Last month, he announced a new community in Slack around the same topic. Why two communities? As he brings out in that G+ post, while the G+ community is very much a Community of Interest, the Slack team is for those people who are both interested and driving initiatives (large or small) to reduce the inefficiencies we all suffer through an over-use of email – a Community of Practice.
The nature of a practice-based community that’s working well is that people share real experiences, and I’m reticent to copy even my own stuff verbatim. If you are interested, Luis opens the group to all – although as he says with a true sense of irony, he needs an email address to let people in! See the G+ post for more information.
One minor experiment of my own that I’m happy to share, as a quick test of how well it’s going, has been to leave Outlook closed this week. I’ve been aiming to only use webmail and web calendar – and so far it’s working OK – I’ve also noticed that my browser tabs for SharePoint, Yammer and the other services I use during my working day have been open far more often than the mail tabs.
A long way from the sort of metrics that would be needed at an organisation level, but nevertheless a good quick test…
A few short points on the “why and what” of PKM – this is a placeholder post that I will expand with more links over time.
Why is Personal Knowledge Management important?
In very simple terms, we all need to earn a living, and in the modern workplace some of the most important facets contributing to that are:
what we know
who we know
how well we acquire, internalise and apply new knowledge
Beyond that, there is the change in the nature of work – more and more work is being automated, and not just at the level of manual labour or transaction processing. The jobs that are left will be those where work cannot be standardised, and this sort of work relies heavily on tacit knowledge.
Seeking is about choosing the right sources, and using the right tools to select high quality information. One of the best ways of doing this is to use human filters – people whose views you trust and who share knowledge.
Sensing is about internalisation and action
Sharing is the giving back, the act that establishes you as a valuable member of the network in your own right.
Some behaviours need to be unlearned, some need to be taken from email to a new environment (15:27):
Email is used to manage people in a bad way (15:40), and this is getting carried through into a collaborative environment (“big brother”). Example of team who put completed work on their task list so management don’t think they have been idle.
Social networks expose the underlying behaviours (17:38) (ref @hjarche), and will help identify a dysfunctional corporate culture – some are threatened by this, but (18:15) it’s an opportunity to surface issues which the leadership need to tackle
Bad behaviour stems from leadership (20:34) – and the behaviour of leaders on social tools will determine how the rest of the company behave
Going back to basics, but on the principle of narrating my work, here’s a short post I published today inside the firewall…
What is it?
Most people will be familiar with the idea of “bookmarks” (aka “favourites”) in a web browser – the menu option on IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox etc. to save the site links that I use most often, or find most interesting.
Social Bookmarking tools take this idea and extend it in ways that are not only useful to me as an individual, but which also make it simple to share links with other people.
At their simplest they are a web application to which you can add links (and they mostly provide little browser plugins that mean you can do it inside your browser). Two of the best known examples are Diigo and Delicious, and each of these also allow options such as tagging, marking links as private etc.
Beyond that, different services off different features, for example Diigo provides extended capabilities to annotate and highlight web pages
Why would I want to use it?
At a personal level, keeping links in a social bookmark service means that I can:
access my bookmarks wherever I am,
access my bookmarks on whatever device I am using to browse the web
use tagging to organise my bookmarks
Beyond the personal use, these tools have even more value when I work as part of a group or team:
choosing to follow other people’s bookmarks, as a way of using their knowledge as an intelligent filter of the “firehose” of information on the web
choosing to use specific tags for sharing information within a team
on some platforms, forming groups (private or open) into which I can post bookmarks and comments
Social Bookmarking in a learning context
One model for thinking about how individuals can best manage and create knowledge in a networked environment is Harold Jarche‘s “Seek Sense Share” framework.
Social Bookmarking is a key part of Seeking – “finding things out and keeping up to date”. The social aspect supports the practice of finding colleagues or commentators whose judgement I trust, and who I can use as “information filters”.
As part of the site revamp, I wanted a place where I could put “narrating my work” type posts that were outside of the main site flow – the nature of these are that they are often quick and partial, and I find having them in the main flow inhibits my writing.
The obvious place to start, was with a Custom Post Type, but unfortunately most of the things I use to write to this site (Word and the WordPress iOS app) don’t support CPTs.
A bit of digging, and I think I may have a workflow – certainly something I’m willing to try for a while:
… locks up information in silos – a lot of company knowledge creation is carried out in email threads visible only to those involved, and almost impossible for anyone else to discover, leading to duplication of work,
… is exclusive, with conversations only open to those who the sender sought to include
which can lead to lower quality work, because the conversation does not necessarily include the right people
and which completely prevents
… is intrusive – when you send me an email you force my attention to your issue, interrupting my thoughts
… is a terrible way to share lists of actions (especially if they are buried in an email chain
… spawns and propagates some of the worst forms of office politics with the use of cc and bcc
I decided a while ago that my blog theme had become just too complicated – over the years I had added more and more “good ideas” until the page was utterly swamped in widgets.
So I’m trying to get back to basics with a stripped down theme. Perhaps it will stimulate me to write a bit more?
The complete lack of posts in 2013, and almost complete lack in 2012, are a reflection of what was going on in my professional life. During 2012 the organisation I had been with for two years folded, only to rise again in the form of a management buyout. We’ve had a great start, and are thriving now. My personal challenge has been to bootstrap an information infrastructure from almost nothing – we started with a legacy database and the laptops we bought from the administrators, nothing else, not even an internet connection for the first month.
Thanks to a cloud-first strategy we have made huge leaps forward, and the business is doing well. Basic collaboration tooling has all been delivered using public cloud offerings, and we are in the middle of migrating our core line of business app to a SAAS platform.
“Back to basics” has become a mantra, as we seek to deliver as much as we can with a close eye on costs. it’s also become something of a personal theme – in the face of necessity I have had to get closer to the technology than I had been for years in other management jobs. I have found that writing code is deeply satisfying, I have rediscovered my inner Builder. (In the spirit of “cobbler’s children”, that also means this site will be highly-lacking in fancy code-ness!).
In a more reflective mood this has led me to wonder why we so often associate “seniority” with becoming distant from the tools of the job? In large organisations it makes sense that as the volume of resources you have to manage becomes larger you spend time managing teams of teams of teams. But I’d argue that in the SME world a different sort of technology leader is needed – I think it’s much more like being the Chief Engineer of a ship – you have limited resources, but you still have to make the thing work, and keep working. Sometimes that’s about finding the right partners, and managing them well, but sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and write the thing yourself!
“Back to basics” is also a reminder to myself of the simple processes that keep work flowing and a sense of control – Kanban and GTD in particular.