Saturday, 29 November 2008

More Quotes on Knowledge

Because this post containing a few quotes on sharing has been hit so many times, I thought it about time to do another one.

Where previously I was looking for insights, using quotes to give me new authors and thinkers to consider in relation to my dissertation, this time the quotes I have chosen are those that resonate for me due to my experiences with knowledge and knowledge management. So here they are, and I make no apologies for including Peter Drucker more than once.

"The store of wisdom does not consist of hard coins which keep their shape as they pass from hand to hand; it consists of ideas and doctrines whose meanings change with the minds that entertain them."

John Plamenatz, political philosopher

"The more extensive a man's knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do."

Benjamin Disraeli, statesman and literary figure

"Knowledge is the fundamental factor -- the major enabler -- of enterprise performance."

Karl M. Wiig, KM guru

"The basic economic resource - the means of production - is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor. It is and will be knowledge."

Peter Drucker, genius

"Knowledge must come through action."

Sophocles, ancient Greek playwright

"Knowledge management will never work until corporations realize it's not about how you capture knowledge but how you create and leverage it."

Etienne Wenger, co-creator of the concept of Communities of Practice

"Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something,or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes."

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline

"Alchemists turned into chemists when they stopped keeping secrets.”

Eric Raymond, programmer and open-source software advocate

“In a knowledge-driven economy, talk is real work.”

Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak, KM gurus

"Knowledge is experience; everything else is information.”

Albert Einstein, genius physicist

“Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.”

Louis L’Amour, author

"Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass."

Japanese proverb

"There's no such thing as knowledge management; there are only knowledgeable people. Information only becomes knowledge in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it."

Peter Drucker, genius Management guru

"Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportioned to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I recall that piece of knowledge and use it better."

Mark Van Doren, poet and critic

Friday, 28 November 2008

Wikipedia isn't doing business use of wikis any favours

So, contentious title out of the way, I'll explain...

Wikipedia is the best known example of a wiki. This is the frame of reference many use when thinking "what is a wiki". But a wiki is just a word document, online. That's about it. It doesn't have to be anything other than a place people can write things without having to email the document they wrote them in to one another. So in developing an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has inadvertedly created a mass misunderstanding as to the value and potential usage of wikis.

Wikis can be used for absaloutely anything at all which probably currently happens via email like non-standard agendas, standards, reports, current effective practice, policies, reviews, knowledge assets etc etc etc.

Unfortunately, many companies begin their wiki experiments by trying to create the definitive knowledge asset on, say, knowledge management. This is a big ask for people who've never had their own contributions edited by someone they don't know. It turns people off, and prevents them from recognising the potential in wikis. They need to start with a simple and non-threatening activity like a progress report or lessons learned review. Even a shared agenda would help as I said in this post some time ago. Starting small will really help people gain confidence enough to start working on bigger projects like knowledge assets.

Instead of creating company shaped Wikipedia replicas, maybe we should all set our sights a bit lower and take some time to get used to what Forrester and many others consider to be high value tools for business.

And just for the record, I think Wikipedia is the dogs thingamees :-)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Technologies: they're not going anywhere anytime soon

Thanks to Bill Ives and his Portal and KM blog, I've been able to get the gist of the Forrester TechRadar For Vendor Strategists: Enterprise Web 2.0 without paying the $379 it costs to read the whole thing (hurrah!)

Bill reviewed the report and his highlights mention that usage of Enterprise 2.0 software has produced significant success with social networks and wikis, moderate success with blogs, forums, mashups, prediction markets, RSS and widgets (don't they make your beer bubbly?) and minimal success with microblogs, podcasts and social bookmarks.

I'd agree that people appear to connect with social networks and wikis more than, say, podcasts and RSS (vastly underutilised if you ask me), but I would have to read the report to know why the distinction between social networks and forums. Any road up, the top and bottom of it is that in terms of these collaborative software applications "Some were just starting on their journey (microblogs), others had reached their high point (podcasts and forums) but none were on their way down". So the fact that the public sector is only just opening its doors to these tools is not necessarily bad - looks like enterprise 2.0 is no fad.

