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

Personal KM

IBM Collaboration Best Practices Conference – Somers, NY – July 2006

Some time ago I mentioned how I was actually going to attend the IBM Professional Technical Leadership Exchange, taking place in Madrid, to give a presentation on one of my favourite topics regarding Knowledge Management: Personal Knowledge Management. Well, this time around I am actually going to the US, Somers, NY, to provide another presentation around that very same subject: Personal KM, next week Monday, from the 10th till the 12th to an IBM internal audience. I will actually be arriving at the Hilton Garden Inn Danbury this coming Friday and will actually be leaving next week Thursday.

As I said, I will be talking again about Personal Knowledge Management and, amongst other things, I will actually be talking about the key role of communities in helping augment the knowledge sharing and collaboration of knowledge workers by making use of different personal KM tools, like weblogs, wikis, social bookmarks, tagging (And folksonomies), IM/VoIP, podcasts, etc. etc. So at the same time that I will be talking about the importance of tacit knowledge, next to explicit knowledge, something that I have already talked about over here a couple of times already, I will be touching base on some of the different KM and Collaboration tools that IBM has been making use of thus far, mainly though those tools related to social software and the so-called Web 2.0:

I will be presenting next week Tuesday. However, and like I have just mentioned, I will be in Danbury from this coming Friday, so if you would want to meet up for a couple of drinks and a chat feel free to append a comment over here or contact me offline. It would be great if I would be able to meet up some of the folks who I have been interacting with here in elsua or out there in the Blogosphere. Thus if you are going to be around, let me know !

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A – Z of Professional Blogging – What Every Blogger Should Be Aware of

As I keep encouraging both people at work and outside work to explore all these relatively new social software tools available out there: wikis, weblogs, social bookmarking, web syndication (RSS / Atom), podcasting, and whatever other social networking tools, in order to improve and augment the way they may be sharing knowledge and collaborating with other knowledge workers, I have always been encouraging them to go out there and start playing with all these tools; trying them out to see if they would fit their needs or if they are tools they would want to explore further at some point in time. And in the world of the Blogosphere time and time again I keep getting back to one of the fundamental resources, in my opinion, for every weblogger out there who may want to expand their weblogging boundaries.  Yes, indeed, that key fundamental resource is Darren Rowse‘s ProBlogger: one of the most relevant and resourceful weblogs out there that helps people  improve their weblogging experience a huge deal !

If you haven’t check out his project on 31 Days to Building a Better Blog you surely should ! It is one of those must-read series of weblog posts that will certainly help you getting started with your own weblogging experience and much more importantly it will provide you with an extended set of tips you could make use in order to get your own weblog where you always wanted it to be. Worth while a good paused read, for sure. But that is not the reason why I am actually creating this particular post. It is actually for one weblog post that he has created that can certainly keep you busy for a whole weekend reading through it all.

A couple of days ago Darren created what has been, up until now, one of my favourite weblog posts of all times and one post that I have been already using a few times to spread the message around about weblogs and weblogging in general. It is titled A – Z of Professional Blogging and in it you would be able to find an impressive list of 130 tools and platforms, thus far, all of them related to weblogging or to your own experience with this relatively new social  software application. Yes, indeed, quite impressive!

That is why I wanted to create this particular post today, Friday, so that folks out there who may be interested in reading further on some of those tools or applications would have as well, at least, some time to play around with them. As I said the list is huge and it has got some really handy tips on weblogging tools available out there. By no means it is a complete list, but it surely is a good start and I am sure that as time goes by and people continue to provide more feedback on missing tools Darren would be updating the list to make it even much more resourceful. I haven’t yet gone through the entire list of tools put together, that is going to be my homework for this coming weekend but I can see already a couple of weblogging tools that I am using that are not in the list, so perhaps beginning of next week, when I have dug into the already existing ones I would be updating this particular weblog post to include the listing of those which have not been included just yet and, hopefully, Darren will include them as well as part of the list.

Let’s see if I am able to finish the homework or not. But either way, just get yourself over there and dive into it. I am sure that weblog post will keep you busy for a few hours with some fun exploring to do. And if you are using a weblogging tool that is not in the list, by all means, please let Darren know so that we can all make it grow bigger and bigger by the day. After all, it is our weblogging guide, right ?

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Expertise Location without Technology – The Power of Storytelling (Part Deux)

A couple of days back you would remember how I actually created a follow up weblog post around the subject of expertise location to the superb article that Jack Vinson created over at Expertise Locators on the Brain (Worth while reading material for sure). And today I thought I would also point you to another fantastic, must-read, follow up post that Shawn Callahan put tog ether not long ago, where he actually tried to approach expertise location from a different point of view: "[…] what if we put effort in helping individuals find relevant expertise when they need it and without the use of technology?" and he actually succeeds at it, big time! The weblog post is titled Expertise Location without Technology and you can read it over here. And it basically comes to talk about a new and refreshing way of treating expertise location by not focusing on the technology itself but just on a way to find the experts the way we have always been doing: through our social interactions. Because that is what we all do. Search for those experts that are the closest to us.

