Above and Beyond KM

A discussion of knowledge management that goes above and beyond technology.

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This publication contains my personal views and not necessarily those of my clients. Since I am a lawyer, I do need to tell you that this publication is not intended as legal advice or as an advertisement for legal services.
  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Dave Snowden, Founder & CSO, Cognitive Edge

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: Will information come from the misty mountains of the internet or the cloud with no human engagement as Big Data suggests? Don’t we need human sensors to share knowledge? Our popular and provocative speaker discusses the cycles of techno-fetishism that try and ignore the importance of human intelligence, seeking to create the great algorithm which will answer the questions of life, the universe, and everything else. Big Data is important, but it’s only the start of the journey, and savvy organizations realize they need a synthesis of machine and human intelligence. Get lots of insights and ideas to take home to your organization.

    NOTES:

    • What’s the Role of KM? This talk is part of a series of talks Dave Snowden has given in an attempt to drag KM professionals away from fruitless activities, such as simply storing information. For him, the role of KM is to enable innovation and support better decision making by the organization. To do this, we need to manage the entire knowledge environment — not just the bits that are easily codified.
    • Technology vs the Human: Technology in its place is good. What’s its place? To augment not replace human capabilities. As we use technology, it changes us. Consider the smartphone — it has become so deeply entrenched in our lives that it is almost an extension of our brains. And as we come to rely on it, we lose some capabilities we had before. In fact, human beings can lose specific capacities over the course of 1-2 generations. He cites the example of the slide rule. People trained to use it also developed the ability to understand numbers in a particular way. Further, it turns out that people who learn to use the slide rule seem better able to see errors in computer code. By contrast, people who use calculators exclusively do not develop either of these abilities. In this case, the slide rule augments human capability while the calculator replaces (and possibly diminishes) human capability.
    • Re-discovering the value of the human brain: The human brain is 1.4 kg of fats and tissues. Yet it can still outperform many algorithms. The human brain has developed to do well at pattern recognition, not process information. Computers have been designed to process information. When we force people to absorb and store information, we are not allowing them to do what their brains are designed to do best.
    • Narrative Learning: This is the best way of humans to make sense of the world around them. We tell stories to identify patterns and convey information. Some stories are oral, some are in text. However, don’t make the mistake of ignoring stories in drawings  – often they are the richest stories.
    • Narrative Mapping: It understands the basic patterns by which humans operate and then helps identify which patterns could or should be changed by amplifying the useful and dampening the less useful. “To change a culture, tell more stories like this and fewer stories like that.”
    • The Efficient Brain: There are a host of responses of the body and brain that happen without conscious thought. These are autonomic responses For example, if your hand gets near an intense heat source, you automatically move it. You don’t have to think about it first. This is an efficient way of operating because it helps the brain use less energy. (It is already a huge energy hog.) There are even more things that can become almost autonomous, with sufficient practice. For example, after 2-3 years, we can drive cars without much conscious thought. Similarly, it takes 2-3 years before we can reliably recognize errors in computer coding. This isn’t just an information processing issue. It is a matter of experience, training and judgment. This is why we need to bring back apprentice programs. They permit repeated practice and, most importantly, they create a reasonably safe environment in which to experiment and fail. This is critical because we learn more from failure than from success.
    • The Brain Evolves: Our brains evolve to respond to inputs and the environment. For example, over 2-3 generations of constant input or practice, there are resulting biological changes in the brain that make that practice unconscious.
      • Aristotle: “Knowledge must be worked in the living texture of the mind, and this takes time.”
    • Brain Constraints: The brain can handle only 3-4 concepts at one time. The only way to handle more concepts or more complex concepts is through aesthetics — through art, through metaphor. By abstracting things we can absorb much more complexity and nuance.
