Wednesday, April 30, 2008

podcast - luis/patrick/alex - email detox (2): infrastructure & politics

Following on from the last post.

Download Part 2 now (20:23, 4.8 Mb)
  • 00:00 - Patrick raises the infrastructure question.
  • 03:00 - Luis brings up wikis.
  • 04:10 - Luis talks about discussing the detox with his team.
  • 07:55 - The laziness issue.
  • 09:00 - Do we love email?
  • 10:00 - Alex mentions email overload.
  • 11:00 - Generational issues.
  • 13:00 - Patrick raises the politics question.
  • 15:00 - Luis busts the whole thing wide open.

Monday, April 28, 2008

podcast - luis/patrick/alex - email detox (1)

I had the pleasure of conversing with Luis, Patrick & Alex about Luis's email detox programme. Here is the first part (of three) for your listening pleasure.

Download Part 1 now (16:48, 4.0Mb)
  • 01:00 - Luis describes his email detox moment in 2007.
  • 03:10 - Luis challenges his email correspondents within IBM.
  • 06:10 - How do you bring people round to the post-email world?
  • 11:00 - Where is email appropriate?
  • 13:00 - Instant messaging & social networking.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

podcast - puneet gupta - connectbeam

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to Puneet Gupta, CEO of Connectbeam, a US social search company. Conntectbeam get a mention in the collaborative bookmarking presentation.

Download the mp3.
  • 00:45 - Introduction: Connectbeam = + LinkedIn for the enterprise.
  • 03:25 - How does Connectbeam actually work?
  • 05:20 - Which organisations are using Connectbeam?
  • 06:45 - Who is using the tech inside these organisations?
  • 08:00 - The knotty question of ROI.
  • 10:45 - The future of Enterprise 2.0 - Connectbeam as the Heart of Collective Intelligence.
  • 13:45 - I attempt to lighten the conversation & fail miserably but an interesting comment on tag clouds & cultures emerges from the wreckage.

presentation - showing the value of km

A presentation on demonstrating the ROI / Value of Knowledge Management to beancounters - based various experiences. Of course, I can't put the really juicy stuff in the presentation - you'd have to get me in to deliver it for that...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

jumping the shark

A sure sign that an organisation's knowledge management programme has passed its prime would be its inclusion in the MAKE awards. Why? The MAKE awards are basically a beauty parade judged by execs & "experts". To get in there, you need to have written articles (preferably a book), schlepped the conference circuit, blown your own trumpet until your lips are cracked and dry. Which means that your best work is probably behind you and your organisation is presumably not getting your full attention.

A similar beauty-parade rigorous survey method is used by Boston Consulting Group to compile Business Week's list of the world's 50 most Innovative companies. It's actually very useful - but not quite for its stated purpose. It tells you what senior execs think innovation is:

  • Nifty design ("Yeah, those iPods & iPhones are cool, man. Why can't we make something that f***ing cool?")
  • Something about doing things better ("Didn't Toyota come up with six sigma? No? Huh, GE? Who then? Motorola??? Get the f*** outta here!!! S***!!! Can we can that six sigma rustbelt program already?")
  • Making truckloads of money ("Bill Gates is an a**hole. A total f***ing a**hole. God, I wish I was him. And as for those Google a**holes...")
  • Making stuff cheap ("That cheap Indian car. Yeah, you know the one that looks like it would fall apart if ya farted in it. That's f***ing innovation - you tell me that isn't f***ing innovative!!! But ugly, oh jesus, fugly as all hell. Not like my iPhone, my preciousssss...")

Meanwhile Millward Brown's list of the world's Top 100 brands (sorry, brandz) is interesting to compare to Interbrand's list of world's Top 100 brands from 6 months ago. Now is Google or Coca Cola the world's biggest brand? Or are they both? Is this going to be like school sports day - does everyone get a prize? Even the ugly, spastic kid with the mother and the sister who are the same woman*? I'm guessing this brand valuation thing isn't an exact science.

*Now answers on a postcard which brand that would be.

Thanks: Johnnie

social software round-up

Forrester says Enterprise 2.0 worth $4 billion - which puts it at about the same size as the online porn industry - based on my exhaustive research.
James Dellow says Enterprise 2.0 is not KM - good on yer, James.
5 Social Computing Benefits that Adoption Rates Don't Show - good on yer, Rex.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

text messages

Moving on from automated to human textual analysis, I've been having a bit of a look at XSight & NVivo from QSR. Back when I was doing my Masters, I recall a product called NUD*IST getting a mention. Basically this tool allowed the coding of interviews to help academics with quantitative analysis. This has become XSight for market research types & NVivo for academics.

