Friday, April 23, 2010


Charisma and Authenticity - Steven Pressfield says:

"I have a theory that charisma arises from authenticity. When a writer has found his voice, when a singer has discovered her style, they have power. We feel it. It draws us to them. Why? Because we want it too.  We want to be ourselves they way they are themselves. One of the reasons wild animals are so compelling is that they are entirely themselves. They can’t be otherwise." 

Endearing. Thought-provoking. Engaging. (Though, all these 'false' celebrities that one sees or hears about - the ones who are widely perceived to be charismatic but have some devious and manipulative thoughts underneath - need to be studied further) 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

KM - Marketing Strategy

Doing a lot of KM posts of late. And that's a good thing, what? :-)  There was a phase when I'd done too many KM posts and then ran out of ideas & situations. There was also a phase last year when I ended up focusing on a lot of other topics and felt 'KM-starved'. So, it's good to be back in another KM-heavy phase.... 

I responded to this question on Linked In and thought I'd reproduce it here for the record.

Q:  How do you market your knowledge management efforts in your company?

My Thoughts:

 1. Get creative (engage branding specialists if need be) and come up with a brand name, logo and tag-line that reflects, inspires and engages users. These must obviously be derived from and reflect your KM values and objectives. You could also create paraphernalia that are likely to be appreciated based on the brand (badges, posters, cups, pens and what not - these will constantly remind people what it means and what you are after) 

2. Live the brand in every way possible - Easier said than done but the most critical point at the end of the day. For example, if your brand focuses on connecting people, your actions must be in tandem - most of your practices and endeavors must point to that implicitly and explicitly. 

3. Conduct road-shows, knowledge fairs and internal conferences and un-conferences to communicate, educate and engage the users 

4. Write an internal blog (should be frequently updated) that elaborates on the KM brand and its meaning and speaks about the KM team's efforts and experiences, feedback, inputs, case studies & stories from the field and picks up a lot of inspiration from external sources as well 

5. Engage champions from the field (champion users & KM believers) who would then harbinger the viral movement for you and your team! 

Random Thoughts

I am going to give myself the luxury of wandering a bit in this post. Will talk about this and that....things that are not necessarily related or associated with one another. Something on KM, something on leadership and E 2.0 and some interesting twitter moments. 

I was preparing a post for my internal (corporate) KM blog and thought it would be good to share that here as well. I've already shared it on Twitter but I realize I have the opportunity to dwell on it a little longer here (read beyond 140 characters), so I will do that. 

I came across this wonderful poem here and decided to extract what I perceive to be the 'KM' portions of it for my office blog. Allow me to reproduce that here.

"If you wish to learn, then take some time to teach. If you wish to climb higher, then lift others up. If you wish to be wise, then share what you know" Ralph Marston  (I googled for Marston and discovered that he is an author, motivational speaker and personal development expert)

This quote is wonderful and a true reflection of KM in so many ways. When people ask you "What's in it for me?", show them this quote and ask them to introspect on it for a few minutes. Even better, ask them to practice it just for a few weeks and see/feel the difference. I am convinced most of them will 'convert' to KM. I think this quote also goes a long way to show that KM is as much about personal development and individual competence improvement as it is about organizational development and benefits.


Coming to leadership and E 2.0 (KM in its new avatar ;-)) I was going through a nice Twitter moment and came up with this Tweet - "Leadership is as much about tapping into collective intelligence as it is about being visionary, influential & setting the overall direction". Nothing new in it, of course. It is obviously something that a lot of leadership experts have been talking about for ages now - especially after the increase in the number of KM initiatives within Organizations. 