    • The Impact of the Environment:  Place, our physical environment, can have a huge impact on who we are and how we work. As economics and the drive for cost savings are forcing people into cubicles or common work spaces, the new work environment can have the effect of eliminating diversity of thought.
      • Dissent is more important than consensus. It is a myth that everyone should be aligned. It is important to tolerate tension and support diversity of thought.
    • The Problems with Current Approaches to Knowledge Management: We spend a lot of time trying to stop people from working in silos or encouraging them to share across silos. We should forget about it since we can’t stop them from working the way they do. The better approach is to have them create metadata. People tend to be much more willing to share metadata with people outside their silos. The shared metadata can spark new ideas on the part of the people who receive that metadata.
    • The Power of Narrative: In Iraq, the troops had no use for doctrine. What they valued most was blogging from the front lines. The secret of narratives is that they can handle ambiguity, they can be complicated and messy. Because of this, you can convey more information and more complicated information. Further, each listener will extract from the story the elements that are most relevant to the listener in the moment. Years later, that person may not remember the details, but they will remember the gist of the story.
    • Wisdom of Crowds: We have come to believe that crowd-sourced information is uniformly good. However, sometimes this so-called wisdom is nothing more that “the tyranny of the herd.” By way of example, consider the Dutch Tulip Mania,  South Sea Bubble,  and the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis.
    • Human Sensor Networks: This involves using people to elicit oral histories from a larger group of people. In Wales, they are using school children to ask people in the community what matters in their community. This project will replace polling and focus groups. It will provide the basis for evidence-based policy-making. Better still, once this network has been designed and created, it can be reactivated later to provide answers to specific questions as the need arises. Further, these networks can be used to disseminate information rapidly.
    • Proactive Foresight: Ideally, we ought to create networks that do more than provide restrospective coherence. We need to build networks that help us develop proactive foresight — the ability to sense what is likely to happen and then prepare for it.
    • Repositories vs Networks: If you have a choice between building a repository or a network, choose the network.  Snowden: “Repository rhymes with suppository. Guess which is better?” On a more serious note, real-time data (gathered through the network) are more valuable than data that have been pruned and polished later. In fact, fragmentary data are hugely valuable, but they are often culled and lost forever in the polishing process.
    • Big Data vs Human Narratives:
      • While big data can tell you what happened (e.g., Joe got on the subway at 8:45am), only stories can tell you why it happened.
      • Another problem arises from the way we tend to interpret data. Typically, we eliminate the outliers and look for the general trends. The problem with this approach is that the strategic opportunities and threats often exist in those outlying data points.
      • Search algorithms also disregard outlier data. They focus on the most commonly searched concepts and on popular links. What are we missing by disregarding the outliers?
    • Exaptation: Adaptation is when we develop for a specific function. Exaptation is when we develop for a specific function and then that new capability is used for a completely different purpose. [Perhaps this is a human example of "off-label use"?] We need to create a KM ecosystem for managed exaptation.
    • Judgment: We need to create trust and training to help people exercise human judgment. Human sensor networks allow us to express opinions on important issues before the political climate requires us to take a hard and fast position that has to be defended to the death.
    • Focus on Designing an Ecology, Not a Machine: Think about people and computers working together in an environment, rather than building a system. If we fall into the pattern of letting computers do what humans ought to be doing, humans will lose the capability to do that which they must do. Respect technology, but respect human capability more. Design technology to augment human capability, not replace it.
    • The final words go to Hugh McLeod:
      • “Change is not death. Fear of change is death.”
      • “What we Are is changing quickly. What we MUST BE, even more so.”
    4 Comments
  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Jeanne Holm, Evangelist, Data.gov, General Services Administration