XSight allows you to store your interview notes (ordered by research demographic) so you can annotate & tag them. You can create mind maps & research frameworks and then link them back to your source material & annotations. It's pretty handy but not as neat as the latest version of NVivo which allows you to code video and audio. NVivo makes less of the mind-mapping / white-boarding stuff and gets straight on with the multi-media tagging. It claims to have nifty collaboration & web publishing functionalities as well but I haven't put those to the test yet.

Now I've talked about hybrid human / automated metadata recently. I think we'll see hybrid semantic analysis tools emerging that mix automation & human involvement. SenseMaker is another example of this. We human beings are meaning machines. Just as we have created machines to enhance our vision & hearing so we need to develop technologies to aid our senses of comprehension.

workin' in a text mine

OK so what was the point of that last post? I suppose one thing that struck me using Leximancer was that these tools are neat but (like their data mining brethren) it'll be a long time before they move beyond specialist uses into the wider world. So much depends on skilled human operation in terms of framing a problem, selecting & screening terms, and interpreting results.

What experiences have you had with these tools?

Some resources:

leximancer duel - izzard vs hicks

Barry Saunders' stuff has inspired me to have a look at some text mining tools. So I got a trial copy of Leximancer and got busy. I will feed Leximancer various texts over the next few days. I began with a rather hefty challenge: The transcript of Eddie Izzard's Dressed to Kill DVD.

The initial sweep on default settings yielded this (click to enlarge):

Massively increasing the terms (or concepts) yielded this (click to enlarge):

Which is a little clearer if you remove the concepts themselves and just leave the themes (click to enlarge):

And here is some ranking (click to enlarge):

So what can we tell?
  • Eddie has a bit of a foul mouth.
  • Eddie has a "thing" about religion.
  • And war.
  • And cake.
  • Eddie is probably British.
I then unleashed Leximancer on this transcript of Bill Hicks from the early 90s.
Some conclusions for Bill:
  • Like Eddie, Bill also has a foul mouth and issues with religion & food.
  • I really should use this stuff for something more serious.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

aiim findability survey

Following on from their Enterprise 2.0 Survey, Dan & Carl AIIM are doing something similar for Findability. Dan has provided an overview on their approach & requested feedback and also offered an initial list of technology solutions. I like their open approach to both constructing the survey & making the final report available for free (and altho Carl is probably right that the final result shouldn't be a wiki, it should be something more digestible than a single PDF).

One observation I would make about findability tech is that you basically have 3 groups:
  • Content creators / providers
  • Content users
  • Content managers (from both an IT & editorial perspective)

And these 3 groups can have 3 relationships to the tech:

  • Don't use
  • Consume but don't own / control
  • Own / control

Trad search is owned by content managers & consumed by content users. Trad taxonomies tend be owned by content managers (hopefully with some input from the business) & consumed by both content providers & users. Findability tools - esp. social software - tend to have broader spans of ownership/control which makes them simultaneously more power AND harder to manage.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

podcast - nancy white & ed mitchell - blended facilitation

I had a blast recording this session with Nancy White & Ed Mitchell on "Blended Facilitation". It's a bit on the long side but I am loathe to cut it. We'll probably do another one and Mr Mitchell has requested "more structure".

Download the mp3 now.
  • 00:50 - Ed talks about doing a mix of online & offline facilitation with the Media Sandbox.
  • 04:00 - Nancy talks about 4 types of blending: Modalities (sight, sound, touch); Online/Offline; Individuals/Communities; Methods.
  • 06:00 - Nancy discusses Seeds of Compassion.
  • 09:50 - Matt mentions "extending the event horizon" & multi-modal poetry.
  • 13:00 - Online and/or Offline?
  • 15:30 - Ed's door intrusion leads to a discussion of Second Life.
  • 19:20 - Different strokes (or tools) or different folks - provided there are overlapping experience.
  • 22:30 - The thorny question of Generations (Y, X, Boomer) - going into broader diversity issues (e.g. participants from Africa with lo-bandwidth).
  • 26:50 - Mindfulness, feedback & signals - the ethics of sharing community data.
  • 30:10 - Facilitation + Manipulation = Facipulation.
  • 34:00 - The public, the private & ambient exposure. Where are the boundaries?
  • 38:50 - We hit the knotty question of identity
  • 39:40 - We lay into the culture of expertise.
  • 41:00 - I think we've all learnt a valuable lesson here, haven't we?
(It sounds like I'm cutting in & predicting what Ed & Nancy are saying but that's an artifact of the recording process, mostly - just shift my words back 10 seconds compared to Nancy & Ed)

