A couple of months ago I was asked by the editor at “KM Review” to write an opinion piece for their organisational learning issue.
This could not have come at a better time as my blogging has come to a convergence point where the read/write web has enabled KM and Learning to become one in the same in some respect.
It also got me recognition at work even though I have been internal blogging about this stuff for ages, it goes to show the power of authoritativeness.
This article was a challenge as I had a 700 word limit, my only other experience is an interview, so actually writing a piece was a developing a new skill set for me, very different from blogging.
Blogging is easy as I choose the topics and I can blab on for as long as I want…having a word limit and a different audience changes all this.
Rather than my affordances of space and casualness to allow stream of consciousness, personal, and informal writings; the different audience, format and word limit, meant I had to pack a punch with each paragraph, and try to fill out my statements without the luxury of pointing to examples, experience, and explanations.
I found this very hard, and have since come to know that blogging is a very different beast than traditional publishing (the good thing about KM Review is they let me say what I want, so there is no inhouse bias or anything like that). Even though a blog can be used to publish professional articles, I think traditionally it’s more sharing, opinion and a learning soapbox, a way to express and develop…a conversation.
In a blog I’m expressing my thoughts and ideas as it happens in an informal fashion, whereas in an article I am codifying what I know.
NOTE: Basically I looked over all my blog posts and condensed them into the article.
I also looked in delicious for stuff that has come across my radar in the past that I bookmarked for a rainy day, and I also searched my Google Reader. Just this research process alone (come to me web) typifies exactly what this article is about, very zen…checkout Lee Bryant’s post for more on network productivity/social filtering/actionable collective intelligence, I’ve quoted it in my k-flow post.
From reading the article I’m not sure if all the information will holistically be understood by the reader, as there is not much room to explain in 700 words. But if you were then to read my blog posts, you would get to know my character, as a blog allows it to come through; you would get to know my style and wavelength, and you can leave comments to clarify points, contexts and examples with me. Also with each point I make I have the liberty to expand on contexts, and examples.
In the end there is going to be more of a chance that the information is transferred to the reader and internalised as knowledge, as the reader has more of a scope and familiarity (abstraction) with me to understand my message (signal).
These two formats complement each other, and I’ve spoken before about the power of blogs being used as “thinking out loud” and “work in progress” in writing a deliverable. Firstly this is a crowdsourcing technique to evolve the deliverable itself, and secondly when reading the deliverable a reader can refer to various blog posts for more peripheral information on the “workings out” of what took place.
Why is this important?
Deliverables and best practices are not always going to suit your situation, and when applied like a recipe can have a distasterous effect as they can leave out peripheral content, and your context is different. A best practice is not always going to be the best practice (pardon the pun) as there are so many different variables that can be different with your situation…see my post on on anticipatory awareness for more.
Alternate methods, like blogs, wikis and social networking really fit in with the promotion of knowledge sharing, and this is captured nicely by Ron Young’s article in the same issue of KM Review called “Reap the rewards from combining learning and KM”.
The virtuous KM circle is made up of: Trust, Communicate, Learn, Share
If you don’t have trust, then people are less likely to share or communicate, and less learning results.
Also there must be a personal benefit, like a learning feedback loop or reputation as a publisher, to motivate you to share (What’s in it for me?)
…you can become a subject matter expert when you make your know-how visible (and people can subscribe to your thoughts)
Again, once you have trust and simple tools, and a way to connect to people, we are more prone to share. We receive feedback and a reputation in this conversation network, in the end, as Dave Snowden says, we may form interdependencies with our trust circle which ultimately means our most effective way to get work done is by leveraging the social capital (ie. we come to rely on each other to share what we know to get things done). So by creating the conditions for “knowledge sharing”, we have enabled it to happen using a naturalistic approach.
Ron sums this up by saying:
“Capturing new learning and ideas as they occur…transforms an organization from an environment of episodic learning and innovation to one of continual learning and innovation.
Giving people an ecosystem where they can: improve, learn, self develop, and connect to like people, is a way to achieve the aims of KM. Not only can we re-use and apply knowledge to given situations but we become smarter and agile, so there is a mutual benefit at both the individual and organisational level