Workshop Productive Knowledge Work

Besides workshops about social media I've also been giving workshops about Productive Knowledge Work. It's a lot of fun. And I'm surprised at how many people are looking for ways to become a productive knowledge worker.

One theme that is addressed by the participants in almost every workshop is 'email guidelines'. They say: We should agree not to 'reply all', have clear email subject lines, etc.

I shared the slides I use for you. If you have comments or questions, I'd love to hear them.

Workshop Social Media

Recently my colleague Jan van Veen and I have been giving internal workshops about social media. I shared the slides on Slideshare and would love to hear what you think of them.

We really enjoyed giving the workshop. There was lots of discussion with the participants and its great to see participants starting to use social media in their daily work! New workshops are being planned.

Google Living Stories also for Companies

4019442875_b66f667c22_b Not too long ago I shared an idea I had. Wouldn't it be neat if you could follow a news topic? I wrote:

Wouldn't it be interesting if you could just point to the article or video about the topic and say: subscribe to all articles about this topic. A topic-RSS feed. Of course you can do this for big topics, using hashtags in Twitter for instance. And you can also define a query and subscribe to that feed, using Google Alerts for instance. But for smaller topics it's not that easy.

Or am I missing something? Or do you know of apps that already solve this problem?

Well, it looks like some people at Google had the same thoughts. Recently Google launched 'Living stories'. The NY Times and the Google System blog ran articles about this new app. Currently it only works with news from two large newspapers: The New York Times and The Washington Post. But it relates well to my idea.

Think about what this could mean. We could be able to point to an article on the web and say: send updates on this news item when they show up. And we can take this even further: inside companies. For some topics a lot of time is need to make decisions. How often do we not forget about the topic that was interesting at a certain point in time? For instance, maybe you worked on a strategic plan. Before management actually decides to act on the proposals in the plan and start project, it could be months later. Say you could subscribe to the 'living story' 'strategic plan x'. When management makes next steps, you'll be updated. In the mean time you can focus on other stuff. By the way, this is also a great way to see if internal and external news gets any follow up at all. We forget so quickly. But to show and visualize all the 'next actions' or 'no actions' also shows if the promise that was made is lived up to.

What do you think about Living Stories? Do you see other ways it can be applied on the internet or inside companies? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Here's a short video explaining Living Stories.

[Picture by Hungry Hungry - thx]

Towards the Workplace Web - Review Global Intranet Trends for 2010

cover2010 It must take Jane McConnell a lot of time to write her yearly Global Intranet Trends report. 300 organizations participated in her Intranet survey this year! At least it took me a lot of time to read the report! But it was well worth my time again. And I'm sure it's worth your time (and money) as well.

I'd like to share with you what I learned from this report. Hopefully it will trigger you to read the report as well. I'd also like to share why I take time to read this report. Let's start there.

Intranet and the state of the intranet may seem to be boring and 'old skool'. 'Social media in the enterprise', that's what we want to read about and discuss. Well, this report is basically about all the web applications in organizations and how they are connected, used, valued, developed, etc. I find that very interesting. But what I find even more interesting is that the intranet says a lot about and contributes to the way we communicate in the organization and share information. Jane's yearly report marks the progress on this topic. And, concluding from this report, most companies still have a long way to go.

So that's one of the ways I use the report. As a mirror to see yourself and the corporate web initiatives (Jane calls it the "Workplace web"). How far are we compared to the other participants?

Another reason I read it is to get good ideas from other participants. I'm triggered most by the things that don't seem to work for most companies. I'd like to know more, but usually the report doesn't go into those details. And that's understandable - I'd have even more to read.

And a final reason is to measure the state of enterprise 2.0 adoption. (I think Jane's report would be read by much more people if it had the words 'enterprise 2.0' and 'adoption' in the (sub)title somewhere... ;-))

Now what did I learn from this report? Here are some highlights. (Find Jane's own highlights here.)

  1. I said: We still have a long way to go. This is underlined by the fact that only 15% of the participants have a "unified workplace web". 55% have "hybrid workplaces" and 30% have a fragmented intranet landscape.
  2. 40% of the organizations have the Communications department as the owner of the Intranet. Human Resources is still surprisingly not present in Intranet steering groups.
  3. Senior management is slowly finding the intranet more important (+10%).
  4. "Out-of-date and missing information" is a big problem in 20% of the organizations.
  5. Related to the previous point, the survey says the 'read-write-intranet' is still far away for most companies. Only 20% of the organization allow commenting on official content. 30% are experimenting with social networking tools. And 10% have personal pages. About 25% of the organizations have implemented some from of social media. Interestingly "the difficulty of finding information" is rated 10% higher than by organization who have not yet experimented with social media ("more silos", p. 76). It would be interesting to hear more from the participants about the search engines they use and their configuration (p. 40). Only 50% have a search strategy... (p. 41)
  6. The mobile intranet is being planned by 25% of the participants.
  7. Jane defines the "real-time intranet" by pointing to "technologies such as presence indicators, instant messaging and web conferencing". Later on she also points to microblogging. To be a bit picky about definitions... I'd would call the 'real-time intranet' all internal synchronous web communication (p. 51). In my opinion, blogs for instance wouldn't fit in this definition. By the way, only Twitter and Yammer are referred to when asked about microblogging (p. 90 footnote).
  8. An interesting trend reshaping the intranet is the "place-independent intranet". It would be interesting to see if the geo trend on the Web (location-based services) will also influence the intranet. I tried to find numbers for the trend to move the intranet to the extranet, but could not find them. I see many companies moving their intranet to the extranet (a.o. to collaborate with external parts and to support tele-commuting). I'm curious if Jane has data to support this. And it would be interesting to know how companies are doing this (via VPN, tokens, DMZ, ...).
  9. How mature is your intranet (organization)? This is an interesting part of the report. What I was wondering is what the % of organizations is in every stage?
  10. There's an interesting figure on p. 22 with a strong statement: intranets are not very "people-focused". Most intranets do have a who-is-who tool (which is not updated frequently... (p. 59), but that doesn't make it people-focused. And "team spaces" are usually outside the intranet. (p. 48) This is where people do the work... I think this is one of the core problems of intranets. If you don't connect the intranet to employees' daily work, the intranet will be 'yet another tool'. This is also a key to getting senior management on board. Intranet teams could start out by asking: Why would someone from senior management want to go to the intranet 3 times a day? If you find the answer to that question I'm sure you'll have senior management buy-in.
  11. Prediction markets is still a hidden gem. Used by almost none of the participants.

One last question for Jane. You use origami figures as visuals in your report. I tried to find a reason to relate origami with intranet, but I couldn't. Is there a reason you chose to use these visuals? Just curious. ;-)

Thanks for this report Jane and all the work you put into it! I hope many will read and process this report and share what they're doing with it on their blogs.

Trust in a Smart Way

trust A couple of days ago I posted about 'candor'. In that same issue of HBR another article was written about 'trust'. Roderick Kramer wrote "Rethinking Trust" (June 2009) - summary pdf here.

The open source, web 2.0 and knowledge management domain talks about trust a lot. We should be opener as people and as companies. We should trust our customers more. Etc.

However the economic turmoil we're in and how we got there puts a question mark behind 'trust'. Isn't it naive to trust? And to be open? If you don't watch out people will run off with your product ideas and, even worse, your money.

Kramer wants to 'rethink trust'. We can learn who to trust and how to trust in a more disciplined and sustained way. Even though "human beings are naturally predisposed to trust. (...) We're born to be engaged and to engage with others, which is what trust is largely about."

Kramer defines several rules to help us trust in the 'right' way:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Start small
  3. Write an escape clause
  4. Send strong signals
  5. Recognize the other person's dilemma
  6. Look at roles as well as people
  7. Remain vigilant and always question

Of course he elaborates on these rules. I thought number 3 is interesting. Research says when "people have a clearly articulated plan for disengagement, they can engage more fully and with more commitment." Never thought of that. Is this true to you? I'm not sure it is to. But maybe I don't "know myself" (number 1) well enough... ;-)

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Creating a Culture of Candor

candor I recently learned an important new word: candor. "Candor" is honesty, openness, sincerity. HBR ran an interesting article about this term and what it means for business some time ago: "What's needed next: A Culture of Candor" (June 2009) by James O'Toole and Warren Bennis.

When talking about 'enterprise 2.0' and openness and transparency, words like 'trust' and 'authenticity' are often also discussed. Another important aspect is 'candor'. The authors stress its importance due to the context we live and work in:

Now the forces of globalization and technology have conspired to complicate the competitive arena, creating a need for leaders who can manage rapid innovation. Expectations about the corporation's role in social issues such as environmental degradation, domestic job creation, and even poverty in the developing world have risen sharply as well.

According to the authors this context asks for a specific type of leadership. The metric of corporate leadership will be: "the extent to which executives create organizations that are economically, ethically, and socially sustainable."

For leaders 'transparency' is one of the ways to go, although it seems to be contradictory to most leaders:

Organizational transparency makes sense rationally and ethically, and it makes businesses run more efficiently and effectively. But leaders resist it even so, because it goes against the grain of group behavior and, in some way, even against human nature.

Even though they know and are learning - as we all are! - that the "ability to keep secrets is vanishing - in large part because of the internet."

What leaders - and we all do - forget is this culture of transparency, of candor, does not come automatically. It's hard. It has lots to do with the way we see information and knowledge. And do we accept that knowledge is no longer power?

A culture of candor doesn't just develop on its own - the hoarding of information is far too persistent in organizations of all kinds. That said, leaders can take steps to create and nurture transparency. The bottom line with each of these recommendations it that leaders need to be role models: They must share more information, look for counterarguments, admit their own errors, and behave as they want others to behave.

So, what's the first step towards a culture of candor?

... create an unimpeded flow of information and an organizational climate in which no one fears the consequences of speaking up. ...extensive share of information is critical to both organizational effectiveness and ethics.

Because "...better information helps them make better decisions."

Now, let's get to work and create this culture!

What Do Twitter Lists Mean to Me and for Business?

Twitter - Home_1259335488251 What do Twitter Lists mean? I think it will take a while to find out. Jeremiah Owyang points to recruiting: When hiring see on how many Lists they are mentioned. Debbie Weil calls Lists "the new measure of cool". Denis Hancock of Wikinomics also relates Lists to popularity, but wonders if popularity relates more to the number of people that follow your lists or the number of lists you're on. And Robert Scoble shares how Lists have changed the way he follows tweets.

I'm happy we have lists. One of the reasons people were using Tweetdeck, Brizzly and the like had to do with the fact that had no functionality to group the people you follow. And what these groups meant to us was clear. They were our own private groups in Tweetdeck and Brizzly.

Of course there were sites that helped people find tweeps related to certain topics. For instance Wefollow. However in Wefollow you could say which list you wanted to belong too. The amount of followers and people you follow made up your number on the list.

But what do Twitter Lists mean? My first idea was to change my groups in Tweetdeck and Brizzly into private Twitter Lists. So I did. But why would I keep them private? To show I don't read all the tweets of the people I follow? To show I read some tweets more closely than others? But everybody does, so why should I be ashamed of that? So, I opened up. All my old groups are now Lists.

