KM Blogs February to end May 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011 Unstructured Web 2.0 tools and structured systems

For some time now, I have been using and evaluating different 'Enterprise 2.0' systems.

This has led me to believe that Enterprise 2.0 has, potentially, some very powerful possibilities that go beyond Web 2.0, provided we approach it and think differently to standard web 2.0 usage.

In Web 2.0 we have separate tools, provided by separate providers. We can choose, and mix and match our tools to tweet, to blog, to create wiki's, to search, to be alerted, to collaborate in virtual teams, to conduct social bookmarking, social networking etc.

Because we tend to start with one tool, maybe blogging, we focus on the simple use of this until we gain confidence and understand its full potential. One by one, we may add these tools, initially, for simple reasons. But often, we only want to use one tool for one specific job.

The result is that we have people today on the Web who specialise, for example, as star bloggers with an enormous following and reputation as good writers, or thought leaders, or critics or whatever.

We have celebrities whose tweets are followed by fans.

People tweet from their phones to organize a revolution.

People use wikipedia as their online encyclopedia.

We use the social network facebook to keep connected to friends and their activities.

By and large, in our private lives, we use Web 2.0 tools to perform separate functions that help us communicate, learn and share in those areas that interest us.

They are hugely successful because they are each, very simple to get started, very intuitive, free at entry point, and enable us to participate globally, and to gain recognition to potentially huge audiences.

But now, through Enterprise initiatives, and pressures from private users of Web 2.0 tools, people are developing ways to use the same tools in the workplace, because as knowledge workers, we also need to find ways to better communicate, collaborate, learn and share knowledge and experiences, to help us become more productive, at least.

We start off by using the tools, one by one, in the workplace, for different activities. Frankly, if this improves our communications and ability to work better, in any way, that's simply great.

Eventually, however, some of us reach a stage that makes us think about how we could better use these separate tools by combining them, systematically, to create knowledge flows, perhaps to support our own work processes and knowledge deliverables?

But here, I suggest, we have to think differently from a simple to use and intuitive approach.

Here, we need BOTH unstructured AND structured information, we need to think both in intuitive and logical ways, we need both discovery and serendipity, and logical search and scanning, we need both creativity and innovation and knowledge management.

To me, its like the way our brains best function. Not totally logical (left hemisphere) and not totally creative (right hemisphere) but BOTH / AND. Interestingly, the Oxford Dictionary definition of genius is 'utilizing both the left brain and right brain faculties to the full'

So I suggest that successful Enterprise 2.0, if you are happy with that term, is beyond Web 2.0, and should allow BOTH free intuitive, informal, simple, unstructured, participation from which natural wisdom may emerge from the diverse crowds, on the one hand, AND logical, formal, structured process and review from experts and peer groups, working together towards organizational excellence. An organizational 'whole brain' approach.

What do you think?

Does this delight you or horrify you?

Could we start capturing ideas and blog learnings and insights spontaneously, yet within a framework towards structured knowledge flows towards Good Practices, for example?

In this case, the structure is achieved by chanelling the knowledge flow and knowledge objects towards managed wiki's, as well as self-managed wiki's, as appropriate.

Or should we restrict ourselves to the more unstructured usage only, as a key benefit to our work, and consider it as just one of the powerful tools to be used with other more structured tools in our organizations, to achieve specific objectives?

What's your take on this?

Ron Young

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 My first successful experience of global knowledge sharing

It was actually in the early 1970's that I had my first successful experience of global knowledge sharing.

It happened by accident and through a great tragedy.

A very good friend and business colleague of mine was, like me, a passionate private pilot. But very sadly, he crashed and died with his wife and friends on board, in the misty hills and mountains of Snowdonia in Wales.

As the only computer programmer around that could understand his COBOL program, at the time, his employees asked me to keep running this main business application, to keep the company running.

This is how it worked.

Quite simply, all the major manufacturers of agricultural tractors, worldwide, all knew each other well. (Ford, Massey Ferguson, International Harvester, John Deere etc.) The agricultural industry was very old and mature indeed. As a result, most people had, at one time or another, worked also in several of the competitor companies.

The problem was that the tractor component manufacturers and the tractor manufacturers themselves were always either greatly overproducing or greatly underproducing to try to meet market demands.

So the manufacturers agreed to share, each month, their total shipments to their dealers and other production and distribution information and knowledge.

This was achieved by submitting their information, in strict confidence, to an independant computer bureau that would then produce the total picture without revealing the identity of the individual contributions. That was what I did each month.

It was perfect. It really helped tractor manufacturers and component manufacturers with their production. It saved lots of money. It increased efficiency and effectiveness.

