Don’t want to understand KM? Don’t bother, business as usual is the best thing ever :)


Knowledge management (KM) can be a very dry topic to explain, so how about a bit of fun to do the job?

A mate of mine was recently compiling some ideas to present KM to a group of people who don’t know anything about it. She picked my brains and I told her, among other ideas, to use illustrations explaining the challenges that (agile) KM can solve.

Here are some ideas if you want to ignore those challenges…

Information and knowledge are of no help when you have a hammer anyway! (Credits: Mugsy's rap sheet)

Information and knowledge are of no help when you have a hammer anyway! (Credits: Mugsy’s rap sheet)

Don’t mind your information and knowledge, it’s all over-rated

True! What’s all the fuss about the information age and the knowledge era, and being smart and all. Rote learning has proven a long time ago that it was by far the most successful way to respond to current problems, let alone future challenges. Just keep nailing (or hammering?) down your problems all in the same way, as you’ve always done. Why change a winning strategy?

Well, perhaps when it’s no longer winning, and you DO need to take stock of what people think and do around you 😉

Ensure slow, and regular death by powerpoint

Another common one that can easily be avoided by (agile) KM: Make sure your meetings and events are as loaded with information as possible (yes: encourage logorrhea). Who cares about knowledge sharing and co-creating?

Death by Powerpoint, slow and painful, and totally AVOIDABLE (Credits: Media Fake Posters)

Death by Powerpoint, slow and painful, and totally AVOIDABLE (Credits: Media Fake Posters)

Who said involving people was a good idea? What can be better than provide all your great thoughts to others and let them digest your excellent thinking rather than come up with a watered down version of it by themselves – even together?

Keep it solid, keep it straight: it’s all about your experience enlightening others, and frankly you have little to get from interacting with all those morons around you.

Make sure everyone around you is endlessly searching information and wasting time

The gazillions of hours wasted searching for stuff (Credits: Kirtok)

The gazillions of hours wasted searching for stuff are killing us! (Credits: Kirtok)

That’s right, one of the benefits of not organising and managing your information is that it forces your colleagues to search (for hours) through the web, looking for what they need. They will get really web-savvy with this, and finding lovely kitten pictures, Buzzfeed’s latest nightmarish creations and perhaps even saucy videos will have no secret for them. Finding business-critical information on the other hand… well, it’s probably not part of their terms of reference really is it? So…

Don't reinvent the wheel (Credits: Sebastien Wiertz / FlickR)

Don’t reinvent the wheel (Credits: S. Wiertz / FlickR)

Reinvent the wheel – in a worse way, and in order to reinventing the wheel

Let’s go one step further: Since searching for information hasn’t reaped any tangible benefit for your business, don’t bother building upon the past, just CREATE IT ALL ANEW, bigger, flashier, fancier, ahem, though perhaps not better.

People who worked on similar challenges before didn’t understand your context, your needs, your problems, so they likely have very little in store to help you…

Just ignore them and fix that damn wheel. Someone still needs to create it, right?

Make sure your colleagues are all drowning in emails

It’s such a hassle having to learn a new tool that pretends it can do away with (part of) your emails, so just wallow in your email soup and relish the deluge that keeps coming in and keeps your heart and tension very healthy. And you may beat the record number of emails in your inbox, or amount of emails received per hour. Just go for it, there wouldn’t be anything sillier than trying to fix this since it’s so fun replying to emails endlessly. It also keeps you away from other work that needs to be done.

Life if sweet without KM.

Try and beat that record (Credits: Gideon / FlickR)

Try and beat that record (Credits: Gideon / FlickR)

Don’t learn, don’t look back, and if you do, think single loop only

Learning? That’s for pupils and students. You don’t need it. You surely have all the best answers to all the problems in the world anyway… And even if you did need to learn, it’s just to improve your very same approach to problems – sharpening that hammer so to speak.

If you have some success, just celebrate. If you had problems, quickly ignore them. At any rate DO NOT try and document what happened. It’s a complete waste of time. Everyone knows that a success can easily be replicated elsewhere, and that a failure doesn’t help anyone, certainly not you.

Don’t bring people together to (come on, that big picture blatantly doesn’t exist!)

That big picture does NOT exist. Just relax and keep your head in the sand (Credits: Kat Banaszek / FlickR)

That big picture does NOT exist. Just relax and keep your head in the sand (Credits: Kat Banaszek / FlickR)

Thinking there might be other solutions for the issues you face, or bigger issues affecting you and your organisation is a gross exaggeration, a conspiracy from outside to prevent you from doing what you do best: business as usual. The solution must be in one deeper ply of your thinking. You’ve always found the right answers to all problems so you can figure out that big one too.

