Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Journeys of Truth

A feeling of emptiness envelopes me,
It gets as painful as it can be!
But what it takes to fill the void,
Is something that I perhaps - almost sabotagingly - avoid!
Going in search of the real me...
Is as tough as it can be!

Someone said, we need to leave to be able to come back!
And that's one hell of a strange journey designed to show us what we lack.
Ah, the journeys we must set out on, at times - near and far!
But what is life without journeys that make us what we are?
Sometimes we find what we're looking for, sometimes we don't...
But what if we find it and yet not see it for what it is?
If we are lucky, it may come back and haunt us out of our so-called peace!
That's when we could, however, shake off everything and grab the ghost of a thought,
When we are ready to blow some life back into it...consider it bought!

The question is where do you buy the life to blow back into the idea of your life?
The answer, paradoxically, is that such of renewable life is generated from strife!
Which in turn comes from the strange journeys that we began with...
Oh...to understand what is the truth and what is myth!!

PS: Don't ask me anything. Remember, this is poetry! Hah! I just happened to write it. You just happened to read it. Move on. Of course, if possible, try and appreciate the rhyme in the poem and all that rot.

Leading with 'Silence'

Yet another inspiring message from pravsworld. Boils down to a lot of silence...and I just love silence! Though I am not sure I am able to ignore all the noise when it matters most....and I am also not sure I listen as much when I happen to be silent...at least not as yet. Hours of - inner- silence should ultimately lead to the sharpening of one's listening skills, I hope.

Body, Mind or Spirit?

Thanks to @DeborahSerani for the link.

Found this cool n short quiz on a topic I ponder over frequently - the importance we give to body, mind and spirit and how human character/behavior differs accordingly.

I discovered that I am more of a "Spirit" person according to the results of the quiz. But I suspect that I actually fall somewhere between Mind & Spirit or perhaps toggle between the two. (Example: I see traveling to be both a learning experience as well as a daring experience)

You Are Spirit
You are resilient, hopeful, and inspiring. You have a lot of emotional, physical, and mental energy.

You nurture and nourish yourself. You know that you need fulfillment and downtime if you want to be your best.

You stay present in every moment. You don't allow yourself to be distracted or flustered.

You appreciate the life you have been given. You embrace all that is beautiful in the world

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grattitude...(Gratitude + Attitude)

Thanks to R.K for this sweet little award! [Sorry for the delay in putting up this post, RK! I needed some time to nominate others for this award!] Irrespective of how much of an introvert one happens to be, it is always deeply satisfying when one is recognized and acknowledged - in this case, because of one's writings. This award is supposed to be for blogs that show great Attitude or Gratitude or both....! And here are my nominations and they are in no particular order! :-) But, unfortunately, many of the folks in this list don't blog too often :-(

  • Prashant (Full of gratitude....and noble ideas and thoughts!)
  • Rakesh (He's got a mind of his own. That means an attitude of sorts)
  • Asal Tamizh Penn (What a typical South-Indian attitude!)
  • The Director's Blog (Attitude, I say)
  • Krish (Epitome of Attitude)
  • Bengalooru Banter (Attitude, Attitude, Attitude...Think Local, Act Global)
  • Sarita (A friend with a unique attitude towards life)
  • Lakshmi (Gratitude for life...nature)
  • Global-Thought (Immense gratitude for life and the capacity to inspire anyone who drops in!)
Thanks once again for the award, RK! :-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rambling - Ideal vs Real

I read the first chapter of Uncommon Wisdom with a lot of excitement yesterday. Lots of interesting and intriguing stuff in it for folks interested in exploring the link between science and spirituality - especially the eastern outlook. As I read it, something not so directly related to what I was reading struck me.....and I want to post it here.

The author speaks about how he went around collecting feedback from fellow scientists about his ideas and thoughts and what exactly some of the latter said. Suddenly, it struck me - not for the first time, though - that the consequences of dishonest communication is much more than many of us imagine it to be like. The implications are severe and long-term in nature. It might have very well, cumulatively, caused much of the disorientation, disorder and disquiet we see in the world today and I don't think I am exaggerating. Think about it. Every single time - however small or big the context may be- we are dishonest or even silent (uncommunicative) we contribute to the creation of a false world because we contribute to false perceptions and interpretations. We contribute to the widening of the gap between the 'idealistic' and the so-called 'real' world - The way the world may have been with everyone being genuine versus the mind-boggling chaos due to falsehood, respectively. Arguably, being genuine actually creates an idealistic world despite its inherent chaos - a world that gives one a better chance of being understood and responded to in an appropriate manner. When people say "Get real", they are, of course, talking about accounting for falsehood apart from uncertainty. Beyond all this, obviously, one also has to account for the inevitable noise that accompanies both genuineness and falsehood.