This global information and knowledge sharing was so successful that within a few years only, we were running lots of global exchanges for all types of agricultural and construction machinery and equipment.

This really was a first successful experience of global knowledge sharing.

There was so much to be gained by collaborating and not just competing.

Eventually, the manufacturers gained enough confidence and trust in the exchange system that they even then started to reveal their identities to one another, and not just anonymous totals.

Unfortunately, this successful evolution of global information and knowledge sharing had to end.

The European Commission decided that there was nothing at all wrong with the global exchanges of information and knowledge, but it had been brought to their attention that the annual meetings we held, with all manufacturers present, could be a potential breeding ground for collusion on prices and market shares etc.

It got so bad that every manufacturer even had to fully report the next day if they even accidentally met a competitor anywhere at, say, a trade fair or any event.

Eventually, the manufacturers had to greatly reduce this activity into remote, anonymous, monthly submissions of broad information only. This was in order to comply with European Commission, Treaty of Rome Article 85, on unfair competition.

But that was a long time ago. And I imagine it was one of the first, if not the pioneering, global exchanges of information and knowledge which had, initially, huge business benefits and success.

Ultimately, it could not be sustained because of issues of 'ethics and trust'

What can we learn from this today in our 21st Century knowledge driven corporates, organizations and institutions?

Ron Young

Saturday, April 30, 2011 Knowledge Asset Management: two minute video

In December 2010, I was invited to speak at KM India, held in Bangalore.

During the conference, I was video interviewed.

Here is the first, a two minute introduction to Knowledge Asset Management, that distinguishes between flows of knowledge and explicit knowledge objects.

Ron Young

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Mass global collaboration at its very best

This morning I was blown away. In fact, I was in tears of joy.

I picked up from a tweet, from Don Tapscott author of MacroWikinomics, a link to a YouTube video.

I curiously followed it.

As a knowledge management practitioner since 1995, and particularly since the era of Web 2.0, I have been very interested in examples of mass collaboration that have emerged on the web. Popular examples are, of course, Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia of Life, Genome project etc.

Mass collaborations, in such volumes, and such degrees of diversity, all coming together, can often distil truth, or get very close indeed.

They can break the boundaries of human knowledge to something much bigger, totally disruptive and uncontrollable, like a sort of knowledge tsunami.

Well today I saw for the first time a video from a TED talk from Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong. Each person sang alone to a score and conductor from around the world, and the individual video uploads were edited into one production.

The result is simply wonderful, and truly so much greater than the sum of the parts! A magnificent global mass collaboration.

Take a look at this 14 minute video of the talk and final music video’s.

What truth does this distil for you?

Ron Young

Monday, April 11, 2011 Job: Knowledge Management Expert, The Netherlands, SABIC

A few years ago, I worked with helping SABIC in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, develop Knowledge Management competencies, and introduce KM initiatives into their research teams.

SABIC are expanding globally rapidly, expanding their KM activities, and now seek a Knowledge Management expert, based in the Netherlands.

Full details for the job application here

Ron Young

Friday, April 01, 2011 Will Jeju, S.Korea, be the next Singapore as a Knowledge Hub?

I am sitting in the airport lounge at Jeju airport, South Korea, waiting for a flight to Seoul, and then onwards to London.

After just three days on the island, I ask, will Jeju be the next Singapore, as a Knowledge Hub?

Why do I say this?

Jeju is an island on the southern tip of South Korea. If you look on a map you will see that it is a short flight to Seoul, to Beijing, to Shanghai and to Tokyo, all major capital cities of S.Korea, China and Japan, with very high populations.

Very significantly, in 2002, the Korean Government designated Jeju as the Free International City by recognising its value, and designated Jeju as the Special Self-Governing Province in 2006, the only exceptions being national defence, diplomacy and administration of justice.

There is indiscriminate(no tax) reduction in domestic and foreign capital.

Today, Jeju, like Singapore many years ago, has a relatively low population. Around 600,000 people live there. At the moment, about 10 million people visit Jeju each year as tourists. It is currently the main business. This is because Jeju is a staggeringly beautiful natural island, with a great climate, and a wonderful and majestic Mt Halla soaring high to embrace the entire island. Locals rightfully boast that water flowing from it, anywhere on the island, makes people feel good just by simply drinking it with hands.

The Hallasan Nature Reserve is spectacular, and the ancient volcanoes and Lava Tubes are beyond words. It is no surprise that it is a declared UNESCO World natural heritage area.

But that is now. What about the future?

Well the vision is for a ‘Free International City centering on mankind, environment and knowledge’. The first phase will be completed this year, 2011.

