Web 2.0


 

Time I started work on the sequel – “KM – The Musical” perhaps?

Geoff Parcell pointed me in the direction of this brilliant RSA Animate video, featuring renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist.  There is so much in this 11 minutes that you’ll want to watch it two or three times to take it in, and a fourth, with the pause button to appreciate all of the humour in the artwork.  Just superb.  Do watch it.

It got me thinking again about parallels between how the brain manages knowledge and how organisations manage knowledge.
Ian debunks a lot of myths about the separate functions of left and right hemispheres and emphasizes the fact that for either imagination or reason, you need to use both in combination.

  • Left hemisphere – narrow, sharply focused attention to detail, depth, isolated, abstract, symbolic, self-consistent
  • Right hemisphere – sustained, broad, open, vigilant, alertness, changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate.

We share some (but not all) of these left/right distinctions with animals. However, as humans, we uniquely have frontal lobes.

  • Frontal lobes – to stand back in time and space from the immediacy of experience (empathy and reflection)

I think a holistic approach to knowledge management which mirrors the brain will pay attention to breadth, depth, living connections and reflection. This has implications for the way we structure and navigate codified knowledge – moving between context and detail, abstract to interconnected – and also reinforces the relationship between KM and organisational learning (the frontal lobe bit).

I believe that an effective knowledge management strategy will creatively combine each of these components in a way which is balanced to the current and future needs of the business.

In a way, a lot of first generation KM was left-brain oriented.  Second and third generation KM have combined the learning elements of the frontal lobes with the living, inteconnected right brain.  That doesn’t mean that first generation KM is no longer relevant – I would assert that the power is in the combination of all three – see this earlier posting on KM, Scientology and Top Trumps!

It’s probably the last minute which is the most challenging.  Does your KM strategy,  led self-consistently by the left hemisphere,  imprison your organisation in  a hall of mirrors where it reflects back into more of what it knows about what it knows about what it knows?

The animation closes with Einstein’s brilliantly prescient statement:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We live in a society which honours the servant, but has forgotten the gift.”

(more…)

With thanks to Rob Cubbon http://robcubbon.com/sync-up-your-social-media-and-increase-your-tweets/

Picture c/o RobCubbon.com

Ten year ago, we were hearing that London Taxi drivers have an enlarged hippocampus because of their encyclopedic (or should that be atlassian?) knowledge of London’s roads.

Now the same research team in UCL are questioning whether social networking has a similar impact although the researchers do confess:

It’s not clear whether using social networks boosts grey matter or if those with certain brain structures are good at making friends.

…so perhaps slightly cyclic reasoning?

I’ve wondered for a while whether we have a finite “namespace” in our brains, and once it’s full (see why I didn’t make it as a neuroscientist!), it starts to overflow and we forget people’s names.

I can testify that changing my work relationship pattern from a single slowly-evolving large corporation to short assignments in 100 client organisations over the last 6 years has certainly helped to fill it up. My wife reports similar name-overflow challenges working a supply teacher.

Or perhaps it’s just that we’re just getting older!

There was a helpful thread in the sikm-leaders forum last week when someone asked for ten responses to complete the statement “You know knowledge is being effectively managed when…”

I thought it was a really practical way to explore how it feels, and looks – how people behave, when KM is really working.   Here are my ten suggestions:

You know knowledge is being effectively managed when…


Leadership. Leaders in the organisation are role models, challenging people to ask for help, seek out, share and apply good practices this inspires curiosity and a commitment to improve.  The organisation is learning!

Learning. People instinctively seek to learn before doing.  Lessons from successes and failures are drawn out in an effective manner and shared openly with others who are genuinely eager to learn, apply and improve. Lessons lead to actions and improvement.

Networking. People are actively networking, seamlessly using formal communities and informal social networks to get help, share solutions, lessons and good practices. The boundaries between internal and external networks are blurred and all employees understand the benefits and take personal responsibility for managing the risks.

Navigation. There are no unnecessary barriers to information, which is shared by default and restricted only where necessary. Information management tools and protocols are intuitive, simple and well understood by everybody.  This results in a navigable, searchable, intelligently tagged and appropriately classified asset for the whole organisation, with secure access for trusted partners.

Collaboration. People have the desire and capability to use work collaboratively, using a variety of technology tools with confidence.  Collaboration is a natural act, whether spontaneous or scheduled.  People work with an awareness of their colleagues and use on-line tools as instinctively as the telephone to increase their productivity.

Consolidation. People know which knowledge is strategically important, and treat it as an asset.  Relevant lessons are drawn from the experience of many, and consolidated into guidelines. These are brought to life with stories and narrative, useful documents and templates and links to individuals with experience and expertise. These living “knowledge assets” are refreshed and updated regularly by a community of practitioners.

Social Media. Everybody understands how to get the best from the available tools and channels. Social media is just part of business as usual; people have stopped making a distinction. Serendipity, authenticity and customer intimacy are increasing.  People are no longer tentative and are encouraged to innovate and experiment. The old dogs are learning new tricks!  Policies are supportive and constantly evolving, keeping pace with innovation in the industry.

Storytelling. Stories are told, stories are listened to, stories are re-told and experience is shared. People know how to use the influencing power of storytelling.  Narrative is valued, captured, analysed and used to identify emergent patterns which inform future strategy.

Environment. The physical workplace reflects a culture of openness and collaboration.  Everyone feels part of what’s going on in the office.  Informal and formal meetings are easily arranged without space constraints and technology is always on hand to enhance productivity and involve participants who can be there in person.

Embedding. Knowledge management is fully embedded in people management and development, influencing recruitment and selection. Knowledge-sharing behaviours are built-into induction programmes and are evident in corporate values and individual competencies.  Knowledge transfer is part of the strategic agenda for HR. The risks of knowledge loss are addressed proactively. Knowledge salvage efforts during hurried exit interviews are a thing of the past!

Now your top ten will probably be different to mine (although you’re very welcome to borrow and adapt them).
This kind of approach encourages us to look well beyond the technology which often disproportionately demands our attention.

Taken from the Consulting Collison Column in an upcoming edition of Inside Knowledge

Came across this courtesy of npr via John Allan.

Nice post, interesting research. It got me thinking about social media, and the exuberance (now perhaps that’s a collective noun for social media?) of sources available stimulate us, if we choose to be stimulated.

See what you think.

He rocks. He rolls. He sucks. He kicks. He tongues. He handles. He flips. He touches. There’s not a single item in this living room that 9 month old Charles-Edward (aka Edward) doesn’t explore (for a while I thought he’d ignore the chair in the upper left corner, but no…).
Edward (son of Quebec City journalist/photographer Francis Vachon) is a rolling demonstration of what the neuroscientists call “synaptic exuberance.” You can’t see what’s happening in his brain, but he is forming ten, twenty thousand new connections every second. Watch him go.

Here’s the thing about babies. When we’re born, we get the brain cells we need, but the connections between cells haven’t formed yet. In those first few years as we explore the world, the cells begin to link up at a dizzying pace, forming tens of thousands, even millions of new links. When you watch Edward you can almost feel it happening.

Look inside a baby brain and you can see the brain cells getting bushier with more and more links to other cells.

But the strange thing is, we babies overdo it.

All of us, not just Edward, form more connections than we need. Then, later on, (different regions of the brain do this at different times, but it goes on into our teen years) there’s a strange reversal. Millions of connections start to die. Why does this happen? Why do babies have a sudden burst of synaptic exuberance around Edward’s age and then start losing the connections?

Why does a child’s brain demand twice the energy of an adult’s brain? Why do some areas in the brain mature before others? And what about one of the most fascinating aspects of brain development — the discovery that the brain produces “too much” of various neural elements and then eliminates the excess? In some ways, this is analogous to the sculptor who begins with more material than is required and then subtracts the excess material to obtain a desired form. Unlike the sculptor, however, who eventually achieves a final form, the brain is able to undergo some remodeling throughout life.

…This way, brain circuits are created and strengthened, in part, by whatever environment and experiences the baby encounters.

This allows for a fine-tuning of neuronal circuits, based on early exposure and environmental nurturing, that makes the neuronal architecture of each person unique.

What he’s saying is babies go wild making connections and then, as we grow into our preferences, our personalities, life is like a scalpel. We slowly shed what we don’t need or use or want. Having watched Edward for those time lapsed four hours, it’s hard to imagine what he’s going to give up later in life but he’s got to give up something. We all do.

So, for example, a spell in Twitter can feel very much like young Edward’s 4 hours – rolling around between information sources, picking some up, putting some down, clicking-through, retweeting, favouriting…

I’m most struck by the idea that we “go wild making connections, then as we grow in our preferences, we shed what we don’t need or want”.