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: The U.S. government’s open data site, Data.gov, has blazed a trail for openness, transparency, and innovation. With more than 400,000 datasets from 180 agencies and many U.S. cities and states, the U.S. open data platform provides a wealth of information for citizens, researchers, and entrepreneurs. However, at the heart of Data.gov is a blend of data, information, and KM principles and practices that provides a platform for innovation. The expression of this is the Data.gov communities—17 topical areas focused around national priorities such as energy, health, and education. These communities (including Safety.Data.gov) allow collaboration amongst citizens, developers, analysts, data journalists, government officials, and business owners to get data into the hands of citizens to help them make better informed decisions.

    NOTES:

    • Sharing Government Data
      • Is now required to be the default (with respect to open and machine-readable data) = Project Open Data
      • It is intended to empower people to make better decisions
      • It is an incredible, free collection that allows individuals and businesses contribute to economic growth
      • Enhances learning and development
      • Creates transparency and openness
      • Kickstarts innovation
    • Communities of Practice are key to helping with the change management that is needed to release, spread and interpret data
      • the CoPs are organized by topic: Agriculture, Safety, etc.
      • Some CoPs are organized by specific use cases: Japanese tsunami, earthquake and radiation monitoring, etc. (Real-time earthquake monitoring data is one of their most popular data sets.) They already had lots of sensor nets; they were able to use data and apps from the EPA.
      • They had a data jam to figure out how to help people in an hurricane. They created a bulletin board capability to contact loved ones (see the Red Cross’ hurricane app) and created a means to identify alternative routes when the roads on Google maps are washed out.
      • USAID food security challenge:
    • Open Government Initiative = Project Open Data
      • focuses on transparency and citizen engagement
      • if  you are a researcher that is funded by the government, then any research you do (and the supporting data sets) must be published and available citizens for free. (This has been hugely disruptive for academic publishers such as Elsevier.) The only exception is data that needs to be screened or redacted for personal privacy or national security reasons.
      • The Project Open Data policy is publicly available and can be amended by citizens online. This level of transparency can lead to problems for government agencies that are trying to manage under that constantly changing.
    • Open Data is an Ecosystem
      • it involves a host of players, policies, procedures, technologies, etc.
      • they sponsor open exchanges with citizens
        • question and answer forums at the new Open Data Stack Exchange http://opendata.stackexchange.com. (They have an arrangement with Google that approved answers will be promoted in Google search results)
        • they host data jams and data paloozas at the White House
          • data jams collect and clean data
          • data paloozas celebrate Open Government wins
        • they connect on a variety of social media platforms (github, Twitter, quora, etc.)
      • Data collections:
        • 100,000 Federal data collegtions
        • 349 citizen apps
        • state, city,  county, local data collections
      • They use open source code that they have made available to local and state governments that want to adopt the Open Data Policy
        • New York state is one of the leaders: they have 6500 data sets available to the public so far
      • All the data is federated to facilitate search
    • How the open data is being used — here are a few examples:
      • NOAA weather data and the Air Force’s GPS capability power billion dollar industries
      • data that rates recovery rates at specific hospitals is fed into the iTriage app so once the app helps you do an early diagnosis on your health condition, the government data will tell you which hospital is best for your condition.
    2 Comments
  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project & Author, forthcoming book, Networked: The New Social Operating System.

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: Rainie shows how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. The “triple revolution” that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, Rainie examines how the move to networked individualism has driven changes in organizational structure, job performance criteria, and the way people interact in workplaces. He presents a glimpse of the new networked enterprise and way of working.

    SLIDES: Here are the slides from Lee Rainie’s excellent presentation.

    NOTES:

    • The Internet has made EVERYTHING social.
    • Networked Individualism: we have moved from tight, close-knit groups into looser, far-flung networks. Key drivers:
      • changes in family life
      • business structures and labor shifts
      • transportation and living patterns — now are friends live in far-flung places
      • identify shifts — including in politics, religion. For the first time in political polling, there are more independents than party adherents. On the religion issue: 44% of Americans are in a different religious affiliation or environment than the one in which they grew up. 20% of Americans are “Nones” = they have no religious affiliation whatsover.
      • People function at Networked individual and less as group members.
    • Personal networks:
      • are now more important to individuals that most public institutions. The exceptions to this rule are the US military, local firefighters and nurses. Trust has shifted from most public institutions and big hierarchical organizations to personal networks. People depend more on their friends than they depend on a news editor to tell them what’s happening and what’s important.
      • are composed differently in light of the network. They include friends, acquaintances, weak ties and consequential strangers.
      • have more layers
      • perform new functions — sentries of information, evaluators of information, audience that we broadcast to and perform for.
    • The impact of big technology changes
      • The rise of broadband — now 70% of Americans have broadband access. This has made them huge Internet users and has transformed them from pure audience to content publishers and broadcasters. They have dramatically overturned the established media.
      • The rise of mobile — now 91% are mobile: 56% have smartphones, 34% have tablets. There are more wireless subscriptions in the US than there are human beings. (There are several countries where there are double the number of wireless subscriptions that human beings.)
      • The rise of social networking — now 61% of all American adults are engaged in social networking. This group is across all generations. In fact, 56% of parents of teenagers have friended their children on Facebook. [Of course, the kids have now found alternative or additional social platforms that are less infested by parents.]  Among Internet users,
        • 71% use Facebook
        • 31% use Google+
        • 22% use LinkedIn
        • 21% use Pinterest
        • 18% use Twitter
        • 17% use Instagram
        • 6% use Tumblr
        • 6% use Reddit
    • The Nature of Networked Information
      • Pervasively generated and pervasively consumed — everyone is creating and consuming it. This is about to explode with the ability of mobile devices to help generate content on the fly.
      • Personal via new filters — the growing information overload demands the use of sensible filters. What’s changed is that we have greater ability to choose our own filters from a wider range of filters. We no longer have to rely on a single newspaper editor. Equally, the ability to choose filters can cause us to live in “information bubbles.”
      • Participatory/social
      • Linked
    • Networked Work
      • Not one small bounded group in a hierarchy .. simultaneous work in multiple teams
        • technology helps mediate this
      • Multidisciplinary
      • Distributed and heavily reliant on technology for communication and coordination
      • The structure of work today is very different from the Industrial Revolution model.
        • Traditional “Fishbowl” versus the new “Switchboard” model
      • What are we gaining? Access to more information, allows us to apply talents where needed, multiply perspectives on solutions, more fluid and nimble, greater potential for innovation
      • What are we losing? Trust, focus, coordination (you don’t have the benefit of hierarchy to simply order people around), loyalty, effort above and beyond, institutional memory.
    • How does this affect social intimacy?
      • It is hard to evaluate the impact of the Internet on intimacy, in part because there isn’t enough data regarding pre-Internet intimacy.
    No Comments
  • KMWorld 2013Speaker:  Jeffrey Phillips, VP & Lead Consultant, Ovo Innovation and Author, Relentless Innovation: What Works, What Doesn’t — And What That Means for Your Business. Ovo focuses on helping clients develop innovation capabilities within their organizations. They help organizations “Innovate on Purpose” (TM).

