Opportunity costs of documentation and how to make it work…


In my book of KM, documentation is an essential part of the work.

Documentation - do you read it (Credits: Matt Ray / FlickR)

Documentation – do you read it (Credits: Matt Ray / FlickR)

Not everyone agrees to it. Someone who works a lot with Liberating Structures recently told me he didn’t necessarily see the point of harvesting anything because the people that were ‘doing the work’ would remember.

But then there’s always the point of documenting for the sake of the people who are not ‘doing the work’ there and then. Keeping traces so others can pick up the trail and use it in ways that help them.

However the question always remains: what should you document (e.g. what is good in a project) and how much should you invest in documenting it – and how – vs. how much you should set up processes to directly connect people with relevant experience?

This is the eternal debate of documentation vs. one-on-one experience sharing, of Alexandrian libraries vs. campfires – something that is currently being debated on KM4Dev around the title “How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience” (link pending on membership).

Yes, Alexandrian libraries are only a partial solution because they don’t relate a lot of the complexities. And as Johannes Schunter pointed recently on his blog, lessons learnt that generate bland statements are useless (the ‘Duh’ test).

And there is the issue that documentation takes time and effort. Not everything can be documented, everywhere, all the time, by everyone. It’s the same opportunity cost as for monitoring and evaluation (for which we can also adopt a somewhat agile approach).

Here are some ideas to identify what to document and how:

What to document?

  • What is new?
  • What is significant?
  • What’s been done about this already (in some form or shape)?
  • What is simple (and can be codified into principles or best practices)?
  • What is complicated (but can still follow good/next practice)?
  • What is complex and inter-related about this?
  • What is unknown?
  • What is helping us ask the next best questions?
  • Who knows more about this
  • What could be useful next steps?

How to document?

  • Develop templates for documentation for e.g. case studies (link pending KM4Dev membership);
  • Keep it simple: as little information as needed to inform people, but linked sufficiently well to other sources;
  • Develop a collective system where people can add up their experiences and insights (e.g. the KS Toolkit) – make sure you have one place that people recognise as the go-to site for this information;

How to prepare that documentation work? And this is the most important part.

  • Stimulate your own documentation through blogging, note taking, managing a diary etc. It always starts and ends at the individual level – as the constant knowledge gardeners we should be;
  • Make sure your documentation is related to conversations (as Jaap Pels also recommends in his KM framework) so that you get an active habit of identifying;
  • Make sure you have formal and informal spaces and times for these conversations to erupt, both at personal level with our personal learning networks, within teams, within organisations, across organisations (e.g. in networks) etc.;
  • Develop abilities for documentation (which is part of the modern knowledge worker’s skillset);
  • Develop a strong questioning approach where you are constantly working on foresight, trend watching, complex tradeoff assessments etc.;
  • Role model documentation of the important aspects emerging from learning conversations, to stimulate a culture of intelligent documentation;
  • Assess how your documentation makes sense and what is required – and this is the art and science of documentation, to strike the balance between time inputs and learning/productivity outcomes…
Documentation as the next opportunity? See this 'Documentation Maturity Model' (Credits: Mark Fidelman / FlickR)

Documentation is an interesting KM opportunity for many people. See this ‘Documentation Maturity Model’ (Credits: Mark Fidelman / FlickR)

How do you approach documentation in your conversations?

Related blog posts:

Agile KM from ‘SMART goals’ to ‘practice SMARTS’


The game of knowledge management has changed.

Despite the definitions given to knowledge management (see this useful post by Stan Garfield – and my own definitions of knowledge and knowledge management), KM really is no longer about managing knowledge-related assets as a taxidermist. It certainly is no longer about databases and catch-all portals (despite some tendencies). It’s not even really about communities of practice anymore either (however great – and tricky – these are)…

Change from SMART goals to SMART practices (Credits: Simon Webster / FlickR)

Change from SMART goals to SMART practices (Credits: Simon Webster / FlickR)

Instead, KM now has to be agile – not like a prescribed Agile / Scrum / Kanban kind of way (though each methodology has useful ideas). No, it’s about being generally agile, a combination of resilient and innovative, ever-adaptive, embracing perpetual beta as Harold Jarche would put it.

