Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dave's Post on Dogs

I am gradually back to reading some of my favourite blogs...and boy oh boy...i found a post on something that is very close to my heart on Dave's blog - dogs! :)

PS: What would a blog post on dogs be called? BLdOG ( pronounciation key available ;))

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why." - Albert Einstein

I guess if there is a feeling that comes very close to that of 'seeing' God (for both a believer as well as an atheist alike :D )then this must be the one...!

Short KM Course - Post #6

It’s time for me to continue sharing some unwanted advice….time for me to continue with the short course on KM lest you imagine I’ve lost interest! :) (Work pressure does not let one write books however short they may be ;) )

If you’re looking in for the first time, here are the links to the earlier parts of this course:

Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Part 3 -
Part 4 -
Part 5 -

And here is part 6 :

Given all the background about what goes into leveraging on existing knowledge, it is time to understand how it ought to be done. Having looked back at my previous two posts, I do think it could have been made simpler in some ways ….:) so….I am going to attempt to make this one simple and stick to the point though this may leave some people with the feeling that they don’t know everything that there is to it. But it is a risk I shall take….till I get contradictory feedback.

The story so far…
The need: Leverage on existing knowledge…
We know: What are the different types of knowledge that need to be leveraged
We also know: What it means to leverage on existing knowledge – generally speaking as well as in terms of the overall organizational requirements

An organization that wants to ensure that it is leveraging on existing knowledge and wants to reach a fundamental level of knowledge efficiency can go about this exercise without any second thoughts.

1.Choose a pilot division
2.Set up a team of people who represent the management, functions (HR etc), and the pilot division under the leadership of a KM professional.
3.Understand the key types, forms and sources of knowledge and who generates it, when it is generated, how is it generated, why is it generated, where is it generated, how is it dealt with for the rest of its ‘life’….which may end in deletion/minor updations/value-added modifications etc
4.Conduct brainstorming sessions to understand the demand for knowledge from the business perspective, the current challenges in the context and the need for corresponding cultural, procedural and technological changes
5.Plan for the changes and additions and assign ownership to relevant people. Foresee benefits and measure parameters pre-implementation
6.Implement and assess situation. Measure parameters post-implementation and publish benefits/re-look at changes if not satisfactory

Sounds simple? Experience says it’s not so. This kind of a project can be replicated in divisions that have similar situations. But the approach that needs to be adopted for an enterprise-wide KM initiative in terms of a single-window portal, expert locator etc can be quite different.

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Plum's Song Lyrics...

Put all your troubles in a great big box,
As big as any box can be:
Put all your troubles in a great big box,
And lock it with a great big key:
Crying never yet got anybody anywhere,
So just stick out you chin
Jam all your troubles in a great big box
And sit on the lid and grin.

How on earth did I not know till now that PLUM had written such a thing!!!! Don't you think it's absolutely rocking or rather pipping? :)

Courtesy - Blog post by another PLUM fan...


Interesting observation by an MBA student at IIMK

Another reflection of Ancient India's wisdom? Storytelling to demonstrate evolution?

Laloo - CEO, Indian Railways (Largest Employer in the World)

Laloo and Indian Railways :O) :D

Hobbes - Alter Ego

Mmmmm. As I recall some of the Calvin and Hobbes strips where Calvin has some of those profound questions for Hobbes, his alter ego, and how Hobbes either responds with a snappy but thoughtful answer or both of them leave it as it is – an unanswered but pondered-over question. I think it would be wonderful for each one of us to find out who the Hobbes in our lives is. It could be our own selves in many cases. We may perhaps need some tools that help us communicate with our inner voice. I have come to believe that a diary (blog in today’s world) could play the role of Hobbes. Just like Hobbes, the blog may be no more than a stuffed page for the outside world but to the blogger (Calvin in the case of Hobbes), it is no less than a live and intelligent companion that joins one’s exploits as much as one’s introspective journeys into life.

Price Tags

The world believes and understands only those things that have a price tag around their necks!?
Check out what Calvin and Hobbes think about it....
Aren't KMs (Knowledge Managers) facing the very same challenge?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Collaboration - The Other Side

Staying away from KM evangelization for a brief period has actually helped me cure my obsession with KM. Even though my passion for the subject is as good as ever, I am at least not so blinded by the passion that I can’t think about the limits of KM. Simply put, I will now not go around calling KM the panacea for everything under the sun. I know enough to think about the difficulties and the predicaments associated with it.

I’ve been one of the strongest advocates of collaboration (For the uninitiated, collaboration is a key component of KM). Collaboration for learning; collaboration for speed; collaboration for innovation; collaboration for efficiency and effectiveness etc. I continue to be influenced by the concept and will peddle it as a solution for many organizational problems. But I’d like to explore the subject here from another angle and point out the troubles and tribulations of collaboration that need to be considered before embarking on any collaborative process/solution revolving around collaboration.