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: From brainstorming to other idea-generation tools to tips for changing internal enterprise culture (the biggest barrier to innovation), this session is filled with insights and ideas for ramping up innovation in any organization. Innovation does require determination and commitment, working to discover new needs, and creating change in a safe, comfortable environment. Our innovation expert shares lots of techniques for you to try in your organization.

    NOTES:

    • Learning to think “Outside the Box”: This presentation explains why “thinking outside the box” is challenging and how to create the conditions that make it more possible.
    • Innovation on Purpose (TM): Innovation is directed by corporate strategy and enabled by corporate culture. Strategy identifies where innovation is needed. Corporate culture can shut innovation down or it can make innovation possible. His firm, Ovo Innovation, focuses on:
      • Trend spotting and scenario planning
      • Gathering customer insights — “Outside-INnovation” which allows you to understand client needs, perhaps even before the client can articulate those needs.
      • Idea Generation — this needs to be more than opinion. It should be grounded in facts, in evidence, in client and corporate needs. This is more than merely brainstorming.
      • Idea Evaluation and Development — in a start-up, you have one big idea and focus on it exclusively. In a corporation, you develop a portfolio of ideas. The challenge is to balance the risk and opportunity within that portfolio.
    • What is “The Box”?
      • The “box” is comprised of the mental model and perspective, the traditional ways of thinking, and implied constraints that cause us to conceive of and develop predictable responses. Within the organization, people tend to think the same way either because of the constraints that are imposed upon them (or that they believe are imposed on them).
      • What creates or sustains the box?
        • corporate culture
        • reward structures
        • organizational strategy — are we fast followers (who don’t take risks) or cutting edge innovators?
        • organizational history
        • risk tolerance
        • communication — How do we communicate? What do we celebrate? What do we tell people is important?
    • Why leaving the box is difficult
      • It provides structure (and comfort)
      • It takes a lot of energy to leave. Innovation is fundamentally a change management issue, and change takes an energy. A little bit of innovation/change requires some energy. A lot of innovation/change requires a lot of energy to overcome enertia.
      • Leaving the box means we have to work in a new reality that we don’t know and have not mastered. This puts us in an uncomfortable and, perhaps, precarious position.
    • What it takes to leave the box
      • See the Five Factors of Innovation below.
    • Defining and working in a new box
      • First, define the new “box”: What’s the scope of the project? What are the constraints? Once you have done this, create a charter for the project and get then obtain sign-off from your senior sponsors.
      • Preparation is key: define an innovation process or workflow that works for your team. You’ll probably need to develop some new techniques to handle the task.
      • Time and Focus: Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Most innovation team members have far few hours of training and are given few hours to deliver innovation. Often their innovation responsibilities are tacked on t0 their regular day job. Without time and focus, how can they begin to understand what it means to work in a new box?
    • Preparing to return to the old box
      • Ideas change people — once they have experienced something new, can they really be happy with the old?
      • “Ideas will change your organization, or your organization will change the ideas.”
      • How will new ideas be communicated? How will those ideas be received by the people who need to implement the innovation?
      • If the organization cannot adopt the new ideas, consider licensing them to an external party. This is an excellent way of realizing value from an idea you are not willing or able to implement internally.
    • Five Factors for Innovation
      • Discomfort: create discomfort with the status quo — create a strategic purpose (a “burning platform”) that is urgent enough that it will get people to move? It shouldn’t be so urgent that something needs to be done today. It should be proactive rather than reactive.
      • Energy: generate enough energy to create movement
      • Methodology: provide tools, methods and processes — there are many tools and methods of innovation, and many of them work well. The key is to involve the best people.
        • They need to be volunteers, comfortable with the risk and sense of ambiguity that is inherent in innovation.
        • They should not be people who are most wedded to existing tools and processes. (Often their success makes them obvious picks for the team. They should not be included in the team. The nature of their past success will impede innovation.)
        • They need training to “think differently.”
        • They need practice.
      • Time: plan time for innovation — don’t create distractions and divided loyalties. Remember the 10,000 hours.
    • Guidance is critical
      • too little guidance makes innovation difficult — the team will spin endlessly because there is no credible limit to what is possible.
      • too much guidance narrows the scope and makes innovation difficult
      • ideally, provide 3-4 constraints that create the bounds within which innovation must occur. This will prevent the team from attempting to boil the ocean.
    • Senior Sponsorship: When you have senior sponsorship it helps define the burning platform and it provides the necessary cover and energy for innovation.
    • Rewards:
      • Innovators tend to be instrinsically motivated. They care more about seeing their ideas implemented than they are in monetary rewards.
    • Things to Avoid:
      • Don’t take shortcuts with unfamiliar tools or in a new environment
      • Relying primarily on past experience
      • Don’t let yourself settle for incremental innovation.
    No Comments
  • KMWorld 2013Speakers: Monica Wiant, VP & Director of Internal Communications, U.S. Bank and Robert Peery, Director, Product Management, Moxie Software

