Remembering Carl Frappaolo

On Thursday, March 21, the family and friends of Carl Frappaolo are gathering in Boston to celebrate the life of one of the leaders of the knowledge management community. Since I cannot be in Boston for that gathering, I am writing some remembrances here.

I last saw Carl at the KMWorld conference in October 2012 where he accepted the KMWorld Reality Award on behalf of his organization, FSG. In many ways, the Reality Award typifies what Carl stood for:  moving beyond the rhetoric to actually getting something useful done through KM.  To underscore the point, here’s what the announcement of the award said:

This award recognizes an organization in which knowledge management is a positive reality. The recipient of the KM Reality award is an organization demonstrating leadership in the implementation of knowledge management practices and processes by realizing measurable business benefits.

While Carl was not about mere rhetoric, he certainly had a deep understanding of the vocabulary and theory of knowledge management. He knew what it takes to be “a good knowledge leader.” This provided the foundation for his more than two decades as a widely respected KM practitioner. His bio at Delphi Group (which he co-founded) is impressive. Here are just a few excerpts:

  • “With over 25 years of experience working with a broad array of business solutions including knowledge and content management, portals, search engines, document management, workflow, BPM, records management, imaging, intranets and electronic document databases, Mr. Frappaolo is well versed in the practical business aspects and technical aspects of implementing large scale e-applications.”
  • “Mr. Frappaolo has been recognized by AIIM International (the Association for Information and Image Management) as a Master of Information Technology and as an Information Systems Laureate, and in 2000, was bestowed the Distinguished Service Award by AIIM.”
  • “Mr. Frappaolo has authored over 300 studies on the technology and practices of e-business, portals, Knowledge Management and Electronic Document Management and has been cited and published in leading industry periodicals….”
  • “Recognized as an industry leader with great technological foresight, Mr. Frappaolo is a frequent speaker at conferences and trade shows and has delivered the keynote address at numerous national and international trade and user conventions. His audiences consistently find his presentations thought provoking and always on the cutting edge.”

I had the good fortune to hear Carl speak on many occasions. One memorable keynote talk he gave was at the 2010 Enterprise 2.0 Conference at which he asked “Can E2.0 Crack Through KM Culture?” While I cannot do it justice, my notes of his talk coupled with his slides should give you a glimpse of his knowledge and insight.

At KMWorld and shortly thereafter, Carl and I spoke about his work with FSG. He was inordinately proud of the accomplishments of that organization in the world.  This pride is evident in his quotation featured on his FSG bio page:

What attracted me most to FSG was the mission of the organization. After a long and successful career as a consultant assisting hundreds of organizations advance their causes by maximizing the value obtained from their intellectual property and experience, I was looking for a chance to use my experience and skills in a way that would have a serious and positive impact on pressing and important social issues. FSG gives me that opportunity.

What is equally evident is the high regard in which Carl’s colleagues at FSG and beyond held him.  He will be missed.


Can E2.0 Crack Through KM Culture?

Carl Frappaulo of Information Architected is an experienced practitioner and wise observer of all things KM.  In this Enterprise 2.0 Conference session, he tackles head-on the underground battle between some knowledge management personnel and emerging E2.0 enthusiasts.


[These are my quick notes, complete with  (what I hope is no more than) the occasional typo and grammatical error.  Please excuse those. Thanks!

From time to time, I’ll insert my own editorial comments – exercising the prerogatives of the blogger.  I’ll show those in brackets. ]


  • One key determinant of E2.0 success is organizational and culture and the way people in the organization interact with each other and with information
    • Island of Me – I live in and love my silo – just give me search so I can find my stuff
    • One Way me – I want the info, but don’t really want to share. I like RSS and mash-ups.
    • Team Me – I understand that I’m a part of a team, but if I have to share, it will be primarily with my team. They like wikis and blogs –but for a limited audience. Social tagging and bookmarking for the benefit of the team is fine.
    • Proactive Me – I consider that a major part of my job is to be a good team player. If I erect walls to sharing, they are transparent.  I like Portals and executive dashboards that help me push info to my team.
    • Two-Way Me – I’m both a team player and pro-active about building communities. I participate in communities of practice and work in a highly social organization. (The employees describe the organization as a “family” whose members cooperate as a matter of routine.)
    • Islands of We – This is cutting edge.  Senior management buys into “socialness” and believe that being social gives their organization a competitive edge. They promote actual and virtual teams. Trying strategic uses of E2.0 tools.
    • Extended Me/Enterprise 2.0 – this is E2.0 nirvana and currently extremely rare today.  The culture promotes and supports full transparency and collaboration, participation/engagement, agile, constantly challenging current assumptions and practices, this organization is perfect for E2.0. This isn’t just about senior engagement – the entire organziation is oriented towards emergence and transparency.
  • Enterprise 2.0 technology or any other technology can’t change culture all by itself.  You need additional change management efforts to move an organization towards a culture that is ready for transparency, emergence and collaboration.
  • How E2.0 makes a difference:
    • It’s easier to implement – it requires little or no training
    • Widely accessible – early adopters have esperience on the Web before they bring it behind the firewall
    • Emergence
    • Lean
    • Low-cost
    • It represents evolution not revolution
  • Resistance is Real – a survey of adopters disclosed
    • 49% found IT resistance
    • 64% management resistance
    • 72% user resistance — this is the hardest form of resistance to overcome
  • User resistance is the hardest part
    • internal enthusiasts learn that users need more training than expected
    • E2.0 tools aren’t automatically viral once introduced, you must support users
  • You need to incentive participation – but this is NOT about offering number
    • You need to help potential knowledge sharers understand what to share and how to share
    • You need to help knowledge seekers find information
  • Consider your strategy carefully
    • Do you need culture change first?
    • To what extent could your chosen E2.0 tool affect culture?
  • Assessing your aptitude for KM & E2.0 on each of these attributes
    • Structure
    • Culture
    • Process
    • Current KM Practices
    • Team Structure
    • Innovation
    • Technology
  • Dos …
    • Create a vision – strategy and goals are key
    • Sell, promote & market
    • Leverage needs & culture
    • Nurture & promote Champions
    • Learn from History/iterate
  • … and Don’ts
    • Ignore resistance
    • Focus on IT
    • Be rigid
    • Pilots = solutions (a successful pilot requires marketing afterward)
    • Boil the ocean