Talking About an Evolution

All healthy things evolve. According to the comedian, Jimmy Fallon, even “Mom Dancing: evolves. If you don’t believe him, take a look at the video above. (It’s Friday, folks!)

So if everything evolves, what’s happening to your knowledge management program? Is it moving on an upwards trajectory as it adapts to meet new and changing needs in your organization? Or is it stagnating like a fetid pond hosting malaria-laden mosquitos?

If you’re not sure, chances are you are stagnating. What are some signs of stagnation?

  • little introspection or analysis regarding your KM program
  • a lack of energy about KM on the part of your KM group or, worse still, your organization
  • a dearth of actionable new ideas for your KM program
  • your KM efforts are focused primarily on maintenance, without scope for R&D or innovation
  • you are stuck at one level of development (e.g., creating document collections or keeping the intranet functioning) and aren’t growing and stretching to explore new forms of knowledge sharing
  • malaria-laden mosquitos

What about some signs of growth and evolution?

  • you have established sensible and stable information management practices
  • the people in your organization recognize the pitfalls (and benefits) of knowledge silos
  • your organization has active communities of practice that facilitate knowledge sharing
  • your KM program is considered to be of strategic importance to your organization
  • the people in your organization conduct themselves as individual personal knowledge managers who also have a stake in the enterprise-wide KM effort

If you’d like a more structured approach to gauging your evolution, I’d suggest you take a look at one of the many KM maturity models that the wonderful Stan Garfield has collected. And, while you’re at it, see some of the articles he has included that question the usefulness of maturity models. As with many things in knowledge management, there is ample room for diversity and disagreement!

(For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a maturity model, it is a diagnostic tool developed to help assess programs or organizations against a common standard of accomplishment and development. If you’d like a further explanation of the concept see Consultant’s Tool: What is a Maturity Model.)

This may be more than you can think about on a Friday, but I’d strongly suggest that you set some time aside in the next week or two to go through these models and see how your KM program stacks up. It might give you some new ideas and new energy to move out of that stagnated pool into a more vibrant future for KM in your organization.


For those of you who remember music from the 1980s, you’ll have recognized the inspiration for my title: Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.” Here’s a video of the song for nostalgia buffs.


E2.0 Community Roles and Adoption Planning

Here are my notes from the second session of the Enterprise 2.o Black Belt Workshop:  Community Roles and Adoption Planning – A Critical Component of Org Change Management


  • Stan Garfield, Community Evangelist, Deloitte (@stangarfield)
  • Luis Suarez, Knowledge Manager, Community Builder and Social Software Evangelist, IBM (@elsua)


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

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


[This session was billed initially as a cage match between Stan (advocating the gently  controlled, more organized approach to community building) and Luis (advocating a more liberal, uncontrolled approach).  However, Stan and Luis assured us beforehand that they will still behave collaboratively — in the true spirit of Enterprise 2.0.]

  • Disclaimers:
    • Focus:  Building communities of practice behind the firewall
    • The slides contain more than they can cover today, so checkout the deck on Slideshare
  • What is a Community?
    • Not everything is a Community
    • Just because you have a group of people, you don’t automatically have a community
  • What forms a Community? The members share a particular passion
  • Stan Garfield’s Community Manifesto (10 principles) – set out below is an excerpt from the Manifesto:
  • Communities should be independent. Participation should be voluntary.
  • There’s a difference among Communities, organizations and teams
    • Communities share passion, interests, expertise
    • Organizations are not voluntary
    • Teams are not voluntary (usually they are assigned); they are closed not open; often have a fixed mission and time period
  • Communities should span boundaries
    • The most dangerous thing you can do is to limit the scope of the community.  They should be as free form as they can reasonably be. [Luis prefers to talk about “facilitating” a community rather than “managing” a community.]
  • Requires a special level of engagement – providing the tools is not enough. The communities need to be nurtured constantly – every hour and every day.
  • Targets for managing communities
    • Types of communities
    • Activities should be used to explain to community members what it means to be a member and how they should participate
    • How to determine if a community really exists
    • What the community expects of its members
  • Community Circle of Life = as a community’s knowledge base grows, more people become members > a membership grows, the knowledge base becomes richer > as you connect members to content, you also help members connect with each other and build relationships > the easier it is for members to connnect, collaborate and grow, the richer they are and the more engaged they are.
  • Community Road Map
    • There’s a lot of work to be done before you can launch a community.  In fact, launching a community is the easy part. You need sustained effort and good leadership to nurture it.
    • Identify what content you want to provide.
    • Offer documentation and training for community members.
    • Begin developing a community site.
    • Once this is done, launch the site, build it out, add content and stimulate collaboration.
  • Stan and Luis have different experiences with community building.  Stan has found it helpful to gently control what communities can be formed to avoid redundancies and a loss of efficiency.  You can try to manage what communities form and how they build their community support.  The role of KM is really to assist and train rather than to control Luis says that communites are free-form and emergent.  They start as soon as a core group decides to launch one.  Over time, communities that cover similar topics tend to merge voluntary.
  • IBM has many community leaders who are willing to help other community leaders.  This peer training improves overall quality of communities.
  • Primary Community Roles
    • Executive sponsor – should lead by example
    • Community Leader
      • This is a critical role
      • This person should be a few steps ahead of the members
      • This person should be a real evangelist – they should help “lurkers” become active community members
    • Community Council
      • Advise the community leader in launching and sustaining the community
    • Community Members
      • Help provide content and recommendations regarding community development
  • How to build a community
  • Choose the topic around which the community will be form
    • Keep the topic broad so that it can span boundaries
    • It must be a compelling topic – enough to energize community members and keep them engaged.
  • Review existing community before creating a new one
    • This helps consolidate the knowledge base
    • It also tends to reduce the work for the community leaders
    • It brings new membership to an exisitng community
  • Select a communite moderator/facilitator
    • Watch the group carefully to see who has the right attributes to be the community moderator/manager
      • Who is a natural hub in the group/network?
      • Who is a subject matter expertise?
      • Who has the requisite passion? [But doesn’t have an axe to grind.]
      • Who has the energy to nurture the community?
      • Who encourages the engagment of members?
      • Who leads by example?
    • With a planned community, the executive sponsor should choose the community manager
  • How does the community manager regulate the content?
    • Most of the time, the community itself self-regulates and encourages members to do the right thing.
  • You can never communicate enough within the community
    • Continue to publicize the community’s existence.
    • Continue to recruit new members.
  • Keeping the community active
    • Have a regular call or other activity
    • Look for ways to bring within the community any sidebar discussions/activities
  • Q&A: What are the biggest challenges to Community Building?
    • There is a maximum number of communities a single person can follow.  How do you manage this to reduce information overload?
      • Encourage similar communities to merge
    • Alternatively, start with a broad community and let sub-communities emerge to focus on specialized topics.
  • Presentations:
    • User name: Workshop
    • Password: Boston
  • Presentations also on Slideshare: