Thursday, July 30, 2009

E2.0 Forces

I liked reading this post. A nice way of summarizing the WIIFM factors - the driving forces - when it comes to Enterprise 2.0 deployment! Learning, Impact (Performance), Recognition, Camaraderie and Compensation. Honestly, none of these points is a revelation - a surprise ingredient - as I happened to comment on the author's blog as well. But there's something nice about the way the post has been written, especially the introduction and the identification of two schools of thought.

Extending my thoughts on this topic a bit, most people are likely to be convinced to adopt E2.0 for the impact it has on their performance, for the potential recognition it might fetch them and contextual incentives and compensation declared by the organization. Ironically, people who come for the impact, recognition and money don't believe in giving as much as they do in taking. Arguably, people who adopt E2.0 for the learning and camaraderie are those who enjoy sharing/giving as much as they enjoy taking/using the knowledge others provide. And I believe this is exactly why promoters of E2.0 (or KM) take the extreme position of altruism based promotion or the opposite of it - because most people need to understand (altruism) or understand (we'll help you be selfish) this language respectively! What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Focus. Focus. Focus.

Drink this in. Absorb it. Completely. Let it seep into every grey matter worth its matter.
What do you really want to do in life? What are the things you can live without and erase from your agenda so you can focus on what you really want? Think. Hard. Long.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bullet Points for Peace! ;-)

Nice stuff....10 Principles for Peace of Mind.


1. Do Not Interfere In Others’ Business Unless Asked (On the contrary, I am so much against interfering in others' lives that I am sometimes considered indifferent! ;-))

2. Forgive And Forget (I learned this many years back but I wish I'd learned this even earlier)

3. Do Not Crave For Recognition (Hum. Haw.)

4. Do Not Be Jealous (I'd find it difficult to not feel jealous of someone who lives in an absolutely scenic place...amidst nature. I'd find it difficult to not feel jealous of people who get a plethora of learning opportunities - training programs, workshops, conferences, good mentors and teachers etc. I'd find it difficult to not feel jealous of people who can sing really well. Sigh)

5. Change Yourself According To The Environment (Tough one!)

6. Endure What Cannot Be Cured (Possible when one has faith in oneself and in God!)

7. Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew (I am yet to learn this)

8. Meditate Regularly (I try...)

9. Never Leave The Mind Vacant (Rarely...)

10. Do Not Procrastinate And Never Regret (Aah...well...)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The World of Wodehouse and Knowledge Management

What-ho! What-ho! Jolly good day, today being a Friday and all that, what? Last week, during a bored moment, I impulsively told Tweeple who cared to listen to my babblings that it would be dashed nice to hit upon a good idea for a blog post. A fellow KM enthusiast @Kirti responded immediately and suggested that I write something about Wodehouse and KM..…as in, draw some connections between these two awe-inspiring topics. Now, connecting the seemingly unconnected is always an absorbing exercise! You, quite often, might come away wondering if you have some hitherto undetected supernatural powers within you. Of course, the euphoria doesn’t normally last very long but even a few seconds of the aforementioned delusion is good for the aspiring soul, don’t you know?

Where were we? Yes…so, the idea excited me and things looked oojah-cum-spiff for a while but somewhere in my mind I had an inevitable and lurking concern that I’d not be able to do justice to the topics. To write about Wodehouse, one needs to be in one’s element both in the use of language as well as in the employment of one’s sense of humor and to write about KM one needs to be what is the word I am looking for, Jeeves? No…not inspired…something that goes beyond inspiration and ventures into the context and current relevant experience, if you get my drift, which I was not so sure of.

Anyway, the initial excitement led me to making some quick notes on the potential connections between the two topics and then sharpening a broken pencil tip. [Wish someone would invent a brain-sharpener and make it a free download thingy, what?]

OK. I guess you’ll clearly see through my meaningless ramblings and discover my attempt to avoid hitting the nail on the head if I continue this preamble any longer. So, let’s take the supreme risk of looking into my random thoughts on how the Master and his works may be linked with the fascinatingly versatile field of knowledge management.

Random thought #1: When I read Plum’s (Wodehouse) perfect and hilariously creative use of English, the first thing that comes to my mind is how good his personal knowledge management strategies ought to have been. He knew his words, similes, metaphors, idioms and grammar better than anyone else I can think of at this moment. His writings are so effective that they transport us to the world that the characters of his book live in and make us laugh and chuckle along with them. Personal knowledge management in this case, according to me, is largely attributable to Plum’s passion + hard work + discipline + natural talent for humor. If you’re looking for a take away, here it is – managing your personal knowledge and strengths is a surefire way to success! [As if you didn’t know that! Bah!]

