About Ewen Le Borgne

Relentless optimist motivated by ‘Fun, focus and feedback’. 12 years of experience learning / KM, comms, innovation for change in cooperation & development. I cherish empowerment. Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

‘Open’ as default, not the exception – oh, and please get over your self importance ;)


Open Up and embrace the universe (Credits: Allstair Nicol/FlickR)

Open Up and embrace the universe (Credits: Allstair Nicol/FlickR)

Openness is a scary thing indeed.

Opening yourself is really difficult, letting go all the more so (oh, read this beautiful testimony about it).

And even opening your information to others seems to intimidate people more than is necessary…

Many people I work with or come across have difficulties operating in ‘open spaces’ – and I’m not referring to Open Space Technology here but the virtual collaboration spaces where we can do things together (e.g. wikis, Google documents). They feel open is a hurdle for their sharing information and making use of the space.

 

I recently had such a conversation with a colleague in a project. He confessed in good faith that:

“It’s [the virtual space] supposed to be a ‘workspace’ but it is open to the public so there is not much dynamism & liberty in actually using it. It’s like the information that has to be posted needs some extra layers of censorship which then limits the frequency of use.”

So this might just be an interesting avatar of ‘knowledge is power’, or rather ‘closed knowledge is comfort’…?

In trying to answer that colleague I reflected on the many reasons why -until now unconsciously- I don’t share that point of view.

Hereby…

'Open' is getting traction everywhere (Credits: Ron Mader)

‘Open’ is getting traction everywhere (Credits: Ron Mader)

The world is opening to ‘Open’

Open is becoming the default, the rule rather than the exception. In global development, various funding organisations are actually making it a rule they enforce to have all outputs from initiatives they fund publicly accessible as ‘general public goods’. So there you have it. Open is the way the world is turning.

Resisting it is a challenging uphill pathway.

 

Get over yourself and the importance of your information

The information that we typically share in projects is for 99.99999999% of the population really not critical – so what is really the big deal about putting our informal information out there?

And on the other hand, aren’t there serious opportunity costs with having the teams involved in a given initiative not getting information that is potentially of use to them? Nothing new under the sun here. In any case – in the vast majority of cases let’s say – don’t expect your information to be so cutting-edge that it is information your potential competitors are dying to get.

Do people have the time to look for your information?

Unless you are based in China, North Korea, Eritrea or some other country that strictly controls information, it’s unlikely that anyone is actively crawling the web to find your content – let alone to do anything toxic with it. ‘Open’ doesn’t mean ‘reached’😉 People are just too busy with their lives. They will only find your content if they’re actively looking for something specific about it.

Trust the search engine algorithms to keep your work space rather intimate

So next, even if people had time to look specifically for your information, even if they were interested and actually looking for your information, the algorithms of search engines are based on mutual linkages first and foremost, on ‘referrals’. In other words the more a website is linked and pointed to from other sources the higher up it shows up. In the absence of many other websites pointing to your workspace, that workspace is more than likely to remain ‘undercover’ when it comes to search results. So you actually enjoy your privacy despite operating in an open environment and approach.

What is the likelihood that people do mean harm with your information?

And this is my biggest point here: Even despite all of the above, what is the chance that people accessing your information really want to do something harmful with it? What are the risks?

  • That they use and abuse your information without giving you credit for it? You can use Creative Commons licences to say what’s ok or not – and if you want to go down that road you can always hire a lawyer to sue whoever is breaching your agreement.
  • That they use your information to beat you on certain ‘market opportunities’? Perhaps true in the corporate sector, much less so in the global development one.
  • That they will ‘troll‘ your workspace? Well that’s a real risk, though of all the open groups I’ve been involved in in the past, I haven’t had one instance of this happening. What would you do against it?

If your fear is ‘half-baked thinking’, think again!

It could be that the legitimate concern of my colleague (who operates in the academic world where that fear is quite common) is of presenting ideas and thoughts that are not fully formed etc. But HEY that’s how innovation happens!

And more and more we find out examples that ‘quick and dirty’ is actually beautiful

Open is beautiful and it's everywhere (Credits: OpenSourceWay)

Open is beautiful and it’s everywhere (Credits: OpenSourceWay)

It’s not a 0/1 thing, you can find middle ways with open…

As a matter of reaching consensus, whether on wikis, on Google documents or websites or whatever, there’s all kinds of ways to make parts of a work space closed.

