Friday, 29 June 2007

This Learning 2.0 slideshow has given me plenty to think about

Social Learning 2.0 by EdMedia 2007

Love the "why e-learning is better than sex" slide....
Sadly, another something 2.0 label though. Maybe I just have to live with it...

Thanks to George Sieman (again) for the link

Who is participating in social media and how

Thanks to George Siemen for highlighting this chart from Business Week, showing participation in social media in the US

Another Business Week chart shows that although use of social media has grown enormously, creation of content is still the domain of the few

In the 22+ age range, there are more commenters and readers than there are creators (those who write blogs, publish web pages, upload videos.

This is reflected in terms of my research, in that there are more readers and commentors than creators.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The impact of blogging on offline relationships - Real Life 2.0 anyone?

I want to highlight a recent post by Jon Husband, KM and Friendships - Blogging, Listservs, Forums, Moderation, etc. in which he returns to a blog post from 2002, showing remarkable insight and a considerable amount of vision, in terms of the potential of blogging. In particular this comment resonates with me...

...the sociality that blogging enables and creates is a critical component of the effective construction, exchange and use of knowledge, and I truly believe that many if not most organizations should move more quickly and more seriously to experiment on purpose with ways to use blogging (inside and outside the firewall) to enhance responsiveness, effectiveness, productivity and innovation.
I agree completely with Jon. But I wonder if when writing this he was thinking about the construction, exchange and use of knowledge offline, as well as online? (maybe he'll let us know?)

I've noticed recently that my involvement in blogging, particuarly internally, is having a real, positive impact on my face to face work relationships.

People I have met on our internal blog already know me to some extent - I'm much happier to ask them for advice, info and input, they seem to be much happier to give me what I ask for. We've developed a level of trust even though we haven't met in person. We've connected on a level that has increased the degree to which we share knowledge and experience, the degree to which we collaborate.

This isn't necessarily on a blog, it's because of a blog. We're collaborating and conversing in emails, on the phone. The blog facilitated and enabled the open, collaborative working relationship we now have.

To some extent, this is problematic, as not everyone has access to the knowledge we are sharing, it's offline and between just us, but in terms of a broader knowledge sharing process, knowledge is being shared, and between people who may not have done so without the blog acting as an enabler.

I don't think the power of the blog can be underestimated here, particularly when those participating are unlikely to meet face to face, yet still benefit from sharing.

I guess what's really starting to interest me is the impact of online activity on offline reality. If anyone has seen anything of note on this, it'd be great to hear from you.

...and no, I don't really think we should call it Real Life 2.0, considering a recent post, that would make me a hypocrite.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Special Sheffield After the Flood post

Nothing to do with learning or knowledge management I know, but just had to post these pics of Sheffield after the great flood of 25th June 07

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Enterprise 2.0 - do we really need to label EVERYTHING?

I seem to have had a bit of a week of deciding terms and concepts serve no purpose...after condemning Tacit Knowledge to the conceptual dustbin for not being at all helpful in the search for ways to effectively share knowledge, now it appears it's the turn of Enterprise 2.0.

Trying to write academically about what Enterprise 2.0 actually is is like plaiting fog. Even if there is some consensus about the term, it's usage varies incredibly, it's confused with Web 2.0, social software, Enterprise Web 2.0, it's just a mess.

James Dellow (yes, James again...) has noticed this in his amusingly titled You're all completely wrong. In relation to the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference, he quotes Jevon MacDonald .

"This conference has made it painfully clear that the term Enterprise 2.0 has no discernible value at all. The label simply means everything and nothing all at once. It has become a something that people want to add to their recipes."

What is Enterprise 2.0? on the Blog also acknowledges that Enterpise 2.0 is a nebulous concept...

“Enterprise 2.0″ has a simple definition: The application of Web 2.0 technologies to the enterprise. But there are almost as many different meanings for “Web 2.0″ as there are mashups, making “Enterprise 2.0″ an equally nebulous concept.

Do we actually need to label everything in this way? We didn't start labelling everything when other technologies were adopted. There was no Printing 2.0 or Multimedia 2.0, why Enterprise 2.0. Enterprise has been changing ever since the first entrepreneur sold the first wheel to an innovative stoneage man, so why now this obsession with giving everything a label?

I know it gives us a shared language, but do we really need one to discuss technologies which support collaborative working? Surely it's not hard with the language we already have?

I guess I'm just frustrated - with every term I use in my dissertation, like Web 2.0, or social software or Enterprise Web 2.0, I have to spend hours trying to find a definition that explains what it is, and that's not easy!

I'm off make dinner with our microwave - I guess that would be Cooking 2.0?

Internal blogs - just another tool

I think of blogs as electronic notebooks - it doesn't matter what you put in them, they are essentially just a platform for expression, communication, publication.

James Dellow has posted a quote from Jim Vinson in his post Internal blogging is just one example of open information sharing inside an organisation that sums this up for me.

