A knowledge management primer (2): DEFGHI


 

And the primer continues...

And the primer continues…

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. 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 covering the ABC of knowledge management I’m continuing with the next six letters of the alphabet primer: DEFGHI.


D for Documentation

Following my definition of what KM is, documentation is another leg of knowledge management, focusing on information management and curation. But documentation is also about taking it to a personal and behavioural level, in order to learn (e.g. blogging!). Where discipline reaps rewards and inspires others too. In this respect, documentation

D could also have been…

Data – I don’t believe all too much in the logical model of DIKW from data to wisdom but data is – or can be – definitely an important part of KM. Data are surrounding us and part of the information management is to organise that data and turn it into information that is available, affordable and accessible. Under ‘data’ you also find databases and ‘big data’. The former were the object of the first generation of KM, while the latter is what preoccupies a lot of new knowledge managers now…   

E for Engagement

Let it be said once and for all: KM is not just about the systems and tools, it’s crucially about people. Engaging people in KM is as important as -and I would argue even more important than- the information systems that hold the promises of big data… Engage for success! And there are many traditions of engagement to start from.

E could also have been…

EmpowermentEmpowering employees or the people generally involved in a KM initiative is not always an objective. But sure enough it helps engage them in your general KM approach and with the tools and systems that it relies on.

Enabling (environment) – Management, funding etc. are all part of an environment in which knowledge gardening can really thrive. The culture is also a big part of this enabling environment if it emphasises curiosity, learning, openness, acceptance of others and of failure, empathy, humility etc.

Exit interview – After action reviews are one well-known KM tool. In the older tradition of KM, exit interviews are another one. How to make sure that a person leaving is not leaving with all their knowledge, network and more. This has been the object of fascinating debates on KM4Dev and I already reflected on this in the past.

F for feedback

Feedback and its specific offshoot ‘feedback loops’ are central to any knowledge management approach that puts learning at its centre. Feedback is -on a personal level- an essential piece in improving one’s actions and questioning frames of reference and mindsets. And it’s all the more important to make feedback an important part of KM that it is difficult to give feedback, and even more so to give (and receive) good, useful feedback.

Feedback loops, are to knowledge management processes what feedback is to interpersonal relationships, a way to build in signals giving indication of what is going well or not along the way. Feedback loops are essential to any learning system or approach. And the earlier they kick in, the better!

F could also have been…

Failure – What with the fail fair, safe-fail approaches and more. Failures in KM are not the holy grail, but they’re one sure way to learn from important mistakes and improve (feedback loops again). Fail fast, fail often, stand up again. Quick & dirty KM to get to the real thing. That is also the history of development cooperation.

Facilitation – Nick Milton from Knoco said it: the first skill any KM team should learn is facilitation. Without it, how to get the best thinking from everyone to make a KM approach work? And with knowledge sharing and learning at the heart of KM, there is just no way around understanding how facilitation helps and applying it to all collective endeavours.

Folksonomy – Taxonomies are an important part of information management, to agree on the terms that will help curate a collection information items on a meta-level. Folksonomies are crowdsourced -or at least user-defined- taxonomies that help users find content related to what they’re searching, using their language (rather than language defined by a corporation).

G for Gardening

Knowledge is a garden, and knowledge management is the gardening of that knowledge. The knowledge ecology that KM feeds off of depends on the sowing (starting individual or collective initiatives), fertilising (capacity development, innovation, monitoring around these), pruning and trimming (curation) etc.

Knowledge gardening for collective sensemaking (credits: Jack Park)

Knowledge gardening for collective sensemaking (credits: Jack Park)

G could also have been…

Gamification – An increasingly important approach in various areas, but also in KM the use of games or gaming elements applied to serious initiatives is a way to create buy-in where simple databases and manuals failed miserably.

Gains – Since KM is so much about behaviour change, the idea of gains must be central to any KMer, Articulating the gains, the win-win, the ‘what’s in it for me’ is essential for KM buy-in.

