Communications Competences (shudder)

The Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government has produced some research on it’s I&DeA knowledge site (Grrrr…annoying need to register to get at the goodies) about Communications functions in local councils.

I skimmed one on core competencies and one on who should run the website before getting a bit antsy – neither of them even mention blogs (not even “there are some dangerous individuals out there who suggest that we should all be talking to the public more often and they’ve got this tool of the devil called a blog. If someone tries to sell you one, call 999 and walk away from them, backwards while maintaining eye-contact”) and the one on the place of the website only really gets as far as saying, it’s not a technical task, it’s a business one….so give it to communications.

However in a great bit of joined up-ness, elsewhere on Knowledge there are some suggestions that blogging might be good for councillors at least.

I take this as a reminder that I’m storming up the hill and not looking back often enough to realise that everyone else is still having fun just struggling to get their shoes on.

Cities, trees, webs, whatever

In the first issue of Global Knowledge Review, the ultra-cool Lilia Efimova (Mathemagenic) writes about her irritation with the dominance of tree models in knowledge and information management and provides a great reference to Christopher Alexander on organic city design.

This is the corollory (sp? – other side anyway) of the challenge we faced at the Commission for Patient & Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) earlier this year of building a knowledge management system that was more like a city than a tree – we came up against enormous resistance and unwillingness to try this model out to see whether it worked.

My perception of what people said was “We know what an information system looks like and it looks like a tree. This does not look like a tree and therefore, it cannot be a good information system.” At the same time we also had people saying “I don’t know where to put stuff”, to which the answer was a very empowering, “You should put it where you would expect to find it again, but it’s really up to you, there is no single right place to put it” which many people chose to interpret as “We’ve designed this badly, we’re a bit incompetent and don’t know where you should put it”.

I sincerely hope that the CPPIH KMS survives the governmental jiggery-pokery after the NHS arms-length bodies review – it’s still one of the strongest ideas in the whole patient involvement movement.

New Publication – Global Knowledge Review

David Gurteen is launching a new publication:

“For some time I have felt the need for a publication that focused on
thought leadership in the fields of learning, creativity, innovation,
KM and personal development. My colleagues Clive Snell and Peter
Williams of Bizmedia with whom I run the Gurteen Knowledge Conferences
and Learning Events have also felt this need. So we are jointly
launching a new monthly journal “The Global Knowledge Review” (GKR).

Each month original thinkers from around the globe will give their
personal thoughts and reflections on knowledge and learning related
issues from the perspective of their geographical and cultural
backgrounds. The publication will be available on subscription and
distributed electronically. For more information and a free copy of the
first issue see:

http://www.globalknowledgereview.com

If you subscribe before the end of September 2004, you will receive a
special introductory discount – 30% off the normal price.”

David’s conferences and knowledge cafes are always excellent and I expect no less from this venture – Go read.

TOC for Sample first issue available free at GKR

  • Welcome to the first issue
  • Everyday miracles – learning and the human condition
  • The future of KM – driving strategic renewal of organizations
  • What do knowledge workers want?
  • Trees versus webs
  • A wake up call for HR
  • Can we make the flow go?
  • Discovering the importance of leadership and coaching
  • How ready is your organisation for KM?
  • Personally speaking
  • Briefing
  • Getting to know you ice-breakers
  • TFPL page
  • End piece
  • BlogWalk IV

    Friday was BlogWalk IV day – a cosmopolitan (is there any other kind) grouping of bloggers talking about Social Software inside the firewall
    Through the Window Wiki

    Others have variously noted who was there, so I won’t.

    A hugely stimulating (& therefore totally knackering) day. I came away confirmed in my intention to write something about:

  • fear of the authentic voice
  • if it’s not about the technology, what is it really about?
  • the requirement for new social institutions to help people take part in the knowledge economy
  • the use and usefulness of days like this one and River Cafe
  • Many people have said that they particularly enjoyed the actual walking bit and our brief visit to the British Museum. As a London-based person who’s become used/bored already with the glory of the Great Court, it was refreshing to see a bunch of people reacting to it for the first time. One minute I was walking & talking with Desiree & Omar and the next, they were transported, gobsmacked and thrilled – it showed.

    This pic shows the other side of the Window Wiki – whatever they were doing in there, they were working damned hard!

    London Design Festival 2004

    Time Out this week has a supplement on the London Design Festival. I’m most tempted by:

    Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the ’60s twinned with Space of Encounter: The Architecture of Daniel Libeskind at the Barbican

    Future Map Design 04, the University of the Arts combined graduates show

    Playstation 2 presents Interact1 for newbies in the media industry

    Own It – Intellectual Property in Design a debate hosted by The Creative London Intellectual Property Advice Service

    The Big Draw 2004 – Art on the Square in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 26th.

