Tuesday, December 30, 2008

seamless teamwork

A couple of weeks ago, I got a copy of Michael Sampson's Seamless Teamwork. A longer review may appear elsewhere but for now, let me say it's pretty nifty and I've already recommended it to some people who are using Sharepoint for team collaboration. If you're new to managing virtual teams but not using Sharepoint then it's still worth a look. I haven't digested chapters 11 & 12 that are available on his web site but extent to which Michael has tied comon project activities and challenges (e.g. brainstorming, vision setting, team building) to Sharepoint functionality is impressive.

Some slightly critical comments:
  • Lots of people loved the framing of the book in the context of the fictional project Delta. I find this device in business books really grating as the author shifts gear between a third-person description (in this case the story of Roger the project manager) and second-person directive statements ("you can do this with the wiki").
  • Sharepoint's social software attributes get quite a few mentions (wikis, blogs, RSS) and yet these are still quite rudimentary compared to other offerings out there. Michael has not persuaded me to love Sharepoint yet.
Looking forward to the next book Michael.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

five common collaboration tool errors

I was presenting on collaboration tools last week and I was reflecting on five common mistakes made in the selection or implementation of these tools that I have seen (or even participated in at one time or another) before launching into descriptions of the tools themselves and some case studies. Here are the five members of the hall of shame:
  1. The No Goal Error. Not having a purpose or objective behind what you are doing. What will people be using this for? Does what you are asking them to do matter to them? (N.B. "collaboration" is not a goal in itself). Warning Sign: "We put in a x because we thought it would be, y'know cool". Nothing Wrong With: There is no upside to this one.
  2. The Magic Bullet Error. Thinking that one tool will do everything for you. There are a range of tools out there and no one application (or platform) does everything equally well. Warning Sign: "We plan to do everything in x, the sales guy/evangelist for x said it will do everything we need". Nothing Wrong With: If something works well in more than one situation then by all means use it.
  3. The New New Thing Error. Deciding to deploy something because it is new rather than based on its merits to meet your purpose (N.B. You do have a purpose don't you?) Warning Sign:"One of our directors read about x in an in-flight magazine, we have to implement x tomorrow". Nothing Wrong With: Experimenting with new tools (with all that the word "experimenting" implies).
  4. The If I Wear Brad Pitt's Suit, I'll Look As Hot As Brad Pitt Error. Just because another organisation gets good results with a certain tool and set up, it does not mean that you will also. My body is not the same shape as Brad Pitt's nor is my face as pleasantly arranged, hence his suit will probably not have the desired effect. Your organisation and your culture are not the same as somewhere else and context is important. Warning Sign: "Organisation Y (in the building next door but a completely different industry) just implemented x and it went great for them, why don't we do it?" Nothing Wrong With: Learning from the experiences of others and listening to intelligent case studies.
  5. The Titanic Error. It's not the parts of the iceberg that you can see that you should be worried about. Successful collaboration is about many intangible things (leadership, trust) and yet people focus on what they can see - i.e. the tool. Warning Sign: "I want an online community, show me how to customise the skin on Ning". Nothing Wrong With: Paying attention to design and usability and making it all look good.
I suspect you will have seen (or written about) versions of these before. I also suspect you will have seen others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


This is all about raising awareness and funds for a microfinance project in the Philippines. Check out the links please.

The hippies had left the bus dumped in a ditch
when the trust fund money evaporated
like sunstroked bong water.
The engine was long gone, a generator in waiting.
The seats scavenged for a room for living in.
You had cut the tyres into shoes
while we attacked the frame with tinsnips.
You should use every part of the carcass.
We will reincarnate this bus's body
everywhere around us.

My eyes will not leave the destination sign:
So I close them and the sign hangs in space.
I see the bus decomposing
a symphony of human activity.

Follow the rivulets of metal
and the binary pulses of money
and the actions falling like dominoes
in a world record attempt.

Follow the chromosomes
that interlock like acrobats
to create the trick of a life
Balance, harmony - a high wire act.

Follow the tectonic fault-lines
that skid round the globe
without our permission.
Plates spinning in that same circus.

Follow the word network,
the net worth of word nets
that catch us each in ourselves
when the high wire snaps.

Laugh at the words "independent" and "self-made"
carved in the biographies of great men
like a child's profanity on a park bench.

I open my eyes and the sign is gone.
I hope you took it.


My grandfather said
that you make your own luck.
He made his with shotguns
and post offices.
The cops made theirs
with informers and patience.

My grandfather said
that one day your luck
will run out.
His luck ran out and took
the last seat in the getaway car,
leaving him to face the music
counted out in 4-4 by police batons.

N.B. My actual grandfather wasn't a bank robber but he did play a mean game of Scrabble.

high on my own bs

I hadn't been to the Single Origin meet-up for a few weeks so it was brilliant to see Gav, Katie, Tim, Ian & Jeannie there plus to meet Julian, Tony, Scott & Neerav among others.

Is this one of those soshal meeja echo chambers? A bit. But the noises in the chamber are pretty and the people are fun. And the barrier to entry is, well, non-existent (unless you are complete tool, in which case don't come). Plus the Single Origin guys know how to put on a party - with a band and masses of people (at 8am in the morning).

Gav gave me a book. It was big and heavy and called GUTS: All it takes to be successful in business (and life). It looks lovely - perfect for my coffee table. On the cover, the word GUTS (in bright orange letters) is hidden by the silver stuff they put on scratch cards - so you have to scratch away (preferably with your teeth, because that's what mavericks do).

It's written by a guy called Simon Hammond. Who appears to be high on his own BS. He runs SEE - "the world's most inspirational company". At what point does a slogan slip from "aspirational" to "delusional"?

All of which makes me wonder whether Guts isn't really an elaborate prank - a parody of OTT business thought leadership and personal development books that claim to challenge every preconception you have and reveal "the truth" in all it's embarrassed nudity - and then offer up a mildly diverting mix of nice advice and stupid exaggerations instead. This is not helped by the "insights" being called SINS, arrived at through the process of CRACC (stop sniggering at the back).

Still, joke or not, it looks lovely on my coffee table. Thanks Gav, I have the perfect book for you as a New Year's gift...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

podcast - lauren brown on bicycles, melbourne & art

A brief podcast with Lauren Brown - includes a free guide to experiencing a derive in Melbourne on a bicycle.

Download the mp3

00:00 - Melbourne as the first city in Australia to be designed.
02:00 - Library Spice
03:00 - The Laneways Commissions
07:00 - The city is not a blank canvas
07:30 - The derive
08:40 - The derive via bicycle
13:15 - What's going to happen in the next 3 years?

christmas time!!!