Secondly, South Korea are the most advanced in the world today with internet connectivity and infrastructure investment.

Thirdly, the world class International Conference Centre is within 2 hrs flight from Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo. The international airport infrastructure is world class.

Most importantly, Jeju International City has six core projects:

1. High-Tech Science and Technology Complex

2. English Education City

3. Healthcare Town

4. Seogwipo Tourism Port

5. Resort-Type Residential Complex

6. Myths – History Theme Park

After 3 days on the island, what is my prediction?

I strongly suspect, at least, that Jeju could become the Knowledge Hub of North East Asia, as Singapore has become the Knowledge Hub of South East Asia.

And finally, of utmost importance for success and growth, is the natural hospitality of the people.

Our host, Mr Jun-Ho Kim, Director,International Cooperation Department, Korea Productivity Center, totally surprised us all with a ‘cultural tour’ after meetings. We were introduced to female divers offering fresh seafood with a Korean drink I can only describe as very very good cold saki. I am sure the Koreans consider it better. We were introduced to very local eating. We were sped around the coastline in a jet boat. We attended a Korean circus, we had lunch on a floating seafood hotel, we climbed the peaks, and saw the famous setting sun.

If Jun-Ho Kim is a typical example of hospitality, the rest of the world had better watch out. But I suspect he is extraordinary, by any standards, even though the local people were, indeed, most friendly and kind.

If I get some spare cash I know where I will be investing it!

I think Jeju, S.Korea, is a place to watch carefully in the growing global knowledge and experience economy.

Good luck Jeju.

Ron Young

Thursday, March 31, 2011 From Government to Collaborative Governance

A great new learning for me this week in South Korea is the notion of transformation that is taking place in the Public sector, from 'Government to Collaborative Governance'.

Working with Dr Shin Kim, Director, Office of International Cooperation and Public Relations, The Korea Institute of Public Administration, he explained:

'In South Korea,we are well advanced and familiar with all the major Knowledge Management theories, concepts, frameworks etc and what we are seeking is more practicality in our KM initiatives. South Korea has made substantial investments in IT and technology infrastructure, but doesn't yet have the application and practical implementation of effective knowledge management.

The Government realised that it has a new paradigm, from governing, from 'government' to realising that it cannot possibly be truly effective unless it fully collaborates with stakeholders in a new paradigm around collaborating ', hence the development of 'Collaborative Governance'.

I do like the notion of collaborative governance of knowledge in the Public sector.

Ron Young

Monday, March 28, 2011 Japan Tsunami and effective Knowledge Management

I am writing this blogpost from Seoul airport, on my way to the South Korean island of Jeju.

There, I will be spending three days with the Asian Productivity Organisation, Korea Productivity Center, and KM and Innovation experts from Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and myself from the UK.

We arranged this expert meeting in January 2011, and a key objective is to write a book, collaboratively, probably entitled 'KM and Public Sector Productivity' in Asia

I was contemplating this meeting from my home in SW France last week, and I thought, 'If only we could direct our meeting focus to effective KM in public emergency and disaster recovery services'.

Japan clearly leads the world with excellence in planning and managing earthquake emergencies and very advanced building design,but nobody predicted the severity of the earthquake or the devastating tsunami. So I am sure that there will be more lessons to be learned in these critical areas.

My interest in effective KM for such situations started when I was asked to assist the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction UNISDR (2009) with HQ in Geneva, Switzerland and working from Bangkok for the Asia Pacific Region. I was introduced to the 'Hyogo Framework' developed at a meeting in Japan to help national governments and agencies minimize disaster reduction through better knowledge and understanding, strategies and tools, to proactively anticipate, and therefore minimize, possible loss of life and economic loss.

Imagine my attention was immediately drawn when one of the experts from Tokyo, Japan, Mr Naoki Ogiwara, from Fuji-Xerox, commented on Facebook that he was looking forward to the meeting in Jeju and, could not think of a more appropriate topic effective 'KM in the Public Sector' considering the emergency situation in Japan.

It begs the question:

How can effective KM contribute even more to critical Public Sector services such as Nuclear Energy Management, Transportaion, Healthcare, Disaster Management, Emergency Social Services and much more in this area.

It will be interesting to see how our discussions go this week. I will keep posting on any significant developments.

Ron Young

Thursday, March 24, 2011 Competitive Collaboration in a Global Knowledge Economy

I presented a paper at KM Middle East 2011, in Abu Dhabi, 15-16th March 2011, entitled

'Competitive Collaboration in a Global Knowledge Economy'.

You may read this paper here

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