It’s about being smart, individually, and smarter, collectively – or smartest as we develop healthy human systems.

But SMART here is not the same as the monitoring acronym standing for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

What I propose instead is to think of SMARTS as a practice code to turn useful habits into our behavioural identity and eventually let us all become a strong network node in our collective sense-making. The practices mentioned below can actually change our identity towards:

  • Speedy
  • Multi-purpose
  • Anticipating
  • Reflective
  • Trustworthy
  • Sharing and showing this approach together

Speedy is because we need to react quickly. Agile KM for collective SMARTS is about turning things around quickly, fast iterations, fast failure, fast improvement, reacting on the dot, not letting information go through the endless tunnels of polishing and editing to publishing perfection… It’s about quick & dirty for faster and stronger feedback loops and acting upon the opportunities right at the moment when they present themselves.

Multi-purpose because agile KM (and innovation) is not about reinventing the wheel – despite its occasional usefulness – but about applying and recombining existing bits. Reformatting for different channels (PC, mobile, tablets); versioning for different audiences based on the same raw information. And with multi-purpose comes multi-perspectives, the multiple knowledges that matter when dealing with complex problems as IKM-Emergent pointed out.

Anticipating change is the name of the game. Always being on the lookout for what is going to affect you next, what is going to create tradeoffs. Individually we must be aspirational in our decision to move somewhere, towards a certain direction and objective, and develop our pathway to get there. Collectively we must be inspirational for each other, modeling useful positive deviance and visioning a common future that looks brighter than the here and now. But remaining realistic as to where on our journey we are, and what obstacles lie ahead on the way. Anticipating is about visioning that pathway for a positive change, at all times.

Reflective is our modus operandi in the social age and the world of change. Not only to anticipate future changes, but also to absorb the maximum learning from what just happened, and generally to learn how to sail along pattern currents in the sea of change. Being reflective is about documenting the change affecting us personally and the ecosystem around us. And it moves to becoming increasingly reflexive, learning to reflect about our reflection, moving through learning loops

Being Trustworthy is an imperative in our individual quest to becoming ever better networked. Trust is the currency of the social age. How do you generate trust? Dave Pollard suggests it is developed at the junction of positive chemical/sensory signals, shared/appreciated world views and positive collaborative experiences. In the social SMARTS age, trust also happens through consistency, quality (of the stuff we develop or share) and authenticity.

Sharing and showing this approach with/to others is the final stage to make sure we are not just SMART ourselves, individually, but we develop our collective SMARTS as these human systems we hope to improve together – because we care. We are eminently social but that social nature still requires active, a sense of purposeconsistency and working on changing our habits and behaviour, so we don’t revel in the happy square of wishful thinkers – for others (I want YOU to change). And building habits together is easier, as every fitness starter knows. Our habits can start there.

As IBM would put it: let’s build a smarter planet together… also through agile KM practice SMARTS.

Let's build a smarter planet together (Credits: IBM)

Let’s build a smarter planet together (Credits: IBM)

Related blog posts

Experiential learning and the power of questions in motion (Ramblings and mumblings around…)


No focused post this week, too much is brewing in my mind. All possible walks of my professional life are in utmost effervescence or have just been put to a complete stop. A whirlwind of destructive-creative energy, and many ideas are seeping out of its trail. I am just walking forward with these ideas, shaping them up as I walk on.

So what is animating me?

How to pass on learning from experiences…

A great KM4Dev conversation, actually emerging from the combination of two different trails (which you can follow directly on the Dgroup if you are a member):

The SECI model keeps on raising eyebrows (Credits: UKEssays)

The SECI model keeps on raising eyebrows (Credits: UKEssays)

This is the great debate of combination-internalization vs. socialization-externalization. Or in other words: documenting and codifying vs. sharing and learning.