I'd love you to buy me a present.

Possibly some Kiva credits (or skip the middle man and loan the money yourself)*. Or may be some teacher training from Worldvision. Or else some cash sent to SANE.

*Props to Johnnie Moore, Step Two & the amazing Lesser Kudu for their fantastic loans.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

generational stereotypes

My parents were both born towards the end of WWII. They hit their 20s in the 60s. So they were hippies right? Flowers in their hair? Free love? Drugzzzz?

Erm, no. My Dad spent most of the 60s on board the Royal Navy ship where he was a stoker. My Mum is a relatively conservative person who traveled a bit in Europe and trained to be a teacher. Neither of them fit the generational stereotypes that history (and lazy cultural commentators) may yet hand them.

There were plenty of hippies in the 60s. But many young people weren't. The future is interesting precisely because it gives us more opportunities to be ourselves (should we so choose). Of course, if that's too scary then we can just get the nice comfortable labels out again.

the day after tomorrow for knowledge management

So we know that today is pretty screwed up. The world was running on US consumer debt and now the tab has to be paid. It's all about cost reduction and efficiency at the moment. Knowledge managers will face a tough couple of years. You can axe most KM operations and not see any impact for, ooh, 3-6 months. Of course 6 months down the track managers will be saying "we used to do this stuff well, why do we suck at it now?" but that's in the future.

The bad news: Some of you will be fired no matter how good your work is. Corporate cullings may be presented as rational exercises in cost control & restructuring but from the inside seem more like frantic acts of self-harm by bulimics at break point. If the chamber in your game of involuntary Russian Roulette does contain a live round then take the money and get out of there.

The good news: KM really began as a movement after the last major recession (and the BPR-related blood-letting) of the early 90s. Organisations will fire too many people, just as they probably hired too many people in the recent past. They will be awash with ignorance. Fertile territory for those whose job it is reduce the dead weight of ignorance.

Hang on.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

new communities

If librarians are unsuited to the role of personal information coach ("You ain't taking a break until I get 20 items tagged folksolonomogalically"), then we might need to expand what "community" means for us.

We've been used to geographical communities - the local library. And geographical communities are neglected at our peril. But they are no longer the only game in town. The public library system was largely a result of the titanic upheaval of communities wrought by the industrial revolution. Urbanisation and increased literacy rates created the communities that the public libraries served. There are now many communities of which people are a part - professional, aspirational, lifestyle-based. And all of these communities need the skills of librarians.

The big question is: Who's going to pay for this? Is it the government? Is it communities themselves? Some mix of the two? Or no one?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

information coaching

As you may know, I'm a librarian by training. Mark Pesce writes about a new(ish) role for librarians:
Some of this won’t come to pass until you move out of the libraries and into the streets. Library scientists have to prove their worth; most people don’t understand that they’re slowly drowning in a sea of their own information.
Check out the comments by Philippe Van Nedervelde BTW. David Pollard has also written extensively about the importance of personal information management (PIM) and like Philippe he shares an enthusiasm in David Allen's Getting Things Done (no, not that one).

The challenge for librarians is to move away from The Collection. The justification for the library was that books (and hence information) were expensive and scarce for the masses. Hence the initial focus of librarians was creating and managing collections. And we saw this is a responsibility that we did on behalf of a community. Whether for the public or the academy or some other group, we managed books and periodicals. We played a role of mediation - gatekeeper or matchmaker.

Two things have happened in the interim. One visible and one less so.

The first thing was that the information landscape got more complicated. First with records and radio then TV, video, DVDs, CDs, mp3s, ebooks, ejournals, webpages galore. Even with the book, higher earning power means that people can buy many of the books they want (if they want them). Many librarians will tell you that much of the good stuff isn't free. And that's true but the care factor is low. Good enough will do for many. This much is obvious.

But the second thing is much less remarked upon. The communities we serve are not what they were 100 years ago. The public librarian faces an urban (or suburban) environment rather than a rural one - with an array of ethnic groups, special constituencies and transients. The academic world has expanded into a billion-dollar business and organisations see employees come, go and return as contractors.

Librarians can survive the fragmentation of the book but their real struggle is to comprehend what their communities are becoming. Mark P talks about librarians as “life coaches” but the image that comes to my mind is the librarian as Ronin. Coaches have always focused on the individual whereas librarians have always focused on their communities.

I'd like to see librarians more engaged with their communities - beyond the library (be it paper or electronic). If the role of the investigative journalist is to "follow the money" then the role of the librarian is to "follow the information". Information is everywhere. It touches everything. If librarians follow the scent of information we end up back out in the community, where we belong.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

reasons to be cheerful

There's a lot to be miserable about at the moment. In the short term, the economy is going down the pan. In the long term, the Earth's ecology may collapse. I have decided to be optimistic - on the grounds that being pessimistic may be right but it's no fun.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

what's a wiki grandad?

I quite like social software. Hence the blog, the podcasts, the use of wikis & google docs, the twittering, the social network stuff (not much Second Life activity as of yet). And I go around telling people about this kind of thing because I like it but I am also quite a sceptical, cynical person.

So I try to strike an uncomfortable balance between enthusiasm and realism (and I don't always succeed). One area that has worried for some time are the claims made on behalf of those younger than me (Gen Ys and younger) by those my age or older. Apparently the next generation is effortlessly using social software to change the world. I think this contains a kernel of truth but it also causes problems:
  • It's something for social media experts to scare potential clients with.
  • It ignores the differences within generations to focus on the differences between them and so perpetuate stereotypes*.
  • It gets social software labelled as "young person's stuff" - rather than stuff that everyone can and does use.
So I was intrigued to find Net Gen Nonsense - which includes links to some interesting data from Australian students. And surprise, surprise, the picture is actually quite complicated. A minority of students are into social software as a creative activity but many are not.

So what does this mean? I think we need to bin the generational arguments around using social software in the enterprise. It's not about the Gen Ys or their younger brothers and sisters. Some of them are really switched on but there are plenty out there that know less about this stuff than you, dear reader.

*Those Gen Xs are just like you Scorpios y'know. Or is it you ISTJs? Or you chicks? Yeah, you're all the same.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

analyse that

The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever. The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be let alone and to be able to work in their own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it.

Typealyzer said both this blog and the other are ISTJs. GenderAnalyzer said here there is an 87% chance that we are male but over there, there is a 56% chance that we are female!

