Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Disappearing email lists

The Yahoo-based ACT-KM list abruptly & mysteriously disappeared about 2 weeks ago along with 2 other KM lists. It has been restarted here. Props to Mark Shenk & Ron Rogers.

Yahoo did not state why the list was terminated.

Until today.

A Yahoo representative contacted the ACT-KM moderator and stated that the group was shut down due to complaint about violated trademarks owned by Hudson Associates. According to an article, their president likes to dress up as Attila the Hun - a role which may have gone to his head.

I would like to know the full list of terms trademarked by Hudson Associates. I pray that it includes "Knowledge Management" - that way we can finally ditch the term & do something more interesting.

Dan Kirsch has yet to provide an answer but I suspect that ACT-KM was caught in a cross-fire between rival US KM professional organisations. Which is akin to being savaged by consumptive sheep.

Monday, January 30, 2006

NSW KM Forum: Communities & Serendipity

Good CoP, Bad CoP: Are Communities of Practice a Structural Panacea or Essential Component of the KM Toolkit? Mark Andrews, National Knowledge Manager - Corporate, Freehills
Conversations on Serendipity: Management nightmare or hidden power shaping organisational agility? David Rymer, Thinker-In-Residence, Intuosity

WHAT: The last five years has seen a concerted shift from a technology to people focus in KM, with organisations setting up Communities of Practice (CoPs). However, little consideration is given to the role of alternatives.What can be done with more formal structures? How we can effectively tune an organisation to increase knowledge sharing? Mark Andrews will draw on experience from Capgemini, Sydney Water and Freehills to offer some answers to these questions.

WHO: Mark's KM experience spans Ernst & Young, Capgemini, Sydney Water and Freehills. He also lectures in Knowledge Management as part of the UTS MBA program. His background includes management consulting, HR management and IT project management.

WHAT: Agile organisations centre their knowledge on value creation. Agility (responsiveness, flexibility, and innovation) determines how successfully organisations meet their customers’ needs. David Rymer will draw on real world experience including The Israeli Air Force, venture capital start-ups and The Coca-Cola Company to examine how surfing serendipity shapes knowledge futures, sparks organisational change, fosters innovation and delivers economic outcomes.

WHO: David has enjoyed an eclectic career spanning marketing, technology, innovation, KM and organisational change in Australasia, Asia and the United States. David is the inaugural Thinker-In-Residence with Intuosity, a private Think Tank tasked with exploring the world of ideas, inspiration, intuition, curiosity and innovation. David is also Deputy Chairman of the Standards Australia’s Knowledge Management committee.

WHEN: 3.30 for 4pm until 5.30 pm Wednesday 8th February

WHERE: Standards Australia, 286 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

HOW MUCH: Free! If you plan to attend, please RSVP by e-mail to

Innovation - Think Play Do

Read or hear the recent ABC programme by Mark Dodgson on innovation.

- Innovation as outcome vs process.
- Importance of play within innovation process (and a reference to Michael Schrage).
- A reference to one of the world's least boring economists.

More Evil

More breaking news of the fight of Good vs. Evil. Danny O'Brien of NTK tells us the epic (and funny) battle going on in the open source software environment.

See No Evil.
Hear No Evil.
Speak No Evil.

Cheers to Boing Boing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Prediction Markets

The KM cluster is running an event in NYC on Prediction Markets hot on the heels of a West coast event.

John "KM Cluster" Maloney has recommended Chris Masse's site as a source on Prediction Markets.

I am not aware of much work in prediction markets in Australia - Andrew Leigh has co-written a paper on betting vs. polls and the 2004 Australian election.

Anyone got any ideas?

Melbourne Lunch redux

Monday's Web 2.0 / any old excuse lunch is blogged about here by Andrew Mitchell.

I got to meet Andrew Rixon which led to an enticing but abortive conversation on representing social networks. Andrew namechecked Space Syntax. The standard node/edge visualisation of an SNA breaks down when you have to handle 100+ nodes. Andrew suggested a "streetmap" visualisation for social networks.

I think he's onto something.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Talking about Pictures Part 2

And that other place entirely is: process

There has been some recent blogospheric discussion driven by Ross Mayfield's declaration of the end of process. In fact, what Ross advocates is:

At best, a process should serve as a reference model. Something that others can reference when completing a task. Something that can be leveraged for innovation, a boundary condition for experimentation at the margin.

They are the rules in stone that innovative types must always battle against.