Random thought #2: Most of Plum’s novels have amazingly sophisticated and knotty plots that somehow magically sort themselves out right at the end of the story (perhaps on the very last page!). The last page turns out to be, in many of his books, where the main character attains the much-awaited nirvana/enlightenment (as in, overcomes his/her challenge). What goes into the first 200 odd pages prior to the climax are the beautifully weaved pieces of the context - each bit of which serves to adorn the overall story, add its own unique flavor and lead the story to its delightful climax. There’s nothing superfluous. There’s nothing omitted. It’s oh-so-perfect and comes to you at just the right pace with maybe some rare exceptions. What am I driving at? When knowledge is shared or tapped into, in my humble opinion, the aforementioned approach is a fantastic one to keep in mind. I love quotes and the insights that they give away on a platter but when it comes to finding solutions to some real life situations, I think the context and how it is fit into the overall ‘story’ is what makes knowledge sharing an effective activity/process. The take-away: Remember that sharing knowledge or even simple communication is not just about saying what happened but also sharing the “why” and then adding just the right amount of feelings, emotions and musings to it.

Random thought #3: Now, this one, I think, will almost certainly take the cake. Be ready to raise an eyebrow or two and let the lips twitch a bit. Jeeves, the miracle man who solves all of Bertie’s and his friends’ problems, I suspect, was a staunch believer of knowledge management concepts that we KMers try really hard to promote. No wonder he was and continues to be such a big hit. Wipe that skeptical look off your face, will you? No, I am not talking about the search engine (AskJeeves). A closer look at Jeeves’s methods will, no doubt, prove me right. Consider these facts: (Thanks to @Kirti for reiterating Jeeves’s importance in the context of this topic)

1. He stays connected with a mind-boggling number of peers. He knows a cook here, a valet there, a chauffeur somewhere and what not (And these are the people who supply him with the information that later turns out to be critical for success)
2. He attends the monthly valet meetings and is up-to-date with the stories that other valets share about their respective employers. The community that Jeeves is a part of even publishes a book with queer facts about their employers (and it is, if I remember right, mandatory for everyone in the community to share and publish these facts)
3. His intentions are supreme. He really wants to save his employer from getting into complex situations. He even wants to save Bertie’s friends when he knows they mean a lot to Bertie
4. He generally gets something in return from Bertie. Sometimes tangible and sometimes intangible (Bertie stops wearing that repulsive pink tie, for example) but Jeeves never really uses his knowledge for the purposes of getting something in return! He uses it because it is there to be used and he knows Bertie needs it. The returns come simply because Bertie is so generous and know Jeeves deserves the best
5. He doesn’t make a big deal of his knowledge. He doesn’t jump around and boast about the intelligence he possesses (Unfathomable for those who know Jeeves). He doesn’t pretend to be a savior but merely says it is his pleasure to help his employer. That makes him so very approachable and gets him the respect he so deserves!
6. He has a head that sort of juts out at the back. In other words, a peculiarly shaped head is apparently something of significance in this context
7. He is suspected to consume a lot of fish which in turn is suspected to be responsible for enviable mental growth
8. The 6th and 7th points, obviously, are not directly or, for that matter, indirectly related to KM concepts but I don’t think anyone is going to object to their inclusion in this list. These points will, hopefully, put the other 5 points in perspective. ;-)
[This should undoubtedly prove my vegetarianism. I don’t eat fish. And my head doesn’t jut out at the back]


In other related news, I recently heard about some bloke pretending to be Harry Potter on Twitter. Prompts me to imagine how it would be if Bertie and Jeeves had blogs and twitter accounts!

Bertie would be frustrated with Twitter’s 140 character limitations and prefer to use blogs to explain his predicaments to Jeeves. His tweets would be on the following lines:

@Jeeves I say, Jeeves. Check this link [blog post] out, will you? This is a dashed what is the word I am looking for, don’t you know? I am dashed if I know… [Message truncated]

But, on the other hand, Twitter would be just right for Jeeves. [Another example of how he can adapt himself to the latest KM tools!] He’d simply have to tweet things like:

@Bertie Very Good, Sir.
@Bertie I endeavor to give satisfaction, Sir.
@Bertie [Raised eyebrow] This is indeed disturbing news, Sir.
@Bertie Shall I pack your clothes, Sir?
@Bertie Here’s your b. and s. Sir. *

(*b. and s. = Brandy and Soda)

Like I am now fond of saying, Plum is God’s answer to boredom, depression, climate-change, terrorism and war. Remind me to add KM to that list. That’s all for now, folks. Two Tinkerty tonks, three Toodle-oos and one Pip-pip!

PS: I tried. I really tried. But my sense of humor seems to have gone on a long vacation to Timbaktu. Pshaw! Tchah! Wish it would take me as well next time around. I need a nice delightful break in some alien land especially after writing this long post. For now, I shall probably thank God that the weekend is almost here and take a walk [If you’re an alien, send me a DM on Twitter and we’ll negotiate on the rates for the vacation]

@nimmypal’s_sense_of_humor Looking for you. Please come back. You’re needed.

Note: Wikipedia on Wodehouse, Wikipedia on Knowledge Management

Conversations that Click...!

I had an intellectually stimulating conversation with a friend from the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) this morning. Such conversations don’t, however, come too often. Left me wondering “why not?”. Obviously, if you know me well, you might have guessed by now that I am likely to view such a topic through the “KM-glass” (knowledge management).

KM passionately advocates the sharing of knowledge. But the sharing of knowledge is definitely not a one-way process. It is about two-way interaction and conversations. It is not enough to just share what you know. You need to follow up to know if what you shared has reached the other person. You need to encourage questions, be open to the other person’s views and be ready to learn from her. You need to be totally engaged in the conversation in order to transfer and enhance the knowledge that you started with and create new knowledge. But, admittedly, things are not as easy as they seem. To document what you know may be with you the work of a moment but letting that evolve into something else via intense conversations is a challenge for many of us. More often than not, conversations are either abandoned, or result in no meaningful outcome, or are dominated by one of the parties, or involve two parties on two altogether different tracks that refuse to merge etc. On rare occasions, the conversations click and begin to make meaning. On unique occasions, such conversations further lead to a Eureka moment - what might be called an inspiring outcome that subsequently results in effective action or learning. So, what does it take to be involved in conversations that click? Or rather what does it take to create an environment that make conversations click? What does it imply for KM?

  • A lot of us use the term “wavelength” pretty frequently when it comes to conversations and relationships. We supposedly get along well with people who “share the same wavelength”. I believe that this does not necessarily mean people who have a similar cultural or educational background. I think it goes beyond that and into a spiritual realm. There are some people that we can relate to irrespective of whether we share their views or not. We find it easy to listen to them and vice versa. We are able to have a strong argument without contemplating gifting a coffin at the back of our minds. Maybe it revolves around what we think are the intentions of the other person or the respect that we have for that person or something else on these lines. Which, by the way, is closely related to the topic of (natural and unconditional) trust.
  • A lot depends on the frame of mind that we are in at the time of the conversation. What time of the day is it? What else is on your mind? Is something else bothering you and not letting you concentrate on the current conversation? Are you physically/mentally tired? Do you have the energy needed to be completely involved in a conversation? Are you in the “flow”?
  • Obviously, your involvement and interest in the topic are major criteria. It not only decides the time you’re ready to invest in the conversation but also the ideas that you are capable of generating. Sometimes, it is the other person’s ability to draw your attention and inspire you into the conversation even if it isn’t a topic you understand too well. If the topic really excites you, you might even persist until the conversation clicks
  • Another obvious factor that determines whether the conversation will click or not is based on the prior knowledge you have on the topic and more importantly your ability to understand your knowledge levels and accordingly dictate or listen to the other person

So, is there something that organizations can do to make conversations click or at least make them more tangible? Is it possible to get everyone on the same wavelength? That sounds ridiculous but not everything that sounds ridiculous is actually ridiculous, what? It may be quite possible to ‘find’ people who are tuned into the same thing and yet keep the population diverse enough for creative thinking. After all, this is the art and science of many start-ups.

