Blue patterns

I saw a lot of blue when I was in Uzbekistan, and patterns can seem to merge into each
other. When I look at these photos again, I realise how different and beautiful they all are.

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…..

Uzbekistan – consistently unexpected

I’ve just spent 10 days in Uzbekistan and have come back with a wealth of photos and a lot of good memories.

Handing out the cleaning materials - Tashkent

One of the most noticeable things about the country – at least the places that we visited – was how clean it was. I should have realised why this was when we walked through a main square in Tashkent and saw a big cleaning exercise going on in preparation for the festival the next day. I also got one of my my most fortuitous photos – as the person cleaning the statue waved to friends and accidentally mirrored the pose of Amir Temur.

We saw one piece of litter in our entire holiday (an empty soft drink bottle). We clustered round it in amazement – assuming that this was left by a Western tourist and would soon be removed. Amazing.

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.


…give peas a chance.

Made me laugh when I saw this food shop in Soho.

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.

A visit to Darwin’s House

I visited Darwin’s House recently, which I found interesting. I hadn’t realised that Darwin was a bit of a late developer. He kept extensive notes and diaries which led to my companion commenting that people don’t do that anymore. I mentioned blogs because, to me, they are a form of online diary. In addition to the diaries, Darwin also carried a small notebook around with him everywhere to record short observations as reminders for his journal. Sounds a bit like Twitter to me!

He was a great list maker and two of his lists were displayed that made me smile. One was the one he made of his father’s objections to him going on the voyage on the Beagle – including something along the lines of “They must have asked a lot of other people first” leading to “Which means there must be a good reason they refused”. The second list was the pros and cons of getting married. Looks like his lists helped him make decisions – they make my TO DO lists seem very tame.

Accidental KM…

People search for information in different ways, some like a formal structure – others prefer to browse and follow unexpected detours. I am one of the latter – largely because something unexpectedly useful often results. I came across this post Make Serendipity work for you which, among other things, talks about luck being more a case of an individual making the connections rather than just ‘happening on’ an idea or answer. It advocates making time for ‘loitering’ and encourages social networking to widen the serendipity. I know that the gossip network works – and it is precisely because people take what they learn and apply it to their own situation. It isn’t just about knowing stuff first – although that is sometimes a useful currency – it is also about knowing how to use it effectively.

… starting with me! I have always had a passion for technology – from the very first time I discovered how much time email and shared calendars could save me. I still am a great advocate of new technology – however there is one significant technology related behaviour I have found difficult to change. I don’t like reading on a screen. I have to print out longer documents so that I can read them in my hand and make written notes. I realised I was my own best example of being resistant to change and decided to do something about it.

I wasn’t entirely sure what the barrier was – but think that it was 80% habit. My personal solution was to feed into my love of gadgets and buy myself a Kindle – the idea being that I would start reading books on a screen and it would break the habit. It was a bit or a risk, but has paid off big time. Within one 30 minute train journey I was comfortable reading onscreen – particularly since I realised that I could change the font size, that I will never run out of reading matter while travelling and it always re-opens to the page you stop reading on. Having just booked a holiday – I am also going to save a lot of of space through not having to pack books. The lesson? Realise when resistance is a habit and make a concerted effort to do something different. It might actually be even better than you thought.