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 2013The KMWorld knowledge management conference is an annual deep dive into all things KM. And for people with wide interests and lots of stamina, there are parallel conferences focused on enterprise search, SharePoint and taxonomy. The reality is that these conferences offer far more sessions than any single person can take in during the course of three or four days. That said, I definitely gave it my best effort!

    As is my practice, I generally live-blog or live-tweet the sessions I attend. For those of you interested in following the tweet stream, you can check on Twitter under the hashtag #KMWorld or you can check my personal tweet stream (Twitter.com/VMaryAbraham). You can also see the Storify archive of KMWorld tweets created by Eric Ziegler.

    On the blogging front, here are my blog posts from the conference.  (Since I was live-blogging, these summaries are raw reports rather than polished blog posts. So caveat lector!):

    If you’d like to read more about the conference, I commend to you blog posts written by my friend, Catherine Shinners:

    On a final note, after the conference, the organizers asked us to identify our biggest takeaways from KMWorld 2013. Here’s my reply:

    Let me explain: As I attended various sessions, it became clear that there was a significant gap in understanding and execution among the participants (presenters and attendees alike). Some were still focused on what I would call “KM 1.0 activities” such as building and digitizing document collections. Meanwhile, others had moved past that to create virtual and physical spaces in which people could work collaboratively in a manner that maximized the sharing of useful knowledge. Some of this gap can be attributed to differences in experience and learning. Some of the gap was due to choices about technology. However, one huge piece of the puzzle related to differences in understanding about how humans behave in the work environment and how best to foster practices that achieve the primary aims of KM, as articulated by Dave Snowden: enable innovation and support better decision making.

    When thinking about the wide range of human behaviors, we need to go beyond technical specifications to topics such as psychology, sociology, anthropology and behavioral economics. My hope is that next year’s KMWorld conference will include more conversation about those disciplines as a way of providing insight to rank-and-file knowledge management professionals so that we all can get a little closer to the goal of enabling human innovation and supporting better human decision making.



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  • KMWorld 2013Angry-Birds-HD-WallpaperSpeaker: Daniel W. Rasmus, Owner/Principal Analyst, danielwrasmus.com & Author, Listening to the Future and Management by Design. For a previous incarnation of this closing keynote, see 10 Lessons from Angry Birds That Can Make You a Better CIO.

    [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: Colorful and fun, our closing keynote speaker and futurist discusses lessons learned from various activities. He then uses scenario-based work and other research to discuss what the future of KM could be under different social, economic, political, and technological circumstances. Be prepared to hear why good ideas don’t become viral, and be inspired to think of KM in new and different ways.

