Monday, 24 December 2012

KIN Maturity Modelling - a major new survey to start 2013

We last comparatively benchmarked KIN member organisations in 2011. This has proved to be an invaluable tool in helping improve competency. As we announced at the KIN Winter Workshop, we will be revisiting the KIN Maturity Model in Spring 2013.

The objectives and benefits of this exercise are:

  • To assess whether and how member organisations have improved their knowledge and innovation capability and maturity over the last 2 years
  • To provide a new set of benchmark data for new and existing member organisations
  • To identify the gaps between high-performing members and those with a desire to improve 
  • To bridge these gaps through peer exchanges and events
  • To help shape the KIN 2013 calendar of events so that it reflects member demand
  • To provide an online maturity benchmarking tool that member organisations can use at a more granular level to identify and bridge internal competency gaps

We need to keep the components and level descriptions broadly the same in order to be able to make comparisons over time. However, we recognise that we should validate the descriptions to ensure they reflect changes to the working environment, resource constraints and developments in social media.
The KIN Key Contacts have been invited to take a look at the wording and comment on any changes that they would like to see for 2013.

Phil Ridout is developing a smart but simple online maturity modelling tool for us. This will be ready for testing during January and the intention is for the Member organisations' Key Contacts to start completing their benchmarking assessment from the end of January. We will then carry out the analysis and use the Spring 2013 Quarterly Workshop, to report on  results and start to 'bridge the gaps'.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Creating value from intangibles

In an effort to discourage women from wearing of a veil, Attaturk had the imaginative idea of making it compulsory for prostitutes to wear one.

I was casting around (well actually spending a couple of fun hours this evening browsing YouTube and TED) for inspiration about how to value intangible assets. I was really looking for a metaphor for how to value knowledge sharing activities.

The veil story came from this funny and inspiring TED video from advertising genius Rory Sutherland, in which he relates some hilarious anecdotes about how to create 'messaging value'. This is perceived value from existing assets. He opens with the story of why and how the humble potato was successfully 'rebranded' in 18th Germany and closes with an example from Canada involving breakfast cereal that is simply breathtaking in its simplicity and effectiveness.

OK, so I admit this video is is only peripherally associated with 'valuing intangibles', but if nothing else take a look at a master storyteller at his best.

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

A sad indictment

English: The NASA insignia. EspaƱol: Insignia ...
I recently came across the 2012 report from the Office of the Inspector General into NASA's Lessons Learned system. It appears that many of the recommendations are  similar to that from the NASA Lessons Learned GAO report in 2002, and others such as the 2003 Columbia Accident Investigation Board report. As a result, the conclusion of this latest report is pretty damning.

As I learned some years ago madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different resultsHere are a few thoughts about what NASA might do differently:

  • As well as fixing the 'supply' side and codification of information; what about really stimulating the 'demand' side of the learning loop? This barely gets a mention. KIN Associate Nick Milton has advocated this for ages
  • Things are not helped by the report conflating information management and knowledge management, when the two require quite different approaches and processes. The recommendations should use this differentiation and resources be applied appropriately.
  • There is a fascinating tension between the need for accountability / due-diligence and the informality that effective knowledge sharing often needs to foster trust. The legal ramifications of high profile and expensive disasters (Challenger, Deepwater Horizon, Buncefield) have done us no favours in this regard. The answer: Communities of Practice remain the most effective vehicles for the stewardship and accessibility of 'latent' knowledge and know-how. Large organisations such as NASA do recognise this but rarely do they see the same level of investment or monitoring as Lessons Learned Systems.
Let's hope we do not see yet another NASA 'Lessons Learned System' failure report in 2013.

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Friday, 2 November 2012

KIN's maturity modelling reaches a new level of maturity


It is two years since KIN carried-out our second comparative study of the 'organisational learning maturity' of our member organisations. We subsequently used the results to:

  • Shape the KIN programme of events
  • Give an empirical benchmark for members to judge whether they are improving 
  • Identify the gap between member organisations that are very mature in certain aspects and help those with a need to improve bridge the gaps identified
In Q1 next year, we will repeat the KIN Maturity Model exercise, culminating in the KIN Spring Workshop, where we will present the results. We have several new member organisations that have not participated in either of the two previous modelling exercises and it will be useful to how others have improved against previous benchmarks.

