blogging holiday and TOP 10 posts


I’m going on leave for 2 weeks and will be back in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 6 November.

Until then no activity to expect on this blog, as I’m enjoying total disconnection while on holiday, and total dedication to all the other pleasures in life, starting with family fun!

Meanwhile, for the past 9 months of this year, these are the top posts on this blog, as you may like to revisit them… In bold are the posts dated from this year.

  1. Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words
  2. Knowledge management strategy development: Taking stock
  3. Tinkering with tools: Asessing Asana
  4. Share Fair Addis: Fishbowl and fishbowl battle
  5. Of ‘healthy human systems’ beyond ‘the field’ and facilitating conversations that change the world: an interview with Sam Kaner and Nelli Noakes
  6. Portrait of the modern knowledge worker
  7. Who is in for triple loop learning?
  8. Enabling change: a manager’s choice (and a leader’s decision)
  9. Opportunity costs of documentation and how to make it work…
  10. Putting learning loops and cycles in practice

PS. and if you were wondering where I will go on holiday, this picture could give you some idea…

Roc

See you in 2-3 weeks!

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Wailers, whiners, waiters and winners… Mind your attitude for the knowledge ecosystem!


No revolutionary KM thought today, just some mundane observation, with deep implications for knowledge work and its broader knowledge ecosystem though…

We react differently in front of challenges: we can be silent or vocal about them, and we can do something about them, or we don’t. For agile knowledge management, attitude is certainly one of the key factors that makes or breaks initiatives and feeds the knowledge tree and ecosystem (see graph below and related post) or not.

The knowledge tree & ecosystem (credits; CIAT/CTA?)

The knowledge tree & ecosystem (Credits: CTA)

If we were to imagine a four quadrant graph where the x axis would be about being active or passive about the challenges faced and the y axis would plot complaining about challenges (being vocal about them) vs. keeping silent (and focusing on what needs to be done), one ends up with four possible quadrants:

  • Wailers, who are neither active nor particularly silent about what is going wrong;
  • Whiners, who are not silent but are doing something;
  • Waiters, who are not complaining but are also not doing much;
  • Winners, who are not complaining but are actually doing something.
Wailers, whiners, waiters and winners

Wailers, whiners, waiters and winners

Wailing is of course the worst situation, but is probably a temporary situation or predicament, not a constant… At least I hope so. It could also be a stage that is necessary before bouncing back. But there’s no immediate benefit here!

Whining is just complaining about what is going on. And sometimes it really feels good to complain (just see my series of rants on this blog for instance, ha!). But the problem of whining is that, as I’m learning through my meditation work with Headspace, we tend to add thoughts to the feelings we have and just make the whole situation worse. And whining creates waves of negativity that can have a deep impact. The same whiners are typically the people that want you to change. And yes, you can also be a passive whiner, but then in my typology you’d just be a wailer – and not the musical type, Jah!

Waiting can be a good strategy sometimes, sitting it all out, letting things simmer to see some crucial signs emerge, and at least it’s not a situation where frustration is vocalized, but it also means little action emerges. Again, good for a time, but mostly to meditate (which about being actively conscious) but limited after a while. And if nothing happens, it means it’s probably time for action.

Winning is the combination of attitude and action and is what a knowledge ecosystem requires to change more deeply or rapidly. It’s that attitude that inspires change. Bouncing back, rebounding up all the time, taking adversity as an opportunity to change and improve – even though it’s difficult – and neither boasting about it nor complaining about the problems. Easier said than done, for sure, but worth remembering.

Think about it when you’re struggling in your next agile KM move. It takes just a bit of silence, a lot of action and some role modelling. And yes, meditation helps 🙂

Related posts:

KM on a (creative) shoestring


What can you do when you don’t have budget?
Not much you might think? Think again!

Lack of resources boosts creativity, much like ‘near-miss’ experiences (so well described in Malcolm Gladwell’s David & Goliath) produce confident life champions that fight through adversity.

So, if your KM budget is small, or non-existent, what can you do?
Not much you might think? Think again!

Following Nick Milton and Stephanie Barnes’s book about ‘Designing a successful KM strategy‘ you can devise simple measures to go through every step of the process they recommend.