    NOTES: What KMers Can Learn from Angry Birds

    1. You have to play to figure out the rules – in Angry Birds, you learn the rules by playing the game. In the beginning, you won’t play well because you don’t understand the opportunities and risks before you. As you play, your understanding and skill grow.
    2. Know your bird’s capabilities – People like to be recognized for their skills. In fact, they perform best when their unique skills are recognized. If you are managing a team, you have to know your people well. With respect to yourself, you need to ask yourself these questions: What skills do I have? What skills do I need? What skills WILL I need? Then, start training!
    3. You can’t recover from a really bad start – When you know you are not going to get a high score, STOP. Then start over. Try a different approach.
      • The project dilemma = we start a LOT more big projects than we finish. We are really good at the project kick-off meetings, but not so good at project closure.
      • We need to stop the madness, collect ourselves and then apply our energies in a way that is more rewarding.
    4. What you’ve learned in one place isn’t always transferable to another place — Different problems require different specialists. Mastery in one area doesn’t automatically qualify you to work in another area. You will need to build a diverse team of varied talent. And you need to understand that, as an organization, you may not always have the requisite expertise and will need, therefore, to find knowledgeable partners. Even if it appears that you are facing a situation that is similar to one you have mastered before, Rasmus advises every “organization to ask and answer the question: `what is different this time, and how are we planning for those differences’ before proceeding.”
    5. If you don’t practice complex actions regularly, you’ll forget how they work – This isn’t a fix-it-and-forget-it business. Practice and procedures are important. However, they aren’t always enough since things don’t always happen exactly as before. Scenario planning is a useful tool because it helps you practice thinking about the future. Once you’ve thought about it, you can plan for it. This helps your staff anticipate and respond flexibly to the inevitable changes in their environment and processes.
    6. Blowing something up isn’t necessarily felt everywhere – in your change management planning, make sure that your changes take effect everywhere. Otherwise, you’ll have to fight many small battles in various places, without actually winning the war. Rasmus gives the example of an email migration project he worked on: “Many little conversations led to a lot of commitment without action. It wasn’t until the team went to the CEO and convinced him change was necessary that change happened.”
    7. Early on the measure of success will be ill defined – you may not know what good looks like until you actually start doing it. You need a better understanding of the context before you can assign value. This is particularly the case today as we shift from an Industrial Age method of valuation to a 21st century approach to valuation:
      • In the Industrial Age Economy, we measure everything as if it comes off an assembly line. So we measure time elapsed, productivity, etc.
      • In the Serendipity Economy, it is hard to forecast future value. In the 21st century, the focus shifts to accounting “for the valued derived from seemingly random and unanticipated encounters and interactions.” Organizations now must monitor information networks so they can “act on serendipity when it occurs, and account for it as a part of their value.”
    8. Even if you are good, you don’t know. Keep trying to be best to get better – He likes the notion of good practices. However, he hates the concept of “best practice” since it implies that you have stopped trying. And be careful about benchmarking. Rasmus warns against using benchmarking as a way to establish that you are as mediocre as the other guy. Use it primarily as a means to compel your own improvements. In his view, you have to keep trying to be the best in order to keep getting better. (No resting on your laurels!)
    9. Most improvements are incremental – Lessons learned and shared can have important benefits across the organization.  Even if you don’t see the obvious win from your own experiences and lessons, others in the organization may see opportunities in those lessons that lead to wins for the organization.
    10. You can never do the same thing exactly the same way – Circumstances change. Different contexts require different approaches
    11. Good strategy still requires good execution – It’s important to identify your execution components. How do you work? Do you have what you need?
    12. Context is important, but it isn’t always as important as you think – Be careful about your context. Sometimes, it starts your problem solving in the wrong place. Instead, think beyond the immediate context. Go deeper, challenge your assumptions.


    [For those of you who have read this far, I want to assure that neither I nor the speaker had a counting problem. He actually did deliver more than 10 tips.]


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  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Jeff Stemke, President, Stemke Consulting Group, formerly at Chevron

    [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: Operational excellence—the systematic management of processes, systems and behaviors—drives an organization’s productivity, safety and reliability. Expert knowledge is struggling to sustain continual performance improvement as work grows and the new generation workforce is less-motivated to spend years of concentrated practice to replace retiring thought leaders. As described in David Weinberger’s book Too Big to Know, collaborative networks harnessing their members’ diverse skills and experience are emerging as an important problem-solving and decision-making resource. KM practitioners have developed effective methods to create these networks. Their next challenge is finding ways to help network members become smarter— learning how to “think” as well as how to “do.” Learn about several smarter network systems including a SharePoint social learning system based on an expert’s mental model that cuts time to competency while enhancing the network’s performance capability.


