29 June 2008

High quality "qualitative"

I found a wonderful site today while looking for an NVivo training or user group in Melbourne.

Lyn Richards as a site on qualitative research that has links and training documents galore!

It seems Lyn (based at RMIT in Melbourne) took part in the development of NVivo and sold her share in QSR International in 2006 (the company that sells NVivo). She points to a qualitative research forum and it is a group of people that I have not been connected with before and it's lovely to hear people moaning and complaining about some of the issues I have been struggling with.

The big plus for me is that she has written and published online two NVivo tutorials for free on her website. Brilliant! Just what I needed at this point in my study as the analysis really begins in ernest. They are:
  1. Up and Running in NVivo 7 - a post-workshop handbook, and
  2. Ten teach yourself tutorials for NVivo 7 - a 10MB PDF download

She has published 2 papers that touch on the subject of coding fetishism:
  • Richards, Lyn, "Closeness to Data: The Changing Goals of Qualitative Data handling", Qualitative Health Research, vol 8, no 3, pp. 319-328, 1998.
  • Richards, Lyn, "Data Alive! The thinking behind NVivo Qualitative Health Research", Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999)

Lyn's 5 rules for coding are:

  1. Never think in terms of the final allocation of text to a "right" code. Make coding thinking-aloud, a way of expressing what you think is going on here. It's tentative, exploratory, as long as it needs to be. So work with your nodes a lot, redefining, rethinking, memoing, moving around and merging.
  2. Never think of coding as one stage - it takes you to a node browser that allows you to look at all the material coded at a node and review it, rethink, recode. This means early on especially you can do broad brush coding, gathering material in broad headings, then going to the node to code on more finely into subtler dimensions of the concept.
  3. Never allow myself to do uninterrupted coding for more than an hour. Because no qualitative thinking can be expressed solely in coding for that long.
  4. Use free nodes freely - a friend of mine invented the lovely term nodeworthy. If it's nodeworthy, (that means sounds like it might need to be a category in my thinking) don't wreck you head worrying where it goes, just make it a free node. Drop out of coding later to play with the free nodes and locate them in groups or merge them (or delete if it wasn't really nodeworthy! How do you know? Strauss used to say, "If it matters, it'll come up again.")
  5. If it's a thought, not an allocation to a known topic, don't code but annotate or memo.

Lyn is a member of the Qualitative Interest Group @ RMIT which is meeting tomorrow in the city and I plan to attend. Hopefully I will get some advice on what the next step is after I have transcribed and coded everything. With a bit of luck I will get to meet Lyn too.

I read at one point that memos should be at least twice as large as the transcriptions! OUCH!!! I have more than 20,000 words of transcriptions!!! That is a huge goal and way beyond my resources for this project. I do have to up the pace on my memos though, especially in terms of node memos that detail my thinking on each of the topics, why I want to find and why I split them up that way. Back to work!

28 June 2008

Viewpoints on Complexity

There are, without a doubt, two people I really admire in the world of Knowledge Management. David Snowdon (Cognitive-Edge, UK) and Joe Firestone (KMCI, USA). Both are active on ActKM and despite their often competing world-views, I have greatly benefited from the feeback I have received from each of them.

The first paper by Snowdon I ever read "Complex Acts of Knowing - Paradox and Descriptive Self Awareness" introduced me to the concept of complexity in knowledge management and took Brenda Dervin's sense-making theories to a new level of understanding for me. I was unaware at the time, but Joe had posted "Generations of KM" as a response to that paper, also made some 6 years ago. I will re-read both in the coming weeks and hopefully get a lot better understanding on the points of difference between these two thought leaders.

If you are interested more in these two viewpoints, David has some brilliant papers available on his website and I am entertaining the idea of doing a Cynefin course after my Masters degree. Joe - a critical rationalist - has recently done a review of Cynefin as a sense-making framework. You can read in three parts: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

While I moved away from a direct study of SMEs using complexity theory because of the amount of work required, both my hypothesis and an interpretive methodology touch on complexity theory and I would like my thesis to be well grounded in terms of the current state of thought which is revealed in the history of these conversations.

27 June 2008

Philosophy: Communitarianism

Some reading about communitarianism from Joe Firestone on ActKM.
  • Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies,
  • Rousseau's The Social Contract,
  • Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific,
  • Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture, and
  • Mark Notturno, Science and the Open Society.
Communitarianism is both a
philosophy, in which community is seen as a dynamic environment in which individuals are refined through the juxtaposition of different ideas and values, (As opposed to a collective construct of the individuals themselves), and a
political ideology, which many of the above philosophers are currently trying to distance themselves from according to wikipedia.

Firestone & McElroy's work on the Open Enterprise revolves around some of these principles via Popper's philosophy of critical rationalism and - it seems to me - a kind of indeterminist pragmatism that values things based on the probability of their usefulness.

