10 August 2007

Rules to Blogging

Jerry Bowles just wrote a nice blog article about how to be a good blogger.

I quite liked the community aspects he talks about. Blogging is not a solo experience, but requires you to be part of a blogging community and crosslinking to relevant blog articles to your own is a sign of respect and allows readers to surf or "fly" through the blogosphere.

I Don't Know!

I read a post by Cory Banks cory.banks@gmail.com today in the ActKM forum discussing the knowledge worker's vital skill of being able to admit they don't know something and even point to somebody else who does.

The full discussion is copied below, but the bit I really liked was Cory's discussion of social/cultural conditioning and the role it plays in whether people feel they can do this or not. It fits well into my Knowledge Culture notes from Melbourne Uni where I discussed the overlapping of cultural and social norms to form a complex array of acceptable behaviours within an individual, for example: If I saw somebody fly across the lounge-room and slam my son into the wall I would be quite upset, however if I see that happen on a hockey rink then I will yell for him to get up and retaliate by scoring another goal. The activity and community surrounding it play a large part in how we view social norms and while I agree with Cory that they are hard to change, I also feel that generating a "New Social Space" allows a person to become detached in a way from previous situations and more easily act outside the over-riding social comfort zone that one normally performs within.

I don't think mapping out your strengths and weaknesses or what you know and don't know is relevant.

I do think you have touched on the right track with the culture and acceptable behaviours in the work environment. I think this also goes back to your upbringing/conditioning and to whether or not you were supported in telling people you did not know something. Peer pressure in the school yard comes to mind.

This is obviously conditioning that is very difficult to undo (unlearn).

I will draw a parallel to challenges faced by coaches of elite athletes (national teams). When working with an athlete there are certain basics and fundamental skills that have got them to this level but do they have the potential to develop further? Is their progress hindered by flawed technique. Do you tolerate the flaws and take them as far as they can go with the flaws or do you try to pull thier technique apart and put them back together? This takes a lot of hard work and effort because the athletes are unconsciously competent. They no longer have to consciously think about kicking the ball of throwing a pass. It has become reflex.

So to this extent I say it can be very difficult to 'teach' someone how to be a knowledge worker if they have not been supported to put up their hand and say "I don't know, but I know someone who does.".

Sidebar: This reminds me of a documentary I recently saw about the working life of the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, on Australian Story (ABC). In his interactions with his staff he stipulated from day 1 if you don't know just say so. They actually showed some footage from his team meetings and what was interesting was seeing people almost choking on the words "I don't know", but there were no repercussions. It was also said that people were to never, ever pretend, assume or make something up!


Cory Banks

LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/corza

06 August 2007

Concept Mapping Software options

The Differences

A Concept map is similar to a Mind-map, however a mind map often works on the assumption that there is a single central node and a tree structure down from there. Some more advanced mind-mapping software has the ability to draw a link between two nodes on different branches, however this is more of an add-on to show relationships between the two concepts, rather than an equally important branch.

Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping software allows these more complex concept maps to be captured and shared, including loops, decision trees and process maps.

Software options

Inspiration was originally designed for use in schools as an alternative to traditional outlining. It is true concept-mapping, in that you don't have to have a single central node. Also, the connectors can be labelled as well as the nodes. Costs around $70.

CMAP seems to be a favourite, however some have issues with some of the features. It is a full business product and so costs around US$199.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is covered fairly comprehensively at these site:

Posted at 06 Aug @ 4:11 PM

Coase's Law and Enterprise 2.0

A recent Collaborage blog entry mentioned Nobel Prize economist Ronald Coase as being the first economist of any consequence who has anything useful to say about information economics. He observed that companies will expand until "the costs of organizing an extra transaction within the firm become equal to the costs of carrying out the same transaction on the open market." That is now known as Coase's Law. As organizations grow, they become complicated and find it costly to coordinate what they do.

Coase observed that there are always companies that can deliver goods and services more economically than the dominant enterprises. If the more efficient companies become organized, they'll squeeze out those that have been unable to manage their resources. The only recourse for the inefficient companies is to shift inefficient functions to external suppliers. For example, a carmaker will buy windows from a supplier rather than manufacture them in-house if that's more cost-effective. (Note: Ford originally had a glass factory).

Todd also says that "Around 13-16% of the organisations have social software implemented within the infrastructure." Impressive figures. I'd like to know where he got them or if they are just a gut feeling. In any case, Collaborage is an excellent blog.

Enterprise 2.0 in the blogosphere

I spent quite some time following up a lead I came across in the ActKM forum yesterday.

I received a call from Matthew Moore last week after responding to his post about Web2.0 implementations in the Australian Marketplace. It was a fantastic call and I appreciated talking to somebody in the industry that seemed to share my passion for a balance of philosophical depth and marketplace pragmatism.

He emailed me his details and included the blog addresses of two of his Sydney colleagues which I spent some time on last night.

Mathew Moore's blog (he works at ASIC in Sydney) is called Engineers without Fears.
James Dellow's blog ChiefTech is a great portal to the world of online collaboration and networking and connects to many great resources. He is obviously well connected and well read.
Finally, Ross Dawson is the CEO of consulting firm Advanced Human Technologies, in Sydney. Along with several books, he writes the blog Trends in the Living Networks

Another blog I came across last night was confused of calcutta penned by JP Rangaswami a self-professed "accidental technologist" living in the UK who is quite taken with the use of Facebook within the enterprise space.

All good reading, but the biggest thing that hit me was this quote:

Did you know that there are more folks practicing Hinduism in Vatican City than there are folks in the Enterprise Content Management community that blog? - by James McGovern

I have been thinking about writing a blog on Applied KM for some time but always thought that too many other people are doing it. Turns out that might not be true. In fact there are precious few actual professionals writing blogs in Australia. It is mainly journalists of some persuasion. Actually, thinking about it further, the real "hole" in the landscape seems to be podcasts about KM. And that is not just in Australia, but world wide.

So I am now considering how I can fit the writing of a blog, recording of a podcast (say, fortnightly) into my work/study/family/inline hockey schedule. Hmmmmm

Authors note: Turns out I did turn my study diary into a study blog but it took nine months before I felt ready to go public!