It also relates to a question I asked myself a while back: What is good in a project?

Before that, however, here’s one very interesting (f not really new) comment from one of the conversation participants:

How do you incorporate learning loops (that are not reports) in the projects you are engaged in? (Beverly Wenger-Trayner)

The difficulty of the debate on what to record vs. what to share in other ways relates to the complexity of tasks at hand: best practices can be highly codified in texts, documents, videos etc.; good practices can be listed; but appropriate practices for a given complex situation can only be explored as we move forward, sharpening our questions – putting our questions in motion. There is no giving guidelines on how to deal with it.

At the other end of that double-sided conversation, was the toolkit conversation, which also hints at the codification of practices to guide better practices. And here comes another insight from another conversation participant:

The learning step comes first, then choice of  toolkit follows – yes? Many toolkits don’t distinguish WHEN to use WHICH tool in a learning spiral. (Valerie Brown)

Yes: How to organize toolkits in a way that they can guide people through either simple, complicated or complex situations (arguably chaotic situations wouldn’t get dedicated toolkits – or would the)? There is certainly an opportunity to beef up all these existing and aspiring toolkits out there – some of which Nancy White started listing here.

And my final layer on this multi-idea multi-conversation multi-mulling process relates to the comfort of people with what is fix, fixed, static and aesthetic. The attraction of beautiful calm, still nature. I was recently talking to an acquaintance of mine who’s trying to help some organisation with knowledge management and that organisation seems to be focusing on having products (some would have the databases) like a knowledge management strategy, to feel secure on that front.

Where is the thread in all of this?

All these questions and reflections are quite interesting in themselves. But there is something more to them, that brings them together:

Experiential learning is a constantly challenging journey that brings us to meet people, co-create ideas, refine our frame of mind, our theories of change, our practices sometimes. And that experiential learning is faster, wider and/or deeper as more people join that journey (social learning), and as that journey is shaped by questions, not by answers.

The diverse perspectives and experiences between the people on that journey ineluctably lets questions arise, as bubbles of possible change that challenge the aesthetic fixed world we have created. The questions we engage in with others bring reflections of where our beautiful world is actually flawed and needs further work. Experiential learning is a journey of learning, of meeting, of change.

Learning is unrest. It requires people to let go of their security, to accept that their truth of yesterday may not be the one they wish to keep today. Some sort of transformation that is deeper in social learning (see this great framework for it below), which leads to the second relation… meeting.

Meeting people – not just superficially but really, deeply – puts you in a dynamic mode that helps you peel the layers of learning loops. Combined with learning it opens avenues for change.

Changing is agreeing – and showing – that you can actually rest with what previously caused your unrest. It is the journey to understanding that the beauty does not lie in a static picture, but in the beautiful choreography of change and transfiguration that people are going through. What is beautiful is their courage, and their resilience.

There is a point, however, in stopping from time to time that process of ‘learning and questioning in motion’ to look around. Contemplating the strong questions we have been pondering, taking our breath again before the next voyage of change is ignited. And sometimes these moments of respite are just another way to question things and trigger change but from another angle, as KMers navigating between fast flow and slow space. But the bottom line is: better be in motion, as it brings you in contact with others who help deepen or fasten your reflection of change. If you understand French you will appreciate the relation of all this with this quote…

Un intellectuel assis ira toujours moins loin qu’un con qui marche. (Michel Audiard)

And so there actually is a red thread in all of this: motion and contact, as the forces behind innovation. And the first step is to open your door, so people can see and meet you and open your mind, so other minds can see and meet you through it too.

Related blog posts:

A good idea for today and everyday: paraphrasing


Paraphrasing always had a negative connotation for my French ears. Like beating around the bush or repeating things without value.

I know a much better meaning now: it’s a cornerstone of listening and learning.

