Archive for the ‘ KM ’ Category

“Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety” Anthony and Cleopatra, Willliam Shakespeare

“I would rather wear out than rust out” Dolly Parton

No more to be said, really.

A library in your pocket

My current method of tidying up is to put all the stuff that I can’t yet find a place for in a spare bedroom prior to either discarding it or ‘storing’ it in the attic. In the attic I have 3 large crates of books which haven’t seen the light of day for at least 5 years. I know I will never throw them away – whatever else goes, I love shelves of books. Which leaves me in a quandary because I am now carrying a library in my handbag. The kindle is a marvellous gadget and means that I am never without something to read – but I no longer have the visible book to pick up and love. Am I happy to swap the paper copies for the convenience of a gadget? You bet I am – it will give me so much more physical space for other things, although I will still keep my existing physical library – it’s nice to look at. It just won’t get much bigger. Unfortunately I am just as bad at discarding e-books as I am at paper ones -it’s just as well that there is plenty of virtual space.

Does what it says on the packet…

.. “Room for Improvement” – the notice outside an empty meeting room.

Why would we use this? ….

.. a question that comes up frequently when I demonstrate technology new to people. When I ask this question, it is generally a prelude to an extensive bout of using a product, trying to find out what it can do and how I can use it to make my life easier. When my audience ask it, more often than not it means that they don’t see the point of it – and aren’t going to spend time trying to work it out. The difference in perspective is a key one, and should be considered when IT professionals communicate with the people who use their products. You can’t expect a business user to immediately see the many different ways they might use a new technology. You should always have some good, relevant examples in your back pocket of how others have used it, or how they themselves might use it. I think you also need to give them permission to play with it – or not! Much as I hate to admit it, sometimes my business colleagues don’t actually need the lastest whizzy gadget right now – but I can at least make them aware of it so that when they do need it, they know where to go.

A poor tagline

The tagline for Final Destination 5 “It’s not if, it’s when” is surely on of the worst yet. One assumes they are talking about dying (unless the franchise has taken a radical new direction) – but surely this applies to everyone – unless the Miracle Day of Torchwood becomes a reality.

Optimism as a tool for change

Sunday’s Irish Independent had an interesting front page article about Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister – who has been critical of the way in which the Catholic church has handled (or mishandled) child abuse by priests. His speech, essentially telling the Vatican that they are not above Irish law, has been widely praised – which in itself is a major sea change in the Irish attitude to the church. Up until not that many years ago, it would have been unthinkable to speak out like this and even now, there is a certain surprise that a politician has done so.

However, the part of the article that I found most interesting was the reflection on Kenny’s optimistic approach. The conclusion reached was that he isn’t the cleverest or wittiest of men, but that his ‘upbeat temperament’ meant that life comes to meet him and is maybe exactly what the Irish need at the moment.

Many years ago, I had a boss for whom the glass was always half empty – with the result that what he expected usually happened. A nice guy, but it was very difficult to work for him. My colleague and I were getting so worn down by this that we decided to do something about it and came up with a variation of the Pollyanna ‘Glad Game’. Every time our boss said something pessimistic, we would turn it round into something positive. It took a couple of weeks, but he got the message and, being a nice guy, did something about it. He was easier to work with after this and projects went much more smoothly. I’ve carried that lesson with me ever since and have developed a learned optimism that stands me in good stead today. Looks like Enda Kelly uses positivity to get results on a much larger canvas – we turned around one person, he is looking to turn around a country. Just goes to show that optimism is a tool that can be used on any scale.

I’ve always hated the idea that you need ‘management buy-in’ for any knowledge management initiative to succeed, it feels like a bit of a cop out. However, I saw a presentation at the recent Henley KM forum from someone about how she was embedding KM in her organisation. It was an update on a previous presentation she had done so it would have been difficult to hide lack of progress. What really struck me about the presentation – and which engendered waves of jealousy throughout the room was:
– she had a generous budget to work with
– if she had any major problems with resistance at management level, she passed them to her executive sponsor, and he ‘dealt with them’

From my experience, this high level commitment is unusual in the KM field and has obviously contributed to the progress that has been made. It seems that management buy in does make a difference. However – I still think those that moan about not getting this buy in could be guilty of making excuses. It was obvious that the speaker was highly competent and had worked hard to gain the trust of the higher echelons of the company. She had convinced them that this was important and they trust her to deliver. When we talk about lack of management buy in, I wonder whether what we might really mean is our lack of success in making a persuasive case and developing a real level of trust with our management teams.

Being a tourist attraction

One of the most endearing aspects of travelling in Uzbekistan was the fascination that we held for the local people. I would never dream of taking photographs of tourists in London, but we were constantly stopped so that photographs could be taken with us. It is weird being seen as exotic in a country that I viewed as exotic, but it made it much easier to get interesting photos of people. I include some of my favourites in this post. I like the one I got of some boys photographing some of my travelling companions.

These ladies didn’t notice me take this photo until it was done – at which point there was a lot of giggling

And who can resist boys on a donkey…..

Proving a given…

I have always believed that demonstrating a product is much more effective than using a slide show to describe it. A slide show is safer, because less can go wrong, but as a participant in training sessions, I always learnt more when I could see it working on a screen in front of me.

This was proved to me last week when I had to introduce a product to attendees doing essentially the same presentation – one with the slide show, because I couldn’t get live access, and one demonstrating it online in real time. It was only when I was talking about the difference between the two sets of events that I realised why one set got a so much better reaction that the other. The static presentation went well – but the live demonstration allowed me to stray off the path and show people features that were particularly relevant to them – thus making it much more memorable. This might seem obvious – but it is nevertheless useful to have it reinforced in practice.

The lessons of Stargate

I’m on a bit of a Stargate marathon at the moment, working my way through the 10 series box set in conjunction with the Stargate Atlantis series. It seems to me that we are still colonists at heart. Even in fiction it is frightening that, despite lip service to being peaceful visitors, and not interfering with other cultures, there is still a basic sense of human ‘superiority’ that has no basis in reality. I fear that we are still the ‘civilisers’ who destroyed cultures in the Americas and Australia because we know best – and hope that we never discover life elsewhere in the galaxy. Fiction holds a mirror to reality and I don’t believe we would be good neighbours.