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

Knowledge Management

Social Networks – Knowledge Management Done Right

A few days back you would remember how I was providing in a few lines some more information about what IBM is doing in the areas of Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Communities. And while that particular weblog post would provide you with some good details, I thought I would also point out to you a number of different weblog posts that may be even much more representative than anything else in the recent past.

It all originates with the recent event hosted by IBM Corp’s Lotus Software division and for which you can read all about it over at IBM Sets Its Sights on Social Networking Tools. As you will be able to see, there have been quite a few people who have been sharing their experiences about the event itself and from which you will be able to learn a great deal not only about what the event itself was like but also about what IBM is doing in the area of Knowledge Management and how it is slowly but steady changing its traditional way of dealing with Knowledge.

I particularly recommend you have a look into David Weinberger‘s IBM shows del.icio.us for the enterprise, and more (Including the different comments), Mike Gotta’s IBM: Future Of Social Networks, Bill Ives‘ several weblog posts on the subject (IBM’s Social Software Initiatives: Blogs, Wikis, Tagging, and More – Part One, IBM’s Social Software Initiatives: Blogs, Wikis, Tagging, and More – Part Two- External Applications and IBM’s Social Software Initiatives: Blogs, Wikis, Tagging, and More – Part Three- Internal Applications), and, finally, my fellow IBMer, and avid weblogger, Irving Wladawsky-Berger on Social Networks – Knowledge Management Done Right.

I know that the above reading list may be a bit too much information for one go, but one thing for sure that I can comment on is that each of those weblog posts is a must-read if you would want to know what IBM is doing around the world of Knowledge Management from the perspective of communities, collaboration and social networking.

The interesting thing though from all of the above reading is that this is something that although it may well be relatively new it is actually not the case. What is happening right now is that there is a whole lot more hype around that new wave of Knowledge Management. But all along it has been there already for quite some time now. Check out Irving’s comments on this subject to get a good notion of where we are:

” . . .[social networks] play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.”  These were very much the objectives of knowledge management systems, which never achieved much success in the past because they were so cumbersome to use.  I think of social networking as knowledge management done right, with the Internet essentially becoming a very effective social networking platform supporting a wide variety of tools.”

I am not sure what you would think, folks, but, after reading that, it all sounds to me like the good old Personal Knowledge Management. Indeed, Irving’s comments of what KM used to be are right spot on, and why it may not have succeed as well as it should from the very beginning. But then again everybody knows that knowledge can only be shared on a local, and more compromised, way, which is something that KM did not succeed with in the past but that it is starting to make some more sense now. Why ? Mainly because with all these new social networking tools out there every single person can become an efficient (And an effective) Knowledge Worker and therefore will share their knowledge in a much more personal and committed way, that is, Personal Knowledge Management at its best. And all that is what will make it stick around for a long while, like Bill Ives mentions in IBM Sets Its Sights on Social Networking Tools:

“Blogs and wikis have the opposite effect of keeping unique ideas down, and may even inspire people to try harder at their jobs based on the (increased visibility) of their work,”

It is that commitment to make things work just in the right way for all those knowledge workers that will help push KM’s limits far off to where it should have gone from the very first beginning. But I guess it is always better late than never. Either way, if you have been reading all the different references above you will now see how IBM is trying to make its way further into that Personal Knowledge Management system so that now we have got the right tools in place (Wikis, weblogs, social bookmarking tools, context search, etc. etc.) it would be easier to manage our own assets and intellectual capital and share it with one another.

Thus stay tuned for some further updates, as I am planning to weblog about all this with much more detail as we go on. Including some further descriptions of most of the IBM tools that have been mentioned elsewhere in the above referenced weblog posts.

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Content Management Taken to the Extreme ?

That is exactly what I thought about, folks, as soon as I read about the recent announcement on ZDNet (Google touts new features in desktop tool) on the latest release of Google Desktop Search version 2.

Say, for instance, that you have got a whole bunch of e-mails, IM conversations, presentations, word processing documents, local Lotus Notes databases, PDF files and a whole bunch of other stuff that you have been accumulating for quite some time now. I am sure that you would agree that in most cases it would probably take you quite some time to search for what you were looking for. And in such an on demand world as today I doubt we would be able to afford having to spend hours and hours searching for your own content, without even going into the Internet to get some more.

In a world where we may be working with a number of disperse team members, having always access to the right information at the right time and in the right context  (Does that ring a bell ?) could become key towards the success of that interaction. That exchange of knowledge and information cannot longer reside on waiting for ages to find the documents you need. That is something from the past. Managing your content has now become much easier than ever before. And therefore people have got the opportunity to focus more on collaborating with others and sharing knowledge than just search for their own information.