Are your documents behaving?

Today while reading one of James Dellow's blog posts about deciding what content goes where in an organisation, I followed a comment link from Doug Cornelius about wikis and DMS in the legal world and found the following paragraph.
A wiki and DMS are both focused on producing, storing and sharing content. A wiki page is just another type of document. When producing content, I have noted five types of behaviors: collaborative, accretive, iterative, competitive and adversarial. In a collaborative scenario, there are multiple authors each with free reign to add content and edit existing content in a document, and they do so. With accretive behavior, authors add content, but rarely edit or update the existing content. With iterative, there is single author controlling changes to the document. The document may have originated from another source, but stands on its own as a separate instance of content. With competitive content creation, there is a single author who seeks comments and edits to the document as a way to improve the content. However, interim drafts and thoughts are kept from the commenters. Adversarial behavior is where the authors are actually competing for changes to the content for their own benefit. Although there may be a common goal, the parties may be seeking different paths to that goal or even have different definitions of the goal.

Collaborative, accretive and iterative content production are largely internal behaviors. Competitive and adversarial are largely external document behaviors. Of course, a document may end up with any or all of these behaviors during its lifecycle.

I'm not sure I agree totally with wikis and document management systems having the same goal. My research seems to show that the interactive nature of wikis makes them more of a collaboration tool than a storage one, which seems to be almost secondary once the team culture adopts them this way.

However the document behaviours are certainly a nice little model, and the document does go on to describe the wiki as a good tool for use by teams with frequent and multiple edits, and also for large documents or manuals in draft that everyone can instantly refer to for the latest version.

Not everyone works with wikis in a legal environment, however many financial teams would appreciate guidelines that took these behaviours into account. I am rollout out a wiki into a finance team later this year so definitely something I will investigate.

You can read the entire document here.

26 June 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Framework

Recently Todd Stephens posted a fantastic template on his blog, Collaborage.

I agree with him that sometimes visualising a domain can help you capture the big picture. It serves not only as a reminder to keep the big picture in focus, but also could be used as a check-list of sorts when reviewing your company's collaboration enviroment in terms of knowledge and the way it is managed.

Great work Todd!


25 June 2008

Pretty Del.icio.us

After all these years I finally decided that being a KM and web 2.0 guru I really HAD to sign on to del.icio.us, the social tagging site that now has it's four quadrant icon () appearing on every site on the web (or so it seems).

I have recently upgraded to Firefox 3.0 and decided to run the downloaded plugin for that which proceeded to upload all my bookmarks (from both Firefox and IE) to the site marked as "Do not share".

Concurrently, I found another site http://www.wordle.net that converts blocks of text or your del.icio.us tags into a tag cloud. Click on the thumbnail below to see the result. I thought this was quite cool and it forced me to do a bit of a clean up of my bookmarks and to add a few that were missing to balance out the tag sizes to be more proportionate with who I am and my priorities in life. Still a lot of work to do. I haven't cleaned up my bookmarks in at least 5-6 years, probably longer.

Anyway, if you are reading this, I encourage you to start an account on Del.icio.us and let me know so we can link up. Just being able to access my bookmarks from both Notebook and Home PC at the same time is pretty cool, and changes update between the two quite fast. I also like the left-hand toolbar which allows you to search and manage your bookmarks. Now I just need to link to some other people I know and start sharing bookmarks with one another.

Note: the Wordl site seems to be having problems at the moment. Looks like I'm not the only one to come across it.

19 June 2008

Collaboration on TED

Howard Rheingold

Today I found a piece on TED.com about the history and make-up of Collaboration.

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action – and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group. Howard is a writer, artist and designer, theorist and community builder. He is one of the driving minds behind our net-enabled, open, collaborative life.

View the video


Favourite quote

What forms of suffering could be alleviated? What forms of wealth could be created if we just knew a little more about cooperation?

Related Links

Howard's website
Howard's blob "Smart Mobs"

Learn to listen like Google

In a recent blog post, Prof Andrew McAfee spoke about a dinner he had with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

When he asked Eric what other companies could learn from Google since they were so different than most in so many ways, Schmidt answered this way:

"They can learn to listen. Listening to each other is core to our culture, and we don't listen to each other just because we're all so smart. We listen because everyone has good ideas, and because it's a great way to show respect. And any company, at any point in its history, can start listening more."

McAfee went on to summarise with this brilliant statement:

Many participants in the conference voiced the belief that a move away from authoritarian and imperial corporate leadership would be a smart move, and that we need to retire the belief that intelligence, omniscience, and infallibility rise in lockstep with height on the org. chart. It was fascinating, and encouraging, for me to hear Schmidt agree so closely with that viewpoint even though he hadn't been present during the day; he was just the man who came to dinner.