  1. Collaboration will not be equally effective in all environments

Imagine three different organizations with the same challenge - Slow learning amidst high growth (business and employee growth). One of the key solutions to tackling this situation could be a framework for collective learning. Even if the challenges in the three organizations are exactly the same, the collective learning framework – however exhaustive it is – will not have the same effect on all three. The difference in the outcome would lie more often than not in the surrounding environment. The environment refers to the management attitude (do they talk about the need for collective learning and sharing and lead by example?), the physical workspace (does it have high walls?), the experience of the seniors (how much do they actually know to teach and be open enough to learn in case they don’t know enough?), the novices’ willingness to learn (are they motivated and interested enough to learn), the ability of seniors to teach and learn (how good are they at explaining), the availability of technical enablers (do they have efficient telecommunication lines, do they have tools that help them ask questions, answer them, jot down thoughts, store them for later use etc), the work pressure (is there so much work that people can’t concentrate during conversations?) etc

  1. There are different styles of collaboration

This is very important. Even if the environment for collaboration exists, it needs to be understood that each person has his/her style of collaboration. It may be commonly felt that once people understand the importance of collaboration and are provided the environment to work together….things need to start happening. But this may not be the case because just as each of us has his/her style of working, we also have our own style of collaborating. It obviously cannot so happen that only people who have similar styles of collaborating work together….so, there does seem to be a need to make everyone aware of the different styles, and train them to adapt themselves to the needs of the situation. I have attempted to explore some of the common styles/preferences below. I don’t think these styles are isolated in that people have only one way of collaborating….but there are likely to be some dominating traits amongst these in each of us.

-Some of us like to think together and be led by others’ thoughts, reactions, questions and inputs

-Some of us like to sit down and think quietly – in solitude

-Some of us need to work on the whole thing (like working on a document) all by ourselves and then send it to others for comments, feedback and suggestions

-Some of us are happy to take one chunk from the whole thing (eg: document) and then fit it into the right place

-Some of us do our best when the ownership lies with us

-Some of us do our best when somebody else take the ownership and we are involved only in the capacity of a consultant/reviewer

-Some of us collaborate well under pressure and vice versa

-Some of us like to converse our way through the problem while the rest like to get down to the nitty-gritty without much ado

-Some are worried about their role in the exercise and how much of the credit they’ll get

-Some are comfortable just using their minds while some others need a pen and paper or a marker and white board

-Some cannot collaborate with people whom they don’t know well enough

-Some prefer face-face collaboration to distributed collaboration

  1. Technology-enabled collaboration has its drawbacks

Technology-enabled collaboration is something that not everyone is comfortable with. Technology cannot do a perfect job of translating body language. There are people who are phobic about phones. Some of us don’t seem to be able to get personal and comfortable about discussion boards. Some of us hate to write because of which we don’t contribute to virtual workspaces that depend on discussion boards and repositories and chats rather than voice exchange. One tool may not be sufficient to meet the needs of the situation. Not everyone is dexterous enough to handle multiple tools for collaborating – telephone, online whiteboard, presentations, videoconference etc

  1. Collaboration is hard to sustain

Even if everything is conducive and people are motivated to collaborate and work together on a continuous basis, more often than not, they will encounter stumbling blocks along the way. These stumbling blocks can put a spoke in the wheel of collaboration and stop it from running. Work load and pressure are common culprits that prevent people from looking outside their own ‘selfish’ responsibilities. Response from the organization, peers and managers can also determine the success or failure of collaborative endeavors. An organization where people are used to finger-pointing behaviours, divide and rule habits, search for individual glory, rewards and incentives will find it hard to sustain collaboration.

Friday, November 24, 2006

M A D?

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. - Robbin Williams

So what if people call you mad? I think it is this little spark of madness that identifies you! :)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

gOOgle stOOry

A lot of interesting tidbits about my favourite company... :)

Amazing People....

If you want to be inspired by people who walk the talk and are truly spiritual, try this.
Nipun and Guri have a blog that talks about their values, views and daily adventures. They are an amazing couple who seem to have given up most of the materialistic desires that humans are subjected to and are the epitome of kindness...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why Blog?

Don Cohen finishes off by saying "The person who learns most from the story is often the one who tells it."

Now, that is precisely one reason why I love blogging! :-)

Winners All? Losers All?

While watching a dance competition-based programme on TV last week, the team that lost in it broke down. And my mom said "Nobody likes to lose!".....A simple statement that is obvious and one that is stated in more ways than one....but it got me thinking on that particular occasion.