So even though we’re all significantly older than Edward (although he shares my hairline), does it still work for us when we roll, crawl or toddle around the information playroom?

Does the same principle of “shedding what we don’t need or want” help us to develop a new set of preferences and personalities which can handle an explosion of information sources and stimuli without suffering overload?
Or does social media do the scalpel work on our behalf, so that our synapses don’t need to re-live their childhood?

I’d like to think so. That floor looked hard!

I love this!  The media changes, but the story is timeless.

Happy Christmas to all my readers, RSSers, followers, friends, linked-in connections…

With thanks to Jane McKenzie at Henley Business School for pointing me in the right direction…

I’m currently working with the Henley KM Forum on a project which is exploring how the rise of social media have changed knowledge-sharing competencies and behaviours – and how we can help people to understand and embrace this

We’ve set up a LinkedIn Group entitled Knowledge Sharing 2.0 to engage a wider group in the discussion – please sign up and join in!

Meanwhile, to give you a flavour, here are a couple of posts from yesterday:

 

3 comments

Chris Collison • Hi Susan,
I think there are several dimensions of knowledge sharing where social media have significantly accelerated, amplified, or positively skewed good old-fashioned KM. [You know – the kind of knowledge-sharing activities that we’ll tell our kids about one day, and they’ll laugh at us… just like they can’t believe that we once used land-line telephones with wires connected to the receiver]

Here are five areas/behaviours which I can think of for starters…

Immediacy: – Presence, IM and microblogging have all changed expectations in terms of how quickly people respond and react. Most transactions happen within minutes or hours. I almost hesitate to respond to things what are a few days old now… That never used to happen.

Imperfect incompleteness: – This is related to the immediacy point above. People don’t wait until they have the ideal solution before they share now – you get raw, partly formed ideas, suggestions, contacts, 140 characters. Responding is now less pressurised – it’s no longer about competition, it’s about contribution. That has to be a good thing in not-invented-here cultures. There’s less pressure to reject something which is delightfully imperfect.

Serendipity: – Twitter and its equivalent now connect me with people and content that I would have never have stumbled across. It’s like those Brownian motion experiments we did in chemistry – increase the intensity of temperature or pressure, and the chances of a collision increases.

Connectivity: – It’s just so easy now to get plugged into everything. Barriers to entry are minimal. And the connections you don’t know about, you get alerted to.

Transparency: – I’ve had to get used to doing more of my thinking out loud, and have often been surprised by a proactive response to something as simple as a status update. Sometimes help comes when you didn’t even ask.

Any more, anyone?

1 day ago

    Ron Donaldson

     

    Ron Donaldson • Hi Susan
    I fully agree with the five areas Chris has identified and would like to add five more:

    Diversity: – I now have connections with people with a huge diversity of interests and perspectives across for example storytelling, complexity and Nature. This results in much greater crossover of ideas and occasionally avoidance of mistakes already made in a different field.

    Pheromone Trails: Pursuit of new knowledge is now unbelievably similar to ants foraging. Anyone can find something and blog or tweet it. This is then retweeted based on how useful that knowledge might be for others. Trending themes quickly emerge and highlight areas of common interest.

    Chaining: – I love the way simple connections between social software tools allow a simple tweet to flow from Twitter, to Facebook, to Linked-In, to Plaxo and pick up comments from each of the quite different networks which end up back as emails. This means that people can use whichever tool suits them but still be connected and aware of something new.

    Maturity: As the first tools in each of their niches mature they are being added as standard to mobile phones, widescreen TV’s and probably fridges and hoovers as we speak. This makes it much easier to maintain connections and thereby keep informed wherever you are which was never possible five years ago unless they phoned you.

    Feedback: My favourite aspect of WordPress blogs is the dashboard site stats. This gives you a daly read-out of the terms individuals used to access your daily utterances, which pages they clicked and which links they took to others. Once you get over the depressingly low numbers of visitors it is great encouragement to attract greater interest so the feedback really does build a stronger ‘system’.

    My only concern is that Social Media is still the domain of the early adopters. A lot of my ex-colleagues in nature conservation have so much vital and important knowledge, but they have absolutely no interest in social media. They really should be forced or at worst, paid lots of money for opening up their knowledge for the benefit of the planet.

    Any more, anyone?

     

     

     

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