In the case I mentioned above, my colleague was reacting about a work space we are using as entirely open because we didn’t use the more expensive version with more privacy control… But that option is there and can be switched any time.

So in conclusion…

All the above makes me think that we can and should see Open really as default, and share most of our information publicly on our workspaces and other virtual platforms. Not least since ‘we share because we care‘.

That doesn’t mean ‘open knowledge’ cannot be even achieved in ever smarter ways…

Related posts:

Don’t run without your facilitator(s), unless you like backfire effects


If you ever work with a facilitator, please work with them from the start…

agilefacil

You have been thinking about this event, you know what you want to do with it and why, you have been convinced – and it’s a good thing – that you need a facilitator to help you with your event.

Dare to rely on your facilitator for collective success (Credits: G. Salokhe) Dare to rely on your facilitator for collective success (Credits: G. Salokhe)

It sounds all good, and on paper you are all set for success… unless you follow any of the following traps, which could irremediably turn your event into a Murphy’s Law festival.

You have developed a precise agenda

This might be your first problem: as you couldn’t wait for the event to take shape and give you a concrete ‘feel’, you have drafted an agenda, day by day and to the minute. The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. You may not have thought carefully enough about the topics and objectives that should absolutely precede the (participation formats and)…

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GET ON social media: get past the ‘push’ and ‘password’ hurdles


Social Media DynamicsSocial media, social networks are ubiquitous, as they have become an essential part of the knowledge worker‘s apparel and have proven their value in social learning (see this excellent – if long – video of Harold Jarche about this).

Yet there is still a lot of resistance – in France and elsewhere – against adopting social media.

For those who don’t resist viscerally to social media but just haven’t jumped on it, two hurdles often stand in the way:

  • The push: how to avoid getting all kinds of irrelevant information in your social networks – and actually understanding the fundamental change with social media -the ‘pull’ effect;
  • The password: managing this to physically (well, virtually really) enter the world of social media…

If you are one of those struggling to get into social media yet are willing to try, let’s hope this post helps you properly jump into social media and make the most of it.

The ‘push’ hurdle: Hey, it’s actually all about pull!

Brand push vs. content pull (Credits: Autoconversion.net)

Brand push vs. content pull (Credits: Autoconversion.net)

The fundamental difference with social media is that they don’t work towards us the people, they work from us. The direction has changed. And we are the ones setting it.

With traditional media, we used to have stuff ‘pushed’ at us: on TV, on the radio, the content – and as shown in the image above, the brand of companies – was invading our space whether we liked it or not – without control. But with social media, we are now in the controlling seat, and we pull content the way we want: we select, curate and develop our personal learning networks, opt-in may not have vanquished opt-out but it’s more of a standard, we are organising our RSS feeds so we get notified about the stuff that matters to us etc.

If you are not sure about social media, remember that in it you are the spider in the web and you select what information you will have for dinner. You can customise your choices indefinitely. You have the power.

The direct consequence is that you won’t get invaded by content, or at least you have every option to stop getting invaded by it.

Read this article for more information about the subtle yet powerful difference between push and pull. And to quote it:

Advocates of Enterprise Social Networks (and I count myself in their number) see the transition from push to pull as the “holy grail” of business communication. Indeed, this is a central tenet of the Business Communication Revolution, because it puts a knowledge worker back in control of how they consume information. However, an all-pull environment is not without its own problems.

Now: claim that power – decide what you post where, decide to read what you want to read when and where you want to read it. Make the world of information turn its head around you, and enjoy.

The ‘password’ hurdle: Manage your passwords effortlessly, once and for all

Now the first hurdle is passed, let’s look at the second hurdle for many people: managing their password(s). ‘Duh!” some of you might say, but hey! with more and more platforms appearing, dangers lure at both ends of the spectrum:

It's increasingly difficult to create a password! (Credits: WeKnowMemes)

It’s increasingly difficult to create a password! (Credits: WeKnowMemes)

  • Use one password a little too often and you become extremely vulnerable to hack attacks;
  • Use too many (and increasingly complicated passwords – see the ‘creating a password’ image ;)) and you run the risk of forgetting what your password is. Or more to the point: what your passwordS ARE.

And that is what is preventing a lot of people in my professional environment from using enterprise social networks and a lot of social media platforms that they would be happy to use or at least try out otherwise.

Here’s the good news: there are plenty of ‘password managers’ that help you get rid of goldfish memory trouble (like I have) and retain all passwords to all platforms you have an account with – provided you remember one master password. Here’s how it works:

 

So, go on then, no more excuse: Check this recent list of password managers, install one of them, get going and enjoy a whole new world of online experiences.

Oh, you may say: but even that ONE password may be hard to generate. Well here’s a tip:

Hard/easy to create/guess? (Credits: Reddit)

Hard/easy to create/guess? (Credits: Reddit)

You’re all set now – see you online, in the comments section this time😉

What do you think? Are there other major barriers towards using social media for those ready to try it out?

Related blog posts:

A knowledge management primer (5): VWXYZ


This final section of the agile KM alphabet primer covers VWXYZ (Credits: DreamsTime)

This final section of the agile KM alphabet primer covers VWXYZ (Credits: DreamsTime)

This is a new series of posts, an alphabet primer of agile knowledge management (KM), to touch upon some of the key concepts, approaches, methods, tools, insights in the world of KM. And because there could have been different alternatives for each letter I’m also introducing the words I had to let go of here.

This is the final part, covering the V of vision all the way to the Z of Zombies.


V for Vision

Any agile KM initiative ought to start with a vision, even if having a plan does not provide a silver bullet and even if a vision doesn’t mean you are close to realising it. But it is an aspiration that gives you an idea of where you want to be (and by default where you are now) so it gives both some non-compromising view of what you’re up against, but also some aspiration and inspiration for where your journey should take you.

V could also have been…

Value – Whether the value of communities of practice, of a new portal, of a training or coaching program, of a series of meetings etc. the value of any KM initiative and of knowledge work has to be assessed, monitored and demonstrated.

W for wisdom

Knowledge without wisdom... (Credits: Michael Fisher / FlickR)

Knowledge without wisdom… (Credits: Michael Fisher / FlickR)

And I don’t mean it in the way the DIKW pyramid works (not), but rather the way continual learning sharpens senses and quickens the road to gathering wisdom (through effectiveness, focus, humility and empathy). Wisdom is about asking the right questions at the right moment, it’s about paying attention to the right people – it permeates all good agile KM initiatives or at least it is openly invited to nestle in such initiatives.

W could also have been…

WIIFM – The famous ‘What’s in it for me’ factor that shows where the benefit is. Without it, kiss your agile KM goodbye because the behaviour change involved with most agile KM initiatives is too high a hurdle for the people concerned if they don’t gain anything and/or don’t see what their personal gains can be. Articulate that WIIFM from the start, and prominently, without making empty promises. It’s part of the personal factor in KM.

Win-win – With the difficult promise of selling KM to anyone, the perspective of ‘multiple fits’ and of minimising tradeoffs (even though they are mostly unavoidable in the complex contexts where agile KM is set) is compelling. So win-win is crucial. And that means for instance web platforms that work for both users, managers and IT managers; or communities of practice that serve creative and productive purposes, or events that please patrons but also benefit all participants etc.

Cross Pollinator (Credits: Jonny Goldstein / FlickR)

Cross Pollinator (Credits: Jonny Goldstein / FlickR)

Web (stuff) – The inevitable expansion of connectivity means the web has become the space of choice for agile KM, even though face-to-face contact is not about to disappear and has much going for it. Still, the web is the reason why knowledge management came of age in terms of connecting learning etc. And the future of the web is proactive, and contextual.

X for X-pollination

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Let me cheat here and use X as a cross😉 Cross-pollination is just a convoluted way of looking at knowledge sharing across (institutional or other) boundaries. It’s the way institutional memory is built across project silos.
X could also have been…

X reasons not to learn – As mentioned in this blog post: X reasons not to learn, not to share, not to progress.

Y for Why?

