Inside Knowledge has a great article on the work my friend and colleague Euan Semple has been getting up to. He introduced me to blogging, so I’m really pleased to see him getting the sort of profile he deserves.
Although I first skimmed this paper back in May I’ve finally got around to reading it properly and writing some summary notes.
At an emotional level I feel pleased that a behaviour that I find natural (i.e. to dip into different work groups or areas of study and share ideas between them) and feel to be one of the more useful of my talents is shown to have measurable benefits. If anything it prompts the networker’s perennial question – “which groups haven’t I tapped into yet?”
Great article on the why of business collaboration from CIO.com. [via Tris Hussey]
Over at Headshift Suw Charman has done a great job of capturing the 11 core themes from the Blogwalk “Window Wiki“. As people reflect on the event there is discussion about how to best develop the ideas from this session and how to ensure better learning next time. Here’s my three-ha’porth, modified slightly from my own comment to that discussion:
Reflection and Memory
Memory-wise I find the “little black book” with a few key phrases or bullet points essential to remember the flow of the day.
However I’m not keen to have a formal plenary “writing it down” session; partly so as to make best use of face-to-face time; partly because I find that writing a too-detailed set of notes tends to freeze the thinking at that point rather than allow the ideas to ferment and mature over time. Ian Glendinning strikes the right chord here for me.
I do think that a reflection period at the end of each session would be a good way to surface and anchor thoughts without over-formalising.
Developing the Ideas
The converse is also true – to continue the conversations amongst a geographically-dispersed group we are going to need to write it down on blogs, wikis, emails, IM etc. etc. – perhaps that is where we will begin to express a written emergence of our thinking?
I’m beginning to think that as well as having the “seed” themes (the 11 groupings from the window) to work with it would be very helpful to have some candidate “research questions” in each of those areas to focus our output. Each question should combine a focus for the thinking with a “how could we test this in real life?”. Food for a later set of posts?
Of course we already have one target output in terms of defining the right toolset (the [bliki]IntraBliki[/bliki]).
The overwhelming majority of issues discussed on the day were around people, interactions, emotions and the psychology of blogging in business – indeed as David Wilcox notes many of these issues are those that relate to any organisational change. However I think it would be dangerous to think that there are no technology challenges left at all. In my experience unless the technology hurdle is very very low then it becomes a great hook for people to hang their “resistance to change” issues on. Anu Gupta has picked up on this by referring to this Harvard Business School article
Don’t forget that we are, by definition, a self-selected group who have been prepared to deal with the technology to get our ideas “out there”. The use of social software in the workplace will only succeed (what’s more should only succeed) if it is successful in letting people do what they need to do more easily – a means not an end.
The theme of Blogwalk IV was the use of social software inside the firewall.
We noted that there were certain technological barriers to be overcome before the tools were sufficiently invisible to support a wide acceptance of corporate blogging / wiki etc.
I agreed to start some work to define the requirements of the ideal internal corporate blog / wiki tool so I’ve started writing some initial user requirements in the wiki. The root of the notes is at [wiki]IntraBliki[/wiki], please join in if you are interested.
Yesterday was Blogwalk IV – a very enjoyable and mind-stretching day talking with other bloggers on the theme of “How will the world of work change as a result of social software use inside the firewall”.
Thanks to the excellent “light touch” facilitation from Lilia Efimova and Johnnie Moore we covered a range of topics technical, cultural, managerial, commercial and more… (there will be more posts over the next few days as I and others get on with our agreed actions!)
Some of the other people there: (apologies if I’ve left you off)
Lee Bryant dropped in for lunch
and Matt Mower joined for dinner…
Disappointed that George Por couldn’t make it but I’m sure we will catch up again soon George!
Context weblog quotes an extensive extract from Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and The Nature of the Firm [PDF] by Yochai Benkler. Benkler explains the growth of commons-based peer production, with particular reference to the Open Source movement, and identifies why this mode of production has significant advantages over property or contract based methods of organising production when the object of production is information or culture, and where the physical capital necessary for that production— computers and communications capabilities—is widely distributed instead of concentrated.