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: This session looks at different strategies for dealing with people at different points along the adoption path. Change management is one of the biggest challenges of rolling out an enterprise social network. Wiant shares the story of how U.S. Bank followed the natural curve of adoption to communicate and drive adoption of its internal social network, US Book. She discusses how they overcame challenges including training, employee involvement, and resistance from social media skeptics. Enterprise social networks and online communities have become critical components of the digital transformation revolution, and it is nowhere more visible today than in collaborative Knowledge — the next generation of knowledge management. Peery shares case studies of organizations which focus on capturing collective knowledge, putting it into context and validating the right answer basically connecting the person asking a question with the person who has the answer.

    NOTES:

    • Innovation Adoption Lifecycle: When you track the adoption of new technology, it ranges from Innovators > Early Adopters > Early Majority > Late Majority > Laggards.  Innovators jump in for the sheer fun of it. Laggard adopt new technology only when they have no other choice.
    • The Marketing Message Follows the Curve:
      • Innovators want to hear: “Something exciting is about to happen. We need your ideas.”
      • Early Adopters: “This is cool. So are you. Check out.”
      • Early Majority: “You can do valuable things with this new tool.”
      •  ”Did you hear what your co-worker did with the tool?”
      • You make everyday work easier.”
      • This is safe, friendly and easy to use.”
      • You’re missing out.”
      • Laggards: You have no other choice.”
    • Usability: Innovators are more interested in the “cool factor” than in usability. For people futher along the curve, usability is critical. It needs to be easy and intuitive for them — which may be something more than what you find easy and intuitive.
    • Training: With tech savvy people, don’t talk down to them. With Laggards, you need to provide hands-on training and support.
    • Communications Should Take the Layer Cake Approach: With each piece of messaging, make sure there is something for everyone — regardless of where they sit on the adoption curve. With Laggards, don’t take it personally when they don’t want to hear what you are saying.
    • Challenges of following the curve:
      • audience segmentation
      • because there is no big formal launch, people may not be aware the tool exists
      • change moves at the pace of poeple
    • Benefits of following the curve:
      • do more with less by empowering evangelists
      • influence hearts and minds — not just behaviors
    • Organic Structures are Stronger than Artificial Ones: A spider web as thick as a kevlar vest could stop a 747.

    *********************************

    Bob Peery: Key Trends in Knowledge Management Technology

    • The resurgence of knowledge — there is a new understanding that most powerful knowledge is knowledge shared
    • Multi-channel ways of distributing/consuming knowledge — you need to meet your customer in many more places now
    • Dynamic service — requires more knowledge provided in more diverse ways
    • We build barriers to good KM
      • organizations block access to subject matter experts
      • organizations don’t always realize the relevant subject matter expert is outside the company — and may even be a customer
    • When is technology right?
      • when the information and system are equally accessible inside and outside the organization (anywhere, any time, on any device)
    • What’s on the horizon?
      • Presence
      • Dynamic Expertise
      • Recommendation engine
      • Usage in context
      • Structure when needed
    No Comments
  • KMWorld 2013Speakers: Sandra Montanino, Director of Professional Development, Goodmans LLP and Ted Graham, Director, Knowledge & Learning, PWC

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: Does the Apple (iPad) fall far from the Tree (of Knowledge)? Organizations can no longer maintain a workable distinction between knowledge management and professional development if they expect to drive growth in the knowledge economy. Technology is driving change in both the learning and knowledge spheres, and innovation depends on new ways of sharing knowledge, experience, and information. Speakers spark conversation in this interactive session!

