Energizing Organizational Learning through Narrative #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Dr. Madelyn Blair, President, Pelerei

Session Description: Narrative intelligence is a critical approach that helps an organization to strengthen its organizational vision, enhance communication, share organizational knowledge, externalize and internalize tacit knowledge, encourage innovation, build communities, and to develop effective social media strategies. The speaker shares strategies, cases, and exercises on how using narrative intelligence through channels offered by social media and organizational communication can energize how the organization is communicating through digital channels.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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.]


  • Sense-making is Key: There’s nothing more frustrating and de-energizing than feeling confused. In our lives, we like to make sense of things. “Turning experience into a story is a fundamental mode of sense-making.” When you listen to a story you become connected to it.  This opens up the possibilities of narrative becoming a learning tool. 
  • What’s Narrative Intelligence? It’s about how you approach a problem, using a mindset that understands that a story is the smallest unit of knowledge (to quote John Seely Brown). “It’s the search for the meaning that does not confuse.”
  • Narrative vs Story: Story concerns a specific event. Narrative is a collection of stories. In that collection, you can begin to see the patterns that exist across the stories. Through a collection of stories, you can imbue an organization with specific values. For example, at the Disney Company, they tell many stories about Walt Disney. These stories are all about creativity, imagination and entertainment.  They are also about making a difference and doing it well. Employees feel empowered by the stories. This is how the people in the company share and reinforce their company values. In effect, the stories create communities of practice.
  • Structure: Each story needs to answer some basic question –  who, how, why, when, where and what happened.  This is necessary to engage the audience. Narrative looks for common threads, emotions, values. While the story helps the storyteller make sense of a specific event, a narrative helps people within an organization with broader sense-making of the larger patterns.
  • Solve Problems by Turning Stories Inside Out: Start by identifying the business problem you want to solve. Put that “in the middle” of  a story that you’re about to create. That problem is the “what.” Then add to the story to provide the other elements (who, why, where , how, etc.). This helps identify possible solutions.
  • Want to learn more? For further information, see Making it Real: Sustaining Knowledge Management, edited by Annie Green.

Understanding the Power of Twitter Chats at USAID #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeakers: Zachary Baquet, Knowledge Management Specialist, US Agency for International Development (USAID); Maciej Chmielewski, Communications Specialist & Digital Media Producer, Insight Systems Corporation

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: For the past year and a half, USAID Bureau for Food Security has experimented with #AskAg Twitter Chats to drive engagement and knowledge exchange inside and outside of its Agrilinks.org community. Part of Twitter’s value lies in its ability to foster global, multidirectional communications between users that can lead to real and meaningful knowledge exchange. The #AskAg Chats have moved from one-way, ask-the-expert type events to lively conversations in which participants share their experiences with the experts as well as each other. Speakers describe the process for implementing the chats and how it has changed, other products developed from the Twitter Chats, metrics used, and more.


  • Challenge: how to distribute knowledge housed in the organization to all the field staff and affiliates around the world.
  • History: They had a very elegant “Ask the Experts” system in place. However, those experts didn’t have the bandwidth or incentives to engage with everyone in the field who had a question.
  • Why Twitter Chats: they are quick, easy and globally distributed. By doing an 60-90 minute Twitter chat, they were able to concentrate the focus of the experts and the field staff.
  • Method: The chats have a structure to help people understand what the conversation is about and how it will proceed. They are conceived as a highly controlled Q&A session where it is ok to say no. Behind the questions is a Google Docs spreadsheet for each chat. That spreadsheet contains the themes that will be asked during the chat. These themes are then translated into 4 guiding questions. The experts can type their answers into the spreadsheet before the chat. Then a guiding question and the related answers are released every 15 minutes. This eliminates dead space on the chat. After each chats, the gather the tweets via Storify. Storify provides a recap of guiding questions. Further, it might also include a specially written synthesis plus an aggregated list of links and resources that were shared during the chat.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: They work with approximately 100 experts who are the chat players. There are also chat operators: 3 individuals to run a particular chat:
    • Curator
    • Controller
    • Director
  • Lessons Learned: 
    • Encourage a conversation. You need to show participants how to participate and gain value. (The structure helps — especially for newcomers to Twitter)
    • Have a framework so people know what the conversation is about. This helps them find order in the chaos of Twitter
    • Summarize and curate the knowledge shared.
  • What value emerged? After their first 12 Twitter chats, they prepared a chat report tat desceibed the process, metrics, feedback and recommendations. Their spreadsheet for each chat is available in Google Docs for others who want to use it.  Finally, they gave their experts a guidance document that explained roles, respsonsibilities and expectations. You can find these resources at Agrilinks.org/TwitterChats

