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

Knowledge Management

Identity 2.0 – Identity Is Really Reputation

Continuing further with the topic of Team-Building Key for the Virtual WorkPlace and touching specifically on the topic of trust I thought I would share with you, folks, one of those presentations that after you watch it it makes you think about the subject presented in a new and refreshing way and certainly will not leave you static any longer.

You may have watched it already if you have been browsing around for a little while but, just in case you may not have, take a look into Identity 2.0, a powerful and refreshing presentation provided by Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxip.

What I mean with “powerful and refreshing” is not just related to his compelling way of delivering a very strong message, which I am sure you will all agree with, but more on the implications put together on virtual trust in general for whatever conversations you are involved with through web services and with your virtual and distributed teams. Certainly, as Web 2.0 becomes more prominent and relevant we shall see how it all turns out to be, but I, for one, am glad to see how trust will continue to be taken seriously as the Web redefines itself, once again.

As I said, if you haven’t taken a look into the presentation, and if you can spare 15 minutes, which is what it will take you to go through it, I would strongly suggest you have a look, because it will certainly make you think twice next time you identify yourself on the Internet or you come to interact and collaborate with your colleagues remotely.

Technorati Tags : Team+Building, Virtual+Teams, Trust+Building

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Team-building Key for Virtual Workplace

Not long ago I created a couple of weblog posts around the topic of virtual teams and how to make them much more productive while sharing knowledge and collaborating with one another without having a significant impact in their performance. Back then, I mentioned how trust and fun can certainly improve things to help those distributed teams become much more efficient and effective while performing a specific job. However, that may not be good enough.

At least, that is what the article, by Mike Dempster, describes in Team-building key for virtual workplace, based on a recent research study done by Darleen DeRosa. Apparently, companies are not paying enough attention on how to improve the way distributed team members work and interact with one another, as opposed to those who work face to face. In fact, Darleen actually identifies seven different key areas that would require certain consideration in order to help improve where there may be some issues:

  • “Companies must compensate for the lack of human contact, and find appropriate ways to support team spirit, trust and productivity.
  • Leaders must be especially sensitive to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors.
  • No trust, no team. Trust is a top factor in determining virtual team success. But interpersonal trust, compared to task-level trust (a faith that team members will do their job) is more difficult to achieve in a virtual environment.
  • Team building pays off. Virtual teams that invest time in team building perform better than those that don’t.
  • Team performance tends to drop off after one year. Attention must be paid to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors to prevent a “peak-and-decline” syndrome.
  • Technology makes virtual teaming possible, but isn’t a perfect substitute for human interaction. Teams must be careful to use the appropriate technology for various tasks.
  • While meeting in person requires time and expense, virtual teams that meet once or twice a year perform better overall than those that don’t meet.”
  • I am sure that as you read through them you may be nodding to more than one particular key area and that is something that will certainly show how your virtual team may need to do some more work in order to bring collaboration and knowledge sharing to where it should have been in the first place. So, that is why I thought about creating a weblog post on this subject so that you could have a look into the article itself because there are some really good tips that virtual team leaders can take into practice to make sure that those distributed teams will continue to collaborate the way face to face teams currently do, if not better.

    There are some additional comments as well in the article itself from people who were interviewed for the research that will clearly show why some of those results have been important for the well being of those specific virtual teams. And that is why later on, over the next few days, I will also be creating another weblog post to comment further on those key areas mentioned above and also to share a thought or two around the different comments posted as part of the study. For the time being read through the article because I am sure you would be able to learn a thing or two on how to improve the way you interact with your distributed team(s). Or, even better, you may want to use it as a reference on the different items you may have been working on already with your virtual team(s).

    Technorati Tags : Team+Building, Virtual+Teams, Social+Capital, Trust+Building

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    Opinmind – Discovering Bloggers

    Some time ago you would remember how I created a weblog post that mentioned how Google was finally entering the weblogging search world with Google Blog Search and how it apparently seemed to be just another search engine for weblogs, like many others.

