Category Archives: Web Office and Collaboration

Day 92 & 93: MLWC, some green links and Measuring KM

A bunch of green specific websites are springing up. They sort of remind me of the early days in the gay&lesbian community when everything had to be really gay&lesbian and only gay&lesbian or it didn’t count. Things are much more mainstreamed now and that’s a good thing in many ways–hopefully the path to mainstreaming green living, green concerns, green investing will be faster, smoother, better.

So, without further ado:
Greener.com, a green search engine. If you want to find something, but want to narrow the field to green, here’s your engine.
Greenmaven, another search engine that also includes social awareness along with greeniness in its search results.
Hugg is like Digg but with a green angle. This one’s pretty interesting and since I have found myself having a hard time categorizing green stories adequately in Digg, I’m liking the alternative.
Inhabitat is a beautiful blog discussing sustainable design of all kinds. It’s gorgeous in a West Coast Zen kind of way.

And now for something completely different: measuring the effectiveness of KM. Suarez in his blog discusses the ongoing question of measuring KM–to prove its worth to everyone from end users to IT, to Veeps, etc. He despairs of finding an adequate answer to the ongoing question and I don’t blame him. KM usage, wikis, blogs, etc are all experiential and viral in their best cases; like I ranted in my post yesterday, KM of all stripes is a haven for command-and-control management and the insistence on measurement is a key indicator of command-and-control style.

That said, I don’t live in such a fantasy land that I think we’ll get rid of measurement any time soon. I introduced wikis to a very large, global computer maker and the biggest difficulty we had in the process was trying to get them to think differently about “measurement.” I don’t think we succeeded, and as a result, even though the wiki is successful in terms of adoption, the lack of meaningful (read: corporate) measurement has all but made the wiki invisible to upper echalons of management. They can’t talk about it in numbers, so they disregard it. Fortunately, the wiki itself, intended for front line users, can live quite happily without a lot of attention.

My ongoing philosophical question: has Excel made life better or worse or something in between? We now use it because we can–for anything and everything. It’s a fabulous tool…I just wish sometimes we could put it down and thinking differently about things.

Daily stats:
Car: 0
Bike: 10.2 miles
Foot: 0
Bus:0

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Day 92 & 93: MLWC plus Command-and-Control Knowledge

Alright, it’s about time “My Life w Car” got its own acronym, doncha think? So, here we go: MLWC. For a while, I’ll link back to day 90 for an explanation of the project and then, once it’s so common place that I hear it on the nightly news, I’ll stop linking 😉

Command and Control Knowledge “Management.”
I consult on operational issues relating to the customer and the front-line worker—that vital connection between the company and the public. Of late, that connection has shown some wear and tear. Its been commoditized as companies try to manage costs—and when they try to manage costs, they head for the frontline first. They buy software, dream of robotic systems, outsource their service—not because it’s better but because they hope it will make the problem of the frontline-to-customer relationship go away.

Knowledge Management, in all its many forms, is a command-and-control oasis. With very few exceptions (and those exceptions are basically Web 2.0 leaders), companies desperately hang onto the notion that they should, and can, control the information that flows from the agent to the customer. This subverts the agent’s role into that of a robot and so far in all my agent observations, I’ve yet to meet a robot.

Internet-based knowledge sharing—wikis, blogs, online collaboration tools—is both revolutionary and elegant. It engages people at an intuitive level and collects tacit knowledge in natural, accessible ways. Legal will hate it, IT will distrust it, Management will eschew it because they don’t understand it. The New Knowledge Sharing–how many more Knowledge acronyms can we bear??–which will take place online is the one innovation that will engage the front-line, enable JIT knowledge transfer, help the customer, and give command-and-control management style a run for its money. I know where I’m placing my bets.

A couple of articles to consider about this issue:

    A local fave rave consulting group, Ramp Group, has some interesting thoughts about knowledge and content sharing on their blog.