Integrating Learning and Development with KM #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeakers: Dr. Susan Camarena, Chief Knowledge and Learning Officer, Federal Transit Administration; Turo Dexter, Knowledge Resources Manager, US DOT / Federal Transit Administration

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: KM coordination may reside in any of several parts of an organization—for example, human resources, research, or IT. At the FTA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, KM is tightly integrated with the Learning and Development function in its own group within the Office of Administration, where FTA’s chief knowledge and learning officer is a peer with the director of HR and the director of IT. The powerful synergy of FTA’s integrated Learning, Development and KM strategy supports employees as learners—and also as teachers—from onboarding to exit, throughout every branch of the agency. This dynamic presentation illustrates FTA’s strategy development, describes the major program activities that support FTA as a learning organization, reviews the metrics used to evaluate program effectiveness, and offers a template and process to help participants identify key facets of knowledge related to each business function in their own organizations.


  • Not just KM, but LKM: They focus on Learning AND Knowledge Management to enhance individual, team and organizational effectiveness by connecting people with what and how they know, what they need to know and how they can find it.
  • Evolution of LKM at the FTA: Initially their KM effort had neither staff nor budget. They started with a knowledge audit, appointed local knowledge coordinators in each of their 20 offices, provided facilitation for meetings across the organization. Then they created an initial KM strategy. When their Training Officer retired, they merged their learning & development organization with their KM organization. This created the Learning, Development and Knowledge Management department. These functions together became a real force multiplier within the organization.
  • Learners and Teachers: Their overarching goal is to support all FTA employees as learners and teachers from onboarding to exit. It is those individuals who “manage the knowledge,” not the KM department. (The KM department make manage some information from time to time, but they support individual KM.)
  • Initial KM Strategy:
    • culture of knowledge and experience sharing
    • efficient and effective business processes
    • leverage knowledge and experience for decision making and strategic planning
  • Current Strategy: They are creating a strategy that integrates learning, development, communications and engagement. All of this needs to be responsive to the agency’s goals (i.e., to the business goals).
  • Metrics:
    • They do regular audits
    • Learning and knowledge assessments
    • Employee viewpoint survey
    • Training evaluations
    • Testimonials and success stories
    • Increasing course enrollment
    • Increasing requests for services.
  • Lessons Learned:
    • Facilitate and support — It is our job to provide facilitation and support throughout the organization
    • Just say yes! —  We may sometimes say “later,” but we will never say “no” to any request for help.
    • No ask, no get — This is particulary
    • Never stop learning! —  Ask after every engagement and every interaction, what did I just learn?
  • How to Prioritize Resources? Is KM in service to L&D or vice versa? Both are in service to the agency (the business). The department cross-trains its personnel so that they can perform both functions together.

Using Tangible Interfaces for Predictive Knowledge Delivery #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker:  Lorin Petersen, Software Systems Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: Thanks to Google, today much of what enterprise users interact with is a standard search box on a web page. Though simple in design, there is an explicit action that needs to be taken by the user to discover information and knowledge. In an effort to better integrate the physical workspace with backend knowledge systems, MITRE explored how implicit actions through everyday interfaces could aid in delivering information and knowledge to that same enterprise user. For example, it looked at how content from e-whiteboarding collaboration sessions can be scraped and parsed to obtain the context of the session, then at how the context could be automatically fed to the search mechanism on behalf of the user. The results were then delivered without any explicit action on the user’s part. MITRE also explored allowing the user to embed tags in their e-whiteboard drawings to perform implicit actions such as “<#find me an expert >” or “<#email this to xyx>”. This session highlights lessons learned on the effectiveness of using tangible interfaces to deliver predictive knowledge to the enterprise user.


