Wednesday, January 31, 2007
My trip was not perhaps an efficient one in terms of reading (number of books/articles I ended up reading), but it was an 'effective' one in terms of introspection, ideas, bird-watching and popularity amongst all the kids in the extended family. :D.
Will be posting something on KM, uploading some nice photographs etc as soon as I sort of settle down.... :)
Monday, January 22, 2007
I will be busy (or maybe not so busy :)) reading and spending time in my home-town for the next 7 days. No emails. No blogs. No nothing. Except some books (You'll have to wait to find out which ones) and some hopefully quiet time in a place I've begun to love going to....
Take care....! Peace be with all.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The Human Network is undoubtedly something very intriguing. Cisco is on to something for sure. It’s an admirable endeavour on their part to say the least. Ages ago people spoke about the world coming together. People spoke about the global village. The internet certainly has what it takes to create a global village and it is doing so in many ways. People are finding each other, helping each other, sharing with each other, working together….all through the internet. The Human Network and many other such initiatives are undoubtedly some things that will influence the future of the world. It therefore merits some retrospective reflection and analysis. I am no expert in the history of the collaborative online world. But I’ve attempted to randomly recall relevant developments and jot down what could have been the precursors and trend-setters of the collaborative online world.
Linus Torvalds created a revolution by getting passionate people across the globe to work together and share their work with a growing community. CKP in his book – The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers - spoke about a completely connected world in the context of commercial as well as the non-commercial ventures. Then came Blogs resulting in a situation that meant uninhibited self-expression that had the potential to influence the world. It also meant that one could keep in touch with thought-leaders and ordinary professionals alike and learn from and share with them as easily as speaking to one’s best friend – on almost a daily basis. Wikis went one step forward and allowed people to create something together. Wikipedia became an excellent knowledge repository that had answers to almost everything. Skype allowed people to get in touch through text and voice……for free. Regular Instant Messengers like yahoo, msn etc made it possible to chat with and leave messages for people in the opposite corner of the world. Google entered the arena of email, instant messaging, blogs, social networking et al and when Google enters something everybody looks up and the circle of influence undoubtedly widens. Flickr made it easy to collaborate on photographs. Social tools like LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut attracted more users. Web 2.0 players like Delicious, Digg It, YouTube etc made it possible to share articles, posts, comments, and videos. There was almost nothing else that could not be shared on the World Wide Web.
Earlier attempts by a handful of companies to tap into collective intelligence to solve problems while adopting an innovative revenue-sharing mechanism evolved into Prediction Markets. Now, there is talk of social lending, collaborative books, social network analysis in organizations to enable effective collaboration etc.
Is all of this a clear case of United we stand, Divided we fall? Or is it the harbinger of absolute Mayhem on the World Wide Web? Who will organize everything? Is it ‘organize’able in the first place? If organizations don’t already have their own Internet Consultants, will there now be a new team of internet consultants in every organization, helping the latter to make sense of this absolutely amazing but chaotic World Wide Web?
What are the overall implications?
For organizations? I recently learned about the Second life initiative from a friend and colleague. So, will this be a perfect platform for finding a dream audience resulting in enviable revenue growth? The other implications related to employee-finding etc are obvious and can already be seen.
For politicians? Is it no longer going to be easy to fool the populace or take it for granted? CKP says “We are seeing the emergence of an economy of the people, by the people, for the people.” Now, is this the real democracy that we dream about?
For the media/news industry? Will they have to be really creative, quick, smart to be heard amongst the millions of genuine and closer-to-reality voices?
For People Technologies? There already is and will continue to be mind-blogging growth in day-to-day electronics that leverages on the internet. Such technologies are popular and will be increasingly ubiquitous and easy to own.