Oh, and don’t forget to run for presidency next time you can 😉

Don’t pay attention to your institutional memory, don’t do exit interviews etc.

Institutional Memory (Credits: Thomas Hawk / FlickR)

Institutional Memory (Credits: Thomas Hawk / FlickR)

One of the common challenges that KM tries to fix is to mitigate the loss of institutional memory through buddying/coaching, on site training, codifying practices at work, implementing a proper induction  program and handover process including a good, grounded exit interview.

But hey, that’s a whole waste of time. Just get on with work, focus on the here and now only and when someone leaves your company you’ll find a solution for the replacement. Anyway chances are they are not really good employees and wouldn’t leave much behind at any rate (after all: they’re working for you, a worthless company that has proved well beyond the point that they don’t take KM seriously because they are not smart).

There is so much more I could mention, all these buzz words and idiotic ideas like innovation, resilience, adaptive management etc. fail fail fail… Just rejoice at the idea that your company may start looking like The Office – so prepare your jelly supplies, and sit back, relax and enjoy the KM-free world. A world free of hassle, at least mañana

Related blog posts:

Advertisements

Use quality face-to-face time for synergy, not for logorrhea


How many meetings (even one on one) are spent to regurgitate something, to present ‘stuff’ of various relevance and quality, to eruct presentation upon presentation as if the audience needed to know everything ever written about the topic at hand…

Logorrhea - and it's only getting worse... (Credits: Scott Adam)

Logorrhea – and it’s only getting worse… (Credits: Scott Adam)

How many events with an avalanche of information, and so little co-creation?

Hey, I’d get it if we were in 1983 and there was no other way to get that information. But in 2015, almost everyone has a phone that can provide all the information we need. Share if you care.

Death by Powerpoint (Credits: Tom Fishburne)

Death by Powerpoint (Credits: Tom Fishburne)

This single-route approach to face-to-face is not only another (often not so) disguised attempt of inducing death by Powerpoint, but it is also: a completely missed opportunity to develop something new, an insult to our intelligence and capacity, a deliberate attempt at stupidly reinventing the wheel again and again and again (remember the reasons why Open Space Technology and World Café were created?), a real barrier to developing trust between people (who will thus not get an opportunity to meet each other) and an utter waste of money –  remember the meeting cost calculator?

Synergy (Credits: MacroMarcie)

Synergy (Credits: MacroMarcie)

How about quality face-to-face time to avoid the logorrhea of information? People coming together should remain the kindling of magic that happens so easily in personal life. It should be about everyone bringing their experience, ideas, emotions, capacities, know-how, know-who… it’s about a communion of souls and conjugation of roles – synergy made out of energies.

So: How about sharing information beforehand, online, because it’s possible but also because it prepares the participants to the purpose of this face-to-face moment. Interactive moments of discovery, exploration, alignment, co-creation, prototyping (see Carl Jackson’s ideas about this), assessment and commitment?

THAT is the mix for real magic.

A few essentials can help further here:

  • The guts to require that people coming together prepare themselves to let go and to co-create on the spot, without invading each other’s space with their pompous excellence;
  • The discipline of preparing ourselves for meetings, however large or small scale – ideally we should always have a clear learning objective for all face-to-face encounters we’re planning – and have read whatever information is necessary to kickstart the conversation;
  • The habit of managing our information (as part of PKM) and of choosing the face-to-face moments we have with others because we can fully invest ourselves;
  • And so, ok, perhaps just the minimum of information to level the playing field here – but just enough to get the substance to make magic happen. No less, and certainly no more.

Open Innovation and Co-Creation

We can no longer afford to use meetings to just ‘share information’. In this year and age that is the equivalent of encouraging online visitors to read scanned faxes posted on a website and to come once a month to a physical office to bring their (printed) comments about it.

Anno 2015, synergistic learning is well beyond faxes, prints and single-comms streets. It’s social, it’s alive, it’s enthralling. So whatever your next face-to-face moment is, be there, be together and as Delroy Wilson would say, ‘Get ready’.

Related posts:

Tinkering with tools: Asessing Asana


Asana - making genuine collaboration possible or generalising team confusion?

Asana – making genuine collaboration possible or generalising team confusion?