KIN itself has matured. Whilst last time we used some Google Forms to collect the data, our resident Google Guru, Phil Ridout, has done wonders using the new web tools available in Google Sites. Phil has developed a smart online tool that takes care of the entire process from data collection to presentation of results. Not only will this make the process much easier and simpler, it will be 'packaged' as a tool for ongoing use by member organisations.

The completion and analysis of the maturity model has spawned many interesting discussions along the way. One of these is 'to what level of granularity should we apply the maturity model'? This is important, as a high-level perspective may mask many different islands of excellence and poor performance. It is for this reason that we are packaging the tool so that members can also use it to identify and bridge the excellence gap within their own organisation.

The KIN Maturity Modelling Tool is still undergoing development and will be available for testing by December. I look forward to telling you how it progresses and the results we achieve.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Sometimes, you have to state the obvious because it's often overlooked. As Michael Norton of KIN Members the Local Government Association puts it  "why go to all the effort of attracting new members if they don’t contribute to the community?"

Many will join a community of practice just for what they can get out of it. There's nothing wrong with that; presumably it creates value or disseminates new insights or learning for the organisation. Those insights have to come from somewhere though. 

As Michael puts it "You want to make contributing to your group irresistible. Don’t expect to write the acceptance message and leave it at that". But that's often what happens. Michael has some practical help and some communication tips and templates that can help make more joiners active rather than passive. You can read his blog on Membership Acceptance here.

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Friday, 19 October 2012

Last week I facilitated a KIN Members' site visit to Schlumberger. (See the KIN Calendar entry for November 11 here

We were delighted that Schlumberger - who were previously KIN members - were prepared to share with us their latest insights and tools in knowledge management.

As the host,  Dave Staughton described and showed to us their family of knowledge management initiatives.

As always with these type of events, the real value came not only from learning from Dave's experience at Schlumberger, but just as much from the discussion with and input from the other attendees. They were able to relate what Dave was showing us to their own environments and provide alternative viewpoints and valuable insights into tools, techniques and processes - what works and what doesn't.

My biggest single takeout form the day was that KIN should organise these events more frequently between KIN member organisations. The learning you get from spending just a few hours focussing on how a single organisation has addressed KM issues which are common to most organisations can be just as rich - if not richer - than the learning you get at any of our other events.

So, KIN members! Who's going to volunteer to host the next one ? Let me know in the comments or via email. I'd love to hear from you.

Oh, and I liked Dave's take on the perennial debate over the use (or not) of the term 'Knowledge Management'. Schlumberger have no problem using the term. For them, KM is 'Management for Knowledge' as opposed to 'Management of Knowledge'. It is the management of people, processes and systems that enables knowledge to flow around the organisation.

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Friday, 12 October 2012

Stirring a linguistic hornets nest

Detail hornets' nest opened up and being rebui...

I've never really given this a lot of thought, but during a 'lessons learnt' training course I ran today, someone asked me why I used the word 'learnt' rather than 'learned'.
My assumption has been that the former was the British English pronunciation and spelling, the latter American English.

It seems that grammatically, this is not the case, although you will almost never see or hear 'learnt' used by an American. 

OK, the correct / purist definition is as follows (deep breath...)

English (as in Queen's English):
"learned": a present participle that performs the role of an adjective by qualifying a following noun.
"learnt": a past participle that performs the role of a adjective by qualifying a noun.

These words will be participles only if used along with a helping verb, also called an auxiliary verb like "to be" or "to have". If used without an auxiliary verb, there is a possibility that the word "learnt" is actually a verb and not a participle. This depends entirely upon the sentence structure.
Both these words are derived from the infinitive of the verb "to learn". While "learned" refers to a current state of acquired knowledge of the accusative noun, in this case the the noun following the word "learned"; the word "learnt" refers to a past incident that caused the accusative noun to become aware of something or gain some knowledge.

Got that? This is all a little dense and pedantic, so my simple justification for using 'learnt' is that you wouldn't use 'meaned' rather than 'meant'. 
Go argue.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Getting the Picture

A variant of the original map drawn by Dr. Joh...
A variant of the original map drawn by Dr. John Snow (1813-1858), a British physician who is one of the founders of medical epidemiology, showing cases of cholera in the London epidemics of 1854, clustered around the locations of water pumps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dr John Snow's 1854 dot map of London cholera fatalities is an early, and now famous, example of how data can be presented in an engaging and meaningful way. 