collaboration tools: centricity

Most social software tools have a focus, a centricity. The focus of that tool will effect your use of it. You can try using Facebook as a wiki but it won't really work - because the focuses of each are different. Here are some suggested focuses. What would you change? What would you add?

[In fact, wouldn't this blog post be better as a wiki page?]








Forum / Thread


Image / Account


Ego-based Network





podcast - james dellow - enterprise rss action day

Today I interviewed James Dellow about the Enterprise RSS Day of Action.

Download the podcast here (8Mb, 32:54)
  • 2:00 - Andrew McAfee & SLATES - Enterprise 2.0 is about more than just wikis.
  • 3:05 - Grey Areas - when social software isn't "social".
  • 5:30 - What is RSS? - Really Simple Syndication
  • 9:50 - So what about Enterprise RSS?
  • 11:40 - What are the benefits of Enterprise RSS? (the elevator pitch is longer than 30 seconds)
  • 14:30 - How will it impact the behaviour of users? It's all about AWARENESS...
  • 15:40 - How does it impact internal communications? Measurement & persistence...
  • 19:45 - The 10 things that James wants from Enterprise RSS.
  • 21:50 - The top 3 challenges to Enterprise RSS: Content / Technologists / Users.
  • 23:35 - How to get started with Enterprise RSS.
  • 25:50 - Vendors: Attensa & Newsgator.
  • 28:20 - Pervasive RSS - Feeds Everywhere.
  • 29:35 - Enterprise RSS Action Day.
Nice one James!

exploring the webs of citizen journalism

Barry Saunders (thanks Laurel) is doing some very interesting research into citizen journalism & issues on the web. His work interests me on two levels:
  • Citizen journalism itself - which simultaneously has been around for a very long time and is also very new in its current visibility.
  • The tools he is using to explore this. Issuecrawler and Leximancer look intriguing. Anyone else played with these already?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

extending the event horizon - collaboration tools

The triggers for this pondering of collaboration tools have been a bunch of events that I am in some way involved with. Many are conferences (or sometimes unconferences). The aim is to "Extend the Event Horizon" (thanks Katie) both before and after the event - should participants want to do so.

Before: Sydney Bar Camp used both a blog - for news releases- and a wiki - for registration. NSW KM Forum also uses a blog for announcements.

During: The Enterprise 2.0 Forum used Tangler as a virtual interaction environment and several people were Twittering like crazy during Bar Camp Sydney. Second Life is becoming the place to do virtual events but I'm not so sure about that.

After: This is up for grabs. A key factor here is the technical savvy of participants. You may just want to stick with an email list. A step up from that might be a Facebook group. I think Facebook makes a pretty rubbish collaborative environment beyond simply pumping out information to interested parties. As Axel Brun (thanks Gav) puts it very well, it's too ego-centric, it mixes up all your relationships in one big pile of social slop & the activities you can engage in are pretty rudimentary. But then a nightclub is not the same environment as an office. Like Axel, I've developed a taste for Ning. If you want your event to be part of something longer-lasting, then I'd go for something Ning-y. But you (& your participants) might not have the appetite for something longer-lasting. In which case, the quick & dirty options (e.g. email) are just fine.

collaboration tools: stags

I've been thinking about different collaboration tools for various groups recently and I was pondering on some of the different factors you need to consider and I came up with this (click to enlarge):

Let's take each of these in turn:

Size - One thing to consider are the numbers of people who will be collaborating. Three rough groups sizes come to mind:

  • Teams (15 approx) - small number of people. Most collaboration in our world that is aimed at doing stuff (as opposed to talking about doing stuff) probably occurs in teams of 5-30 people.
  • Tribes (150 approx) - departments, small businesses, communities of interest, Christopher Allen's groups, will have 60-200 active members (plus as unspecified number of blow-ins, lurkers, guests, etc). Note: There may be 300+ people registered as users but the actual number of participants will be far lower. There will probably be less collaborative work and more discussion / show 'n' tell.
  • Wide-scale (150+) - Examples here might be IBM's WorldJam.