    But there’s loads and loads more stuff going on.

    The Perfect Path Creed

    I’m drawn to the idea of some explanatory statement for people I’ve never met or spoken too this intimately. Now, I’ve read some darned good manifestos in my time: Marx & Engels set me on fire as a teenager, Cluetrain turned my understanding of the world upside-down and encouraged me to leave the “security” of a “well-paid” job in public service and more recently Hughtrain has rewoken my thinking about creativity in business.

    As I like to be different for the sake of it, I’m going to steer clear of talking manifesto (…yet) I’d like instead to present a sort of creed (or credo if we need to be everso latinate about it which I don’t think we do, no it’s a creed) – what I believe about modern organisational life – and (later) a memorandum, those things that I need to remember about living that life. I knew that Latin ‘A’ level would both pay off and turn me into an unbearable pain in the arse.

    My creed is mostly my answer to the most difficult question in the history of the world. It inevitably creeps up at cocktail parties when I’m asked what I do and it slips so easily out of their mouths and bites me hard “oh that sounds fascinating….so what exactly is Knowledge Management?”. The answer I give here is not really suitable for most cocktail parties; but this is my party, so here it is.

    When I talk about KM I simply mean the subject of managing the dominant form of organisation in our economy, the knowledge-based organisation, chock-full of knowledge workers.

    Of course, managing knowledge work isn’t new, universities and craft guilds have been doing it for centuries – it’s just that when, in the 19th Century, we started thinking about how to manage the new industrial processes we came up with a whole new bunch of ideas about how to organise people to carry out processes and indeed what management means. This radical notion of organisations as mechanical entities, which could be steered and engineered found it’s expression as Taylorism and although it just doesn’t work in lots of situations it has stuck with incremental tweaks every so often ever since.

    However, groups of people working on solving a human problem or delivering a personal service are much further away from being a mechanical entity than a bunch of guys putting a car together. And so as the economy becomes more and more knowledge-based, the management techniques taught for the best part of the 20th Century work less and less. The trouble is that most people don’t see it this way, they don’t realise that we’re using the wrong tool to do the job. They don’t understand that the tools they are using (because they were once told was “the right way to do things”) were actually devised for a very different sort of business in a very different sort of economy and a very different sort of society than that which we now live in, let alone the one that is likely to emerge over the next few years.

    I believe that this is part of the reason why, for example we find “matrix management” and “virtual teams” so attractive, but horribly difficult to do. This too is why so much “change management” turns into corporate-wall head-banging, because we go into conversations with people saying things like:

    “Look, I know you’re not a machine, and you know you’re not a machine, but in order to manage this organisation, we all have to pretend for a moment that we’re like a machine and that our parts are easily changeable and so that’s why we want you to start doing a completely different job in different ways with people you’ve never met before and we want you to be performing at absolutely optimal levels from day one, at least and preferably day minus two, which was yesterday.”

    I know, I’ve heard myself saying it and it’s not pretty.

    I believe we need to be learning a new “right way to do things” and that one of the ways to help people is to reconnect them with the fact that they are not just a “dumb agent” who must do exactly what they are told in order for the organisation to survive, but rather that they are miraculous, intelligent human beings who are infinitely capable of creativity and innovation as long as they are nurtured and encouraged.

    Well, that’s what I believe… today.

    Live Bookmarks

    Live Bookmarks are new in the preview release of Firefox 1.0 the browser from mozilla.org – I’ve just felt better all round since switching to Mozilla – I currently use an add-on to Mozilla mail to view my feeds, but there are two cool things about LBs, one they sit in the sidebar of the browser, so you see them while browsing without flicking between apps, and two, sites can be LB enabled to make it even easier to add feeds as bookmarks.

    It’s all moving forwards – I love it.

    Conference Bike

    The ConferenceBike looks like terrific team-building fun.

    “You share a moment in the outdoors, enjoying the company of 6 other riders; You go somewhere for an afternoon or a day; you take a picnic lunch; you move along on your on energy; renewable energy; you can also got a really good workout on a ConferenceBike if you want to And it’s a a great tool to network or teamwork. People even fall in love on a ConferenceBike”

    Of course I don’t need a good workout, or to fall in love again, but I wouldn’t mind taking a group teamworking on one. The current price is 9500 euros which works out to about £6500 plus shipping from Germany, presumably you could go over and ride it back – you only need 70-odd people (twelve teams of six say) to pay £100 each to break even then one team a month would pay for storage and maintenance. I’m not promising anything, butg when I’ve got 70 people signed up I’m tempted to go over and get one.