"In a recent discussion on the ACT-KM discussion list, someone mentioned that blogging is just one means of communication - that it isn't the be-all, end-all of knowledge sharing. I like this reminder because promoters tend to fall all over themselves with fantastic claims. On the other side, blogging provides a means of communication that people may need and don't currently have within their organization."

Just as a notebook has potential, but without anything in it, it's just a notebook, a blog has potential, but in reality it's just a platform, an enabler, it's what you do with it that matters.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Barriers to sharing 2 - fear of repercussions

I've been thinking about why participants in my online community were discouraged from posting on their shared blog. They felt there may be repercussions if they did so, and they wanted to remain anonymous.

I initially thought the reluctance to post was due to a lack of confidence, but responses show that this is not the case, they were pretty confident with posting, commenting, sharing experience. I've considered their reponses in terms of Nolan's model which indicates that the balance of the elements of trust influence participation, which told me they were only partly participating due to this balance, but fear of repercussions is clearly an issue, which I feel may be due to a large extent to the impact of the organisational culture.

Almost half of the participants responses to the statement "I believe I can say what I want on the blog without repercussions" were negative. They really did think what they said may come back to haunt them. They were also very keen to remain anonymous.

This is a worrying response if online communities are to be effective for learning and knowledge sharing. I started to think of Big Brother (the BOOK, not the god awful reality TV programme) and the impact knowing you are being watched has on behaviour.

The majority of us, when pulled over by the police, will feel guilty, even though we've done nothing wrong. It's a feeling brought on my our perception of the police, that they are in control of us and can punish us for our actions if they so wish.

In terms of participation in an online community, considering the same effects, posting and commenting is open for review, which is great if you are in an environment which encourages learning, reflection, and questioning. If you feel however you are being policed, that's a whole different ball game. It means every time you present yourself through your posts and comments:
  • you have to think about what you do against the culture you work in
  • you are aware you may be questioned or assessed
The fear of "not doing it right" is overriding the desire to learn. Acknowledging that you need help with something is one thing, asking for that help is clearly another.

A post entitled Learning Disabilities on Leonardo Mora's blog, reminded me of what Peter Senge said in The Fifth Discipline, that most managers find collective inquiry inherently threating. I'm not sure this is true, but I do think organisations with a particular culture can find collective inquiry threatening. Leonardo also reminds us of something Chris Argyris noted,
If we feel uncertain or ignorant, we learn to protect ourselves from the pain of appearing uncertain or ignorant. That very process blocks out any new understanding which might threaten us. The consequence is what Argyris calls “skilled incompetence”– teams full of people who are incredibly proficient at keeping themselves from learning.

The initial fear of repercussion felt by my participants I feel may to a great extent be driven by the perception talking about anything that went wrong, any negative experiences, may be picked up by the media. However, the positive effects of sharing failure can be phenomenal - we can learn so much from mistakes, that not sharing them seems almost criminal.

This fear may also be due to the espoused theory, theory in action element of people's survey responses. They may say they are confident about posting, but the pain of appearing uncertain or ignorant prevents them from actually participating. Without further research I can't say if this really is the case, but I suspect there's some truth in it.

What I can say, is that for whatever reason, wishing to be anonymous and fearing repercussions from writing something online are not condusive to online participation, and that gaining people's confidence by showing that there will not be any repercussons, even when posting as yourself, seems the only way to increase online participation for this group.

Again, it all boils down to trust...and that means it's going to take time...

Thursday, 21 June 2007

For Pete Thornett, stilt walker extraordinaire

Just had to promote the efforts of my friend Pete, a performer and stilt walker from Sheffield, who is walking, on stilts, from John O'Groats to Lands End for Epilepsy charities. Sadly his support person has abandoned him, and he's all alone...

See him on Scottish telly

His blog - check his progress

Good luck Pete...we're thinking about you

Prediction by Gartner on tacit knowledge

I found a great article on ELearn Magazine by Eric Sauve, CEO and Co-Founder, Tomoye Corporation called Communities of Practice: Addressing Workforce Trends Through New Learning Models

Eric notes that

industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that the frequency of non-routine situations requiring tacit knowledge will double between 2006 and 2010. The reality is most organizations' situations change rapidly, making formal training once or twice a year inadequate. Organizations would be well-advised to shift budgets and resources from formal learning settings to informal situations where the majority of learning actually takes place.

The definition of tacit knowledge here is
complex interactions which require that people handle ambiguity and solve
problems based on experience

but how on earth do you measure this? I'd be interested to see the metrics Gartner used to came up with their prediction.

I'm definately all for shifting focus from formal training, which I believe people tend to jump to at the exclusion of all other learning opportunties (maybe because they are more difficult to manage?)

A useful introduction to communities of pratice though...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Tacit knowledge - an unhelpful term for knowledge management?