H for humility

Learning (the third and in my view most crucial element of KM) is an eternal quest towards recognising the limits of your knowledge and building our (understanding of our) world upon the shoulders of giants. As such it makes us humble about the wealth of uncharted knowledge that we still have to get familiar with. But humility is also about managing expectations about KM. Since knowledge management has so much to do with behaviours, it takes time to effect change and being humble rather than over-promising is a useful stance when you have to roll out a KM program. I mentioned in the past how the path to wisdom is paved with effectiveness, focus, humility and empathy.

H could also have been…
Honesty – This was the only other H-word I found useful in the realm of KM, though there must be more of these out there. In any case honesty is, for very similar reasons to humility, a useful quality to have in KM particularly when it comes to managing expectations, and making yourself and your work more acceptable by building trust (and trust is the truth.

 
I for Infomation (management, systems)

After the letter C, I is another one of the KM heavyweight letters in this alphabet primer. The choice here is large, as you can see from the other options below. But of course information should be sitting on the I-throne. Information is at the core of KM, both in the documentation side of things, on the personal learning side through absorbing that documentation, and generally because it is about codifying other peoples’ know-how and knowledge in ways that benefit a much wider group of others than would be possible through human mediation. Under information come also information management and information systems.
I could also have been…

Innovation – More than KM, innovation has really become the centre stage of knowledge work and some would even mention that of all KM generations, the new one is all geared towards innovation. For sure getting people to share knowledge and learn together brings them to innovate. If a culture of curiosity, safe failing, encouragement, daring is there, then the ground is extremely fertile for ongoing innovation capacity.

Institutional memory – Another of the classic entry points to knowledge management: how to make sure an organisation remembers what happened in the past and prevents reinventing the wheel all over again. This goes together with exit interviews but goes much beyond that to the collective records of an organisation or network.

Intention – The last I-word I would add to this list – more could have made it – but an important one: the sense of purpose, and the intention that is at the heart of the rituals of learning. Intention helps us get better and that is why it features highly in agile KM initiatives…

And let thy feet milleniums hence be set in midst of knowledge - Tennyson (Credits: Joanna Penn)

And let thy feet milleniums hence be set in midst of knowledge – Tennyson (Credits: Joanna Penn)

 

A knowledge management primer (1): KM as simple as ABC


What to find in the ABC of the knowledge tree? (Credits: Lisa Roberts)

What to find in the ABC of the knowledge tree? (Credits: Lisa Roberts)

This is a new series of posts, an alphabet primer of knowledge management (KM), to touch upon some of the key concepts, approaches, methods, tools, insights. 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 I’m starting this primer on the first letters of the alphabet: ABC – not necessarily the easiest in the KM world though… 

 

A for After Action Review

After Action Reviews are one of the closest synonyms – in people’s minds – of what knowledge management is all about. And surely it is one of the sure fire methods to bring learning straight into knowledge management, where it is due. After action reviews help discover insights and – if carried out consistently – progressively instil a spirit of curiosity and openness to change, which is fundamental to KM.

A could also have been…

Agile – this whole blog is dedicated to agile knowledge management because agility refers not only to the business method of improving and rolling out softwares known as Agile Software Development but also, by extension, an approach of ‘safe failing’, failing fast, often and improving quickly, which again is the whole point of KM.

Authenticity – In your efforts to work on KM, authenticity is probably one of the best behavioural cards to play, because rolling out KM, whether a system or an approach or any combination thereof, is not easy and requires people to trust in you. Being authentic shows that you have nothing to hide and that people can believe in what you are saying and suggesting, that it is in their best interest.

B for Behaviour

If you take my definition of KM which is about conversations, documentation and learning, the first and third part have much to do with behaviour (change). Stimulating conversations and gearing them towards learning are both influenced by the current behaviour of the people involved, and are also influencing these same people to share, learn, document, engagement more… Behaviours are also what makes KM work so hard at times, because behaviours take time to change… But sometimes the seed of success is also in the interesting and different behaviours of positive deviants.

B could also have been…

Blogging – Blogs are seen as places of personal opinions, genuine, authentic sharing of thoughts and engagement. They have found their way in the typical arsenal of options for knowledge managers. And I personally totally see why.