Brushing aside whether the constant recreation of process is always a good idea ("Hey, screw the manual, we're going Open Source on the operation of this nuclear power plant - who wants to start a wiki?"), this position assumes that the processes in question are clearly documented and well understood by those involved in them.

This is not always the case. Rarely are we mindful of the processes we forge or follow.

We need to be able to describe it and/or visualise. If this sounds like I'm getting Buddhist on your ass - well I am.

Now, there is veritable tower of Babel of process description languages - ADF, UML, EPCs, CUL8R (I may have made that last one up). An attempt to forge an Esperanto (altho one that people actual use) of process mapping can be found in the Business Process Modeling Notation project.

What has this got to do with character? Well, process models are all about decisions. Here is one for Sydney cab drivers: "If the traffic light is green keep going. If the traffic light is yellow, then accelerate wildly in attempt to beat it. If the traffic light is red then hit the brakes and swear loudly".

Or as Robert McKee calls them: choices.


Social Software & Web 2.0 Lunch in Melbourne - Monday Jan 16th

Following on from the Sydney Social Software lunch & gossip session, there will be a rematch in Melbourne on Monday 16th. Location as yet undecided. If you are interested then post a comment to register interest and more details will appear anon.

***UPDATE. Location will probably be Regina Pizzeria in the QV precinct.

Communities, SNA & Personality Types

There has been a recent discussion on the Communities of Practice discussion list about personality typing and activities within communities.

Are specific personality types likely to perform specific roles within a community?

There has been some conjecture from proponents of DISC and Myers-Briggs as to which personality types might gravitate to which specific roles.

Another framework to use are Belbin's team roles. Rather than say: "Your presonality is structured in this way" (which Myers-Briggs definitely does and DISC does to a lesser extent), Belbin says: "These are the roles you find in a team - which ones are you most comfortable with?"

If you have a stable model for the roles in a community, then presumably you could create a set of questions that might identify the suitability of individuals for each of those roles.

As several people have pointed out, such personality profiling systems do not take account of the development of individuals - i.e. they tend to be static rather than dynamic.

In the course of this conversation, Valdis Krebs alluded to an informal study by an academic acquaintance that looked at correlations between Myers-Briggs types for students and SNA metrics (e.g. centrality) for their positions in their study-related networks. Interestingly, no correlation was found...


Thanks to a prod from Andrew Mitchell, I have changed the settings on my "Comments" function so now posters do not have to register to post a comment - but I get to moderate them first. I want opinions & insights - not offers for low-cost extensions to various parts of my anatomy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An Ear For The Crowd

Many people I know are scared of public speaking. So they go to Toastmasters or on presentation skills courses.

There are plenty of role-models in the public speaking arena: politicians, preachers & poseurs.

Fewer people are worried about their listening skills. Which is odd - because most of us will do more listening in the course of a day than public speaking. And most of us are pretty bad at it.

So who are our great public listeners? As listening tends to be a private & personal activity, there aren't that many.

There are plenty of entertainers masquerading as interviewers.

However, there are a few that do it well. Denton has his moments. As, in a very different way, does Parkie.

There situation is unnatural in that they are not just listeners but intermediaries on behalf of an audience (some of whom are present in the studio and most of whom aren't). But there are some things that carry over.

One critical issue is attention. With a good listener, you know that this person is listening to what you say. Now some recommend that 100% attention is critical. However, it is possible to "over-attend" to someone. Some people do not actually like eye contact. I am odd in that I find it very difficult to share potentially embarrassing information over the phone (altho it's less difficult in person) - I prefer using instant messaging if possible.

Another is silence. Silence can be scary in conversations. But it can be a good thing. It's s sign to the speaker that the listener is paying attention - and is happy to wait for them to find the words they need to say. I think we need to have silence practice more regularly.

Which reminds me of a Steve Wright joke.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Talking about Pictures Part 1

It's a truism among writers that character & characterisation are two different things.

Over to Robert McKee for a moment:

CHARACTERIZATION is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being, everything knowable through careful scrutiny: age and IQ; sex and sexuality; style of speech and gesture; choices of home, car, and dress; education and occupation; personality and nervosity; values and attitudes – all aspects of humanity we could know by taking notes on someone day in and day out. The totality of these traits makes each person unique because each of us is a one-of-a-kind combination of genetic givens and accumulated experience. This singular assemblage of traits is CHARACTERIZATION. . . but it is not CHARACTER.

True CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature.

We'll come back to Robert later but first we need to go to another place entirely... (TO BE CONTINUED)