Sunday, July 24, 2005

What's a Wiki?

The number of people that asked me this on Thursday night.

Well, here you go...

Reputations at Risk (5)

And thence to the panel discussion. I don't have a lot of time for Piers Akerman as a writer but he did a decent job of moderating. So we had a PR manager, a PR consultant and a journalist. There was a lot of fairly sensible talk about the importance of communicating during crises, the need to identify media-friendly managers, having a strategy, etc.

There was also some talk of the new media such as blogs, wikis, etc. This drew out some interesting panel comment. Apparently, there is a discussion in Deloitte's at the moment as to whether employees should be allowed to blog. In Vessa Playfair's opinion, the answer should be "no" due to the legal liabilities. Michelle Hutton was similarly sceptical.

General impression: PR folk see themselves primarily as gatekeepers - training execs to stay "on message" and ensuring that everyone else keeps their mouths shut. I have no problem with the first objective - having been on the receiving end of a large number of executive "communications" of variable quality from many firms.

And it's down to Deloitte to decide what it's willing to tolerate and support - and being an accounting firm it will doubtless decide on caution.

However, there's a problem with this "narrow pipe" approach. If we assume that your customer base is fragmenting into niches, one (or even a handful) of carefully controlled voices will not be enough. If you can develop a plurality of voices then you have a much better chance of making contact with these multiple niches.

Reputations at Risk (4)

Tim Williams from Westpac then talked about Westpac's journey back from the brink of the early-90s. Tim's presentation was very much a game of two halves. The first half was a gripping story of corporate failure redeemed - an organisation relearning how to talk to its employees and customers. The second half was the ins and outs of Westpac's approach to sustainability. Ultimately this is where the meat was but seeing the balanced scorecard and the org charts was much less compelling than the first half.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reputations at Risk (3)

Then we had Grahame Dowling of AGSM / Reputation Institute. Never less than deadpan, GD began by breaking down what "corporate reputation" actually means. There was a bit of detour around boards of directors, then he got back on track with a statistical survey breakdown of what might contribute to a firm's reputation - "providing good products and services" came out top. There was also a negative correlation between customer and shareholder views - i.e. customers don't want to feel ripped off. And then he moved from a heavily analytic approach to talking about corporate reputation as story. An example of a compelling "story" about quality and value being Porche. Now, he didn't talk much about the methodology for doing this apart from "tell the truth". I think there's a heavy role for Cynefin-like narrative techniques here...

Reputations at Risk (2)

Clare Hart, Factiva CEO, kicked things off with a session featuring a few new Factiva products. Which had lots of cool text mining tools and graphical displays. She also mentioned new media (web, blogs, wikis) a fair bit and noted that the Factiva covers these as well as its traditional proprietary print databases. The James Hardie asbestos case was treated as a cautionary tale in corporate reputations.

The Factiva analytical and monitoring tools demoed originate in the acquisition of 2B back in February. Thought: how might this external-facing business intelligence be lined up to the internal BI tools that many large companies are starting to deploy (around balanced scorecard, financials, etc)?

Reputations at Risk (1)

Yesterday, I went along to the Factiva Forum 2005, wanting to check things out from a new media / blogging perspective.

Monday, July 18, 2005

5 Steps to Blogging Wisdom

Article here on Blogs as a tool to support Learning.

"Purple in the Nose"

So yesterday was Etienne Wenger. He's a sprightly chap. Randoms notes:
- A social theory of learning (not a theory of social learning). Importance of meaning & identity.
- Learning = realignment between socially-defined competencies and personal experience.
- Core vs. boundary learning in communities.
- Plenty of reference to learning SYSTEMS.
- Domains must be "thick" enough.
- Leadership vs. nurturing.

I'll make sense of all that later (promise).

One thing right at the end of the session stood out: EW claims that identity is becoming more individualised. Pre-industrial revolution, you shared your life with people in your village. A common history (yours and theirs). Now you don't. You move towns and institutions and your set of experiences is shared fleetingly with many individuals rather than constantly with a few. Hence less common identity.

Cape Group - eLearning in Aus & NZ

Thursday, we had a version of the ElNet session on eLearning in ANZ (see below).

The tech worked (go Centra!).

And the presso was interesting. Immediate take-homes:
- eLearning implementations are still in their early stages.
- LMS and CM systems are the main investment (either a COTS install or ASPed).
- Little evidence of virtual classroom usage, performance support or games.
- Issues with integration to HR systems. There are issues over which system houses the required data.
- Business cases often do not involve input from IT and benefits are not tracked against them!
- Content mgt is harder than expected.

Seems pretty familiar...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Future of Volunteering session

Great fun to facilitate with Lee Carsley and James Lytton-Hitchins. Many thanks to those who took the time to participate.

Some random thoughts in no particular order about Cynefin techniques:
- Everybody wanted to be involved in the creation of archetypes. Excellent job done by the cartoonist BTW. And I think the 2-stage emergence process does make sense here. The discussion the archetypes as they were displayed back to the group was fantastic. They are also a tangible, non-verbal artefact rather than a collection of words.
- Anecdote Circles worked reasonably well. But I love them anyway (so simple yet so effective).
- Future Backwards is difficult to do with groups that do not share common experience and who therefore do not share a common repertoire of events. Without this set of events, people talk a lot about non-specific trends.

Google Earth


Social Software

James did a cracking job of providing an overview of social software last night.

Social software vs. Collaborative software. James noted that functionality-wise there can be considerable overlaps between say, a Lotus Notes teamroom and a wiki. But while collaborative software is part of an enterprise-wide top-down implementation, social software is consumer-driven and assembled by indivudals from components ("Small Pieces, Loosely Joined"). The public are way ahead of the corporates here.

Which, as James notes, implies all kinds of things for firewalls, security and IT policies...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Future of Volunteering

SOLA are running some workshops on the Future of Volunteering using the Cynefin methodology. I attended the last one as a participant and will be attending the next one as a facilitator. I'll let you know how it goes...