Another cheat here – we’re in the difficult section of the alphabet he he he – but the point here is to keep on questioning, asking yourself why, educating your questions etc. Why is one of the most powerful questions one can ask. And at this it is one of the most important weapons in the agile KM arsenal.

Y could also have been… well… what, really?

Meeting zombies... (Credits: ReadyTalk)

Meeting zombies… (Credits: ReadyTalk)

Z for Zombies

I’m not talking about the dead-alive of the films, series and games, but about the people who attend poorly designed and ill-facilitated events. This is a good reminder that good, strong agile KM is about avoiding to turn more people into zombies in your conversations, meetings, events… Focus on learning, engagement, excitement and all that the letters of this agile KM alphabet primer have to offer…

Meeting zombies (Credits: CreateLearning)

Meeting zombies (Credits: CreateLearning)

Z could also have been…

Zen, zooming, zones etc. – But at this stage, I think I have explored enough alternative letters in this agile KM alphabet primer, which is coming to an end.

Let me know what you thought of this agile KM alphabet primer, in all honesty and with constructive feedback🙂

A look at my top 10 posts so far in 2016, before a break


Looking back at top posts before holiday (Credits: Will Cooke/FlickR)

Looking back at top posts before holiday (Credits: Will Cooke/FlickR)

And on this solstice day we are hitting summer.

And I’ll be on the road to holidays in a couple of earth rotations. As usual a good time to look back at the best performing posts on this blog so far in 2016 – acknowledging that I’ve taken an easy year, blogging-wise.
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I hope to come back from hopefully sunny and rejuvenating holidays with fresh ideas and passion to share here.

Meanwhile, here is the top 10 of 2016 on ‘Agile KM for me… and you?’ so far (and as usual, in bold are the posts from 2016):

  1. Knowledge management in cartoons – A selection
  2. A knowledge management primer (1): KM as simple as ABC
  3. Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words
  4. Putting learning loops and cycles in practice
  5. Share Fair Addis: Fishbowl and fishbowl battle
  6. Settling the eternal semantic debate: what is knowledge, what is information…
  7. Learning cycle basics and more: Taking stock
  8. Good bye acute meetingitis! Plan your day-to-day meetings as a true KMer…
  9. Sailing along ‘pattern currents’ in the sea of change
  10. Portrait of the modern knowledge worker

10 advices to dramatically improve your un-facilitated meetings…


Latest post… on my other blog on ‘agile facilitation’. I should have written this a lot earlier, it would have helped many people I know. Better late than never though…

agilefacil

Shooting towards ten commandments (Credits: ideacreamanuela / FlickR) Shooting towards ten commandments of unfacilitated meetings? (Credits: ideacreamanuela / FlickR)

In my experience as meeting-goer (and I have to admit I attend meetings way less than I facilitate them), it seems a number of standard mistakes happen by default. These mistakes really cripple any attempt to turn the meetings into useful gatherings and meshings of ideas, people and energies.

These mistakes tend to appear particularly in meetings where there is no facilitator involved. Yet it’s clear that not every meeting can be facilitated (for lack of time, money, thought about it etc.).

So here are 10 advices that can help anyone running an un-facilitated meeting to hit the mark more surely – and for clarity by meeting I mean gatherings of 2 hours or more:

  1. Work with a team, from the design phase. Even if you don’t involve a facilitator, you will need to make sure you have people that help you…

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Penny-wise and pound-foolish (KM and otherwise)


“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field –- not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.”
Warren Buffett

There is a very real danger that the sponsors of an initiative (in knowledge management or otherwise) do not want to invest too much of their money into some venues, because they are afraid of losing precious resources. Sounds sensible…

Don't! (Credits: ICG team)

Don’t! (Credits: ICG team)

Except that that approach bears the big risk of chasing small economies while achieving nothing, and the investment spared then costs (a lot) more further down the line when it becomes obvious proper money should have been spent on it. Some examples?

  • A company has identified that their website does not reflect adequately its image and that it’s missing some opportunities to do more with the web. A grand new web design is put together, but no plan has been put (lack of money!) into revamping the content generation process… (Very) Costly mistake further down the line!
  • A new project team organises a meeting that will help them decide – with the participants’ inputs – what the strategic direction of their project should be. But no investment has been made into properly designing it. Waste of time (and money) and possibly – err probably – a painful experience for participants
  • A project team working on a theme is best placed to lead what could become a community of practice on that field. There is a real need for that domain but the team is haggling over how much it should invest in properly getting the community of practice facilitated and attended to… too bad: it might mean the end of that nascent network (minding that communities of practice do die too).

