Monday, December 20, 2004

KM Profession

Denham makes some critical comments about KM courses.

I agree with most of his comments. Compared to more established professions (and my comparison here is based on my origins as a librarian), the field is vaguely defined and still unstable - or "dynamic" if you prefer.

On the other hand, many practitioners are woefully ignorant of theories and practices available outside their own immediate organisational experience. The education they require is probably modular and heterogenous - and should be aligned with their day-to-day jobs.

People want bite-sized pieces not 10-course banquets.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Theories of KM

Euan Semple's theory of KM is obviously the basis of every IT helpdesk:

"You can't log into the network? Well, why don't you go to our intranet site..."

Sensitive, New Age...

Shawn on SNA

SNA gets noted as a 'new' technique. Within sociology it's been around for over 30 years.

In my limited experience, SNA is a 'microscope slide' technique:
- You get a lot of detail but it's time-consuming to do.
- It requires care in interpretation.
- It's just one slice of something larger fixed at one moment in time.

Its main benefits:
- It provides a visual map of social relations (and most people are 'visual' thinkers if you believe the research).
- The map is seen as objective and therefore can be made consensual.

Oh and InFlow is a whole world of fun to use...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

It’s a slang! It’s American! He’s a donut!

Denham Gray posts about an Etienne "CoP" Wenger article on KM as a donut. Which reminds me irresistably of an Eddie Izzard routine about JFK (which is where the title of this post originates).

The Wenger article is interesting (as you'd expect). It presents a steady-state model of organisational learning that has much of value - not least putting the practitioner (i.e. the guy or gal out there doing the grunt work) at the centre of things.

More posts on communities soon.

The Kevin Centre

Dave Snowden is in town to serve up some delicious Cynefin goodies to unsuspecting learners, supported by Shawn Callahan and Viv Read via the good offices of SOLA.

Last night, he promised that the Cynefin website would be updated. I'm dubious - but what can you expect from a man with a wife and 5 onto-epistemological domains to support?

MAKE mine a septuple / The Usual Suspects

The global MAKE awards have just been dished out.

What are awards all about? Well, publicity basically. Either for those receiving or giving the award. Now given that the overall winner was a company with a marketing budget of many millions, it's not really for those receiving.

So who else? Well, Rory Chase's KNOW Network. Which is fair enough.

And Knowledge Management? Well, maybe. A couple of things worry me:

1. The top 20 are pretty much Fortune 500. And they are voted for by representatives from... Fortune 500 companies (as well as KM and IC experts). So back-slapping all round then.

2. Since 1999 there has been a mean of 3 new entrants into the top 20 per year. Which means that if everything was equal, you'd expect the 2004 list to be completely different to the 1998 list. 11 of the 1998 are in the 2004. Over half.

It's the same faces, the same stories. No offence to the people at these organisations - I'm sure they do great work. But I'm getting bored.

Xerox, BP, Buckman, IBM, Accenture - take a break. Put your feet up. Go on holiday. Can we have some new tunes please?

Eat yer own pudding

Article here about KM at 8 major consulting firms (link valid until 16/12/04).

I have to declare an interest here in that I work for one of the organisations profiled.

And it's OK as reporting (i.e. summarizing what an interviewee has told you) but I didn't get a feeling for what KM is like in these firms (even the one I work in - and I know that all too well). Some anecdotes would have livened this up no end. Or even, gasp, some controversial editorial comment.

Take a stand, MCI, and, shine your shoes while you're at it, and...


BTW this blog represents only my (deluded) view of the world and in no way represents my employers.

So please don't fire me just yet, eh?

Bend Sinister

You'll find all of life's rich pageant at Yahoo Groups - e.g. 31 groups for left-handed people. And among the straights, freaks, and nerds - there is ACT-KM. A list that began for KMers in the Australian Public Sector and has since grown into one of the best email discussion groups on KM in the world.

Check out David Week's post on office space and culture.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Artist Formerly Known As Knowledge Board

Knowledge Board is one of the best sites on the web related to Knowledge Mgt. There is heaps of material and discussion on there - esp. about CoPs, human-centred approaches to KM. All with a European flavour.

My only quibble with them is the HTML news update which was so purple I thought I was being contacted by someone else entirely...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Chief Blogging Officer

Chris Locke is now CBO. Which is like HBO - but with more sex and violence.

I have been a big fan of Rageboy's work. And hope that Highbeam's cash will obviate the need for him to sell another kidney.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Another response to a Shawn post.

This reminds me of something in the drama classes I have been attending recently.

You put someone on stage and tell them "perform" and they freeze. But you get them playing a game on stage and they get so engrossed in the game, they'll start to perform and not notice they are doing it.

Similarly, you tell people "collaborate" and they shrug. You give them something to do (and mundane stuff is the easiest stuff to hand) and they start collaborating (hopefully).

Which is also why small talk is important. This apparently inconsequential chit-chat allows us to build up rich pictures of what people are like and whether it is worthwhile pursuing something more conversationally important with them.

Should small talk classes be compulsary?

Email Transaction Costs

The anecdote that Shawn relates here reminds me of some stuff in economics about transaction costs. In a high trust environment, the cost of a transaction is low because you don't have to spend lots of time and money on lawyers, contracts, negotiators guarantors, etc. In a low trust environment, these costs are correspondingly higher.

Now, one perennial question in economics concerns why firms exist. Why not have lots of independent traders operating in an open market. And one answer relates to transaction costs. A firm should have higher levels of trust within it than a bunch of independent traders. And hence lower transaction costs. And hence be more efficient.

Now this ain't necessarily so. So large email volumes become a cost of doing business.

One simple way to replace email in large organisations would be to record every phone conversation you have. Not sure about the legality of this one tho...

Friday, December 03, 2004

Never trust a hippy?

Currently enlisted on Max Schupbach's web site & email list.

Max is an individual many of my colleagues have raved about for quite some time now. Really getting into his stuff and respecting his awesome ability to facilitate online discussions.

Positive vibes in the area.

When I have something intelligent to write about this, I will. Meanwhile, just dishing out some props.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I suppose you're wondering why I brought you here...

I used to have a couple of blogs under different identities and realised that I had nothing to hide.
And then I shifted inside the corporate environment. But they've been unresponsive to my needs.

Shawn "Anecdote" Callahan now has a blog. And I am supposed to contribute to a combined blog entitled "The Nature of Things", along with Kate Andrews and Luke Naismith. Which is a bit of a tall order. So I thought I'd have a play about here for a bit.

N.B. Engineers without Fears was a pseudonym for the lovely and talented DJ Rap. And it's so good, I'm using it here.