I’ve been in this wonderful course from Sam Kaner about facilitation and participatory decision making. Quality stuff! And one of the first skills we learnt was paraphrasing.

Paraphrase, mirror, mimic each other, create a connection and have fun! (Credits: Arnold Newman / Getty Images)

Paraphrase, mirror, mimic each other, create a connection and have fun! (Credits: Arnold Newman / Getty Images)

This technique is useful for events and any piece of work involving people conversing, in fact even for personal life.

Essentially it’s about interpreting what someone said to check we understood. Sometimes it’s just mirroring (repeating), sometimes drawing the person to say more, or even ask others t osay more about the same topic. Obvious you would think! All the more so as facilitators. Yes, I do it often,  but not systematically. And as Sam would say, you have to commit to it.

And yet how often have I really understood everyone’s point? How often have I taken things for granted? Time to change that and practice.

Paraphrasing is my new diet. And I’ve just learned again how humbling but refreshing learning is…

Feeling thankful…

PS. And with this post I’m ending the series of short daily posts. Not sure about the whole experiment…

 

From pervasive attention to purposeful intention (the rituals of learning)


The next learning step is everywhere. Curiosity and ritualised investigation accelerate these discoveries though (Credits: photonquantique / FlickR)

The next learning step is everywhere. Curiosity and ritualised investigation accelerate these discoveries though (Credits: photonquantique / FlickR)

This may be related to the anatomy of learning. I notice that we tend to learn in a pervasive way: as we go along we discover micro patterns. But we can, and should, put our attention to the next mile, the next thing we can improve. These micro patterns that come to our attention are an opportunity paving the way for new learning, as they reveal to us a new change that is possible.

Good minds put attention to small incremental changes. Great minds – with wisdom and humility – put moments or happenings into entire wider trajectories of change, based on a conscious, purposeful, intention.
Typically that’s also what great parents do with their children: they raise their attention to the intention behind an act, and explain the very reason why it’s good to celebrate a particular moment beyond just appreciating it. They ritualise that learning.

Raising our attention is hard enough; emphasising intentions of greater significance is even more subtle to get to. Yet it’s what makes learning more collective, more sticky – and what makes long lasting change more likely to happen.

Two examples of putting measures in place to mark the intention and ritualise learning:

  • Asking for each post you share: ‘why you should bother reading this’ – because (I) you’ve realised that otherwise the value may not be so clear to readers.
  • Stopping criticising only and rather wondering what we (I) can personally do to improve something we are criticising.

Easier said than done, but that’s why learning is the holy grail and why social (and triple loop) learning is so difficult.

Who is in for triple loop learning?


Learning is hard. Hard to understand, hard to apply, hard to make consistent, hard to apply and change behaviour.

Learning about learning is a lot harder.

So when someone starts talking about ‘double loop learning’, eyes start rolling out. And when ‘triple loop learning’ splashes in a conversation, it ends in a circle of silence baked out of disbelief, compassion and impatience mixed with utter confusion…

Thing is: Are there genuine instances of ‘triple loop learning’ we can point to? There’s enough written about the theory of triple-loop learning but exceedingly little about when (where and how) it happens.

I can however think of a couple of examples:

  • People working hand-in-hand with the people involved in a given initiative to understand and evaluate their learning about what they’re trying to do – like the IKM-Emergent programme evaluation approach perhaps.
  • A community that has managed to work with all stakeholders in and around it to actually self-organise and find its own ways of dealing with its own wicked problems – possibly this was one of the objectives of the Millennium Villages.

Now the question is: can this be funded (by global development actors)? So far, very little chance, it seems. High risk, low certainty, extreme degree of complexity and abstraction (to start with).

But it’s, at the same time, remarkable that we haven’t yet put more attention to this if we want to be more efficient, more effective, more sustainable, scaled up and out and about…

How long before one funding agency, or one collective of people with a strong sense of agency, finds the boldness to just start an initiative that puts triple loop learning front and centre?

How long can we afford to stay at the surface of complex problems? When it’s too late?