Fascinating thoughts, indeed. Something that perhaps not many people may have thought about but which certainly comes to indicate how social networks are becoming increasingly important in helping finding those experts. Something that although we may not have been aware of it all along it has certainly been there for hundreds of years. Shawn talks about "The next expertise locating skill I’d help people develop is what I call pre-emptive expertise location" by which "to be good at finding expertise you need to be connected before you need the expertise." Exactly! And without the technology what would be the best way to connect with other people and share that expertise? Any suggestions?

Yes, certainly through stories, i.e. the power of storytelling, something that I have already mentioned over here some time ago a couple of times. Through storytelling seekers have got the opportunity to get to know experts who in their turn also connect with other experts while they all continue to nurture those relationships by interacting in those social networks. And all that without potentially making use of expertise location technology, just the traditional methods of knowledge sharing and collaborating through talking with other people. And that is perhaps one of the reasons why in this distributed world we are in today weblogs may well be one of the most interesting options out there to help people tell stories, their stories. Because after all that is what weblogging is all about. Get your story out there and get yourself known to others. Make that connection,  nurture it through your own voice. Your weblog. As long as you do not have the opportunity to nurture them in real life, that is.

Another interesting aspect from Shawn’s weblog post is a short description of eight different aspects of expertise, taken from Gary Klein, that is also some interesting reading and which helps clarify how experts are different from the seekers. I am not going to reproduce them over here, you can go there and read some more about them over at Shawn’s weblog post but, as a teaser, I am going to just briefly name them over here:

  1. Patterns
  2. Anomalies
  3. The way things work
  4. Opportunities and improvisations
  5. Past and future
  6. Fine discriminations
  7. Self aware
  8. Decision makers

As you will be able to see there are actually a whole lot more aspects to take into account than just the technology when talking about expertise location and perhaps one key fundamental aspect to make it all work may be just related to something that I have weblogged about earlier on today: the power of communities and their stories.

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Social Network Tools and Their Business Application: Blogs, Podcasting, Instant Messaging, RSS and Wikis – London – September 2006

A couple of weeks ago I was talking about the upcoming Collaboration Technologies Conference 2006 that took place in Boston a few days ago, and which, by the way, I will start commenting on some of the sessions now that most of the folks I follow up on seem to have finished sharing their views on the event. So today I thought I would also let you know about another upcoming interesting event that I am sure quite a few folks over here would like to know as well. I am not sure I would be able to attend it but I would think that plenty of other folks may be interested in it.

Thus here we go. Through a couple of colleagues at work I have just received an e-mail about an upcoming event taking place in London, UK, around the topics of weblogs, podcasting, instant messaging, RSS and wikis .Yes, indeed, about the whole social software pack.

The event is sponsored by Unicom and you can find more details about the event over here: Social Network Tools and their Business Application: Blogs, Podcasting, Instant Messaging, RSS and Wikis. As I mentioned already, the event will be taking place on Ethan21st of September in London and here is the initial write up about the conference:

"The payoff for the new collaborative tools is that they support workers in doing the right things and thus producing a better end result. However, in some contexts, such as collaboration with partners an d other third parties, increased openness and collaboration raise anxiety about issues of security and confidentiality.

This conference looks at the new technologies in a business setting, with overview presentations and case studies. There will be a strong emphasis on the practical aspects. You will find out the different applications of each technology and their relative merits and drawbacks, and how to choose between increasing numbers of new offerings.

The conference is chaired by David Green, founder of the Green Knowledge Community and himself knowledgeable in these technologies"

And here you have got the list of benefits from the event:

  • "Learn how Blogs and WIKIs change the traditional models of managing knowledge and how they can support purposeful social networks
  • Hear about the practices of those who are achieving real business success in online social networks
  • Find out the role of podcasting and RSS feeds to target customers with clearly defined interests
  • Explore the benefits and downside of business use of Instant Messaging
  • Gain practical advice on dealing with threats to security and confidentiality"

Not bad, eh? Yes, I know, on the contrary. What I really like about the event itself, and why I would feel sorry if I cannot make it, which I am not sure is going to happen, is the pretty impressive list of speakers they have piled up for the event, with folks like KM thinkers Euan Semple,  and David Gurteen, amongst others. Apparently, it even looks like the event is organised / supervised by David himself. Good stuff.