Philosophically, tacit knowledge is a complex area. Widely taken to be a classic theory of tacit knowledge, Nonaka and Takeuchi's defininition tacit knowledge is that it is part of a dynamic process, part of a spiral of knowledge creation whereby knowledge moves through the following "states".
  • socialisation - sharing through face to face interaction
  • externalisation - developing concepts which incorporate tacit knowledge, making it communicable
  • combination - combining elements of explicit knowledge
  • internalisation - explicit knowledge is "internalised" and practicable
Nonaka and Takeuchi state that tacit knowledge is somehow externalised, stating that it somehow changes states from tacit to explict knowledge, a theory which is based on that of Michael Polanyi However, their theory moves away from Polanyi's, where tacit knowledge is subsidiary, present in the mind, but not directly attended to.

Where focal knowledge is knowledge that one refers to directly when making a knowledgable statement, tacit or subisiary knowledge is
  • Active in the mind, but not consciously accessed
  • Enables or causes the focal knowing
According to Polanyi, one cannot KNOW tacit knowledge, tacit knowledge supports explicit knowledge. It can't be changed into another TYPE of knowledge.

What Nonaka and Takeuchi are saying then, is like saying bricks can become a house, when in actual fact, a house is the sum of it's parts, bricks. The bricks are still bricks.

Another analogy that springs to mind is that of the psychoanalytic descriptors, the unconscious and the conscious.

Freud understood the unconcious as that part of mental functioning of which subjects make themselves unaware. It affects behaviour, but acts at a level beyond normal comprehension. Freuds somewhat negative interprettation of the unconscious, that it is a repository for socially unacceptable ideas, wishes or desires, traumatic memories, and painful emotions put out of mind by the mechanism of psychological repression. (see Wikipedia entry) means a direct comparison with tacit knowledge is problematic, but Carl Jungs idea of the unconscious, what he termed the collective unconscious, better relates to the concept of tacit knowledge as Polanyi describes it.

The collective unconscious directs the self, via amongst other things, intuition, toward self actualisation. In Humanist terms, tacit knowledge directs knowledge to enable a person to self-actualise.

To return to the philosophical notion of tacit knowledge, a fascinating article by Stefan Gueldenberg and Holger Helting, "Bridging the Great Divide - Nonaka's Synthesis of Western and Eastern knowledge concepts reassessed" considers the influence of Heidegger on Polanyi's thinking.

Heidegger proposed a philosophical notion of tacit knowledge whereby he describes it in terms of examining foreign cultures, where interaction with foreign cultures can shed light on what is tacitly understood. He noted that such interactions help identify things that appear to be self-explanatory and familiar, so no conscious note is taken of it.

Heidegger says we should seek out "foreign" experiences to more fully understand our own culture and experience. Something like "walk a mile in another mans shoes" to understand your own journey.
"Sojourn in foreign realms and the process of alienation within those realms must take place in order for that which is one's own to being glowing in light of that which is foreign." (Heidegger 1992, 175)

So to understand what we know tacitly, we need to look differently at the experiences of others to see what it is we know ourselves.

How does this help us to share tacit knowledge? Well, the above highlights the difficulty with the concept of tacit knowledge itself, that by Polanyi's definition it is unknowable. It's the personal, experiential building blocks of that build our explicit knowledge.

What does this mean for knowledge management? I feel that unless we develop a system of interprettation of tacit knowledge akin to the way the psychoanalytic movement strove to interpret the unconscious, we're going to be none the wiser. And we don't really understand the unconscious, or even agree what it is.

Maybe the best we can do is develop Heidegger's idea, that in considering how others do things, we gain some insight into how WE know. Sounds strangely like reflection to me...

In conclusion then...

Practically speaking, to understand good practice in terms of what we do that works, and sharing that knowledge with others, a move away from the philosophically challenging area of the nature of knowledge, particularly the notion of tacit knowledge, and a return to the notion of reflection and reflective practice, may yield far greater returns for knowledge management.

Librarians and tagging

Anne Welsh has echoed one of the points I made in a previous post Enterprise 2.0 - same problem, different platforms on her blog about the need to leverage libarians skillsets in relation to tagging: Letting Our Skillsets Be Leveraged.

It seems Steven Dale has also picked up on what I said, and has issued something of a challenge to librarians out there.

Maybe I'm reading the wrong blogs, but my perception is that most Librarians remain wedded to structured, corporate categorisation and file management systems, and haven't yet grasped that the world is changing around them. Sorry if I'm over-generalising, but I've seen very few articles/comments/blogs from Librarians in support of social bookmarking.

Someone prove me wrong?

Will the librarians out there rise to this challenge I wonder and take up the opportunity to showcase the great work that's going on in the area?

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Trust and Participation - leaning toward a community of interest

My dissertation research has ended (see Communities of Practice, Knowledge Management and Learning for background on the research project), and I've discovered some interesting findings in relation to trust and participation.

Once again I need to point out that the size of the sample I have for my research is not statistically valid. What I do want to point out is that participants are self-selected, and interested in being part of an online community of practice - one would therefore expect results from the study to be indicative of people who WANT to be involved, rather than those who feel they SHOULD be involved.