    • Workforce Competency is his primary concern. 
    • Forces shaping the “Too Big to Know” Workforce:
      • The education system is not doing well in developing critical thinking
      • Retiring thought leaders
      • Contract workforce: where’s the loyalty
      • Millennial’s work on 2-3 year gigs
      • Skill gaps: STEM, critical thinking, business behaviors
      • Low interesting sending 10-20 years in one discipline. Therefore, it is harder to replenish thought leadership
      • In a complex world, it’s hard to see and understand the big picture
    • Where are the positive factors?
      • Networked knowledge = information + context
      • Good knowledge transfer, retention and recovery
    • Engaging Millennials
      • They want meaningful work more than money
      • They want to use their skills and learn more
      • They want communication, teaching, transparency
      • They want flexibility in the work (time, place, channel, etc.)
      • You need to set expectations, provide more frequent feedback and recognition
      • Managers need to be more actively involved in guiding millenials
    • How to accelerate competency?
      • Based on a survey by Schlumberger company
      • They focus on how different learning methods affect the rate at which an employee achieves autonomy. (The point of autonomy.)
      • They have shown that the right learning approach can cut in half the time it takes to reach the point of autonomy.
      • Innovative methods to accelerate expertise
        • teach functional knowledge (how we do things here)
        • participate in communities/networks
        • ask questions
        • share experiences
        • mentoring/coaching
        • master classes
        • create knowledge assets (processes, template)
        • learn to think like an expert
    • Smarter Networks: Learning and Performance Support
      • An expert begins by documenting topics in their area of expertise: e.g., preferred operating procedures
      • Put this on a platform that is available throughout the organization
      • Give edit access widely: then others can add information at will
    • To Demonstrate the Value of KM, Align Metrics with Your Business Strategies. Focus on what the business managers care about:
      • Customer satisfaction
      • Quality
      • Innovation
      • Revenue
      • Costs
      • Productivity
    • The smarter room relies on the collective intelligence of the people in that room.
    • Shaping Knowledge Transfer Behaviors
      • The role of the experienced worker
        • Give your subordinates more hands on responsibility, but coach from the sidelines
        • Close the loop on knowledge — once you have solicited advice, contribute back to the knowledge base by letting everyone know what you did and how it worked
      • The role of tomorrow’s workforce
        • ask questions. ask to go along. ask for details
        • develop your network
        • seek out temporary assignments
      • The role of the manager:
        • Be accountable for developing people and transferring knowledge
        • Have learning and development plans with specific objectives and measures
        • Provide the time and tools to transfer knowledge
        • Recognize contributions to knowledge transfer
    • The Value of Smarter Networks
      • Business value is created mainly by workforce capabilities
      • Leveraging the collective expertise of the workforce to handle complex issues is important as experts retire
      • Mental models and operational know-how accelerate learning
      • Learning to think like an expert and participation in vibrant networks can reduce time to competency by 50%
      • Knowledge transfer metrics can clearly demonstrate the value
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  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Tony Byrne, Founder, Real Story Group

    [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: To date, technology analysts have quite properly focused on the social and business aspects of social collaboration technologies. And yet, social collaboration tools, including collaboration suites, pure-play blog/wiki/social-networking products, and revamped portal products from major vendors, differ quite substantially in maturity, approach, and support. This session shares customer research from a noted evaluation firm on leading enterprise collaboration technologies and provides a framework for customers to evaluate the marketplace based on their own needs.


    • What’s the difference between Collaboration and Networking?
      • Collaborate = working toward a common goal
        • Actions: Organize, do, formalize
      • Network = connect with others outside the context of a specific goal
        • Actions: Discover, connect, brainstorm
    • What’s the problem with these differences?
      • Vendors tend to focus on either collaboration or networking. Few do both well. This means you can, for example, brainstorm in a networking application, but then need to move to a collaboration application in order to actually implement that idea.
    • Features vs Applications
      • In Byrne’s view, having the right application is more important than having the right features
      • SharePoint is a good example:
        • From a feature perspective, it appears to be “more or less feature complete.” However, this is misleading since it doesn’t do everything equally well. (In fact, it doesn’t do most things well!)
        • From an application perspective, SharePoint is very poor. However, since SharePoint is a platform, “with enough time, money and ibuprofen, you can get it to do what you need.”
      • Real Story Subway Map:
        • this map shows how the various vendors and their collaboration/networking applications compare.
    • Three options for better Collaboration & Networking
      • Extend the application by writing your own code
        • this approach presents some real problems:
          • it can be expensive and time consuming
          • when the platform is upgraded by the vendor, you’ll have to find a way to upgrade the proprietary code
      • Supplement by buying something “above” the platform
        • finding third-party software products that fill in the gaps
        • this is a relatively safe and easy approach
      • Complement the platform by buying something that runs “next” to the platform
        • it has its own repositories
        • it needs to be integrated with the platform
    • Be very careful about the Enterprise Surprise
      • There are lots of applications from smaller vendors that are cool and work well in a simple pilot. However, when you go enterprise-wide, you get tripped up by problems with their common administrative and management services. For example, does the application have a UI that works internationally, across geographies, time zones, languages?
      • Access control and entitlements may be valid concerns within an organization
        • however, many social software systems have no real notion of entitlements: the goal is openness, information access is either totally open or there is a binary choice between private and public.
        • they often lack the ability to reflect the differing roles and responsibilities of users
    • Social  as a service rather than a place
      • many social applications sit outside the applications within which employees work all day. Therefore, to be social, they need to go to a place that is different from the place in which they work.
      • it is better if social is in the flow of work; if your employees live in an application, social should be there too.
      • if your employees “live in Outlook,” look for applications that provide a social “pane” in Outlook
      • some applications (e.g., Tibbr) can put a social/collaborative chrome or layer on top of an existing paltform
    • Mobile Matters
      • Some social software (e.g,  Chatter) works well on the desktop, but they don’t translate well into mobile
    • How to find the right technology?
      • Start with a longish list of possible products (10-12)
      • Winnow the list by comparing product offerings against each other and, more importantly, compare them in the context of key use cases in your organization.
      • Hold a competitive bake-off between the 2 products that survive your selection process. Install the applications in your sandbox so you can experience what it is like to use the technology and to work with the vendor.
        • This is important so that you can really experience how the technology handles your business needs and technical requirements.
        • It also corrects for any errors/gaps in your perception of what your colleagues actually want and how they will actually use the tool.
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  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Dan Pontefract, Head, Learning & Collaboration, TELUS & Author, Flat Army

