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Tag Archives: sharing

Knowledge Management Ain’t Actually Going Anywhere

I completely forgot I had posted this over a year and a half ago. I never actually posted it here, but did post about it and provided a link to it at Content Management Connection. Despite the passage of time since I did post it, I don’t really think much has changed, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

PS – Click here to see an up-to-date graph and some regional data as well from Google Trends.


Google Trends Graph

Knowledge Management vs. Social Media Searches via Google

As a result of two tweets I just read; one from @SameerPatel and the other from @ralphmercer, I wanted to get a thought down before it recedes forever into the darkest corners of my brain, where I know I will feel the remnants of its presence, but will also never be able to fully recall it.

Based on something Sameer said I went to Google Trends and searched on the terms “Knowledge Management” and “Social Media”. In the past almost two years, with the exception of a large drop at the end of 2009, and a slight dip at what looks like the end of June in 2010, Social Media searches have been steadily increasing. During that same time period, searches for Knowledge Management – which are now less than a fifth of the searches for Social Media have remained arguably steady, with perhaps a bit of a continuous waning.

I suppose some would suggest this portends the eventual death of KM, but I really don’t think that true . . . or even possible. KM has always been based on the belief that we humans are unique in our ability to pass knowledge on to others, as well as to collectively create new knowledge and retain it for future use.

As I had suggested to Ralph, and what he was kind enough to point out in his tweet, is the reality that it’s “very expensive to reacquire knowledge”. This isn’t something anybody wants to do, anymore than they want to produce re-work or scrap. Yet people seem to be mulling over the viability of KM for the future.

I think the reality is two-fold. First, the need for sharing and re-using knowledge or information continues as strong as it’s ever been. What it’s called is of little consequence and, if KM has gotten a bad rep, then let’s move on and call it something else.

Second, I believe a lot of what we mean when we refer to social media is actually the next iteration of KM, insofar as it enhances collaboration, sharing, finding out what others are doing, etc., as well as captures and makes available collective knowledge and wisdom.

So, what do you think? Has KM run its course, or is it just taking on a new “identity” in the form of social media and (something I don’t think I mentioned above) Enterprise 2.0?

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You Can’t Be Trusted!

How many of us have heard those in charge of the organizations we work for complain that the use of some of the newer technology available is a threat to company security? How many are blocked from sites like Twitter or Facebook because – as the argument goes – the risk of compromising company security or inadvertently sharing intellectual property is just too great?

I recall a time when the company I worked for had a policy against bringing cell phones to work if they had a camera, the fear being we would all suddenly start taking pictures of . . . what? . . . papers? . . . hardware? . . . and sell them to the North Koreans, the Russians, or the Chinese. That restriction didn’t last very long and this presentation pretty much sums up why.

The futility of such an attitude, given the ubiquity of smart phones, is almost unworthy of discussion. In addition, much of this hand-wringing is tantamount to closing the barn door after the horses (or one high-level horse) have escaped. I have personally (along with tens of thousands of my colleagues) been subjected to training designed to “help” us not do what some corporate executive did, all designed to convince the government we had learned our lesson and would not do what none of us had any intention of doing in the first place.

I’m confident I could go on about this subject for quite some time and, no doubt, will in the future. However, I really just want to share this wonderful PowerPoint presentation I was recently reminded of. It’s one of those that is somewhat timeless. Hell, it may never quite go out-of-date. I think it’s deserving of a reprise. Please feel free to share. The author placed it in SlideShare, so I’m confident he wants you to see and share it.

View more PowerPoint from normanlamont

Are You Comfortable With Being Social?

A Child's Trust

Trust. Catch Some!

Funny thing about blogging. Unless someone takes the time to comment, or they subscribe, there’s no way to know who is reading and what interests them. There are lots of tools to figure out where traffic comes from, including a list of the search terms that brought people to my site, but it really doesn’t help me understand as thoroughly as I’d like which of my posts strikes a chord

On the other hand, I’ve been testing the waters with a couple of different styles and I’m working on changing voice as well. So, I’m mostly writing to say what I have to say and it’s kind of like “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” . . . “let the chips fall where they may”. That isn’t to say I don’t care. I do. What it does say, though, is I’m not sure who will be interested in what I’m sharing today.

My history with, and interest in, Enterprise 2.0 (now mostly referred to as “Social Business“) has brought me a lot of “friends” I would not otherwise have encountered. When I say “friends” I am referring to people, some of whom I have never met in person, and some of whom I’ve only actually seen once in my life. The person who gave the presentation that appears below is one of the latter, though we’ve communicated in various ways in the past nearly two years.