But I’d like to end with a googly. Will all this pull people apart as much as they try to bring them together? You don’t have to think hard to relate to what I said. How do you communicate with your friends, family and colleagues whom you can probably meet personally on a daily basis if you want to? Is it more on phone and emails, even if the person is sitting right next to your desk? How often have you seen people give incoming calls on the Mobile a higher priority over the person he/she is talking to in person….?
http://www.howwesee.com/ (Cisco’s website…)
http://www.thelivinglink.net/ - a collection of various resources
PS: Food for thought. All this inspires me to say that it certainly may take one person to start something…..but it becomes reality only when everyone joins in.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Positives: (I may sound naïve at times but nothing will deter me from being idealistic)
- Disaster recovery – People can get together very quickly to tackle a crisis
- World camaraderie – Just what we need for world peace
- Everyone shares and learns at a faster pace – I can see that happening already though it can be overwhelming at times
- (You may want to debate with me on whether this should be classified as something negative) Individual edge as related to information access…may disappear gradually, because the possibility of getting to know from one source or the other is very high and in most cases the time lag may not be very significant either – Those who get ego boosts out of knowing that they know something that others don’t know will have reasons to feel displeased
- Community building happens naturally – Finding all the people that have common interests happens naturally
- Business implications – Lot easier for employees and employers to find each other and what’s more, at a much lower cost than otherwise
- Matrimonial implications – Closely linked to world camaraderie and finding people with similar interests etc
- Taking anti-social elements to task – This will be made a lot easier because of the potential that collective forces have
- Rumors spread faster. Can lead to losses in cash and kind if wrong decisions stem from these rumors
- Confusion may rein supreme at times. Who’s saying what? What’s the truth? Who’s saying the truth?
What do you think? Hey, I am not actually a blogger who craves for comments….I can go on blogging irrespective of whether people are coming back to me or not because blogging helps me learn and I love to learn. But I may learn a lot more if you give me feedback…...So, if you’re reading this now and have some independent or borrowed thoughts on this topic, please express yourself…and continue to do so at least once in a while! What? :) I know you will. Thanks in advance.
Update: Feb 22nd - I just found this article on the implications of social software from Fast Company Now...!
If God delays your Prayer
He is increasing your Patience...
If God does not answer your Prayer
He knows you can handle it perfectly...
Methinks: If one evolves in life to end up in a situation wherein one doesn’t pray for anything in particular it is a sign of complete faith in God (you know he’ll give you what you deserve even without having to ask for it), great patience (you know it’ll happen when it has to happen) and complete faith in oneself (you won’t trouble God for things you know you should be taking care of yourself).
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Would it be smarter to wait for ideas to reach their tipping point and then join the bandwagon...with somewhat an assurance that the idea is one that is here to stay....?
Nah....the pleasure of getting to know what's happening to the world even as it happens is only next to being the very person who gives the world the idea...talking of which, I think it is all the more important for us (people not knowing where to look while something happens in every part of the Internet world) to take our breaks and let the ideas seep in or maybe just discard everything and think different...unbiased by the 'chaos' around one...
This post is to capture some of my learnings from the book Learning to fly by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell. It’s all about British Petroleum’s (BP) KM strategies and approaches as it was a few years ago. I may not be far from the truth if I say that this is probably one of those few books that give people practical advice on KM practices. Something that you can read, understand, and start applying almost immediately.
Chris and Geoff have moved on, parted ways (surprisingly enough) and become independent KM consultants since then.
Okay. Back to this post’s deliverables…..
· BP’s core KM philosophy hovers around learning Before, During and After doing whatever you’re doing.
· The methods/ideas/practices/approaches include
o Connecting people through practices and tools: this involves identifying areas of concern, identifying the components therein, rating teams on each of these, arriving at levels of competency and plotting these on a graph to identify which teams can teach and which learn – I think this is a very nicely designed and ready-to-be-adopted idea
o Peer assists (check with someone who can help using a system that will allow you to find who can help)
o Reflection- also called after action review – the four key questions that need to be asked being what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, why was there a difference, what can we learn from this
o Retrospect (Changing this based on Chris' comments in response to this post! As he says, 'Postmortem' has a negative flavour to it :-) – different from the after action reviews in the sense that it happens not after a single task/activity but after a project. The key questions being…what went right and why and what went wrong and why
o Expert locators – who’s who – the intranet personal profiler
o Communities and networks – there is a focus on quick wins here. And there is a clear difference between communities of interest, practice and innovation
o Capturing knowledge – some down-to-earth and effective methods of capturing knowledge being well-conducted interviews. Storage is in tapes and documents. Checklists play an important role.
