequently between KIN member organisations. The learning you get from spending just a few hours focussing on how a single organisation has addressed KM issues which are common to most organisations can be just as rich - if not richer - than the learning you get at any of our other events.

So, KIN members! Who's going to volunteer to host the next one ? Let me know in the comments or via email. I'd love to hear from you.

Oh, and I liked Dave's take on the perennial debate over the use (or not) of the term 'Knowledge Management'. Schlumberger have no problem using the term. For them, KM is 'Management for Knowledge' as opposed to 'Management of Knowledge'. It is the management of people, processes and systems that enables knowledge to flow around the organisation.

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Friday, 12 October 2012

Stirring a linguistic hornets nest

Detail hornets' nest opened up and being rebui...

I've never really given this a lot of thought, but during a 'lessons learnt' training course I ran today, someone asked me why I used the word 'learnt' rather than 'learned'.
My assumption has been that the former was the British English pronunciation and spelling, the latter American English.

It seems that grammatically, this is not the case, although you will almost never see or hear 'learnt' used by an American. 

OK, the correct / purist definition is as follows (deep breath...)

English (as in Queen's English):
"learned": a present participle that performs the role of an adjective by qualifying a following noun.
"learnt": a past participle that performs the role of a adjective by qualifying a noun.

These words will be participles only if used along with a helping verb, also called an auxiliary verb like "to be" or "to have". If used without an auxiliary verb, there is a possibility that the word "learnt" is actually a verb and not a participle. This depends entirely upon the sentence structure.
Both these words are derived from the infinitive of the verb "to learn". While "learned" refers to a current state of acquired knowledge of the accusative noun, in this case the the noun following the word "learned"; the word "learnt" refers to a past incident that caused the accusative noun to become aware of something or gain some knowledge.

Got that? This is all a little dense and pedantic, so my simple justification for using 'learnt' is that you wouldn't use 'meaned' rather than 'meant'. 
Go argue.

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