  • Tangible Interfaces: These are things all around us such as whiteboards, flip charts, post-it notes., smartphones, badge readers, digital signage These materials contain a great deal of corporate knowledge, but it is not easily retrievable and shared. People will take photos and email them, but this is a sub-optimal pathway for knowledge. It does not allow people to build on top of the knowledge.
  • Pathways of Knowledge: capture; capture and tag; capture, tag and deliver; recall and deliver; sense and deliver.
  • Whiteboard Example:
    • Capture: ideation sessions often happen on a whiteboard surface, but there is nothing on that surface that makes that content portable. While they looked at some digital whiteboards, they found that they were more complicated than most users liked. There is a steep learning curve, there is no clear path for recalling digital artifacts and you need to use unnaturally large writing. Mitre created a Collaboration and Capture system (CoCap) using a standard whiteboard that they equipped with additional hardware so that it could send the content to email. a printer,  or an FTP site. From the FTP site, it can be delivered to a SharePoint site. (There is a SharePoint site for every whiteboard.)
    • Capture and Tag: The key issue tat there was no way to attribute the digital artifact to the creator. So they added a simple keypad so the creator could enter their employee ID. Next they used OCR technology to recognize special patters for identifying a user. The challenge was that the user had to remember to write their name on the board in a way that was findable. Finally, they designated a small portion of a board in which the user is supposed to write their username.
    • Capture, tag and deliver: As users are ideating, there may be topics or keywords they want to learn more about. Users can circles these keywords and when the board is scanned, a backend search is performed and additional knowledge is delivered to the user via email (and delivered to SharePoint).
    • Recall and deliver: Now that the digital artifact is tagged and attributed tot he creator, it can be easily printed without using a computer or a downloaded to a mobie devise. Each corporate printer has a QR code. The user can scan the QR code using their mobile device and this will trigger the printer to print a folder of content on the fly.
    • Sense and deliver: Schedule a meeting and then recommended participants based on the topics they have been brainstorming.
    • Future Possibility: Meeting connection assistance = the system senses that you are in the room, but haven’t yet connected to the meeting. The system then sends you a message asking if you need help connecting. If you reply “yes,” the system will provide the help.
    • Future Possibility: Sensing location = a user is traeling and enters a new office building. An ap prompts them for ehlp in finding an office to work in while they are visiting there. (This is their version of AirBnb for office space.)
    • Future Possibility: Sensing conversations = a sensor determines a group in a conference room is having difficulty coming to a consensus on a project and then offers assistance to facilitate the discussion (e.g., conflict management help or brainstorming facilitation help, etc.)

Pushing the Envelope: From CMS to KCMS #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Laurie Nelsen, Sr. Manager – Ontologist, Mayo Clinic

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: Mayo Clinic’s delivery of high-quality, affordable healthcare depends on integrating knowledge to promote innovation across patient care, research, and education. Providing the best current health information and services requires an agile and responsive content management ecosystem for creating and managing content as well as meeting the emerging needs for the delivery of “smart” content. The Clinic’s solution was to extend traditional CM technologies with a semantic services layer to support standards-based knowledge interoperability within and between organizations. Nelson shares the technical architecture and design choices made to build and deploy its Knowledge Content Management System (KCMS). KCMS’s solution to the problem of knowledge integration and flexible access is twofold: First, it utilizes the capabilities of the CMS to author, manage, and deliver the information. Secondly, it tightly integrates the CMS with a semantic services layer that provides the intelligence that enables users to find the right information, no matter who authored it or how it is stored.