    NOTES:

    •  Focus on the Formal Organizational Structure: When the learning & development function and knowledge management function are deployed in a formal organizational structure, it leads to KM that is focused on codification of “top” knowledge. On the L&D side, there is a focus on standardized curriculum and a very traditional view of the teacher and student roles.
    • Focus on the Informal Organizational Structure: A social network analysis (SNA;  for more information, see Rob Cross) of an organization can show which employees are critical to the smooth flow of information within the organization. With respect to L&D and KM, an SNA will reveal who in the organization is a teacher and who shares knowledge.
    • Gen Y Knowledge Workers: Gen Y employees now make up one-third of the workforce in Canada and the US. They have some key shared attributes:
      • they are like jet-skiers rather than deep divers — they prefer to skim the surface rather than focusing
      • they are achievement oriented
      • they like recognition, not only for achievement, but also for effort
      • they have short attention spans
      • they are interested in just-in-time information rather than just-in-case information
      • they are used to parent involvement — this leads them to expect authority figures to nurture and guide them
      • they expect constant feedback
    • Who is the Teacher?
      • The teacher is more than a single adult standing at the front of a classroom. Now people learn from Google, YouTube, Twitter, TED Talks, Khan Academy and Massive Open Online Courses.
      • The organization cannot prevent this shift. Rather it should find ways to take incorporate these alternative sources of teaching.
      • At Goodmans, they have invited to come to the firm to educate their lawyers and other clients. In addition, they have identified people in their organization who have the capacity to teach. For example, administrative assistants/secretaries have been providing technology training. Now they are given formal support for this. And the firm has been able to reduce the IT training staff. From the lawyer’s perspective, the lawyer gets just-in-time training from a resource that is at hand. Better still, the lawyers no longer have to spend endless hours in IT training sessions.
      • At PwC, they have shifted their budget and resources away from traditional classroom-style learning. Now they focus on team-based learning.
    • Fact-Driven Learning Design: What data is (or could be available) to help you improve the quality of your training?
      • What do PwC people search for externally? Should we design training on those topics?
      • Tracking engagement during training sessions — has someone navigated to another screen during a webinar? If so, use that data to move quickly to an intervention such asking that person a question to recapture their attention.
      • What is the auto-populate in your internal search boxes?
    • Critical Roles for KM and Learning Professionals:
      • Facilitator/Matchmaker: (1) Help people connect to expertise. This means seeing all sources of expertise, even if they are outside the traditional ranks of teachers. These informal sources of learning can be hugely helpful for just-in-time learning. (2) Make it possible for professionals to learn from the people they want to learn from. (These teachers may not be on the traditional list of teachers.) When you do this, the professionals often learn better.
      • Connecting the Dots and Closing the Loops: Use KM to close the loop after the initial learning has occurred. KM shares the explicit information, while L&D can help share tacit information.
      • Get out of the Way: Increase the opportunities for people outside KM and L&D to help teach and share information.
    • Focus on the Right Incentive: It is much easier to collect/create knowledge with respect to a training session that will be occurring soon than it is to ask someone to create materials without the potential/threat of an audience.
    • Try New Techniques: Rather than giving someone an assignment to create content, try interviewing them instead. They are more likely to contribute that way and they understand that there is no need to polish it endlessly.
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  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Jane McConnell, Digital Workplace Strategic Advisor, NetStrategy/JMC.

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description: Based on an extensive research study of several hundred organizations worldwide, the 8th annual such study, this session looks at what most organizations have that people use to do their jobs—digital applications, tools and intranets. Not all are equally mature in different enterprises and may include managed information processes, structured and social collaboration, and a mobile dimension. Many organizations are experimenting, but the early adopters are transforming the ways of working together with greater collaboration, open innovation, mobile and real-time interactivity. Get the latest trends as McConnell shares the results of her study, including social collaboration and networking, the cloud, and more!  (See also the results from the 2013 survey.)

    Link to Session Slides: http://conferences.infotoday.com/documents/181/B101_McConnell.pdf (user/password: DC2013)

    NOTES:

    • Key Questions: (1) What is the Digital Workplace (DW)? (2) Does the DW enable the voices of the people to be heard? (3) Are our ways of working changing? (4) Has mobile arrived in the enterprise? (5) What impact does the DW have on people and the organization? (6) What are the challenges?
    • What is the DW? A workplace that
      • enables employees to work effectively from anywhere, at any time and on any device
      • provide the same experience for all employees
      • an eco-system that allows us to better serve custoemers
      • it involves an important cultural change
    • Who participates in the survey? Digital practitioners within the participant organizations — not the endusers or rank-and-file employees.
    • What are the strategic drivers behind DW? Organizational intelligence, efficiency and cost savings, and engagement and belonging. Other drivers include, agility and speed, and improved performance.
    • What do individuals expect of the workplace: I should be able to (1) describe myself, share information about myself with others; (2) share my information and my ideas openly; (3) react to ideas of other people openly; (4) participate openly in developing new ideas and innovations. (“Openly” means spontaneously — outside a specific automated workflow or official content management system.) There has been steady progress, but these abilities are not standard in all organizations that participate in the survey. Notably, 65% of organizations participating in the survey are facilitating the ability of workers to share their information and ideas spontaneously.
    • What impact is the DW having on your organization? 30-40% said low impact. Only 5-10% said it was having a transformational impact.
    • Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs): 10% of the participating organization have weekly activity by over 50% of thier people (posts, likes, comments). While there are some organizations leading in this area, most are just beginning this journey.
    • Integration of the ESN into daily work? Only 2% of the participants said yes. (This is contrary to the hype from most vendors in this space.)
    • Has mobile arrived in the workplace? Based on the survey, the answer is “no.” Remarkably few organizations have fully implemented mobile in their DW strategy.
    • BYOD: 30% of organizations authorize BYOD and support it. 20% are in the process of defining their policy on this. 27% have unofficially accepted this. 13% have forbidden it. Other trends to track: BYOPC (Bring your own PC) and BYOA (Bring your own app).
    • Key role of DW: (1) Retaining knowledge as key experts retire. (2) People development — using DW to help people learn and develop their skills and knowledge as a natural part of their work. (3) Business flexibility — how quickly can your organization respond to changes in the business environment? (4) DW can help customer-facing employees provide more efficient and effective service, and collaboration more effectively with customers.
    • Key cultural changes that are necessary: Team oriented rather than individually competitive. Have freedom to experiment rather than keeping to the rules and following specific instructions. Are people encouraged to learn from experience or are they punished for their mistakes? Is everything open except what needs to be closed OR is everything closed except what needs to be open?
    • Key Challenges to the Organization: (Management needs proof of quantifiable ROI. (2) Too much focus on the tool and not enough on people and change. (3) There is hi station or reticence to rethink our processes and how we work. (4) Internal, high-level stakeholder politics sometimes bring power struggles into decision-making; (5) We make decisions based on consensus, which can take a long time.
    • How DW disrupts organizations: (1) It break silors. (2) It gives people greater control over how they work (manager need to become leaders.) (3) It impacts customers — with more mobility, work will become more flexible me efficient and bring benefits to customers. (4) DW is a strategic asset — it is essential to doing business and must be managed as a strategic asset.
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  • KMWorld 2013Kamran Khan is CEO of Search Technologies

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description:  Search engines, distributed processing and content processing pipelines are not new. However enabling technologies of mature search engines, powerful content processing pipelines and cheap distributed processing are coming together to empower a next generation of information access, analysis and presentation much closer to the holy grails of knowledge management. Hear from the founder of Search Technologies how modern search engines are currently being combined with powerful independent content processing pipelines and the distributed processing technologies from big data to form new and exciting enterprise search architecture, delivering results only available to the biggest companies with the deepest pockets in the past.

    NOTES:

    •  What do his customers do with Big Data? (1) Organize content for internal efficiency. (2) Organize content to create new products and services for external customers.
    • What was the origin of the modern concept of Big Data? Organizing large amounts of data is not new. What gave birth to the modern concept of Big Data is the desire to do something useful with the enormous log files that are produced by modern computing. 19% of companies that analyze Big Data are focused on log files.
    • Traditional Search Architecture: Identify various repositories, create connectors from those repositories to the search engine. Typically when you make a change in the search application, you have to go back and re-index the entire underlying content.
    • New Enterprise Search Architecture: Using Hadoop, his company extracts all the content from the repositories and then does some very sophisticated analysis on the entire collection. By using Hadoop, they offload the entire content and never have to re-index the entire underlying content source when they change the search application. They simply re-index the relevant content.
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  •  KMWorld 2013Nicco Mele is co-founder, EchoDitto; Faculty, Harvard Kennedy School; and author of The End of Big.

    [These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    Session Description:  Our ability to connect instantly, constantly, and globally is altering the exercise of power with dramatic speed. Governments, corporations, centers of knowledge, and expertise are eroding before the power of the individual. Based on ideas from his recent book, internet pioneer Mele provides insights and ideas for building collaborative organizations using revolutionary technology and more!