But I was pondering over the fact that a wide-spread, exhaustive and intense implementation of E 2.0 tools is bound to really challenge and disrupt the routine of people who don't subscribe to this form of leadership. Most of the time, many leaders (or perhaps managers) are looking to do things very quickly and do not have the patience to consult, discuss, debate, reconsider and change their minds when needed. More importantly perhaps, they have a considerable ego or fear (like most of us human beings) that prevents them from listening to different and opposing perspectives or confessing that they made a mistake or engage in open discussions that pose a challenge in public. But E 2.0 initiatives will forcefully take them through this challenging path. A blog post can be questioned and challenged in public. A solution can be dismissed. An idea can be rejected. And so forth. Leaders must learn to and be ready to face these tough moments. Additionally, they must believe that well channeled collective intelligence is, more often than not, more valuable than individual opinions (even if it is their own) and also have the willingness, energy and the skills to tap into the former. When leaders fail to cope with this challenge, E 2.0 initiatives will fail miserably. In other words, when otherwise well-planned E 2.0 initiatives fail miserably, it can be taken as a sure sign of weak leadership.  


Here are some of my random Twitter moments:

It's sad how we want to brush aside the meaning of natural calamities & focus impatiently on how they do not allow us to get on with routine - (In response to the volcanic ash that is throwing people around or rather leaving them stranded)  - I observed that most of us react with anger and frustration and wonder why we are not allowed to go about our work/routine when such disasters strike. Even I would do the same. But shouldn't we ideally pause and wonder what the meaning of such a calamity is and what we need to do in order to salvage what is left of Mother Earth? Shouldn't we let that teach us where things are going wrong? Shouldn't we let that change our ways, thoughts and attitudes for the better? I guess there is likely to be a minute fraction of us who make such events life-changing for themselves and for others.

Another Twitter moment: Do we really know how to get to the Truth or see it in a jiffy? Truth is a thoroughly camouflaged impersonator who is also, well, elusive.  - I have some really strong thoughts on this. I think most of us make up for incomplete information and fill in the gaps and 'create' our own version of the truth. I find it hard to digest when people jump to their own conclusions and judge others in a jiffy. I would be surprised if even 1% of the people who indulge in judging others as innocent or guilty - celebrities or otherwise - know enough to do so. I suspect for most people it is just a form of entertainment or an ego-boosting exercise. There are rare occasions when I am inclined to listen to and believe such 'judgments' and those are based on clear undisputed facts, availability of multiple angles of the story, reliable statements from the person involved or involved parties, logical and unprejudiced analysis of events, specified intents and potential consequences.   

Twitter moment #3: Genuine positive energy that well-wishers shower on you is mega-powerful. It really pays to be compassionate & helpful- w/o any expectations - I am a strong believer in the concept of the existence of positive and negative energy auras around people. I recently witnessed yet another episode that proved this. I think it is really important to work on building a positive and compassionate aura around oneself. It really does wonders. When we are out to genuinely help others and be good to others, it most certainly results in them reciprocating (in intent or action) and the accumulation of such positive and compassionate auras can only result in great things. Trust me. I think each one of us ought to start such a virtual account and try hard to keep up with it till it becomes a natural habit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Goople Effect

Wonder what that is? It is something I've discovered & observed quite often and I wouldn't be surprised if it is so common and obvious that everyone is aware of this phenomena. Maybe I should just claim the ownership of the name of the effect. ;-)

The Goople Effect: The phenomena of people dropping the names of Google and Apple as examples whenever they talk about corporate entities in the context of innovation, business models, products, operational approaches, corporate attitudes, business presentations, processes, practices and just about everything. The more interesting aspect of this phenomena is that the audience normally accepts these examples and nods in agreement and rarely questions the appropriateness of the examples. 

A simpler twitterized explanation would be - Goople Effect: People dropping the names of Google & Apple as examples for everything under the sun & the audience accepting it with awe :-)

I rest my case. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcoming the CKO...

I think any organization looking for a KM Head or a CKO (for the first time) needs to ask itself a few important questions before it spends time and energy on hunting for, interviewing and negotiating with potential candidates. Even if the answer to one of these questions is a 'No' or 'Not Sure', I'd simply suggest that they go back to the whiteboard and introspect/reconsider whether they really need a serious and passionate KMer to spend all her time in attempting to set up a KM ecosystem in an environment that may possibly turn completely hostile, ineffective, cynical, or uncooperative.