Big data – The new holy grail of KM: since sharing knowledge is so hard and takes so much time, how about using data to getting insights that we need. If only it were so simple

C for Change

Deep down, KM is all about change and change processes, only from the knowledge side of change. It’s about behaviour change, change in how people think, talk and work alone and together, change in how organisations use their knowledge assets to organise themselves and get better and more relevant at what they do, social change that brings vast communities together. And as we know change is hard, so KM is up against a real challenge but also one that is worth it.

C is one of the heavyweights of this KM primer. So many C-words could be essential to KM… here’s a few.

C could also have been…

Conversations – This is the second leg of my definition of KM and one that is central to another definition of KM stating that KM is about ‘increasing the quality and frequency of conversations that get your job done’.

Communication – Despite many people misunderstanding and mistaking KM for information management, there is a lot of communication in KM and that’s the reason why they come together in my work.

Curation – Part of the documentation is to curate information around us to be able to retrieve it and make it accessible to others at any time.

Culture – The hidden part of the iceberg that KM attempts to change.

Community (of practice) [CoP] – One of the most spearheaded tools (or approaches) for getting conversations that get your job done. And CoPs are facing challenges.

Capitalisation – In the francophone world ‘capitalisation des expériences’ is the closest thing there is to KM.

Complexity – What we face in ever more facets of our work and life, and one characteristic that makes KM so relevant in its attempt to connect us all together to better appreciate the intricacy of this complexity.

Cycles – The learning cycles that help us look at what we do in different, novel lights.

How to find your ABC in the KM cycle (Credits: Valenok)

How to find your ABC in the KM cycle (Credits: Valenok)

Related blog posts:

Enough were mentioned already, don’t you think?

But in addition, here’s this 2005 document from the World Food Organization ‘the ABC of KM‘ (PDF) that I thought was worth referencing.

What facilitators and participants define as ‘success’


agilefacil

The more I get to facilitate, the more I get to understand how the definition of success (in a facilitated meeting or process) can differ in the eye of the beholder.

Particularly between facilitator and participants. Here I intentionally leave the case of the workshop leader / event organiser / decision-maker out of the picture as they are the ones with -in principle- the clearest understanding of what is there to be achieved.

Here are a few illustrations of the different success definitions between participants and facilitators:

What the participants seek What the facilitators see and seek
Good time management

No conversation dragging on, we will be able to be at home on time. Not one of these endless death-by-Powerpoint shows that leaves us aghast.

What really matters is checking that the objectives are completed, or are well on their way while preserving and even improving relationships in the group and…

View original post 424 more words

Internalising facilitation in everyday life, in Africa and globally – an interview with Ed Rege (PICO Eastern Africa)


Because facilitation is one of the most important skills any knowledge management specialist/team should learn…

agilefacil

Ed Rege (Credits: unknown) Ed Rege (Credits: unknown)

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Ed Rege (of PICO-Eastern Africa), an organizational development expert and a well-known facilitator in Africa and worldwide, and a former trainee of Sam Kaner. Ed also happens to be an ex ILRI-staff and not just any staff but a geneticist who rose to become the  leader of ILRI’s global Biotechnology Program. His story about using facilitation is fascinating and his plans are big. Here below is the interview…

What is your understanding of what facilitation does, or is helpful for:

The biggest challenge facing institutions these days is the inability for people to speak with each other constructively, meaningfully and productively. And yet stakeholder engagements are increasingly seen as a critical tool for working together, strategizing and problem-solving. This is complicated by the fact the globalizing world means increased multicultural stakeholder mixes which raise issues about…

View original post 653 more words

2016 in perspective, 2015 in review


Hello all,

Happy New Year
I wish you all a very happy, healthy, successful, wonderful 2016!

Last year has seen a relative decline in my blogging production. I have been less consistent, I haven’t been as inspired as the previous years. It could be the fact that the I have written about various aspects of the KM field and am finding it more difficult to come up with different types of topics. It could be that I have been even busier than the previous years. It could be that I’m getting tired of blogging. It could be all of that and more.

At any rate in 2016 I anticipate I will be again slightly less systematic in my blogging practice and I will cut myself some slack to find new sources of inspiration.

Meanwhile, for all of you who have been following and supporting this blog throughout the years, I would like to thank you very warmly for this, and hope you continue to blog and follow other blogs this year, as it’s what drives this world to create more connections, develop better thinking, stimulate inspiration, inspire cooperation and what perhaps justifies our existence on earth to connect, love and move forward together, in whatever ways.

Finally, hereby find the top 10 posts of 2015, as well as the ‘year in review’ on Agile KM for me and you provided by WordPress.

Keep on engaging, learning, sharing, reflecting, giving, and hopefully we’ll have even more exciting conversations in 2016!

Happy new year!

Top 10 posts in 2015 (in bold the posts written in 2015)

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

Review of 2015 by WordPress

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Musings of the past week, and a blog experiment


Last week was very rich in conversations that relate to this blog as my organisation was holding its annual communication and knowledge management review and planning meeting. And on the back of that, lots of great free-floating conversations with colleagues and friends…

The blogging experiment this week: one short working out loud post every day (Credits: Jonolist / FlickR 'Random Musings')

The blogging experiment this week: one short working out loud post every day (Credits: Jonolist / FlickR ‘Random Musings’)

 

So I start this week with lots of ideas in mind to further develop as blog posts, including:

  • What is it that the focus on processes can really bring to sustainable development? Is it all and only about the micro-patterns of learning, engagement, or even about getting to a higher level of consciousness that would help us think differently about development?
  • In relation to this, what are genuine examples of ‘triple loop learning’? And in relation, why does no one want to fund ‘social learning’ and attempting to reach that third loop?
  • Thinking about all kinds of platforms that help us save time make informed decisions about e.g. which social media to use (non profit tech for development for instance)… and taking stock of stock-taking exercises…
  • Wondering about Facebook for organisational work – a good idea? A dangerous approach? Is there such a platform as mentioned previously that can inform me well about this?
  • Using Fridays for creativity – what could be the best ideas (and boundaries) to make it work?
  • I’m also having to facilitate a Powerpoint hell trip and wondering what to do about this and in relation, wondering about setting up a blog specifically on facilitation.

…Lots of ideas, lots of questions, lots of blogging material…

And the blogging experiment will be to try to do a series of Seth Godin‘s: a short ‘working out loud’ post every day… Let’s see if I manage to get to this 😉

Sharing and feedback done, now learning and change to go…


And so the results of the feedback survey on this blog are in (though you can still vote here). A big THANK YOU to you all for chipping in! View the results via the link from the survey box below.

So: 19 votes pleading for more KM and more communication, and perhaps less on M&E. Two very valuable comments. One attached to the post ‘Fire your frank feedback and forecast what follows on Agile KM for me & you‘ and the other one below:

Ewen, nice strategy of engaging with your readers; I would suggest asking for domain/subject suggestions that might be of interest. The reason I skip your blog, at times, is because:- it is either too jargon filled and too much jargon suggests a closed language world and leads to inclusion and exclusion dynamics;- your blog is too much a reworking of other stuff and there is no personal or original thinking in there- as i am increasingly moving away from international development and working on regional and local issues, once again i am struck by this divide we have managed to make the international development and domestic/local focus; this is fascinating, it shows that there are different worlds (of thinking and working) around. I do not know if this is bridgeable, it is an area of longstanding concern.Good luck and keep on blogging and thinking out loud …. see john Stepper http://johnstepper.com/2014/05/24/the-best-peer-support-group-for-your-career/

Where does this leave me? With a number of excellent pointers which I will try and apply, though of course I also follow my own intuition and will not keep stuck with one way of doing things, or blogging in this context.