Assertion: Above 6 people, the size of a group is inversely proportional to its ability to get things done.

Timeframe - The time period over which people will be working together is also important and again I have gone for 3 rough divisions:

  • Synchronous (o seconds delay) - I need to work with people now. N.B. There is probably a limit to the number of people I can work with at once without going insane. It is probably less than I think.
  • Ephemeral (1 min to 1 week) - It will be over relatively quickly. Longevity & content persistence are minor issues here.
  • Project (1 week to 1 year) - For collaboration with a defined start and end.
  • On-going - It might be collaboration within an official group (a department) or an unofficial group (a community) but we don't know when it'll stop. Content persistence is important here.

Activities - When people collaboration, they need to do stuff. So this list is a little arbitrary. I'm sure that there's more that could go in there. But for me critical areas are:

  • Discussing - Talking about stuff. Ideally in a threaded environment so it's possible to track discussions.
  • Planning - Identifying tasks & their dependencies, giving those tasks timeframes & assigning people to those tasks. Project Management 101.
  • Creating - Probably co-creating written content to begin with (but also mindmaps & images). Yes I'm talking wikis here.
  • Sharing - Sharing documents - be they individual word/excel/ppt files or collaborative wikis/google docs. Also media files - images, audio & video.
  • Commenting - marking up documents & adding tags / commentary. BTW I have been having a look at QSR's Nvivo - which allows you to tag sections of audio & video files. This is a product aimed at social science researchers (with a price tag to match) - but there are obvious applications of this in the consumer space.

Geography - I'm not going to say too much about this but basically the more dispersed by space, timezone and culture the collaboration participants are, the more you need to make explicit and the less you can rely on workarounds. Persistence & easy finding of content is critical.

Similarity - So are these people all from the same organisation (with the same culture & infrastructure)? Or do they come from many organisations? This could also be called Security. Do I want to keep our collaboration private or am I happy to have it open to the world?

These are just the things that I've been thinking of. I'm sure that you could come up with more.

window shopping

ABB hits me with a Johari Window reference in the comments. It has something to do with presentation management, ambient exposure and mindfulness. I don't quite know what yet.

There's a pragmatic viewpoint of this in terms of personal data:
  • Hidden = C:/ drive
  • Open = Blog
  • Blind = CRM / Gov data (held about you of which you are unaware)
  • Unknown = Unknown data
There's another viewpoint that asks us to examine our relationships with others - that may or may not be mediated by social software. Do these tools make us more or less aware of what we put where and when?

There's a third viewpoint that queries who the "self" and "others" are here. Are there not multiple potential groups of "others". And is "I" always the same?

Anyway time for some cogitating...

a word to the wise

Patrick Lambe gets stuck into Wisdom Management. One sentence sticks in my mind: Wisdom management cannot but focus on the knowledge and ability of privileged individuals.

Some observations:
  • James Surowiecki would probably disagree with this.
  • There is a demographic driver here. The baby boomer generation is just about to retire. Forty years ago many of them sought enlightenment & nirvana. And now they hit their sixties, they want wisdom. I'm not sure it works that way. Nor am I sure that all of them lack it.
  • Decision-making & mindfulness are two closely related things that most of us I struggle with.
  • Those pushing wisdom-enhancing courses are probably some of the least-equipped to do so.
I like the notion of wisdom but I'm not sure I like the notion of having it sold to me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

incentives schemes and behavioural economics

I am currently reading (& loving) this book. I was reading chapter 4 on social vs market norms last night - excerpt here - and it explains why incentive programmes around knowledge sharing often run out of steam. Alfie Kohn has written at length on this topic but Dan Ariely puts it in a slightly different way.

When people share their experiences, skills or knowledge they either do it in a social context or a market context. If they do it in a market context they will expect to be rewarded appropriately - and if they are highly experienced (and expensive) it will cost you a lot. Conversely, if they do it in a social situation, they do not necessarily expect financial reward (but they will often expect some form of social reciprocation). However once you replace a social context with a market context it becomes very hard to bring social norms back. You are stuck in "**** you, pay me" situation. The interesting thing is that a gift is OK in a social situation provided you do not link it explicitly to money.

