Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Raj has tagged me. I’ve been tagged before on “things people don’t know about me”. This tag is somewhat similar and is called “8 random things about me”. So, I am going to say whatever comes to my mind at this point of time. Once again, as many tags go, the post is self-indulgent. But sometimes one does enjoy such tags because it points out where one stands and how much more there is to life…..it actually brings out one’s minute dimensions in comparison with the world’s gigantic equivalent. On a more selfish note, it can help one open up and strike a chord with potential friends.

1. I am tremendously patient when it comes to serious/huge problems in life and quite impatient when it comes to many of the smaller things! Silly me!

2. I laugh like there’s no tomorrow for the silliest of things and don’t care when others don’t seem to find it equally funny (all it means is that they’ve forgotten how to enjoy life!) :D

3. I love to make people laugh and generally resort to ridiculous and pun-based humor (Thus the interest in PLUM, C&H, Asterix and Obelix…)

4. I love watching mother nature in solitude. I love to inconspicuously observe naughty children and pets and relish their reactions when they are caught red-handed. Talented children bring tears of joy to my eyes.

5. I sometimes feel I have too many interests in life and that makes it difficult for me to become an expert in areas outside my core profession (KM). But I do like being a Jill of all trades………

6. I am so obsessed about music that I pray to God to make me a great singer in my next lifetime (The only solace is that I play a bit of guitar in this life)

7. I am a natural introvert who has gradually evolved into a semi introvert/semi extrovert. But when it comes to bonding with people, I let my intuition dictate and generally have a lot of fun with people who are on the same wavelength. I generally hit it off well with children. I feel at home with people who are genuine, fun-loving, and share at least some similar interests. Once I begin to like a person, it’s very hard for me to see/register any negative qualities in him/her thereafter. I (blush) have typically fallen for musical and literary talent/ vision & intelligence/ wit and sense of humor/genuineness, good nature and simplicity. If all these come together in one package, I may find it next to impossible to refrain from gushing and gaping in awe at the subject under question

8. I love being silly & goofy as well as feel good getting into a spiritual and philosophical mood and can comfortably switch between the two ‘profiles’. I sometimes suspect that people find it difficult to understand me because of such contradictions and they wonder how I might want to be on both ends of the illusory spectrum.

I don’t believe in passing on tags that have negative conditions/tell people something will not work out if they don’t pass on the tag etc. So, I shall take the liberty of removing the last condition from the tag. Just take the tag and pass it on to 8 of your friends. To reiterate, I am leaving out the negative condition(s) and ‘am tagging……

Gautam – my blog mentor. The person who introduced me to blogs and helped me start 3 odd years ago. Also the person who I pick up a lot of business knowledge from….

Sari – A cool friend of mine who is quite unconventional and extremely talented. She truly belongs to another world :D

Ilker – A very kind fellow-blogger who made me feel special by giving me the ‘Thinking Blogger’ recognition.

Matt – A KMer friend with whom I’ve exchanged occasional thoughts on KM.

Dale – A new Canadian fellow-blogger also interested in KM and Innovation

Ashwini – A friend who is always there to listen and lend some sensible advice to me…

Peter – A new friend from the KM world…….

Pragz – A new friend who joins my unusual list (I’ve no idea on what basis I choose people to be a part of this list but it happens more or less sub-consciously) of people I love to tease and tickle (genuine giggles and guffaws from the audience make my day)

The rules....
-Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
-People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
-At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Silly or what?

My sentiments echo Horace’s - "Mix a little foolishness with your prudence. It's good to be silly at the right moment." Sometimes, such an attitude yields results that would have never ever come about otherwise.

The child is the father of the man!!

Gautam has a cute and insightful post here. I’ve said this before and will say it again….being with kids teaches us a lot! If you thought your kids need to learn from your experiences and don’t inherently know anything, think again. You might realize in no time that the benefits are mutual….there’s a lot that we need to learn from them – directly or indirectly!


Raj had stopped blogging for some time earlier last year and I was one of those who were disappointed as he used to post primarily on spirituality. I myself have been a bit cut off from the world of online information for a while because of which I did not realize this earlier - I am extremely glad to see that he’s made a comeback of sorts. Check out his wonderful post on questioning! Note: Raj has tagged me on one of his more recent posts and I shall be putting up a response to the tag very soon…

Newspaper on the PC...

