Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Google Vs Wikipedia

Bill talks about Google's potential decline in the wake of more sophisticated versions of Wikipedia. Being a big fan of Google, I am not sure I know how to respond, without getting a bit emotional. But then I am a fan of Wikipedia as well. :-) Coincidentally, the other day, when I was in a local KM community meeting, someone spoke about an article that apparently suggests that the birth of effective and meaningful social networking hints at the death of search. That was surely an Aa..ha! moment for me and I continue to entertain the idea. (After all, it is akin to organizational KM's shift from repositories to communities...isn't it?) Only time can tell how true this prediction is going to turn out to be. But here's some food for thought....whenever I want to learn about something brand new, I tend to visit the Wikipedia while I go to Google if I am looking for a specific article or ideas on something I am somewhat familiar with. Does this tell you something? And, btw, how do you choose between W and G?

Bill points to this elaborate article on Google Vs Wikipedia 3.0.

Update: Atul's interpretation of this post has made this debate/dialogue even more interesting. Go here to read his thoughts and my response to them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Intelligence is Diverse, Dynamic and Distinct

Thanks to @gapingvoid for his tweet link. This video is absolutely brilliant indeed! Ken Robinson is hilarious and extremely thought-provoking. His remark, "Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct" and his subsequent classification of intelligence should find essential application in the way children are understood and brought-up. I don't know about other countries, but his talk seems incredibly relevant in the Indian context.

On a related note...many of you may have come across T-Shirt art that proclaims "I was born brilliant. Education ruined me!" and I've believed that to be very close to the truth rather than a sort of half-truth or a complete joke.

PS: The original video is here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prosperity Index

The last time I got really involved and excited about deciphering and analyzing such a matrix was, I think, when I worked on some assignments in the Economics class. Thanks to MT for pointing to this intriguing report.

Believe me, this index can really challenge some of your beliefs if you're looking at it for the first time. Some of the discoveries as reflected in the Index reminds me of the proverbial battle between perception and reality (reality here means government-generated numbers and surveys which, of course, can also be challenged). I think it is fascinating to see the correlation between the last two parameters of the index - Religious Freedom vs Religious Belief. (I find the whole concept of including 'Social Supports' parameters in this index to be a very worthwhile idea.). What can possibly surprise you is the discovery that India does well on the 'Low Unemployment' column and does not do as well as we might have generally imagined on the 'Religious Belief' column.....what with India being considered the spiritual capital of the world. Australia tops the overall ranking. Singapore tops the Economic Competitiveness ranking (and, of course, the 'Commercializing Innovation' ranking). South Korea's high ranking on the 'Commercializing Innovation' column goes a long way to reiterate how the country has leaped into the limelight over the past decade or so. India does not do well in the 'Better Education' column! :-( And no surprises on discovering that European countries are great on the 'Comparative Liveability' parameters.

There's no end to the number of indirect discoveries and conclusions one can arrive at based on each of these columns and, of course, based on correlations between some of the columns. If you happen to make some interesting discoveries, please do leave your thoughts here.

PS: Can't help wondering about the direct and indirect implications of the countries' performance in the 'Better Education' and 'Community Life' columns, in the context of KM and Collaboration....! ;-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Music Madness

This one's taken a long time coming. This is a song that I should have ideally raved about long back, given that it has a huge impact on me every time I listen to it. And, ironically, I should have at least spoken about this song in lieu of its unsuccessful attempt at getting me into serious trouble.

But first things first. Why do I like this song so much? Because it is a complete package...with so many wonderful dimensions to it.

music has been composed by the one and only Maestro, Ilayaraja and the way it reflects the mood of the song to perfection can very well go into the encyclopedia of music.

lyrics are so moving that it leaves me quite speechless.The urge to memorize the lines is unavoidable even for a person who is more musically inclined like yours truly.

The actress,
Sridevi, is a favourite. One of the few Indian actresses who can claim to be genuinely versatile and amazingly talented. Her Charlie Chaplin act in Mr.India left me in complete awe of her. If she isn't brilliant....then I don't know brilliance when I spot it. And of course, in this very song, her talent for acting oozes out of every single frame.