It’s been ages since the last ‘Tinkering with tools‘ post, so after posts about Yammer, LinkedIn and Prezi, it’s time to turn to one of the (expected) collaboration rising stars: Asana.

Asana is a team-centric virtual collaboration tool which allows collective task management, setting up structured team meetings and more. It certainly could be considered as one of the solutions against collective apathy in the workplace. It certainly weighs as a good alternative to SharePoint (SP) given the criticism SP has met, especially when used as a KM tool or as a community collaboration platform.

In any case, PC Mag rated Asana one of the best productivity apps on the market.

Here’s what Asana has to say about itself now (video). This other video below was the original introduction piece by the Asana team (from three years ago)

Now, I’ve been using Asana for the past seven months in a small team (five people) connected to a larger group of colleagues. You will be able to read more about this on our knowledge management ‘Maarifa’ blog soon. This post is actually a great way to synthesise our thinking back about our ILRI experience with Asana. But here I want to offer a more detached and generic ‘tinkering with tools’ perspective on Asana.

What does it look like and how does it work?

Asana comes as a desktop browser or a smartphone/tablet app; it is compatible with iOS and Android only for the time being. Once you have created a user account you can set up or join organizations, teams within those organizations and ‘projects’. Under projects you can add tasks, sub-activities into each of these tasks; then you can assign people, due dates, add comments to each other’s tasks etc. The task overview is all transparent and keeps all tasks in one place – well, sort of, read on…

The structure of the app is:

  • On the left hand pane you find a full list of workspaces. It gives an overview of all organizations, teams and projects, as well as access to your inbox, access to the dashboard (monitoring progress) and other admin options etc.
  • The central pane focus on your next tasks and, if you select a specific project, on all the tasks in that project (not just yours then).
  • The right hand pane focuses in detail on the project or task you want to investigate. When you select a project to focus on, it gives you information about the status, tasks accomplished/remaining. When you select a specific task, it provides details about that task: who is in charge, due date, as well as comments made. This is where conversations take place and allow someone to find out what happened – if your team makes use of that functionality.

You can also organize meetings using Asana (following this video tutorial) and since the last quarter of 2014 you can use the new ‘dashboard’ to keep track of progress with the tasks, with weekly status update reminders. It also gives an option to visualise what has been delivered, what remains etc. offering thus very good collective management features.

The strategic value proposition behind this app is that Asana can replace (parts of) email traffic to work togetherTeamwork without email. Something that many of us dream of – which I’ve also offered useful alternatives for.

The free version works for teams of up to 30 users and the pricing options are fairly affordable. There are various additional apps and extensions (find it here) to expand the use of Asana in various ways.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Asana provides a really nice overview of tasks – making it indeed quite easy to find out in a glance what is on the agenda of a team and how much has been in each project and for each task.
  • As it promises, Asana can really cut down your email traffic, which clears time for more quality time on other bits of work. Although in our case we actually used Yammer mostly to communicate, not Asana.
  • The progress tracking (dashboard) functionality really adds to that experience and turns Asana into a monitoring tool without the fuss of installing all the whistles and bells of a heavyweight management tool.
  • Technically it is possible to run meetings using Asana, dragging and dropping the tasks onto the agenda of the meeting, making it easier to keep all team information in one place – however read some of the cons re: this feature below… 
  • It keeps all your to-do’s in one place if you want it to play that role. And adding tasks or to-do’s is indeed ‘simple comme bonjour‘ and it’s just as easy to assign tasks to people…
  • The calendar integration with Outlook and Google Calendar makes the planning / overview of tasks even easier. 
  • Although the app is quite complex, it does not take too much time to understand how to use it, at least for a knowledge management specialist 😉
  • It certainly has worked for me to keep track of the main ‘to-do’s and to find out what the rest of my team is supposedly up to.