The point is not to go ‘all in’ with every initiative that you set up – sometimes having little resource makes you more resourceful anyhow. But once you have identified, in your KM strategy, where are the key leverage points, don’t hesitate and really go for it, and turn these leverage points into successful enablers for useful investments (and pound wise solutions).

Master Sun (Tzu) would say no less about approaching these key battles with full resolution…

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” (Sun Tzu)

 

So, save your pennies for the futile, but don’t haggle about investing your pounds where it matters. And KM can be that extra mile that brings you back a many-fold return on investment.

Related blog posts:

A knowledge management primer (4): PQRSTU


This is a new series of posts, an alphabet primer of agile knowledge management (KM), to touch upon some of the key concepts, approaches, methods, tools, insights in the world of KM. And because there could have been different alternatives for each letter I’m also introducing the words I had to let go of here.

PQRSTU are on the menu of this KM alphabet primer portion (credits: Jericho Design)

PQRSTU are on the menu of this KM alphabet primer portion (credits: Jericho Design)

This is the fourth part of this alphabet primer, with some heavyweight words between P and U.


P for People

In order to have any success, KM has to be about, for, and by the people. It’s the people that think, that feel, that identify, that explore, that analyse, that summarise, that rally, that use, that reflect, that unite, that live with anything that KM produces. Focus on the people, YOUR people and at least you don’t miss the most fundamental first step. Who are they? How will they think and feel and react about issue abc, system pqr, approach xyz? Let them help you!

P could also have been…

P is also a heavyweight letter, covering many rejected candidates:

Processes – In the KM heyday, people, processes and systems were the litany of KM heads. While this has waned to some extent, processes remain an important lens to see how the information (the content) is used and absorbed by the people, and how to organise workflows that work. And process literacy is essential to KM success.

Portals (expired) – For a long time many KM people were building portals just because it sounded like the right thing to do, until there was already too many platforms out there and it became cumbersome. Nowadays agile KM no longer looks at portals as the go-to solution, but rather looks at meta portals for helping the questioning process, such as with Quora or Wikipedia.

Patterns – An essential aspect of learning, and of complexity, patterns are necessary for knowledge management in that they offer ‘invisible feedback loops’ that can be used to inform how KM is doing and how all the people and elements around them are gelling or not.

And I could have also written about: platforms (covered in this primer through systems, portals etc.), pacing, purpose, personal, presence, participation…

Q for Question(ing)

Question everything! (credits: Henry Bloomfield / Skype)

Question everything! (credits: Henry Bloomfield / Skype)

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Q has to be about questions and the act of questioning to find out what is the next quest, what is the new insight, what is the emerging feeling, what is the anticipated vision. Questions are at the heart of learning and (ever) adapting. Methods like ‘nine whys‘ are at the heart of agile knowledge management. So practice your questioning!

Q could also have been…

Quality – In some environments where KM is not so well-known, and where social media are questioned, as in my home country France, the quality approach is another term for parts of what KM tries to do, around information management and ensuring the right service at the right time for the right person. With quality comes also the idea of quality standards and monitoring processes, other elements that guarantee a certain degree of service that can be expected.

R for Rituals

Central to learning are rituals. And although in the industrial age rituals were perhaps partly eclipsed, they are gaining ground again in the network age, as a rediscovered attribute of ‘tribes‘ and of community gatherings. In KM, rituals entail both the ritual of a quality approach e.g. reviewing what’s out there and building upon the latest available information, but it also entails group rituals that mark important moments in the knowledge life of a grouping e.g. in(tro)duction of new staff, exit interviews, after-action-reviews, yearly learning retreats etc.

Here’s more about tribes from Seth Godin:

R could also have been…

Results, reviews and ratings – Results, reviews, ratings are all part of a healthy approach to any (set of) system(s) that are used, to better understand what is going on and what needs to be kept, tweaked or removed. In other words, use metrics to define your baseline, and then assess your end result through reviews, ratings and other tests that provide you with that data. And think about the functions you need for the results you wish to obtain.