And then...the voice!
Suresh Wadkar! Ah! There is something about his voice that awakens my soul...
And not to forget....I'd perhaps give a million dollars to see the live performance of the flock of birds from 00.20 mins to 00.26 mins. And perhaps another million for a rendezvous with the cute puppy that tags along with the actors. :-)

Overall, this song is a heady mix that puts me in a trance. It is the first
play list on my iPOD. Hold on. You read it right. It is a play list....a play list with just one song. :-P

Coming to the experience that I alluded to earlier, the story goes like this. It was one of those fresh and delightful mornings and I was staring at the world with unseeing eyes on my way to office when the radio station that we had tuned into decided to do the morning air and me a musical favour and played this song. I was getting to hear it after a long gap on that, the unexpected joy made me rediscover nature. (
Umm. I told you it puts me in a trance!) Unable to experience the joy alone, I turned around and grinned at my co-passengers in glee. To my utter disappointment, no one even noticed. In retrospect, I think that should read "To my utter joy, no one noticed". If anyone had, I am sure I would have had to look for alternative transportation the very next day or perhaps agree to be accompanied by a psychiatrist from then on. How about you? Are there any songs that make you behave like you just escaped from the zoo? Eh?

Friday, October 10, 2008

See What I Found... :-)

I loved reading this post! Maybe because I have a thing for enthusiasm and expertise (knowledge) :-)
It also led me to another wonderful post on passion, on the same blog. And do follow these posts to catch up with amazing blog conversations, from some really thoughtful (and passionate) people!!

I left some excited comments and thought I'd reproduce one of them here...for it provided me with a wonderful opportunity to reconsider and collate many of my previous musings on the topic of competition and passion.


Brilliant post and, once again, brilliant conversation as well! It feels so good to see your posts provoking such introspective and genuine conversations. :) Here are some additions to this wonderful conversation.

- I suggest that all the people who are passionate about passion and success read the book Success Vs Joy by Geeth Sethi. It is simply awesome. Check out some of my comments on the book here

- And check out some of the things I discovered and wrote about with re. to competition



here - (Even I believe Google is what it is more because of its own passion rather than an intention to do better than others)


and here

and here as well

- Finally, I shall play my own devil's advocate - Gary Kasparov says he is what he is because of Karpov! See this. ( can't expect simple and unilateral solutions to life's complexities!)

Waiting to see more such conversations on topics close to my heart! :-)

Making it Simpler is Simply Stupid

Next time someone says "Keep it simple, stupid" when you think you've tried your best to simplify and don't deserve to be at the receiving end of the much abused KISS principle....try this - "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." And, hey, do tell them it was Albert Einstein who said it. Har Har. ;-P

PS: Finally, if you feel like, you can also tell them that I told you to tell them. Stop. Something tells me I must learn to make everything complex but not complexer!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

KM - Best Practices


KM Queries

KM - Training Needs

KM - Competency and Skill

KM - Organizational Knowledge Base

KM - Individual Domain Knowledge

KM - Project Management


How does KM help in the identification of Best Practices?

Does KM drive or simply enable this? Drive

Traditionally: In earlier times, I guess most of the best practices would be left to the management to be discovered and spread across the organization. Benchmarking practices, meanwhile, would enable formal best practices transfer from across the industry. Apart from discoveries and promotion by the senior management, board meetings and internal conferences would perhaps serve as a convenient platform for identifying, discovering and sharing of best practices within the organization. Word of mouth would probably be heavily relied upon among other things.

KM’s value-add: KM can bring in a formal process for best practice identification and transfer and can also provide an efficient technical platform for the purpose. KM can also add value by targeting tangible business benefits from best practices transfer and formally monitoring and reporting these benefits to the top management. This in turn will provide more tangible reasons for its pursuit.

The idea: One of the best examples of how KM can drive best practices transfer can be found in the book Learning to Fly. Please read my previous post on this here. This book outlines every detail that one may require in planning and executing a best practices transfer initiative. Starting from bringing people together, identifying best practices, deciding on who should learn from whom, how it can be sustained and monitored etc. For organizations really serious about best practices transfer, the KM team can be engaged to even develop exclusive dashboards that help the top management perceive the benefits and progress.