Make of that what you will.

canberra - information & knowledge policy

Just a quick note to say that I enjoyed the presentations by Kylie Dunn, Sally-Anne Leigh and (of course) Nerida Hart at Information & Knowledge Policy Development gig.

Monday, November 24, 2008

i had my social media echo chamber designed by mc escher

Some nice person gave me a pass to Online Social Networking & Business Collaboration World 2008. I missed the morning sessions which apparently saw senior execs from Friendster, Bebo, MySpace and Google tell the throng (200 people?) just how important their site is.

I did go to the afternoon session with Andrew Mitchell (Urbis), Chris Knowles (Heinz), Jeremy Mitchell (Telstra) and Wayne Hughes (Virtual Medical Centre). Andrew, Chris & Jeremy were all good - but I've seen their presentations before (may be I should go to less conferences). Wayne's topic was interesting but I was a bit mystified as to why he was in that stream and he had a fair whack of sales material in his presentation.

Captain Coincidence being who he is, Hugh McLeod has been posting this series of cartoons. There'll probably be more soon.

My take is that there is no real role for social media experts. There are people out there who will either sell you existing software or build it for you - and that's fine. There are also people out there who can advise you on marketing, collaboration, information & knowledge management, advertising, etc - and they may use blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, RSS, etc in doing so. Many of them are very good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the banality of wisdom

Nerida sent out a link to this. I'm still processing it but I kinda feel ambiguous when I saw the trailer. We have a lot of famous people, most of whom are quite old. They mostly say sensible stuff. And sometimes they say it in quite a charming or poignant way.

But it's rarely stuff that you haven't heard before. But that's the thing about wisdom. Most of it is not new (that doesn't make it easy do). So we are left with people who have done wise and unwise things and who may (or may not) be wise in some respects. But whilst I'm sure they can entertain, I'm not sure that they can enlighten. We can enjoy the cinematography and nod sagely but are we any the wiser?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

stupid ideas and dead people

You may remember my obsession with the Cochrane Collection Collaboration. I've been pursuing this on the actKM list with all the ferocity of a man trying avoid a major deadline around a difficult client report. Anyway, we got into a big discussion of measurement and causality and stuff - but the vibe I got from a few people was "this is just too hard, we will never produce anything as rigorous as medical science". They may well be right. Knowledge managers are not doctors.

But if you compare the Cochrane Collection with The Old Operating Theatre in London then some perspective comes into play. I was at the Operating Theatre a few months ago (there's nifty picture of me getting my leg cut off that I've go somewhere) and, although they'd tidied it up a bit, you could imagine what a dirty, dingy, deathly place it must have been. If you got a broken limb then you were probably dead. And if you weren't dead then you were certainly due an amputation.

How has medical science advanced? Simple: stupid ideas and dead people. There have been lots of stupid ideas in the history of medicine. Often not completely wrong but not right either. And these stupid ideas meant lots of dead people. And at various points in history, medics have decided (whether for reasons of humanism or greed or pride or whatever) that working out which ideas are the least stupid will mean less dead people. This is not a linear narrative of progress. This is messy. There were (and are) mistakes, blind alleys, and maddening gaps.

One of the most interesting things for me are the articles in the Cochrane Review that say "there is insufficient evidence to come to clear conclusion on this". That speaks of an ambition to eventually find out what works and to improve health.

In my own discipline, we need that ambition. Lots of catastrophes have a knowledge dimension (or more frequently an ignorance dimension). But to be honest, most of my work is about the alleviation of small problems that make working lives miserable and organisations less effective than they could be.

We need to be more reflective and critical of our own practice. We need to find ways of sharing our failures as well as our successes. And we must not loose the focus on results. Most of all, we need to understand that our first efforts in this will be partial, messy, crude. We don't get to start in a gleaming, hi-tech surgical lab. We are rummaging around in the darkness and grime of garret. Tough - that's where you start.

We may not have as many dead people but I'm sure we can make up for that with stupid ideas.

captain coincidence strikes again (2)

So I liked Fake Steve Job. Then I forgot him. Sorry Steve, the illness showed that you were weak and mortal. I had to dismantle my shrine. Then a couple of days ago, I found Real Dan Lyons. He is a blisteringly funny writer about the tech world. And then mere hours later, he stopped.


Well, yes, absolutely. What else could it be?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

captain coincidence strikes again (1)

So earlier this week I wrote about Ben Goldacre - who has a pet peeve against suspect nutritional advice in general and "superfoods" in particular. Yesterday I received an email from a friend inviting me join a "multi-level marketing"* scheme involving a goji berry energy drink - from a company he told me would be the nutritional equivalent of Microsoft (cue: lots of gags about bloatware & obesity). I like my friend, he is one of the nicest guys in town. He is also pretty damn smart. I wondered if I had lost my mind.

He did assure me that there were over 100 "solid gold" clinical studies on PubMed. I had a look (using the Latin term "Lycium barbarum") - and it brought back 103 papers. From what I could see, most of them dealt with in vitro experiments or tests on lab rats. Now if I was a bunch of cells on a glass dish or, indeed, a rat (steady), this might be handy. The only clinical study on humans (outside China - they seem to be keen on the berries) was carried out by... a major distributor of goji products.

I should say that the goji berry energy drink had less sugar in it that other energy drinks (yay!) - but also had caffeine in it. Which makes me wonder if goji berries are so gosh darn great, why the caffeine?

*This is not a pyramid scheme - as one Brisbane newspaper found out to its cost. However I did look at the compensation scheme for "marketing executives" on their web site and was completely confused. Nine pages of points, ranks, numbers, uplines, downlines and I was no clearer at the end as to how much money I would get. Maybe their compensation system requires you to have had your brain boosted by goji berries before you get it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

collaboration models (2)

Stuart French has been working away on his model for wiki participation. Matt Hodgson has expanded it with Stuart into this beast:

There's a lot of very interesting stuff in Stuart and Matt's musings. The critical insight that social software participation can be a mix of either/or both/and "bottom up" vs "top down" is a useful one. I have a few quibble but the key comments would be:
  • The activity domain seems to be a bit of an after-thought. What are those 5 kinds of behaviour doing compared to the rest.
  • As a way of exploring thinking visually, it's intriguing. But it seems to be getting more complicated rather than less. At some point it has to become a simpler or become one of those complicated diagrams that everyone nods at sagely but doesn't really understand.

collaboration models (1)

James Robertson has developed this three-tiered model for collaboration. I like it. However there are two comments I would make:
  • I'm not sure it's a fully-fledged model yet. It's a checklist of things that impact an organisation's ability to collaborate grouped into 3 areas. More map than model. How do these things interact?
  • James writes: There are many elements of collaboration, and we often encounter the “blind men and the elephant problem”. We’re all talking about collaboration, but we’re actually discussing different parts of the animal. I think there's an additional issue. There are not just different elements to collaboration but there are different kinds of collaboration (that based around project teams vs virtual communities for example) that require different individual skills, models, tools, governance approaches. I don't get a sense of that from this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

bad science and getting better

Ben Goldacre writes for the UK's Guardian newspaper and also puts out the Bad Science blog. His mission is to attack poor uses of science - esp. in the medical field where he was trained. New Age therapist, Big Pharma PR, dodgy neuroscientists, credulous journalists and dishonest labs get mercilessly ripped. BG seems to rather enjoy doing this.