    Well, here we go with something completely new and refreshing. Given the fact that everything that takes place in the Blogosphere has got to do with conversations, you may be interested in, yet again, another Beta offering called Opinmind. Here is a short description of what it does, taken from its homepage:

    “Find people that are interested in the things that interest you. Opinmind collects the opinions of bloggers all over the world on every subject imaginable. […] Currently tracking 14,000,000+ opinions of 1,700,000+ bloggers”

    Despite the powerful features displayed it looks like this new offering has not been picked just yet by the larger Blogosphere, since only a few folks have been talking about it so far, as can be seen in Technorati, but this new web site seems to provide some unique features that would help people find further information details about conversations and opinions that may be taking place out there, whether they are positive or negative. Another great feature from Opinmind is that it has got a sentimeter that measures the positive against the negative opinions in a graphical way so you can get instant feedback about the types of conversations returned back to you.

    Finally, one of the other key features from Opinmind is the fact that it allows you to put together two different terms and compare one against the other, as you are able to see over at the Opinmind weblog. So as you can see lots of interesting options and features to play around with in order to get involved in the conversations and much more interestingly you are also able to add your own weblog address if you do not find any results from your own resources, like your own weblogs, as part of the search results.

    Yes, I know, it is another search engine, like many of the others, but, at least, this time around it is going to be much easier to make a connection with multiple conversations and only a single click away from you. And that is a powerful feature, specially for those folks who want to engage themselves with other webloggers and wouldn’t know necessarily where to start. What a great way of encouraging collaboration and sharing of knowledge amongst other folks who share a common interest, rather positive or negative, by just using a simple search user interface ! A must-have bookmark, for sure !

    Technorati Tags : Metablogging, Opinmind

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    Virtual Teams – Establishing Trust Is Key to Successful Teamwork

    Yesterday I created a weblog entry where I mentioned how crucial it is for teams and communities to realise the true power of both humour (having fun at work) and trust, specially, next to social capital, in order to create and sustain a healthy working environment for everyone to collaborate successfully with one another.

    So with all that said and talking further about powerful ways of building up your trust and social capital skills in a distributed or virtual team I thought you folks would find the following article quite an interesting read: Virtual Teams – Establishing Trust Is Key to Successful Teamwork. Probably one of the best reads there is that will show you how you can continue nurturing those trust and social capital skills based on three different questions:

  • Do you have anything to offer me ? (Value): Which clearly shows why it is good to have your own weblog, whether on the Internet or on the Intranet. Or, at least, having your own web presence, including instant messaging / VoIP.
  • Can I count on you? (Commitment): Which deals with how you can make use of meeting people’s expectations to help you build up trust with your peers.
  • Will you get it straight? (Thoroughness) Which covers the always difficult topic of being the one in control of the situation all the time and the potential consequences of failing to do that.

    As I said, if you are looking for a great article on how you can make the most out of building and nurturing your trust and social capital skills I can certainly recommend Virtual Teams – Establishing Trust Is Key to Successful Teamwork, or, even better, the actual report from where that article originates: Trust Building by Peter Andrews. A must-read for sure.

  • Technorati Tags : Team+Building, Virtual+Teams, Social+Capital, Trust+Building

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    Team Building Humor Strengthens a Team Identity or Spirit

    One of the things that the web has got to offer is the possibility of bumping into different interesting articles that certainly provide some thought-provoking insights about team work and collaboration worth while going through several times to digest them. That is what happens with articles such as this one: Team Building Humor Strengthens a Team Identity or Spirit.

    The article itself provides you with a very good overview on how humour, basically, having fun, can be a crucial success factor for teams to get together and work more efficiently and effectively, specially when they are distributed across different geographies and timezones. It is widely known and acknowledged how having fun while at work can increase productivity not only from an individual perspective but also from a team / community perspective. And certainly Team Building Humor Strengthens a Team Identity or Spirit just confirms that.