But what do these lists mean? Well, I just hinted one meaning. I have three groups (at the moment) with tweeps that I follow closely. Following Luis Suarez's terminology I labeled them 'villages'. In this way I also want to make a statement: I follow these groups closely but there is no difference in importance or closeness between these groups. Maybe there will be in the future.

Lists have another meaning to me as well. How many Lists are you on? What does it do to you when you're on someone's Lists? Well, I feel flattered. And it encourages me. It also gives me a notion of what the List owner thinks of me. It tells me a bit about what expertise they think I have. (The weird thing about my List label 'village' is that I don't send that signal to the people on my list. It just tells them they are close to me and I follow them closely. Maybe this is a reason to change the label term in the future?)

But what do Twitter Lists mean to companies? Should companies build their own lists? And what does it mean for a company to be on a list? It would be interesting to see if the amount of Lists a company is on correlates with revenues or turn-over. Do you think this will correlate? What do you think Lists will mean for enterprises? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Following Tweets

image Finding the right tools to support your daily work is important. To me at least. I'm not a super early adopter, but if I see a tool that fits my needs I'll go ahead and try it.

When this post was in draft I was planning to write about Tweetdeck: why I use it, how I use it and why I love it. However I practically stopped using Tweetdeck. Why? Well, I tweeted about it here and here: I'm loosing too many tweets. More specifically: I simply don't want to miss tweets from some people. That's one of the reasons I started to read tweets from Google Reader (which doesn't really work for me). (I also use Google Reader to backup my tweets. This does work great.) I didn't uninstall Tweetdeck yet, though. I found myself using Tweetdeck again to live tweet a conference...

What I liked about Tweetdeck is what everybody likes about it: It makes tweeting much easier. Retweeting is easy, defining Groups is easy, adding hashtags (automatically) is easy, etc.


Then I bumped into Brizzly! Brizzly is a webclient, a layer over Twitter. It is still in beta. It is far better than the Twitter website. At the time I started using it Twitter Lists and Retweet was not available yet. Brizzly had these features and implements them well. Brizzly called Lists Groups, but changes their Groups to Lists when Twitter launched Lists. There's a bi-directional sync of Lists (making List in Brizzly shows up on the Twitter site and vice versa). Adding people to Lists in much easier in Brizzly (incremental search).

Retweet has been implemented in Brizzly like it is in Tweetdeck. Even though Twitter now also has Retweet functionality, I still like the old way better (and so I agree with Stowe Boyd).

The best part of Brizzly is when you scroll through your tweets, the page is updated automatically. You can scroll down and down through an endless list of tweets.

So, although the Twitter website is moving in this direction, I have enough reasons to stay with Brizzly!

Do you use Brizzly too? Tell me about your experiences. And what tools do you use to follow tweets?

UPDATE Nov. 21, 2009: I forgot to mention some other features I like about Brizzly. Brizzly clearly shows the tweets you haven't read yet. So, you know where you left off last time you were reading tweets. I also like the fact that Brizzly expands url's automatically for you, so you can see the url and make a better decision to click on it or not.

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What is Knowledge Management?

bulb Oof! I've been wanting to write about this for some time... There's always been debate on how to define 'knowledge management'. Dave Snowden is one of the big thinkers in this area. He has always been critical of the old-skool knowledge management approaches and definitions. Interestingly the social Internet is showing he has been pretty right all along.

Snowden came up with a definition not too long ago. (I'm not sure it's his first attempt, as Luis Suarez says. At least Snowden implicitly defined what KM is here, for instance.) Here's his definition:

The purpose of knowledge management is to provide support for improved decision making and innovation throughout the organization. This is achieved through the effective management of human intuition and experience augmented by the provision of information, processes and technology together with training and mentoring programmes.

The following guiding principles will be applied

  • All projects will be clearly linked to operational and strategic goals
  • As far as possible the approach adopted will be to stimulate local activity rather than impose central solutions
  • Co-ordination and distribution of learning will focus on allowing adaptation of good practice to the local context
  • Management of the KM function will be based on a small centralized core, with a wider distributed network

Some comments:

  • KM provides support for "improved decision making and innovation". I agree, but I've been thinking: Is this all it supports? Couldn't it support the product creation process for instance? If so, maybe this can be solved by adding 'process' after 'decision making and innovation'.
  • I miss the word 'learning' in this definition. It's in training and mentoring. Maybe these words could be replaced by 'learning'
  • I love the principles. The nice thing about principles is that we almost don't need a definition when we comply to the principles. Small comment on the first principle: I agree with that principle, but can't we go a little deeper there by saying 'All info generated in projects will be clearly linked etc.'?

Mary Abraham has a nice post about this definition as well. After commenting on the principles she says: "In this context, a global KM Czar is going to be superfluous and unwelcome."

I wish this would be true. However I think we will always need someone to coordinate KM because it's human to forget to share, for instance (- "because I'm too busy to share").

To round up this post I'd also like to point to Snowden's presentation for KMIndia about 'Social computing'. It's mostly about the way he works (personal KM!) and uses social tools to share and learn. He restates this 7 principles of KM. He opens the presentation with a great quote:

What's new about the new economy is that work is conversation. (Alan Webber).

It has always been, we just forgot about it for a while. (Dave Snowden)

Very true!

So, what do you think of this definition? Does it describe KM well? What do you miss? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Finding Experts in Your Organization

reef_knot Some very interesting posts about Enterprise 2.0 tools and Expertise Location have been published recently. Let's start with the last one I read first.

Prof. Andrew McAfee has a great post about where he finds enterprise 2.0 tools are of most use. In short he says these tools are be used to reach out and connect to people we have weak ties with, potential ties or no ties at all. He's not saying they can't be used to support strong ties. They simply do and can. But when asked what gap e2.0 tools fill, it's firstly not the support of those strong ties.

