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

Open Business

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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    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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    Frappr – Mapping Your Web Community Space

    Ok, folks, here we go with another social networking application that may become very helpful for communities, specially for those who are disperse throughout different time zones, countries, regions, etc. A number of different webloggers have already commented about it (Downloadsquad, Lifehacker, Full Circle Online Interaction Blog, Micro Persuasion, even my colleague Ed Brill on the subject of the LotusSphere 2006) but I thought I would share a few comments to indicate how virtual communities could actually make use of this new beta offering. The new application is called Frappr and you can find more information about it here.

    As you will be able to see from its homepage, Frappr just puts together Google Maps for your group(s) with the possibility of uploading and sharing different photos between group members. The key success factor from this particular new offering is the fact that it will provide you with a key web presence between group members by allowing you to know where folks are at any given point in time. And not only that, you are also able to share some of your favourite pictures so that they can be used as icebreakers, specially for those groups or communities where they may not know well enough one another and they would need to work some more on their social capital.

    The great thing as well about Frappr is the fact that you can embed the actual map directly into your own web site, whether it is a regular web site or a weblog and that way you can always keep in touch with those people who are regular members of the group or who would visit the web community space on a regular basis. Either way, if you would want to provide instant awareness to your web community space you might as well go ahead and create your own Frappr map.

    And, finally, just to show you how it would work I have now created the group elsua and I have added it into my weblog template. From there you can add yourself and show us where you are. Pretty much like what was happening with ClustrMaps but this time around you can also show the rest of the weblog readership some of your favourite pictures and add some further comments as well. So go and spend a few minutes and show us where you are !

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    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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    ClustrMaps – Hit Counter Map Shows Locations of All Visitors to Your Site

    A few days ago you will remember how I created a weblog entry regarding one of the latest releases from Google to help webmasters get some more statistics from the web sites they may have under their control through the usage of Google Analytics and free of charge. Back then I mentioned as well how I was trying to set up an account over there to check, first, how it would work and, secondly, to get some statistics on elsua. That way, I would be able to get to know you a bit more about where you may be coming from, how much time you spend over here and so forth.

    So far I have been using Miarroba for which I still have got an account and have got some really useful data that I will be weblogging about every now and then to give you some further stats. And the same would happen with Google Analytics; once I start getting some results about those statistics I will be surely sharing some comments over here as well with a couple of screen shots so that you can get to see who you all are.

    But in the mean time and while all that data gathers itself further how about some instant feedback directly available from my weblog template? That would be neat, right ? Well, it looks like there is a way now. Check out ClustrMaps. A new beta offering that allows you to have a web site counter that will graphically tell you where the visitors are coming from and place them as a red dot in a worldwide map. Pretty amazing, eh ?

    Indeed, lately, there has been a proliferation of different online tools that would help you get some online awareness for whatever the type of web application you may be using. And ClustrMaps seems to be a pretty decent attempt at that. In fact, I doubt there would be a much easier user interface to get that kind of information directly from whatever the online service and have it added into your web site with such ease of use.

    Again the interesting thing about ClustrMaps is the fact that groups of people, whether they are teams or communities, or whatever other group gathering, have now got the opportunity to explore further web presence in a much more powerful way while navigating and visiting web sites. So, for weblogs, for instance, team / community members would have an opportunity to see right away where those hits are coming from and somehow that may also help out define the type of content shared in those weblogs in order to suit the needs from the audience, if they would want to accommodate that, that is.

    Certainly an offering worth while considering and adding to your web site if you are planning to get some instant feedback on web presence from those folks who may be coming forward and visit your weblog, for instance. I have now got mine added into my weblog template and it looks like that it will get started providing some data from tomorrow onwards so I will be looking forward to getting some more information about elsua‘s visitors, you folks. I bet you would also be interested as well in getting your own and add it to your weblog. So you may as well go ahead and do it ! And the sooner, the better !

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    Swicki – Community-Powered Search at Its Best

    If you have been visiting my weblog going through the direct link as opposed to the actual syndication feed you will have noticed by now a couple of changes on the actual weblog template itself. The most notorious one and the one for which this weblog post is meant is Swicki. And the reason why I think it is worth while mentioning is because this is a relatively new offering that tries to fill in a gap in the searching world out there. That gap is the one of a community-powered search where community members help build up a common set of keywords and their results from a community perspective as opposed to an individual perspective, which is what you would get with traditional search engines. In short, and like it is mentioned on the web site itself:

    Swickis harness the collective intelligence of and strengthen your community.

    Pretty neat, eh ? But it gets better, folks. Now consider the fact that most of those community members may be dispersed and may have an already existing connection through the usage of particular collaboration tools to share knowledge like Wikis or weblogs or even Instant Messaging, but were missing the fact that they didn’t have a common repository of keywords they could search on from all of the different resources they would be using. Now with Swicki things are different. The circle will be closed since community members would have the opportunity to collaborate offline through Wikis and weblogs or in real-time with Instant Messaging and, finally, with the chance to put that altogether into a dynamic search engine that community members can refer to back and forth and help it grow further as time goes by. 

    And that is the real power from Swicki. Not the fact that it may be another powerful search engine, but the fact that it establishes a connection between the different community members by allowing them to build that powerful search engine based on their sharing of sets of keywords. And that would be the main key success factor from this, so far beta, offering. Worth while watching it how it evolves for sure, which is why I have decided to include it in my weblog template and continue to use it more and more. And later on in time I will be weblogging about it some more to share with you folks what my experience has been so far.

    Thus if you are part of a community and want to build up that community-powered search engine I would certainly recommend you give a try to Swicki. It will help you build those stronger links and trust levels and become much more integrated with the rest of your fellow community members. So you may want to go ahead and create your own Swicki now !

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