The details- culture, process and technology: The culture will have to be driven by the top management, exclusive campaigns and advertisements, incentives and recognition for sharing and reusing best practices and so on. The process is best explained in Learning to Fly. The technology could be in the form of a platform for listing and rating best practices, forming groups of people who want to learn from the group that shares – repository, discussion boards etc, and a dashboard for monitoring the progress and benefits of the best practices initiative.

The Logic of Analogy

On my mind this morning.....if you can churn out accurate, interesting and thought-provoking analogies on the spur of the moment, you will make a great trainer/coach, be capable of influencing people, sound intriguing and convincing, make for an entertaining speaker, and even stimulate more ideas. So, how can we possibly become good 'analogy generators'? There are two things that occur to me -

a) read a lot - vertically (specific subjects covered in depth) as well as horizontally (variety)
b) learn to be creative, that is, learn to make connections where they are not so evident!

On the other side, interestingly enough, even force-fitting an analogy between two unrelated fields may lead to surprising and exciting discoveries or perhaps - once in a long while - result in an innovative idea worth pursuing. Analogies can, I believe, create new paradigms.

Observation: I have noticed that Spiritual thought-leaders, more often than not, make good use of analogies. I guess they are forced to do so. Otherwise, they are likely to be perceived as vague and assumed to be in the realm of abstraction!

What is (are) your favourite analogy(analogies)?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Emotions - Influence - Crowds

Not so new. But good reading. Focuses on emotions in the context of accepting advice.
Brings out the importance of understanding the subject's emotions - state of mind - before attempting to influence her. This is a bit of a digression, but as a KMer, I not only 'am thinking of influencing individuals but also groups of people - mass communication - and that is a different ball-game altogether. It is a paradox that influencing a crowd can either be very difficult due to there being a complex set of independant minds or very easy due to there being a flavour of herd mentality. But then, one must remember that herd mentality cannot be sustained and can only cause harm because of its sole reliance on emotions.

Laughing Riot

I watched this 1941 black-n-white movie on TV yesterday and enjoyed it immensely! Makes me smile even now. (I love B&W movies!) I just stopped short of rolling on the floor and laughing at times. At first, it seems like an absolutely lighthearted, silly, slap-stick comedy with no care for logic or maturity. But underneath the veil of comedy, there were a couple of important and not-so-hidden messages for the people of that era (and maybe even for us). A delightful sugar coated pill, in short. Apart from the humor, the content of the messages was another reason why I enjoyed the movie. It appears to be one of the oldest movies celebrating the concept of feminism....or at least equality....and it indirectly celebrates literacy as well. Overall, it was a ridiculous and jolly riot worth every frame.

The hero and his male servant were tremendous with their expressions and the latter's character was that of a typical illiterate and dumb villager who is capable of following orders without any thought whatsoever. The movie has its leading women helping their husbands with their education! :-) I was so kicked about this movie that I decided to check out Wikipedia for information on it and was not disappointed. Wikipedia has everything under the sun! :-) This movie will bring a smile to my face whenever I think of it. Sabash Sabapathy!! :-D

Update: Here's a link to the movie in the IMDB, with a positive review! And I just realized that this is akin to Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster stories except that Bertie has the most intelligent companion in Jeeves.

Social Media in Business

This is a brilliant all-in-one list of how organizations are making use of Social Media (Blogs, Wikis, Microblogs, Communities: discussion boards, networks, second life, Video, Podcasts, Photos, Mashups, Voting, Crowdsourcing, Meetup, Bookmarking, Widgets). The most popular, not surprisingly, seem to be Blogs, Microblogs and Communities. Goes a long way to show how social media can change the face of business. Be it communication, branding, interaction, feedback, innovation et al. I am ready to bet my last rupee that these things are and will continue to be brilliant for businesses (and non-profit), really. But only if the entity under question is so passionate and innovative that it stands out of the crowd and knows exactly what it wants out of the web 2.0 paradigm. It cannot be there to just join the bandwagon. There is so much information out there in the WWW that it will turn out to be nothing more than a sticky and horrifying mess of posts, tweets, questions, discussions, forums, files and utilities if there is no method to the madness. (What a paradox, eh? Leveraging on crowd power is by the show of leadership and highlighting differences from the rest of the corporate crowd!).

Hat-tip: Thanks to Dina for her tweet pointing to this list! :-)

The Little Treasures of Life

From today's DailyOM. Comes at a great time. What a pleasant surprise just after my previous post on happiness! :-) I really loved reading this and think you will too!

