On this day, exactly five years ago, I started blogging. On this very blog. My first time ever. Not a particularly great post actually. Nor many posts that followed that primal scream on the web.
But like for many others before (Leo Babauta, Harold Jarche, Irving Wladawsky-Berger and most recently Jeff Bullas in the corporate world), blogging has become a central part of my practice. A hobby. A habit. A drug. A source of comfort and peace. A source of intuition and emotions. A passion – shared… And many more useful things…
So for this five-year anniversary I’d like to offer a journey through these five years of blogging, selecting some posts that may have gone unnoticed (or not) but really matter to me and characterise the various phases I went through in this blogging journey…
The genesis: confusion of a confusiast
That first post was by a confusiast, but it was also quite confused. I knew I wanted to blog about knowledge management (my main field [of interest]), about communication (my main activity), about monitoring and evaluation (my extended hobby, to focus on learning), about complexity (my main source of confusion and fascination) and other things that popped up in my brain along the way. And I did a bit of all that.
Perhaps the most important posts of that period were:
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/process-documentation-relabelled/ where I tried to nail down one of the biggest KM hobbies (or red herrings): the ‘learning organisation’
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/top-people-in-bottom-up-times/ talking about enlightened leadership
Back in that period, there was not much quality in my blogging generally (not to say I don’t have my bad blogging days now either): I hadn’t clarified my thoughts, sources of information (sites) and knowledge (people and networks) and had not yet found my writing style, I didn’t link, I didn’t have anyone to converse with… But most importantly I had started blogging and that hugely helped make sense of information over time…
Another asset was my connection with KM4Dev. It is perhaps the main reason that pushed me to blog, but also to tweet, to use Slideshare, Del.icio.us, FlickR, to facilitate workshops in a different way etc. So in a way that genesis period of blogging owes much to this great community which has always been an extraordinary source of inspiration.
The IRC period
My previous employer – the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) is a marvellous organisation, full of learning, innovation, critical thinking, autonomy and fun… so much so that I almost worked for 10 years there. IRC’s cutting edge work really gave me lots of inspiration for blogging before I really moved on to focusing on my own ‘pet topics’. So back in those days I blogged a lot about multi-stakeholder processes (such as learning alliances), process documentation, resource centre networks, sector learning generally.
This is a period during which I focused a lot on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), as I got more and more involved in that type of work. At any rate, most of my posts from that period related to the work I was doing at IRC.
Some blog posts I enjoyed writing, from that period:
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/growing-organically-and-the-future-of-monitoring/ offering a set of principles to change the way monitoring and evaluation is being carried out.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/a-frame-to-work-with-learning-alliances/ where I put together a way to make sense of multi-stakeholder processes.
My learning take at IRC
Progressively I defined my own route on the blogging seas and took more and more liberty to use my IRC work to reflect on broader topics of discussion. In that period I started to be involved in various initiatives that went beyond IRC: SA-GE the francophone KM4Dev network, the IKM-Emergent research programme, my work in the core group of KM4Dev and as KM4Dev journal editor, my involvement in the KMers group of Tweeters (backed by a much more thorough and consistent use of Twitter) etc.
This is where I also put more and more emphasis on learning in all my KM, comms and M&E work – realising that knowledge management was meant to serve that learning objective to improve, more than anything else – and that comms with learning (and sharing) was in my eyes a lot more valuable than comms with messages.
The blog posts from that period reflect that shift:
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/me-of-km-the-phoenix-of-km-is-showing-its-head-again-%e2%80%93-how-to-tackle-it/ about some ways to develop smarter M&E of knowledge work, as part of my IKM work.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/what-the-tweet-do-we-know-about-monitoringassessing-km/ on the same topic, summarising a very rich discussion on the KMers’ Twitter chat platform.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/harvesting-insights-1-back-to-basics/ – where I tried to crystallise my thoughts about what KM is really about.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/channelling-energy-how-do-we-realise-transform-and-accomplish-ourselves/ about the crucial importance of keeping energy up (and how to do it).
An escapist route?
As working at IRC became more of a burden – or fatigue – towards the end, I also shifted my focus even more on other topics and external networks that mattered to me: IKM-Emergent once again, but also the AgShare Fair group (which eventually led me to work for ILRI). During that period I also had a long blogging holiday as I went through a difficult period… only to come back with a renewed and firm commitment to blogging regularly, as I also realised I really enjoyed and needed it.
During the last 15 months of my time at IRC I therefore moved on from focusing on the IRC work to look more broadly at e.g. development work more generally, education, conditions for effectiveness etc.
Some of the blog posts from that period:
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/look-beyond-what-to-do-why-and-how-lead-to-who/ – where we need to look beyond what most development organisations focus on (i.e. what has to be done).
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/share-your-questions-the-personal-effectiveness-and-knowledge-survey/ about a personal effectiveness survey to benefit everyone.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/question-your-education-and-educate-your-questions/ about the power of questions and an education system that values this.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/knowledge-management-social-media-and-ecology-%e2%80%93-the-complexity-of-three-sessions-218-206-173/ reporting about three fascinating sessions from the second global agriculture share fair.
Working for ILRI
And then in November last year I started working for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in a fantastic team of really dedicated and good knowledge and information professionals. The bulk of my work when I started off working at ILRI revolved around facilitation (as you can see on this overview of events we supported, there were many workshops since November 2011). So it’s only normal that quite a few of my posts in this new phase have been around event and meeting facilitation.
But there have also been a few posts about the connection between communication and knowledge work / learning. Although my workload increased, paradoxically I have never been as active on this blog as since I joined ILRI, posting up to 3-4 posts some weeks. The work environment in our team and around its projects is stimulating enough that I find lots of matter to think and blog about.
Some blog posts from this period:
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/stop-taking-hostages-the-ills-of-poor-event-design-and-facilitation/ – about how too many events happen and kill energy.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/my-first-shoot-the-scaling-up-silver-bullet/ stating why I don’t believe in scaling up.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/putting-learning-loops-and-cycles-in-practice/ about practical ways to learn at three levels of loops.
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/international-womens-knowledge-sharing-day/ Are women not natural knowledge sharing champions?
- https://km4meu.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/kmcdl-on-the-journey-to-universal-sense-making/ nailing down what KM boils down to in my eyes.
The work at ILRI is changing little by little and this means I might end up blogging about different matters…
The next fork on the road?
Now I’m still working for ILRI (for almost a year day for day, as I started on November 1, 2011) but also broadening my scope to other areas that reflect some of the relevant topics for ILRI and for me: information management, monitoring of knowledge work (re-delving into the IKM work I did on that but with an emphasis on practical routine indicators and ways to assess the use of our ‘knowledge work’), training people on information and knowledge management, complexity theories in the field of agriculture innovation systems, change management, agile KM and the importance of mobilising all people towards ongoing change…
I can’t see further than that, but perhaps you have ideas as to where I should focus my blogging and our conversations next?