The issue with most incentive schemes designed to encourage collaboration is that collaboration is built on social norms that you destroy when you make it all about the money. And most KM programmes do not have enough budget to pay participants for their collaboration at the market rate.

DA goes on to write about the broader implications of social vs market norms for employers, employees and customers but I'll let you read that for yourselves.

Friday, April 11, 2008

dunbar's number online

This post generated a comment from Patrick. In posts here and here and in this presentation, Christopher Allen discusses the size of functional online communities - and comes to the conclusion that the Dunbar number is a limit rather than a mean. Most online groups will have around 60-80 active members.


BTW I did some more analysis of the ACT-KM discussion list. See summary.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ambient exposure & persentation management

Leisa writes about ambient exposure and social risk management. The more I think about this, the more I believe that we need social software tools that allow us presentation management*. This would consist of:
  • The capability to group our contacts within a particular tool using the names of our choosing and the ability to define access permissions for each group.
  • Giving us the choice of whether to inform our contacts which group they are in or not. And what their access permissions are.
  • Reminding us who our content is going to in a contextual manner as we create/upload it.
  • Allowing us the choice of whether to transfer these different contact across tools (or not) - and thus transferring our personas.
The keys here are choice & awareness.

*N.B. That has nothing to do with Powerpoint. It could be persona management but that sounds like you are faking stuff. It could be identity management but that's been nabbed by LDAP vendors. Anyway Presentation Management reminds me of Erving Goffman.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

chief conversation officer

Last night, Dave Armano posted a Tweet about Chief Bloggers in relation to an interview with Ad Age re this. Sean Craphammer writes "Blogging is not about publishing". And he's right. The parallel here is with Public Relations. Now the sad truth is that most PR people do not spend a lot of time relating to the public. They hang out with journalists. They understand the news cycles for their particular industries and their sets of issues. Some of them might have been journalists once but they don't necessarily write articles. They influence the writing of articles*.

Organisations need Social Media Relations people. And because of the participatory nature of the social media, these people will have to blog. And comment on other blogs. And Twitter. And all that other stuff. They will encourage, advise and look out for bloggers and social media headz in their own organisations. And they will have to believe in what their organisations do (be it curing cancer or causing it) or else they will get found out.

Everyone wants to be Chief Talking Officer. Who wants to be Chief Conversation Officer?

*And wanting to influence people is fine so long as you are open about it.

mistakes & stories

Two Ning groups that you should all be looking at:
  • The Mistake Bank: The Mistake Bank is a repository for "war stories," or brief narratives of mistakes that people would like to share. Please contribute videos or blog posts recounting your mistakes that you think others could learn from.
  • Worldwide Story Work: If you care about story work in organisations please come and join us.
Thanks: Shawn

N.B. Ning doesn't seem to be very good at allowing you to merge accounts created with different email addresses. In fact, it's really bad at it.

dear reader

Eric Baumer has done some pretty neat research on blog readers. The latest swag of papers are based a small survey sample (15 people) but here are some edited highlights:
  • Most blog readers do not suffer from information overload - like the rest of us, they just ignore stuff when it gets too much.
  • Readers as well as writers have expectations of appropriate disclosure.
  • Readers feel an expectation to participate through regular reading & comments.
Looking forward to more research in this area...

Thanks: Stephanie Allen & Science Daily*

N.B. Science Daily & UCI - it's really helpful when you provide links to the research papers you reference.

global im networks & magic numbers

Following on from yesterday's post on the CMU/Microsoft research, there are two networks in the research: the buddy network and the communications network for that month.

The buddy network has 240 million nodes with 9.1 billion edges. Which equates to 75 contacts per node/person (9,100,000,000 x 2 / 240,000,000). This is an indicator of the size of an individual's weak-tie / acquaintance network.

The communications network has 180 million nodes with 1.3 billion edges. Which equates to 14 contacts per node / person (1,300,000,000 x 2 / 180,000,000). This is an indicator of an individual's strong-tie / tribal network.

How do these results link to the second and third of Dave Snowden's magic numbers?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

another six (or seven) degrees

Jure Leskovec (CMU) and Eric Horvitz (Microsoft) have just published this paper analysing 30 billion IM conversations* on Microsoft Messager over one month.
  • Staying power & age: Young folk have more conversations but older folk have longer conversations with more messages.
  • US, Canada, Spain, Scandanavia & Australasia are heavy per capita users of Messenger.
  • Paths within between people in the communications network have a median length of 7 nodes.
Interesting links to the work of Duncan Watts.

Thanks: Graham

hybrid tagging

The Powerhouse Museum* is using a mix of user-tagging & Reuters' Open Calais automated tagging system. Automated tagging seems to be getting better and better at identifying entities (people and things). What it cannot do is provide information on how the document is used by readers - which is where user-generated tags are powerful. One focuses on the stuff inside the document and the other focuses on the context outside the document. Both are necessary going forwards.

Thanks: James Robertson

*I don't know Seb Chan in his PHM guise but I do like his work as one of Sydney's best DJs and event promoters.

open space innovation & consumer research

Jack Leith talks about Open Space Innovation - i.e. getting consumers and corporate (marketing/manufacturing/etc) types to interact and form patterns. I like rhythm to this - first consumers then corporates then consumers then corporates again. A few observations:
  • It reminds me a lot of the two-stage emergence bit in archetype production. Complexity requires iteration.
  • Is it possible to do part of all of this virtually? Using a mix of discussion, drawing, etc. (I'm thinking blended facilitation here - but more on that in a week or two)
  • The contact points between the consumers & corporate types is important - esp. the importance of silence, listening & observation. There's an almost ethnographic quality to it.

I reckon this would be fun to do. Anyone fancy having a go in a relatively safe environment?

Thanks: Johnnie*

*Johnnie's Twittering suggests an absolutely top-notch Phoric in the pipeline.

bar camp sydney (5) - sociability

This is a soundfile of my first Bar Camp thang (no recordings for the other two - which is a shame because the squiki one would have been good). I deleted the stoush that I had with some usability nazis and an interesting comment by Laurel. But he with the Sony mp3 recorder gets to write history. Warning: I swear quite a bit.

bar camp sydney (4) - cash from social networks

Want cash from social networks??? Well look, listen & learn to this presentation by Laurel Papworth.

bar camp sydney (3) - good barry

Brett Welch from Good Barry gave us 5 lessons he learnt in the last 5 months as an entrepreneur. Hear the mp3 here. And read the Good Barry Storybook as well.

Check out the presentation slides in all their glory.

bar camp sydney (2) - paymate

Dilip Rao from Paymate gave the first presso I saw. The talk raises all kinds of issues around who does what where when we pay for stuff online. Have a listen to the mp3 here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

bar camp sydney (1)

Bar Camp Sydney 3 was fab. Many thanks to those who (un)organised it. I recorded a bunch of sessions and will make the mp3s available over the following days if the participants agree.

I did 3 sessions:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

awareness & squikis - patrick's response to peak email

Patrick Lambe does something very cool with the final section of the Peak Email presentation. I felt it was a bit lacking as well - but couldn't put my finger on what it was. Patrick has cleverly brought in social bookmarking and created the "squiki".

A few years ago Rojo touted itself as a "collaborative RSS system". I signed up for it and used it as a boring (but good) RSS feedreader. I tried inviting a few people but it was a pig to use and the collaborative bit never really got a look in. The squiki may be an idea whose time has come.

I am now in a bit of a bind. If I ever present "Peak Email" then I will have to use Patrick's section. Can I do that in good faith even if I plaster Patrick's name over it? I hope so because I love the idea of collaboratively developing something with others.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

lightning links

Nimmy applies Malcolm Gladwell to KM
Cook & Hopkins Social Media Report - 3rd edition
Patrick Lambe on snake oil

confidentiality podcast

Annette Clancy invited Johnnie Moore & myself to a conversation / podcast on confidentiality. Download the podcast by clicking HERE. This is a 9MB file lasting just under 29 minutes. As ever with these two, it was a lot of fun.

Show Notes
Disclaimer: These are a rough summary of the conversation accompanied by flexible/rough timings.

0.0 Annette
How important is confidentiality at work? and how much of my product offering as a consultant is the guarantee that whatever is told to me will be held in confidence? Are consultants professional secret keepers? and how much of our work is containing and sanitising misdemeanours offering them back as palatable organisational learnings? What or whom are we minding?

How important is confidentiality at work?

0.50 Johnnie

It’s ‘very important’. It means different things to different people at different times – is it a way of addressing status – I had to sign an NDA etc. Sometimes it’s a status play. It is a way of entrapping the other person in something – am I doing you a favour or am I inviting you into a trap? It’s complex isn’t it?

2.08 Annette
How much of the conversation around confidentiality is in fact a seduction – around secrets?

2.18 Matt
One way of taking someone into your confidence is to offer them a secret and that has all kinds of levels and layers – does it happen once? Several times? And what happens when you break that trust?
Matt talks about his role as an internal consultant and how people entrust him with their secrets and the complexity of the messages and seductions contained within those secrets.

5.18 Annette
Annette notes that both Matt and Johnnie are talking about ‘intimacy’ and asks how we set up the conditions for that to take place. Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips talks about how we can set up the conditions for romance but there’s no guarantee that romance will happen – what kinds of ploys do Matt and Johnnie use to set up the romantic conditions for intimacy in the workplace?

6.32 Johnnie
Johnnie professes his interest in intimacy and his interest in web tools which foster intimacy.
Johnnie talks about the shift from confidentiality as control to a more open sharing of information via Open Space and other similar processes. He talks about relinquishing his role as ‘consultant confessor’ which has become an uncomfortable role. Am I getting in the way by holding a secret?

9.19 Annette
What burden is placed on someone designated as ‘knowledge manager’ to manage hidden knowledge – how does Matt manage the externalised ‘known knowledge’ with the internalised ‘unknown’?

9.41 Matt
Matt admits to being a hypocrite! The official versus the ‘real’ version of events often conflict. Matt then goes on to say how hypocrisy works in practice – including sanitising stories; the pleasure of being taken into someone’s confidence; the manufacture of intimacy and how hypocrisy functions as a social lubrication.

13.13 Annette
Consultants are also politicians in organisations and are we talking here about the context we create (or wish to create) rather than the content of what people are saying?

13.40 Johnnie
Creating explicitly ‘confident’ scenarios aren’t particularly enjoyable and neither do they work. Johnnie talks about how this works in practice.

15.43 Annette
There is often an assumption that the stories revealed in confidence have more truth than those revealed in public and also we are not capable of hearing or speaking truth in organisations. Does being an internal consultant add another layer to that mix?

16.23 Matt
Openness versus closedness is an interesting concept – we need to keep some things private. Matt is often asked to take sides – to join a tribe - and secrets are a way of extending this invitation. Matt talks about respecting the invitation while not getting pulled in.

19.15 Annette
Scepticism is useful – our relationship with secrets and confidences is influenced by splits good/bad; useful/unhelpful – can we strike a balance between them? Respecting what this intervention has to offer for this system?

20.12 Johnnie
Explicit confidentiality agreements can serve to shut down the sharing of confidences and sensitive information – the opposite is often the case. The paradox here is that less is shared when the discussion is explicit – when it becomes ritualised it becomes less effective. Johnnie talks about the difference between hard and soft trust.

22.07 Annette
There is a dance in negotiating confidence – in removing that dance we give a message that there is apart of me or thoughts I want to share that are unacceptable.

22.48 Johnnie
Johnnie asks about what that negotiation means – is it explicit? Is it implicit? What does it look like?

23.21 Annette
Annette talks about unconscious and non verbal negotiations that invite revelation – seeking permission to inquire about someone’s personal story.

23.50 Matt
We prefer to have soft trust – informal trust but we fall back on hard trust and the rules when that isn’t guaranteed and when there are issues of power and status at play. If you are genuinely sharing yourself you make yourself vulnerable and organisations are treacherous places…

25.07 Johnnie
Perhaps it’s our job to be the ones who are willing to be vulnerable – it’s easy to revert to rules but it’s useful to talk about our own vulnerabilities as it gives permission to those we work with to talk about theirs.

26.16 Annette
We have all kinds of things in our consultancy toolkits but feelings are the primary ones that I draw on

26.30 Johnnie
Suggests pausing the conversation there for now.

27.07 Annette
Thanks to Matt and Johnnie for sharing their thoughts.

There was a whole bunch of stuff I put together in a mind map just prior to the show that I never used. The actual conversation was far more interesting than that...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

peak email presentation

This presentation summarises many posts from the last 6 months. If slideshare is stuffed, you can view it here or download it here.