    [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 experienced practitioner and author shares top tips and real-world examples for creating a connected and engaged organization—“a Mecca of collaboration; a culture that fosters innovation, creativity, teamwork and friendship.” He discusses leadership, incorporating collaboration practices, new learning models, and methods of engagement to build teamwork and positive bottom-line results in any organization. Take home great tips to make your organization more productive!


    • How do we solve Problems?
      • When we work and problem solve alone, it can feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a hill. It can feel like you’re in solitary confinement.
      • When more people are engaged in problem solving, you share the burden and lighten the load
    •  Without culture,
      • there is no collaboration
      • there is no productive, positive or panoptic use of technology — if your people are disengaged, they will continue that disengaged behavior when you put technology in front of them
    • Employee Engagement: “the state in which there is reciprocal trust between the employee and leadership to do what’s right however, whenever and with whomever.”
      • According Gallup, engagement is enjoying being at your company and intend to stay
        • 30% of American workers are engaged
        • 13% of workers worldwide are engaged
      • According to BlessingWhite
        • 40% of American workers are engaged
      • According to AonHewitt
        • 20% of American workers are engaged
      • What’s the impact of disengagement?
        • AonHewitt: One disengaged employee costs, on average, $10,000 in lost profit.
        • Gallup: The lost productivity of actively disengaged employees cost the US economy $450-$550 billion
      • When engagement goes up, employees galvanize each other to improve products and services.
    • Flat Army Approach at Telus
      • Before the flat army approach, Telus had static and unimpressive levels of employee engagement.
      • After the flat army approach, the levels of employee engagement are move upwards impressively. According to AonHewitt, Telus’ employee engagement scores are the highest in Canada and put the Telus in the top 1% globally.
      • TLC: The leadership philosophy is Open, Collaborative, Connected
      • Connected Learning Model: This has three equal parts — formal learning, informal learning, social learning
      • Habitat Social: Social sites, my sites, Wikis, Buzz, Blogs, video , web jams
    • Connected Leader
      • there are 15 attributes every connected leader needs to demonstrate that help her become a connected leader, be a connected leader, and then go beyond.
    • Collaborative Leader Action Model:
      • Connect with your people
      • Consider what needs to be done
      • Communicate what you are going to do
      • Create the results
      • Confirm the results
      • Congratulate/ say thanks
    • Participative Leader Framework
      • The leader needs to demonstrate care
      • Consume AND contribute information
      • Build up your networks inside AND outside your organization
    • Pervasive Learning
      • Go beyond classroom learning — the sage on the stage
      • Use collaborative technologies that let you converse, create and share content, provide context.
    • Collaboration is a behavior
      • Just like Canada Geese, we need to rotate roles and share responsibilities in order to help the entire team reach the ultimate goal.
    • What tools?
      • Habitat Social: videos, jam, photos, my sites, blogs & wikis (confluence), portal (SharePoint)
      • Telus lead & grow series: live webcast, live micro-blogging, videos
        • the webcasts involve internal & external speakers
        • the conversations are unscripted, employees can ask questions via the
      • Telus Collaboration House
        • they have partnered with Avaya to create a virtual space that is used for
          • fireside chats
          • the entire onboarding training — new employees are given passports and then they acquire badges as they complete the requisite training.
      • Interactive Learning (gamification)
        • coaching is assessed through competetion — weekly “meets” in a virtual space
        • using games that help teach people how they can interact in their corporate stores = it allows them to experience what it is like to be in front of a customer in a safe space. This builds empathy and trust.
      • Jam provides activity stream, video, microblogging, etc.
      • SharePoint:
        • They wanted to develop their “Customers First” commitments/promises. Rather than having the C-Suite lock themselves into a conference room to create these promises, they engaged employees in a promise of generating the promises
    • Business Benefits of Collaboration
      • Industry complaints went up by 26% last year. Telus’ complaints went down 27% over the same period.
      • Telus did a two-for-one stock split recently
      • Telus has created a Transformation Office to help other organizations develop a similarly collaborative culture
    • Flat Army
      • Flat: without hierarchy
      • Army: a group engaged in common purpose
    • Blogger’s Note: Dan Pontefract has an amazing story to tell. Do yourself a favor, read his book!!!
  • KMWorld 2013Speaker: Carla O’Dell, CEO, APQC Author, The New Edge in Knowledge