Being a person who claims KM to be her core competence, I'd hardly be expected to recommend such an option (that of not employing a full-time KMer). But, seriously speaking, this is reality - some organizations are simply not ready for KM and might as well postpone or redesign their KM plans based on their internal situation and capabilities. So, if they don't answer in the affirmative to some of these questions (hold on, they are coming) and conclude that they don't really need a full-time KMer immediately, what do they do? I'm not suggesting they ignore KM altogether but what I believe is that they could as well get one of their interested Management Representatives (from another function/domain) to take up the additional (and temporary) role of a KM Lead and spend perhaps 10 to 20 % of his time on KM related activities. Till they get some basic things right. The world becomes a happier place this way. I exaggerate. (There are considerable drawbacks to employing a part-time KM Lead whose core competence lies elsewhere - May lead to short-term thinking, biased planning and implementation, incomplete perspectives, to think of a few things)

Getting down to the heart of the post, what are the questions that organizations must answer to help them realize what they really want with re. to KM?
1. Are we sure of the structure for the KM team? More importantly, where does the upward arrow for the KM Head/CKO lead to? Do we know who this person should be reporting into and WHY? Both the individual that the KM Lead will report into and the function/areas the former is responsible for must be appropriate.

2. Are we sure of setting aside a reasonable and regular budget/investment for KM? For expenses related to expertise, technology, practices, incentives, internal conferences etc? (A no-brainer of sorts but show me organizations that actually do it religiously and I'll show you one that rocks!)

3. Do we know what we want from the KM initiative, to start with? Are we ready to build on our ideas and/or reconsider our expectations and ideas once we get the KM person on board and have detailed discussions with him?

4. Do we have a honest, somewhat reliable and collective understanding of the organizational culture, its unique qualities, its strengths and weaknesses and its potential responses to KM practices (sharing, reuse, innovation, learning, mentoring, collaboration etc) (The KM Lead would find it very useful to have a heads-up on this straight from the horse's mouth)

5. Given that the KM person is new to our organization, do we have a concrete plan to bring him on-board, ramp up and get to know the key people who will in turn help him understand the business, culture and past experiments with re. to KM? In short, do we have a good and exhaustive induction plan for the KM Lead?

6. (Optional) Do we have a list of employees who will be of significant support to the KM initiative in their capacity as knowledge champions, idea-givers, firm supporters, domain experts, technical writers etc? Having such a list right at the beginning would accelerate the implementation of the KM initiative but this is something that could also be left to the KM Lead herself. Another associated piece of information likely to be very useful is the identification of pilot teams/groups.

An Interview on KM

Christian Young intends to create a section in his blog wherein he wants to put up the profiles and thoughts of other KMers who're interested in being featured there. I was one of the people he contacted and I quite enjoyed the opportunity to introspect on his KM questions. 

Area(s) of specialty/primary interest within KM?  
KM Strategies & Business Alignment, KM Implementation Methodology, KM Branding, KM & Culture, KM Technology 

What do you enjoy most and least about working in KM? 
Most – The versatility of the domain (Culture, Process, Technology, Marketing); Least – Dealing with people who simply don't want to see the big picture (read beyond themselves) or think long-term even if their life depended on it.

Seminal (must-read) article(s) or book(s) that inspire your work in KM? (does not have to be KM-related): 
I honestly attempt to find inspiration from everything I read, irrespective of whether it is a book on KM or not. In other words, I tend to draw links between KM and almost everything I read. For example, I took a stab at identifying KM lessons from Wodehouse's books, from nature, from sports teams etc. My blog has a few, ahem, amusing but imaginative articles on these lines. :-)

Best advice to KM peers and those considering a career in KM? 
For us to do well on any job, we obviously need to be in love with it. IMHO, in the case of KM, it is even more so, for most of the voices you hear are likely to be against (or ridicule) the KM vision, objectives and desires. They may perceive it to be Utopian, Abstract, Equivalent to that of Satisfying World Hunger and what not. You've got to have the conviction that what you're working on will benefit everyone and will produce the results it is expected to...sooner or later. If you are the kind of person who likes versatility, constant cultural and technological challenges, are comfortable with abstract discussions and can convert seemingly abstract concepts into no-nonsense (read effective) mechanisms/practices/tools then go for it. Needless to say, there's a lot of scope for creativity. Also, this is a field that honestly is constantly changing - new concepts, ideas, technologies, and domains - if that's any motivation!    