PS: I read this book a long time ago and prepared this draft of a post a few weeks after I read the book. But I kept postponing this post for later as I wanted to do another quick review of the book to look for any other important points. Which, I am sorry to say, I still haven’t done…partly because I think I have captured most of the points I personally want to remember. :-)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Just received a link to Guy Kawasaki’s blog from a friend. On skimming through the blog here’s one post I found and wanted to link immediately. Something tells me I’ll find this to be extremely useful when I (finally) do something of my own. :)
Guy advises us on how to prepare a PPT when selling an idea to VCs. 10 slides (containing the information listed below)…20 minutes….and well, large fonts…
2. Your solution
3. Business model
4. Underlying magic/technology
5. Marketing and sales
8. Projections and milestones
9. Status and timeline
10. Summary and call to action
Reminds me of something I picked up from a senior. The 20-60-20 PowerPoint rule.
2 slides of introduction to what you do, 6 slides focused on the customer and 2 slides of summary. What?
If someone were to ask me to name ten important qualities required to be a good KM professional, I’d say...
She needs to…
- Believe and practice long-term thinking (KM solutions that assist people who react to a situation or problem are not created on the spot. Someone needs to think of what might happen and be prepared for it)
- Have a passion for learning and knowledge (No-brainer)
- Have a passion for innovation (No-brainer again)
- Believe in collective thinking and collaboration as an important means for innovation (There are people who don’t believe it as well as people who don’t want to believe it)
- Have a somewhat process-focused approach at times (Innovation, networking, sense-making, conversations are all good. But knowledge life-cycle ought to be understood as well)
- Have patience (When did you start your KM career? How much have you achieved so far? Sorry if this question hurts)
- Understand human and organizational behaviour (Individual and group) (Quite important. Especially if you lack patience and want to do something quick. Knowledge of human behaviour can help you be smarter when it comes to getting things done…or influencing people)
- Be comfortable talking about abstract things (Please raise your hand if you are someone who can see knowledge)
- Be humble and ready to give the credit to the people for whose benefit KM is being practiced (Very difficult….if you’re not here for the love of KM)
- Be a good influencer and marketer (No-brainer but of huge significance)
What are your points?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Discovered that Curt loves mind maps too....Curt points to this on YouTube....
Tony Buzan himself on his invention...
(Observe his body language...I think artistic/creative people simply can't resist using their hands...)
Friday, January 12, 2007
My thoughts on Gautam’s recent post on the curse of knowledge.
I myself have often encountered situations wherein I've got a little enthusiastic and come up with something I can't seem to articulate clearly to others. My experience tells me that if you get a little more creative and think of an appropriate analogy....it may be easier to communicate with - convey the message to - others. I believe that analogies are simply wonderful and we need to make as much use of them as possible. And I think the more you use analogies, the easier it becomes for you to ‘find’ them. Analogies do not necessitate the use of exhaustive language as the listener, once triggered off, can do most of the thinking and visualization of the links by herself!
Coincidentally, one of my friends, some time back, brought to my notice two articles which I now realize are related to this topic. These may give us more food for thought.
One of them is an article in HBR by Chip Heath and Dan Heath - called ‘the curse of knowledge’ - wherein the authors refer to an interesting research. The researchers asked people to tap a well known song’s tune on a table and asked someone to listen to the tapper and identify the song. The tapper thought the listener would easily recognize the song for it was popular but the success rate was something like 2.5%. In the authors own (and better) words…
“When a tapper taps, it is impossible for her to avoid hearing the tune playing along to her taps. Meanwhile, all the listener can hear is a kind of bizarre Morse code. Yet the tappers were flabbergasted by how hard the listeners had to work to pick up the tune. The problem is that once we know something—say, the melody of a song—we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. We have difficulty sharing it with others, because we can’t readily re-create their state of mind.”