    [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: External forces are transforming how knowledge managers formulate strategies and value propositions for their programs. New technologies and disciplines are constantly influencing the portfolio, use, and value of available KM approaches. Based on 20 years of KM leadership by APQC, O’Dell discusses how to harness these forces while also dealing with the consumerization of IT, how and when to apply social media tools to collaborative work, and how to use analytics to set the KM agenda.


    •  KM Needs to Start with Business Needs
    • Why KM Exists
      • We need to find experts and expertise
      • We can’t find the knowledge we need
      • We are not transferring best practices
      • We are not using lessons learned
      • We work in silos: we don’t know what the organization knows
    • There is a pressure to Accelerate
      • Be more like Google and Facebook
      • Turn “next-perts” into experts faster: reduce time not competency
      • Sync with competency frameworks (see convergence of learning, talent management and KM)
      • Don’t pull employees away from their jobs
      • Less face to face knowledge transfer
    • Trends that are transforming the way we collaborate
      • The Consumerization of IT: people want to bring the great functionality they experience on the web into their organizations and work lives
        • Cell phone trends are influential
          • 96% of the world’s population has cell phone subscription or access
          • 60% of mobile devices of smartphones
      • Social Media Goes to Work
        • People use for opinion and clarification
        • Helps share expertise
        • Helps locate resources
        • For more information on the power and uses of social media, see Groundswell. In her view, it is still one of the best books written on the subject.
          • This book noted that “Lurking is Learning.”  Less than 3% of visitors to a site will contribute. Therefore, tracking the number of comments is a limited measure of success.
        • See great IBM video: Stop talking, start doing — it’s time to bring the power of social media to work!
      • The Age of Analytics
        • Big Data buzz — but there aren’t many applications of this yet. However, Big Data represents a huge opportunity for KM. Within organizations, our daily activities generate a load of breadcrumbs and “digital dust.” Big Data sweeps all of this up
        • APQC’s Knowledge Analytics Process:
          • Understand business needs/drivers and then develop a hypothesis about what might address that need
          • Align KM strategy and investment to test that hypothesis
          • Deploy KM approaches — be sure to identify the measures you will use
          • Collect Observations and Data
          • Conduct analysis and identify patterns
          • Exercise insightful judgment and critical thinking — applying human understanding/intuition to the data
          • Engage the business with your findings and recommendations
        • Rockwell Collins has shown how you can trace the value path from participation to business results: they have data that show a perfect correlation between participation and the number of lessons learned implemented. Better still, the number of lessons learned implemented is perfectly correlated with the number of defect-free products produced.
      • What approach do you need? It varies depending on the type of problem and the related risk. For example, if the issue is small, you can use a simple, fast, lightweight approach such as internal microblogging. If is a bigger problem, you may need to use methods/tools that recognize quality, expertise, etc.
      • Build your KM capabilities: Strategy > People > Process > Content and IT.
    • “Culture is KEY. But you change it through behaviors NOT posters!”
    • “Knowledge is sticky. People don’t hoard knowledge — they hoard their time and energy.” Therefore, you need to adopt processes that help them to let their knowledge flow.”
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  • 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.


    • 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.”
  • 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.


    • 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.
  • 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.


    • 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.
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  • 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.


    • 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.
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