I first met him at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston in June of 2010. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later discovered he coined what had become one of my favorite words – folksonomy. I had been arguing for some time that we (Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, where I was working) should concentrate less on a formal taxonomy for our explicit knowledge artifacts (meaning paper reports and electronic files) and go with tagging, which would create a useful folksonomy. Actually, I was arguing at the time for developing a hybrid, i.e. providing a “recommended” set of tags, allowing leeway in using them and creating new ones, and occasionally “culling” the list to get rid of the less useful tags while retaining the most useful ones for later use.

At any rate, Thomas has become a valuable source of understanding. I appreciate his insights and only wish I was in a position to attend more conferences and the kinds of presentations from which I can learn other viewpoints about the use of social media, especially for business. While I have some reasonably well-developed concepts and a fairly good understanding, there are so many areas where others have far more experience than I, especially when it comes to the information technology (including IA, Information Architecture) aspects of how it affects people and their relationships.

Below I’ve embedded the presentation Thomas gave at a recent conference on IA, which he just uploaded to Slideshare. Since he uses the same philosophy of presenting that I and many others do, i.e. avoid bullet points wherever humanly possible, use lots of interesting graphics, and talk your butt off, I can’t be quite certain I understand the point(s) behind every slide, but I think I get his drift. In fact, I love the concept of “Social Comfort” as I spent many years working to alleviate the discomfort so many of my colleagues seemed to feel back in the day. I also like his idea of avoiding use of the word “Trust” and – instead – substitute related words that evoke a feeling of trust, e.g. dependable, believable, treasured, consistent, honest, etc.

Going back to my use of the word “friends” for people I don’t really know or, at least, have never met in person. I consider them friends precisely because over time they have shown themselves to be dependable, consistent, honest, etc. That is, I’ve come to trust them based on numerous instances of conversation or reading something they’ve chosen to share not only with me, but with the entire online community. People who are unworthy of our trust don’t stick their necks out very often . . . if at all. The people I consider friends do so repeatedly, which is something I cherish.

I hope you can glean something useful from Thomas’s presentation. I believe I have. Feel free to comment here or to go to Slideshare and comment directly to Thomas if there’s something you don’t get or would like to discuss with him further.

Trust photo by mikebaird


Move Along Now. There’s Nothing to see Here.

Be Careful What You Say

So . . . after deciding to open up a bit and start to share a little more of what I want to share, rather than what I think I need to be sharing (mostly business stuff), I’m still struggling with how best to do it and what, exactly, I feel comfortable with writing about. It’s actually bothering the hell out of me that I can’t pull the trigger and get out some posts on the things that matter to me: My children and the circumstances of their joining our family (international adoption); my feelings about the direction our nation is heading in (backward), as well as the responses to it; education as it relates to where our nation is going (both school and life-long); and my thoughts regarding these subjects.

My biggest conflict revolves around my children and how much I can share without violating their rights to their own story. Yes, I believe they have rights like you and I and I wish to respect them. On the other hand, I’ve learned so much from raising them and from dealing with their circumstances and my role in them that I want to share how it’s affected me as well as the things I think need to be done to lessen the burden for them and those like them, many of whom I now call friends and from whom I’ve learned much.

Painful and difficult as it is, I’m determined to write more frequently, though the past few weeks surely haven’t evidenced that. Nevertheless, I intend on pressing on even if I trip, stumble, and fall. I’m deeply thankful to those of you who take time out of your precious day to read what I have to say and I really appreciate the comments I occasionally receive. I’ve sat on this post for far too long, so I’m going to fire it off even if it feels more like a placeholder than anything else.


The Hell It’s Not About The Tools!

Hand Axes

What Would Lizzie Borden Do?

I had lunch a while back with a former colleague from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. He is also a fellow cohort member from my Masters in KM program, from which we both graduated in late 2009. We have worked together extensively. After eating we were discussing the situation at my former (and his current) place of employment, which is a bit unclear at this point.

As I shared my thoughts about the value (as I see it) of using social media to increase the organization’s capabilities (you know, the innovative, collaborative, communicative ones), he said something he had said to me over and over while I was still a colleague . . . “It’s not about the tools!”

Now, essentially I agree with him – at least to a point. Tools are, by themselves, absolutely useless unless they’re used to get things done in the manner for which they were designed. Even better, if you can figure out how to use them creatively they can be even more powerful. Try pounding a nail into a stud with your bare fist, though, and then tell me it’s not about the tools.

Nevertheless, this argument is valid when taken in the context of an organization where people think that throwing tools at a problem will somehow, magically I guess, solve the problem confronting them. I have personally seen this happen quite a bit and, in fairness to my friend, it did seem to be a common occurrence at our place of employment.