This and many other examples of 'visualising knowledge' are shown in a recent slideshare presentation by Conrad Taylor. Taylor's talk is impressively researched and provides a sound, albeit at times theoretical, background to infographics.

Developments in infographics, coming at a time when open data is becoming more relevant, is serendipitous. This should be of interest to everyone driving knowledge sharing and make know-how more accessible in organisations. 

Taylor's presentation was brought to my attention by KIN Associate Steve Dale, with whom I have been talking about a Spring 2013 KIN Masterclass on 'visualising knowledge'. As well as infographic examples and tools, we will look at how these can be employed to pragmatically improve communication, engagement and collaboration in organisations.

There is a huge amount of innovation going on in the graphical presentation of ideas, concept mapping and what Disney called 'imagineering'. I have mentioned Hans Rosling's Gapminder in a previous post. I can also highly recommend David McCandless' book and website 'Information is Beautiful'.
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Thursday, 9 August 2012

An Olympic sized knowledge transfer challenge

London Organising Committee of the Olympic Gam...

We are often faced with a gap between someone with key knowledge leaving an organisation and their successor arriving. However, the organising committees of the Olympic games face this every 4 years, on a gigantic scale. In this excellent HBR blog post, Allison Stewart describes the problem and posits that it is more openness that is needed, not knowledge transfer. As she says, "Imagine trying to grow a business from scratch to the size of a Fortune 500 company in just seven years, with a talent pool lacking any experience in the same kind of enterprise". Now there's a knowledge transfer challenge.
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Friday, 27 July 2012

Knowledge representation with

I rather dislike the term 'knowledge capture' as it implies a one-way street; knowledge disappearing into some dusty trap, never to be seen again.
The KIN Knowledge Retention and Transfer special interest group has looked at many techniques for representing knowledge and expertise.
Mindmapping and interactive Q&As can use attractive and intuitive visual techniques to make knowledge accessible and attractive. I've discovered a new variant on the mindmapping technique that is worth looking at. Have a go at the free 'concept mapping' web tool 

See this video for an explanation of concept mapping (and incidentally the relationship between information and knowledge)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Ethnographic Interview

Cover of "The Ethnographic Interview"

I recently paid nearly £50 for a second-hand paperback book, written by an academic over 30 years ago. You may ask what possessed me?

The book is 'The Ethnographic Interview' by James P. Spradley, published in 1979.

For those facilitating knowledge retention or transfer  in organisations, the techniques that Spradley describes are ideal for eliciting valuable knowledge in an interview situation. They are grounded in extensive research and are still absolutely relevant and pragmatic. Despite being written by an academic, the text is very accessible, full of examples and clearly relevant for the practitioner. 
For knowledge retention and transfer, the imperative is how is the knowledge that is elicited is put to use, who needs it and how it is accessed (format and channel). This means making the knowledge transfer process an integral part of the discovery stage - this is quite different to pure ethnographic study, where the analysis happens much later. Another major difference in producing explicit knowledge for the purpose knowledge transfer is that the outputs (knowledge assets) are for the benefit of knowledge recipients not the facilitator (or ethnographer). 

I highly recommend the book, but for those pushed for time, or unwilling to invest £50 for a paperback, I have written a synopsis and extracted the most relevant tips and techniques. KIN members can see the synopsis on KIN Memberspace in the Knowledge Retention and Transfer SIG library.

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

A chance encounter in the space of ideas

In 1854, Louis Pasteur was quoted as saying "in the field of observation, chance only favours the prepared mind"

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Mel Woods of SerenA, the multi-disciplinary project that aims to 'deliver novel technologies, methods and evaluation techniques for supporting serendipitous interactions'. SerenA's scope is primarily how serendipity can be engineered in the service of research. Mel and her colleagues worked on the hypothesis that serendipity can be optimised and have developed a model to do so. Whilst engineered serendipity appears to be an oxymoron, the model seems effective and SerenA have held several workshops to develop this idea further. 