I guess I am rambling but happy as long as it sounds like genuine rambling! I can almost hear you say that it is perhaps this kind of babbling that contributes most to the inevitable noise I referred to above! LoL! :-)

PS: What the hell am I talking? I know...and yet don't know.


Heard on TV: Behind every revolution, there is a huge struggle!
Me: Inevitable!

Hiring into the KM-Culture...

KMers never tire of talking about a 'KM culture' being the backbone of a KM initiative. A KM culture being one that believes in and celebrates sharing, collaboration, reuse, learning, mentoring etc. I've, personally, had the opportunity to realize the importance of creating and enabling such a culture since my initial days as a KMer. One of the things that occurred to me was, however, the need for - to the extent possible - identifying and hiring people who are - in the first place - known for their collaborative beliefs and capacities (the famous willingness and ability test). In this context, I guess a great way to discover the potential employee's willingness and talent for collaborative and community-based endeavors is to dig into her past and find out whether she was, for example...

- a part of a group of children in her neighborhood who worked together in order to accomplish something/have their demands satisfied
- a part of a group of children who attempted to solve or solved a social problem or, perhaps, helped the neighbourhood adult society in their own small way
- a part of a school/college community that was associated either with its administration, or recreational activities, or representation in other external forums etc
- a part of a small group of students who believed in group discussions and study in order to understand something or invent something
- a part of a similar interest group dealing with either academic topics or extra curricular activities like music, literature, team games etc

If the potential employee happens to have been party to one or more of the above-mentioned activities, I think it would be an excellent sign of the person fitting into the KM culture in the corporate world. It would undoubtedly indicate their understanding of the wisdom of crowds and the power of collective thinking/work. While on the topic, I think there is also a clear difference between a candidate's regular participation versus a leadership position. Someone hungry for leadership positions in such groups may not necessarily be a great fit into a KM culture in case her hunger was associated more with the gaining of power and fame rather than a genuine desire for excellence through collective thinking and collaboration! But this is not to be mistaken with candidates who emerge as natural leaders while in a community.

Is your organization serious enough about KM to assign significant value to such characteristics and experience?

Who'll Bell the Cat?

Hear! Hear! Who'll bell the cat? has been a million dollar question for centuries now. Ever since some mice got together and wondered how to steal food without the cat's knowledge, I'd imagine. I am not sure anyone ever answered this question without scaring/challenging at least one person amongst the group discussing the problem, if you get the drift. But I came across a novel solution this weekend. A solution that makes the cat go Me? Ow?! instead of Meow! ;-) Not for the cat's ears.

So...what's this novel solution all about? It's something paradoxical. (Yours truly has been a bit lax in catching up with cartoons of late. But there was a nice opportunity that came by this weekend and I grabbed it. Not for nothing.) Paradoxical thinking on the part of Jerry's baby-student in the world's favorite Cat and Mouse cartoon show - Tom and Jerry! Jerry's baby-student has been sent to Jerry to learn the basics of survival but, ironically, ends up teaching Jerry a thing or two. The little mouse is still in his diaper days but has a razor-sharp brain and thinks in radically different ways much to Jerry's embarrassment and shame. So...when Jerry goes to great lengths to teach him 'how to bell the cat' with Tom as the subject, here's what Jerry's little student does. He puts the bell in a box, gift wraps it and simply walks up to Tom and hands it over to him as a gift. Voila! Tom goes, like I said earlier, For me? ow! and is all smiles as he opens the 'gift'. A few seconds later, Tom is happily sporting the bell around his neck. Squeal! :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More KM Questions...

More people on the KM-India community are asking good questions ....! Keeps me thinking and out of trouble - Imagine the kind of meaningless posts I'd otherwise generate. Does that mean I am claiming that these KM posts are meaningful? Go figure! ;-)


What are the Do's and Don'ts while charting the KM Roadmap for the enterprise?
How comprehensive should it be ?
Is roadmap something that matures over course of time or is a robust blueprint crucial before embarking on KM initiatives?

