Monday, 16 March 2009

Here comes everybody

Recent reading has included "Here comes everybody" by Clay Shirky. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking a thought provoking read on the effect of the web and of social tools more particularly on how we get things done.

There is plenty in there to link to KM. How do we exploit the low transaction cost and barriers to shared working that web tools can offer? In a world of folksonomies and full text searching via google books does our formal cataloguing offer enough added value to justify the costly professional time (at least in a library like mine)? How do we position ourselves in terms of the filtering role?

I was really interested in some of the theory around communities and how they work as they grow. What sort of semi formal and formal structures might we participate in to ensure both a closer understanding of user needs and a two way flow of information with the widest number of people?

I recently experimented with inviting reader reviews of items in our collection to appear on our library catalogue but this drew a very limited response. In this instance I think it was a combination of insufficient audience, insufficient incentive to participate and too high a barrier with online submission linked to the item not available.

Shirky identifies three requirements for a successful online collaboration

Promise - a plausible goal
Tool - easy / free / appropriate
Bargain - what you expect what they can expect

I'll be bearing these in mind next time I set out to try and generate some participation in my service.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Still thinking

I am more than conscious that I have not posted to this blog since I finished reading Learning To Fly. This has not been because I stopped thinking about Knowledge Management! On the contrary I have been involved in many fruitful discussions with colleagues around how it might develop at my Trust.

I have still been reading - just not in such a structured fashion.

One book I have been reading is "Healthcare Knowledge Management" by Bali and Dwivedi. I have found this a bit of a mixed bag with practical chapters in the minority versus some rather academic discussion. It can also be rather repetitious of the background basis of KM. It does have a couple of helpful chapters about KM in the context of the NHS in England and Scotland. All in all I would say it is a borrower rather than one you would want to add to your library.

Monday, 22 December 2008

LtF Chapter 14 - Review of the book

This chapter offers a quick summary of how the book was written and what the authors learned in the process.

Time similarly for a review of this blogging exercise.

Firstly - in purely practical terms - it took a little longer to get through the book than originally planned. Two chapters a week was fine until I had a health blip and a bit of leave. I found it very hard to regain momentum after this. I think the longer time frame made it harder to "read" the text as a whole and the later chapters were less well considered and connected than the earlier ones. Certainly a quick look shows I had less to say as the exercise went on.

I found the process of writing the entries not too onerous and helpful in terms of ordering my thoughts. I plan to go back and consider if any of the ideas I came up with at the time merit further investigation.

Overall the book was very helpful. I have often found KM too nebulous a concept or one that seemed rather faddish in use. The examples in the text and in particular the tools and techniques presented make this an altogether more concrete under taking.

I had some very interesting discussions with colleagues inspired by things I had read - all be it that these rarely happened on the blog. Perhaps the commenting facilities in blogger are too clumsy? I also had the pleasure of being contacted by both the authors and various members of the community of interest around the book.

I also identified a whole stack of other things I might like to read (though this is nothing new).

I am not sure if this is a method I will reuse often but I can definitely see me doing it again on occasion. I plan to continue to use this blog for KM related thinking.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

LtF Chapter 13 - Embedding it in the organization - preparing to let go

This chapter deals with how KM practices and processes can be established and become the culture. It revolves around an example of this in action.

Five stages of are suggested:

Awareness : Start : Consolidate : Embed : Support

These can be related to other models around change management.

A useful point is how the various KM initiatives underway in this area do not use the term KM. This is in line with discussions in the KM community of practice on NHS CfH ESpace. KM surely has to be within the strategy and business planning of others not a discrete entity in itself.

An example is worked through around Operations and exploiting the common factors in diverse business groups. It refers back to various tools like the river diagram and learning gap analysis that this enables. 25 areas of common practice were identified. A useful tip was around using a requirement to both offer and request help (3 of each in the example) as a way of breaking down peoples reluctance to ask for assistance. A form of peer pressure is applied through this encouraging sharing.

The chapter closes with a reflection point - where are the knowledge gaps for your organization. I think that is something I need to think about offline!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

LtF Chapter 12 - Leveraging what we know

Generously Blogger has attributed the last post to the day I wrote the first line of it. My apologies for the long break in the scheduled posts. This post will now appear late also to add to the confusion.

This longer chapter looks at how we can capture knowledge. More specifically it considers the benefit of distilling experience into Knowledge Assets. This reflects the fact that often the same thing will happen in many places so a core message can be defined.

A good area for a Knowledge Asset for most NHS organisations (and their librarians) at present would be around bid processes. While bids are always important the current organisational environment makes successful bidding key. The potential is there to share learning across the organisation around this topic.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Learning to Fly Chapter 11 - Networking and communities of practice

Back to the book after some much needed recovery time.

The chapter considers how people network and the establishment of communities of practice. I like the definition of different types of communities:

  • C of Interest - linked through hobbies, sports etc
  • C of Practice - working together around an area of knowledge and competence (enabling)
  • C of Commitment - networks accountable for acheiving a clear goal (delivering)
The importance of the coordinator role is interesting when again we consider the proposed Team Knowledge Officer role for NHS organisations. Might these people be the ones charged with coordinatoring CoP/C?

The importance of face to face meeting very much chimes with my experience. You just need to meet people from time to time.

I have been involved a few times of late with attempts to create documents collectively. Thus far my conclusion is that (at least in my networks) people are not comfortable with Wikis - people will read but very few will edit.

Generally I think the chapter has some good tips on working in networks and in particular how to keep these running.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Failing to Post - Chapter 1

Apologies for my failure to post this week. I have been severely afflicted by the dreaded lurgy. I honestly cannot imagine I am going to feel up to completing my LtF posting for a few days. Normal service will hopefully be resumed in the middle of next week.

(C) Image Creative Commons