Actionable Knowledge #

Ton, Lilia, Dina and Gary have been discussing how to turn blogs into actionable knowledge.

Amongst the attractors of the conversation are frustration at not taking the loose ends of blog-nurtured ideas further;

I do have a feeling that I’m not responsive enough in picking up the thoughts we dream up here in the blogosphere and turn them into action. The blogs reveal emerging patterns, and we can nurture the memes we think important, and block or criticise the ones we think are not.
But I seem to be less succesfull at moving stuff from the complex and un-ordered realm (to adopt some of Dave Snowden’s vocabulary) where my addiction is fed, to the more ordered realm of the knowable and practice.

and equally a concern that we should not close off interesting avenues through premature crystallisation into action:

The loose ends offer me a sense of the possible, a landscape that can go anywhere, a sense of adventure that keeps coaxing me back to explore a little more. I wouldn’t want it tidied up in a tight focused and deadlined bundle because I know, philosophically, to do so would require closing off many of these possibilities, discarding the undiscovered territories.

After I’d let these posts mull around in my mind for a day or two, the first thought that came to me was this – just because I don’t neccessarily blog about actions I have taken as a result of blog-inspired knowledge creation, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t actionable knowledge created!

We all make decisions (often subconsciously) about what to blog and what not to blog. For many people (myself included) the most potent area of such decisions is around our relationship to our employer (or clients for the self-employed)

My “day job” and most of my coaching work are both in the context of the same organisation – an organisation that has a very high public profile and puts strong confidentiality clauses in our contracts… I’ve had conversations with other bloggers who work in the same place about how we tread that line between bringing insight from the things we do there whilst keeping ourselves employed – for most people this comes down to not explicitly naming the place and generalising sufficiently from things that happen so that specifics cannot be identified.

The second aspect of work-based discretion relates to the very nature of the work – particularly in my case to coaching – for obvious reasons I am not going to relate things on a public site that could be identified by a specific coachee.

The third area of discretion relates to friends / partners, children – although many people do blog about their personal lives I choose not to.

But just because I blog carefully (or not at all) about those areas of my life does not mean that I don’t derive actionable knowledge from blogging that I can apply to those domains. The dilemma though is how to report that back? Some actions won’t make it through my blog-filters; others may be delayed or distorted; in either case there is a break in the learning cycle with my blog learning colleagues.

This is not about the trust I have in the people with whom I have blogosphere conversations, it is more about who else is eavesdropping. Is there any way to resolve this whilst still using an open channel? I’m not convinced there is – the contradiction we need to resolve is that a completely public channel will inevitably cause us to filter what we write, whilst part of the power of the blogsosphere is the opportunity to discuss ideas with people from very different contexts. As Lilia said:

I said to a couple of people on my first Skype round that I wish to be able to get many of us to work together at the same place, but I guess it’s not feasible 🙂 And even if it would be I don’t think it would work well: the power of our joint discoveries comes from “weak-tied” nature of our connections, different backgrounds, different countries and different lives. Still, sometimes I wish to know easy ways to turn weak ties into strong ones, at least for the time needed to develop ideas that worth it.

I wonder if the more sophisticated Wiki tools would help here – the ones that allow sections to be made secure? Or some other way of easily forming a secure group that is (paradoxically) open and easy to use for those in that group?

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Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

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