My response:

This is a question that demands a longish answer. Actually, a proper discussion and understanding of the context etc. Anyways, here are my immediate thoughts.

DOs and DON'Ts:

1. Involve the business leaders in creating the roadmap
2. Consider the existing organizational culture and vision/mission (along with the broad business objectives)
3. Consider a pilot team(s) for trying out your ideas when in the initial stages
4. Consider the fact that even though the overall business objectives do not differ significantly from one business unit to another, the challenges that the individual business units face may be quite different (therefore needing different solutions)
5. Consider adopting a framework, theme and methodology
6. Identify the key stakeholders and KM champions (with the help of middle and top managers) and involve them as early in the project as possible
7. Make room for course corrections and change of objectives and new ideas
8. Consider technological innovation apart from the impact of the organization's existing technologies (including Intranets)
9. Process maturity and how much scope it gives for KM-based improvements
10. Use mind-maps, workbooks, word documents etc to demonstrate it

1. Force your views on business leaders and champions. Try convincing them...if it doesn't work, be patient. There will come a time when they will begin to see things from the "KM" perspective. But, sometimes, you might have to be prepared to discover that you were not right after all! ;-)
2. Blindly follow a standard bookish KM roadmap or a roadmap adopted by another organization - however similar the organization happens to be to yours.
3. Assume that people will understand it without your having to explain it
4. Stick to it stubbornly, as it is bound to have to change with changing circumstances, business objectives, technologies and so forth
5. Leave it at the bird's eye-view - 'roadmap' - level. Zoom in. You may have to break it down into smaller pieces and elaborate on each piece as well how the smaller pieces will then come together to form the complete picture

Comprehensive?: Depends on how well you understand the organization and its culture. If you're new, then you will have to be patient. You can only take one step at a time.

I think a roadmap will definitely evolve and mature over a period of time. May change frequently in the initial few weeks/months and then change at a slower pace depending on how much you engage the other folks in the organization.

Ready, Steady, GOal...!

This thought-provoking post by Sukumar and subsequent - brilliant - discussion around it awakened my mind like never before and made me type out my response like I was a possessed being. Sigh. These things make you feel absolutely alive (and kicking and screaming and what not). But they don't happen often enough. Maybe they should not happen often enough...because that way, when such a moment 'finally' arrives, it promises immense exhilaration - the Aa..ha! experience. Uh?

So, do read the post...and the discussion around it (lengthy read). As for me, I need to reproduce my comment (longest ever?) here so I can come back and re-discover my own thoughts whenever I need to.


Amazing! Simply amazing! First of all, I must congratulate this whole community on Sastwingees.org for the mind-boggling variety of perspectives and sincere discussion/debate. Sukumar: I must say I am almost jealous. Not everyone can find and motivate such a community to engage in such a wonderful discussion. While I blog - most of the time - for myself…there are times when I know that only a conversation/discussion will throw light. This blog has what it takes to generate knowledge! :-)

Now, to the post. I am pretty late to the ‘knowledge’ party. Saw the post only yesterday and couldn’t respond immediately for I wanted to run through all the comments and that took me some time. So, unfortunately or fortunately, most of what I might have said had I read the post earlier has been said by many others. I, nevertheless, want to use the opportunity to write down what *I* think…as it would be a good idea to summarize my own thoughts especially taking all the comments into consideration. If it happens to generate some more discussions and ideas, all the better.

1. My first thought on reading your post was: But…a goal is different from the results of the goal and the Gita Slokha you refer to talks about the *results* and NOT the goal. Someone has already explained that. So, I guess I must not waste everyone’s time repeating that.

2. The Gita Slokha only talks about being detached from the results (whether we finally succeed or not). From what I’ve read (books on the Gita) it simply means that we’ve got to be emotionally intelligent. We must not let the results (temporary or otherwise) deter us from either pursuing the goal (never give up) or modifying the goal (get more intelligent and change the methods/processes/tools). Being attached to the results will shake us up in the wrong way - we get emotional and may even lose sight of the goal ultimately. Someone has already mentioned this as well.