I believe this makes the findings worth reporting.

In terms of responses, it appears that people are
  • fairly confident about posting and commenting (more confident with comments than posts I should note),
  • feel the shared blog has been useful for learning and knowledge sharing
  • feel the information they have received through the blog has been useful for their work.
However, particpation levels have been lower than one would expect from the above responses.

Why is this? I analysed the responses using the model described in Trust and Participation - and there's more. This model considers pairs of variables that will dictate the level of participation.

On mapping the participants survey responses to Nolan's model, it became clear that generally speaking, the participants are showing only a partial level of participation due to the following:

Participants perceive the blog to be more interesting than useful
Utility value being greater than interest would, according to Nolan's model, result in greater participation. If participants dont think it's useful for their job, they won't bother to get involved. This is a community of interest, rather than a community of pratice.

Participants percieve their power to influence is less than their interest in the subject
Participants are interested, but not engaged - the extent to which they feel their knowledge has an impact on others is less than their interest in the area. This again, reflects a community of interest, and would explain why levels of participation in terms of posting and commenting are lower than one would hope.

So results, whilst limited in sample size, suggest that key elements affecting participation are:
  • Trust
  • Confidence (perceived power to influence)
Unless of course Nolan's model is way off the mark. With more time, I would more fully research the validity of the model. As it is, it does indicate that my initial gut feelings about the influence of trust and confidence over participation, as indicated by the semi-structured interviews I conducted, is correct.

Again, as I said yesterday in my post Enterprise 2.0 - same problem, different platforms , if we are to leverage benefit from online community, we need to attend to the shortfall behaviours (lack of trust, lack of confidence) which prevent the realisation of the potential of Enterprise 2.0.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Enterprise 2.0 - same problem, different platforms

I've been tracking the Enterprise 2.0 debate on the blogosphere. Posts from Dion Hinchcliffe, Enterprise 2.0 as a corporate culture catalyst, Tom Davenport Why Enterprise 2.0 Won't Transform Organizations Andrew McAfee The Impact of Information Technology (IT) on Businesses and their Leaders and John Husband "These Tools Change Corporate Culture" highlight the debate that, as Dion Hinchcliffe says

applying Web 2.0 tools and platforms inside organization may or may not — depending on who you are talking to — improve the way we collaborate, run our businesses, and even potentially tap major new veins of previously unexploitable worker productivity.

Not wishing to dismiss the potential benefits of web 2.0 applications for freeform social collaboration in business, I do think what is being experienced in relation to the use of these tools is heavily impacted by

  • Organisational culture

  • Confidence

  • Trust

These are the same elements that impact on knowledge sharing and collaboration as a whole - and they are all human.

Until we consider the human side of collaborative working online, Enterprise 2.0 won't get off the ground, let alone make an impact on the way our organisations function.

This is the state of play re: Enterprise 2.0 as I see it in my organisation in terms of shared Blogs, Wikis and Tags

It seems to be a no brainer that wikis are perfect for the collaborative creation of documents. The problem is that people aren't keen on changing what someone else has written without asking them/telling them they've done it.

When sending comments on a document by email, the person sending them knows that the person receiving them knows who they are, and can decide to implement the change or not. Just changing something on a wiki appears somewhat disrespectful of the person who has originally written something.

People need time to get used to this way of working. Probably not a good idea to start with a policy document, but start with creating a meeting agenda...

Shared Blogs
Knowledge sharing group blogs are a problem as people may not have the confidence to say "this is what we do" for fear that people will think it's a ridiculous way to work. They can't ask "what do you think to this way of working" and get immediate feedback - they're announcing it to the world/company/team without any understanding of how it will be received.

It seems easier for people to do this face to face. Having a focus or purpose for sharing information where all participants are equal seems to help, for instance, stating up front that contributions will be added to guidance for others in the team/company. However some just don't trust enough or aren't confident enough to share. This has to addressed in terms of developing trust and developing confidence.

A skill in itself if tags are to be meaningful for all. If there is different terminology for the same thing ie expenses form/travel expenses/car mileage claim, then all those tags need to be present for someone to find what they are looking for.

In business this is important - if it's not done well, people will stop using the application they are searching in because they can't find what they are looking for. Librarians get this, it's what they do. Leveraging librarians skillsets - getting them to develop/deliver training in search and retrieval skills seems sensible here (which I know many of them are already doing...).


If we concentrate too much on what Enterprise 2.o can theoretically do for or organisations, we do this to the detriment of acknowledging that the human element is key - people don't work in the way theory suggests.

If workers are to achieve what theory suggests they can achieve through web 2.0 technologies - collective intelligence, greater knowledge, greater awareness, improved performance, then they are going to need help to do this. And time....lots of time.

