Monday, February 25, 2013

Future of Books is Social

I just stumbled across Book: A Futurist's Manifesto by O'Reilly Media readable completely on the web.  In What I Would Like in a Corporate Library, I talked about the library facilitating connections between people who share an interest in a book or topic. The way this book is published enables that, but most importantly there are a number of essays included that delve deeper into the idea.

What I think is important in social reading is to always give the reader the option of being social or easily "going dark."  Sometimes people just want a bit of privacy, whether because they are reading about a sensitive topic, or just for a bit of piece and quiet. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Dangers of Objectifying Collaboration

In a recent McKinsey Interview, Don Tapscott said: "Knowledge management has failed. We had this view that knowledge is a finite asset, it’s inside the boundaries of companies, and you manage it by containerizing it."

Well, not ALL knowledge management has failed - primarily those that focused on thinking of knowledge as an asset and over "engineered" efforts to manage it.

A recent Harvard Business School blog post titled Collaboration as an Intangible Asset written by Accenture's Robert J. Thomas references the very often spoken of challenge of measuring intangible assets, and positions collaboration as an intangible asset. Applying Tapscott's perspective, viewing collaboration as an asset will doom related initiatives to failure much like KM.

I think we have to stop thinking of social process as assets or objects that should be weighed and measured. Some of the outcomes can and should be be captured and managed as assets, as they are often re-useable results of good work, or evidence of business activity.

Let's spend more time trying to encourage, facilitate and remove cultural, structural, managerial barriers collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning, and less time trying to mange "assets," tangible or otherwise.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Great Resource List on Cognition

The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP), which develops and distributes teaching and advising materials and provides services to teachers of psychology at all levels on behalf of The Society for the Teaching of Psychology, has created a GREAT list of resources and videos on cognition - so important to learning and knowledge management.

Of note, two video clips by Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, on the concepts of thinking "fast versus slow," and how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently.

You'll also find links to some great Ted talks by Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice, Diane Halpern on how our government is broken, and Kathryn Schulz on embracing our fallibility.

I'd have made it easy for you by putting in specific links to the above, but there are many more great resources on the page, so best to navigate directly there so you don't miss a thing.

 Happy viewing!

Time to "Get Back At It'

Thanks to a post on the SIKMLeaders forum, I just noticed that Stan Garfield kindly posted a link to this blog on his KM Blog list. Honored and humbled I am. Time to get back at it.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A "News" Opportunity for Knowledge Elicitation

Outsell, in a recent Insight report,  were discussing the rapid and significant changes underway in the print media business on all continents including layoffs, printing plant closures, modifications to news paper formats, sizes and publication frequencies.All in favour of moving more digital.

Certainly a significant transformation for that industry (reminds me a bit of Charles Handy's Sigmoid Curve).  But in the context of knowledge management, in particular knowledge elicitation - helping people make explicit the "deep smarts" gained over years of experience and practice - who better than people in media, particularly reporters to tease out the knowledge gems.

Might the changes in the print media industry be an opportunity for organizations to improve the capture / sharing of knowledge?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Real Roots of Change Resistance

In the Psychology Today blog post The (Only) Five Basic Fears We All Live By Karl Albrecht very succinctly distills and outlines the root fears that drive all others. What I was struck by was how three of those core fears are directly related to change resistance.

  • Loss of Autonomy - fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or controlled by circumstances. In a physical form, it's sometimes known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to social interactions and relationships.
  • Separation - fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness - of becoming a non-person - not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on the targeted person.
  • Ego-death - fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
A good changes strategy, therefore would deal not just with trying to change attitudes by throwing more information at people, but by truly understanding the fear that is driving the resistance and dealing effectively with it, whether proactively or after the fact. Change leaders should communicate clearly about when change does not affect autonomy, separation (or connectedness) and integrity of the individual.  The change leader should also be clear and transparent about instances where there is impact so people can make informed decisions, and offer some help when appropriate.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3 Questions That Kill Collaboration

What does he/she really mean?  What is she/he not saying? What are his/his real motives?

What these questions all have in common; the presumption of something hidden, the undercurrent of a lack of trust, and most importantly the time considering dealing with them take away from getting work done.

How many times have you been in conversations and got the sense that the listener(s) were running you through a mental MRI machine because they mis-trusted your words and/or body language, and were not taking what you were communicating at "face value?"  How often have you been in conversations and did the same to another speaker?  How often have you been involved in hallway conversation after a meeting where people were trying to "get to the bottom" of what was said in the meeting?

There is no shortage of literature / evidence about the role of trusting relationships has on performance / productivity in work / team / group settings.  Yet, as Larry Prusak, in The One Thing That Makes Collaboration Work points out, trustworthiness is rarely explicitly rewarded in most organizations. 

Of course, if you are thinking appreciatively, you could see these questions, if asked explicitly, as an opportunity to improve collaboration. Provided you can ask them in a non-threatening way and provide some positive reinforcement, and that they they are answered honestly.

Challenge yourself as well.  If you find you are asking these questions of others, consider why, and if they are warranted. Perhaps a bit of time invested in relationship building prior to critical meetings could improve the value of the interaction in them. 

Anyone who has taken a presentation skills course, or any good presenter, will know that varying how your speak - changing tempo, tone, pitch - and using movement - expressions, hand gestures, walking - are good strategies for improving the listener's experience. Ever wonder why? In this video, Daniel Levitin talks about the early origins of music - alterations in pitch and time - for communication that pre-dates language, the primitive parts of the brain affected by music, and the links between language and movement. So, increase the appeal of your presentations, and even your conversations, by incorporating some foundation elements of music. Daniel Levitin is a James McGill Professor of Psychology, Behavioural Neuroscience, and Music at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec), and author of "This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" and "The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature." and has some serious music production "creds" with some noteworthy bands.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Art & Practice of Pronouncement & Prognostication

I hopped on a local city bus this morning and overheard two people talking about the weather and March heat wave that has blessed (or assaulted, depending on your winter pass-time) much of the northern US and southern Canada.

Like many of us do, the people talking about the weather were offering their own forecast. And like many of us do as well, they were expressing their opinions as definitive statements of certain fact as though they could foresee the future. They didn't preface any of their comments with "I guess," "I think or suspect," "I'm gambling," or even the venerable IMHO.

Yes, in context, we all acknowledge that personal weather prognostication is not based on scientific fact or professional judgment - "It is what it is."

It does make me wonder, though, how much confusion we create by stating option, judgments, or "best guesses" as fact in business (or even personal) contexts that are less clear, and having those words taken literally and acted upon by others.

Clarity on what we're expressing (and opinion vs. fact, or even a preliminary thought vs. a fully formed idea call to action) can go a long way towards ensuring that listeners have the right expectations, reducing confusion, making productive change, and building good relationships.