  • Use more visuals;
  • Write shorter posts;
  • Use spicy questions;
  • Avoid jargon;
  • More personal thinking;

And you might have your own ideas still about what other things I need to change…

In the meantime, before I process this feedback into the posts, here’s what’s boiling on this blog’s pan for the next weeks and months (that I can foresee now):

  • More reflections about event/process facilitation in relation with a number of important events and happenings;
  • Some counter-reactions to ‘Working out loud’ and getting it work collectively;
  • The sequel to Anatomy of learning: how we (individuals) make sense of information which will feature my very own thinking indeed (but it may take some time);
  • Smart consultant practices for modern organisations;
  • … and your topics of choice? Will you let me know…

Oh, and I reckon improving this blog is not just about visuals, but also about audio cues. So before I get seriously into this, here’s one for Richard Martin who confessed he loved references to Radiohead…

Let me get this blog to see improvements trickle down the pyramid, Richard!

Related blog posts:

Fire your frank feedback and forecast what follows on Agile KM…


Feedback (Credits: gforsythe / FlickR)

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m writing on this blog is of any value to anyone.

It certainly is to me, as I’ve come to realise quite a few times in the past. But at this stage I am much more interested in engaging with the readers of this blog, and the people that engage with the posts. And then I also fear my ideas might be stagnating. A former colleague of mine (not complexity & KM guru Jaap Pels) said that everyone has only three of four stories to tell and that’s it.

Have I reached that point of exhausting my stories to tell?

Have I hit a wall?

Perhaps YOU know that better than me.

Of course there are positive comments on this blog and also about this blog. That’s really great and I already expressed my gratitude in the past, especially when that feedback comes from your heart, such as a fellow KM4Dev member recently commented (on the conversation about why the World Bank’s PDFs don’t get read):

I reflected on how I find “gold” in the form of well-hidden online reports and discussion papers and there are a few ways
1. Through wonderful groups like KM4Dev – yes, we are part of the solution!
2. Through personal contacts in the organisations or other networks
3. Through conferences, workshops, meetings etc
4. Through references in other pubs.
5. Blogs – Ewen, I regularly pick up gems from your blog among others! Thanks!

Some posts get amazing ratings (the happy families of engagement – What the heck is knowledge anyways or Portrait of the modern knowledge worker).

Some get quite a few likes (The art of blogging: Taking stock – Social web metrics: between the cracks of evidence and confidence or What are we waiting for to walk our talk (on KM and comms)?)

And some of these posts remain popular through the test of time: Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words – Tinkering with tools: what’s up with Yammer? or the eternal Learning cycle basics and more: Taking stock

People visiting this blog kindly never seem to make really difficult comments (or perhaps I’m not reading between their lines well enough)… though some post ratings are bad/critical, and I know for myself that some (most) of my posts are not breaking ground and probably deserve better crafting, more ideas… But how do I get to that feedback that improves this blog to make it more engaging for all?

So, if I’m being true to my word, or to my motto ‘fun, focus and feedback‘, I’ve got to check with you lot if this blog is on track; and actually what it might be on track to, or what it should be. As much as I’ve dreamt of the feast of fools of feedback, now is the time to make this a reality for the blog.

Could you please tell me what you like on this blog, but more particularly what you don’t like so much, where you think I’m missing the mark, where you see interesting opportunities? 

I would just love your feedback. A simple comment will do 🙂 It could be about the topics I cover (or don’t cover), the type of posts I share, the look and feel, the conversation I have with you, anything that comes to mind!

And in addition, or perhaps to help the above, you might help me find some ideas for next posts and topics (please reply to the poll above).

I owe you, so I promise to act upon the comments I receive, and I’d be really glad to make this blog a more exciting place about agile KM and learning (for social change)…

Now the floor is yours, this is Agile KM for me… and you?

Effective Feedback - Some rules for effective feedback? (Credits: teachandlearn / FlickR)

Some rules for effective feedback? (Credits: teachandlearn / FlickR)

 

My KM year’s insights, top posts… and a Merry Christmas!!!


What reflections and patterns come up in the KM world anno 2013 (Credits - Ekkaia / FlickR)

What reflections and patterns come up in the KM world anno 2013 (Credits – Ekkaia / FlickR)

That time of the year, when we are packing up for holiday and family celebrations. A good reflective time though the festivities can make it harder than summer holidays to find time to reflect.