  • Start by defining the problem: Content management system (CMS) technology provides content, authority and delivery functionality, but is fundamentally different than vocabulary and annotation (tagging) management technology, which provides the semantic context of the content to support findability.
  • Then learn to tell the story well: Create success story about how the problem could be solved and then told it, over and over again. Their story illustrated “semantics in action.”  (For an example, see their MayoClinic.com guide on Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Their approach: Their approach involved creating a pattern with a semantic overlayer to the content manager. This could be used to create one or one thousand disease guides. They were also able to replace manual links with new dynamically generated links that were organized by the semantic layer. As a result, the organization banned all manual links.
  • Vocabularies: While they try to use as many of the standardized vocabularies, they found that there were not great standard patient-facing or consumer-facing vocabularies. So they had to create those themselves. They have a series of ontologies: people, organization, medical condition, clinical studies, etc. Once they started identified the connections among these ontologies, they found powerful relationships.
  • Next stage: They are working on integrating their systems into a single system. They have learned that innovation does not end with implementation of the technical solution. You need upgrades and you need to continuous improve. They also need to find and tell new stories.
  • True adoption is a really long process: you need to keep nurture the tool and you need to keep telling potential users about how it works and how it can help.
  • Understand and exploit your tools and systems: Why drive a Honda when you have a Maserati in the garage?
  • Biggest Lesson Learned: It’s really about the story. Read The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling by Stephen Denning.

The Disruptive Collaborative Organization #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker:  Mark Alarik, President, Sales Overlays, Inc. Ariel Host Professional Services

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: Alarik focuses on enterprise system thinking and continuous collaboration.  He illustrates with real world examples how systems thinking can build bridges between organization silos to align all units, projects, processes, and personnel with the company’s true mission – to serve the customer better, and for the long term!


The Disruptive Collaborative Organization: How KM can lead innovation & transformation

  • Mark Alarik uses Systems Thinking to solve organizational challenges.
  • Silos are dangerous:
    • Most organizations are organized by silos. In fact, “silo-ization” is so bad that there are sometimes silos within silos. All of this makes sense if you are trying to support a command-and-control organizational structure, but it serves to preserve the status quo. It squashes innovation.
    • Silos cause us to constrain ourselves since we are limited to the information we have within our own silo.  All analyses of problems are based on a small group of decision makers, from a limited number of perspectives. This leads to far too many unintended consequences.
  • Complicated versus Complex problems: With complicated probems, there is broad agreement on the definition of the problem, range of solutions, etc. By contrast, when you have a complex problem, there may not even be basic agreement as to the definition of the problem.
  • Systems Thinking: Systems thinking recognizes that the value of the system is not in its parts. The value is in the interconnectedness of its parts. Therefore, you can’t introduce a new part without disrupting the rest of the parts. When Lou Gerstner arrived at IBM, he found not only silos, but kingdoms! So he forced collaboration across silos by basing performance management on the success of all parts of the systems. Cutting cost and waste is not a strategy. It is a benefit of systems thinking.
  • System of profound knowledge: it gives you freedome from trapped policies and mindsets. It gives you the freedom to pursue the Idealized Design (i.e., what your organization would look like if you built it tomorrow from scratch). It also creates a process of continuous improvement.
  • The boundary-less enterprise: This is an organization that looks outside its walls for innovation. It may even look beyond its industry to find that innovation. The Gutenberg printing press was based on a wine press that Gutenberg found on a farm. By going outside his industry, he found inspiration and innovation.
  • Theory of Constraints: What is the most vital thing this organization should focus on? And what should we stop focusing on? Once you’ve found your area of focus, identify the constraints and bottlenecks. In addition, find the waste in the organization. Once you eliminate that waste, you’ll surface excess capacity and resources that can be redeployed more productively.
  • Increase velocity of change: Build the ability of your organization to increase the speed of change from years, to months, weeks and even hours. This will make your organization extraordinarily responsive and adaptive. Alarik citing Jake Chapman: The whole organization learns only when everyone in it has access to the learning (and provides feedback).
  • KDSD Team: Knowledge discover, sharing and distribution team. This team should be made up of systems thinkers. They should work with right stakeholders. Then find the appropriate technologies that fit with your systems thinking approach.
  • To learn more on Systems Thinking: 

