The next big thing in Knowledge Management

From David Wilcox’s Socialreporter blog.1 Create conditions for collaborationYou can manage information – but you can’t manage the most useful knowledge. What you can do is help people to share what they know. That requires leadership to develop a culture of trust where collaboration is encouraged.2 Encourage conversations The best way to help people share knowledge is to give them plenty of chances to talk to each other. The richest conversations usually happen face-to-face, after which people are more likely to open up and contribute online.3 Add new rolesOnline knowledge sharing among a diverse group of people requires appropriate tools – but more than anything it needs appropriate people to help. They may be variously called community manager, technology steward, digital mentor, social reporter … and it’s unlikely one support person can do it all.4 Listen carefully, connect widelyUse light-weight social media tools like social bookmarking, Twitter, Netvibes, Ning communities to scan what’s going on outside. Build relationships with useful people, follow and share with them.  Then the network is your new library.5 Talk failure, tell stories about successIf you really want to understand what works in any situation, help people talk about what failed, and  to tell stories of success in their own words. Case studies from consultants won’t connect nearly as well.6 Open up, cross boundariesCommunities of Practice behind a login are excellent for sharing knowledge among specialists. If you also want to understand what service users need you have to engage with the wider community out in the open.7 Mix and blend your mediaWork both on and offline. Run semi-structured events like knowledge cafes and unconferences. Shoot some video, blog and tweet the event … then use digital assets to spark new conversations online. Cultivate a knowledge ecology where learning can flourish.8 Dive in, try it, change itYou can’t learn to swim outside the pool … or learn to fly watching the instructor. Find time to explore. Many of the tools you need are free, so you can experiment and build on what works, or drop anything that doesn’t. Invest in people rather than technology.9 Decentralise, foster resilienceEncourage teams and groups to take responsibility for their own research and learning, then share with others. That way you should have a more resilient system less dependent on central services.10 Three Ps before TIt’s easy to get caught up in the how and wow of new tools. Think Purpose, People, Process – and only then Tools.

Communities of Practice and the elusive ROI

I have been saying from the very beginning that you won’t be able to prove ROI for your investment in a social network if you try to get beyond the initial listening and reacting.  This is one of the main reasons why organizations have not gotten past this point: they are being asked for a return on investment that is not there, cannot be calculated.  You can do some calculations for basic functions you will perform – but there is nothing really that talks to the infrastructure investment.My answer has always been: you won’t get an ROI, but you need to invest on it as if it was infrastructure.  Who computes an ROI for more storage? or an additional laptop? a printer?  Those are infrastructure components that your organization must have and you just invest in them without expecting a specific return on the investment.

Reflections for Online Information Conference 2010

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It was a great privilege to be asked to become the next Chairman of the Online Information Organising Committee, and at the risk of appearing envious, I wish Adrian Dale a pleasant and stress-free retirement. He has been an excellent chairman over the past three years and will be a difficult act to follow. I should probably explain here that despite the surname there is no blood relationship, though I did briefly ponder whether one of the main criteria was a ‘Dale’ lineage!Looking back at this year’s (2009) conference, I felt it struck an ideal balance between the three pillars of ‘people’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’. The opening keynote from Dame Wendy Hall and Prof Nigel Shadbolt gave us a glimpse of where we are going with open and linked data, and I’m certain this is going to be a hot topic in the coming year, particularly in relation to the “Make Public Data Public” initiative in UK Government. I also felt that the ‘Social Web’ theme hit the mark, and certainly all the sessions I attended were full and overflowing.So, for me and with the expert guidance of Lorna Candy and the Executive Committee, the work starts in January 2010 in planning for the next conference. I feel slight trepidation at the prospect of trying to predict what the knowledge and information landscape will look like by the end of 2010; the pace of change is relentless. Will Twitter still be the ‘killer app’? Will Cloud Computing become ubiquitous?  Who will be gobbled up by the Google and Facebook juggernauts?One thing I’m sure of is that none of us can be sure about anything and that we all need to continually refine and adapt our skills. I’m reminded of a quote which is (arguably) attributed to Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change”. Let this be the mantra for 2010!

Life and how I live it!