Hadn’t come across this kind of a website earlier! It certainly would be a boon for people who find it difficult to get away from the conventional newspaper habit and are not so happy with online versions that contain pages that look like regular HTML pages. But this service, unfortunately, isn’t for free and seems to be targeted only at NRIs. :(

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Monkey Dance

After what seems like a loooong time, I am back at my laptop typing away some nonsense on a weekend. I’ve either been traveling or too tired to write during the weekends for a few months now (except on a few occasions). This Saturday seems to have brought me back to my erstwhile weekend routine for a few reasons that I don’t have to waste your time explaining. But, what do you know, I don’t mind wasting your time with a goofy post instead. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping my goofiness at times. I’ve tried my best. If not one way, it’s got to be in another way. :) But honestly, being goofy helps improve creativity, happiness, and blah blahh. What’s more, it may make at least some souls in the audience laugh. Try it. Forget your age. If you don’t believe me, ask Scot Adams and the like. (You couldn’t have asked anyone better than PLUM had he been alive) If you’re a person who takes age seriously and is of the opinion that with increasing age goofiness ought to slowly fade away, I suggest that you seriously think again! :D Cackle. Hoo. Ha.

I’ve been madly in love with….music ever since the first song I heard which I think must have definitely been one composed by Ilaiyaraja, the uncrowned King of music in my opinion. I haven’t found dance equally appealing though. But there have been some friends who’ve influenced me enough for me to understand the joy in dance as well. Overall, I’ve not tried my hand (or should I say leg?) at dance or choreography except on a few occasions when I felt that the audience was brave enough to withstand tremendous pressure. And, well, the audience – admittedly - was no more than me myself on some of the aforementioned occasions. Stop. Don’t dial that medical-emergency number. Explore the world and you’ll find many other people who’ve choreographed to their heart’s content in solitude. All said and done, choreography is not monkey business. Though I understand the figurative value of that statement, I saw no harm in taking some monkey steps, literally. I was listening to some extremely peppy music this morning and had this sudden inspiration to invite this completely flexible beanie monkey toy I bought recently to be a part of the experience. To my joy, I found that it was amazingly easy to play the role of the Director of Choreography and make the monkey shake a leg or two, a hand or two, a neck, a body and even a tail. It was a cake-walk. It was a cake-dance, actually. I seriously began to feel that I could have made my millions had I chosen choreography as my career. It may not be too late, don’t you think?

Anyways, you may change your mind on seeing the photograph below. While I was excited about my so-far-undiscovered-talent emerging to the forefront on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the monkey looked quite tired and was apparently seeing stars post the experience. My new signature carries Tao Te Ching’s quote “Whatever is flexible and flowing will tend to grow, whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die.” But Mr. Monkey, something tells me, thinks that it’s exactly the opposite. What? :D

PS: I don't seem to be able to upload the photo as of now. Will try again...should be able to help Mr.Monkey gain some publicity for all the hard work he put in! ;) Okay! I managed to bring him to the 'post' finally....! :) Ignore the date on the photo....I did not bother to change it on my camera.....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mind your Faith....!

In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true, either is true, or becomes true. - John Lilly

Is that why people tell you to watch your thoughts and beliefs?! But, of course, we are only talking about one’s own life here. I really think positively worded self-affirmation in combination with meditation and prayers works wonders. If one wants to turn around something in one’s life, one ought to try a combination of these.

Where the faith is unshakeable, what one wants becomes the unshakeable truth…..! That’s one of life’s wonderful rules, to those who are ‘willing’ to discover it.

Someone knows you!

“The world can stop you only temporarily. The only one who can stop you permanently is yourself.”

Someone sent me this quote a while ago. If you happen to need it, do take it :D. I don’t know who said it though. But whoever said it definitely knows the world and you (even if you don’t know him/her! ;)). :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ambidextrous Organizations!

Interesting article......on a subject that has puzzled me quite a bit time and again. But honestly, the article doesn’t really point me to the solutions I’ve been scouting for. Holistic case studies stuffed with many on-the-ground stories from the so-called ambidextrous organizations would help sceptical people see for themselves! Do you have any experiences or for that matter other articles to share? :-)

PS: My previous post on this topic and a closely related topic.