We had a wide-ranging discussion about the role that serendipity plays in the making of connections and innovation in large organisations, for example locating expertise and problem-solving. In November we hope to take this forward with a full-day event with SerenA where KIN members can get involved in serendipity in digital and physical spaces.

SerenA has collected many stories about serendipitous encounters and presented these as beautiful graphical and audio stories. The example below is one of several available on the brilliantly named SerendipiTV 

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Valuing the Invaluable

A rocky stream in the U.S. state of Hawaii.

There are just three letters that differentiate 'economist' from 'ecologist'.
A fascinating debate has been sparked by the UK Government's announcement that the natural environment is to be given a cash value through the NEA UK National Ecosystem Assessment .  The intention is to help assess the true environmental cost of a farmer ploughing up a wood or the value to the NHS of living close to green spaces and clean air. The hope is that by placing a £ $ € value, natural resources will be better appreciated and stewarded. Skeptics fear however that you simply cannot put a price on an intangible such as a pleasant view or fresh air.  The BBC has reported extensively over the last month on 'putting a price on nature'.

What's this to do with organisational learning? Well I've often thought that an organisation can be viewed as an ecosystem. It has tangible assets such as premises and stock and intangible assets such as know-how and expertise (social capital). The former are easy to value, the latter more tricky. Perhaps there is a lesson for us in whether valuing intangible natural assets such as a bluebell wood vista, makes us appreciate it more and want to invest in its upkeep as an 'asset'.

Depending on how successful the NEA programme is, perhaps we can use this as an analogy to value communities of practice and other organisational learning processes and tools. When shareholders insist that these 'intellectual assets' are managed as well as capital assets, we will have made a real breakthrough.

Whether a gurgling brook or a knowledge retention process, it will be interesting to see how valuation pans out and whether there are unintended consequences.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
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Friday, 29 June 2012

Norton Rose join KIN

I had the pleasure of facilitating a KIN induction meeting for Norton Rose this week. Norton Rose, one of the world's leading law firms, and certainly one of the most innovative are the latest member to join, along with the charity Tear Fund.

I was impressed with the insights and enthusiasm of the individuals that Sam Dimond, the KIN key contact, had assembled. They are going to make an excellent contributor to the network and will undoubtedly benefit too. Whilst Norton Rose participate in all sorts of legal networks, KIN will add a new dimension from the diversity of organisations they will have access to.

On my way out of their offices (the views across the City of London from their 12th floor are fabulous), I noticed that their conference centre was right on-message for knowledge sharing...

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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Julia Hobsbawn 'Professor of Networking'

Julia Hobsbawn featured on the BBC's Today programme on 27th June on the occasion of her inaugural lecture as Professor of Networking at Cass Business School.
Interviewed by Sarah Montague, she discussed that networking was not just about developing contacts, but the exchange and sharing of knowledge. Hobsbawn is arguing for a return to 'salon culture', such as was the origin of the coffee houses in London in 18th century. Indeed she has had discussions with McDonalds and the coffee chains to encourage this concept. 
The interview is available via the BBC 'Listen Again' facility until 3rd July 2012. Look for the Today Programme, Weds 27th June at 08:18. 

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Friday, 8 June 2012

Knowledge Engines or Smart Information?

Back in 2009, KIN took a look at the new kid on the search block, Wolfram Alpha. Back then, my conclusion was that this super-smart 'answer engine' held fantastic promise, but 'wasn't quite ready yet'. It has now been revealed that Wolfram Alpha is actually the engine behind Apple's smartphone assistant SIRI. Wolfram Alpha has come of age.

Stand by for a new clutch of Google and Bing search products that they claim will go way beyond providing links to web pages. Google's 'Knowledge Graph' already provides facts and services that anticipate what the user is trying to find out by interpreting the everyday language used. Google's Shashidhar Thakur says they can 'go beyond returning pages and return knowledge'. Clearly Google and Microsoft are making use of Open Linked Data behind the scenes to help make the semantic connections.

We can waste many unproductive hours debating the difference between information and knowledge. However when Google can provide know-how, answers based on expertise and nuanced insight, will be when it can truly claim to be providing knowledge, rather than what I think is 'information in context'. Providing knowledge will undoubtedly come, but Google's knowledge graph 'isn't quite ready yet'.