This is very interesting. And I agree with his conclusion. We're seeing this in practice too in the company I work for. The surprise it gives people when they connect to people inside or outside the organization they've never met before!

McAfee's conclusions also relates to work done knowledge mapping and expertise location. And to a book I read some time ago: Cross & Parker, 'The hidden power of social networks'. It would be interesting to see if we could extend Dunbar's number. Then Dunbar relates to the number of strong ties we can maintain, <fill in name of number> number relates to the number of weak ties, etc. I'll get back to Dunbar below in this post.

Then the Wall Street Journal had an interesting post titled 'Who knows what?' It also addressed how companies can improve expert finding. The authors of the article point solely to social computing tools to help employees find experts in the organization in a quicker, more effective way.

This is definitely a way to go. But it also requires employees to use social computing tools and make their knowledge explicit. We know how hard this is, and it's sometimes not feasible at all. I blogged about this topic and the different strategies to expert finding several times in the past. Ross Dawson points to the WSJ post as well, and has written quite a bit about this topic.

Now back to Dunbar. Seth Godin had a nice (short - as always!) post about Dunbar's number. Stowe Boyd replied back that Godin doesn't get Dunbar's number. Godin says: Dunbar's number is the law. Our social networks are limited to around 150 people. We can only know about 150 people very well and maintain strong ties with them. This was the fact before the Internet and it still is. Boyd says: Not true. This is not what Dunbar meant and the Internet is proving that Dunbar's number needs to be updated. Mike Speiser over at GigaOM also thinks along this line.

I'm not really sure if the difference between Godin and Boyd is that big. Godin is not saying we can't have 'weak' or 'possible' ties. But the limitation to 'strong ties' is around 150. I agree with Godin this is something we need to keep in mind when we work for large companies, but also when we populate our social tools with way more than 150 friends. Keeping ties strong with more than 150 people is hard. Some can do it, but most can't.

I'd love to hear what you thing about expert finding in organizations. And do you think Dunbar's number needs to be updated or is not applicable to the Internet?

Presentation #kmnl by Bozena van Trigt

And here's the last presentation of the KM 'Made in Holland' meeting. Bozena van Trigt of Triam Float kindly emailed me a link to her presentation. I had to leave early, so I had to miss her presentation regrettably and don't have notes going along with this presentation... But I will, as requested by Bozena, share her presentation here for completeness sake!

The topic of her presentation is very interesting: knowledge management in a process operator environment.

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Presentation #kmnl by Rienke Schutte

Title of presentation: Wikipolicy: institutional policy & social software by Rienke Schutte, Hogeschool Zuyd, Knowledge community Knowledge Organizations and Knowledge Management. Related article about the Wikipolicy.
In 2008, the 'Hogeschool' (English: college) initiated a project entitled “Policy Workshop 2013”. The result of this project would be a policy framework for their organization. The new policy should bring together insights, opinions and wishes of students, staff and stakeholders. A wiki was one of the instruments to achieve that goal.
Objectives of the project:
  • powerful, stakeholder oriented vision strategic direction
  • shift towards a co-creative organization
Plan of action (in 2008):
  • wiki with 4 main topics (platform: Wikispaces)
  • conferences for managers, teams, external experts (educational/non-educational)
  • work meetings
  • flyers
  • weekly blog members of the board
  • Café 2020 (SURF - foundation scenario's)
  • formal conclusions by management
Evaluation of the project:
  • enthusiastic discussion in work- and staff meetings
  • lots of corridor chat
  • representative Advisory Body were involved
  • limited participation students and external stakeholders in the wiki
Limited active participation in the wiki was due to:
  • involvement with the topic (what's in it for me?)
  • unstructured nature of the process and open medium
  • initial text not seen as an incentive
  • pressure of work
Conclusions of the project:
  • main issues strategic direction taken for granted
  • commitment of the Board insufficient to raise participation
  • future: implementation of horizontal dialogue (Organization 2.0) on limited amount of subjects and related to the concrete work of stakeholders
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Presentation #kmnl by Ton Zijlsta

Title of presentation: Autonomous (self-steered) learning in groups.

In 2007 the HR department of the Hogeschool Rotterdam heard of presentation by Wim Veen ("Homo zappiens") about Gen Y, etc. They wanted to undestand this deeply and act on it.
Goal of their HR department was to change the education style and learning methods.
Ton tells about how the project to achieve the goals was set up. I love the way this project was organized without fixed gates. They explicitly took a more chaotic approach. Progress of the project was measured based on quality measures. This gave educators lots of opportunities to try, experiment, fail, learn, etc. without time pressure. Examples: blogging, make screencasts, education and video's.
Also points to the Social Media Classroom.
Yammer was also set up to keep the community together after the project ended.
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Presentation #kmnl by Christiaan Stam

Christiaan Stam, associate lector, knowledge community Intellectual Capital, Hogeschool INHolland.

Title: Learning from elderly people.

Look at ageing from knowledge management perspective.

This work was triggered by a thesis in his PhD thesis: "In the near future the success of companies depends on the will to invest in the development of older employees."

Provides numbers on demographics and ageing.

The image of older workers is based on prejudices, myths. They are false, but self-fulfilling.

How can we retain knowledge from older workers? (brain drain) Lots is being done (successfully) by companies, such as Thales and Shell, in this area.

Christiaan would like to address this question scientifically, using CIMO-logic (Context, Intervention, Mechanism, Outcome).

Gives 6 intervention for knowledge retention:

  • file transfer conversation
  • leaving expert interviews
  • expert-apprentice relation
  • individual gap analysis
  • knowledge recall

Based on the analysis of the above-mentioned interventions with the CIMO-logic, Christiaan derives statements, such as:

To increase the productivity of employees (O), etc.