Brain Rain...

Via Ilker! Cool site to exercise your brain! Sharpen your Attention, Processing, and Memory....! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What is KM?

What do you think about this?
I'll come back and provide some text to go with it in the next few days. :)

Okay - Finally - here's the text. People keep looking at KM as something different from what businesses do everyday. I just wanted to prove that KM is nothing but an attitude....an approach towards work! And this map hopefully helps me do that?????? What?

PS: I am sorry if I gave you the feeling I am going to say lots more :D....I realized that the map itself has anyway most of the text that is required to convey my idea/thoughts!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Can we manage knowledge?

When I asked the visitors to this blog for ideas on what to talk about on KM, Peter posed a fundamental but intriguing and important question: Recently, I have been confronted with "KMers" (not sure I agree that they are) that consider that you can only manage information and not knowledge because "knowledge" is only in people's minds, and that what can be communicated is only "information". What would be your arguments to support the view that knowledge can be "managed" and is not only found in our minds?

(Ni)Me says: Peter, thanks for helping me go back to the basics and re-think on a really important aspect of KM. Is KM an oxymoron or not is a question that many people have raised in the past and continue to raise even today. There is a school of thought that believes that knowledge cannot be managed because everything that can be labeled as knowledge lies between the ears of human beings and these human beings walk out, carrying this knowledge with them, at the end of the day. This school of thought also perhaps believes that whatever is extracted/drawn out from people is not equivalent to knowledge once it is extracted/drawn out. It loses a particular attribute of itself that converts it into bare information the minute it is extracted - The human mind retains the cognitive clothing. Now, how much of truth does this perspective carry as seen through my eyes is perhaps what I need to delve into in this post! :)

Human beings are carriers of knowledge, not just carriers but generators, and processors of knowledge. Would managing people (the HR turf) be the equivalent of managing knowledge then? I think so! Now, that is a very simplistic view of managing knowledge according to me! If you’re managing your people, you’re, in a way, managing your knowledge! If you’re capable of inducing people to generate ideas, share thoughts, collaborate, apply their knowledge, learn continuously and act upon what they’re learning – bingo, you are indeed managing the knowledge of the organization! So, am I saying that all we have to do is replace the KM function with the HR function and say there’s nothing else to do to manage knowledge? No! Managing something (content) by managing the container that contains it is not exactly the same as managing the content itself, but it does come close! ;)

Is it really true that ‘knowledge’ when ‘outside’ a person’s head is information and absolutely nothing more? I don’t think so. A concept that I’ve come across when discussing knowledge sharing with some KMers is that of deciding whether the knowledge that has to be shared is of the type that can be just pointed to, or is of the type that has to be told about or has to be actually shown/demonstrated. Thus, when we can simply point to something or explain something, we are passing on not just plain information but adding to it our own experiences, opinions, intuitive feelings etc. When we show or demonstrate something, we cannot possibly help the knowledge seeker replicate our methods immediately or as is but we do succeed in sharing some components of our knowledge. Assuming that the knowledge sharer and seeker are both genuinely interested in the exercise and are using the right tools and methods, through a repeated process, we succeed in transferring quite a significant amount of knowledge. It is important to understand that the ‘knowledge’ transfer is complete only when we explain the reasons, causes, logic and the intricacies of the action under question. Basically, the knowledge transfer is effective when we explain the Why and How of things to the knowledge seeker….else, it may be safely declared that what is transferred is nothing more than information. Knowledge equips the knowledge seeker to think on her own some time down the line, analyze things by herself, understand the methodology and apply concepts and tools in future situations without requiring external support. Thus, true knowledge sharing happens when the knowledge sharers go beyond the ordinary – go an extra mile - and become true mentors and coachers. Thus, it is possible to connect the knowledge sharers with the seekers, help them share knowledge in such a way that it makes a difference to both the entities and thus helps the organization manage its knowledge. Because managing knowledge means ensuring that it flows between different entities, gets used and leveraged upon and gets enhanced by the inclusion of multiple perspectives.

An organization that combines various pieces of information and in order to lead to action and continuously works on aspects like embedding something in an existing process can be said to be managing knowledge because it is leveraging on knowledge from a long-term perspective. It has to be ensured that the process also captures the Why, Who and guidelines for the How so as to be sustained in the long run. When people who use the process understand why it is done that way, they are gaining knowledge and not just information. As long as the why and how are understood, it does qualify to be called knowledge rather than information. Because it equips the receiver to then think and apply the concepts on her own.