Treasure Hunting
Discovering the Little Things that Make Us Happy

Life is full of little wonders that can make us happy. The sound of a baby’s laughter, a good book, the comforting smell of a favorite old sweatshirt, and the warmth from a cup of hot tea are simple pleasures that can easily put smiles on our faces. These “little things” are easily accessible to us and can be sources for finding happiness. A key to doing so is taking the time to put those rose colored glasses from childhood back on so you can easily find the joy in all the “little things” that life has to offer.

Finding a puppy rummaging through the laundry basket, trying on that perfect shade of lipstick, or discovering the extra change you left in your back pocket can turn into moments of delight. Like kids digging in the sandbox for buried trinkets, we may even begin to experience happiness when we engage in the seemingly mundane. Figuring out a software program can feel like deciphering a treasure map, and that first sip of tea in the morning can taste like a forbidden delicacy. Swaying to music playing on the radio can turn into an interpretive jig, riding a bike can seem like flying to the moon, and getting a phone call from that special someone can feel like winning the lottery. A pickup game of basketball becomes an exciting match among champions, and observing an elderly couple walking hand in hand can turn into a meditation on peace and contentment.

When we begin rediscovering that the little things in life can make us happy, we naturally want to share this joy with others. We may gush over a friend when we run into them unexpectedly, praise a street musician for their talents, or blow bubbles for the neighborhood kids to chase. We may even start to think of the little things we can do to make other people happy, which in turn makes us happy all over again. There is an endless supply of little things and little moments that can make us happy. All we have to do is look for them, and they’ll magically start to appear.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy Pursuits or Pursuit of Happiness....?

Dave Pollard points to this article on the pursuit of happiness. I couldn't agree more with the author, John Barlow. John says one ought not to pursue 'happiness' but realize that happiness comes free with (primarily?) four acts. Well, one can always argue that what it means is that we should nevertheless pursue something or the other! As in the four activities that John advocates in order to experience happiness. But,hey, don't you think all is well as long as we know how to be 'really' finding and doing what makes us happy. To be honest, I personally believe that in most cases people don't pursue happiness per se, but genuinely go looking for something that they can do to be happy. Or, yes, they get so distracted by the challenges and unpredictability of life that they are unable to experience even the extremely obvious happiness that stares them in the face all the time.

John says "I have found four qualities that I believe naturally enrich the ecology of joy. When I'm capable of sustaining them, they sustain me and continue to do so even in these strange days. They are: a sense of mission, the casual service of others, the solace of little delights, and finally, love for its own sake". In his article, when he elaborates upon the sense of mission, he goes on to say how being creative (in the pursuit of a mission) can make one experience great joy. (Yeah!)

It is the sense of mission that all of us need to have or find. It is the creative outlet that we all need to discover. Casual service for others as John explains it should be a lot easier than we think. Coming to the little delights of life, they are extremely easy to spot for some and pathetically unobservable for others. I have no clue how anyone can be taught to appreciate the scurrying of the squirrel, the forlorn look in the eyes of a pup, the mirth of a child, the flight of a flock of casual birds, the orange sunset on a beach, the sound of a flute and so on. I suspect it has to be there...within be able to find the awesomeness of such seemingly mundane things. And then, we have finding joy through love. I guess it is easy to fall in love but the difficulty is rather in sustaining it! And that's because love is rarely unconditional. And even if you expect nothing in particular from others, the complexity of handling love increases as we get into situations involving misconceptions, lack of transparency, deceit, selfishness and what not. So, is it a blind obsession of sorts for mankind that presents itself as a solution? Duh! Maybe! More understandably, it may not necessarily be in ignoring such problems that you get joy, but in being able to accept and get over them (forget and forgive) for your own sake. So, let's listen to the story of Jack... :-)

Jack had found his mission in life

For it filled him with immense passion and purpose

And there was no sense of strife

It made him stretch and learn

And made him believe he was a significant part of this wonderful world

It made him jump out of the bed every morning

He loved helping others whenever he could

At work and outside of it

He enjoyed nature, music, children and art

He had a family and friends he loved from the bottom of his heart

He knew how to give. He also knew to forgive and forget.

Jack was, truly, a happy man...!

So, the answer, I presume may lie in these - large and little - happy pursuits rather than the pursuit of happiness for its own sake.

PS: Attachment to God and detachment from everything mortal and temporary - worldly - is seen as another happy pursuit in the Indian context. And this is generally what most Indian housewives (of the previous generation) want to engage themselves in, to get away from the so-called pangs of life.

KM - Project Management


KM - Identification of Training Needs

KM - Competency and Skill

KM - Organizational Knowledge Base

KM - Individual Domain Knowledge

How does KM enable Project Management?

I had taken a stab at this last year and believe that it answers the above query even though it does not adopt the framework I have been using to answer other queries from this set.

KM - Individual Domain Knowledge


KM - Identification of Training Needs

KM - Competency and Skill

KM - Organizational Knowledge Base

How does KM help in Building Individual Domain Knowledge?

I don't see this to be very different from the way I responded to the third question on Competency and Skill. It is the building of knowledge and the application of it that eventually leads to improved competency and skill.

KM - Organizational Knowledge Base


KM - Identification of Training Needs

KM - Competency and Skill

How does KM help in Building Organizational Knowledge Base?

Would KM drive this need or simply enable it? Driver

Traditionally: People keep their knowledge artifacts with themselves and use it whenever they need it. They approach others in their teams and networks for help in case they do not have the required knowledge artifact. Sharing proactively is limited to the distribution of the artifacts via email if the employee feels like. Storage and retrieval is entirely based on the individual’s style of managing content. When someone picks up something from the internet, he would download the file and maybe create a personal bookmark of the source.

So, What is KM’s Value-add? KM can bring in clear objectives in terms of the knowledge that needs to be managed, analysis of what knowledge is required, where it can be found or created, how it can be created and managed, who are the key people and also why it needs to be done. KM can help in the improvement of the knowledge life cycle in relevant business processes. Concepts of KM can be leveraged upon to better understand how knowledge is created, what are the motivating factors, how it can be distributed and reused efficiently and effectively, and how it benefits the organization. Overall, KM can bring in discipline, purpose, and passion for building a knowledge base.

The Idea: The KM team needs to understand the business dynamics and the knowledge therein. It then needs to understand existing process of knowledge generation, analysis, capture, storage, classification, distribution, application, reuse and enhancement. It needs to consider what knowledge artifacts are appropriate candidates for the knowledge base and what aren’t. It needs to tackle them accordingly. It needs to understand the sources of knowledge and identify elements that motivate the generation, distribution and reuse of knowledge and establish them. The KM team needs to work on the requisite culture, environment, process and tools and continuously manage them. The management needs to happen via activities like measurement, feedback analysis, best practices and tool developments.

The Details: Culture, Process and Technology: Appraisals, Incentives, Recognition and rewards, Repository, Content Management, Document Management, Collaborative Tools, Email management, Reuse initiatives, Analysis of knowledge processes to improve knowledge creation, distribution, capture, application and enhancements.

KM - Competency and Skill

The Context

KM and Identification of Training Needs

How does KM help in Competency and Skill Mapping?

Would KM drive this need or simply enable it? Enabler

Traditionally: The work experience per se, the training plans and programs, the self-learning as well as mentoring programs help develop the competency of the employee. Not so sure what is meant by mapping here. If you’re talking about recognizing someone’s competency and skill levels and keeping track of them in an employee matrix, then I guess this is traditionally put together by the HR team in coordination with the business managers

So, What is KM’s Value-add? KM can bring in the following to contribute to competency and skill development as well as mapping: a) Focus on mentoring using social network analysis b) community-based learning and competency development c)mapping of competency and skill levels using the participation quotient of the employee in KM initiatives like expertise banks, discussion forums, repositories, communities etc. Additionally, Blogs can help the employee reflect and collate his thoughts and establish his competencies in a much more transparent manner.

The Idea: A KM environment promotes competency development programs that leverage on not just formal and external agents but also internal resources on a part time basis. It can help connect people who can learn from each other and of course mentors and mentees. Additionally, a person’s real expertise and knowledge (which is a reflection of the competency) can be gauged by his participation in the collective endeavors that form a part of typical KM systems.

The Details: Culture, Process and Technology: Mentoring, Social networking tools, Blogs and community interaction.