It's via BG that I discovered the Cochrane Collection Collaboration. It's an organisation that systematically reviews the medical literature for evidence that particular treatments work (or don't).

For the past year or so, Patrick's presentations and blog posts have explored the development of health science as discipline in comparison with knowledge management. It's something I've been pondering recently too. In part because I've been reflecting on the divisions between academics and practitioners in the KM world - which encompassed a discussion on actKM (many thanks to the participants). Patrick articulates it well:
"There is no great merit in and of itself that a practitioner "gets into" academia, or an academic engages in practice successfully, or that gifted individuals manage to get invited to both tea parties. The merit is in whether practice gets better. KM is fundamentally a practice - theory is its servant. And the practice needs to show beneficial outcomes affecting real people in real organisations in real economies and societies."
How do we get better?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

blogging is boring - excellent!!!

James D highlights the the death of the blogosphere. In this Wired article, Paul Boutin says that writing a blog will no longer guarantee you attention and Bloggers today are expected to write clever, insightful, witty prose to compete with Huffington and The New York Times. Paul is of course a journalist and also a former blogger.

Paul is of course right - starting a blog now will not get you the attention it would have got you 4 years ago. But as a journalist he assumes that all bloggers want to be journalists. However lots of us don't. The more I blog, the less of a **** I give whether I have readers or not (which explains my 49-part history of custard - to be launched next week).

Twitter and Facebook/LinkedIn status updates just don't give me the space I need. I need more than 140 characters - cuz, like, ohmigod, I'm a 35 year old man with a receding hairline who needs to vent a lot - that's a lot. And I ain't pretty enough for YouTube.

Now some middle-aged Californian has said this isn't cool, can the rest of us just get on with it please*?

*This is the definition of "plateau of productivity" in Gartner's hype cycle that they toyed with but never had the balls to publish.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

making marketing interesting

A couple of jobs are coming to an end in the next few weeks and it's time to gear up into marketing / selling mode again. I don't mind selling - I definitely wouldn't say I was a "gun" salesman - provided the person wants to be sold to. So I'm going to be picking up the phone and talking to people. If you don't want to be talked to then just say that. If you don't want to talk about business then let's grab a coffee and talk about something else.

I have one request for you tho. If there's someone you think I could have an interesting conversation with then let me know. Not (necessarily) in terms of business development or doing some kind of deal. Just in terms of having an interesting conversation.

writing articles - any requests?

I've been writing a fair few articles recently (as you can see). It's partly because I like writing and find it fairly straightforward (altho I haven't heard about the last one I submitted - so it'll probably get rejected and I'll be left feeling a little less smug). I can also justify it as "marketing".

I'm feeling a little stale tho. So over to you. Feel free to suggestion publications (& topics) that I should pitch to and I'll give it a go.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

km theory vs case studies

Final follow-up to this post below. Most case studies are useless. I remember being at a major KM conference and a friend asking me: "What's wrong with me? Why aren't my KM projects as smooth and flawless as these presentations?" It reminds me a bit of the argument about unrealistic portrayals of female bodies making ordinary women depressed. If everyone looks like a Hollywood starlet then I must be ugly and useless.

The thing is most case studies as written up in articles or presented at events leave out the really useful stuff. Where did you screw up and why? What were the unexpected events?

However 'real' case studies (warts n all) are very powerful indeed. I love The Mistake Bank. I think that knowledge managers are slowly, painfully building up this base of experience - but we could do a whole lot better - as Patrick has often stated.

The role of theory here is, for me, not fully decided. Dave, Patrick, Shawn, Gary Klein and others, have all done a brilliant job of bringing in research from complexity theory, cognitive science and narratology to bear on real-world problems. More KM practice needs to be built on research. However theory by itself is not enough. It needs to be constantly tested against brute reality.

What I am arguing for here may be impossible: A transparency around KM practice that requires a strong theoretical base, a willingness to experiment and a drive to learn from the work of others.

the strategic question for knowledge managers

This throw-away post seems to be still generating more heat than a forest fire.

The challenge I (and my colleagues) faced as knowledge managers was getting beyond the "oh, you look after databases" dismissiveness of staff, managers, execs, etc*. It wasn't that we didn't want to focus on strategic issues (well, some were happier hiding away but I think they were in the minority) but that getting the opportunity to tackle them is harder than just walking into the CEO's office and saying: "Hey I'm going to solve your strategic problems for you".

I can remember sitting in meetings where we were talking about workforce change, systemic organisational risk, improved performance for a group of workers and we'd get asked for some minor changes to be made to a web site. Occasionally an issue would erupt that would give us some traction, some leverage with someone we already had a relationship with (possibly because we'd edited their web page for them). And then we'd run as far as we could with it. And then there would be a pause. N.B. Simply showing how our KM activities aligned with the corporate strategy didn't really differentiate us because that's what everyone does. Saying you support the corporate strategy is like saying your in favour of "good stuff" (motherhood, apple pie) rather than "bad stuff" (war, famine).

So you readers out there (all 3 of you). Can you give an example of a game-changing moment that you have had? A moment where you saw an opportunity and went for it?

*A core quality of a successful knowledge manager is sheer bloody-mindedness.

Now if I can get through this without accusing anyone's mother of darning socks in Hull, we may get an interesting discussion.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

gigs - melbourne / sydney / canberra

I'll be doing sessions based on the actKM presentation in Melbourne next week (courtesy of the KM Roundtable) and possibly in Sydney two weeks later (courtesy of NSW KM Forum). There's now the white paper and I'm toying with T-shirts & coffee mugs but I reckon there's a limit to cross-promotion on this baby.

And then there's that gig in Canberra that with a social software bent. Thanks to Alex, Andrew, Paul, Cory, Kelly, Luke, Viv & Dan for answering the dilemmas and sharpening the thinking.