In the meantime, Quora seems to be bridging the answer engine gap by connecting people with questions with people with answers.

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Thursday, 3 May 2012

IE6, and pdf

I blogged recently ( about our experiments with and Unfortunately some of our members are still forced to use IE6 and apparently does not render using IE6. So Jo Bowen asked if is possible to get a pdf version of the KIN Weekly. And the answer is a qualified yes. I found this website - - which will do it for you. You can even email the url of the KIN Weekly and you will receive a pdf back by email. You just put "convert" in the subject line and send email to

Apparently the links do work but you have to hover over the title, e.g. "Best KM job in the world?" not the link text..

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Houston, we don't have a problem (but there is some weird stuff here)

I've just spent a wonderfully hectic week in Houston, Texas as a guest of APQC, the American Productivity and Quality Center, and ConocoPhillips

On Monday I spent the day with Dan Ranta, Yvonne Myles and their inspirational team. They took me through their plans for the imminent split of ConcocoPhillips and Phillips 66, the upstream and downstream parts of the business. This has profound implications for Dan's team, not least as they will move to be under the leadership of their VP for IT. Dan sees this as a great opportunity to help that group reposition itself as a change enabler for the organisation. Interestingly Yvonne's new team at Phillips 66 will be under HR, which also brings new opportunities; KIN has of course recently explored the synergies between Talent Management and knowledge transfer. I wish both teams bon chance for next week's split.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I led a workshop for APQC members on Knowledge Elicitation and Transfer. We had a lot of fun 'getting our hands on the knowledge', working in syndicate groups. They were a diverse and stimulating group of participants and as always, I learnt a lot from them too. The feedback was excellent, so we are hopeful that this course will be re-run in the not too distant future.

Thursday and Friday was the knockout APQC annual conference. KIN does its Quarterly Workshops pretty well, but the sheer scale and depth of this event was outstanding. 'Knowledge Management' events can be pretty samey and superficial, but the keynote speakers gave a really interesting tangential perspectives on knowledge and innovation in organisations. Similarly the breakout sessions gave a diverse  view of how a variety of organisations are approaching knowledge work. I must single out Susan Rosenbaum and Amar Singh's session on the merger of Schlumberger and Smith in 2010/11. Their approach was not only innovative, but clearly has had enormously beneficial impact on both organisations. APQC's planning and execution of this huge event was outstandingly impressive. Whilst the scale could have been intimidating, they somehow managed to allow everyone to 'seamlessly connect' (to borrow a phrase from the APQC Advanced Working Party work). I guess that's a good indicator of expert facilitation.

Finally, I had a meeting with one of the other big energy companies here, with whom I will be doing some work, through APQC, in the UK. Can't say whom yet, but I am excited to be involved in a big 'quality lessons' project.

This was my first visit to Houston, so I thought I would end with a few personal reflections of some of the more unusual things I observed. Everyone here has made me feel very welcome, but I couldn't help but be struck by these amusing, scary and downright strange experiences... 