Interesting preliminary conclusions are:

  • the different methods have comparable outcomes.
  • the effects of the methods are mostly implicit
  • codification strategy also has effect on personal productivity
  • most of the learning is applying the method itself, not in the knowledge is delivers.

Presentation #kmnl 2009 by Rene Jansen

Rene Jansen gave the second presentation at KM Made in Holland. Here's his presentation (in Dutch):

Some personal notes:

Winkwaves (gestart in 2005) is Rene's company. Their fascination is how people live together and collaborate in knowledge intensive organizations.

And how "untapped potential of technology can contribute when organization have more than one coffee machine".

Tells about Winkwave's Knowledge Cafés.

The different roles in social media: Tippers, Storytellers, self-advertisers, Archivers, Promotors, Reactors, Connectors, lurkers, one day flies.

They use persona research: segmentation based on goals, attitude and behavior.

Points to the Soft systems methodology (Peter Checkland): start with looking at the way people really work/live.

Social media can only do the following: make content visible and support many-to-many conversations. Sheet 15 is very interesting in this context!

Gives explanation of what they did for the intranet site of D66 (Dutch political party). Button 'Thank you/Like' most used feature of knowledge café.

Also tells about how they see dynamic profiling and expert finding. Based on what they see how people interact.

Presentation #kmnl by Jose Kooken, Henny Leemkuil & Wilco Bonestroo

This presentation gives an overview of the APOSDLE project (Advanced Process-oriented self-directed learning environment). Title of the presentation is "Learning in the workplace: supporting it by the APOSDLE system".

This project runs from March 2006 to February 2010 and has 12 partners.

Goal of this project is to design a domain independent system for knowledge workers using exciting sources in the company.


  1. People mostly learn at work in a self-steered way. > True, learning at a computerized workspace is seen.
  2. Self-steered learning during work is mostly initiated by the actual work people do. > True, a work task is the most important trigger for learning.
  3. During self-steered learning at work bottlenecks occur that should be overcome. > True, in general learning is successful (72%), but there are several issues. (non existing info, lots of info instead of precise info, experts not willing to share, etc.)
  4. Inter-personal communication is important when in self-steered office work. > True, practical applications and written material are checked, but inter-personal communication is essential.

This was used as requirements for the APOSDLE system. Henny tells what type of questions need to be answered by and the theoretical underpinnings of the learning system.

Wilco demo's the APOSDLE prototype. Looks like a huge expert system. I like the interactive part in the system: adding comments, highlights, etc. Also leads to expert finding tool implicitly.

The documents used in the system have to be added to the system manually and annotated manually. The original idea was to add documents automatically, and have system learn from the document. This is still an open issue.

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Presentation #kmnl by Samuel Driessen

This is my presentation for the KM Made in Holland meeting about 'enterprise wiki's @ Océ:

Got some interesting questions:

  1. about culture and wiki's and getting people to collaborate in wiki's
  2. how are disagreements about content in the wiki handled?
  3. what would happen if the wiki platform was taken away? Will work come to a grinding halt?
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At KM "Made in Holland" 2009 meeting

I'm at the second Knowledge Management "Made in Holland" meeting. The first one was held two years ago. I'll be blogging about most of the presentations. And some are also tweeting about this meeting. You can follow the tweets by searching for this tag: #kmnl.

Focus of this year's meeting is: "Knowledge Management and learning at work".

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Every Morning

coffee Chris Brogan's post inspired me to tell you about my morning work routine. Like many social media enthusiasts I get lots of strange and anxious looks when I tell them about the way I work and the information I process. They're even more surprised when they hear it doesn't take as much time as you would think.

We'll here's my daily morning routine! Every morning, when I work at the office or at home, I open the following applications:

  • Outlook (client or web) = work email. Usually I can go grab a cup of coffee before Outlook is ready to use... I go through my mail following the GTD flow and empty my inbox (inbox zero). All email that can be processed in 2 minutes (which is about 90% of my email...) is done right away. Other emails contains tasks which are put on my Outlook task list, or contain an appointment (and is automatically put in my Calendar). If a task has to be finished by a certain date I'll allocate a slot in my calendar to be finished on time. I check my calendar for today's meeting and get an alert just before the meeting.
  • Gmail = private email. I process this inbox in the same way as Outlook.
  • Google Reader. I use this feed reader to pull information about the things that interest me, to me (about 200 feeds). Postrank helps me filter through feeds of sites and Google Alerts. Some sites have too many updates for me to process. Postrank tells me which one's are important or interesting. I usually don't read the posts right away. I star posts that seem to be interesting. I'll read them when I have time (on Friday afternoon or in between meetings). I also use Google Reader to back up my tweets and the tweets of people I follow.
  • Brizzly. I catch up on tweets using Brizzly. I used to use TweetDeck, but like Brizzly better. I mostly use Twitter for business purposes. I organized my followers in two groups that are important and interesting to me. People not in those two groups can get promoted by followers in my groups.
  • Yammer. We use Yammer for enterprise microsharing. I check the updates in Yammer.
  • FriendFeed. I used to use FF to merge all the social media streams I have into one stream. I stopped using it, because I found most stuff in FF were tweets anyway. I do dip into FF because of the interesting Youtube video's and pictures that are shared by friends. So I have a specific saved search to filter them out.
  • Google News. I check the news quickly (Dutch section).
  • Intranet. I check if there's any interesting corporate news.
  • Facebook. If I have some time I'll quickly see if their are Facebook updates. I mostly use Facebook to stay in contact with family and friends.

This takes about 30-45 minutes of my time. I don't have a smart phone (yet). I practically do this the same way every morning. A work routine is important in general, but definitely when you use social media. If I have a meeting in the morning, I'll do this later during the day or in the evening.

This is my way to stay connected with my friends, experts in the field and colleagues.

So, what does your morning routine look like?

Sharing Process Information

hands Does your company share and manage process information centrally? And, if so, where is that information share/stored?

I usually make a general distinction when thinking about enterprise information. I distinguish four types of information:

  • process information: information describing the processes of the company, the way of working and best practices, the document templates, etc.
  • product information: information about products, such as designs, requirements, parts descriptions, product structure(s), etc.
  • project information: information used to manage a project, like minutes, task lists, progress reports, customer visit reports, etc.
  • departmental information: information about resources, monthly reports about the department, presentations given to the department, etc.

In many companies process information is shared and stored all over the place. Part of the information can be found on the intranet. I think most process info is shared here. Some process information is stored within the project team on a share or project site. Other process info is shared in a more formal quality management tool (to be able to be ISO certified for instance).

What I'm seeing is that companies are slowly moving process information to the wiki (or a wiki-like platform). We are doing this too.

Processes, working methods, best practices, etc. is daily experience for employees. They have to work with them and they know what works and why. For this reason I think a wiki is a great way to share process information. Management could start the 'process wiki' by providing an initial structure and by monitoring its content (top-down). It is very important management doesn't start from scratch but acknowledges there's all kind of process information on the wiki already, it's mostly not coordinated yet. But the content itself will be provided, bottom-up, from the employees. Following the edits to this content gives lots of information about the way employees see the company, what really works according to them, and tells you who in the company is good at rightly in an analytical way about how the company works.

By having your employees provide the process information they are also committed to right it down in the way it actually is in daily practice and keep it up-to-date. It's not "something management imposed", but it's "ours" or "mine".

Furthermore, process and ways of working are not static, but alive. They change continuously, usually with small steps. Keeping up with these changes does not work with a complex governance structure on topic of a closed intranet or quality management site.

So, I'm curious: are you seeing process info move to wiki's? If so, share your experiences with us. If not, let us know how you manage process information.

Giving Praise and Showing Empathy

applauding Recently I read a couple of interesting posts/articles about innovation and invention.

First of all, Dev Patnaik has a nice post about what empathy has to do with innovation. Dev has seen "companies prosper when they're able to create widespread empathy for the world around them". Empathy is:

the ability to reach outside of ourselves and walk in someone else’s shoes, to get where they’re coming from, to feel what they feel.

And this should be widespread in the organization. People within the company are able to stand in each other's shoes and in the shoes of their customers. They understand what's happening outside and respond to that accordingly. In this way the edges of companies start to blur.

Dev says we're lacking empathy not innovation. This is an interesting point also related to the posts stressing the importance of an innovative culture.

One of the facets of empathy is praising others. Steven DeMaio over at the HBR blog has an interesting post on praising. Praising colleagues for who they are and the work they do fuels creativity and innovation. This is the opposite of the 'idea killers' heard too often in the office...

But how do you organize for innovation. HBR recently (Sept. 2009) ran an interesting article. Actually it's a two page visual showing how Lego organizes to innovate. "Innovating a Turnaround at Lego" tells the story. The core of Lego's turnaround is:

a new structure for strategically coordinating innovation activities, led by a cross-functional team...

The September issue of HBR also ran another interesting article about using 'mass collaboration' and 'open innovation' to find the next big idea at Cisco ("Inside Cisco's search for the next big idea"). I liked it because it shows that 'innovation by mass collaboration' is not a quick win. Cisco is open about how they sift through all the ideas (manually) and judge which ideas are keepers. But even though it is not an easy shot, they stress the results are invaluable.

We learned how people around the world think about Cisco and the markets we ought to be pursuing.

And finally Clive Thompson in the Wired magazine has a great post about daydreaming and invention.

Daydreaming isn’t just the mind’s way of processing information, though.

Other scans have found that the wandering mind also utilizes the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that’s involved in problem-solving.

Now I'm going off daydreaming!

Searching inside Companies

R&D gebouw Working for a large company can be tricky sometimes. Definitely when it comes to meeting a colleague you don't know. You only know his or her name and the meeting room.

Of course most companies have who-is-who databases with a picture of the colleague you're meeting (Yellow Pages). So now you can do some facial pattern recognition besides looking for the meeting room.

Can't this be done in a better way? Micello seems to have asked this too. They want to be the Google Maps of the inside of buildings. So Google Maps helps you find the address. Micello takes it from there and helps you find the location you're looking for after you went in the front door. For example: you're looking for a store in a shopping mall. Google Maps will take you to the mall. Micello will take you to the shop in the mall.

Now extend this to companies. Search (in general) in enterprises is usually not very well implemented. This also goes for finding locations insides companies. Micello could help solve this issue. It could map the inside of the company.

And take this idea one step further. What if you linked this application to Sharepoint or (internal) Twitter? Then you could project information on Micello like: where are the experts in a certain areas located, where do they meet, where do colleagues write about a certain topic, etc. All of a sudden you're not only search for the location (of a colleague); you're looking for people that could help you solve certain problems or work with you on a topic.

I think Micello has an promising proposition. I do hope it will be integrated in Google Maps or so someday. Because, as most knowledge workers, I don't want yet another tool to keep an eye on.

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I'm experimenting with Yammer...

... and all I got was a lousy T-shirt. ;-)

Just kidding. Just wanted to show-off my new Yammer T-shirt. Have a nice weekend!
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Inspiring Innovation Speaker

If I had no budget limitations, who would I invite to speak about innovation for my colleagues? Recently I was asked to provide a list of inspiring speakers about innovation. The focus of the talk should be in the area of creativity, innovation and invention. This is the list I came up with. If you have other's you would recommend, please leave a comment!

