Blogging for what? For reflecting, for sharing, for learning, for synthesising, for…


When I started this blog, about a year and a half ago, I stepped into the darkness, I marched for the light, whose shape I couldn’t quite picture then. Blogging just sounded like a good practice to follow but, as my former manager Viktor Markowski (founder of Conosco) said, “to do what?” I hadn’t yet figured that part out. I was just enthusiastic starting something new, a characteristic of my resource investigator nature (1). And with that initial enthusiasm (which I reflected upon in this initial post) came the risk of quickly losing the energy and whimsically wanting to get on with other new exciting adventures. The risk was real, and indeed my blogging waned after a few clumsy posts.

Blogging for quality learning and sharing (photo credits: Envios)

In early 2009, I decided to confront my inconsistency head on and obliged to blog on a weekly basis, as I mentioned in a post about blogging I wrote in January last year.

Thinking back about the whole blogging enterprise now,I realise how much blogging has revolutionised my way of working and communicating. In a bright recent post that my mate Christian Kreutz wrote, a number of people refer to blogs as crucial tools for deeper reflections. I totally share these views. My own practice has benefitted from blogging – I think, but please offer your challenging views on this – on a variety of avenues:

  • First and foremost, blogging has been an unprecedented opportunity to clarify my thoughts and structure my ideas to be able to offer more clarity on the concepts, approaches and tools I use in my work. By explaining issues to myself and others, I have gained a lot of coherence in the way I express myself and argue.
  • Secondly, it has allowed me to engage with readers and reflect more deeply upon my own thinking, leading to a richer reflective learning. In this it reflects the Native American saying: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may not remember, involve me and I will understand”. Of course it is not as useful as physically working together but it comes close to it.
  • Thirdly it has helped me collect, organise, synthesise and repackage key resources on the topics I care for. The stock-taking post collection I started is a central premise of this effort, but generally referring to other resources is great for readers and for oneself. By the way you can still vote for the topic of my next stock-taking post here.
  • It has also allowed me to use my own creativity to write in a tone that reflects my personality and to use some of my favourite mental models, quotes and to play with words in a way that is often not possible in my ongoing (more formalised) work.
  • Furthermore, for a goldfish nature like mine, blogging has also allowed me to remember things a lot better. Writing things down has helped me carve them in a special spot in my memory. The added benefit here is that whatever is written is in turn more easily shareable with others, which is one of the main axis upon which social bookmarking rests.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the very practice of writing and reflecting on a regular basis, taking up all the above ingredients, has probably allowed me to engage in a more structured and regular learning practice that leads to discerning patterns of a finer granularity. I am a lot more aware of what I should/can do with information – of whatever nature, through talking or reading – that comes across my path. It helps me to integrate and question this information and to think about how I learn, thereby indulging in double and triple-loop learning (more about these concepts on this blogpost).

All in all, it has been for me an extraordinary journey through my consciousness and dedication and one that gives me confidence that blogging is here to stay, for a while at least, in my practice. For 2010, I therefore hope to keep blogging, to engage even more with all of you, and to see you come up with your own blogs. If you like writing or learning, really give it a go and tell me what you think! If you already have a blog, let’s share ideas and discuss!

(1)    see Belbin’s team roles for more on this – to take with measure obviously. The official Belbin website is: http://www.belbin.com/

What should be the next topic for a stock-taking post?


[This poll is closed since 15 February 2010 – The elected stock-taking post will be about ‘Learning cycle basics and more’  which I will write before the end of February. Many thanks to you all for your participation!]

I started a series of stock-taking posts to give an introduction to a given topic by providing a short summary to some of the most useful resources on the topic that I know of. So far I have written only two of these posts: on capacity development and on network monitoring.

Taking stock in this way is useful for me for future reference but it would be grand if they could be useful to you too!

So here is your chance to suggest the next topic for a stock-taking post, from a series of 4 propositions.

I’m all ears and ready to follow suit!

X reasons not to learn, not to share, not to progress


Yes, we’ve all come across people, if not previous avatars of ourselves, that refused to engage in knowledge sharing / management or learning for many reasons (1).