Digressing a bit and going into a day-to-day example, superstitions, for example, are labeled so when there is no information about the reasoning behind them. The minute such a ‘belief’ is backed by the why (and how wherever applicable), it ceases to be bare information and becomes richer knowledge because it allows knowledge seekers to understand, evaluate, agree/disagree and use it in their own lives!

Oops. Looks like I’ve ended up writing an article in response to Peter’s query! :D But what I’d like to know from Peter and everyone else who’s interested is whether I’ve hit the nail on the head or left you feeling like using the hammer to hit mine. Let me know…! ;)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Perseverance......to.......Justice - The Wait! (or the Bait?)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."

I’ve generally believed in the benefits of perseverance and have experienced it first hand as well. All one has to have are the maturity and the determination to be patient enough when things are outside one’s control while at the same time furiously trying to make some progress with things under one’s control. But when it involves justice - I caught myself wondering this morning – what difference does it make when you’ve spent a large chunk of your life struggling for it after not having got it by default in the first place? What’s more, one would have also, meanwhile, suffered so many of the painful consequences of injustice! When justice finally arrives – I continue to be an optimist despite all odds :D – can it compensate and make up for all the - sometimes irrecoverable - losses except to prove that justice is indeed alive and not completely dead? Hey, that reminds me of “Justice delayed is justice denied” - Doesn’t sound good at all! :(. While on this topic I am also reminded of Calvin’s somewhat relevant and handy quip (again!), “Why is life never unfair in my favour?

On the positive side, Calvin’s Dad’s occasional remark about difficulties and problems “building character” may sound better. :) And well, even Gandhi’s “My life is my message!” So, what’s your message in response to this post? I’m extremely eager to exchange thoughts on this topic.

PS: Peter/Srini, I am not neglecting your triggers on what I could talk about next on KM! :) Apologies for the delay. I should be putting up my thoughts on Peter’s question about whether we can really manage ‘knowledge’ and Srini’s suggestion on “retention of knowledge” very soon. Have collated some of my thoughts on these topics….but need to package it.

Is life a dream?

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." - J. K. Rowling

Intriguing quote, considering who it comes from – A person who makes a living (grand one at that) out of her dreams. :D

Knowledge->Information->Communication->Language and Context

A recent discussion that I was a part of, involved looking at the role of language and communication skills in the context of Knowledge Management. Opinions were varied and interesting to analyze. I thought I’d attempt to collect my own thoughts on this topic by blogging about it – one of the best ways for a person of my sort. Needless to say, I look forward to opinions from readers – complementary or otherwise.

If one were to take a case involving a knowledge seeker and knowledge sharer, how important is it - in the context of KM - that the knowledge seeker has reasonably good language and communication skills? How important is it that the knowledge seeker be able to articulate her context, problem and specific assistance required to the knowledge sharer? “Very important” may sound like a no-brainer! Now, add to the context the fact that the knowledge seeker and the knowledge sharer are not face to face and the communication is written (to start with) and the knowledge sharer and seeker are both anonymous (that is, the knowledge seeker posts a query to a set of experts out of which she expects a few to respond). How much more significant does the role of language and communication skills now become? I don’t have to answer that, do I? :)

So, given that it is quite important to articulate queries well enough to extract appropriate and spontaneous responses from experts who are otherwise busy, what should the KM function (which is likely to be responsible for such a process) do? Does it wash its hands off as this is too fundamental a problem to handle or does it step in and influence the stakeholders and contribute to the process in such a way that the knowledge sharing that happens is more efficient and effective? How is it handled in your organization/organizations you know? Here are some initial thoughts from me.

-As a proactive step, the KM function ought to be in a position to easily convince and influence the organization and its training/learning arm(s) to improve the overall communication competencies of its workforce. An analogy that comes to mind is that of bringing up children – when one wants to influence them in certain ways and that is not completely under one’s control, it is important to influence their teachers in school to get things done. We can’t and for that matter don’t step away from the need…!

