The Sweettt Podcast – Episode 11 – Information Flow (Part II)

I haven’t been very successful today trying to join the superb 24 hour online event from Corporate Learning Trends and Innovation on “Conversations about Learning in Organisations” that I blogged about yesterday. It looks like Elluminate doesn’t get along well with my Mac apparently, since it keeps crashing consistently ever single time I try to access the online event (And I don’t seem to be the only one either!); so I guess I will have to try again tomorrow and, if that doesn’t work still, I suppose I will be catching up with the various recordings that will be made available at a later time.

Moving onwards then!

Yes, folks, it is that time again! The Sweettt Podcast moves on further along and I am happy to bring you over here our next episode (Episode 11), where both Matt Simpson, my good friend and co-host, and yours truly spent a few minutes talking some more around the topic of Information Flow (Part II). You can download or play the podcasting episode from this location. And here are some show notes of what you may expect from listening to it that Matt already mentioned in the corresponding blog post:

  • What is more important, quality or quantity?
  • Who you are in your blog is very different than who you are in a microblog.
  • What constitutes a valid blog? Can a blog be trivial?
  • When does your Twitter become a village? – See Laura Fitton
  • How do you enter a online social village and navigate its streets?
  • To achieve flow in the information space, how do you sample information?
  • What is the alternative to managing content within the information space?
  • How do you choose which new technology to use in the information sharing space?
  • What kind of people try technology first? What does a bleeding edge early adopter look like? See Chris Miller
  • How do you keep track of your new technology?
  • What’s the ideal amount of technology for the majority of us?
  • Which is the predominant future trend, increased technology fragmentation with more tools, or consolidation of technology into fewer tools?
  • If services become specialized and exploited in other contexts (other web sites), what will be the incentive for the service to be provided, especially if people are not going to the homepage?

And, of course, you will notice as well how we spent some time as well talking about living “A World Without Email” and our growing need to diversify our email inboxes; to fragment them so that it does fit a specific purpose versus all purposes, which is what is happening at the moment. Some fascinating conversations, indeed, which developed into other areas we will be exploring in future podcasting episodes.

Oh, yes, it is good to be back! Hope you enjoy the episode, just as much as we did :-)

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Traditional Knowledge Management Systems – Adapt or Die

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganIf you have been following this blog for a while, you would know how my professional background comes from various different areas associated for quite some time now with Knowledge Management, in particular, traditional Knowledge Management: Collaboration, Community Building, Learning, etc. Yes, I am one of those folks who eventually worked for several different projects, throughout the years, dealing with deploying successfully specific KM and community building programs for various business units.

One of them, perhaps one of the most powerful and traditional ones, was IBM‘s Global Business ServicesLearning and Knowledge. At the time with one of the most impressive KM Systems in place to date. One of those resources considered an essential KM tool for every single practitioner to work with: KnowledgeView. Then towards end of 2005 a relatively new concept came about: Web 2.0. Social Software. Social Computing. A radical change in how things were operating at the moment. Disruptive enough to pay attention to it. Essential to adapt or die in the attempt. And a couple of years later, Practitioner Portal was born.

That’s a summary of how traditionally powerful Knowledge Management Systems need to be ready to adapt or die with the emergence of Enterprise 2.0 (Yes, I know it may sound a bit too drastic, but you get the idea of what I am after with that expression); how they need to come to terms with the fact they are no longer in control (They never were for that matter!) of how knowledge flows within the organisation; how they should start realising they need to make it much easier sharing knowledge and experiences across amongst knowledge workers, making it much more participative and engaging that whatever has been happening in the past; how in the end complex fixed taxonomies and processes, as well as a rather cumbersome set of KM tools to use extensively, is not going to go very far. Specially in the current business environment we are working in, where more and more social computing is taking over the corporate world by storm.

Yes, indeed, for those traditional KMS to survive it would be about time now to start figuring out how they would want to get the most out of this next next wave of interactions to improve collaboration, both inside and outside of the firewall. Thus Knowledge Sharing is born. Does it ring a bell? Probably not. But if I tell you to go and have a look into Bryant Clevenger‘s article at KM Edge titled “Web 2.0: Changing How Value Is Created and Measured at IBM” the story would be different,

Bryant, global leader for the IBM Global Business Services knowledge sharing strategy, used to be my manager (Then became my manager’s manager) at the time when that transition into the social computing world was just getting started for that particular business unit as well as for KnowledgeView. For the rest of the story I would like to point you to Bryant’s post, because it is very indicative of how things got started and where they ended up just recently. The Practitioner Portal itself.

Here is an interesting quote from Bryant’s entry that I thought would be worth while mentioning over here to give you a taster of what that transformation has been like:

[…] we undertook a massive overhaul of the technology and approach we use for knowledge management, moving from a centrally managed, linear, taxonomy- and repository-based system to one that leverages the best of Web 2.0, including social software, user participation, and key market-driven concepts like sponsored links. We see this as a shift from “knowledge management” to “knowledge sharing.”