  • On the freeway in from the airport there was a giant billboard advertising Dialyspa. Only in Texas can you experience a spa and manicure whilst you transfuse. Not sure if this is just for athletes who want to cheat and recuperate, or for those with renal failure and hard skin on their feet.
  • I caught a cab to a downtown location for an architectural walking tour of the lovely Montrose District (yes Houston does have some interesting and historic arhitecture). Incomprehensible immigrant cab drivers may be a cliche, but mine was a doozie (as I think it's called in the local dialect). Not only could he not speak or understand conversational English, but he was ANGRY and drove a Hummer; never a good combination. When I asked him to take me to the Menil Gallery, all he could yell repeatedly was 'Gimme black number'. Eventually we set off with me having no confidence where we were heading. Mr Angry was simultaneously jabbering in Farsi or Jedi to the dispatcher on his cellphone, fumbling with his satnav and wandering at speed across five lanes of freeway. I had to put a stop to this madness. Mr FURIOUS was not happy when I grabbed his Garmin, but I quickly figured out the Zip code and got him going in the right direction. I never did find out what a 'black number' was.
  • The Houston Galleria is my idea of Hell. I've not been to Westfield shopping centre in London, but I imagine that it is the little cousin of Texas' Finest and Biggest Mall. Tesla are famous for producing the world's first high-performance fully electrically driven car. In a defiant middle-finger salute to the Texas legislature, and the oil industry that controls it, Tesla have opened a car showroom in the middle of the mall, featuring their prototype four door sedan. It is a mighty fine automobile too. The reason that Tesla's presence in Texas' Finest and Biggest Mall is contentious is that, believe it or not it is illegal to sell, or even discuss the purchase of, an electrically driven ve-hic-le in the State of Texas. When I asked a member of staff how I might go about placing an order, she cleverly responded that she could only answer that question if we were to hold that conversation in the neighbouring state of Louisiana.
  • The Galleria mall's security guards travel on Segways, those slightly ridiculous gyroscopically self-propelled, two-wheeled, upright chariots. They are both fascinating and intimidating  as they zoom about imperiously. I suppose intimidation goes with the job, but the Segways also ensure staff are cut off from contact with customers. Hail one to ask the direction to Macy's and you are likely to just get mown down.
  • Nobody walks in Houston. Fact. During the hot humid summer months, I can see the attraction of going from airconditioned home to car to mall. However, as the temperature was a pleasant 75oF this morning, I decided to walk to the Houston Arboretum. It's about a mile and a half, but the concierge was most perturbed that I was going to use shanks pony. On the way there I crossed a junction at a set of traffic lights, where a disabled panhandler was holding his pathetic tatty cardboard sign for stopped traffic. I decided it would be pretty naff to take a photo, but it said simply 'homeless veteran, please help me'. I stopped and gave him a couple of bucks and asked him what his name was. He was remarkably guarded about why this foreigner had stopped to talk to him. It turns out that was the only person that he had spoken to in 3 days. He was so grateful that anyone had actually taken an interest in him as an individual, never mind the money. A sad indictment of the times. The arboretum was a pleasant quiet oasis of old oak trees and wildlife and blessed relief from metro Houston. Wow, the walk back was hot and sticky. Why on earth didn't I get a cab?

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Thursday, 19 April 2012

SimCity - showing the future of data visualisation - and not just for gaming


When talking to people about managing knowledge as a resource, it is helpful to frame this in the context of the difference between data, information, knowledge and insight. This can be a fairly esoteric concept, so I pitch it using real-life examples; for example, the resources you might use in choosing a new book to read. The ISBN catalogue number and RRP (data) isn't much help in itself, but other titles by the same author, best price, whether it is in stock certainly give you useful information. Amazon reviewer ratings will give you reader ratings and comments (knowledge). Best of all still is getting the opinion of someone you trust who has read it (insight).

There are a growing number of really smart examples of how data is being made more accessible through visualisation techniques. I've talked about Hans Rosling's brilliant temporal visualisations of health data before.

This video 'SimCity Insider's Look - Glass Box Game Engine' shows how things have progressed in  using data in clever and engaging ways. I just love the way that 'units' and 'agents' impact behind the scenes in response to decisions you make. These are not just direct (perhaps more smoke from increased factory output) but a result of sophisticated sets of rules governing 'agents' and 'units' that together create economic, social and environmental feedback and unintended consequences. Just like life really. This example shows how a decision to pump more water from the aquifer impacts pollution, health and the local economy.

It struck me that this game engine is doing something rather special - shortcutting the link between data and insight, through visualisation. The player doesn't need, or want, to know the 'unit' information rules or agent data, that lie behind the gameplay. He or she can see the impact of a local decision - the dirty plume of smoke from the power station chimney.

The increasing amount of public data being made available in 'open data' formats, coupled with brilliant and engaging visualisation tools is good news. Particularly good in terms of making sense of the sometimes overwhelming amount of data being collected and being made available to us.

We've come a long way from that original SimCity.

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Big Launch - a counterintuitive view

The business need was articulated, lessons have been applied, investment made in marketing materials, senior people briefed and supportive, facilitators' training organised, content seeding primed. So, you are all set to launch the big push for your organisation's new Community of Practice?

Is a big launch with senior people backing the new Community of Practice the right thing to do?