How could I forget? My first published picture

I know I've stopped submitting in the stylee of the Friday Photo, because I discovered Flickr, but I thought I should mention, as I've been distracted from blogging by my photography obsession, that I've had my first picture published in the November issue of Digital SLR Photography magazine - this is the not winning but at least printed picture for your delectation. My street photos are more my thang, but this was for a themed comp....

Value Network Mapping and Analysis - the way forward?

For some considerable time now I've been wondering if knowledge management is really the way forward. Many people either don't know what it is or relate it to a particular business area, for instance IT or HR and having boxed and labelled it, ignore it. So I've been searching for a way to find a practical application which would float the respective boats not only of the HR and IT afficionados, but also the CEOs of the world. I considered Lean, Six Sigma, Social Network Analysis, all which felt like there was something missing...but I'm struggling to find anything wrong with Value Network Analysis.

Like social network analysis, value network analysis maps relationships but using roles rather than individuals. The value associated with role interrelationships, both tangible (ie exchange of goods, services, revenue) and intangible (ie knowledge and benefits) is mapped and analysed to identify where there may be more value, tangible or intangible, and to highlight what is required to achieve the most value from the area of business being examined. It seems simpler and broader in scope than IDEF mapping and by virtue of the emphasis on role, appears to be less sensitive to the bias found in the individual focus of social network mapping,

I definately think it deserves fuller examination and I'll write more on this when I've processed and digested what it really means to me and potentially to my organisation, but for the time being, check out - not just a sales site, there are some great tit bits (love that phrase) which help explain what value network analysis is all about. Some pretty impressive clients there too. Check out this article (which can be accessed from the Value Networks site too) demonstrating the technique in relation to Journalism, and this relatively scathing (but quite possibly valid) comment on change management.

Are you a fan of VNA? If so, tell me more...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Knowledge management analogies & stories Part I

I don't know about you, but I often find that people have a preconcieved notion of what knowledge is, which prevents them from having a useful conversation about how it might be managed. I'm not convinced that it can be "managed" - maybe, using the same differentiation between leading and managing people, knowledge can be "led"? Anyway, the point is, I've been collecting analogies and stories to help me explain what I'm talking about re: KM in general, and to explain why I feel so strongly that tacit knowledge cannot, in essence, be captured (see this post and this post). I thought I'd share some of them with you.

The Salad Analogy - Information & Knowledge & Wisdom
Borrowed from Mr Mike Kelleher, senior consultant at the British Quality Foundation
Information tells us that that red round thing with pips in is a tomato is, knowledge tells us that it is a fruit, wisdom tells us that despite the fact it is a fruit, it doesn't go well in a fruit salad.

The Driving Analogy
Intuitively developed by me despite the fact it's used by many other people...
When you learn to drive a car, you do so by actually driving a car. The theory of road use can be gained from a book, but any real ability to drive is gained by driving. That is the difference between theory (information) and practice (knowledge). However, tacit, intuitive knowledge comes to us when we've had many years of idiot drivers pulling out of the middle lane of the motorway without warning. It's a feeling, a sensation of "better watch that car!" and cannot easily be articulated so that someone else could practice it. However, many frequent and long distance drivers know what I'm talking about...

Teaching by the book
A lovely analogy from Larry Prusak, on his site, tells of how he was once on a baseball team, but "was by far the worst hitter on the team". His father gave him a book on The Art of Hitting. Despite pratically memorising the book, he still couldn't hit. This is, as Prusak says,
"...a story I tell people who insist that knowledge can be codified, that humans are interchangeable. There are still many facets of life and work that are art not science, and wise managers understand how to manage both."

I'll post these as I come across them, and I promise to test them first, after all, it's not just about theory, it's about practice...