Thus if you are going to be around in London during that time I can certainly recommend the event if you would want to know how Knowledge Management is surely moving into KM 2.0 in the Enterprise 2.0 world. Oh, and if you get to go and would want to share your thoughts on how it went feel free to drop by and append a couple of comments over here or just blog the event yourself on your own weblog, something I am sure you were probably thinking about doing it already, anyway, but just in case… heh

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Expertise Locators on the Brain – Trusting the Experts

Last week Jack Vinson (I am glad, by the way, to see he is back weblogging again after his vacation) shared one of the most comprehensive weblog posts that I have read in a long while around the always exciting topic of expertise location where he is actually shifting away from the traditional way expertise locators have always been considered: i.e. just tools. Indeed, Jack has written up an impressive weblog post on the subject with some incredible quotes on what expertise location should all be about. He is also referencing some other folks who have been talking about the same topic, sharing as well some interesting insights, such as Harold Jarche, Jay Cross, Dennis McDonald, Shawn Callahan, Ingo Forstenlechner, amongst others. I am also included in his references from a couple of weblog posts I shared on this very same subject not long ago and which you can read some more about here and over here.

As I said, he has put together such an impressive weblog post around this topic of expertise location that has got me thinking quite a bit with all sorts of ideas that I have decided to expand further on a number of different weblog posts. As I get along I will get going and share with you all some of those insights but for the time being I just wanted to comment on one of those ideas that has been crossing my mind all along after reading Jack’s weblog post. It looks like expertise locators have no longer got anything to do with just focusing on the tools, nor the technology. It looks like after reading Jack’s thoughts and commenting on a few other folks’ thoughts it goes well beyond that into a realm that I have been talking about over here several times. Yes, on the people.

I very much agree with what Jack mentions that searching for experts is increasingly starting to happen inside people’s networks, whether they are physical or virtual networks in such a way that whenever a knowledge worker has got a question the first thing that person is going to do to have his / her question answered is check with someone, an expert, according to him / her, that he / she knows would be able to help out finding an answer. Notice that I am talking about finding an answer and not giving an answer as I think that the main reason for that happening is because people not only want to get the answer they also want to build a relationship with that expert so that through nurturing and maintaining those relationships they themselves could become experts in those subjects at some point in time.

I feel that is where the whole power of expertise locators reside, not so much on finding the experts but actually on engaging and interacting with them so that you, too, could become one at some point in time and somehow you can free up the experts to deal with more complicated problems. That way, and without you not knowing it per se ahead of time, you would find out that you will shortly begin to have that pool of experts within an organisation that would be available to help find answers, and because that pool of experts is based as well on those physical or virtual relationships you know that they would be there for some time. Why? Because of one key fundamental aspect that surfaces in every seeker / expert relationship: Trust. Trust that matters to the seeker for help and to the expert who is helping out finding those answers.

This is why as I was reading through Jack’s weblog post it kind of reminded me as well about another weblog post that I created not so long ago around the subject of How Do You Trust the Experts? Because whether we like it or not, at the end of the day, the key successful and fundamental factor for any expertise location tool to succeed is not on having a pool of experts available to help answer questions but more to have a pool of experts that seekers would trust because they are part of their personal physical / virtual networks and could help them find those answers more in a collaborative way than in a traditional Q&A fashion. And this is exactly the role that social software has been playing all along and which will make it succeed in the business world. Pretty much like it has been doing already quite successfully for some time now  in the consumer market.

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The Dawn of the Knowledge Economy

A few days ago David Goldes created a very enlightening article over at CollaborationLoop around the transition businesses are going through at this very moment from being a labour-based company to an asset / knowledge based company. In The Dawn of the Knowledge Economy David makes quite a few remarks that would sound very familiar to all those folks who have been reading elsua for some time now and it would even sound more familiar if you have been doing yourselves some work around the world of Knowledge Management or you are knowledge workers yourselves.

However, from the entire article here are a couple of paragraphs, courtesy from Chris Zaluski, that I found much more relevant and interesting to quote as it touches base on something that I have been commenting on all along:

“Knowledge management revolves around being able to harness the intangible knowledge and ideas within an organization in order to creatively guide the company. Unlike the tangible assembly line products of our forefathers, there is no easy way to gauge a knowledge worker’s productivity. Likewise, knowledge managers are left without step-by-step management practices. These are two truths that many traditional, “Tayloristic-bred” managers have trouble grasping.”

“Successful knowledge managers are able to guide an organization to reach its full potential, thus, helping everyone involved with the company, including the consumer.”

“Although knowledge workers rely on technology, technology still remains but a tool for performing knowledge work. Granted, such knowledge work does not necessarily even require technology beyond a pad and pencil, yet Collaborative Business Environment tools aid the process”

As you can see from those quotes above the key success factor for any KM strategy, Knowledge Manager or knowledge based company, is the fact that they need to shift the focus from the traditional tangibles to the intangibles, because that is what will differentiate the good companies from the great ones. Those who value not only the knowledge they have, and how it gets produced and harvested to then be reused, but also the people behind that knowledge, that is, the intangibles, the ones who get to form communities to help share knowledge and collaborate with others and the ones who would eventually be making it successfully into the 21st Knowledge Economy.

As long as they keep the focus. That is where the key challenge is going to be: focusing where you would need to focus, on the people, who are building up further on that knowledge, and the rest will follow naturally.

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