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

Knowledge Management

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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Narrative Techniques for Leaders – October 7 2005 – UK

(Migrated weblog post from LSR) This is the first weblog post from a new category I created just a few minutes ago and which will try to capture something that I have always found very interesting at the same time that enlightening. And that is the attendance to different conference events. Call them conferences, workshops, seminars, webinars, online meetings / events, you name it. So in this category I will try to detail different conference events for which I have an additional interest in rather attending or knowing something more about them. Obviously, these conference events would have something to do with Learning & Knowledge, (Remote) Collaboration, Communities and Communitybuilding, Social Networking, etc. etc. There isn’t anything so unique as to be able to weblog live events that are taking place at the same time that you are participating in them so I am hoping that as I may get my chance to travel to different places I would be able to detail some of that. However, and since that travelling may not be taking place as often as I would like it to be I still have got an additional interest for different events. Which is also why I am going to be asking to my weblog readers to participate and chime in and share with me what their experience(s) have been to different common interest related events. Take, for example, Narrative techniques for leaders : Mastering transformational leadership through the use of narrative. Masterclass to be held in the UK on the 7th of October and event that I will not be able to make although I would be interested in getting to know some more about how it went. About a couple of years back I attended a similar masterclass provided by Dave Snowden and I thoroughly enjoyed the powerful messages on how important storytelling is for any Knowledge Management organisation in order to try to inspire a much more powerful and rewarding knowledge sharing culture. This year’s masterclass will be provided by Dave Snowden again and Steve Denning and after reading the agenda I think it would be as equally useful, if not, as in previous years. So from here I would ask anybody out there who may be reading of elsua and planning to attend this event to let us know how it all went and what new exciting things are happening around the world of storytelling and its different narrative techniques. Here you have got some further details from the event from Steve Denning’s web site. I look forward to reading some more from you all.

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The Role of Instant Messaging in Communities

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

While I was writing the previous weblog post on Wanting to Manage Tacit Knowledge? I popped over to Shawn’s weblog to check out if the links would still be active or not and right there I bumped into the following weblog entry: The role of instant messaging in communities of practice and I just couldn’t help thinking about it while I was finishing writing the previous post.

In principle, I completely agree that presence awareness using Instant Messaging can certainly be a great enabler to keep the community activities going by allowing people to see who else is also online while they are interacting in the community space. It would certainly help increase and boost that sense of belonging to the group. However, and while thinking about that, why just restrict it to Instant Messaging alone and that so called presence awareness? Why not add on top of that some location awareness. I would think that it would also be very beneficial to not only know if the community members are online or not but also where they are.

This can certainly help people understand better why another community member may not be able to reply to IM messages, or why he / she may be temporarily away and unavailable, or while travelling where exactly they are so that they do not get interrupted in the middle of the night. This location awareness certainly will help the community building aspects of knowing where people are and in most cases it will certainly help improve the camaraderie with different community members since it would help them meet up physically if they would be located in the same location, wherever that may be, in order to talk face to face.

And lucky enough for us there are options and different tools out there that could contribute in providing to the community that location awareness aspect, as well as the presence awareness one through IM. Cases like Plazes and Meetro are good examples for that kind of functionality. I am personally using both and I find it quite important and enlightening to be able to see if my colleagues are online or not and if they are, where they are. After all, it is all down to make you feel as if you are talking to and interacting with them face to face, wherever that may be. And we all know how powerful that can be.

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Want to Manage Tacit Knowledge?

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I am not sure how many folks here in my weblog would be familiar with Shawn Callahan. I had the chance to meet him up at one of the IBM Knowledge Management Conferences way back in 2003 and apart from learning from him a huge deal about Knowledge Management and Communities of Practice he surely is a good fun bloke.

Although he left IBM some time ago and became the managing director of Anecdote Pty Ltd I still keep on reading from his weblog on a very regular basis. He always has got something interesting to say. And if not check out Anecdote: complexity – narrative – knowledge and you will be able to see what he has been up to lately.

However, the reason why I am posting this weblog post though is to actually reference one of the many great papers he has written in the past around KM. This one in particular (Want to Manage Tacit Knowledge?) talks about one of the most complicated areas within Knowledge Management, which is the aspect of managing the unmanageable: Tacit Knowledge (vs. Explicit Knowledge, the latter being what most companies have been doing for quite some time one way or another with a number of different Intellectual Capital repositories. I do not know of any company that I am aware of that does not have, at least, an strategy to try to capture that kind of knowledge)

So, going back to the paper. It is one of the best reads I can think of on the subject and it basically comes to conclude that Communities of Practice do offer the perfect environment to manage that tacit knowledge based on the nature of the different collaborative efforts that already exist as part of the organisation, that is, the communities themselves, by providing as well the necessary support to nurture that new entity, that Community of Practice.

He also talks about how community mapping would be an important first step to get some visibility for these CoPs and this is certainly why it is very relevant that whenever you get yourself involved with creating a CoPs program that you allow as well for the creation of a a listing or index where all the CoPs would be shown so that it could be used as reference and single point of entry for individuals who may want to look for a CoP to join or for already existing members of a specific CoP that may want to find other communities with similar interests.

At the same time he mentions how crucial for the well being of each community is to have a solid business case and how business value needs to be communicated to sponsors as often as it may be possible in order to keep the leadership and support going. I don’t think that there is much more to say than this. Without a committed sponsorship and leadership from the powers that be it is going to be difficult for a CoP to be self-sustained and self-sufficient. So the sooner that gets arranged the better it would be for the CoP and its members.

Overall, a really good read for anybody who would want to find out more about tacit knowledge and how to manage it through communities of practice.

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