    Friday, 15 June 2007

    Friday Photo

    Don't the weeks just fly by, seems like only a day or so since I posted the last Friday photo, but here's another Friday, so here's another photo, this time from The Cosmic Garden of Speculation at Portrack House, a rather wonderful physics based garden in Scotland, designed by the fantastically talented Charles Jencks. The picture shows The Singularity, designed to represent a black hole. It blew me away, and the image doesnt do it justice. Unfortunately the garden is only open once a year, so if you want to see it, plan well. The next time it opens I believe is the 6th May 2008.

    In memorium - for M772VWE

    Tonight I gave my car to a Ford dealer without properly saying goodbye. I abandoned a 1994 Ford Astra diesel that's been with me for 6 years on the forecourt of a Ford dealership in Sheffield and I never looked back as I walked in to the showroom to pick up it's replacement. As it wings its way to the breakers yard in the sky I want to thank it for many years of thankless transportation, despite the thrashing, crashing, scrapping and bashing it received from it's slightly rubbish owner. It's being replaced by a shiny NEW(ish) Ford Focus but it will not be forgotten - the first car I owned.

    Quite sad really, just thought I'd share that with you :-(

    Wednesday, 13 June 2007

    Look, listen and learn - video how to's get media attention, again

    So it's not just me, even Metro have got in on the video for learning debate- not that I'm knocking Metro, in my opinion it's the best newspaper in the UK and it's free.

    Metro's article Look, listen and learn on Wednesday said
    'How to' videos are gaining pace as a form of learning without having to pick up a textbook or phone a parent. VideoJug – dubbed 'the thinking person's YouTube' – launched last September with step-by- step guides on everything from 'how to check for testicular cancer' to 'how to make a delicious mango chutney'.

    Dan Thompson, VideoJug's CEO makes an important point in terms of the value of video for knowledge management

    According to Dan Thompson, VideoJug's CEO: 'So much knowledge is lost when people fail to pass it on to future generations. We hope to stop this. VideoJug is a visual encyclopedia of life.'
    A plethora of sites hosting video style guides have appeared - videojug, ehow, how and a host of other sites. As Streaming Media Magazine says
    ...these do-it-yourself sites bear witness to the power that video content can have in daily life

    Only last week, Videojug launched their Ask The Expert service, which offers professional advice for free on areas like health, technology, money and property.

    I can only see this getting bigger and bigger, with really practical as well as entertainment application. If we really are at the beginning of the web 2.0 explosion, who knows what we're going to see in the future. With so much power in the hands of the people, it's going to be an exciting ride.

    Links to previous posts on video
    Little Videos That Educate - Making Learning Viral
    More on video for learning
    Viral Learning Centre - spoof video

    Tuesday, 12 June 2007

    On Intuition

    Over the last few days I've experienced some really quite amazing coincidences, most of which relate to inituition in some way.

    I recently met a lady who talked of intuition in terms of "just knowing things", and related this to being "fey" or in touch with her spiritual side. Another I met through a different situation, told me she'd been on a course examining intuition in business terms, and today, I was identified as "the intuitive", and told my skills were interesting.

    A coincidence or not, it's got me thinking...

    Personally I've always had a nightmare with my tendency towards intuition and "gut feeling". I seem to intuitively see a solution, but then I have to work out how it was I reached that solution so I can explain it to all the analytical people who ignore what I've said, because I haven't gone through the correct process to reach that point.

    I had the pleasure of being able to actually show how the solution I'd identified could work today, using a process map, but as always I felt frustrated that it took so long!

    An interesting post on, aptly titled Exploiting Intuition, points out that

    When a person acts intuitively, the purely analytical mind is prone to either dismissing their results as luck or to attribute them to a level of understanding and mastery that is unique and exceptional. However, as the benefits of intuitive results as either a starting point for further analysis or as a quick way to make highly accurate predictions are manyfold, the actual concern with intuition should be: Can I train it, and how?

    It's an interesting point, but I think in some spheres there needs to first be a sea change in terms of how we see intuitive reasoning. In fact, it doesnt even warrant a Wikipedia page! Intuition itself only gets a brief philosophically orientated commentary. But according to many, if we trust our intuition, it's surpising how many times we are correct.

    this article on Building an Intuitive Organisation from Chief Learning Office Magazine says on the benefits of using intuition:
    When used in innovation intuition becomes part of an applied creativity process, among other necessary components, like imagination or creative idea-generation. It contributes to having an innovation strategy and training plan.

    Individuals who use intuition in decision-making can achieve far better results than those who use facts and logic alone. Highly integrated individuals are able to do both well. Specific learning processes can be used to train people on intuitive decision-making.

    Intuitive people have a better chance at recognizing the symptoms of stress and can take the steps required for better self-care and reducing burnout. This improves productivity while reducing losses and absenteeism due to stress.

    An area worth some consideration I think...

    Sunday, 10 June 2007

    Methodology for Web 2.0 Collaboration for Reluctant Organisations

    Dave Pollard has developed a A Methodology for Web 2.0 Collaboration Experiments (in Reluctant Organizations). which he discusses in his business innovation and knowledge based blog How To Save The World.