Politicians discussing global warming (Isaac Cordal)

Politicians discussing global warming (Isaac Cordal)

Knowledge management strategy development: Taking stock


Nothing like having your back to the wall to do some useful research.

Here I am, fishing for ideas on good communication and knowledge management strategies. I addressed how to develop a communication strategy a while back. And though I’ve shared some ideas on how I would go about a KM strategy, I haven’t really synthesised all the stuff I’ve found useful to do so through the years; so here’s some stock-taking exercise for resources dealing with designing and rolling out a knowledge management strategy.

How to develop a KM strategy? (Credits: UNU-ViE_SCIENTIA / FlickR)

How to develop a KM strategy? (Credits: UNU-ViE_SCIENTIA / FlickR)

Caveat: This is not a simple exercise, as most companies want to preciously hoard their information about this business-critical area of work. Case studies do exist a bit everywhere but this post doesn’t attempt at highlighting those in particular.

Caveat 2: Because it is not simple, and I didn’t get enough time to search thoroughly for all that might be out there, this will be a ‘living post': I will enrich it with other resources that I think should feature here. So, feel free to bring up your key readings on this :)

…or indeed videos (haven’t yet checked this Kana 5-video tutorial on KM strategies)…

KM4Dev conversations about KM strategies (Stock-taking on stock-taking)

A KM4Dev conversation (Credits: Westhill Knowledge)

A KM4Dev conversation (Credits: Westhill Knowledge)

As ever, the KM4Dev wiki is a gold mine of relevant information and as you might expect, KM4Devers have explored this topic more than once. So we have four waves of KM strategy conversations here, as well as some useful (quite recent) case studies at the end.

The four conversations cover:

  • How a 10-year vision about KM can be developed in an organisation
  • Where to start with a KM strategy
  • Using frameworks and getting started
  • The stealth approach in KM strategies

What’s useful: the attention to principles of action and the fact that this resource is quite easy to absorb and to implement as it has a good, concrete, summary section. An excellent starting point.

APQC’s resources on knowledge management strategy

APQC KM strategy chart

APQC’s interactive KM strategy framework

APQC have a lot of experience with KM and they are really interested in connecting with other people that work on or around KM (they incidentally interviewed me a couple of times about getting KM and comms accepted and valued and about developing a content management strategy that works across generations of workers (the second part of a two-piece series).

Their interactive KM strategy framework allows you to select a different phase of KM strategy development and zoom in on specific challenges and related posts, other writings or resources… So a good complement to the KM4Dev wiki. However here nothing is said about how you should go about it, but that’s because APQC, like quite a few other people mentioned here, makes a business out of advising you on KM too.

Josef Hofer-Alfeis KM master course (and module on KM strategy)

Josef Hofer-Alfeis

Josef Hofer-Alfeis

This series of 12 Powerpoint presentations might, at times, seem a bit dry to read  but it contains a wealth of advices regarding knowledge and knowledge management. The part 5 focuses on developing a knowledge and then a knowledge management strategy, looking also at how to measure KM successfully and how to launch your KM program.

There is perhaps nothing really brand new in this but the merit of this master course is to be quite comprehensive and to be transparent.

Designing a Successful KM Strategy (N. Milton & S. Barnes)

The recent book by Stephanie Barnes and Knoco’s Nick Milton is allegedly one of the best reads on this topic and is most likely selling fast too. I don’t like to promote pay-for resources so much, that’s why I’m keeping this for the end of this selection.

Designing a successful KM strategy

Designing a successful KM strategy

The reason why this features here – and before I have even read the book myself (though I ordered it) is that Nick Milton has been blogging very regularly the past few years, and very regularly about some very good stuff. So do check his blog.

The points that I like about his approach to KM strategy include among others: Pilots, change management (not just KM), attention to facilitation as part of the skill set of a knowledge manager, guerrilla strategy, attention to principles and key knowledge areas, in addition to the standard stuff you can find in other resources mentioned here.