Now, back on my main digression, as I sometimes wonder if blog posts are not just useful digressions from ongoing business: reasons to keep away from sharing knowledge, learning or engaging with knowledge management (2) are manifold and they explain why it is still difficult for many of us, KM practitioners, to get our message across in a sea of incredulity, polite rebuttal or open hostility.

How to go ahead without running to a dead end? (photo credits: Andrew Mason)

Let’s therefore imagine that we are trying to convince others to engage in KS/KM – and le’ts just say that this is happening as another digression in the course of a conversation. Trying to convince them out of the blue and without purpose is probably the worst way one can imagine to convince others to share and manage knowledge.

Let’s then have a look at X of these reasons, and also at the other side of the coin, the anecdotes that might win sceptics over:

I don’t have time! I’m so busy, how do you want me to be able to share or manage!? (That sounds very logical at first but then one might wonder) “if the hole you’re digging is not the right one, stop digging!” How can you not take the time to assess if you are relevant? Ever heard about the urgent/important time management quadrant? Do you want to keep firefighting, running like Alice’s rabbit with the risk of ending up exhausted, tricked and sad? Yes learning takes some time initially but just as it takes time to learn how to drive, it always gets you further faster eventually!

 

Why would I share my knowledge, I don’t want others to steal my ideas! (Perhaps one of the most common excuses for not sharing knowledge. I have a typical example with a music collection): We’re not in the ‘knowledge is power’ paradigm any more. In a world where experts matter perhaps less than connectors to the sources of expertise, it is more like the era of ‘sharing knowledge is power’. An example: I have collected a vast amount of quality tunes – now converted in MP3 – over the years. I could share it all in one go. Yes I would give the direct benefit of my experience to someone else. It still doesn’t mean that this someone else has the background, the expertise, the creativity, the curiosity and the unique combination of all of this that made me compile all this music. If you fear that someone will still your soul, remember that it is your own added value that matters, not the result of your work! If you’re happy to share, be happy to pass your knowledge on and let it be re-adapted in a multitude of creative ways for the collective betterment!

 

I’ve been doing fine so far, why should I change? (There was this recent blog post I can’t find back which had this beautiful metaphor with sports): every season requires a new tactic, even for the last season’s champion. It’s just not possible to keep doing the same (in more popular terms, there’s a reason behind the expression: to be resting on laurels – think of Roman decadence!).

I’m not interested in your new fancy tools, I know how to organise my work as is! Well, good news! KM/KS/Learning is not about new and fancy tools! It’s about working smartly and tapping into our potential as individuals and groups of individuals. You’re already doing great stuff, how can others benefit from your experience? And who knows, perhaps there’s something out there that could be of interest to you too? Curiosity is the key to learning. Learning is the key to (self-) improvement.

KM is just a new fad, I’d rather stay away from it! (Nuff’ said! At least for rejecting fad! But perhaps it’s time to examine how over-rated that view is because) KM is no longer a fad anywhere. And even if it were, you know how it goes: fad – crash – balance! The point is to have enough experience to be top of the league when the point of balance comes in. You realise here that I’m trying to think in terms of what sceptics may perceive as benefits – you may think the benefits are more along the lines of ‘let’s do it together, have fun and learn tons out of it, even thanks to failing!‘).

I’m not the right guy to do this kind of stuff anyway, talk to [IT/HRM/communication staff] But KM and learning is not about responsibilities! It’s about benefits! And if you talk to people and if you want to improve, you qualify for these benefits! Do you want to work as you have so far, except better? Stop enduring, realise yourself and show the way to others!

You don’t seem like an expert in these things, why should I trust you? Because it takes all of us and all our motivation to go further. It’s the vision that drives, not the expertise! It’s the action that leads, not the words (in French we have this funny saying: “un con qui marche ira toujours plus loin qu’un intellectuel assis – which means more or less: “a walking moron always goes further than a sitting intellectual”). Perhaps I don’t have all the answers, but I want to know! And perhaps your wisdom can help me know better!