Some of the sports events like Tennis, Cricket etc sometimes show the losing team/person saying things like...."Playing is more important"....or "We are/I am glad we/I lost to a better team/person"...."I enjoyed the game even though I did not win" etc etc....but how many of us really are detached enough to not mind losing?

The book that I am reading on Tao says that losing is not about the other person winning!....Meaning....just beccause the other person has doesn't mean you've is winning...but one has to admit that sports events are no events to take this philosophy into consideration. The world of sports is ruthless....

Coming back to the statement that "Nobody likes to lose"....I think this is simple but profound...If one is ready to 'lose' and accept 'defeat' life will be a lot more enjoyable and peaceful. What?

Tao-Post #2

Still on Tao....the book I am reading has a chapter on Conflict Resolution and is worth a read....two key points that it talks about are....when on the verge of a conflict or in the midst of one....suspend judgement and be patient... :)

Maaza Mango

Have you seen the latest advt. for Maaza? I think it's a cool one! :D

Scene 1: Gardener and his dog are sober. Gardener narrates a story - He and his dog have been deprived of the fun they used to have when in earlier times they chased away kids who used to steal mangoes from the garden. Now, Maaza has become a wonderful substitute for real there are no more naughty kids to chase. (There may be a flaw in the logic here.....but I choose to ignore it. If kids can pay for Maaza....why did they not pay for the mangoes? :-) )

Scene 2: Gardener replaces mangoes with bottles on trees. :) Kids come back to steal Maaza and the gardner and his dog are given back the joy of chasing the kids all over the place... :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I am finally reading something....reading a book called The Tao of Personal Leadership by Diane Dreher

And here's something nice that I found in it....actually the entire book is worth quoting but of course, I can only choose some things that struck a chord in me...hit me harder than the rest... :)

North American Tool & Die became a successful corporation within eight years by setting three corporate goals: to make a profit, to share the wealth with the staff, and to have fun. *The second two goals helped them achieve the first* by building a strong team spirit.

The Tao leader
Looks beyond friend and foe
Profit and loss
Fame and disgrace
And therefore prevails.

Excellent book for those interested in spirituality and personal development...!

In tune with Intuition?

Came across an article entitled 'The power of intuition' in The Week dated Nov 5th 06. This article was probably inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. Found some interesting tidbits that I thought I'd share with you...

"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become" - Steve Jobs

"A uniformed man with a gun in hand and an enemy in range definitely acts on intuition" - Sarabjit Singh - former director-general of police

"The misconception about intuition is that it is different from logical thinking. It is an advanced stage of logical thinking" - David Myers

"It is by logic that we prove. It is by intuition that we discover" - Henri Poincare

"Intuition is how you turn experience into action. It is the set of hunches, impulses, insights, gut feelings, anticipations and judgements stemming from pervious events in your life..." - Gary Klein in The Power of Intuition

Intuition apparently does not work when one is in an emotional state - stressed/bad mood etc

Yet another paradox

I love watching quiz programmes and have always seen the conventional ones that are run by a quiz master who poses all the questions and gives away the award to the one who gets the maximum number of answers right. But someone applied paradox thinking on the concept of quiz games. Any guesses on what that could have resulted in? Imagine the 'quiz master' answering 'questions' /arriving at an answer? Sounds ridiculous? It first... :D

Vijay TV airs a programme called Grand Master wherein he gets common people as well as celebrities to participate in his show. The game is for the participant (one at a time) to think of a celebrity and then answer a maximum of 20 odd questions by choosing a yes/no/don't know till the quiz master discovers who the participant is thinking about. Now, this may be an old game that we've all played in school - Who's that - but it is the first time that I have watched such a professional programme on TV....and I love it.

Paradox thinking is cool! :)

Monday, November 13, 2006


There are people whose thinking is spearheaded by the head and those whose thinking is led by the heart. Logical thinking Vs intuitive thinking...

Which of these two categories has more number of HAPPY people? Those who let their head dictate? Or those who let their heart dictate? Please respond in case your head/heart tells you to....whichever the case may be. :D

Meanwhile, here's another thought that crossed my mind recently. Why does everyone love music? Almost everyone....

I haven't actually seen people who dont love music/listen to music though there are various degrees of obsession.

How is music composed? Does the composer use his head? I dont certainly think so (But you can challenge me or prove me wrong). Music has to flow...from the heart. Wrong notes are recognized by the heart....not the head! So, is it surprising that the whole world loves a product of the 'heart'??? And this is one product that can make a tired/sad/angry/stressed out (wo)man smile!

Products of the head are interesting but only in the short run....they change our lives...yes....but can anything on earth beat music or any other product of the heart????

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Google's KM Product?

Earlier, I'd wondered about Google's KM ambitions and watched Google get into desktop search, enterprise search, blogging, personal pages, google talk etc. Now, I hear that Google has acquired JotSpot - a Wiki product company. Where to next? :)

Mark my word. Down the line, it may be more than apt for Google to bundle a lot of these smaller products they have/are working on/planning to acquire into one cool KM product! And then, the rest of the KM product companies may have sleepless nights....the power of a brand can never be under-estimated!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Calvin's Paradox

There are paradoxes everywhere. Here are two paradoxes I “discovered” today! :)

One of them was in today’s Calvin & Hobbes subscription strip….

Calvin (screaming aloud): “I am in a crabby mood, so everybody just leave me alone! I hate everyone!”

Goes around with a grumpy face in the next scene. Then looks around with a surprised expression.

Then, says: “Nobody recognizes my hints to smother me with affection”.

End of strip.

Isn’t that true? A lot many times, we claim to want to be alone but are actually looking for a kind soul that will make life easier!

Another in a joke I heard long ago…in Tamil…..translating it into English here….may sound silly…but serves my purpose and demonstrates paradox thinking! ;D

Patient: “Doctor, my eye hurts….it’s been so for a long time but I am confused….there seems to be no sign of a wound or anything else that could cause it to hurt”

Doctor: “What have you been doing? Rubbing it a lot?”

Patient: “Yes….!” and then shows what he’s been doing….(rubs his eye with his right hand index finger)

After a pause….Doctor: “Ok. I know what your problem is. It’s not with the eye. It’s with your finger.”

And then points out a wound on the patient’s index finger!

LoL :D

Monday, November 06, 2006

KM Course - Post #5

Continuation of 'Leveraging on existing knowledge':

Having looked at some of the fundamental principles that form the foundation for making use of existing knowledge, let's go on to understand exactly what is existing knowledge and how it has to be leveraged upon:

What is the existing knowledge that needs to be made good use of?

- Business knowledge
- Domain knowledge
- Functional knowledge
- Process knowledge
- Customer knowledge
- Employee knowledge (people skills)
- Market/Environment knowledge
- Competition knowledge
- Technology knowledge

Knowledge could be those that can be

- Documented - completely explicit - Organizational structure
- Taught - How to reach a place - shortcuts/what to do in certain situations etc (maps may be a good documented substitute though)
- Taught, observed and learned through practice - How to conduct meetings

Each knowledge type has to be shared and made good use of through different techniques and tools. Making good use of existing knowledge implies the following:

- If I've done it once, I should be able to do it again more efficiently/effectively
- If I've done it once, I should be able to teach someone who has not yet done it or someone who tried it differently and did not learn what I learned
- If I've done it once in a certain way and someone else has done it in some other way, we both get together and learn from each other and put together the best of both and mutually benefit
- If I've done it once, I document it and circulate it to a large audience who not only learn from it but also keep adding to it so as to improve it and provide alternatives

The culture has to be ready to learn and share...independently and collectively.
The processes have to be ready to accommodate for learning and sharing activities. Anytime, All the time
There ought to be tools that help people learn and share...independently and collectively.
The sharing has to haapen through the right channels at the right time and to the right people and has to be made available forever....though it keeps changing its shape and size and form as it evolves and changes with time....!

For all this to happen, the organization has to identify the knowledge that's important for the business, understand how, who, when, where and why knowledge is generated, enable it to be shared, provide an environment for people to learn and generate the knowledge and understand how it is used and provide the necessary tools and cultural orientation required.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Somebody asked....

Somebody asked..."Does KM produce business benefits or is it an esoteric subject?"....and I think...

Yes and Yes! :)

Practicing KM definitely produces business benefits though how it can be quantified is not only a challenge in some ways but also is a matter of perception....and therefore an esoteric subject in the eyes of people who claim to be KM experts! :) Jokes apart, KM is an esoteric subject in the sense that only those who are comfortable talking about intangibles and things that are all-encompassing understand it....or rather try to understand it.

Moving back to quantified business benefits....if, to achieve a business goal, the concepts of KM are utilized, there are people who may attribute the entire revenue/profit/rating/brand perception, as the case may be, to KM! For example: Someone networks with a key customer contact and realises in the normal course of the conversation that the customer has an implcit requirement and comes back and puts it up on a discussion board which is in turn commented upon by various team members and managers and finally results in a proactive proposal that the organization wins.....?! Some people would say it was KM that made it possible and some others that it was the technical/functional solution that made it ultimately possible! So, isn't it about perception?

But there are clear situations like that involving Customer Queries/Responses and a database that stores previous queries/responses that improve customer response time and this can be quantified in clear terms....!

This is a vast topic and can be spoken about at length. Stopping here for now! :)