-As a reactive step, the KM function ought to be able to lend assistance to knowledge seekers who require and request for assistance in articulating their problem

Additionally, I think there is a need to bring in another dimension to this discussion. More often than not, a lot of knowledge seekers underestimate the importance of the context while seeking knowledge. Sometimes, they are too lazy to elaborate on the context and assume that the gist of the situation is likely to bring forth the solution from experts. The latter may in reality not be able to put together the small pieces of information emerging from such communication and fill in the gaps and get a view of the big picture. Or even worse, in complex situations, the experts may assume quite a few things and provide inappropriate solutions! Life is not simple, is it?!! In such situations, what should the KM function do? Adopt proactive and reactive methods to educate the workforce about the importance of communicating the context and also to help build the context by using skilled resources who can ask the right questions!! What do you think?

PS: Sometimes, when life brings out a symptom (example) which may not completely and/or accurately represent a problem, we sometimes react to just that particular symptom/example rather than look deeper and identify the underlying issue and solve a problem that is bound to make huge noise about its own existence in just a matter of time. Life is entertaining!

Collaboration and Leadership

Read a C&H strip today wherein Calvin’s dad says “If anything works in this world, it’s because one of us took charge”. Boy, he may have not spoken a truer word!

It’s difficult to sell the concept of collaboration to some because they aren’t patient enough to go that route, are not able to see its benefits, don’t have the people skills required to think and work together, are self-centred, are over-confident about their own abilities, would rather let their own accomplishments shine than end up sharing credit with others for an ultimately better result etc. It’s easy to sell collaboration to some because they are so lazy that they’d rather a lot of other people do the work while they just pop into the crowd once in a while and make others believe they have a role to play, are just plain uninterested and would rather not take any ownership and let others do all the work while they quietly relax in the background, believe they don’t have what it takes so they’d rather watch others work etc.

In the sessions wherein I’ve introduced the concept of collaboration, once I’ve attempted to convey the benefits of collaboration and pointed out the constraints that it operates under, I’ve always loved to point out the paradox of collaboration. Collaboration is wonderful when people are good at it and understand the intricacies of how to think and work together, but all said and done, there needs to be a leader who occupies the post at the steering wheel whenever that is called for.

I’d like to pass on Calvin’s dad’s message to any of us who mistakenly assumed collaboration helps avoid such ownership. Collaboration is essential; it is amazing; it is challenging; and it delivers wonderful results when done the right way. Leadership is inevitable, if results are to be achieved.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tom Davenport on The Next Big Thing

I did a little bit of reading after quite a significant information-hiatus. Hoping to be able to read some more over the next few days; at least read something that would be enough to get the grey cells reasonably excited.

What I read – TD’s blog on the next big thing.

What I think and said in response -

Thought-provoking article, Tom! I am personally going through experiences that reiterate your thoughts on information consumption. Reminds me of the global rule in economics - that of demand-supply. When there is no dearth of supply, the consumers are on top. They decide things. The suppliers are fighting amongst themselves. But consumers better not miss out on what could be the most important information from their perspective because of the chaos in the information market. Becomes increasingly important for information suppliers to innovate and distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.

I agree with Narayan (see Tom's blog for Narayan's comments). I myself have been staying away from information for a while just to give myself some introspection time. Ironically, this is perhaps the first article that I am reading after my information-hiatus.

Let's look at where this is going to perhaps lead us. We have RSS readers to subscribe to just the kind of information we are interested in. But we end up subscribing to more than what we can digest in the long run. Does this mean we are back to square one? Will "search" continue to hold the reins? Yes, it is likely to. I think this is also going to lead to some room for people who are good at information assimilation, analysis, packaging and delivery. I am talking about this from the perspective of current scales of information. Advisors. Content Managers. Information Analysts. A team of such people who can help senior executives make decisions or simply sharpen their intuitive abilities will come at a premium. People who can capture the gist of lengthy articles will be celebrated. Which reminds me, I better stop rambling now! :)

Would love to know what the world thinks....

Friday, June 01, 2007

ThinKing about KM...

It's been a while since I put up anything substantial and fresh on KM. :(
Life has been bringing forth so many of its other dimensions to me that KM has had to sit at the back and whistle away patiently. The KMer in me wants KM back at the front. :) So, I am going to be reading up a bit and thinking about something interesting to discuss. Have you any suggestions or questions for me? Twinkle....twinkle.... :)