    Here’s a great rundown of articles tackling the problem of knowledge sharing across global groups and in enterprises–note the dates of the articles, the more recent ones are coming to the same conclusions as above.

Daily Stats:
Car: 13 miles (1 person/3 tasks)
Bike: 0
Bus: 0

Note: Jorge Gajardos Rojas from Chile wrote yesterday to ask why I don’t just walk? He lives close to work and ammenities and walks daily. Such a great question–most Americans don’t walk unless it’s for leisure. We don’t walk to the grocery store, for sure. We couldn’t carry back the massive amount of stuff we buy. But elsewhere in the world people walk everywhere, daily. I’ve walked to the grocery store a few times in this project but haven’t kept track of it; I imagine if I walked to the store daily, I wouldn’t have to pay for a gym membership. Thanks Jorge!

Day 87: my life w car plus Big Blue Goes Green

IBM is investing a billion a year in figuring out how to utilize alternative energy resources for their systems–from cooling mechanisms to software. The company promises higher CPU without any more energy use. Sweet!

read more | digg story

Also, a friend (sorry Yo, now you’ll really have to do that site ;-))and I had coffee yesterday in Pioneer Square and discussed the issue of.. well, Web 2.0 and knowledge management–though I wince when using the Web 2.0 term. It seems hackneyed, yet what can we call this internet wave that’s upon us? The one where we are increasingly in touch, sharing info at such a massive level–truly a big tent community with all the noise and chaos of a bazaar. At every level, corporate and personal, the sheer amount of information out there is mind boggling yet at every moment has the potential to organize itself organically and pretty doggone effectively.

My point was, how can you deny that information sharing is morphing right before our eyes when companies like Dell are forced to change their ways by the popularization of a term to describe their dysfunction on a single customer blog–the blog heard round the customer experience world?

A side note on Dell–Dell himself. How come these guys get big money? Thanks for this, Yo!

Daily Stats:
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Flexcar: 0
Run through Park along waterfront: approx 3.5 miles

day 81 & 82: My life w car

Read an oldie the other day, The Victorian Internet, by Tom Standage. It was a quick, fun read but sort of silly in some ways.

telegraph.jpg

His claim is that the singular invention of the Telegraph was the first Internet…and to take a phrase from Standage himself (out of context): “Well, sort of.” In fact, it seems the invention that is most strikingly a first step on the way to the modern internet is the use of electrical pulses as a means of conveying information and data from point A to point B. The rest—how humans wrestled with the new communication potential—may well be a repeat of previous “great leaps” in human history and a reflection of the human impulse or instinct to communicate and share information—whether it be in words, electrical impulses, art, oral tradition, trade, or teaching, we seem driven to communicate—and to leverage communication to our own ends.

Among the interesting tidbits that have stayed with me is the change in work culture (from a sun-up-to-sun-down schedule to a newly global 24/7 schedule)–we struggle with our 24/7/365 always-on, always-open global culture and it’s interesting to consider how 24/7 changed things way back in the Victorian age. But in the end, Standage lost me when he boldly asserted that the changes Victorian era society went through during the introduction of the Telegraph so thoroughly modernized them that “time traveling Victorians…would, no doubt, be unimpressed with the Internet.”

I mean, come on. In my own lifetime, I’ve marvelled at the new forms of technology that interconnect the world. I’ve even marvelled at the innovations with bicycles, ferchrissakes. To think that folks from the 1880’s would not be blown away by our technology and interconnectedness now is surely ridiculous. But, someone 100 years from now will be writing something similar to Victorian Internet and gather together a treasure trove of quotes about how the internet made our lives (choose one): easier/smarter/harder/better/faster/worse and will come to various conclusions about technological impacts based on that.

drop-impact.jpg

The world is on a trajectory of inter-relatedness (interesting related thought here). When the printing press was invented, it spawned the creation of entire new religions and the Holy Roman Empire took a huge hit. Suddenly the written word was available not just to those in the cathedral but to anyone who could get a hold of a manuscript. The rise of the first person narrative novel can be linked to MySpace; oral tradition can be linked to the blogosphere; tribal knowledge can trace a direct line to wikis; and certainly the old market and bazarre network can be linked to craigslist and ebay. But all those parallels speak more to human nature and the impulse to inter-connect than to any of the devices invented to achieve that goal.