 

Show me that it (KS/KM) works and I’ll think about it. (My favourite! This type of statement is the very reason for me to work and blog on monitoring of KM). Do you ever calculate why it makes sense to see your friends? Can you quantify the benefits of thinking alone on holiday? Can you show what you have done with a training course on a complex issue like managing people? It is not directly possible to show the value of any of this and yet, deep down, you know that it’s right to do it, ok? KS/KM/Learning is about a behaviour change towards more reflection and connecting to other people with a purpose. It takes time, it takes dedication, but it creates better results (“1+1=3”) and it sparks energies – something that cannot be measured but that has major consequences!

Have you always been more successful by working on your own rather than working with others? If yes, then forget about it all; if not, engage, share, learn, have fun, grow and let go!

These are simple and fair questions on the one hand, and (I hope) rather simple and fair answers on the other. The point in the matter is not to over complicate and to focus on convincing the sceptics that are open enough to flip over with simple but powerful stories…  I’m not good with telling stories, as you can see, but I hope some of the examples and some of the quotes will inspire you in your attempt at convincing sceptics to learn and share!

Oh, and while on this topic of knowledge sharing and the barriers to it, don’t fail to read Dave Snowden’s great series ‘Knowledge sharing across silos’: part 1 and part 2, with more to come still!

Notes

(1) Please note that I refrain from mentioning a well rounded number of reasons, as I’m slightly getting tired of seeing the likes of 5 lessons to keep in mind, 10 factors to do this, 50 tools that will make you happy, 100 good ideas to apply anywhere and an infinity of numbers to forget

(2) I recognise there are significant differences between learning, sharing and managing knowledge but when it comes to adverse situations there is a large degree of commonality.

Many great entries and many happy returns!!!


Many great entries and many happy returns!!!

Happy new year, many returns and entries! (photo credits: Camera Slayer)

Happy new year, many returns and entries! (photo credits: Camera Slayer)

And that’s it, we’re in 2010. I love even years! Over the past 10 years they have proven to be greater for some…odd reason. At any rate I wish you all a fun-love-passion-justice-health-energy and creativity-filled entrance to this new decade!

Anyways this year sounds even more exciting as the previous one with respect to the initiatives that have started last year and which will hopefully grow this year such as the SA-GE community of practice and the Change Alliance.

I am slowly starting the works this post will therefore not tackle a specific topic but instead will refer to a few interesting developments of the last few weeks:

  • The KMers’ chats are continuing on a weekly basis, usually on Tuesday and provide excellent opportunities to read very interesting ideas about knowledge management (albeit not specifically for development) and to meet great folks. One of the next topics there could be: How to use knowledge performance indicators?
  • I noticed that KM4DEV is becoming a more visible place even for some KM pundits such as Patrick Lambe, Dave Snowden and David Gurteen. All good for the list and for all of us and I think some very interesting exchanges will take place.
  • Simon Hearn and I are well into our study on the monitoring of knowledge management and some interesting exchange is currently happening on the Giraffe blog and on the KM4DEV mailing list. Our first blog post on the topic provides some ideas for a framework. More soon!
  • And the link between the last three points is a reaction of Patrick Lambe on our work because he has been working a lot on this topic and he explains some of his views and possible approaches to use KPIs in this comprehensive guide: http://su.pr/4S4ogA
  • This year has to be a more active year on the front of complexity theories. Ben Ramalingam has started his great blog ‘Aid on the Edge of Chaos’ and some quality reads are circulating there. All the more reason for a complexity stock-taking post rather early in the year!
  • I wouldn’t leave this list without referring to SA-GE (discussion group, a NING page and a starting wiki), our attempt at finding funds for this new francophone KM4DEV community of practice and perhaps our first francophone KM4DEV event some time this year, and most definitely next year anyhow. And early in the year we will also have a look a semantic search as kindly suggested by the WebIDEApro platform.
  • Oh and I was about to forget: 2010 will be the year of resuming our KM4DEV drinks in the Netherlands. The first drinks’ event is scheduled for Friday 22 January and will be hosted by IRC but all subsequent ones will be taken care of by other NL-based development organisations. A movement is (re-)born, so if you can, please join us on 22 Jan!

And again, a HNY 2 U all!

P.S. on a completely different note, I finally managed to sort out my entire music collection and so I’ll be tweeting about some quality tunes and artists over the year. Whoever interested, feel free to contact me!