As I’m just about to also take a few days off, here is what I’ve observed in my KM (for development [research]) world this year.

  • KM is not dead, it is more than alive! And more and more people are joining KM forums, discussion lists, communities of practice (3500 people on KM4Dev!!!). See some of these forums and networks here. It’s booming business.
  • Big data has been all over the place of course and is going to keep going strong as software applications are able to process increasingly fathomless data sets. However the question of who decides how to analyse that data remains most of the time unclear. A slightly similar development as the explosion of ICT applications in ag business which needs to be channelled and solicited by some demand… which is why, for the big data revolution to really offer its fruits…
  • Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is gaining ground (credits - Harold Jarche)

    Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is gaining ground (credits – Harold Jarche)

    …the recognition of knowledge workers is also gaining ground. We need capacity to analyse data, to make sense of it. So we need to be individually stronger at analysing our world. This means that on the one hand PKM (see this presentation by Stephen Dale on personal knowledge management) is gaining ground – with the idea that everyone in the organisation can contribute their energy, capacity, network to solve problems and that…

  • …On the other hand, more efforts in the KM world are coming up to federate, rally, convene minds and hearts to solve complex interrelated issues. These ‘change conversation’ spaces have to be facilitated – no longer managed. So KM is being stretched on its individual (PKM) and on its holistic frontier, when it used to focus mostly on organisational learning (see the presentation below)
  • Generally networked KM dynamics is taking central stage as everyone is wondering how those dynamics can stimulate innovation, ideation and (inter-) institutional change, including in rural development areas.
  • Assessing KM through e.g. social media metrics is slowly but surely coming of age as testified by this recent article and those reflections from the recent ICT4Ag conference. We are now talking beyond reach into engagement, use, learning, action… Still lots of progress to be made but we are going forward!
  • Closer to development work, the idea of ‘blurred boundaries’ between e.g. KM, communication, monitoring and learning etc. is making headway. Communication is no longer just a support cabinet that can be called upon to polish ‘messages’, it is part and parcel of operations and rebranded under a general ‘engagement’ approach. Because engagement leads communication, learning and action. See some excellent collective reflections about recent workshops I was involved in, on this.

This recent presentation by Nancy Dixon also gives us some additional views over KM in late 2013:

What this suggests is that KM is becoming the art and science of stimulating collective sense-making conversations and integrated actions, while relying on solid individual practices and skills. I expect more will happen at the junction of individual (networks, capacities, passions) and collective (ambitions, agendas and wicked problems) dynamics in 2014 and beyond. Perhaps I’ll even try some predictions early next year…

But back to 2013: Here were the most popular posts (including the ‘top 10 published in 2013’ in bold) on this blog this year:

  1. Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words
  2. Tinkering with tools: What’s up with Yammer?
  3. Portrait of the modern knowledge worker
  4. Settling the eternal semantic debate: what is knowledge, what is information…
  5. The art of blogging: Taking stock
  6. What is common knowledge about knowledge? A visual tour…
  7. Learning cycle basics and more: Taking stock
  8. What the heck is knowledge anyway: from commodity to capacity and insights
  9. The feast of fools of feedback
  10. Why on earth would you want to be on Twitter?
  11. The lessons I learned about lessons learned
  12. What to put in a KM training, off the random top of my head
  13. We need more / better communication! But not from me…
  14. Assessing, measuring, monitoring knowledge (and KM): Taking stock
  15. Modern musings on a KM evergreen: institutional memory
  16. Engagement and deeper connection in social networks, a dialogue with Jaume Fortuny
  17. What’s really new about social learning?

Now I wish you all Merry Christmas and hope catch up soon, perhaps even before the new year! Thank you very much for all the good work around KM, learning, engagement, empowerment, for following this blog, for sharing thoughts and quality time with me and many.

Keep up the good work in 2014!