Seth Earley Keynote: Winning the Customer Experience Arms Race #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Seth Earley is CEO of Earley & Associates, an information management strategy consulting firm.  Seth also serves as Editor, Data Analytics, for IT Professional Magazine from the IEEE.  His interests include Knowledge Strategy, Data and Information Architecture, Search-based Applications and Information Findability solutions.  Seth has conducted workshops for senior leadership around aligning information management strategy with measurable business outcomes and developed information governance programs for clients in healthcare, technology, manufacturing, insurance, retail, pharmaceutical and financial services industries.  He has worked with a diverse roster of Fortune 1000 companies helping them to achieve higher levels of operating performance by making information more findable, usable and valuable through integrated enterprise architectures supporting analytics, e-commerce and customer experience applications.  His twitter handle is @sethearley.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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: As product differentiation diminishes in many markets, companies are increasingly investing in the customer experience as a competitive advantage. Winning organizations have decision-making processes and feedback mechanisms that enable them to experiment and respond quickly to their evolving market landscape. They have also taken action to make their full portfolio of product and customer information accessible to their customer-facing processes. Earley looks at which Fortune 1000 companies are winning the customer experience arms race and how they are doing it and provides ways to frame the needs and opportunities to senior leadership.


  • What’s customer experience? Customer experience is about ALL of the interactions the customer has with an organization: the marketing, product, communications, interchanges, etc. It applies to external AND internal customers. (Customers often do business with the company they hate the least at the moment.) Customer context is key.
  • What makes customer experience challenging? The customer experience ecosystem is complex. It cuts across lots of different interaction, touch points, systems, silos, etc. (E.g., email, print, shipping/logistics, support, legal/contracts, receivables, web, call center, bricks and mortar store, billing, mobile, social media, sales, service, partner portal, etc.)
  • Two-site syndrome: According to Forrester, most corporate websites have segregated brand marketing and ecommerce sites that are poorly stitched together. Therefore, the customer must leap across various rorganizationaldivides as they switch between exploration, education, purchasing and support.
  • The customer experience must be seamless across the product lifecycle: This can be tough when different stages rely on different systems and processes. To make matters worse, internal customers also have to contend with this disparate systems and processes. To address this problem, you need an enterprise view of the systems/processes that underpin the customer journey. Map the customer journey through use cases and scenarios.
  • Start by describing the customer: Look at their social graph, behavioral segmentation, marketing and any other relevant attribute models. Use whatever makes most sense in your context AND in your customer’s context. When you mine the social graph, you can make personalized recommendations. Remember, however, that context changes. To cope with this, build libraries of customer use cases. What information do people need in the context of this step of the process toward their goal?
  • Don’t be creepy: There is a very fine line between excellent customer experience and being really creepy. The more you know about your customer, the more you can anticipate your customers’ needs. However, don’t cross the line into invading their privacy or making unauthorized disclosures. (Eg., Target’s famous pregnancy case.)
  • Move from fragmentation to integration: This means moving along a maturity model from confused to siloed to coordinated and fully integrated. For many, building an enterprise taxonomy is a key part of this effort. Building an enterprise taxonomy is very challenging, but it is the foundation for knowledge management, content architecture, workflow and biz processes.

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Digital Workplace Technology #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Jarrod Gingras, Senior Analyst and Managing Director, Real Story Group

Session Description: Based on work with thousands of enterprises, Gingras shares the common mistakes that cause technology projects to go off the rails before they even start. He reviews the 10 most critical mistakes that enterprises make during the digital workplace technology selection process and introduces ways to navigate around them.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 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.]


  • Perspective & Disclaimers: Real Story Group describes itself as the consumer reports of the digital workplace space and digital marketing space. They analyze the weaknesses and strengths of the tools and their vendors. They also do some consulting on technology audits; technology strategy & roadmaps; and product and vendor selection (i.e., tech matchmaking). They consider themselves to be a buyer’s advocate for enterprises looking to invest in content technologies (e.g., web content and experience management, digital and media asset management, enterprise collaboration and social software, SharePoint, etc.).
  1. Neglecting the Business Case: Now that there are some cheap/free technology options, it is easy to overlook the business case. After all who wants to go through the hoops of identifying and documenting the business case? Wrong! It’s important to consider more than just the financial implications of new technology. The companies that go through the discipline of creating a business case find that they are more honest about goals and requirements, and it improves their communications internally about the project.
  2. Prioritizing systems over screens: IT tends to focus on the “IT stack” (e.g., access channels, common core of standards and frameworks such as permissions and security, systems of records, technology platforms, infrastructure services). This approach is good for the enterprise, but Gingras says you should take a more employee-centered view. Employees want efficiency, effectiveness, ease of use. They want applications that help them work better. Think about giving them a social Q&A capability rather than thinking about a system (e.g., document management system). Focus on what they want to get done. This means you have to put a priority on the user experience (e.g., user journeys and top tasks, workplace “contextually inquiry,” etc.). This may mean poaching UX/UI talent from other businesses/industries.
  3. Thinking project, not product: Think beyond the implementation project. Think about your digital workplace initiative as a product that needs to managed, they need care and feeding, they need continuous improvement. Focus on product managers, not just project managers. Product managers work with your internal communities to improve the product and mine those communities for new ideas and use cases.
  4. Falling into the requirement checklist trap: The RFP isn’t the problem. The type of RFPs are the problem. Don’t start by identifying all your technical requirements. Vendors will just respond by claiming that they can do every little thing you want. Do start with a handful of high-level technical requirements. Then, focus on typical scenarios and processes for which you need a tech solution. Be careful to be sufficiently DEScription without being excessively PREscriptive. This allows the vendor to engage with your issues/dreams rather than disembodied requirements. These scenarios can be used to shortlist the right vendors and create a bake-off among vendors.
  5. Shortlisting the wrong vendors: If you shortlist the wrong vendors, you end up doing an apples-to-oranges comparisons. It can be confusing to sort out vendors because many of them overlap. Yet not all of them are right for your needs. Yes, they all may be able to solve your problem BUT they will likely use very different approaches.  Do your homework so you understand the difference in their approaches. How do you get to the right shortlist? Start with your use case scenarios. Then compare those to the “canonical use cases” that each vendor is best at. (When they move outside their sweet spot, they end up customizing massively to get their square peg into your round hole.”) You want to match your key use case to their greatest area of strength. In other words: find the products that were built with your use case in mind.
  6. Only viewing canned demos: Most canned demos are a waste of time. They always look good, but they have very little to do with your use case/problem. Demand that the vendor provides a demo that matches your scenario. In addition, insist that they spend the vast majority of their time on these scenarios and just a few minutes (10?) on their company. Be aware that vendors want to focus on the Sexy: social, mobile, cloud, sentiment analysis, etc. Instead force them to focus on the Not Sexy: workflow, version control, audit trails, content models, taxonomies, metadata, etc.
  7. Underestimating the full implementation picture: Most companies overbuy and over-estimate. Don’t overbuy on products. If you can’t implement or adopt them sufficiently, it’s a waste of time and money. Equally, don’t over-estimate your capability to implement and use a technology. Often you need a third-party integrator, implementor or consultant to help you actually standup and adopt the new tool. You may need a blend of in-house team, professional services and third-party advisors.
  8. Improperly test-driving the solution: Conduct a realistic bake-off or proof-of-concept to build out something that closely addresses your most important scenarios. This will reveal what it is really like to accomplish simple things (e.g., configure users, create templates, modify workflows, etc.) and it reveals the harder things you will face. Use “your kitchen, your ingredients and your cooks.” This means your premises, your users, your scenario.
  9. Ignoring the intangibles: Don’t purchase without first assessing vendor professional services, channel partner services, support & community, strategy & roadmap; and the viability & stability of this product and this vendor. You need a scenario fit, a technology fit, a vendor fit and a value fit.
  10. Waiting too long to negotiate: List pricing is always negotiable in larger deals. They have seen up to 100% price reductions in order to win/keep a customer. So don’t accept rack rates. (Obviously smaller deals have less room to negotiate.) Most organizations do their price negotiations at the selection/launch phase, which is after you have made a substantial investment of time and effort. This is too late. At this point, you don’t have much negotiating room. It’s better to negotiate at the time you are getting your true scenario onsite demos — always pushing the price down as the vendor learns more about you and how well the product fits out of the box.

KMWorld 2013 Roundup #KMWorld

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.




10 Things KMers Can Learn From Angry Birds #KMWorld

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.]