3. I also belong to the school of thought that believes that the journey matters more than the destination. The means are as important as the end if not more. So, focusing on the results of the goal (as opposed to the goal per se) means we lose the joy that is embedded in the *journey*. And it is the journey that makes us what we are…not the goal or the achievement of the goal. [I think that's really important]. It is the journey that gives us the strength, the values, the skills, the contacts, the experience, the learning etc. The goal is what the society gets to see (as opposed to the journey that we went through). But the goal does not make us what we are - deep within. It is journey that allows us to achieve another goal of the same order. If we were to have achieved the goal without concentrating on the journey, I suspect that we will never be able to achieve another such goal. It becomes a flash in the pan. It is only a matter of time before the society forgets that we exist.

4. Regarding the type of goal we must set for ourselves, I believe in Dave Pollard’s repeated talk about the intersection of three aspects - what we love doing, what we are good at doing, our calling/purpose in life. I am not sure I’ve understood your query on the relationship between success and the goals we set. Isn’t success what we think it is? How can it be only related to the goal we set? How can the goal determine we are successful or not? Isn’t it you who determines whether you are successful or not? Let me explain…You may have a goal XYZ. If you think you’re successful only if you achieve XYZ, then you’re letting the goal control your perception of yourself. On the other hand, if you think you’re successful even by setting such a goal and enjoying the journey and experience of moving towards it, then that’s it! But continuing on the topic of setting huge goals, why do we have to limit ourselves? Why can’t we dream big and believe we can achieve anything and everything? Are all geniuses and prodigies only born and not made? I don’t think so. The law of attraction says we can achieve just about anything we desire from the bottom of our heart! I think it takes a spiritual person to determine what goals to set….to get away from this maddening world and look within…introspect. Many of us are far away from that state…we are caught in this routine whirlpool and find it hard to take off the black cloth that covers our eyes. Do we believe that making money and leading a good family life is all that is needed? Are we looking at what’s happening around us? Do we see the big picture and what’s happening to the environment we live in? Do we think long term? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like many of us are thinking these thoughts! We are mostly in a mad rush….setting temporary and materialistic goals for ourselves. But, apparently, the world does not discriminate. It allows us to achieve all our goals provided we want it very badly.

5. Taking the completely opposite direction, spirituality also advocates just being! Like Gregory points out. This school of thought asks us to spend time in just being…stop doing, thinking…try just being. I am not sure I understand the implications as yet. But, ironically, something tells me that it is a great way to arrive at a goal. To stay silent and watch the world…step aside…..and think about what needs to be done as opposed to following the herd.

6. I am fascinated by two other perspectives that this post has generated. Not looking at results because they are “temporary”! Wow. Nice way of putting it! And the other perspective - understanding what the goal is - it is not about winning the war…it is about rooting out evil! That should teach us not to focus on temporary results but keep the ultimate aim in our minds. But can rooting out evil be a goal??? Think about it….it cannot be….! Why? It is actually not something you can achieve at a given point of time and then sit back and relax!! It is a journey! It is something we must work towards every minute of our life…it does not have a destination point. It is a way of life!!! That makes it a value…not a goal!!! So, there is a difference! In our endeavour to lead a life which denies a place for evil, we aim for temporary goals…small steps…throughout our lives….and that is what give us the satisfaction! Eternal satisfaction….for we do it every minute of our life and there can be no situation when we feel bored that we have achieved our goal!!

Whew! I am not sure how to thank you for such a wonderful post and how to thank this community here for such a sincere and brilliant discussion! You folks rock!

[Thanks for the patient reading and I am hoping I find the energy to respond to your second post as well...very soon] ;-)

Out of the Box....

Want to 'Deposit' this here. ;-)

Post on being productive with the Inbox - on Jack Vinson's blog. Gist of the post: DELETE, DEPOSIT (file), DELEGATE, DO, and DEFER.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Discovering KM....The Journey matters more than the Destination!

I think I love being questioned (by someone who is eager to learn or someone who seeks a sincere debate in order to get to the truth or someone who is serious about understanding other perspectives). More often than not, a good question and the way in which it is posed awakens my mind and urges me to seek the answer(s) within....much more sincerely than otherwise. It becomes an obligation of sorts.

So, this morning, I found a fundamental question staring me in the face and it was, luckily, one of those occasions when my mind responded and the answer (or is it 'my' answer?) just flowed. I'd love to know what other KMers who happen to read this think....!

Question on the KM-India Community:

Why we still "discovering" the answer for what is KM and what it can do?

1. Why we could not get the grip on KM to institutionalize KM in the organization - that makes it difficult (and unnecessary) to pull the plug on KM.

2. Why it is difficult to convince the top [management] even today?

3. Why we are still fighting what is knowledge and what is not?

Like I mentioned, my answer just flowed...which probably means it was simply a knee-jerk 'reaction'. So, I don't think I've answered the question word-to-word. There is still a lot left unanswered. I'll come back to this post and add anything else that may be relevant once the discussion on the community progresses and other perspectives begin to trickle in.

Here was my knee-jerk reaction to the question(s):

I may be wrong (on second thoughts, I don't think I am wrong :-D)...but something tells me that this is the case in every field. Things keep evolving. New people bring new ideas...thoughts and perceptions change...debates ensue. Product vendors fight their own battle and introduce their own ideas. Academics try and influence people with their own approaches and theories. The more abstract the field the more such upheavals and changes. It probably takes a decade or so for people to arrive at a common understanding and have the 'basics' in place. But no subject worth its salt will remain unchanged for long...new concepts, theories, technologies, and objectives will obviously force us to re-examine our understanding of what is appropriate (as opposed to right and wrong).

Having said that, I am inclined to believe that KM has now reached a stage wherein there is a significantly 'common' understanding of what it is all about....but how we articulate it may differ and what dimension of it we focus on may depend on the context and situation we are in.

PS: I have no clue what the trend is in terms of the time that subjects take to evolve into a stage where the foundation is extremely strong....maybe it does not really take as long as a decade for subjects that aren't so abstract?!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


If you have a noble purpose, - especially something that is for a collective benefit - great values, immense strength, undying grit and determination, a burning passion, and divine faith, you can afford to dream of the 'impossible'......for there is absolutely nothing on Earth that you cannot achieve. Miracles begin to look ordinary.

Look behind every miracle, and you are likely to find the very same recipe...the very same ingredients mentioned above. But is it enough to just know and be convinced about the ingredients and recipe? Does knowledge of the recipe per se guarantee miracles? There must be a mysterious reason why there aren't many miracle generators....! Maybe the answer lies in the make-up of our souls...or - if we consider all souls to be equally divine and have equal potential - perhaps the soul searching that we engage in.

Pic sourced from: http://www.1stclasswallpapers.com/backgrounds/sunsets/image/soul_searching.jpg

Friday, March 13, 2009

Basics of Communication for Budding KMers

If you're a KMer, you probably know exactly what Susie is going through! :-)
Solution? Try saying exactly what Calvin imagines Susie to be saying at the end of the strip. It may work! On second thoughts, if you manage to even look like the creature that Calvin imagines Susie to be like, it may work wonders! ;-) Come on...it's Friday, don't you know? Happy Weekend!

Cartoon Strip: Author: Bill Watterson. Source: GoComics.com

KM Benchmarking

In one of the KM communities of which I am a member, there was a question on potential queries that one could ask in order to carry out a KM benchmarking exercise. I haven't done an exhaustive or meticulous job of it, but I've - off the cuff - rattled of some queries one could possibly ask to be answered by the company that one is benchmarking with. Obviously, there's a lot more that can go into this document - both in terms of the themes and the associated queries.

- Benefits / Disadvantages of having a central KM team over decentralized teams responsible for KM activities in an organization?

1. Explain your KM team structure, hierarchy, roles and functions
2. What is it that your team has accomplished so far and what were the key reasons why it succeeded?
3. What are the challenges your team faces and how are you trying to overcome them?
4. Have you ever been in a situation wherein you knew exactly what to do to solve a problem or accomplish something but you never got around to implementing it?
5. Can you recall a situation wherein you were able to achieve a quick win in an extremely smooth manner?

- ROI Methodology that helps compute the ROI given the yearly investment in the KM program of an organization?

1. What are the KM objectives for your organization? How do you monitor them?
2. Explain the quantitative and qualitative measures for ensuring you achieve your KM objectives
3. How do you calculate the cost of your KM initiative? What is your explicit financial budget for KM?
4. What makes the management continue to lend support to the KM function? What do they expect out of it and what are they complaining about?

- How do organizations cope with legacy / dated / archaic content?