The tip of the iceberg: tentative first steps in cross-organisational comparison of knowledge management in development organisations

What we think about with KM strategies is sometimes just the tip of what needs to be taken care of (Credits: Infertilegirlinafertileworld)

What we think about with KM strategies is sometimes just the tip of what needs to be taken care of (Credits: Infertilegirlinafertileworld)

Sarah Cummings and I wrote this overview of KM strategies a few years back. Although dated (2009) this comparison draws a few conclusions that are relevant regardless of the KM strategy context:

  • Four pointers to make decisions: the complexity of the organisation (or network etc.), strategic orientation (navel-gazing or outward-focused), learning phase in the strategy development and reference framework;
  • Four elements of a KM strategy: scope, approach, tools/practices, monitoring and evaluation…

The link above leads to the pay-for version of the full text article on the Taylor & Francis website but you can also request it to me here as it has become public access and will soon be moved to the Open Access platform of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal.

What about agile KM then?

Now, if I’m true to my own model of KM=CDL, I would end this stock-taking exercise by wondering how a KM strategy addresses a) cultivating conversations, b) documenting these and other experiences and c) stimulating action-focused learning, and this at organisational level but with a strong inclination to connect with individual level and (inter)institutional level. But that is too much at this stage, so more matter for another post.

You can see more resources in my bookmarks on KM strategy and as mentioned above I’ll keep on updating this so watch this space!

Related blog posts:

And of course all other ‘stock-taking’ posts

“Get me trained and I’ll become a superhero!” I mean, come on…


A short post, for an idea that is not really new in my (mind)world: Training is great. But it won’t give you the superpowers you were expecting…

Where do people get this idea from? Even in my close surrounding people believe training is the surest way to become someone else, and I see countless CVs that display a sometimes endless list of training courses like a proud badge of capacity. Like: Training transformed me into a superhero!

Become a superhero with training? Errrrm.... (Credits: MindMappingSoftware)

Become a superhero with training? Errrrm…. (Credits: MindMappingSoftware)

I don’t deny that training:

  • Can bring critical new information and skills;
  • Challenges your thinking about some theories and practices that you may not have been exposed to;
  • (If done well) Puts you in concrete situations where you have to show and encourage new behaviours.
  • … and probably a few more benefits…

But on the downside:

  • How many training courses are actually designed around your context, your issues, your needs and opportunities?
  • How many training courses pay attention to how you will apply the new information and skills in your work tomorrow, next week, next year?
  • As a result, what is the likelihood that you apply new information and skills in your day-to-day work (unless you have the capacity/authority and discipline to enforce this? We already know how difficult it is to change.
  • How likely is it that you change your behaviour as a result of training? Some psychological research argues it takes (a minimum of) 21 days to change a major behaviour. Well, how many 4-week (20 working days) training courses have you gone on?
  • How likely are you to change that behaviour if you don’t have a practice of reflection about your ongoing work and naturally try to accommodate the new skills and information in your natural ecosystem and routines?
Training goes back to way back when and yet it feels to me as likely to be a fit as playing bilboquet (cup and ball) guarantees... (Credits: Noël Tortajada / Rita Productions)

Training goes back to way back when and yet it feels to me as likely to be a fit as playing bilboquet (cup and ball) guarantees… (Credits: Noël Tortajada / Rita Productions)

This is why in KM there is much more emphasis put on coaching, mentoring and communities of practice, on ‘learning on the job’ for continuous learning than on sheer training. And though that idea has been critiqued, if not criticised, I believe much more in the idea of 10000 hours of practice, and better still: 10000 hours of action learning.

So: training? Yes! But make sure it’s adapted to you, prepare yourself to putting the training insights into your context… and just don’t put all your eggs into the training basket…

I’m just sayin’…

And for whatever it’s worth, if you consider training, you might look at how to calculate return on investment. If anything, it just shows how complex it is to have training lead to value and impact.

Related blog posts:

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

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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’.

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