Cons:

  • Compared with e.g. Yammer, or Twitter, which both felt very natural for me to master, I found the interface of Asana a bit ‘messier’ and less compelling, skewing my first impression and making the navigation slightly confusing at very first.
  • That design also seems to not really guide new users very well. I have used it in a team of communication and knowledge management specialists – ie. people whose job it also is to try and test new tools like these, rather enthusiastic and versatile at piloting and adopting such tools – so it may be a slightly more difficult process for people who are not used to online tools.
  • Although Asana allows file sharing and uploading, it is not really built for it and is thus not a great file management system, although on the plus side it seems it can easily be integrated with Dropbox or Google Drive (as you can see from the list of compatible apps). I haven’t tried that option, however.
  • The search engine and navigation logic make finding content a bit of a trial and error process. For instance once tasks have been completed, it becomes uneasy to retrieve them. Tagging helps with this, but not everyone is used to tagging and some taxonomy/folksonomy needs to be established to make this work.
  • The team meeting feature did really not work well for me. I tried to follow the video tutorial but somehow Asana didn’t behave accordingly – perhaps because the interface changed since the video. But it’s probably worth another try.
  • There is no ‘live chat’ feature, although the stream of comments acts like one but always within the context of a given task, not as a general conversation space.
  • Asana does not work well in environments with limited bandwidth (such as my Ethiopian base) and the fact that there is no offline option does not play in favour of using this tool in many developing country. Although, frankly, using virtual conferencing tools is even more of an issue here.
On the quest to the holy grail of synergy in collaboration (Credits: venessamiemis / FlickR)

On the quest to the holy grail of synergy in collaboration (Credits: venessamiemis / FlickR)

 

The verdict

I have only quite limited experience with other team/project management tools (e.g. BaseCamp and some Gantt chart tools). Bearing that in mind, I think Asana is certainly worth a shot and has quite a lot going for it. It is easy enough that it does not require an incredibly steep learning curve, although you will need to train users to make the most of all its interesting features that take the Asana experience to the next level. But mind the bandwidth requirements and perhaps most importantly the behaviour of your colleagues/team before you consider using it: if they’re curious, playful, you stand a good chance, otherwise it may be difficult to get it adopted. And finally, as ever with tools: make sure you pilot it, reflect upon your pilot and decide whether to scale it up or not accordingly. So far in my team there seem to be fewer enthusiastic folks than skeptical ones…

As many of the tools around, Asana keeps changing, coming up with more developments, extensions, changes of navigating and using logic etc. This is positive as it means the company is trying to stay on top of its game, but of course it always means that your team also needs to keep abreast of Asana’s adjustments.

Perhaps most importantly, however, because Asana is team-centric it requires some collective agreement to work with it. Individuals in the team have to adapt their behaviour, stick to the discipline of managing their tasks and time, which may be perfectly normal and expected in North America, but not necessarily in other parts of the world…

So the question is perhaps not even so much about the tools we use to collaborate (we know that the tool obsession is childish), but more about the practices that come with the tools, and we have much to do on the collaboration and engagement front still… And finally, if tried in a true online environment (for meetings), I still wonder if Asana will help alleviate the evils of ‘acute meetingitis virtuales‘?

That said, assess Asana for yourself and let me know what you think… 😉

More resources about Asana

  • A recent (November 2014) PC Mag review provides detailed overviews of the most recent features, pricing options etc.
  • This tutorial from Ananda Web Services is a bit dated (December 2012) but it is about the most complete one available online
  • Of course Asana itself has lots of tutorials and information about using its product – you can start with videos here. They have also released this interesting (long) video about the vision behind Asana when it was publicly launched in 2011.
  • And finally here is what DotToTech has to say about Asana in January 2013. I put it here because it’s quite a nice introduction to the logic of Asana and how it worked in the case of one team.

What are your experiences with Asana?

See the whole collection of ‘Tinkering with tools‘ posts...

Happy 2015! The year of the creative, intelligent, gentle, thoughtful and honest goat


Hello everyone!

Happy 2015!

Happy year of the goat!

Happy new year of the goat (Credits: Abejorro34 / FlickR)

Happy new year of the goat (Credits: Abejorro34 / FlickR)

 

Though technically we’re not there yet, the Chinese zodiac hails the goat as an animal gifted with all the titled attributes above.

So for me this means I’ll try to impersonate as many of these qualities as I can on this blog in in my life. It will be another intense year at work I’m sure, and lots to cover on knowledge management, leadership, social learning, facilitation, coaching, collective intelligence, engagement and collaboration, tools approaches and practices, intelligence and emotions.

I don’t have a starting post to offer – though my next post is lined up and will unravel the ins and outs of collaboration killer app ‘Asana’ – but I want to leave you with a short list of some of the resources I’ve saved on my Del.icio.us bookmark collection of late (or will soon), may these resources stimulate your creativity, intelligence, thougtfulness, honesty etc.

In no particular order except when I came across these resources…

And finally, since happiness is still a important feature of every year:

Happiness large

 

May this year of the goat bring you this and much more 🙂