Merry Christmas (credits - Ceanandjen:FlickR)

Merry Christmas! (Credits – Ceanandjen:FlickR)

The art of blogging: Taking stock


The topic of ‘Blogging’ is a phoenix in the blogosphere. Blogging about blogging keeps emerging and emerging and reemerging. No later than this week again, only in my personal learning network I spotted Euan Semple’s piece about ‘How writing a blog can make you a better manager‘, while Ian Thorpe was reflecting about the value of keeping a journal, like a blog [and even more recently shared these 10 tips for bloggers]. Perhaps it’s the welcome mental break of summer holidays that makes bloggers reflect about one of our favourite reflexive activities: BLOGGING.

How blogging matters for different people (Credits - IsaakWok/FlickR)

How blogging matters for different people (Credits – IsaakWok/FlickR)

And so, after over five years of blogging and over 182 published posts, I thought it might be a good time also for myself to look back at the art of blogging. Not so much what I make of it, because despite past experience I have a lot to learn about blogging still and I already blogged about my blogging here and there.

No, this is a post sharing ideas and experiences from thought leaders who have seen the benefits of blogging, have enjoyed and analysed it well enough to share some gems. So hereby comes another stock-taking post which may help wannabe bloggers (Hermella, do you read me?) as well as well as more seasoned bloggers always looking for inspiration…

Why blog?

Five minutes with Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Gilson: “Blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now” (Feb. 2012). A welcome wake-up call for academics about the power of blogging and why it has become unavoidable to spread research uptake. This is a short but high octane interview with a few additional tips. This one is a bit of a dedicated resource for my academic colleagues…

Seth Godin and Tom Peters on blogging – A must watch! (April 2009)

Another short video where life2.0 guru Seth Godin and fellow interviewee Tom Peters share their point of view as to why Blogging matters and how it has affected them deeply. Great inspiration to get started, from one of the very few bloggers (Godin) who blogs successfully every day.

Simple tips and tricks

  • Blog post checklist for great authors (Aug. 2013): The latest resource I came across, filled with excellent guerilla tips to outsmart typical blog (and other bloggers’) traps and ensure blogging leads to action (yours and others’). Perhaps the best series of tips and tricks in this selection.
  • 12 blogging mistakes (Aug. 2013): what not to do with your blog to avoid making it useless. Great no nonsense tips that move away from the ego-logy a bit. I particularly like the advice to do away with ‘Blah’ posts and to come up with more ‘wow’ content. I hope I’m applying this lesson better now.
  • 23 essential elements of sharable blog posts (June 2009). Very short list of very good tips to prepare useful and usable blog posts. This one is so short and so relevant that despite its age it was difficult to avoid.
  • The absolutely foolproof blog post checklist (Feb. 2013). A great series of technical tips to make sure that the content on your blog is fool proof. I found this resource via Jurgen Appelo’s resource listed above and its peculiar focus on technical blogging makes it stand out as a great resource.
  • Tips for conference bloggers (Jan. 2008): Live blogging is tricky. Here’s a series of useful tips to make it work. Probably worth a revamp but the core of the tips is still very much valid. This has been compiled with experts in the field of social media such as Beth Kanter and is essentially a short guide available in PDF format.
  • Blogtips (ongoing blog): Peter Casier is an experienced social media enthusiast who’s set up this blog full of advices about blogging and more. He may not update this blog every month but he has been updating it over time and this place remains a good place for blogging tips, particularly for those of you working in global development. Peter leads major social media campaigns for agricultural research consortium CGIAR in major global events.
  • Three things you should know about blogging (July 2013). Steve Wheeler explains three important pillars of blogging to help you make the most of it.