    NOTES:

    • The biggest impact of the democratization of computer power is its effect on individuals: (1) Our technology profoundly empowers individuals. (2) It is profoundly intimate. (He considers his email to be a very intimate place. He, like others, takes his smartphone to bed with him. He goes to sleep to it and he wakes up to it. (3) It is intentional. We sit down at our computers to DO something. This is very different from flopping on the couch in front of the TV and passively consuming what is served.
    • What does this mean for the large organizations of our time? (1) Computing power has allowed individuals to opt out of traditional work patterns promoted by large institutions. Today 1/3 of working adults in the US are self-employed. (2) Computing power has allowed consumers to opt out of the entertainment industry that has produced more movies that are remakes and sequels rather than original content. (3) In politics, computing power has made it possible for a candidate with no real establishment support to beat the candidate with the big political machine behind her. (Remember the Obama versus Clinton race for the Democratic nomination? Also consider the impact of the Tea Party on the Republican Party.)
    • Society needs to rethink the relationship between individuals and institutions: (1) Individuals now have enormous power. This audience can use the internet to check a speaker’s facts, create a conversation on Twitter to discuss his points, and go on Amazon to drive up (or drive down) sales of the speaker’s book by the type of reviews we leave. (2) We need to combine leadership and distributed power. This means giving high-level jobs to volunteers AND creating a culture that ensures there is responsibility, authority and accountability. (3) One big challenge of building collaborative teams is to channel the incredible energy of the team in productive ways. Consider what can be done by mobilizing groups of people via technology — you can have an effective political campaign or you can have a witch hunt. It’s the leadership that makes the difference. The key is to set expectations, create a culture of responsibility and then use technology to manage your staff and ensure accountability.
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  • gavel This panel of legal technology vendors promised to explain to the rest of us how to develop a productive relationship with our vendors.

    [These are my notes from a recent private gathering of large law firm knowledge management leaders. Since the conversations are by agreement off the record, the comments below are without attribution.]

    Session Title: Manage Providers for Success and Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

    • From the vendor’s perspective, what’s the biggest challenge in working with law firm clients?
      • One-sided contracts:  Both parties need to have reasonable expectations of each other. Law firms are so used to writing one-sided contracts. Unfortunately, this often result in a bad start to the relationship with the vendor.
        • This situation has become even tougher now that vendors have to deal with law firm general counsel. The general counsel are sometimes overly focused on protecting the firm, without realizing that there is a relationship with the vendor that needs to be nurtured in order to ensure a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved. There has to be a reasonable level of give and take.
      • Scope:  Law firms don’t always do a great job of communicating throughout their entire team the nature and limits of the agreed scope. Therefore, the vendors are often faced with requests from various parts of the team for extensions of scope.
    • A good project manager within a law firm is worth her weight in gold.
      • She can ensure that the parts of the project to be undertaken by firm personnel are completed in a timely fashion.
      • The most successful projects are those where the vendor’s primary law firm contact (e.g., the project manager) understands the scope limitations.
      • In addition, it is important that the project manager work in an empathetic way. This role involves more than merely corralling internal resources.
    • When the client (i.e., law firm) sees itself truly as a partner of the vendor, and believes that they and the vendor are in it together, then the vendor is more likely to work harder and bring its best game. In the words of one of the panelists: with the tough clients (who do not see this partnership), you do what needs to be done, but may not go above and beyond.
    • What issues commonly make things go badly in the relationship or on the project?
      • Project deadlines should never be pegged to the date of the firm retreat. These deadlines will almost always slip. This is an invitation for disaster.
      • Tension between the knowledge management department and the IT department.
      • When there is a huge disconnect between what the project is seeking to accomplish and what can be done. Missed expectations such as this can be fatal to the relationship.
    • What if the client doesn’t know what they want?
      • The scoping exercise at the outset helps determine whether the client has appropriate expectations supported by solid requirements.
    • How to deal with a procurement function within a client firm?
      • They often immediately just take 10% off the agreed budget, without understanding that the budget is carefully crafted by the vendor after extensive consultation with the law firm’s business people.
      • One procurement person added six months to a project because they dragged out the pricing discussion without fully understanding the context for and requirements of the project.
    • Law firm legal demands sometimes are unfair
      • Each of the vendors reported receiving contract language from law firms that dictated that the law firm would own all the intellectual property or software produced by the process. This is absolutely untenable for the vendors since that intellectual property is all they have to share with their other clients.
    • Communication on a project
      • From the vendor’s perspective, it is better if the client provides feedback on a regular basis rather than just saving up their comments until the end of the project. By providing constant feedback, you can improve the relationship while the parties are still invested in it rather than waiting until the point that the relationship is beyond salvaging.
      • To ensure appropriate opportunities for client feedback, set up regular check-in meetings. (Several law firms present said that they found it extremely helpful to check-in with their vendors once each week just to make sure nothing was going off the rails. These conversations also help to nip in the bud any errors or misunderstandings.)

    [Photo Credit: Sal Falko]

     

     

     

     

     

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