Here is what I would suggest as one palette of shoestring KM options:

  • Talk to management and other people in the initiative of which your KM work is part, to understand the bigger challenges they are facing, and share your insights with them and try and convince them of the value of agile KM;
  • See what the people in your initiative are doing. Map, very simply, their good and improvable practices as individuals and as teams or collectives – and present back your findings;
  • Hold conversations to share information, insights, knowledge, contacts, questions, to create trust [LINK] and to connect with the wider picture;
  • Set up simple off-the-shelf systems – follow the example of ILRI in using existing, off-the-shelf platforms that do not require heavy programming;
  • Hold reflection meetings and set up learning mechanisms and approaches to periodically reflect on what is working or not in your approach.
Becoming a data scientist on a shoestring (Credits: Timo Elliott)

Becoming a data scientist on a shoestring (Credits: Timo Elliott)

And if these prove useful, you might want to advocate for more budget in the future, and go for the Cadillac process that Milton & Barnes are talking about. But maybe you don’t even want to fall into comfort?

Whatever the range of approaches, think about how to develop communication, documentation and learning. At any rate these simple steps above could already go a very long way. And this is just the fruit of a very quick reflection. I’m sure you can devise just as many steps without much budget.

What shoestring KM mechanisms have you implemented? What would you recommend?

Related blog posts:

TRUST is the truth


Trust Me - John Everett Millais, 1862

Trust Me – John Everett Millais, 1862

What will be left from our existence on this planet? If you’re Barack Obama or a super dictator, some mention in history books. But for most of us, nothing much that is visible per se, not as a legacy we leave behind individually.

But there are two things I believe strongly in, when it comes to immortality – and not for the sake of leaving traces of yourself, but for the sake of leaving some stepping stones for people after you to build upon…

  1. The place to start building something good is within our core family, our couple, our children, other relatives that matter to us, our friends (our non-biological family). Because if we miss that scale, how can we pretend building something that lasts anywhere else?
  2. The other place to start with collective (or community) initiatives where you embrace a holistic vision but really try to build something simple and strong, together with others.

Both of these require an essential element: trust.

As I pointed in an earlier post, Dave Pollard wrote a beautiful post about What makes us trust someone? No need to cover that more.

I want to briefly insist here on why we need trust. Why trust is the truth – and that is because trust gets you to longer-term (‘sustainable’ ;)) results and it also gets you more quickly to these results. Although the very act of building trust itself takes much time.

And then I want to move forward a bit to look at how trust intersects specifically with the world of agile KM.

One could imagine there are (at least) three types of sources that trust draws from:

  1. Information-based trust
  2. Knowledge-based trust
  3. (experiential) Learning-based trust

Information-based trust is what makes us believe a source of information is more reliable than another one – this is where we need science more than ever.

Dave Pollard's elements of trust building

Dave Pollard’s elements of trust building

Knowledge-based trust is the trust that we create when sharing knowledge with our connections and exploring our world views together – thus particularly looking at the second block in Pollard’s triple-tier trust genesis. Going beyond the sensory/chemical signals.

Learning-based trust mirrors the same point of Pollard on ‘positive collaborative experiences’. The old saying of ‘involve me and I will remember’ (or a variation thereof) takes a parallel meaning when we are talking about joint experiences. Nothing like working together, muddling through things together, learning together to generate solid trust.

What to make of trust in agile KM?

  1. Build everything you can to make your information trustworthy. Follow a rigorous process of verification and state clearly where your possible flaws are and where your work needs to be expanded or adapted by others. Get referred to by other credible sources of information. So much for information-based trust.
  2. Move conversations up the trust ladder by having as many and as deep conversations as you can with as many people, especially the skeptics. This is how you expand knowledge-based trust.
  3. Co-create products, build processes jointly, undertake movements collectively, get at it, get deep into your work with partners but do something, fashion your world with others, as that is the ultimate source of trust and what gets all nodes of the collective human grid connected and all capacity expanded. And that is the single one thing that is more valuable than your presence which you can give others and the world: the gift of your active dedication.

At last, perhaps above all else trust that trust is the truth and a genuine intention to cherish it in society (the ‘societal trust’ alluded to by Olaf doe in this recent post by Nancy White) because if we lose it, the world turns as dark as the most totalitarian or extremist corners of humanity.

Related blog posts: