Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 103 - January 2009


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 103 - January 2009


  1 Introduction to the January 2009 Knowledge Letter
  2 6 Things to Do in 2009
  3 Join me on LinkedIn
  4 Business cases are a waste of time!
  5 Google Friend Connect
  6 There's a crack in everything
  7 Your social network effects your behaviors and even your health
  8 Flickring your life!
  9 KM Tweeters!

Introduction to the January 2009 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

A little late but welcome to the New Year. 2009!

I can hardly believe it. 20 years ago, on the 2nd January 1989, myself, my then wife, her mother and my three young children left for what turned out to be 3 amazing years in Boston where I worked for Lotus Development as International Czar. A period that had a huge influence on all of us!

If you ever get the opportunity to do something similar and live in another country for a few years especially with a young family - take it - I doubt you will regret it.

6 Things to Do in 2009    (top | next | prev)

The new year would not be complete without a list of things todo (TTDs). So here are a few from Chris Brogan.
  1. Find a new way to improve someone's day (and determine if there's value in it).
  2. Synthesize new ideas from outside your audience's circle (and help us make meaning from them).
  3. Promote the great people out there (and and keep doing it).
  4. Learn from brilliant people (and share what you learn).
  5. Work on interesting projects that matter to you (and empower others to participate).
  6. Discover your passions (and share them openly).
You will also find 12 things not to do but personally I found them less interesting.

Join me on LinkedIn    (top | next | prev)

If you have not realized it already, LinkedIn has well and truly established itself as the de facto standard social networking platform for your professional life. LinkedIn is for professional connections. FaceBook is more for personal connections but for many people like myself professional ones as well.

Slowly, I am connecting with all my professional contacts via LinkedIn and have over 1,000 established connections. Why? It's the one place I can guarantee finding an up to date profile of the people I know and a means of contacting them.

Fort those of you who have connected with me - Welcome. Its great to see that many of you have only recently joined and I am your first connection.

If you have had an invite from me - please accept it. LinkedIn limits the number of invites I can send to about 2,000 and with 15,000 members of this community that restricts me a little!

If you haven't joined, you should. And please, if I have not invited you yet, invite me to connect with you.

You might also like to join the Gurteen Community group on LinkedIn but although it has several hundred members I am not making full use of it as yet.

Oh and take a look at Guy Kawasaki's Ten ways to use LinkedIn.

Business cases are a waste of time!    (top | next | prev)

Knowledge managers are always asking how they can obtain support for a KM project by demonstrating the ROI especially as the measuring the ROI of a KM initiative is so difficult.

This article by Susan Cramm on the Harvard Business Publishing website is about IT projects but I think is even more applicable to KM projects. This is what she says:
In most cases, the benefits outlined in business (proposals) are a work of creative fiction, and, once the initiative is approved, they are filed and forgotten.

Smart leaders don't waste their time with this. They play the game, but they know how to make the game worth playing. They understand that only 30% of IT-enabled business initiatives deliver as expected and that the other 70% are plagued with unclear business objectives, missing-in-action executive support and inadequate user involvement.

It's a ritual that needs to played! Susan then offers some very sound advise in my opinion. The words below, especially the ones I have highlighted in bold are KEY. In short, business life is political :-)
To build support, it's important to align the initiative to the overall strategic business objectives and to align the initiative to serve the selfish interests of the individuals who will be impacted most.

Google Friend Connect    (top | next | prev)

I am experimenting with a new Google application called Google Friend Connect - a tool that website owners can use to give their site a more social feel.

Take a look, you will find two widgets on most pages of my website including my home page. The first is a members widget that allows you to join my site, sign in and out, see other members, and use other social features and the second is a wall widget that allows you to post comments, or links to videos on my site.

Its a little like MyBlogLog which I also use on my site but Friend Connect has no where near the same functionality but then it is early days.

There's a crack in everything    (top | next | prev)

In a recent conversation with Dominic Kelleher in Brussels we discovered a joint appreciation of the poems and songs of Leonard Cohen and Dominic told me of one of his favorite songs and a quote from it that I too particularly liked. This was the quote.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

But then in googling the song and the quote I found this fragment from an interview with Leonard Cohen that brought the words even more to live for me.
In another song you also say "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in". It is not a very happy thought to believe that something will always have to break, to open a crack, in order to the light gets in...

It is a happy thought if we enjoy the truth. There is always something that will have to break. Usually it is our personal pride. A Buddhist thinker said that disappointment is a great way to illumination. Other masters said: "from the broken debris of my heart I will erect an altar to the Lord".

The idea that there is a staircase of gold and marble, which leads to knowledge is seductive, but seems to me that the idea of something needing to get broken before we can learn anything is a more true idea. It is my experience, maybe you can escape it, but I doubt it. Unless the heart breaks, we will never know anything about love. As long as our objective universe doesn't collapse, we'll never know anything about the world.

We think that we know the mechanism, but only when it fails we understand how intricate and mysterious is the operation. So, it is true, "there's a crack in everything", all human activity is imperfect and unfinished. Only that way we can have the notion that there's something inside us that can only be located through disillusion, bad luck and defeat. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

Some interesting food for thought on KM from an enexpected source. I love it!

Your social network effects your behaviors and even your health    (top | next | prev)

There is a fascinating article titled Three Degrees of Contagion in the January 2009 issue of New Scientist.

Recent research shows that our behaviors and habits are more strongly influenced by friends and relatives than we might imagine. Furthermore, it seems that behaviors, ill-health and even moods pass through friendship networks across several degrees of separation, and we are almost bound to "catch" them.

The research applies to our face to face social networks but what intrigues me is the unanswered question: What about our on-line social networks, mediated through FaceBook, discussion forums and the like? What influence do these networks have on our behaviors? I suspect they too have an influence albeit to a lesser degree.

In the article, they offer five tips for a healthier social network:
  1. Choose your friends carefully.
  2. Choose which of your existing friends you spend the most time with. For example, hang out with people who are upbeat, or avoid couch potatoes.
  3. Join a club whose members you would like to emulate (running, healthy cooking), and socialise with them.
  4. If you are with people whose emotional state or behaviours you could do without, try to avoid the natural inclination to mimic their facial expressions and postures.
  5. Be aware at all times of your susceptibility to social influence - and remember that being a social animal is mostly a good thing.
This seems good advise for our online social networks also!

Flickring your life!    (top | next | prev)

This might just be of interest to some of you - especially the photographers amongst you. Quite simply, for last few years I have been photo-blogging my life on Flickr. Mainly my business life but their is personal stuff too though much of it is restricted to friends and family.

Even I am quite amazed at the places I have been and the things I have done. It is so easy to forget. I wonder what I will make of this collection in ten years time!

You might want to think about doing it yourself - its so easy to do with a digital camera.

KM Tweeters!    (top | next | prev)

I started out with a simple mission to compile a top ten list of people who regularly tweeted on KM inspired by this list Ten People All Twitter Beginners Should be Following.

And of course, like a good Tweeter I announced my intent on Twitter only to be reminded by @Nimmy that @Patrick DiDomenico had already created a pretty comprehensive list of 80 or so of KM tweeters: Must-Follow Twitterers on Twitter | Knowledge Management.

So what to do? Well first I have merged; removed duplicates and sorted Patrick's lists and turned them into links to the individual's tweet page. This allows me and others to quickly click through to their page and check them out. See the list at the bottom of this page.

In clicking through on these folk - many are clearly not focused on KM - a place to browse, a place to start but not a top 80 by any means. And this is a general problem, as many KMers like myself and Nimmy tweet on a wide range of topics but only some on KM. So I am trying to remember to tag my KM tweets with a #KM tag to make them easy to find.

The criteria for my list? That's difficult, but mainly people whom I know and respect; who I follow myself and who frequently post good, relevant KM tweets even if they would not label themselves a KM person as such.

If you consider yourself a "KM tweeter" and are not on any of these lists or you know of others who should be here then please let me know.

You can see my lists here.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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