Reinventing the wheel – I illustrated in a post about KM in cartoons this common challenge that KM aspires to tackle once and for all. Even though a small dose of reinventing the wheel is unavoidable and perhaps even desirable to tickle peoples’ curiosity and empowerment.

Role modeling – In any behaviour change approach, there are models that inspire others. These are the champions that lead the way, the positive deviants that discover smarter ways, the herders that pull everyone in a direction etc. Find out what are some of the role models you need for your initiative and see who can role model for you. These people can be your most precious assets.

And still R could also be… relationships (covered by people, and trust), reflecting etc.

S for Social

In the first era of knowledge management (partly disputed by these 7 ages of KM), all that mattered were information systems. But fast forward to 2016 and no one doing KM can pretend to do a good job when they’re not looking at the social dimension of knowledge management. And engagement and learning through the social interfaces is key.

3 eras of KM (credits: Nancy Dixon)

3 eras of KM (credits: Nancy Dixon)

S could also have been…

Systems – as in ‘information systems’. Yes systems are as central to KM as the social side of things. But I just happen to believe in the people using the system more than in the systems themselves. And not least because too many people got attracted to the idea of ‘be-all-do-all’ global information systems.

Sharing – Nothing new under the sun: information – and knowledge – are meant to be shared for any agile KM approach to thrivingly flow. HOW you get there is a different issue, but sharing is one of the archetypical expected behaviours of successful knowledge management (and knowledge sharing one of the three pillars of KM in my definition).

And S could still have been stealth (KM), scaling etc.

T for Trust

Knowledge management is not flavour of the day, and the reason behind this is that it takes time: to understand the situation, to imagine fit approaches, to build systems and crucially to build trust among the people that are part of an agile KM ecosystem. But trust is one of the cornerstones of sustainable knowledge management (and a great many other things)…Trust is the truth.

T could also have been…

Thinking – Because knowledge management is very much in the realm of logical reasoning (even though there is much place for feelings too) and because analysing, reflecting etc. are all avatars of thinking.

Tools – Another name for systems, but in knowledge management circles there is also a whole wave of people enthusiastic about tools, exploring them, playing around with them, understanding their value… before they may get turned into systems. That playfulness with tools is essential – without falling in the tool trap on the other hand.

Tradeoffs – As with any complex domain, knowledge management is about choosing certain things – or rather slightly favouring them – over others: information vs. knowledge, pilot vs. large scale, stealth vs. big bang, centralised vs. decentralised. So tradeoff thinking is a useful card to have in your agile KM deck.

Whatever you think, think the opposite (credits: Paul Arden)

Whatever you think, think the opposite (credits: Paul Arden)

U for Unlearning

Learning, unlearning, two sides of the same coin. In agile KM we have to let go of certain ideas, behaviours, aspirations, ways of doing things. And so unlearning is just as important as learning new things. Make room for what comes next.

U could also have been…

Unconferences – Wikipedia describes these so: “An unconference, also called an Open Space conference, is a participant-driven meeting. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.” And rightly there’s a place for these different types of gatherings in agile KM, because the gist of it is to let ideas flow, trust build, creative energy to get unleashed. It’s also about unlearning, and taking calculated risks… and that’s what agile KM is all about.

What would be your letter choices for this section of the agile KM alphabet primer?

 

Two months of hatching eggs


hello everyone,

I have been super busy of late, and mostly thinking about and focusing on the other leg of my work: agile facilitation (not that I have been blogging there either) as I’ve been trained to become a facilitator on group facilitation skills, and just delivered my first such training last week. These past two months of ‘hatching’ are finally over.

As I’m slowly re-emerging from all of this, to come back to this blogging practice. So I’ll finally be able to finalise the KM alphabet primer series and write about a lot more stuff, including on the Agile Facilitation blog.

Thank you for your patience, if you are reading this post, and more to come in the week!