On the other hand, we’re probably all aware of situations where the simplest of tools served an organization well in dealing with a particularly difficult situation. This can only happen, I think, when the people confronting the situation are open and honest about what they’re facing and how it’s affecting the processes and people who are tasked with dealing with it.

This means they have to be able to think both critically and creatively. Too often people get to thinking in predictable ways and they pigeonhole the problem, thereby confining their possible solutions to the things they’re familiar with and have previous knowledge of. This usually leads to failure.

The thing about tools, though, is that they frequently give us the ability to use a bit of lateral – or even sideways – thinking. In the case of social tools such as Jive or Socialcast or Yammer, we’re also given the possibility of working together and sharing our information and knowledge in ways not previously possible.

A perfect example of how not to do it is the way in which the company I used to work at shared their knowledge of rocket engine design and manufacture. It was always the case that younger Engineers would send email requests to their older counterparts, requesting information on design intent or material properties or manufacturing techniques, etc. The older colleague might spend days researching and crafting an answer, which would then be sent back to the requester in an email.

The problem with this was that access to all this wonderfully useful information was now confined to the two (sometimes a few more, depending on who was included initially) people engaged in the conversation. Usually, within a short while the information and knowledge so thoroughly and carefully created was lost; frequently even to the original person asking the question. This was because there was no useful method by which email could be easily searched.

Nowadays we can do much better. We have tools, applications, and systems available to us that provide functionality like instant broadcasting (micro-blogging), collaborative creation (wiki, even Google docs), and ubiquitous indexing and search. There is, in my opinion, no excuse for not taking advantage of as many of these tools as is reasonably affordable – taking into consideration the culture of an organization and its tolerance for experimentation and change. Frankly, from what I’ve experienced and from what I learn from friends and others who are engaged in community organization and leadership, there are ways to introduce, champion, and develop these kinds of tools in just about any organization.

So I would wish to characterize the use of tools just a bit differently. I would say it most definitely IS about the tools, but it’s just not entirely about the tools. Having functionality available that was not possible five or ten years ago can change things dramatically. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a conscious effort and, sometimes, dramatic changes in the culture of an organization. Nevertheless, the pain associated with change is usually ameliorated by the newfound capabilities the change brings; the possibilities of developing innovative processes and organizational structures and of increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of those things we engage in. If anyone tells you it’s not about the tools, as if to say they aren’t important, ask them when was the last time they combed their hair with a fork!


Facebook and Family. Another Plus

Isadore Edward Wladofsky

My dad during training, circa 1943

My last post was about how Facebook has made it easier for me to remember birthdays and, because of that, send my salutations and good wishes to people I respect and care for. It was meant to be a little bit light-hearted, but not too much. Recently, I’ve had occasion to think about another element of my personal life Facebook has enhanced. For Memorial Day this year I replaced my profile picture with one of my long-deceased father. It was taken at Great Lakes United States Naval Training Center, sometime during his training as a Radioman. Subsequently, he served aboard Liberty ships and LSTs (Tank Landing Ships) and was a participant in at least one of the notorious Murmansk runs. As somewhat of a side note, as a result of researching links to include in this paragraph I discovered that my father was likely in what is referred to as the U.S. Navy Armed Guard, a special group of sailors tasked with defending U.S. and allied merchant ships during WWII.

He never talked about his experiences in much detail, but I know first-hand he never again slept all that well. I learned at a very early age not to be within striking distance if I was asked by my mother to wake him up! I would gingerly grab a foot, shake a bit, then quickly back toward the door. I do know he also acted as somewhat of a ship’s journalist and cartoonist, as he had saved copies of the newsletters he wrote and published. I also know he was quite familiar with Morse code.

So, back to the point of this post. As a result of my putting the picture up (I’ve put it here as well), my niece – my brother’s youngest daughter – saw and commented on the picture and the few words I posted about why I put it up. She commented “Very cool Ricky…I knew he was involved somehow with World War II but I never knew specifics. Thanks for sharing :)”, to which I responded mentioning how I was glad I could share what I remembered before I’m gone as well. She then said “I agree! It is a shame that I never got to meet him, but I always love hearing stories about him, no matter that they are second hand :)”.

It then occurred to me that, despite the problems we’ve all had with Facebook, especially around issues of privacy, I have never connected with my family as completely as I’m able to do through it. I have managed to scan old photos of relatives and share them with my family. Many of them had never seen, and never would have seen, any of them save for my placing them on my wall. I know there are other ways in which I could share and, believe me, I’ve tried many. However, nowhere does such a large group of my family spend time than on Facebook.

I don’t wish to defend anything untoward that Facebook does, and I have no doubt they’ve overreached in some areas. I can’t image serving a customer base of some 3/4 of a billion users without something being amiss now and again, so don’t color me surprised or even terribly offended. I am also not interested in getting into a discussion of how you or someone you know has been wronged by the service or any of their numerous applications. I believe there are more useful forums for that kind of a conversation.

I merely wish to point out the slightly unappreciated capability Facebook has given me (just me, that’s it) to connect with family and friends that I otherwise would likely not have. As social media expands and becomes more useful and sophisticated, I have no doubt there will be rough spots and mistakes (possibly some very big ones) will be made. But, to use an old adage, I don’t wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I still like what I’m getting out of the offering . . . and the price is right in my wheelhouse 🙂


Do You “Like” Me?

 

I Sure Do Like This!

 

One of the easiest ways to use Facebook is to “like” the things you actually take the time to read, unless of course either you don’t like what you read or you take even longer to post a comment and engage in conversation. Most of the time you’re probably skimming through stuff your friends or the Fan Pages you’ve “liked” are posting.

You might want to consider clicking the like button for those posts. It’s simple, quick, and goes a long way to let people know you’re actually paying attention. This is especially true of Fan Pages because the admins of those pages have access to Facebook Insights, a set of analytics that tells them if they’re reaching their audience or not. Feedback is one of the things that social is all about, most frequently in the form of some kind of engagement, e.g. comments to blogs, re-tweets, etc.

Clicking on the “like” tag is surely one of the best ways to engage with your friends and the brands and stores you care about. Give it a try. You’ll like it!


I’m OK, You’re a Pathological Techno-Geek

You won’t go wrong reading the entire review, but in the interest of brevity I am herewith sharing the author’s final paragraph. It’s a couple days old. Sorry :)

Amplify’d from www.boston.com
Boston.com

Antisocial media

An MIT professor and psychologist argues our modern wired lifestyle is damaging us and our relationships, but she may be a bit premature


January 16, 2011

But, suppose human nature is more malleable than her psychological model allows. Suppose the Internet is devising a self that is social in new ways that include intimacy, but that also find real human value in thinly spread connections. Turkle’s observations raise disturbing issues, but her theoretical framework so colors her conclusions that, although her book will spark useful debate, it settles less than she seems to think. The changes our technology is bringing are challenging our conceptual frameworks for understanding those changes, including the psychological standpoint Turkle takes as secure.

David Weinberger is a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He can be reached at self@evident.com.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Read more at www.boston.com


Craft Work is Knowledge Work

 

Steady Hands Make for Good Soldering

Soldering Jewelry

 

I’ve been following the action at #TUG2010 (Traction Users Group), reading and retweeting lots of good stuff from @rotkapchen, @vmaryabraham, @jackvinson, and @lehawes. Jack Vinson tweeted “Craft work can become knowledge work. Making it visible. narrating it. He added the hashtag for observable work, #owork, as well – indicating that was the concept he was associating it with.

My initial reaction to what Jack wrote, however, was to the implication that craft work isn’t normally knowledge work, which I don’t think is an accurate statement. Let me also say I’m not sure if Jack actually authored those words or if he was merely reporting them from the presenter at the user’s group preso he was attending and tweeting from. So I’m not taking issue with Jack. Actually, I’m not even interested in who said it; I just want to address the concept of craft work as knowledge work.

I believe all work is knowledge work. Sure, there are different levels at which the knowledge exists or asserts itself, but there’s always some component that involves knowledge; at least if it’s done by a human being. So it is with craft work, assuming I’m using the term in the same sense as Jack or whoever is using it, that is work manifested in tangible items, such as wallets or hydroelectric dams. I think of it as things like welding, carving, painting, growing, etc.

All of these things require a fair amount of tacit (in the head, as we sometimes refer to it) knowledge. As far as the concept of making this kind of knowledge visible goes, I think a lot of it gets transferred that way . . . usually in a mentor or apprenticeship kind of relationship. Making some of it more “visible” can make it more accessible, but there are necessarily limitations.

An instance of this from my life comes from many years ago when I was a jewelry bench worker. The place I was at made very high-end gold and silver shadow-box cuff links and they require some interesting soldering. I melted an awful lot of precious metal before I learned to recognize the colors, smells, and sounds that hinted I was almost at the right temperature and had to back the flame off. I believe what I gained from that experience was knowledge; hence, I was engaged in knowledge work, albeit at a lower level than, say, when I worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engine team.

Maybe the exigencies of saying something in less than 140 characters played a role in it coming out the way it did, but I felt the need to at least record my thoughts. I believe what Jack (or whoever actually made the statement) meant was that making craft work visible increases its accessibility and, therefore, its likelihood of being more easily transferred or learned. It doesn’t thereby become knowledge work, however. It already is and always has been knowledge work. Anybody disagree? Did I misunderstand Jack or the message he was conveying from the presenter?


It’s Getting Chilly, or How I’m Planning on Doing Some Cold-Calling

Well, I’ve finally decided to go out in earnest and get some clients. I don’t think I’ve mentioned much (if anything) about what I had hoped to do with my life after leaving Rocketdyne and, frankly, it was a bit amorphous in my mind for some time as well. I keep looking for ways in which the knowledge I’ve gained over the years can be put to good use for others. I’m beginning to see some fairly clear outlines of just how I might be able to do that. It isn’t all about “clients” either.

Today I met with the Principal of my youngest daughter’s school, Sycamore Elementary in Simi Valley; on Friday I am meeting with the Principal of my other daughter’s school, Vista Elementary also in Simi. I decided a while back I wanted to see if I could bring something to the table that might improve the educational system . . . some small but significant contribution I might offer that would take advantage of my Knowledge Management, Social Networking/Computing experience, as well as my overall skill set acquired from well over four decades of business experience.

Today’s meeting was a bit of serendipity, actually. I take my children to school every morning, dropping the older one off first, then dropping my youngest off on the way back home. Today I also walked the youngest in and watched her play a bit before class started. I then went into the office to talk to the Principal. My intent was to have essentially the same conversation I had with the Principal at Vista. After all, it resulted in an appointment to delve further into the issues. All that I could have asked for. I discovered today was the one day out of only a few in which she has set aside some time to have coffee and a chat with whichever parents happened to show up. Lucky for me!

Double lucky . . . the President of the PTA was there as well. She was very interested in what I suggested which, btw, was that I learn how they do “business” with an eye toward discovering ways they can take advantage of new tools, services, and techniques that might relieve them of any pain they’re experiencing. I know they’re experiencing it. You can’t be paying attention and think the schools and their ancillary organizations aren’t suffering from any number of headaches and problems which would improve the educational experience for students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike if they could be even partially solved.

So that’s what I offered to give to both schools. I have suggested I can afford to put in at least four hours a month per school and I am both willing and eager to do so. I plan on taking the same attitude to commercial and industrial establishments as well. I believe there are lots of ways in which social computing can be put to good use for small, medium, and large businesses. I also believe there are a lot of people out there who are holding themselves out as Social Media “Experts”. I am not doing that. I’m merely saying I think I can help – first and foremost – understand what kinds of problems any particular organization has that they want to address. Only then can they even think about what tool, service, process, or technique might serve to do so.

In order to drum up business that will actually make me income, I have developed my first piece of “Collateral” to leave behind after visiting the organizations I offer my services to. Anyone who is following me on Twitter, is my friend in Facebook, is connected with me through LinkedIn, reads this blog, or connects with me in any one of numerous other ways probably knows I’ve shared a few presentations I’ve given in the past – when I was still an employee of Rocketdyne. They can be found on Slideshare, here. I want to share what I’ve done in creating a brochure to leave behind after an initial conversation with a prospect. My intent is not for this brochure to introduce me, but rather to serve as a reminder of the conversation I expect to have with whoever it is I’m discussing these things with.

I know, from my years of pursuing knowledge in this field, through literally hundreds of conversations on the subject, and from following and reading the work of dozens of people whose intelligence I have nothing but the deepest respect for, that almost anyone; every process; every business; yes, even every institution – up to, and including, those of government at any level – could be improved through the intelligent application of social computing. Of course, every situation is different. The City Council here in Simi surely would neither benefit from, nor require, the same thing that might benefit the U.S. Senate, and a small restaurant surely doesn’t require the same capabilities that a large manufacturing or distribution enterprise would find helpful.

So . . . that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Below are the two pages of a three-fold brochure I’m going to get printed shortly and start bringing with me as I literally knock on doors. It’s not the only method I intend on using, but it gets me out of the house, and that’s a good thing. I’d be interested in any feedback those of you who might read this post have to offer. I’m a work in process. Aren’t we all?

Click on Image for Larger (Legible) Version

Click on Image for Larger (Legible) Version

P.S. – Special thanks are due to my friend Luis Suarez, who was kind enough to look over what I had done and make some very useful observations and suggestions. Thank you so much, Luis. You are one of those people whose presence I value dearly.


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