SynapShots cites Everyday Leaders: The Power of Difference by Debra Meyerson
“Nearly everyone feels at odds with the organizations they work for at one time or another. Managers who are also parents struggle to succeed — and be there for their families — in companies that don’t offer flextime. Women and people of color want to open doors for others like themselves — without limiting their own career paths. Teachers want to motivate students and make their material relevant in schools or school districts that require strict adherence to curriculum. Environmentally conscious workers seek to act on their values and climb the executive ladder at firms more concerned with profits than pollution … I have spent more than a decade studying people like these, men and women who want to succeed in their organizations, yet want to live by their values, ideals, and identities, even if they are somehow at odds with the dominant culture of their organizations. Rather than assimilate away their differences or leave because of them, the people I studied take a middle road, constantly balancing between the pulls of conformity and rebellion, and many opt to use their difference as a fulcrum of learning and change. I call these individuals ‘tempered radicals.’ In my book Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work , I describe in detail how tempered radicals make organizational change. In this article, I focus on their importance as leaders.”
Strategy+Business have an article by Art Kleiner on Karen Stephenson’s Quantum Theory of Trust (registration required) (via Ross Mayfield)
Think back to a conversation you had months ago with someone you know well enough to trust, but with whom you haven’t spoken since. Chances are you’ll remember only vague outlines of the exchange. Call the person and raise the same subject again, though, and more likely than not, the two of you will find yourselves picking up where you left off, remembering the details of significance and expanding into new areas.
To Karen Stephenson, a maverick yet influential social network theorist, the association between trust and learning is an instrument of vast, if frequently untapped, organizational power. The act of reconnecting and talking with a trusted colleague generally triggers a resurgence of mutual memory, opening the gates to fresh learning and invention. This phenomenon, Professor Stephenson contends, is just one example of the direct cognitive connection between the amount of trust in an organization and its members’ ability to develop and deploy tacit knowledge together. Because networks of trust release so much cognitive capability, they can (and often do) have far more influence over the fortunes and failures of companies from day to day and year to year than the official hierarchy.
Paolo Valdemarin flags two links on network organisations. The first is one I blogged back in April. The second – orgnet.com – is partly an advert for some software and services from Valdis Krebs, but has lots of links to case studies. If you follow the one about Paul Erdõs you will also find a link to a PDF of Ron Burt’s book chapter on The Network Nature of Social Capital
Unusually, the London cell had an event only a week after the previous one. This time we were treated to two hours of Adrian Gilpin talking about the basics of his “Soulpower” approach to developing people’s full potential. Adrian makes no bones about the fact that his approach is derived from a wide range of influences including NLP, psychology, Covey, Buddhism and a lot more, allegedly on the basis of looking for the common themes across disciplines. The 7 themes that he chooses are Choice, Talent, Belief, Passion, Identity, Vision and Purpose.
Last night went (for the first time) to a meeting of the London “cell” of FastCompany‘s Company of Friends. The meeting was attended by about 40 and was organised around a workshop on “Storytelling In Business” led by Tony Quinlan from Narrate Consulting. Excellent evening, both for the workshop and the networking / conversations before during and afterwards…. As always, the world is much smaller than you think.. the first person I spoke to was just two degrees of seperation away – we knew three people in common…
The core theme below the story-telling was “what is the vision of this group” – an idea that seemed to cause much debate, not least over having an explicit vision at all… I shall sample this one again!
[All via Steven Vore]
Jon Udell on Quick and Dirty Topic Mapping
“The essence of this strategy is to work bottom-up, rather than top-down. I don’t start with a predefined set of topics. Rather, I allow them to emerge from the material as I work my way through it. I don’t try to create a topic hierarchy. Having wrestled with questions such as whether XML should be a subcategory of Web Development, or vice versa, I’ve concluded that this way lies madness.”
Peter Morville’s Social Network Analysis:
“How do knowledge workers learn? How do they decide what to learn next? What motivates them to share?”
And from Steven himself
Last week I mentioned the importance of good “metrics” when managing Knowledge Workers. This week that came home to roost, as I had to provide input for yearly performance reviews on individuals, managers, and groups…
(and yes I know some of these are from back in Jan / Feb, but I’m just trying out a new aggregator and they all showed up!)
Interesting new book on the horizon (only in draft at present) – The Narrative Angle – The Seven Most Valuable Forms of Organizational Storytelling. Preview. The author, Steve Denning is former director of knowledge management at the world bank.
The Seven Highest-value Forms of Organizational storytelling:
Story to ignite transformational action
Storytelling to grow community
Storytelling to share knowledge
Storytelling to transmit values
Storytelling to say who you are
Storytelling to transform a narrative dynamic
Storytelling to show the way to the future
[via Jay Cross]