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

Personal KM

Incentives for (Knowledge) Sharing

Yesterday evening, Jack Vinson shared a very interesting and thought provoking weblog post that I thought I would comment on further since it touches on one of the issues I have been facing myself for a number of years now and for which I have always been having some reservations. Over at Knowledge Jolt with Jack he created a post around the subject of Incentives for sharing where he is actually questioning the value of using financial incentives in order to encourage and boost a knowledge sharing culture. He is actually referencing another weblog post from Dinesh Tantri on Moral Versus Economic Incentives For Knowledge Sharing where Dinesh himself is also advocating for a more balanced approach towards incentivising knowledge workers for what they get to share, both using cash incentives and other softer kinds of awards.

Indeed, I just couldn’t have agreed more with both of them! Actually, having been exposed to a number of different incentives programmes I can certainly confirm that not having a balance between both types of incentives is always going to end up in a mess. Yes, a real mess! Not only from the perspective where the quality of the knowledge shared is not going to be up to the standards that other knowledge workers would require, and benefit from, but also because it just helps create an anxiety that KM in general could do without very much so. If not in the end it will hinder it down and get that particular KM programme in trouble. Big trouble.

As I said, there needs to be a balance, but between what?, you may be wondering. Well, basically between what I have been advocating for some time now and which I think would fit in quite nicely into this discussion: two different types of motivation to influence that cultural change to boost knowledge sharing and collaboration:

  • Extrinsic: through some kind of physical recognition, such as cash, (Public) recognition, evaluation and the like, depending on the criteria that may have been set up already.
  • Intrinsic: through some remarkable capabilities such as passion, interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and self-actualisation, which in the end could well be much more powerful than the extrinsic type of motivation on its own. Something that I keep seeing over and over again.

Indeed, whether we like it or not a whole KM programme with an incentives initiative should be taking into consideration that those external motivators may not be good enough. In fact, they could well be for a short period of time but they would not be sustainable since they will not keep that motivation high enough throughout an extended period of time. However, those intrinsic motivators could certainly help people find that extra edge to make it all worth while; to be able to share what they know with others and still enjoy what they do on a day to day basis.

And this is perhaps something that we could learn with all this social software and Web 2.0 offerings that are becoming more and more popular nowadays. They are already providing some really good background for those intrinsic motivators and perhaps once they add up that extrinsic component we would be able to see them take off in the enterprise. At least, they would be providing that balance that most of us have been mentioning, and asking for, all along.

Here are a couple of other weblog posts that I have shared on this particular subject for those folks who may want to do some extended reading:

[tags]Knowledge Management, KM, Social Software, Inventives, Awards[/tags]

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Free iPod Video Converter – Take Your Learning with You Wherever You May Go!

It has been a little while since I have last weblogged about some interesting knowledge, collaboration and productivity tools, specially those who may help increase our knowledge skills, so I thought I would just share with you a nice tool I bumped into earlier on today thanks to one of my colleagues, Stefano. We had a conversation earlier on where he mentioned how he has been watching some of the different screencasts that I get to publish internally on a daily basis where I mainly focus on introducing people to knowledge and collaboration tools and he was suggesting if I could share those screencasts in .AVI format as opposed to making them available as streaming video.

At the beginning I was a bit curious about why he would want to have in AVI format all of the screencasts that I have been creating and then he just shared with me this gem: Free iPod Video Converter. What an incredible piece of freeware, folks! Stefano explained to me how he managed to get an .AVI file from one of the screencasts I did in the recent past and how he converted it, in some very easy steps, into an .MP4 format that could then be used in the video iPod and played right away. WOW! Fantastic !

Now, imagine this. Some time ago I created a weblog post where I was mentioning how powerful screencasting is in augmenting instruction; so think if all those screencasts could then be converted into an .MP4 format for the video iPod and converted thanks to the Free iPod Video Converter. People now would be able to take that learning with them while they are travelling, commuting, on the road, while working remotely disconnected, you name it. And still be able to shape up their skills in whatever the tool by making use of those converted screencasts and their iPods. Really nice !