And this is the case where Google Desktop Search version 2 comes into place. I know that there are other different options out there like Copernic Desktop Search or Blinkx, to mention a couple of them, and they may be even better than Google’s option. In fact, I have been trying Copernic’s and Blinkx’s offerings and I have been quite content with them for a long while now. However, ever since I decided to take Google Desktop Search version 2 for a spin I haven’t looked back. It provides me with all I need to continue working with my teams in such a way that information is available right away as we speak and in front of my screen. That on demand thing strikes again ! And instead of having to figure out where the information is stored I can just get it right on the spot with a relatively simple search query.

But the tipping point that made never go back from GDSv2 is the fact with this newest version it allows me to index all of the different file types from the commonest applications I use on a daily basis plus all my local Lotus Notes databases, too ! Which is just all I need to be able to manage my content in a seamless way and with me always in control.

So whoever else out there was saying they cannot longer manage the information they have stored in their computers I guess it would be a good option to give a try to Google Desktop Search version 2. It may work for you, or it may not work. One thing for sure is that “Knowledge is Power” and now you are in control of that power. So go and use it !

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Blogging Means Business

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

You have probably seen this already, as it was published during the course of yesterday, but, just in case, you may not have seen it yet, over at IBM – On Demand Business there is a very interesting article about an interview with both IBM executives Harriet Pearson and Willy Chiu around the topic of weblogs: Blogging Means Business.

There have been a couple of people already weblogging on the topic, including BL Ochman and Neville Hobson, and I have just watched and listened to the interview and I can seriously recommend it to anybody who feels that corporate weblogging is not as important and key as they may have expected. Certainly, after you have watched and listened to the interview your opinion about weblogs will be different. I am sure. Both Harriet and Willy have always been inspiring enough to deliver very powerful messages and this time around they have done it again. Just to give you a quick excerpt of what they both talked about in Blogging Means Business here you have got a couple of random thoughts taken out of the interview about what weblogging means for IBM:

Weblogs is all about sharing expertise, building (And maintaining) a connection between different people with similar interests. A key element though is to keep on listening ! Listening to people who have got something to say about you, your product, your company, you name it. You cannot longer ignore the weblogging phenomenon. Yes, indeed, this is something that I have been mentioning myself for quite some time now.

Weblogs is all about how open do you want your company to be as you will be communicating with the whole world, whether you have an Intranet or an Internet weblog. Having weblogs will create customer loyalty, they will speed up innovation, team and different collaborative services. In short, “Weblogging is the glue that brings all the experts together within the company”, and beyond.

Lots of good information out there, indeed, folks, including as well some statistics on the number of IBM internal weblogs. A must watch if you are planning to get into weblogs, but do not know enough on how to get things going, as another powerful enabler to encourage people to collaborate and share knowledge with one another in a much more intuitive and direct way.

Thus with all that said I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank both Willy and Harriet for taking the initiative to show how committed IBM is to weblogging. And as far as the credibility from both Harriet and Willy is concerned, since they do not have an external weblog (Yet), I can only say that having one of the first Intranet weblogs myself I have always found their own internal weblogs very inspiring about what the whole phenomenon of weblogging is all about. I am sure that sooner or later, at one point or another, they will dive into creating their own external weblogs and continue delivering those key messages on how beneficial weblogging can be for any company who wants to be open. So stay tuned !

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Harnessing Your Interstitial Time

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

Over time, you always have got a tendency to get the same types of questions over and over again. Yet, for some of them there are easier ways of finding a solution than for others where it would require some substantial work. Funny thing is that those recurring questions seem to be slightly more complicated every time they come up. And this is what has been happening to me over the last few months. Lots and lots of people have been asking me over and over again how they can go ahead and share their knowledge and collaborate with their peers when they are busy doing something else working on the different projects they may be involved with. The complicated item in here as well is the situation were lots of people think that sharing knowledge is a hardworking activity that would require substantial amount of time and therefore some people think that sharing knowledge is just not worth their time and effort. Boy, are they just so wrong or what?

Sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers is just an activity you engage with just whenever you have got some free time for it, not when somebody tells you to do so. Sharing knowledge cannot be imposed on anyone, no matter what people say, and cannot be rewarded or incentivised like it is happening in most cases all over the place. Instead, sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers needs to be encouraged and promoted as an ad-hoc activity for those spare or idle moments in between much more complicated activities. And since lots of people keep on asking me how to get engaged in such a way where they could share their knowledge with little effort but still getting the most out of the experience I just advise them to check out the following weblog post from 43folders: Harnessing your interstitial time.