He gave a powerful and actionable piece of advice, and one for which the technologies of [Enterprise 2.0|http://blog.hbs.edu/faculty/amcafee/index.php/faculty_amcafee_v3

18 June 2008

The man who invented "Enterprise 2.0"

Andrew McAfee

I found a 40 minute online video today of an interview with Prof. Andrew McAfee, the Harvard Professor that coined the term Enterprise 2.0

See the post here on Traction's website Blog. The video is embedded below.



Good stuff,
  • great definitions of what Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are along with
  • references to Prof. McAfee's blog and Japan Enterprise 2.0 Summit
  • it also refers back to his previous presentation at the Fast Forward conference

Impact on my Research

Security Issues

A key point the professor makes is that the most asked question from management about Enterprise 2.0 is about ROI, but the second most is about security of personnel and customer data.

His answer to that is that: he has seen NO EVIDENCE that Enterprise 2.0 technologies introduce NEW RISKS to the enterprise, (see 18m:40s in the video).

Cultural Issues

He also talks about the types of cultures required for collaborative social technologies
1. Soft incentives are offered for participation
2. Management
  • Blesses Web 2.0's use
  • Uses them themselves - CEO writing a blog
3. The need to know what is happening around the organisation to
  • Grow faster
  • Be more flexible to complex requirements and solutions
4. Employees are trusted to do the right thing. What is the assumption?
5. Younger workforces are more suitable
6. Large pull for information around the organisation, especially about
  • knowing who to ask
  • frustration with the current processes
7. A push from the bottom up to make process changes with the blessing of the board and management (uses the US Intelligence community).

Success Metrics

The key for the professor is "Tie Strength"
Normally work gets done in enterprises through high tie-strength relationships.
The power of Enterprise 2.0 technologies is that they allow for information flows that are topic related so network collaboration can occur regardless of tie strength.

Andrew McAfee references

Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration
MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2006
What's Most Important for Success with Enterprise 2.0?
FASTForward 08 Keynote topic
Andrew McAfee HBS Blog, Feb 22, 2008
The 9X Email Problem
Andrew McAfee HBS Blog, Sep 29, 2006
Enterprise 2.0, version 2.0
Andrew McAfee HBS Blog, May 27, 2006
The Slippery Nature of 'Strategic' IT - Discusses VRIN test with examples
Andrew McAfee HBS Blog, April 10, 2006
To download a Japanese language translation of these references prepared for the conference, click here (.pdf 116KB).

13 June 2008

Wiki video for total beginners

I came across this video today on Smalls Blogger

It's pretty simple but shows how a wiki works better for coordinated or collaborative tasks than email. There are a few more of these on YouTube abot different Web 2.0 technologies and buzzwords including social tagging and social media.

You can find the rest of the In Plain English videos at http://www.commoncraft.com.

They include topics like:

12 June 2008

"Command and Control" or "Systems Management"

Today I learned about John Seddon and his book Freedom from Command and Control: a better way to make the work work (2003) (ISBN 0-9546183-0-0).

He is lead consultant of Vanguard, a consultancy company he formed in 1985, and is considered a "Management Guru", although a reluctant one, for adapting the Toyota Production System and the work of W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno into a methodology for improving performance in service industries he describes as "systems thinking", as opposed to the top-down rigid "management thinking" (or "Command and Control" thinking) that predominates most service industries today. He is particularly critical of target-based management, and of basing decisions on economies of scale, rather than "economies of flow" (see Wikipedia entry).

John uses the Red Bead Experiment to show that now amount of persuasion or quality-based incentives can help employees overcome in-built process quality problems.

I also found a Youtube video of him discussing parts of his new book.

David Snowdon said on ActKM about John that "taking manufacturing techniques sideways into service and government has been a very very bad habit over the last few years", however it seems this is exactly what John is saying I think I might be able to use John's publications and the concept of systems management as a basis for my non-Taylorist management philosophies in the thesis.

02 June 2008

ORGANISations & ORGANISms 30-Oct-2005

This is a post from my old study blog posted back in 2005 after I discovered terminology for management techniques that I had been struggling with for many years prior.
The ORGANISation is an ORGANISm. Complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory helps us understand how these organisms interact, both internally and with their environment - the marketplace. The problem with many Knowledge Management solutions today is that they try to apply universal principles or solutions as if the organization were a machine.

Rather than acknowledging both the shortcomings and the amazing capabilities inherent in a constantly adapting system, these overly-pragmatic solutions seek first to understand how this particular machine works, and then go about trying to plumb it in such a way as to increase performance, efficiency and eventually productivity and market advantage. Seen in this light, traditional Taylorist management philosophy is akin to trying to install a turbo charger on a race-horse. Silly really. Obviously the gentleman who first named "organisations" had the right idea, but we seem to have wandered off the path, lured by the positivistic promise of total empirical control.

The real trick now is to get back on the road without bogging ourselves in the post-modernist ditch waiting on the other side. SJF - 30-Oct-2005