Hmmm - T-shirts, now there's an idea....

Monday, November 03, 2008

smart people + recession = ?

The last couple of articles seem to be focused on "tough times". But anyway, Talent Management in a Down Economy is now available on the other site.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

tribes - how about that audio book

So as you may remember, I signed up for Seth Godin's latest book Tribes. The book arrived last week. So what's the verdict?
  • The marketing campaign was a blinder. The Ning site for the first 3000 people to sign up to the book - which was a bit of mess and kinda lost my attention but still a brave experiment.
  • Sending you two copies of the book for the price of one to those 3000. One to give away. A nice(ish) gesture. It wasn't like it was ice cream or anything but that doesn't travel so well. But a fantastic idea in terms of spreading the word.
  • Giving the audio book away for free. Some people bitched about this but so what? It's free!!! And it's different to the book so that's fine.
So I think SG has done a dashed good job of marketing by being quite nice to his readers and generating buzz. Full marks.

Now let's get to the actual book. SG writes cool, buzzy sentences. Even his paragraphs are quite good. Things start to unravel at the chapter level and the final result is not really a book as many traditionally might think of it. There is no line of argument rather there's a rant that riffs around tribes and leadership with lots of case studies - a statistically improbable number of which are based in New York restaurants. I'm not finished yet but I'm getting a similar feeling to reading "Purple Cow" last year. There is an idea here but it feels more like a talk thats been worked up (really worked up) into a short bookette. I suspect the audio book would actually be better because then you might lose yourself in the momentum of the SG verbiage. Maybe he should charge for the audio book and give the paper one away for free.

I don't think that SG was always like this as a writer - I mean Permission Marketing felt like a, you know, proper book. Or are proper books, like, soooo 20th century? Plus the prose has a bit of a Tony "Awaken the Giant Within" Robbins feel to it. Is there going to be a 5-day, 5-figure seminar series off the back of this?

As for the idea? That (informal) tribes are more important than formal organisations? That leadership comes from all over the place? It's not a bad idea by any means and there are parts that I absolutely agree with. But it didn't feel that new to me. Maybe it's "Here Comes Everybody" if you have ADHD.

So Seth Godin. Genius marketer. Good blogger. Book writer? Not so much anymore...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


A recent post led to a somewhat predictable exchange with someone. In the comments section, I am told that one of my statements is impolite. A couple of months ago I had a stoush with someone else on an email list that then went off-list. I had publicly attacked the mode of arguing that person had used. In an off-list exchange, I was told I was being impolite and unprofessional. Maybe I am.

I'm always a bit dubious when the "politeness" card is played. If I have called you "stupid" then I agree, that is impolite. If I have called what you say "stupid" (and also justified why I think that) then the case for "impoliteness" is much weaker. It often seems to be a distracting tactic. I reserve the right to criticise statements and behaviour. I also accept that my words and actions will get called these things in return. And yes, those who seem generally "nice" will get treated more gently than those who seem to relish verbal battle.

What do you think the rules of etiquette are?

[UPDATE: Well that doesn't seem to have ended well]

actkm - networks

Graham and Laurie both ran sessions on networks of different sorts. BTW networks are so hot right now.

I interpret Graham's work as being built on a single, brilliant insight (plus lots of hard work). The insight is that the nodes in social network analysis don't have to be people. They can be projects or policies or many other kinds of business objects. I strongly advise you to read his blog.

Meanwhile Laurie's partnership scorecard is also shaping up nicely. He now has lots of nifty templates. The session suffered from being a dash hypothetical (I imagine it plays so much better for real) but again definitely worth checking out.

actkm - arthur shelley's wiki

Arthur presented on his wiki experiments with RMIT students. The trials and tribulations. The collective efforts. It's a shame that this one wasn't recorded as the slide don't really do it justice.

actkm - matt hodgson

The key part of Matt Hodgson's presentation for me was the note that social software uptake inside organisations could be related to power distance i.e. social software is more likely to be taken up in organisations with low power distance. Matt - Do you have the background research on that?

UPDATE 30.10.2008 - Stuart French has pointed me towards this discussion on Matt's blog where Matt sources his findings. I'd like to get my hands on the underlying data if possible. Any spreadsheets there Matt?

actkm - dave snowden's challenge

Rewinding to the actKM conference a couple of weeks ago, I want to pick apart a comment by Dave Snowden. In a public discussion, he stated that knowledge managers should focus on solving intractable problems.

I have two responses to this:

1. That's easy for you to say, Dave. To my knowledge, Dave has never held down a KM role inside an organisation (apologies if that's wrong) and his primary engagement with KM has been as a consultant. He gets to pick and choose "intractable problems" that he will work on. Most knowledge managers do not have that luxury but must try to sell innovative projects to a sceptical management while ensuring that things like the intranet are working.

2. As a provocation, an incitement to knowledge managers not to get pigeon-holed as document minders, it's a great one.

an infatuation

All the Obama vs McCain stuff in the US? It nags at me. Not because I think Obama will lose. It's possible but looking less likely by the day. At not because I think Obama will be a bad president. I think he'll be competent enough. And he seems a better choice than his competitors for the crown.

My beef is that he cannot possibly satisfy the desire for change that he has both nurtured and ridden. He reminds me of Tony Blair in the UK - and to a lesser extent Kevin Rudd here in Australia. A dream has been created that must necessarily be broken.

Within 12 months of Tony Blair's election, many of those who had been hyping him turned against him. They had created a fantasy candidate in their heads and Blair with all his human failings (plus the slightly autocratic leanings that Rudd seems to share) could not live up to their dreams.

The problem with infatuation is that you don't fall in love with a person but your project of that person. I give the infatuation 6 months before it fractures in the face of the human reality.

i really don't give a **** about social media

I'm kinda over it all at the moment. Maybe it's because I'm sick in bed with nothing but my computer for company. But maybe I'm getting a bit over the social media milieu as well. We are actually a very small group in Australia - buzzing each other up on Twitter.

I'm a bit bored of presentations talking about "revolution" and using inspirational stock footage that trigger associations with these guys. This stuff isn't a revolution. Which is good coz most revolutions fail in their aims and end up eating their children. I don't want a revolution.

I'm struggling to articulate these small annoyances. They'll nudge together into something more coherent over time. I want this social media bubble of voices bouncing off the inside of its skin to burst.

I want little moments of insight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

i don't want a clean feed

Let's get one thing straight. I am against child pornography. However I am also against censorship of the internet by governments. Esp. when that censorship is ineffective. The EFA's no clean feeds campaign is well worth a check out. As is Angry Aussie's analysis of the situation.

email not dead shocker

A friend of mine called me last week and said she was thinking of setting up an online community for a group of female entrepreneurs. What should she use? Well, we had a chat and what do you think we came up with?

A blog, a wiki, a Facebook group, a Ning site?

No - an email list. An oldie but a goodie. These people aren't tech-savvy and email is their primary form of communication. I've ranted about email before but in this situation it kinda makes sense (for now).

mp3 on advice to new knowledge managers

I asked several people at the actKM conference what advice they would give to people new to the field of KM. You can now listen to their advice on the actKM site.

Hear what Mark Schenk, David Gurteen, Arthur Shelley, Graham Durant-Law, Keith De La Rue and Cory Banks have to say.

What piece of advice would you give?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Age of Conversation TWO!!!

Some of you may remember the first Age of Conversation last year. Well Gav & Drew have been hard at it and assembled another 200+ writers, ranters and relics for Age of Conversation
TWO!!! The aim is to raise $15k for Variety (the children's charity not the magazine). You can buy the book here.

Go on. Treat yourself...

Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Brunelle, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Friday, October 17, 2008

my future bank is blank

If you are an Australian social software head then you probably know all about Cheryl, uBank/NAB and the demise of My Future Bank. At this point it would be de rigeur to beat up Loaded Tech/NAB and point you towards my own top 10 tips for corporate social software engagement (because this is, of course, all about me).

Here's my take:

  • Cheryl's been writing about the marketing attempts of Australian banks for a while. I think her criticisms were valid and I share a lot of her frustrations with the way Australian banks operate. I want the banks to get it. I want them to give a flying **** about their customers but I am not convinced they do.
  • The more observant of you may have noticed a little turbulence in the financial markets at the moment. Perhaps many people are not liking bankers presently...
  • ...However the question of what my our future bank(s) should be has never been more important. We desperately need more consumer engagement from our banks - N.B. "engagement" does not equal "advertising".

So here's the pitch. A bunch of us re-start MyFutureBank. The banks are invited. Consumers are invited. Governments & NGOs are also invited.

Let's have this conversation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

actkm 2008

Massive shout out to the team who organised and contributed to the actKM 2008 conference in Canberra this week. Here are the presentations from Day 1 (including my own). Further reflections will follow on the weekend.

webifying the australian government

Did you know there is a Director, Web Policy & Online Technologies in Canberra who is responsible for making the Australian government all Web 2.0 n stuff? I didn't until a couple of days ago when I got an email for her. I had written to AGIMO to enquire as to what had happened about this. Of course in between sending the mail & getting the reply, I found this. There is undoubtedly some good stuff going on - such as Lindsay Tanner sticking his head above the parapet.

Apparently there are several events going on in Canberra in the next few months around this. Has anyone out there been invited?

It seems that the government are trying to achieve a radical goal (online engagement with their citizens) through traditional means (consultations, expert advice, behind-the-scenes meetings). N.B. If this is not the true state of affairs then educate me.

I really want to encourage them to go beyond that. Can we have members of AGIMO blogging about this for example? One thing I love about people like Jason Ryan is that they walk the talk. Come on my little cuddly bureaucrats, it's nice and sunny out here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

slower (perchance to dream)

I was at the Dave Gurteen / NSW KM Forum brekkie on the topic of "Is KM social?" with many of the usual suspects and some new faces.

One thing that stuck with me, while social software tools allow you to record experience as part of people's work, they can't fully solve one of the key challenge that knowledge managers face. Whilst embedding stuff and making things easy for people is very important, we've actually got to be wary of making things too easy for people.

Sometimes it's our job to say "Stop".

A key part of learning (individual or collective) is reflection. If you aren't willing to stop and reflect on what you have done (and its consequences), then you do not get the full benefit of that experience. We all probably need a weekly thinking time.

Just as our bodies need time to process the events, thoughts & emotions of the day (which may well be a key function of sleep), so we need time to process. Sometimes we do need to be asleep on the job (metaphorically).

One symptom of sleep deprivation is psychosis. If we cannot process our lives, we risk going insane.

Join the dots.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

game 3: sticky wiki

A wikipedia entry referencing the minister of your department includes derogatory nick-names given to your minister by the press. A senior advisor to the minister approaches in the tea room one day and asks you – as the office “computer whiz” – to delete the offending remarks.

What do you do?

game 2: forumed is forewarned

An internet forum site with thousands of Australian users – tidalwave.com.au – includes a number of threads that are openly critical of the work that your group does. One thread in particular contains accusations that you and your group have acted illegally. These accusations are false. A major national newspaper has been lifting stories from this forum site on a regular basis and you fear that the contents of this thread could be next. You contact the media relations advisor in your department but they do not appear to understand the risks involved.

What do you do?

game 1: unleash the blogs of war

You are a public sector manager. Anne, a member of your staff, has a public blog where she posts mostly personal news about her rock climbing hobby. You don’t read the blog but occasionally she sends round email links to her climbing photos on the blog to her colleagues in the office. One afternoon you receive an angry phone call from Tricia, a senior public servant in another department. Apparently Anne has posted a blog entry critical of activities of that department that involve the rock climbing community. The post is not defamatory but some of the readers' comments attached to the blog post are abusive. Tricia believes that Anne has broken her terms of employment and wants to institute disciplinary proceedings against her.

What do you do?

social media public sector decision games

I'm doing a conference session in Canberra in November. My session is Social Media and the Public Sector - Examining the Hazards and their Policy Implications. I thought I'd kick things off with some decision games. I will post the 3 exercises up here. You can post up:
  • The decision you would make.
  • How you might change the scenario to make it more challenging or useful for participants.

the election (no, not that one)

Just before I went overseas (hence the lack of blogging), I exercised my rights as a new Australian citizen voted in my local elections. Australia differs from the UK in that voting in compulsory – punishable by a fine if you do not participate.

If you ask most Australians which system is better then they say the Australian one. However if you dig a little deeper and ask if they believe that Australia has a more engaged and informed electorate or a better standard of government than the UK then they tend to answer no.

The big problem here is that compliance is a poor way of generating engagement. The option of “going thru the motions” is a very tempting one for most people when presented with a compulsory activity. Do I need to point out any similarities with the world of organisational change and knowledge management?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

ban "leadership"

This post by Bob Sutton chimed with some of my own thoughts. "Leadership" is a term much bandied about - and unhelpful. "Leader" is of some use but should be handled with care. "Leading" is fine.