    In fact, I am sure that as you get busy reading the article you will be nodding a number of times thinking how accurate its contents are. Specially with quotes like these:

    “Humor is a powerful tool in building more cohesive groups.”

    or

    “A successful team must be flexible, and must know how to reduce the tension that results from conflicting ideas about how to deal with a problem”

    However, and with all that said, the most interesting part of the article itself is the section titled: How Humor Creates Winning Teams where you will see listed a number of different items to take into account in order to help teams / communities become much more focused on collaborating effectively. Here is a quick drop down of those items:

  • Removal of Barriers that Separate Management from Other Employees
  • Emotional Bonding
  • Open Communication
  • Trust
  • Improved Morale
  • Reduced Job Stress
  • Increased Creativity

    You can read some more about each of them in the article itself. But from the list itself I think that perhaps the most fundamental success factor for teams and communities to collaborate is trust, because without it any group would not have the right common background to grow further and collaborate with one another. Teams / communities that do not have an environment based on trust would certainly have things much more complicated. And although they may eventually succeed in getting things done in the end that collaboration will break at some point. So although humour may be a key success factor for collaborating amongst virtual teams / communities it is trust that needs to be fostered and encouraged throughout. And the easiest and most effective way of nurturing trust amongst peers is through social capital. Thus if you are ever getting involved in collaborating and working together with a team make sure that social capital is an integral part of the core activities of the team / community and the rest will flow naturally.

  • Technorati Tags : Team+Building, Virtual+Teams, Social+Capital

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    Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) – An Update

    After the weblog post I shared a couple of days ago on Social Networks – Knowledge Management Done Right I thought you might be interested in another post around the same subject (Personal Knowledge Management) that Dave Pollard (Author as well of Why Knowledge Management Is So Important) shared yesterday: Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) – An Update.

    This is, yet again, another superb weblog post that will certainly provide you with some good insights about that relatively new Knowledge Management approach where knowledge is shared locally and there is a much more profound commitment from the knowledge worker to produce some more quality materials than ever before and share it with their peers. However, with all that said I thought about including a couple of interesting, and thought provoking, quotes from Dave’s weblog post:

    “The old model, which we pursued from 1994-2004, is focused on content and collection — the acquisition, organization & aggregation, storage and dissemination of content under organization-wide taxonomies using customized tools and containers, just-in-case it might be reusable. The new PKM model, which we believe will replace it, is focused on context and connection — connecting to the right people just-in-time, canvassing them to gain their knowledge and advice in the context of a particular business problem or pursuit, synthesizing that knowledge and applying it to the issue at hand […]”

    Indeed, I couldn’t have agreed more with that particular quote and that is why I have always felt very strong about how crucial the role of communities (whether they are physical or virtual communities) will become over time when people start realising that they can get to share so much more knowledge within a community than just as an individual. To start with it will make things easier to establish those connections that Dave mentions and in most cases in almost real-time, regardless of how disperse the community members may be. With the current set of collaboration tools out there it has never been easier sharing and managing content in a community space by allowing each of the community members to take ownership of their own contributions and conversations.

    “[…] KM as a means of improving productivity, capitalizing on the best available knowledge and experience, tapping the collective wisdom of employees and customers, facilitating more robust collaboration, improving the quality of decisions and enhancing agility and innovation […]”

    That collective wisdom certainly would be the one from the communities that the knowledge workers may belong to and as such you can already see how those communities would be the invigorating organisms that will foster collaboration to share knowledge and to learn from one another. Yes, indeed, a successful Personal Knowledge Management approach will have to be based on the key role played by communities where community members may find their own individual space to collaborate but at the same time still feel part of the larger entity.

    Further on in Dave’s weblog post you will be able to read with much more detail how he describes the key four different components that PKM is made of. So you may want to have a look and read further on those:

    • Know-How Canvassing & Connection
    • Know-How Harvesting
    • Personal Content Management
    • Personal Productivity Improvement

    And after finishing off that reading you will probably understand now why this relatively new wave of tools for collaboration in the enterprise, like Weblogs, Wikis, IM, VoIP, Web presence, Flickr, etc. are grabbing a stronger focus by the day. People are starting to realise that sharing knowledge with others and learning from one another is a personal and a more localised exercise than ever before, and the fact that there are both individual and community tools put together out there that certainly help effortlessly to promote that new approach to KM could make it all work out just fine. Just fine !

    Technorati Tags : Personal Knowledge Management, PKM, KM, Communities, Collaboration, Social Networking

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