When People Care…

…they participate.

We’ve seen extraordinary voter turnout in this election. What caused these voters to break through their apathy and actually participate in record numbers? They cared.

There’s a lesson here for knowledge management. You don’t need incentives. (Not even the free coffee one vendor offered to all voters… and then all customers.) You just need to give folks a reason to care. We saw that on November 4, 2008 in the United States. How will you do that in your law firm?

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Go Vote


Unless you’ve been under a rock these last few months, you’ll know that today is Election Day in the United States. Go vote as if your life depended on it. Voter apathy diminishes a country that holds itself out as a defender of democracy.

Given the importance of this election, I suspect very little but the most essential billable work will be completed in law firms across the country. There will be time enough tomorrow to worry about that and about knowledge management. For today, use your web 2.0 tools and your social networks to ensure that the election is free and fair and to encourage your friends and family to exercise their rights as citizens. Do your part. Go vote.

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Ask a Simple Question

It all started with some folks in Australia that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting: Laurel Papworth, Kate Carruthers and James Dellow. Each of them asked a simple question: How do you decide how/what/when to blog? James tagged Samuel Driessen, John Tropea and Jack Vinson. And then Samuel tagged me.

So how do I decide how/what/when to blog?

The HOW of blogging is relatively easy — at my iMac with a cup of something caffeinated nearby; multiple drafts until I get the content and tone right; and then a firedrill as I publish, discover the inevitable typo, fix it and republish.

The WHEN of blogging used to be early in the morning. However, as I’ve discovered more readers in other time zones, I’ve learned it makes more sense to write and publish at night. This means that by the time I’ve poured my morning cup of caffeine, my friends and readers elsewhere have left comments on my blog to continue the conversation. It’s a great way to start the day.

Closely related to WHEN is HOW OFTEN I blog. Over time, I’ve steadily built up the pace of my blogging from once or twice each week to once each weekday. Since I don’t blog from the office, posting multiple times during the day really isn’t practical. To be honest, publishing even once each weekday is pretty demanding and I don’t know if it is truly sustainable over the long term. Time will tell.

WHAT I blog about is really the hardest question to answer. I started out with a fairly clear focus: dealing with the non-technology elements of knowledge management that often end up being overlooked, even though they are so critical to KM success. What I soon discovered is that this focus encompasses a fairly wide territory. Deciding which section of that territory to explore on any given day is largely dictated by chance: What did I read or hear that sparked my curiosity? What have I been thinking about that could benefit from the rigor of writing? What issue has been troubling me and won’t give me peace until I’ve wrestled with it in writing? What question would I like to put into the blogosphere in order to have the benefit of the many thoughtful points of view provided by my favorite bloggers?

While I draw on my own experience and the experience of friends and colleagues, I tend not to blog about the personal. And, despite the considerable temptations provided by the US election cycle, I’ve refrained from discussing politics and religion. Money and gender do come up from time to time, but I’m only human.

And, while I’m doing this, I try to stay true to myself. A dear family friend recently told me that my blog posts sounded so much like me that reading my blog was like having a conversation with me. I was pleased to hear this since it has always seemed to me that authenticity of tone is critical in the blogosphere where so many of our relationships are virtual.

Enough about me. Who is next?

Early in October, I had the great pleasure of serving on a terrific panel on the topic of Blogging as Knowledge Management. Doug Cornelius convened the group and the other panelists were Bill Ives and Jack Vinson. Jack has already participated in this meme, so I’d like to draw in Doug and Bill and ask them to answer the question. In addition, I’d like to tag some bloggers I haven’t yet been fortunate enough to meet in person, but whose posts I always read. They never fail to be thoughtful and thought-provoking. So, here are the bloggers to whom I’d like to issue an invitation to participate:

Doug Cornelius (KM Space)
Jordan Furlong (Law21)
Mark Gould (Enlightened Tradition)
Bill Ives (Portals and KM)
Patrick Lambe (Green Chameleon)

Thanks, Samuel, for providing today’s blog post topic. All I’ve been able to do is offer a provisional answer. I expect it’s something I’ll come back to and answer differently from time to time.

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Lipstick

We learned last night on prime time TV that the only difference between a “hockey mom” and a pit bull is … lipstick.

Tenacity. Perseverance. Toughness. Fighting spirit. These are some of the characteristics typically associated with pit bulls. Of course, there’s also meanness and deadliness, but since this blog is NOT about politics, we won’t go there.

All of this talk of groups of people and animals got me thinking about the characteristics knowledge management experts share. We need the tenacity, perseverance, toughness and fighting spirit of pit bulls. But, equally, we need empathy, intuition, ingenuity and the ability to put others at ease as we encourage them to do things they would not otherwise do. So, to be effective at knowledge management, we need to be a cross between pit bulls and … what?

Perhaps we should look to the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi. He was a troubadour and poet, a soldier, a teacher, an evangelist, a person capable of changing how others lived, the founder of a major institution, a person who accomplished great things despite poverty, someone who was completely attuned to his environment. We could do much worse.

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Celebrating May Day

In many parts of the world, May 1 is the day on which they commemorate efforts to limit the working day to eight hours. They celebrate by taking the day off. For my colleagues in US law firms, an eight-hour work day may seem Utopian, and May 1st this year most definitely is a work day. But things are even worse for those sad souls who have caught the blogging bug — we put in a day at the office and then compulsively burn the midnight oil blogging. Having tried in April to pick up the pace on my blogging, I must admit that I am in awe of blawgers who manage to blog almost daily. That requires a level of stamina and creativity that seems beyond most mortals.

Well, today is the start of a brand new month. It’s another opportunity for balance and restraint. Or will it be a month for cramming as much work and blogging as possible into 31 days?

In honor of a less frenzied time in my life when it almost seemed to make sense to stay up all night to hear the Magdalen College choir greet the dawn on May 1st, here are links to two YouTube clips of Oxford on May Day. Enjoy!

Magdalen College Choir on May Day 2007

Morris Dancers

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