Personal experiences

Many bloggers have related their experience with blogging. Hereby a selection of my favourite posts from these bloggers reflecting upon blogging:

  • Ian Thorpe (KM on a dollar a day) with ‘Personal professional blogging – what I’ve learned‘ (Feb. 2013). Ian Thorpe is a blogger I follow avidly and respect enormously for the clarity and potency of his ideas. In this post he provides a good overview of the type of blogs (and bloggers), various tips, types of posts that can be used and a list of other bloggers to look up to. A great complement to this stock-taking post.
  • Mike Shanahan (Under the Banyan) and ‘Why blog? Ten things I learned about blogging this year‘ – Dec. 2012). Mike is giving really fresh advice, not (just) the typical advice you find about blogging. Like his ideas of repeat visits to past posts and the fact that speed matters – seize opportunities. This proved true for me with a recent summary of a KM4Dev discussion on lessons learnt while the discussion was just about petering out.
  • Irving Wladawsky-Berger ‘Blogging and personal feelings‘ (March 2012). A very blog-like account of how blogging has become a really important part of life of Irving and how it resonates in his work.
  • Harold Jarche (Life in perpetual beta). Another one of my favourite bloggers. In his piece on ‘Net Work skills‘ (March 2012), Harold talks about blogging and other skills but refers to blogging as a central engine for conversations (themselves a central piece in the networked world) and mechanism to speed up serendipity. A great testimony of how blogging can make a difference.
  • Marc F. Bellemare (Agriculture, development and food policy) and his post on ‘What I’ve learned from a year of blogging: advice for would-be bloggers‘ (Jan. 2012) I selected this post because it is particularly useful for new bloggers or wannabe bloggers. Marc reflects back on one year of blogging and offers simple but useful tips to get started.
  • Steve Wheeler (Learning with ‘e’s). Steve Wheeler is a wonderful learning and education blogger and he explains in ‘Life thru a lens’ (Aug. 2013) his experience with vlogging – or video blogging – as a great complement to his ongoing blogging practice.
Blogging is writing's extreme sport (Credits - WillLion/FlickR)

Blogging is writing’s extreme sport (Credits – WillLion/FlickR)

And I decided to add -ex-post- this other post (by Chris Lysy) which summarises blogging challenges and advices of 22 different bloggers (including yours truly): http://freshspectrum.com/blogging-advice/

Who blogs (how)?

Blogs are topic-specific generally, at least the better blogs I’ve come across. So there’s no selection that would satisfy everyone of you, but here is a list of bloggers that I find really interesting to read, from their blogging technique or the way they use their blog:

  • Duncan Green (From poverty to Power). A very prolific blogger, Oxfam’s Duncan Green is a real thought leader in his field, sharply networked and with real passion and objective detachment at the same time. His blog is one of the best examples, in global development) of what can be achieved with a blog once the author behind is smart and well connected. A must-visit for influence blogging.
  • In the KM world, Nick Milton from Knoco Stories has been blogging on a daily basis with unrelentlessly good advice. His way of blogging is interesting because it is a real challenge to keep up with such daily discipline. I like the references he makes to other posts from his long blogging experience.
  • And finally Susan MacMillan, an ILRI colleague who has been blogging prolifically, with rather long posts though very detailed, full of passion and quotes and facts and questions. It is a peculiar style; some people don’t like it, some love it. I find it really an inspiring ‘other’ way of blogging than most blogs I follow. See some posts of hers on e.g. ILRI Clippings and ILRI news.

There could be many many more, as you understand…

A (totally non comprehensive) summary of tips and tricks contained in these resources:

    • (You) Be yourself, be bold, be unique, continually reflect about your blog and your blogging practice, accept it takes time to get good at it and to reap real benefits from it;
Some blogging (moo card) pointers (Credits - MexicanWave/FlickR)

Some blogging (moo card) pointers (Credits – MexicanWave/FlickR)

  • (Your blog) Find your focus and goal, have a go, let it flow, embellish your blog with pictures (or videos, presentations and other creative bits), make it scannable and ‘blog-friendly’, chase typos and errors away, improve your blog and change stuff about it every so often – in line with your learning;
  • (Your audience) Engage with them, work with them, comment on their blogs and respond to their comments quickly, share your posts actively on other social networks, link to other blogs and content (from you and others), use your blog as basis for much wider engagement.

Now – what are your favourite blog posts about blogging, the why, what, how and all the rest of it? What have I missed out here? And what might you do about blogging yourself?

Related blog posts:

Find the resources mentioned in this post and other resources about blogging in my Del.icio.us bookmarks about Blogging.