1. What is your content archival policy and procedure?
2. Have you come across situations requiring you to refer to content created many years ago? Has that ever been a problem?
3. How often and vociferously do your users complain about the presence of obsolete content in your repository? What do you do to resolve such issues?

- Aspects of KM culture within an organization (including incentives, rewards, non financial ones also)?

1. How do you conceive, build and sustain a culture of sharing, learning, reuse and collaboration within your organization?
2. Do you engage with the HR teams for the above?

- Ideas on re-usability of content within the enterprise

1. How do you identify content that can be reused? What are the associated policies, procedures and tools for the same? Do you measure the benefits of reuse? How do you award the people who contribute reusable content?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can Knowledge be a Disadvantage?

Consider these scrambled thoughts:

A contestant in a musical show sings a song with a lot of passion in front of two experts who are listening to him with the intention of judging him. One of the judges is aware that the singer is not formally trained in the genre that forms the theme for that particular round but is also familiar with the overall strengths and the general potential of the singer. The second judge, meanwhile, knows absolutely nothing about the singer except what the latter exhibits in the performance under question.

The passion with which the singer performs is something that the average listener is able to relate to and appreciate. But how do you think the judges will respond? Would the judge who has knowledge of the singer's background be subconsciously biased against his performance? Would this judge subconsciously focus on the technical drawbacks of the performance rather than its 'total soul'? Subsequently, would focusing on the technical gaps alone result in the judge calling it just a 'good' performance while the other judge is likely to label it as an 'awesome' performance? What impact does such knowledge have on decision making? Is it good or bad?

Is this another variant of the 'curse of knowledge' popularized by Chip and Dan Heath?' Taking a tangential leap from there...is this one of the reasons why spiritual leaders advice us to 'just be' rather than think, analyze or dissect what we observe? Does worldly knowledge prevent us from just being? Would a person with a good balance of worldly and spiritual knowledge know both - to just be and to become?

Changing People's Behavior

Talking of change management, take a look at this obvious and yet intriguing article. Some of the implications and reasons, to my mind, are:
  • The obvious is often overlooked to such an extent that simple ideas have now started to seem like brainwaves,
  • Small things can and do make a big difference,
  • We often choose to turn a blind eye to human attitude and behavior and focus only on the tool/process,
  • We underestimate the need for human motivation and psychological boundaries
PS: Clearning the pile of files and books from your laptop table may very well make you use your laptop more than you otherwise would. Putting an inspiring book and the table lamp switch near your bed may very well change the way you think in the long run...and so forth. I think it would also be a good idea to consider paradoxical thinking in this context...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Change Management = Made to Stick+Tipping Point

Here's an interesting post that brings together E 2.0, the curse of knowledge, evangelization and the 'Made to Stick' concepts. Thought I'd link it up here as it reminds me of my own pet concept of communicating something via a catchy acronym (or tag line) apart from reflecting some of my personal experiences on what constitutes a 'sticky' idea.

Extract from the post which in turn must be an extract from the book, 'Made to Stick':

Made to Stick: Ideas that are successful follow the SUCCES acronym..

Simple — find the core of any idea. Focus on that
Unexpected — grab people's attention by surprising them
Concrete — make sure an idea is real and not to
o theoretical
Credibility — give an idea believability allow people to test it themselves.
Emotion — help people see the importance of an idea by tapping emotions
Stories — Stories are great ways to achieve all above

Coincidentally, I've been pondering over these things of late as you can observe from some of my recent musings on twitter...(read bottom-up)

And, finally, I am convinced that these ideas when combined with the Tipping Point concepts will form a significant force in any Change Management initiative. I have been playing around with these ideas for a bit and, going forward, would love to carve a 'story' out of my experiences. Let's see where it goes...! :-)

I am quite convinced that Made to Stick and Tipping Point are two books that provide an immense amount of raw material for anyone wanting to embark on a Change Management initiative.

Friday, March 06, 2009

PLUM Panacea

Sushmita Sen Gupta says "I came across this line when still a wee bairn in pigtails and promptly adopted it as my Motto For Ever : "Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive." And loving the words and works of Wodehouse helps you enormously in this noble endeavour. Steeped in Plum's world, one can always see the funny side of things, ignore irritants and classify all sorts of problems as too unimportant to agonise over. As long as the Empress gets her 58,000 calories per day, as long as Bertie gets his calories from Anatole's culinary masterpieces, as long as Psmith's monocle is shining happily, all's well with the world. Tinkerty tonk."