Meanwhile, if you have specific ideas you would love me to blog on, please let me know🙂

Best,

Ewen

On the road again (credits: Martine Lanchec-Girard / FlickR)

On the road again (credits: Martine Lanchec-Girard / FlickR)

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A knowledge management primer (3): JKLMNO


The KM alphabet primer continues (Credits: Le web pedagogique)

The KM alphabet primer continues (Credits: Le web pedagogique)

This is a new series of posts, an alphabet primer of agile knowledge management (KM), to touch upon some of the key concepts, approaches, methods, tools, insights in the world of KM. And because there could have been different alternatives for each letter I’m also introducing the words I had to let go of here.

Today, after the ABC of KM and the next six letters (DEFGHI), I’m pursuing the alphabet discovery with JKLMNO.


 

J for Journey

Any and every KM initiative is a journey unto itself and because it is a learning journey with no fully guaranteed results, the journey matters as much as the destination. It brings up lots of ideas, feedback, insights and more.

J could also have been…

Journaling – A great practice for documentation, journaling (as blogging is) has the potential of revealing deeper patterns that explain a lot of things. For KM, journaling on the KM initiative, documenting the process, and even impressions of individuals involved can be the difference between success and failure, between quick and slow, between good quality and sloppy.

Knowledge (Credits: Iqbal Osman)

Knowledge (Credits: Iqbal Osman)

K for Knowledge

Of course, what else? Knowledge is the capacity to turn information to action, and if it’s the sum of insights we have, but not a commodity that can be transferred. There are many (also visual) understandings of knowledge. I’m just offering my definition here. But knowledge is certainly what puts KM in a mystical world, as it relates to how our brains work and how we connect with each other to form a collective intelligence.

K could also have been…

Know-how – Next to what we know there are also many processes set know that help us to do things. Practical knowledge, hands-on, instructional stuff to move from theory to practice, including practice smarts.

L for learning

I wouldn’t leave the last part of my definition of KM as it is the most important one to justify the existence of knowledge management. And whether it’s about learning how to retain institutional memory or how to innovate, learning is the driving force to make us every better equipped to deal with challenges and to increase our capacity to adapt and anticipate, to be resilient etc.

L could also have been…

Management versus Leadership (Credits: David Sanabria)

Management versus Leadership (Credits: David Sanabria)

Leadership – leadership is the vision that drives initiatives, shows the way  and rallies support all along. No KM endeavour survives without strong leadership and leading by example – and innovating. And this is true at all levels, not just about top management. The KM project leader, management and personnel alike must demonstrate that sort of leadership – but they can only do so if they have all been properly involved and empowered to do so of course.

Library – Libraries used to be the crude epitome of knowledge management in the times of old. The vast quantity of information that codified the knowledge of the ancients was so great that it’s no wonder the first era of KM wanted to mimic this in the digital world. But that was not enough. Online brochures’ advocates learned that at a high cost.

M for Management

Leadership is key in KM. But management is also very important. Managing change, managing assets, managing processes, managing tools and managing people to make sure all these elements work in synergy and support each other.

M could also have been…

Monitoring – Part of the management of KM is monitoring how it is going, collecting metrics that give indications of visibility, use, appreciation and gains in produce of any kind. Monitoring is at the heart of learning and thus of KM too – even though it is usually the reason why people give up on KM because it is so difficult to go beyond the use of information platforms and learning processes to point to what people are doing with it.

Meta tags – An essential element of curation are the meta tags that allow to describe a resource and make it easier to retrieve later through search.

N for Network

From networkshops to communities of practice and assessing networked value, from personal learning networks to engaging in social networks, networks are ubiquitous. The world of KM in 2016 cannot avoid this fact, and it explains why so much emphasis goes nowadays on distributed learning, on massive open online courses, on cultivating personal learning networks etc. Knowledge management always was a network thing in itself. It now hast just become utterly obvious.

Networks, interconnection (Credits: Rob/FlickR)

Networks, interconnection (Credits: Rob/FlickR)

N could also have been…

Your suggestions?

O for Open 

If the ultimate goal of knowledge management is to connect and convert everyone to cultivating our collective intelligence, then a general state of Open-ness is central to it. Open knowledge, open source, open access, working out loud and all the rest of it.

The reality is still a bit more subtle than this: in certain areas where the mindset is not all that open, agile KM has to create safe closed spaces where progressively people can taste the power of Open, little by little, in smaller groups first. But open KM is almost a tautology.

Open Knowledge