PS: The authors go on to build a case for storytelling and how it can enforce effective communication in organizations.
The second one is a blog post by Dave Pollard on thinking without language. Well, this one points out how we originally thought without the aid of language and why language-based thinking may be constraining us in many ways.
Summing up…connecting the dots…methinks….[now, it may turn out to be a curse of blogging….that you’ve to read such summaries as well. ;)]
We can think without the aid of language. We, certainly, can. Language is only for communication and maybe with our own subconscious mind at times. But a picture may be worth a thousand words as we have oft been told. Why so? Pictures normally evoke emotions, not language. That’s why we sometimes use words/phrases like ‘speechless’, ‘dumb-struck’, ‘words fail me’ etc. Emotions cannot be expressed/communicated. Proves that emotions are different from plain thoughts and do not lend themselves easily to language (heart-based vs mind-based thinking?).
Replace analogies with stories in my earlier suggestion for explaining something effectively. Storytelling evokes emotions and may therefore be easier as a communication tool. If language (stories) that tries to connect with a person’s emotions works well, then methods that evoke stronger emotions are those that are more effective, eh? Jump. That’s why I love creative and ‘true’ advertising campaigns which are typically a combination of a story, pictures (still, moving or real-time) and a core message. Not to forget, this is the reason why good movies have a lasting or at least temporary influence on us. Does that connect at least a few dots for you or does it leave you with a clean slate/blank mind? :D
Don’t blame me if the dots are not connected. Language (or rather lack of it) prevents me from explaining it better. :D.
I can perhaps think of a picture to explain this (a mind map?). And yes, this post is anyway intended to read like a ‘story’…..
One of the simple reasons why some organizations (read managers) understand the need for KM without having to go through an RoI (Return on Investment) debate is that KM aims to avoid the ‘reinvention of the wheel’. Especially the organizations that are obsessed with improving their efficiency and cutting costs. (That doesn’t leave out too many organizations, does it? But methinks there may be innovation-focused organizations that believe that the benefit of not being so focused on reuse will encourage their employees to discover/invent…start afresh. After all, starting afresh despite existence of previous records of solutions may result in the identification of things that were missed out earlier. The employees who are subjected to NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome will agree no doubt ;))
Coming back to the focus intended for this post…in large organizations, the possibility of individuals, teams and departments wasting time, money and effort on something that someone else (in the organization or outside it) has already done is huge. One of KM’s purposes is to prevent this from happening. A recent episode wherein I came across a team discussing some ideas at length whilst the very same thoughts had been expressed and discussed by another team at a different point of time made me introspect on why such a thing was happening. Yes, WHY was it happening? Why do we (as an organization) waste so much time and effort (and money) discussing things again and again….and more often than not, coming to the same conclusion as well? Here are some of my thoughts in response to the question….some obvious, some deserving a little bit of thought….
- NIH - In the case of philosophies/concepts/approaches, the NIH syndrome is a block that prevents ‘reuse’ (I understand that you might call it ‘adoption’)
- Difference of opinion – This is different from NIH. NIH reflects an ‘attitude’ problem. A genuine difference of opinion will result in reinvention of the wheel. (This may be useful from the perspective of innovation and improvements)
- Consumer Behaviour – In the world of marketing we talk about early adopters, followers and laggards. Early adopters grab anything new immediately. Followers hesitate a little and watch the early adopters benefit or struggle with the newly introduced product and decide on going for it based on the latter’s experience. Laggards wait till the very end before deciding to purchase the new (now old :-)) product. The same explanation may hold good in the context of reusing concepts/solutions/tools in organizations. Different from NIH and difference of opinion.
- No record and/or communication – Simple. Holds good for concepts and the like; not solutions. Happens when discussions are not recorded for future reference. And also when the concept is not communicated at the right time to the right people through the right medium(s)
- Not implemented – When solutions, tools, process improvement ideas etc are discussed for the Nth time, the reason may be an obvious one. The responsibility needs to be taken by the people who originally came up with the same. The reason why the wheel is being reinvented may be simply because the solution was limited to a discussion or maybe paper. That is, it has not been implemented. Implementation will effectively rule out the possibility of repeated discussions because the need for the solution no longer exists. Simple again.
- Implemented but not institutionalized – In the case of situations where the solution is tried out as a pilot in just one pocket of the organization and there has been no effort to replicate and institutionalize it (or share it as a best practice) across the organization, there are bound to be repeated discussions. These discussions or reinvention will of course happen in parts of the organization other than the pilot department.
- Ensure that teams and individuals subjected to NIH syndrome are addressed when marketing KM as a philosophy for avoiding reinvention
- When ideas and solutions that have the potential to be reused are circulated, do everything to address difference of opinion. If it is a genuine and valid difference of opinion, it augurs well for…it is an opportunity to further improve the idea/solution.
- Identify the followers and laggards and do some smart marketing to get them to join the early adopters faster than they otherwise would
- Make sure reusable ideas and solutions are at least recorded, communicated and made easily available on demand
- If an idea is worth it, strike while the iron is hot. Get it implemented immediately. If the time is not ripe don’t spend too much time on discussing the idea in the first place.
- Know when to move out of the pilot phase and do everything to replicate and institutionalize it across the organization so others get to make use of the idea/solution and not think through the very same things again. (In many organizations, new and useful ideas are implemented in pockets and the rest of the organization is not even aware of it because of lack of institutionalization or best practice sharing mechanisms. What a shame!)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
And I’ve got miles to go, before I sleep. Indeed. Sigh.
There’s so much to read and so little time. Time does fly.
Anyways, it doesn’t prevent me from collecting more articles and putting them in a folder called “Read or die”.
Chuckle. Nothing. Just wondering why I am not dead yet! :D
The good thing is that out of the N number of articles I save for later, there are a few that I do skim through immediately. Here’s one such nice article I discovered and went through immediately.
Bruce is a KM veteran and was with HP for many years before becoming an entrepreneur.
A few things from his list that made me nod in acknowledgement (based on experience) were:
Ø As Thomas Stewart wrote in his book The Wealth of Knowledge, connection, not collection, is the essence of knowledge management. (To which I’d like to add – Collection based connection is perhaps even better)
Ø Face to face knowledge sharing is not a luxury. The pity is that in many organizations it is perceived as being one. There are indeed examples of effective knowledge sharing in the absence of face to face, but these are far outnumbered by examples of ineffective computer-based and phone-based collaboration.
Ø Communities of Passion are what businesses should be trying to create and sustain, not Communities of Practice. When there is no passion, communities are unlikely to produce useful results.
Ø Search is the killer app of document-centric KM, and Google sets the standard.
Some things that I probably have come across before but which made me think again were:
Ø The word knowledge is misused often. If you replace knowledge with experience and the sentence sounds wrong, you're talking about information, not knowledge.
Ø It's easier and more effective to manage ignorance, by eliminating it, than to manage knowledge. Humans' natural ability to notice exceptions and aberrations makes it easier for us to eliminate what we don't want (e.g., smallpox, garbage, air pollution) than to manage, sort, and organize what we do want and have plenty of (e.g., knowledge).
Ø For all the money that many organizations spend on information technology for KM, they often have no more ability to effect change than the leader of a Yahoo! Group has for free.