Specifically, what kind of KM work are you most actively engaged in and how do you accomplish this work? 
I've worked with many organizations, so my experience is somewhat diverse. I've been at the helm of handling internal KM initiatives as well as have had the opportunity to lead consulting assignments for customers. I've formulated KM strategies, conceived and supported KM branding exercises, designed and tested KM applications, built KM point solutions, evangelized and supported use of KM principles and systems, led an Intranet team and have worked on process improvements.  

As a practitioner, what have you observed as the biggest KM needs, challenges, obstacles, and/or opportunities either in your organization or within the field of KM? (Answer both, if you prefer). 
1) Needs/Challenges/Obstacles: Getting the organization or participants to understand that KM is not really a noble concept that sermonizes people to share whatever they know so the organization does not suffer when they leave. Getting the organization to understand that KM does not take away time from their work but actually contributes to it in the long run. Getting people to think big picture and long-term rather than adopt a self-centered and short-term approach. The limitations of technology, I believe, is an obstacle to KM in some ways. Most products don't go beyond file sharing and employee profiling. 2) Opportunities: The vast untapped 'KM ideas' waiting to be reaped provided the necessary resources and management support exists. Advertising and Marketing skills that can take KM to a Tipping Point. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Types of KM Strategies - Part 2

A week ago, I'd written about different types of KM strategies. That was largely a sudden flash followed by a little bit of introspection and analysis of my own experiences. John Hovell - @klowey22 - was kind enough to appreciate it and helped me take another step forward by providing me with an opportunity to talk about the post! Whether we like it or not, obviously, what most of us do most of the time is create a power point to help us present an idea to a live audience. So, that's what I did too. I used the opportunity to add some slides on examples, conclusions and a take-away summary. What do you think?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Flow - A Poetic Summary

I finished reading the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi this afternoon. It took me almost two weeks to finish it, one chapter at a time. A pretty intense book if that's any justification. A lot of research, some pretty challenging views and ideas and many great insights into the concept of human happiness and accomplishment. I especially loved the last chapter and thought it was a fitting climax to the book. I was pretty generous with my highlighter all through. Most of the time, when I finish reading a book, the inclination is to rely on the highlighted portions to summarize it on this blog. But there are times when such a task can be quite challenging. Flow is a tough book to summarize. Anyway, the book was so inspiring that I decided to attempt to be creative in my summary. For the first time, I am going to try a 'poetic' summary. What? :-)

This poem is dedicated to all those people who experience(d) Flow and use (have used) that to make a difference to this world! 

Life dealt them with many a hard blow...
But it never diminished their inherent glow! 
A purpose to be extremely proud of,
A reason to be always happy and laugh!
An intoxicated affair with life as a whole,
A mysterious relationship with one's own soul.
A well balanced approach pregnant with equanimity,
Equal attention to both the self and society. 
Goal followed by effort followed by another goal...
Little concern for the consequences or the toll! 
Placing a positive interpretation on every event, 
No time to regret, worry or repent! 
A single minded pursuit worthy of intense admiration,
Based on self-discovery & leading to true elation!
A life of meaning and harmony...
Far away from the world of money.
Many more lives they are certain to inspire, 
Tearing them away from being a victim of banal desire.
No chances of a break-down whatsoever...
Enthusiasm and passion more than the need to be clever!
No chances of giving in to adversity...
Always turning around a situation with positivity! 
That, in a nutshell, is the story of Flow,
Always on a high and never once low! 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Android Animal App

Check this page for more info and some cute pictures.  

I'd have loved Pandas, Dolphins, and more Birds to be included in the list. And don't remind me of today's date please, for all you know this may even come true in a few years' time. Go Google!