    This diagram explains the process he envisages will enable organisations to mitigate the three key areas he says people have difficulty with...

    What's perceived as urgent in most organizations (i.e. what's keeping management awake at night) isn't collaboration or innovation or technology or worker effectiveness, it's cost reduction and risk management. Nothing else gets any executive bandwidth.

    You can't change an organization's culture (short of firing everyone and starting over with new managers and staff). The best you can hope to do is help people adapt to the existing culture in useful, valuable ways.

    Organizations are, mostly, complex adaptive systems, so one-step needs identification is futile. You have to let a full understanding of the organization's problems and needs, and the solutions that address those needs, co-evolve. By the time you have an intelligent answer, your understanding of the problem is usually vastly different from what it was at the outset.

    The methodology he advocates is one based on experimenting with collaborative technologies. He's developed what looks to be a very pragmatic approach, grounded in the reality of business, which relies on what appears to be an action research approach, which spirals through four phases of planning, acting, observing and reflecting.

    Where I think he's spot on is what he says about the need for champions to meet face to face in the inital stages of the process. As he says,

    ...there is much work to be done up-front to understand the opportunities and challenges, and some sleeves-rolled-up face-to-face is needed to do this

    When I've asked project managers about whether meeting face to face prior to taking part in a shared blog would have given them more confidence in the group, they've had mixed feelings. Some felt that yes, they would be more comfortable sharing with people they knew, others felt that prior judgements about individuals roles and organisations would have a negative impact on sharing face to face.

    Many of these judgements had a power dynamic. As the group blog is anonymous, and anonymity is a great leveller, the power dynamic has been removed. It may be that new ones build in relation to the activity of the community members, rather than due to prior assumptions about individuals within a bureaucracy.

    Recieved wisdom does suggest that face to face activities strengthen a community, but it appears we can't necessarily assume this is the case.

    What Dave Pollard is referring to is more those individuals who will drive forward the experiments in collaboration, rather than the wider community, but the impact of face to face activites on online collaboration is definately something to consider very carefully.

    What is Enterprise 2.0? - Web 2.0 technologies for collaborative working

    I've been poking about on the incredibly linkful (is that a word? It should be) Green Chameleon blog and I found a link to a really simple but incredibly concise demonstration of how Web 2.0 technologies can facilitate collaboration in the workplace.

    It's the sort of the thing that might help you to sell the idea of using them for collaboration, knowledge sharing etc to people who have little knowledge of what Web 2.0 is all about. It looks like it would be a useful awareness raising tool.

    I've failed to embed it, here's the link

    This video, by Commoncraft, is clever, short and amusing, and demonstrates how a wiki can be used. But it's NOT one for demonstrating the business benefits of using a wiki for collaboration to your CIO.

    Saturday, 9 June 2007

    Every community of practice needs a focus

    Something Caroline DeBrun from the National Library for Health (who runs the Talking Knowledge Management blog along with many other KM activities and sites) said in her presentation at the CILIP event yesterday has struck a chord with me.

    She mentioned that she personally used blogs for reflection, and wikis for collaboration. I agree, that seems a sensible and effective use of both technologies, but what she said made me really think about potential activities a wiki would be perfect for, and which would facilitate knowledge sharing, particularly the sharing of lessons learned from the experience of project management.

    It's becoming clear to me that what we (NHS CFH) are trying to gather and utilise, primarily tacit knowledge based on experience which is difficult to articulate, is nigh on impossible to collect with a blog. There may be many reasons for this, and it may not be true of all organisations or group blogs, but what I think might work is to focus more on faciliating community development via collaborate activity. This should in turn, increase community cohesion and encourage a culture of sharing.

    Acknowledging that people really need to focus on activity which improves practice within their particular domain if they are to function as a community of practice, I think rather than asking people to write about their own experiences and lessons learned, we should ask them to collectively create guidance for others, using a wiki. This should draw out experiences and knowledge that they wouldn't offer up in iscolation on a blog. To a certain extent, it's getting them to share their tacit knowledge without knowing that's what they are doing. Crafty...

    I can't believe I didn't think of that before...amazing what happens when you look up for a moment, look around, and listen to what others are saying.

    Definately one for the recommended research section of the dissertation.

    Friday, 8 June 2007

    Friday Photo - on Saturday...

    Got back far too late last night to post a not technically a Friday Photo but never mind...
    This is another one from Cambodia - this time from a wonderful ancient temple, Ta Phrom, one of the temples in the complex outside Siem Reap. Everywhere you look there are trees growing through and over the temple, the result is a beautiful mix of natural and man made structures. I truly amazing place.

    CILIP Blogging from the Backroom event - the many uses of blogs

    Sadly I'm posting at 9.30 pm on a delayed GNER train from London, which has charged me £5.00 per hour to log on to what appears to be a Dutch ISP, I suppose I've learnt a wee bit which might be useful one day - Visa Blogg apparently is "view blog", "Redigera inlägg I think is "edit posts"...