One immediate thing that comes to my mind is the role of knowledge and social networking tools such as Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter. These can help people find others who share the same wavelength from anywhere in the world. Organizational equivalent of such tools can help find people from within the organization (especially when it is a large one). [Meanwhile, some people are lucky enough to bump into humans in the same wavelength zone in their own teams/neighborhood etc but that’s a rare thing]

Increasing the frequency of conversations is something that may help improve the opportunities to have conversations that click. This will have to be via conferences, workshops, mixed-audience training programs etc. Encouraging a culture that values and celebrates conversations would certainly have an impact. The management must not only promote such a culture but also allow employees to act upon what is invented/discovered amidst such conversations. It may influence employees to engage in serendipitous conversations and act upon their pet ideas. [Google is a universal example for such an atmosphere – 20% employee time on pet projects]

Any thoughts? Stories about stimulating conversations you have had with people? What do you think is required for conversations to click?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Life of a Genius

I am quite intrigued by this book. (Discover Your Genius by Michael Gelb) Should watch out for its arrival in my neighborhood bookshop! Some excerpts - that gripped me - from the interview with the author of this book:

You can learn anything you want to, and you'll surprise yourself with what you can achieve when you know how to learn. We are not taught how to use our full potential. We are not taught how to learn from the great thinkers and doers of the past.

The love of wisdom – philosophy – and its manifestation in the quest for truth, beauty, and goodness, is the thread that weaves through the lives of all the great minds you'll get to know in the pages that follow

The knowledge of learning how to learn is perhaps the most important knowledge we can possess.

Plato "formulated the concept of education as drawing out the knowledge of the student, rather than stuffing it in". Most of us were probably taught by the "stuffing it in" method. I imagine the "drawing out" method would result in happier, livelier brains and a quite different experience of life. (This is from the interviewer)

It is to Socrates that we owe the whole notion of education as a process of drawing out. Socrates and Plato believed, as we discussed earlier, that each person is born with the capacity for genius. Their understanding was that the essence of truth, beauty, and goodness was effectively deep within the soul of each human being. And so education was a process of drawing out the innate understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness rather than trying to stuff it in.

Every one of the geniuses profiled in Discover your Genius had profound vision, a guiding dream and desire. They had unrelenting passion, drive, and persistence.

There was something that they wanted to accomplish, achieve, or understand. They wound up overcoming every obstacle in their way no matter how seemingly impossible it was. (Passion + Persistence)

Is there one or two genius skills that you think would be particularly useful for such problem solvers to cultivate? - I would say journaling as I describe it in the book. All the great geniuses I studied kept notebooks in one manner or other. One of the differences between normal people and geniuses is that when a normal person wakes up at 4 am with a quirky idea, they roll over and say, "I am no genius." But when Einstein woke up at 4 am he wrote it down. That is one simple thing.

The other skill is mind mapping that was originated by my friend, Tony Buzan. It is a fantastic way to generate more ideas in less time, and use more of your whole brain.

Note: Michael Gelb's ten important geniuses, all of whom made significant and lasting contributions to world knowledge, are Plato, Filippo Brunelleschi, Christopher Columbus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thursday Thunder...

A couple of quotes that are stuck to my mind right now and will probably remain stuck forever.

"The faithful see the invisible, believe the incredible and then receive the impossible" - Anonymous. (Don't you think we need to locate Anonymous and honour him/her for such a wonderful message?)

"I think grown-ups just act like they know what they're doing" - Who else but our little hero, Calvin (This one really tickles me no end!)

And for those of you who share my love for Calvin & Hobbes, here's some really exciting news....! Actually, most exciting that I've heard in a long time. Maybe since the launch of Google Wave. Bill Watterson's bio is going to be published very soon! The details are here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

ABCD and Alliteration

Absurd assurances abound

Beastly behavior lurks

Creative curses fly

Dangerous devils wait (Random scenes from Dilbert’s world)

Excitement emerges from nowhere

Failure feigns some lessons

Great gifts are hoped for

Hope however is silent

Inner voices insist (Random scenes from Life)

Jokes just vanish

Kites kill even as they soar

Laughter lights up the day

Meditation makes it possible

Nonsense never ends (Random scenes from Life – Part 2)

Opportunity opposes them

Peculiar patterns are ignored

Questions quell the mind

Random ramblings distract

Simplicity sure has no face

Trust trusts no one

Ubiquitous umbrellas are tugged at by the wind

Victory is alone (Random scenes from Life – Part 3)

PS: No. Not completely nonsensical. Random thoughts with some strange connections, trying to appear as a single thread of thought. An atrocious attempt at an alliterative poem. Aa..ha!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Open Innovation

I am on a roll today. Here's a very nice article on what it takes to adopt Open Innovation.