Daily travel stats:
Internet: a million miles, give or take
car: 6 (4 tasks, 1 person)
bike: 10.5 miles
bus: 2.5 miles
flexcar: 0
passenger ferry to downtown Seattle: 3 miles

Wiki use in global enterprise settings

Just considering the possible use of a massive wiki for tech help agents in an enterprise setting.  Any thoughts anyone out there might have would be of interest.

For now, some of the considerations I have would be:

  • flexibility of legacy inputs
  • what kind of SW?
  • use for decision trees, or trees of any kind?
  • measuring use for agents and customers
  • limiting and recognizing abuse
  • governance issues (multitudes, I’m guessing)

I’m convinced through painful experience that global companies with a vested interest in a uniform customer experience and support options will have to have some kind of JIT publishing process and collaborative sharing processes to create a global MindShare at the agent level.

Further, it’s about the only way out there to actually collect and leverage tacit knowledge. But can it be done and measured and proven to be as effective as I think it can?  Don’t know.

Wiki = better corporate culture and customer experience?

Previously I noted in passing about the article in the New Yorker about Wikipedia–great stuff that has received a lot of attention and brought Wikipedia into the mainstream. Love to know what Wikipedia’s metrics for the last week have shown regarding that attention.

Anyway, I’d also noted that Digital Universe offers a very different approach to collaborative knowledge, social networking etc. As I’m trying to apply the wiki concept to the knowledge management of a global company with extreme complexity, a lot of questions come up regarding the two approaches, one being more or less a self-governing free for all, the other being a collection of portals maintained and controlled by subject matter experts as gate keepers.

Of course the global company in question would prefer the controlled model, it makes them feel much more secure that all hell won’t break loose and it suits their command-and-control style of management to a tee. So at first, I was leaning towards the Digital Universe model, but now…in fact, I’d really like to see them give the wikipedia model a try for these two reasons:

Those using the knowledge base are also those who interface with customers. They know what the most current problems are, what the work-arounds are, what’s needed, what works. They know it like the back of their hand. As Peter Drucker pointed out often enough, the frontline workers are the keepers of truly useful knowledge. They have every reason to make sure the knowledge they have at their fingertips is the best, most correct and most useful. They have every reason to make sure their co-workers also have that information so they don’t have to clean up the mess left behind by someone who did the job poorly the first time. They also have every reason to want the recognition they deserve for the knowledge they’ve acquired. In all of these cases, a wikipedia answers the call.

Further, the customer would prefer that frontline worker have as much useful, applicable and timely information as possible, as quickly as possible. That would mean a quick answer to their problems and that’s pretty much all they want.

So, none of this is rocket science but to get a large, entrenched company to recognize the worth and value of this radically new frontier of shared knowledge and JIT publishing…now there’s some magic.

How threatening is a many-to-many publishing? Maybe pretty dang threatening, it could be a game changer. But in exchange, you’d have fresh energy, real motivation to “get it right,” and direct relationship with excellent frontline customer experience.

Wiki wiki please

An article by Stacy Schiff in the latest New Yorker does a dandy job of bringing wikipedia into the mainstream, warts and all. Good history, good questions, and good job pointing to co-founder Sanger’s new-and-improved version of collaborative knowledge centers, Digital Universe.

Seems likely that in no time at all, the two approaches will find their home: wikipedia for the casual user on the net, digital universe for academics, professionals, and all who want at least some expert control over content.

Digital Universe is a very interesting concept. I’m looking forward to learning more about it for application in knowledge management for global companies with complex needs.