    The journey was worth it though - the CILIP event was great. Some very interesting presentations. Of particular note for me was a session by the Home Office on how they review news stories and , particularly how many feeds and blogs they read. They review 3,000 google feeds a day!

    Their mission, to identify issues within their remit ie immigration, as well as what is being said about the Home Office. It was interesting to see the effect David Blunkett's resignation had on THOSE stats... But 3,000!!! I manage about 3 if I'm really focused. The skills required for analysing that much data and information are phenomenal! Maybe one day we'll all (have to) become that proficient at sifting through information.

    See Alertinfo, with it's strapline "Crime, Justice, Society" for the fruits of the Home Office's labour.

    Thanks to the very interesting Anne Welsh from Drugscope for inviting me to speak and for entertaining me after the event.

    Thursday, 7 June 2007

    Blogging from the Backroom event, CILIP event

    Tomorrow I'm speaking at an event run by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, Blogging from the Backroom. I'll be talking about my experiences with the Project Managers Knowledge Cooperative shared blog. Also on the programme are Drugscope, St. George’s Medical School, University of London, Home Office and the National Library for Health (NHS). You can see the full programme here.

    I'm looking forward to being able to enthuse about the power of blogging, after all, I think blogs are the notebooks of the 21st century, a fantastically flexible tool, but I'm also keen to point out the problems of using blogs for knowledge sharing and learning.

    My key points are that
    • Knowledge alone is nothing, it's how it's applied that matters, so a blog is merely an enabler for improved practice
    • A blog can aid reflective practice as by the very act of writing about experiences, people create a concrete example onto which to hang theory
    • Collaboration is key in a group blog - if only one person posts, and few people comment, the value of the group element of the blog is lost and it becomes a different animal
    • Trust and confidence are vital for participation, if this is lacking, and a culture change is required, it will be an uphill struggle to gain benefit from a shared blog

    I'm sure it will be an interesting and thought provoking event and despite a few nerves (I've not presented on this area before, as my research isn't complete) I'm looking forward to it.

    Wednesday, 6 June 2007

    Trust and Participation - and there's more

    Another model, developing the theme of trust and it's impact on participation (see my post on Time, Trust and Participation for 3 level model of trust), this time from Terry Nolan in his paper Individual trust and development of online business communities. (again, can't find a free link...)

    It aligns with the economic based, information/knowledge based, identification based levels of trust, but looks at it from the standpoint of the component parts of trust, rather than the types of trust behaviour which align with participation.

    Nolan identifies what sees as the component parts of trust. In his words:

    • Risk - associated with providing information to unknown participants and acting upon information received from them

    • Benefit - an overall perception that involvment will provide individual gain

    • Utility value - measured by high information quality such that it can be absorbed into immediate practice

    • Interest - indicating an inherent interest in the system and the information available

    • Effort - the effort exerted to acquire information

    • Power - an individual's ability to influence others
    He believes that participation is dependant on the combinations of variables, ie

    Interest vs Utility value
    If interest exceeds utility value, then you have a Community of Interest, rather than a Community of Practice

    Risk vs Utility
    If the risk of participating outweighs the usefulness of the information, the likelihood of participation is lessened

    Benefit vs Effort
    If benefit outweighs effort, the individual is more likely to participate

    Power vs Interest
    Power gained through the possession of expertise that influences the practice of others. To participate fully, an indivual must have more than a mere interest in the topic

    So the following diagram, reproduced from fig 7 in Nolan's paper, shows that the interaction between the above variables will determine how much an individual participates.

    Assessing individual perception of the component elements of trust in relation to an online community appears to be a great way to identify barriers to sharing, but I'm still no further on with a strategy for facilitating the change of an individuals position from one of non or part participation to one of full participation and membership of an effective community of practice.

    Tuesday, 5 June 2007

    Time, Trust and Participation

    If someone came up to you in the street, and you had a packet of crisps in your hand, would you let them have one?

    If you wouldn’t share your crisps, why not?

    Maybe because we generally don’t share things with people until we know them (or we’re just plain greedy/hungry).

    Maybe because we don’t generally share things with people we don’t trust – you don’t tell someone a secret unless you know you can trust that person not to then tell your secret to everyone they’ve ever met...

    In this very simple scenario, the two dimensions that clearly affect sharing are knowing someone and/or trusting them. The fact that degree of trust in information, individuals and technology and length of time people have known one another can affect knowledge sharing shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

    If we are to engender trust and encourage participation in online communities, then:

    • On the time side – we need to develop relationships, sustain them, and not assume that people who don’t know each other will share.

    • On the trust side – we need to be honest and transparent in our dealings with people, trust is a delicate thing – who is going to trust someone who keeps things back? Who is going to trust a system that isn’t secure. Who is going to believe information when the last thing they read was untrue or inaccurate?