At the recent Knowledge and Innovation Network Roundtable event, it was posited that a 'big launch' or aggressive marketing may be counter-productive for online community initiatives. It appears from the work done by the UK Local Government Association that their most sustainable and vibrant communities gain traction and engagement best from word of mouth. This is borne out by the success of many 'viral' communities; those that have sprung up because of a grass-roots need to connect. In some cases these may initially be successful because they do not carry the imprimatur of the organisation.

KIN research has shown that most sustainable Communities of Practice do have a clear purpose, trained leaders that are given time to facilitate the group and support from the leadership. This investment by the organisation can be light-touch; providing the capability, tools and support for individuals to make connections. 

Perhaps the big fanfare is best left until the Community is established and achieving some of it's goals.
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Monday, 2 April 2012

A curates egg ?

twitter logo map 09
twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

Are you a Twitter-phile or a Twitter-phobe?

Are you a Twitter-philes who thinks the Twitter-phobes are missing out?
Are you a Twitter-phobe who thinks they might be missing out but really can't - or doesn't want to - get Twitter?

Some KIN members are active on Twitter and are sharing content which may well be of interest to other KIN members if only it could be made more accessible.

In fact, there are a number of sources of information online which could be usefully tapped into by KIN members:
  • Content discovered by other KIN members and associates and shared via social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linked In and Diigo
  • Content discovered by other people interested in KM 
  • Content created by other KIN members and associates in the form of Blog posts
  • Other relevant content by KM thought leaders on their blogs
These sources are scattered and not always easy to find - especially for the non social media savvy. Some of these sources can also be not very engaging.

So, we're about to start an experiment using and
These are two of a new breed of 'content curation' tools. They each have advantages and disadvantages and we thought that the best way of assessing which provides the best value to KIN would be to try both and see what our members think.

We're starting with and will be publishing both a weekly and a daily version of the 'paper' - these can be found here:
Soon we will also be publishing similar content via - watch this space.
{and here it is: }

There are two potential benefits to be gained by investing a small amount of facilitator effort into 'content curation'.
  • Providing additional value to our members by making visible and engaging the social media activities of KIN members and Associates
  • Raising KIN's profile on the major Social Networks
Any KIN members who want to know a bit more about how we are selecting the published content, please visit this page in the KIN memberspace. Feedback on and suggestions for content are very welcome - please join in the discussion here (members only).

Some other examples of content curated using these tools are :

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Friday, 30 March 2012

Exploiting Knowledge in Networks

Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...
Description: Social Networking Source: own work Author: koreshky Date: 12/10/2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had a very good turnout for the KIN Masterclass 'Exploiting Knowledge in Networks' on Tuesday 20th March at pwc in London.

The enormous growth of social media tools and social/professional networks over the past few years has created new opportunities and new challenges for people and organisations who want to embrace this dynamic world of social interaction and fluid knowledge flows. However, It is not widely recognised that collaboration and knowledge sharing and use of social media tools are skills and practices that rarely get taught. It's something we may learn on the job in a hit or miss fashion. Some people are natural at it. Others struggle to understand it.

This Masterclass - led by Stephen Dale - provided a practical, detailed and hands-on introduction to social media and social/professional networking that will enabled delegates to have a greater understanding of their context for use and deployment within their organisation and for personal and professional development.

Details of the Masterclass content can be found (by KIN members) here

I came away with a long list of new things to try - and it sparked some thinking about the uses and potential benefits of content curation.

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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Do you know how are you doing?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mention health checks and most people would think of cholesterol levels or cardiograms. This week KIN held a 'Health Checks' Roundtable event to look at how member organisations judge the health of their organisational learning programmes. In this case, by 'health' we mean impact, penetration and vitality.

The first thing to emerge was the variation in how KIN members go about this. Practice ranged from a formal evaluation, with rigorous empirical evaluation based on the 'Maryland Scale' for research evidence, user surveys, the creation of 'knowledge maps', to an evaluation of online community vitality.

One of the main conclusions was that however you go about it, the measurement of the effectiveness of your interventions and support is critical. It seems that the most credible evidence, typically combines both anecdotal and empirical evidence. How you communicate the impact is equally important for buy-in and further investment (assuming that it is positive!).

KIN will be holding a further related event, under the aegis of the 'Management Buy-in' special interest group, later this year. This will look at return on investment, stakeholder engagement and change management. This will be followed by our Winter Workshop in November on the topic of 'Knowledge and Productivity'.

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