I guess that with the opportunity to take those screencasts with you wherever you may go you would have the opportunity to improve your knowledge skills in whatever the learning activity in such a way that you would now then define the pace, length of study along with the time invested without having to depend on a network connection or being closed to a computer. Now you can take your potentially favourite media player and while you are enjoying it learn something in the process.

I do not have a video iPod yet, but if I ever get my hands on one of them I know exactly what I will be doing with it. Take my favourite learning screencasts with me and digest them at my own pace, at my own convenience. How effective would that method of learning and knowledge sharing be? I bet that perhaps quite a lot actually based on a new factor introduced with the usage of the iPod: The fun factor. Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of learning currently available. Don’t you think ?

So if you would want to give it a try just go ahead and download Free iPod Video Converter and start converting all those videos you have been piling up in your computer and that you didn’t have enough time for to go through them! You will now be able to change that with such a handy piece of freeware. I tell you. Fantastic find ! Thanks, Stefano !

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Knowledge Management Redux – Linking KM and Social Software

Earlier on today I read through another interesting, and thought provoking, weblog post over at Knowledge Jolt with Jack titled Link between KM and Social Software, which in return referenced another great, worth while reading, weblog post by Mike Gotta: Social Software: Knowledge Management Redux? In that particular weblog post Jack comes to augment what Mike is already stating over at his weblog with some additional commentary and something that I have been commenting all along over here: Knowledge Management is all about the people, about making it easier for knowledge workers to share what they know so that it could then be easily reused by others.

However, and while I certainly agree with what Jack mentioned over at his weblog, I also think that it would be worth while stopping a few more minutes and share some gems that Mike has been sharing over at Social Software: Knowledge Management Redux? I wish that particular weblog post would have been available a few years ago to show them where the focus should have been in KM from the moment it was born. Here you have got some interesting quotes from the article itself:

KM generally fails when it is pursued as a holy grail, in and of itself, and especially when it over-prioritizes technology.

If only people would have realised about this years ago ! Right from the beginning, people thought that everything could fall under the ever growing KM umbrella where the main focus was on the technology, on the tools themselves, i.e. the explicit knowledge. That might have worked out all right for a couple of years but there was a huge void been created by neglecting the power knowledge workers would have by making use of their tacit knowledge while collaborating with others. Yet, nobody seemed to care too much about it, and probably because of what Mike mentioned already. KM was considered the holy grail from every organisation interested in knowledge sharing and collaboration. Things could have been just so much more different! Sigh

The focus on interaction, trust, reciprocity, conversation and storytelling is also the point where social software reframes some of the challenges faced by KM teams, offering a different set of tactics complimentary to historical KM best practices.

I couldn’t have agreed more with Mike on that statement. All those focus areas that he mentioned are, whether we like it or not, very much related to the tacit knowledge exchange that I mentioned earlier on, and which would be a key fundamental success factor for any KM strategy because the focus is right there where it belongs: the people. So a balance between both approaches could certainly provide that unique advantage that differentiates a successful KM strategy from another one that is just attempting to achieve something in between. And this is perhaps where all the hype going around Web 2.0 offerings, the so-called social software, could come to the rescue as it could well be the perfect enabler to strike that balance between the two.

In any case, the unforeseen discovery of peers doing similar things that result in purposeful action as a derivative outcome of informal interaction across small groups, larger communities and loosely-coupled networks makes social software quite consistent with KM goals […]”

Indeed, the well known, and greatly ignored, power of social capital skills. How many times have we been told that trying to nurture and look after those social capital skills would be a waste of time and will not help produce the desired business results in whatever the KM strategy put together? How many times management has been neglecting the key role that those social capital skills play in the well building and further development of a group, whether it is a community or a team? You name it. Yet it looks like it is just now that those same managers are realising that perhaps cultivating and nurturing, as well as augmenting, that social capital will help KM get back in track into what it once was supposed to be: an almost perfect blend of people and tools, i.e. tacit and explicit knowledge. About time you would think, right ? I surely think so !

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