Brilliant! :-) Emphasis mine. Sushmita is a PLUM fan like yours truly and is a part of the Celebrating P G Wodehouse community on Ning.

What really matters....

Getting our priorities right! Hat-tip: @VMaryAbraham (on Twitter)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Agatha Christie and KM - A 'Mysterious' Combination!

The ABC Murders....and the ABC of KM. Yes. The idea is to scare you out of your wits. Be warned. Your knowledge of KM is about to undergo a complete transformation. You're about to discover the hidden links between murders and KM. After all, K might as well stand for Kill and M for Murder. You never thought about it that way, did you? KMers are more dangerous than you thought. Better listen to them and do what they say, you know?! Ha Ha Ha. [Evil laugh]

OK. Now's the time to give up. Can't possibly get crazier than that on a Monday!

Been catching up with some books amongst which is an Agatha Christie mystery called "The ABC Murders". It is the story of a 'mad' man out to kill random people in random places but based on the logic of alphabets. (Example: Kill a person whose name starts with an A in a place whose name starts with an A and then move on to B...etc). Gory, I admit! I'd like you to know that I really wouldn't be talking about this if not for the fact that it has something to do with KM.

The ABC Murders is a Hercule Poirot story for those of you who are familiar with Agatha Christie's novels. The murderer throws Hercule Poirot (the detective) an ano
nymous challenge and believes that it's going to be really difficult for the detective to identify him as the murders are random and unrelated. The crux of the story is about how Poirot ties all the random threads together (arising from four murders), finds the commonalities and tracks down the murderer before the latter goes on to kill his next victim.

I know....this post itself may have begun to sound like something out of a mystery novel. Patience. I am almost there. There is a wonderful link between this detective novel and KM. Some of the statements made by Poirot reflect the fundamentals of KM extremely well (
conversations, collective thinking and so forth). Had me wondering about the title - It is an interesting coincidence that the title talks of 'ABC Murders' and happens to cover some of the ABCs (basics) of KM...! :-)

OK. Let's get down to the heart of the matter now. Poirot brings together the relatives and friends of the victims even though they are all unrelated and in different locations. And in the discussion that ensues, some of the dialogues are just what a KMer (or Knowledge Manager) would love to propagate. It brings to light the fact that the smallest unit of knowledge is a conversation, it reflects on the importance of repeated conversations, it points out the importance of collective thinking and what not! Sample this:

1. Poirot intends to have repeated conversations with the victims' relatives and friends. His assistant asks him if he suspects that they (the victims' relatives) have intentionally been keeping back information from them and Poirot says "Not intentionally. But telling everything you know always implies SELECTION. One cannot tell EVERYTHING. Therefore one selects. At the time of the murder people select what they think is important. But quite frequently they are wrong! And to get at the right things, you have to have a conversation...discuss a certain happening over and over again. Extra details are bound to arise....some trivial remark or happening may be a pointer." (This is an example of where and how knowledge may be hidden...!)

2. In another instance, Poirot, once again, brings together all the relatives and friends of the victims and urges them to talk about what they saw/heard/thought etc as a group. He says "It is necessary to pool reminiscences, to compare notes, to talk the thing over - to talk - to talk - and again to talk. Out of some innocent phrase may come some enlightenment." (This is a clear indication of the need for collective thinking. More importantly, I think it tells us very clearly that if we are looking for worthwhile knowledge, we better be comfortable with conversations...many of them!)

3. Poirot explains to his assistant that when it comes to the deriving knowledge from people who can help him get to the truth he assumes that they "know something that they do not know they know". He then explains how collective thinking would be of use to the victims' friends - "It is like a jig-saw puzzle - each of you may have a piece apparently without meaning, but which when reunited may show a definite portion of the picture as a whole". (Wow! This philosophy is one of the most fundamental of beliefs when it comes to KM as well...not just in locating murderers ;-))

So there! It thrilled me to read about Hercule Poirot's (Agatha Christie's actually) views on how to get to the truth...in other words, how to get to knowledge. It resonates a lot with the fundamental concepts of KM! Doesn't it?

PS: And, btw, I hope I scared you enough...! ;-)