E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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How to Organise a Children’s Party – On Simplyfing Business Processes

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & SurroundingsThere are plenty of people out there whom I continue to admire and respect a great deal over the course of the years; especially, those folks in the areas of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities, Learning and Social Computing. And, certainly, plenty of others in the last couple of years, too!

I am sure most of them do not know it, but through their insightful writing, their always interesting podcasts, their truly inspiring presentations at conference events, their timeless engaging, and equally fascinating, conversations when you meet them face to face, in short, through their sempiternal willingness to share with others what they know, has pretty much shaped who I am today.

They are the ones who initially talked to me about something called Knowledge Management. They were the ones who told me to get involved with it around 2000 to 2001, indicating how it is probably one of those disciplines that will be difficult to bore you at any given point in time. They were the ones who told me that there would be a number of different "comings" of KM, each of them presenting new opportunities, as well as challenges, but always worthwhile exploring. Therefore making it always worth while engaging with …

They are, in short, the group of people, who, over the years, have become, probably without them even knowing it altogether!, my KM mentors. And, for that, I would always be eternally grateful, because most of what I know originates from each and every one of them. And that’s just a tiny fraction of the knowledge that I have been getting exposed to myself! Sometimes I wish I just could move fast enough to keep up with their thinking… I bet you know what I mean.

One of those folks is KM extraordinaire, and good friend, Dave Snowden. He is probably one of the KM fathers, already deeply immersed in that field way before most folks were probably even thinking about KM itself a few years back. Dave has got one of the most insightful and very thought provoking KM blogs you can find out there on the Internet blogosphere (Highly recommended to subscribed to, if you haven’t done so already). One of those blogs with plenty of juicy meat to digest; in fact, one of those blogs whose many articles will shake, pretty badly, plenty of the key, and fundamental, business procedures that we have been using for decades, amongst several other key business areas.

And, every now and then, he does some stellar video appearances that are really worthwhile watching every single second of it. So, today I thought I will blog about one of those short video clips he has participated in. Be prepared to have your business world shaking a little bit. Because it will.

It all starts with a rather innocent, inoffensive title: "How to organise a children’s party (Based on the nature of systems)". From there onwards, Dave asks us all to imagine what it would be like organising a party for 11-year-olds based on three basic types of systems:

  • "Chaotic Systems
  • Ordered Systems
  • Complex Systems"

I’m not going to say much more from there onwards. The rest is just pure genius. I will just ask you to watch through the nearly three minutes that the video lasts, and which I have shared the embedded version below:

(Welcome back!) They say that one of the key mantras from social software is simplicity. Yet, if you have watched the video, it looks like the business, and, in particular, plenty of business processes, are far from being simple and relatively easy to execute. Dave nails it, rather nicely, in my opinion; it’s all about one of the main challenges from social computing within the enterprise: shape up business processes, sorting out all of the nonsense behind their complexity, and get down to basics: get the job done without wasting time trying to figure out how this or that business process really works, specially, when, in most cases, most people don’t know much about it/them. Sadly.

My good friend, the always inspiring and talented Rob Paterson (Another amazing worth while following blogger!), described it quite nicely with these very accurate questions: "Did you cringe when he reminded us of how we usually plan? Did it make sense to be sensible?". I guess that social software has got plenty of challenges within the corporate environment, as the video clearly illustrates. But perhaps there is one above them all that could certainly highlight whether we are in the right direction or not towards embracing it within the corporate world. And, that to me, is the one about how social software will eventually help us simplify most of our already-too-complex-to-handle-properly business processes.

It is a tough challenge, I know, I do realise about it. Yet, it’s probably the one that has got the most promise, because it is the one with the largest amount of work to be done, with plenty of room for improvement on our day to day business procedures. Because, after all, who wouldn’t want to have the best children’s party, right?

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  1. Thanks for the post. How capably this is presented and succinctly the key points are made. The ability to articulate an irreducible minimum that’s still of value to the naive, is seldom experienced.

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