There are people who lead others sometimes. They go somewhere (literally or metaphorically) and other people go with them. They are leading. The moment those people stop following them, they are no longer leading. And remember, they have to be going somewhere - otherwise that's "staying in one place" not "leading". Staying in one place is not necessarily a bad thing altho it doesn't have the same ring to it and probably won't get you laid: "Hi - I'm a leader stayinoneplacer."

Why am I being so picky? Well I think there are several things wrong with the industry that has grown up around leadership:
  • It focuses on "being a leader" rather than "leading" and hence deals with characteristics & qualities rather than actions. Thinking that training courses & seminars will help you lead others more than actually, y'know, trying some leading is misplaced.
  • It focuses on the individual (allegedly) doing the leading rather than the mass of people moving a direction (or more often several related directions). This allows the majority of us to disown our responsibility to lead ourselves: "I can't do this, I'm not the leader".

So what do I propose instead?

  • If you want to be a leader then try some actual leading. Head off somewhere and see who comes with you. It needn't be somewhere hard to get to. If no one will come then ask them why. They may have some good reasons.
  • The rest of us need to recognise that everyone's a leader. "It's not my responsibility" isn't really a good enough answer, ever. One day I may even live up to this.

Friday, September 05, 2008


The commercial arm of EngineerswithoutFears continue their punishing publishing schedule.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

making stuff happen if your thang is professional

The prompter behind the previous online post was some thinking around online communities with a corporate -> consumer focus (which is more about knowledge gathering). This post has been triggered by some conversations I've been having with different groups with more of a professional flavour - i.e. how do you nurture communities in a nascent professional group (either within an organisation or outside it)? This is more about knowledge dissemination.

I'm afraid there's another 2x2 matrix here but bear with me. It assumes that knowledge is unevenly distributed - there are experts and newbies. But it also assumes that even those with only some knowledge can help each other.
  1. You probably need to start with some face-to-face (or coaching-intensive online) training - a mix of presentations & activities that use a "trad" learning approach. This is be demanding of time but relatively focused.
  2. A website (with a blog, podcasts & videos) is helpful here. In effect this is your online broadcast system. This will require the building of content.
  3. Once those newbies are up and running, they need to support each other. Something online helps here (esp. if people aren't co located). It may be a discussion board, an email list, a wiki or even a community tool like Ning. This will require facilitation.
  4. Those newbies need to meet F2F occasionally to share what they have learned (both good & bad). This should take the form of an unconference like BarCamp - or some similar participatory approach.
Participants start on the left as learners. Then move to the right as colleagues then spread back across to the left as experts, colleagues and still learners (because ultimately we all remain learners).

The trick is to get these different activities to reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop. Trad education has been good at 1. eLearning made a stab at 2. But those charged with making people smarter need to get their heads around all four to be effective.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

online communities - everybody's gotta thang

After this post, I've been thinking about online consumer communities. I was working on something very, very complicated and then realised that the first thing I had to write was actually very simple.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

the whole truth and

So I was thinking about the relationship between fact & fiction in relation to storytelling and some observations came to mind.

1. Fact & fiction are agreements. A story both teller and listener believe to be true could be labelled "fact" and one both agree is untrue could be "fiction". However those are not the only possibilities. A story the listener believes to be true but not believed to be so by the teller would probably be labelled a "lie" by a 3rd party. And the reverse might be labelled a "error" (or a delusion at worst). 2. In most social situations there is no 3rd party umpire of truth & falsity. And agreement on "fact" and "fiction" can be murky esp. when talking about interpretations and motivations. We end up negotiating a lot of this stuff.

3. The belief of a listener or teller in the story is not always constant. As a teller I might distort events for any number of reasons both innocuous (e.g. compressing events to make the story easier to follow) or self-serving (to influence the listener). As listener I constantly revise my belief of the story - esp. if I don't know the teller well or doubt their reliability.

I'd like to do an experiment where a story is told over the phone with teller and listener being able to control a slider with "totally true" at one end and "totally false" at the other. The result would be a pattern drawn on the above matrix (with a time component - you might show that with a gradual change in colour from start to end).

I wonder what the patterns would look like?

presentation station

So after Louise Mahler's sesh last night, I believe I ended up ranting about the 3 things that people need to do to become better presenters (because there are too many bad presentations that happen every day and life is too short to endure them).
  1. Learn how to tell a story. A beginning. A middle. And an end. Pick up a book like this. Watch some movies. Read some books. Listen to experiences that other people tell you that stick with you. Try putting together a story of your own. Then cut out the bits you don't think you need. Then cut it back some more. What is the fewest number of words you need to tell your story? Can any word you add justify its place?
  2. Learn how to tell a story with pictures. This book and this one and maybe this one. Learn to paint. Or doodle a lot. Or try getting busy with the camera. Try to tell a story using only pictures. I dare you.
  3. Learn how to be in front of others. Now that you only have a few words and a few pictures - what is there left? There's you. Hear your voice. Raise your gaze. Feel yourself inside your body. Get up on a stage and do something unrelated with your work - acting, dance, comedy, stripping, it doesn't matter.

And when you've done all this, you'll probably rock (but you'll rock as yourself).

I am annoyed that so much of our education focuses on the analytic side of things & not this stuff. This shouldn't be hard but we seem to make it hard for ourselves. Go figure.


As much as McKinsey might bug me, they have an enviable access to senior execs and do churn out useful surveys. This one on organisational change is similar to their Web 2.0 number in that it kicks off with the bleedin’ obvious:

  • Transformations with well defined targets tend to do better than those without.
  • Having visible involvement from top people is important.
  • Focusing on the positive as well we the negative (go positive deviants!)*

The final point is that organisations need to engage with their people in a bunch of different ways – incl. the use of narrative (in there above performance targets & incentives). I also like it that role modelling comes out at number four. At 7 pages it is way too long - compile it down into a single page that you can stick (framed or otherwise) on your CEO's door.

*Interestingly, it seems that it helps if you have a roughly equal mix of emphasising problems and successes – so think on that appreciative inquiry.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

make some noise

The Sound of Leadership wasn't a promising title but the session run by Louise Mahler with the Creative Leadership Forum last night was excellent. Favourite exercise: The importance of pelvic thrusts in vocal delivery. Favourite fact: The reason behind the epidemic of vocal chord nodules among telephone sex workers.

intelligence test

We have emotional intelligence and then social intelligence, political intelligence, narrative intelligence and last night I heard about vocal intelligence. I like the idea of expanding our understanding of abilities to include more than just the mathematical or logical - as Howard Gardner has explored. However I'm getting a bit tired of hearing about "xxx intelligence". I'm not completely sure why but it's starting to feel overused - even cliched. It's in danger of taking a bunch of stuff that people do (and do well or poorly at different times in their lives) and making it mysterious.