    • On the relationship side – trust is developed between people, organisations can only leverage relationships that are trusting.

    As Kevin Dwyer from Build Your Own Business notes
    Trust is personal. It is between two people. When organisations “trust” each other it is a result of trust between individuals in the organisation.

    An interesting article from WeMedia says
    From the consumer's perspective, it's easy to place trust in an established institution such as The Wall Street Journal or even MTV, but how does the audience learn to trust a stranger (or group of strangers), to evaluate the information they are providing, and to collaborate with them?

    Thinking primarily about business based communities, it seems to encourage participation, we need to more fully understand how we can cultivate trust whilst at the same time acknolwedging that it takes time to build.

    Maybe the first step is to assess readiness to share in terms of trust. Hsu, Ju, Yen and Chang from Taiwan have developed
    a very interesing model (sorry, can't find a free link to this paper) based on Social Cognitive Theory which measures multi-dimensional trusts.
    • Economy based trust – based on economic benefit or violation of trust ie the termination of a relationship or the likelihood of retribution
    • Information based trust – knowledge based trust, the belief that behaviour is predicatable and and uncertainty is reduced
    • Identification based trust – parties understand one anothers wants and mutual understanding is developed

    They found that certain trust dimensions have a positive effect on others ie

    • Economy based trust has a positive effect on information based trust.
    • Information based trust has a positive effect on identification based trust

    Taking the crisp sharing scenario as an example:

    • Economy based trust – sharing must give you some sort of benefit ie not being hit
    • Information based trust – to share you believe what you expect will happen – and they won’t give the crisp to their dog
    • Identification based trust – you share because you can see they are hungrier than you
    To examine the level of trust someone has toward a particular group or system would help identify the barriers that continually prevent sharing. Individual differences are clearly important in understanding why some people share quickly and without pontificating, whilst others need to see individual benefit to take part.

    I feel this model may help us to understand what it is we need to do to encourage diverse participation in our online communities. All we need to do then is work out how to help people move from where they are to where they need to be to effectively share and learn.

    Shouldn’t be too hard...

    Monday, 4 June 2007

    Quotes on sharing

    In an attempt to really impress the academics and gain valuable brownie points for my dissertation by reading both deeply AND broadly, I developed a cunning plan for finding authors outside of the immediate learning, knowledge sharing, knowledge management type literature - check out some quotes on learning, sharing, knowledge etc.

    This cunning plan is based on the premise that if they've been quoted talking about something, maybe they know something about it.

    It's working, I just have to keep focused and not find out everything there is to know about the politics of Barbados or the principles of environmentalism...


    Here's some good sharing quotes - seems only right to share them...

    Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.

    Often, we are too slow to recognize how much and in what ways we can assist each other through sharing such expertise and knowledge.

    In today's environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.

    The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.

    Leo.F. Buscaglia, he was really into Love

    If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

    Rachel Carson, Environmentalist

    You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.

    Albert Camus, genius existentialist philosopher

    Friday, 1 June 2007

    Web 2.0 video on the socio-political nature of the web

    I think this is the most amazing video to describe Web 2.0 and it’s impact.

    Maybe it's the Manga films I’ve watched like Ghost in the Shell, maybe it’s my anarchist tendencies, but this videos socio-political statement, that we ARE the machine, really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

    Thanks to Clive Shepherd and Brent Schlenker for the link.

    Right, no more posting over the weekend, really must do some studying and stop getting distracted by all the really interesting but not completely relevant conversations going on in the blogosphere...

    Roll on August 28th when I hand in my dissertation!!!

    More on video for learning

    Having merely been pontificating whilst on the train about the value of video demonstration for learning, which prompted me to post yesterdays acclamation , I noticed that there’s a buzz about video and learning going on in the learning/e-learning/KM arena...

    Dan's post on his blog Learning Rocks talks about TV and video as learning tools…citing Donald Clarks blog in Feb 07, who says of YouTube, GoogleVideo etc:

    “Why does videocasting matter in learning? Education and training, by and large, delivers second-rate content using second-rate techniques at top-dollar rates. But why settle for second best when you can have the best content using great teachers for free? “

    Must be something in the water :-)

    Friday Photo

    In the spirit of the honourable tradition of Friday Cat Blogging, I thought I'd share a photo I'm proud of with you each Friday. I'm almost as passionate about photography as I am learning, but I'll control myself and only post one pic a week.

    This one was taken in the centre of Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A fantastic place, regarded as a masterpiece of Khmer architecture, it was built between 1113 and 1150. I'll not go into huge detail or I'd get carried away and have to start a travel blog (now there's an idea...)

    Cambodia is primarily Buddhist and this lady had dressed one of the statues in Buddhist garb and was asking for change (for her, for the temple, no idea, don't speak Khmer). It made for a really atmospheric photo displaying the colours and religion of Cambodia.

    I've entered it in the Digital Camera Magazine Photographer of the year 2007 competition, but I don't think the editors selecting the pics rate it...oh well, I do :-)