Monday, January 08, 2007
I’d earlier posted about a blog-book on how to be happy at work which I got to know from one of my friends who in turn had found a link to it on another blog he subscribes to (Whew, the blogosphere can put a spider’s web to shame, eh?). Hope you made use of the opportunity and read through the book. :)
Well, I did and finished the book effortlessly as the language is very simple and it is almost like the author is having a casual conversation with the reader. I submitted my feedback on the book on the author’s blog and am reproducing most of it here (as it contains some of my own (additional) thoughts on how to be happy at work…)
Thanks a million for the PDF version of the book. I've read it and it was certainly a breeze. I really think it will inspire people who've for whatever reason not approached work as a happy person. I for one, to be honest, am inherently a happy person and have loved coming to work on most Mondays :). (Except a few weeks when I was reporting to a manager who made it difficult just because I disagreed with his point of view on something.) Well, I believe that a really happy person will come out of any situation even if it takes time. :) Going back to your book, it certainly rang many bells in my mind. I did not feel like putting it down and wanted to read it one shot. :D
While I think you've done a wonderful job of talking about everything that is required to be happy at work....I want to add something more since I believe that you're open to ideas. ;)
- Read something funny everyday and share it with your colleagues to be happy...(If you know me, you know I'd read Calvin and Hobbes or PG Wodehouse....)
- Be a child and get excited about everything that you've to do...
- Develop creative skills for being creative is joyous
- Listen to music that touches your heart and soul to be happy
- Look at everything as a learning experience...however tough it may be....
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
the tsunami lessons
Networks, blogs and experts – Difference between life and death?
Tragedies leave an unforgettable scar in the lives of the affected people, but they also give us an opportunity to learn some things that are equally unforgettable. The tsunami, preceded by the earthquake, that struck parts of
Apart from the philosophical implications of the tragedy that came through gradually, I discovered a very intriguing KM pattern emerge from the gloomy situation. Three of the situational aspects struck me as ‘KM’ish. It was clear that some of the consequences of the tsunami could have been pre-empted and some events alleviated in the post-tsunami scenario, had we taken refuge under three practices - networking, blogging (communication & expression) and seeking experts’ advice.
Networking: The concept of people connecting with others who have the wherewithal for conversation on a common topic can make a lot of difference. This unassuming act results in miracles like early indications of what’s to come as well as solutions for seemingly unsolvable problems.
Communication & Expression: Blogging has the ability to lend itself as an effective self-publishing and networking tool. It has turned out to be a great way to spread news, locate people, gather support, build communities, and communicate the ‘raw’ truth. The tsunami turned out to be something that elicited these very qualities of blogs and blog networks. There were blogs that spread news from the tsunami affected sites, gathered financial and physical support from across the globe, identified people and connected them to their roots, and provided credible information - sometimes more than what Television Channels did.
Expert’s Advice: From the tsunami perspective, this is perhaps the most important of the three concepts discussed. A Japanese earthquake survivor says (on the BBC News website): "We have great faith in the JMA (Japan Meteorological Society), they do a good job in saving people's lives, if some of these countries like Sri Lanka had a system like ours perhaps we could have saved lots of lives." I couldn’t agree more! A proactive attempt to learn from the Japanese who are tsunami-prone would have helped us be better prepared for the calamity. Their methods include early warning systems, tsunami walls, tsunami and earth-quake resistant shelters, floodgates, specialized society (JMA), and use of technology (telecommunications, television, and internet). For
The MS KN team has a place in the blogosphere like many other MS individuals and teams. The team blog is here...
Given that SPS 2007 has a plethora of facilities as compared to its previous version, this in combination with plug-ins/add-ons like KN, Groove (A cool project workspace product taken over by MS a couple of years ago) etc definitely seems like a deadly KM-Collaboration product. (But I am left wondering how good the SPS default search engine will be. Hopefully better than that in the SPS 2003 version)
Anyways, looks like all the MS software-based organizations have lots to expect this year....!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The View from my cubicle...
Now you know what I gaze at now and then. Now you know where I 'travel' to virtually when I think, dream, introspect.....blah blah blahhh. :)
And....now you also know where I end up once I've spent some time 'traveling' virtually....
One shot in the morning and the other in the afternoon....