My list, again, in no specific order:

  1. Scott Berkun, author of 'The Myth of Innovation'. Nice book about what innovation is and what it's not.
  2. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of 'Flow: The psychology of optimal experience'.
  3. John Seely Brown, ex Xerox PARC director, talks, publishes and thinks about new forms of learning and education and the role of technology. Wrote an interesting report for McKinsey called ‘The next frontiers of innovation’ with the next person on this list
  4. John Hagel, thinker/author about mega trends (shifts) in the world and its meaning for enterprises.
  5. Clay Christensen, author of the well-known books about innovation: The Innovators Prescription, the Innovator's Dilemma and the Innovator's Solution.
  6. Dev Patnaik, author of book about innovation culture ('Wired to Care') and recently wrote a great article titled: ‘Innovation starts with empathy’.
  7. David Murray, recently wrote a book about building ideas on other ideas. It's titled ‘Borrowing Brilliance’.
  8. Henry William Chesbrough, the Open Innovation guru.
  9. Edward de Bono, author of several inspiring books about creativity, invention and innovation.
  10. Rene Jansen, inspiring speaker on the edge of organization, innovation and technology.
  11. Someone at IBM to tell about their (Innovation) Jam Sessions.
  12. Someone at Innocentive or Proctor & Gamble to tell about Innocentive and crowdsourcing innovation.
  13. Dave Snowden, special thinker and practioners on the edge of innovation and knowledge management.
  14. Thomas Davenport, recently published an interesting article about 'reverse engineering Google's innovation machine'.
  15. Tim Brown, director of IDEO about 'design thinking'.
  16. Darell Rigby, Kara Gruver and James Allen, authors of a June HBR article 'Innovation in Turbulent Times'. Interesting how they show companies that successfully and structurally innovate have paired leadership: analytic left-brainer thinkers and an imaginative right-brain partner.
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Favorite Books about Information and Knowledge Management

books Some time ago a friend asked me to give him a list of my favorite books about information and knowledge management. I emailed them to him, but I'd also like to share my list with you.

I'd like to hear how this list relates to your favorite IM and KM books. If you would recommend other books, please leave a comment with the title!

Here's my list (in no specific order):

  1. Chun Wei Choo, Information Management for the Intelligent Organization. Basic book on information management.
  2. Thomas Davenport, Thinking for a living. About the characteristics of knowledge work.
  3. Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive. Must read because the term 'knowledge worker' is used in this book for the first time.
  4. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information. Great book stressing that information is social. This is mainstream now, but at the time this book was published it wasn't...
  5. Mathieu Weggeman, Kennismanagement. [Dutch] The Dutch book about knowledge management.
  6. Ikujoro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, The knowlegde creating company. One of the core books in the knowledge management area. This book made KM mainstream. Their SECI model has been critiqued as too objectivistic and mechanistic. Dave Snowden has fundamental articles on this topic. He also shows that Nonaka related to the concept of ba before the book was published, showing the model wasn't meant as an all-encompassing model for knowledge management.
  7. Kazuo Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka, Knowledge Creation and management. An update of the previous book with other authors. Good overview over state-of-affairs of KM. Does not address web 2.0 though.
  8. Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management. A collection of fundamental articles about KM.
  9. Dave Snowden's work about knowledge management (not in a book yet).
  10. Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, Wikinomics. Not specifically a book about information and knowledge management. But it is a book about shifts in the way we see and manage information and knowledge.

Climate Change - Blog Action Day 2009

carpool Today is Blog Action Day! I just went over to the Blog Action Day site to see how many people have registered. At this time 8,103 sites have registered, resulting in 11,788,878 readers. Wow!

This year's Blog Action Day is about 'Climate Change'. A big topic these days. And I'm happy it is too. The number of times we talk about 'it' at home, at lunch, at the coffee corner or in the carpool with colleagues clearly shows: this issue grips lots of us.

However, because it's such a big topic and lots of people are talking about it, I'm also sensing that lots of people don't really know what to do about it. It's too big for me to really make a change. I don't agree, but I do understand. Is the fact that I'm doing all these small things in my personal life really making a change for our climate and the future of this world? This question is a serious one and should be answered regularly. I know all kinds of websites and organizations are providing tips for personal contributions to climate change. But even if lots of people listen to these tips and actually do them, they wonder: But if governments and big companies are the source of the problem, what effect does my good-doing have?

For this reason I think 'climate change' should be approached from two sides. Governments and business should show leadership with clear, measurable goals. Governments should also provide clear, measurable goals to people so they understand how they contribute to a greener world. Incentives in what ever way could encourage them to keep up the good work. I like the 'carpool lane' the US has. In the Netherlands we don't have one. The 'only' incentive to carpool is your personal finances and idealist reasons (- which is good enough in my opinion...).

Small, clear, measurable and actionable steps with which I can contribute to a cleaner and greener world. That's what I'm looking for. And I think that's what many people in this world need.

We are moving towards a more open and transparent world. This trends relates well to 'green' and 'climate change'. Consumers can now scrutinize companies openly for not be green or sustainable. But we still have some big steps to take here. And again, these big steps have to be broken down into smaller steps. For instance, when I buy a product I want to easily be able to see and understand if this product is green and sustainable. At the moment this is hard to do. And because it is, most consumers just buy the product.

So, I'm looking and asking for small steps to change. In this way we can all contribute and understand our contribution.

But until then, we don't have to sit still. I'm not either. Even though I don't always understand what my contribution will result in, contributing to make this world a 'better place' is just good in its own right. So, I try not to spill water and electricity. I carpool to work (which is great because we get to talk and share ideas about climate change a.o.). I isolate my house as best as possible. I separate different kinds of trash. Etc.

I'm curious: what are you think about climate change? And how are you contributing? Do you think 'small steps' will help overall? Blog about what you are doing and join the Blog Action Day!