Harnessing your interstitial time is probably one of the best reads I have come across in months as it clearly puts together a very strong and clear message as to what Knowledge Management and collaboration is all about. It is not about writing long essays or books or updating websites with some large content or when creating lengthy weblog posts that would take ages for people to digest. It is more about spending some time on those idle moments, where nothing seems to be happening while we wait for things to take place, when we can take the most advantage for knowledge sharing and collaboration. That is when the inspiration and the motivation would come up to share some knowledge with your colleagues. The key thing from Harnessing your interstitial time is that it brings forward a message that anybody can do apply successfully Knowledge Management principles about sharing knowledge and collaborating with others who may need to know or be aware of what is happening.

And as you can read from the weblog post there are tons of ideas for short activities to get engage with in order to share knowledge with others. Sometimes a simple phone call, or an e-mail, or an IM / VoIP conversation with others would be more than enough to get the ball rolling and start sharing for the benefit of the group. And this is what 43folders has put together very nicely. A good listing of impressive tips with which nobody can say there is any longer an excuse to share knowledge with your peers, since we are all having lots of idle moments during the course of the day, and yet we do not get anything done during those time lapses. Well, maybe we should do something now, maybe we should start taking much more seriously Knowledge Management and encourage folks that the benefits of knowledge sharing and collaboration are much more rewarding than working in your own silo without looking any further. And on top of that you can do it in a much shorter time than you thought. Or not ? Thus are you harnessing your interstitial time well enough or are you thinking that those idle moments are still unproductive and you are just as fine with that? I guess you decide but let me tell you how easy it is just to make things work and share that knowledge with others. You just need to dive in for a few minutes and off you go. You have done your work and have made it work for others. Knowledge Management in its purest form: sharing knowledge whenever you want with whoever you want in the time span you decide it is best for everyone and without having any restrictions on the nature of the amount of time spent.

I tell you, folks, if you are looking for an inspirational weblog post to help improve the productivity of your colleagues by helping them share their knowledge and expertise I doubt there is a simpler, yet so much more effective, way of achieving this than 43Folder’s Harnessing your interstitial time.

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IBM Launches ”Transition to Teaching” Program

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I know that a few of my IBM colleagues have been weblogging about this topic very recently, and quite a few other folks, too, and also that there are tons of news web sites reporting on this very same item all over the place. However, and being myself an (English) teacher I just couldn’t help commenting on it as well. Indeed, I am talking about IBM Launches ”Transition to Teaching” Program. After having read that article over the weekend, amongst all of the other news web sites and weblog posts, I just couldn’t help but feel proud that there is one big company, the one I happen to work for, that cares more about the future than the present. The fact that IBM is encouraging its employees to become teachers of the workers of tomorrow is just something that not many companies can show off about.

I know I would have loved to be able to have met all the prerequisites to become one of those IBMers who ended up as a teacher, but alas out of the different prerequisites I may just comply with a couple of them, plus the fact that I do not live in the US, obviously. I have always been thinking what it would be like to go back to teaching after 10 years being away from it. I still have got that urge that teachers do have (You can never get rid of it) about wanting to make a difference with the students of today and the rulers of tomorrow’s world. And that is why I take my pride with IBM for being the first large corporation on its way into making a difference now that will pay off in a few years. There are very few things that could make me feel so excited at this new initiative and I do seriously hope that it is a great success and that it gets extended into other countries where I am sure that there is a need for some teachers.

I shall be looking forward to further announcements and developments and see how things will develop. One thing for sure is that whoever thought that IBM was no longer making a difference should think about it twice. IBM has, once again, proved that sometimes life it is not just about business, making money, lots of money, and so forth. Sometimes it is just reaching out and touching the world to make it a better place. And I just wished there would be others who would act the same way. Kudos to you, IBM ! We will be very grateful to you in the years to come !

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Why Knowledge Management Is So Important

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

Last week Thursday I shared over at my Intranet weblog a post about what I think is one of the best articles regarding what Knowledge Management is all about in the recent years. A constant reminder of what we, Knowledge Workers, should be striving for when being faced with business leaders who want to try to implement successfully a so-called Knowledge Management strategy.

The article itself, of course, comes from Dave Pollard’s weblog and it is titled Why Knowledge Management is So Important. And as I said before there is no other article so clear and so strong in providing the right messages about what Knowledge Management is all about. Throughout the article you will get a chance to see an interesting comparison between what business leaders do and what KM leaders dealing with KM do. Interesting comparison, indeed, more than anything else because it places people, business and KM leaders alike, in their right spot to try to get the most out of KM: business leaders should dedicate their time to lead the business whereas KM leaders should be left alone to adopt and implement a successful KM strategy.

At the same time, and throughout the article, you will also get to read some really good hard facts about what would happen if KM continues to lose its focus in the current business environment and how refocusing in most of those items back again will bring back KM into playing a crucial role for the course of this century: the business transformation from a labour based model to an asset based model.

Thus if you ever want to know what Knowledge Management is all about and, specially what KM is not, then I would highly recommend you have a look into Why Knowledge Management is So Important. A must-read for sure.

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