Drinking Champagne

Drinking your own champagne” was how Jo Hoppe, CIO of Pegasystems, described the process that some with a less elegant turn of phrase have called “eating your own dog food.” It means using your own products and taking your own advice.  It also means moving out of the world of the theoretical into the painfully practical. Jo Hoppe calls this becoming “a living laboratory.” And nowhere is this needed more than in knowledge management and Enterprise 2.0 deployments.

Knowledge managers (at least in the legal industry) are accomplished when it comes to identifying the “things lawyers won’t do.”  You don’t even have to buy a law firm knowledge manager a drink before they start complaining about how lawyers don’t attend training sessions, or won’t spend enough time in an application to see its full range of capabilities or won’t take a few minutes to properly profile or file a document.  This conversation can rapidly disintegrate into a pity party unless you have a real life corrective.  So, I suggest that we all drink our own champagne.   But, before we can open that bottle of bubbly, we need to have a few moments of honesty and ask ourselves some questions along the following lines:

  • Do we take measures to “walk a mile in the shoes” of the lawyers we seek to assist?
  • Do we follow processes within the KM group that promote transparency and mutual accountability?
  • Is our natural tendency within the KM group to behave competitively or collaboratively?
  • Are we using Enterprise 2.0 tools to facilitate the information flow within the KM group?
  • Do we have personal experience of the benefits of social media tools before trying to sell it to our colleagues?
  • Do we keep ourselves up to date on the training we need to be productive?

What are your answers?  Are you in the “do what I say, not what I do” camp or do you actually drink your own champagne?  One director of knowledge management I know posts all of her team’s projects on her firm’s intranet, showing goals and achievements (as well as shortcomings) against plan.  In so doing, she embraces the transparency that is a key part of social media use within the firewall, shines a little light on the work of her team and makes herself accountable for the work of her team.  Others use wikis and blogs to manage KM projects, thereby giving their teams invaluable first-hand experience of the benefits and deficits of the software and processes they are using.  They are world-class quaffers of champagne.  What about you?

[Photo Credit:  Waldo Jaquith]