Ideas Built on Other Ideas

833building_blocks Wow, looks like there's a new interesting book out. It's called Borrowing Brilliance. The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others by David Murray. I'm definitely going to buy it. Why?

Well, the review in BusinessWeek triggered me. This book seems to look at ideas, creativity and innovation being sparked by other (older) ideas. I think this point is often overlooked. Your idea has to be brand new to be a good idea. Your invention has to be done all by yourself or else it's not really an invention. This book says: That's not true. Lots of inventions and innovations are sparked by old(er) ideas and innovations.

And it provides six steps to help you apply this fact in your personal practice or in your business. As I understand the first step is: define the problem you want to solve. What I'm hoping is that the book will say: Try to define your problem as a wish. My experience is that looking at a problem can limit the creativity of the people trying to solve it. To get around this don't say: The problem is..., but say: It would be great if 'this and this' would be possible.

What also triggered me about this book is how well it relates to the concepts underlying Web 2.0. Web 2.0 has a lot to do with sharing ideas openly, building on other's ideas, praising others for their ideas, etc.

However, this is also the hard part. If building on ideas of others is good, how do we cultivate and encourage that? We all know employees hate it when someone else takes your ideas extends it and goes off with te success (- even though we like Truman's quote...). I think this can be done. And I hope to tell you how soon.

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Blog Action Day 2009: Are You Participating?

bad-300-250 I just registered for this year's Blog Action Day about Climate Change!

I participated last year too. I really like the initiative. It's a really smart way of getting all kinds of people together on the web thinking about one issue. What you have to do to join in? Just write one post on the 15th of October about 'climate change' and link to the Blog Action Day site. It's that easy.

So, are you also participating?

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Océ's Social Media Guidelines

Recently Luis Suarez pointed to this nice overview of the different social media policies companies have (- Thanks Luis!). It's nice also from the perspective that it shows which and how many companies are taking social media seriously.

However, Océ's social media policy hasn't been shared yet... We'll here it is! As you may notice our policy has been inspired by IBM's. So, thanks for leading us IBM!

Océ Social Computing Guidelines

  1. Océ encourages all employees to communicate open and transparent, for the benefit of Océ, your colleagues worldwide and yourself. With regards to participation in social media on behalf of Océ, it is required to obtain management approval in advance and to focus your contributions on topics related to your position.
  2. Every Océ employee has signed a contract with Océ. Act according to the guidelines provided in this contract. These guidelines also apply when communicating on-line.
  3. Every employee is personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media internally and externally.
  4. Identify yourself- name and, when relevant, role at Océ, when you discuss Océ or Océ related matter externally and write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Océ. You can use a disclaimer such as: the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Océ’s position, strategies or opinions.
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don’t provide any confidential information or information that is meant to be private or confidential to Océ.
  7. Don’t cite or refer to clients, partners, colleagues or suppliers without their approval.
  8. Respect your audience. Don’t engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Océ’s workplaces.
  9. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.
    Oce’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish will reflect on Oce’s brand, your colleagues and yourself.
  10. Don’t talk about our competitors.
  11. Stop publishing if your manager says so.

Well, that's it. What do you think? Like it?

Implementing Sharepoint at Océ

Just wanted to point you to the following post. Recently two colleagues of mine were interviewed about their work in rolling out Sharepoint in the company I work for. It's a nice story and their approach is thoughtful.

I'm curious if your Sharepoint implementation is different. If it is could you explain in which way or point to your post describing it?

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Too Much Communication

plugged_ears1242413101 Last weekend I read an intriguing article in the Dutch newspaper, NRC. A communication researcher, Tjardus van Citters, wanted to give us all well-meaning advice. (Dutch titel: 'Welgemeend advies van een communicatie-expert: minder communicatie, s.v.p', Sept. 20, 2009.)

His article gives an overview of the sources that are increasing the number of signals we process each day. For instance the number of communication providers has increased. And the fact that our senses are being addressed more than ever.

This overview leads to his advice to communicate less. Why? Because our health is at stake. Our brains get more impulses to process. The model of 'selective perception' is out-dated. We get irritated by communication we did not want to see, leading to restlessness, even illness.

He therefore advises us to turn off signals. Read the news once a week instead of every few hours. Unsubscribe to things you don't want to receive. Be clear what kind of emails you don't want to get. Read from paper instead of screen (- you can concentrate on paper better than with reading from a screen, he says). And remember: the interest/importance of the message is defined by the sender.

Wow. This is really different from the trend that says we we moving to 'life streaming', 'filtering' and the 'real-time web'. I don't feel I'm becoming sick, irritated, etc. by the amount of information and communication signals I'm processing. Of course I do find we should think before we communicate and share. It should be mindful.

But I feel like I'm missing something here. Are you experiencing what is described in this post? And where can I read more about this subject, also proving the statement that more communication is unhealthy?

Recruiting New Style

Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat and Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams in Wikinomics have predicted that the way companies will recruit people will be fundamentally different in the future.

In the past the model was easy: Get the best and brightest people to work for you. Of course these new employees would move close to your company and work inside the firewall as much as possible.

Of course we've seen some movement in this area. Outsourcing of jobs to India or China. Tele-commuting, working-more-from-home, etc.

At first I thought it looked like Google has taken this a step further. But this is fake (Twitter spam...). But the idea is great and got me thinking. In short the site said: Everyone with a computer and a broadband connection can work for us right from their homes. (And aren't we already, but clicking on links!? ;-)) Seriously, this could be interesting and big in my opinion. This 'offer' is 'only' focused on the US and Canada. But what if - and I'm sure they will - they would extend this to the world?

I told my wife about this as if it were real. She's not working (a paid job at least...) at the moment and taking care of this kids. But she responded right away: Great, I'd like to work for them!

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