Another article I loved reading this morning. 7 ways to control the restless mind. Well-written and extremely sensible. [Today has brought me some really nice articles.]
Summarizing it here for my own benefit.
  • Break it up into smaller pieces
  • Single-task
  • Avoid the toxic folks
  • Connect with the inspiring folks
  • Learn to say "No"
  • Write
  • Digital detox. Stay away from information overload

Purpose, Passion, Pursuit

I loved reading this...from Emphasis mine.

Defining Your Direction
Your Life’s Work

Many people are committed to professions and personal endeavors they never consciously planned to pursue. They attribute the shape of their lives to circumstance, taking on roles they feel are tolerable. Each of us, however, has been blessed with a purpose. Your life’s work is the assemblage of activities that allows you to express your intelligence and creativity, live in accordance with your values, and experience the profound joy of simply being yourself. Unlike traditional work, which may demand more of you than you are willing to give, life’s work demands nothing but your intent and passion for that work. Yet no one is born with an understanding of the scope of their purpose. If you have drifted through life, you may feel directionless. Striving to discover your life’s work can help you realize your true potential and live a more authentic, driven life.

To make this discovery, you must consider your interests in the present and the passions that moved you in the past. You may have felt attracted to a certain discipline or profession throughout your young life only to have steered away from your aspirations upon reaching adulthood. Or you may be harboring an interest as of yet unexplored. Consider what calls to you and then narrow it down. If you want to work with your hands, ask yourself what work will allow you to do so. You may be able to refine your life’s work within the context of your current occupations. If you want to change the world, consider whether your skills and talents lend themselves to philanthropic work. Taking stock of your strengths, passions, beliefs, and values can help you refine your search for purpose if you don’t know where to begin. Additionally, in your daily meditation, ask the universe to clarify your life’s work by providing signs and be sure to pay attention.

Since life’s journey is one of evolution, you may need to redefine your direction on multiple occasions throughout your lifetime. For instance, being an amazing parent can be your life’s work strongly for 18 years, then perhaps you have different work to do. Your life’s work may not be something you are recognized or financially compensated for, such as parenting, a beloved hobby, or a variety of other activities typically deemed inconsequential. Your love for a pursuit, however, gives it meaning. You’ll know you have discovered your life’s work when you wake eager to face each day and you feel good about not only what you do but also who you are.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Flip Service...

Finished reading the book Flip by Peter Sheahan. The book, as you may have guessed, is about doing the opposite of what conventional wisdom suggests.

Things to no particular order:

- Sheahan says "there is no wisdom in crowds" and goes on to qualify that by saying crowds don't innovate but only validate an innovation. I don't, obviously, agree. To my mind, what is meant by "wisdom of crowds" is not that groups innovate as a single entity but that groups are a breeding ground for ideas as a consequence of conversations, combination of knowledge, brainstorming and so forth.

Happy to get that out of the way. Now, to some of the things I was able to relate to....

- Pg 65. "Only after making the decision emotionally do we call upon our cognitive processes to rationalize our behaviour" [Fascinating and quite true I guess!There are times when I've surprised myself after having to justify something in retrospect. But this could even be what Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is all about]

- As I read one of the chapters on how consumers decide to purchase something it made me ponder over how, many of us buy something not because we may identify with the brand and what it stands for completely but more because we want the world to associate us with that brand and what it stands for. (Drink Sprite if you want to be seen as a straightforward and blunt person. You may however not really be such a straightforward person! Drink Miranda if you want to appear a little crazy and lighthearted etc)

- The last two chapters were the most exciting part of the book. These were about "giving up control to get it" and "action before clarity". One of the examples that the author refers to, to demonstrate how giving up control can lead to success, is how TV programs have now changed with many reality shows now involving the audience and even letting them make decisions. For me, personally, the last chapter was a hard slap on the face. Sheahan has penned a very compelling and inspiring chapter on how we should not wait too long for clarity to emerge before doing something and sometimes it would be just right to take the plunge. He assures and convinces the reader that clarity will follow action. (That reminded me of some situations wherein I gave up on some colleagues who I thought will provide clarity and instead decided to let them come back with comments after we'd put something in place. Adopting such an approach is a lot less frustrating than waiting for information and understanding...though in the long run, it may mean more wastage in terms of time, effort and resources. Also, one needs to then grit one's teeth and bear the irony of accepting comments and inputs that could have very well been provided earlier)