The problem with the original Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is that it reified (& unified) something that might not be one simple thing (I find the Flynn Effect fascinating). These other intelligences could broaden out the notion of what it means to be an effective human being OR they could just be marketing labels that obscure more than they illuminate.

What next "blogging intelligence", "eating intelligence", "gardening intelligence"?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

banker lend to thy self

Cheryl has a post about banking customer service that ends with the comment:
And they wonder why consumers hate banks. No amount of ads about happy banking, or your bank caring about you, or determined to be different, or whatever they advertise to try to convince you they care about you, will ever change the banking culture.
I am currently having some issues with my bank. And three thoughts strike me:
  1. The greatest asset that many large, underachieving businesses (and that includes you, Australian banks) have is customer apathy. Seth Godin puts it well.
  2. The banks are in for a(nother) shock. A few months ago, when I was still working for a certain financial regulator, a former exec from one of the retail banks came in to teach us about the banking sector. It was an interesting day but one thing stuck in my mind. In the 90s, the Australian banks were caught out when their prime business (loans and especially home loans) got hit by new entrants such as Aussie Home Loans - with lower rates and better service. Now the growth market that banks are targeting is "wealth management" - i.e. advising people on where to spend their dosh. Based on this former executive, the banks seem to think that this market is theirs for the taking. I think it's more likely to be a repeat of the loans situation - i.e. new entrants creaming the incumbents with better offers and stronger service.
  3. Banks don't seem to understand that customer service means actually serving your customer, not your customer serving you. Not putting lots of bureaucracy in their way. Not hitting them with fees for everything (and most recently I have been charged a fee due to one of their cockups). If and when I become wealthy, why should I trust my future to someone who has no concern for me beyond the next fee hit opportunity and cannot be trusted with the most basic activities?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

podcast - mary-alice arthur on stories

A further podcast on stories with Mary-Alice Arthur in New Zealand.

Download the mp3.

Show Notes:
00:00 - Mary-Alice meets storytelling @ Glistening Waters
03:00 - Leader as Storyteller as Megatrend
04:00 - 4 Million Dreams in New Zealand
05:00 - 9/11 as one catalyst
05:30 - Appreciative Inquiry as a response
07:00 - Personal & national dreams
07:30 - Youthconnect
08:00 - "Not just one thing to do"
11:00 - What does a conversation sound like as a drumbeat?
13:00 - The Paua Shell
15:50 - Hoberman Sphere

Sunday, August 17, 2008

more dramas

I spent Saturday hanging out with Johnnie Moore during his visit to Sydney and going off on lots of tangents. Our conversations seem to consist of multiple tangents from which we eventually return to our original topic. Anyways, one topic that came up was “mindfulness”. In fact it’s been coming up a lot recently (e.g the slow community podcast with Nancy). Here are some reasons why:

  • Life is getting faster & more complicated. If we don’t manage ourselves we will get washed away.
  • We have more autonomy – no one else (e.g. a government, a paternal corporate) is going to manage our lives for us. And as our lives get more complicated and more unique, others are less able to provide us with reliable advice.
  • Mindfulness & self-restraint have been part of our religious traditions. As we have lost our dependence on religion so we have lost some of the resources that religion provided.

So in discussing drama triangles, I see them as part of a personal project around mindfulness and self-understanding. James R comments that they are negative – which can be true if they are used in an accusatory way: “You are a rescuer”; “You are a victim”. I see them more as tools to aid self-awareness (as KT notes): “What games am I involved in here and do I really want to play them?”

There’s something existential - recognising that you have a choice and more freedom than is immediately apparent.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the enterprise 2.0 drama triangle

If you are driving Enterprise 2.0 in your organisation, there are 3 roles you might be lured into playing:
  • Rescuer. "Help, help, we cannot collaborate with Notes Teamrooms, surely your wiki will save us!" "Why yes, it will solve all your problems and all will be right with the world."
  • Victim. "Why does no one pay attention to me? Why cannot I get any traction with the business?"
  • Persector. "You are doing this all wrong! You are idiots with your impenetrable chains of emails and your hidden information nests!"

Other people will tempt you to into playing these roles by playing one of their own. They may even shift between them.

However, the budding Enterprise 2.0 dude (or dudette) must avoid playing any of these roles and being caught on the point of a Karpman Drama Triangle. There are other options:

  • Rather than being a victim, admit your vulnerability. You are not all knowing and some of your experiments may fail. But you will fail fast, fail early and learn from your failures. You will succeed.
  • Rather than rescuing, reach out. Connect with others trying to achieve similar things in other organisations. Tap into your internal & external networks.
  • Rather than persecute, persevere. The "Enterprise 2.0" buzz term will disappear but the need to help smart people work together smarter will not.

Keep the faith people.

A hat tip to KT for putting me on to these in the first place.

enterprise 2.0 presentation

Here is the presentation from yesterday's conference.
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Some notes to go with the presentation:
  • This is a revised draft of this presentation I created back in April - with slides 23-28 owing a heavy debt to Patrick Lambe's rewrite.
  • The email detox podcasts with Luis Suarez & co: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • The five steps are: i. ban attachments & instead link to files sitting in a more permanent location; ii. if an email conversation involves more than 5 people then shift it elsewhere, iii. make your tools as simple to use as possible, iv. encourage role modelling of good behaviours by senior staff, v. begin with a small step in the right direction rather than trying to change the world in one go.
  • The 5 issues to consider are: i. security. email is insecure anyway but you need to clearly establish access guidelines for each location where documents are stored, ii. privacy with new tools is important - e.g. staff need to understand how public their discussions will be, iii. develop an archiving / retention policy for your documentation, iv. do not hit staff members with too many tools, they could be overwhelmed with choice, v. consider different IP options for ownership of content esp. if consumers are involved.
  • The Cynefin framework is introduced because social software adoption is complex (lots of interacting agents, inherently unpredictable) rather than simple or complicated. Waterfall approaches do not work. More on Cynefin here: http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/423/kurtz.html
  • The final page concerned drama triangles. There will be a blog post on this topic soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

grow your wiki

Stewart Mader is tearing himself away from the Tooheys-scented teet of Sydney/San Fran wiki-meisters Atlassian and going out on his own. As a fan of Stewart's work, I wish him all the best and advise you to check out his offerings.