Impressive, don’t you think? Well, it gets better. Bryant will eventually be keynoting on this very same transformation, and plenty more!, at the upcoming APQC Knowledge Management conference event in Houston by mid May. But to get things going and share some further context on what you may potentially find out at the event, here is a YouTube video that he has shared that provides a lot more background on what that change management process was like:

I know that plenty of folks out there may be wondering right now whether KM is dead or not; specially traditional KM. Perhaps it is; perhaps it is not. Maybe it is morphing into something else. Something we have failed to name it yet (Knowledge Management is quite an oxymoron, don’t you think?), but that’s already started with the process of adapting itself to the new rules of engagement in the Enterprise 2.0 world, because I seriously doubt it would want to go away just like that after all of these years. I eventually think that it will adapt successfully and move on. And the example of IBM’s GBS Practitioner Portal, as you may have been able to see, is just one of those to which you could apply quite nicely the following quote from the always insightful Charles Darwin:

It is not the strong, nor the intelligent who survive, but those who are quickest to adapt

So is your traditional Knowledge Management System ready for such unprecedented transition? Are you ready for such a massive transformation of your business? Is your KMS ready to adapt or die in the attempt?

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 9 (How to Kill E-mail, Before It Kills You)

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganLast week I mentioned in Twitter how during the course of the week I’d be putting together a rather compelling and thought-provoking entry where I would detail how folks could kill over 85% of the incoming e-mails they get on a daily basis. Yet, in the end, I didn’t manage to publish it, more than anything else, because, at a certain point, I got carried away and added some additional materials into the mix. And thus the draft needs further editing. This week though, that post will go up and I am surely hoping it would help folks find their way to, finally, move away from corporate email.

But today I am going to go back and share with you folks further insights on the weekly progress reports from my daily living “A World Without Email“, plus a couple of interesting links I have bumped into over the last few days. You would remember how last week I was a bit concerned at the prospect of seeing the highest number of incoming emails per week since the beginning of the year and I was surely hoping that things would tame themselves a bit. And they surely have. I am not certain whether it was down to the progress report related post I put together or to the upcoming long holiday break. The end result is that the numbers got substantially lower for Week 9, as can be seen from the following snapshot:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 9

Yes, I know, not close enough to that follow up target of 20 emails a week or less, but with 26, coming from a whopping 47!, I guess we are back in track again with things, don’t you think? Specially noteworthy is how Monday last week seemed to have been a rather hectic day and I supposed that was mainly due to folks preparing for a long holiday break taking place on Thursday and Friday, where the incoming count went really low. Thus I would suspect things will be different for week 10… And they are, but that’d would be the subject for another blog post at a later time.

Let’s move on now into the interesting couple of links I bumped into in the last few days, which I am sure folks out there are going to find interesting and somewhat humourous, at least, one of them.

Head over to PCWorld‘s “What Your Webmail Choice Reveals About You” where you will be able to see for yourself how, depending on which Web mail system you may be using at the moment, you would be flagged one way or another. Rather amusing read, to be honest, specially the end of it with this precious gem shared across under No E-mail Account:

Typical user: You are in your late teens or early 20s and you equate sending e-mails with using a fax machine, watching broadcast TV or buying CDs — lame. You text and/or IM, and that’s it. TTYL

Well, not quite just yet, but getting there … :-D

Check though this other much more provocative and mind-boggling article published by Mike Elgan over at Computerworld under the title “How to kill e-mail (before it kills you)” where he gets to describe some of the most comprehensive and compelling reasons I have read in a long while on why e-mail is perhaps not the best of communication / collaboration tools we have at the moment. And why now is probably the perfect time to re-think how we make extensive use of it. Or not. Here are a couple of interesting and relevant quotes towards living “A World Without Email“:

E-mail has become a pandemic social disease. The more you get, the more you send. And the more you send, the more you get.

Or this other one:

What’s wrong with e-mail? In a nutshell, the medium is perfectly designed for information overload. Both message size and quantity are essentially unlimited. Unfortunately, electronic communication is like a gas: It expands to fill its container.

Or this other one, incredibly insightful and very much along the lines of what I have been saying myself all along on the power of the spoken vs. the written word:

E-mail has always suffered from another flaw: It facilitates miscommunication. When you’re typing out words, you’re thinking one thing, but the receiver can perceive your intent as something else. You’re being funny. They perceive hostile. The reason is that humans are designed to communicate with words, facial expressions, body language and hand gestures all together. When you send only cold, black-and-white words, the other person can easily read into your message inaccurate intent or emotional content.

You can go and read further on the article by going over here. I can surely state it would be worth while your time. Not only because Mike keeps addressing some of the main issues e-mail is suffering from for a while now, but also from the perspective that he ventures into providing some sound advice on how to diversify your Inbox and bring into the mix an alternative set of tools to help you manage your time, and your email interruptions, in a much more productive manner:

  1. Set up a Twitter account
  2. Set up a “public” e-mail account as a data repository
  3. Set up a “secret” e-mail account for content
  4. Set up a Facebook account
  5. Set up a Skype account and get a webcam

I know most of us have made extensive use of these tools, but throughout the commentary from that article you would be able to see how most people are skeptical that such a system could work, more than anything else because of a number of issues people have identified with applications like Facebook or Twitter. But, to me the important and relevant question would be, what happens when you implement such a system behind the firewall with real Enterprise Social Software?

That is, when you have applications like Facebook, Twitter or Skype directly available behind the firewall, with whatever other name and with the same kind of quality and service as other traditional tools you are used to. Is the skepticism still realistic? Are people’s comments on Mike’s article consistent enough? Does it sound like a chimera as much as initially thought? Or is it something that could be put to the test and see if it would meet your needs and, eventually, help you make your final move away from corporate email?

Well, stay tuned, because that is exactly what I am going to cover in that upcoming blog post I started this entry with; you will see how it’s a lot easier than whatever you may have thought thus far …

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