Sunday, December 30, 2007
A colourful 2008!
'Design' versus 'emergent'
Our ice-skating in front of our house last week offers a good example. Because of the ice-skating, lot of neighbours came outside and skated/slided and chatted. I got to know a few neighbours a little better, and talked for the first time with some others. Unfortunately this was the first time in the seven years that our street exists that ice-skating was possible.
Suppose you are someone with an interest in fostering relationships in our neighbourhood. Would you wait for another seven year so that more of these opportunities emerge? I believe you can learn from what happens naturally (the emergent) and use it to facilitate (design). For instance, you could organize a trip to a artificial skating place. Or rather organize a different event, because you observed that this event attracted mostly parents with children. Nothing dirty about facilitating a community of practice!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Designed for ice-skating
Today the area looks beautiful because all water is frozen. This is how I learned from neighbours that the design was optimised for ice-skating. The bridges are high enough so that you can skate under them. Unfortunately so far, in the past seven years, people have not skated since the winters are not that cold anymore!
Another example of design flaws. I still believe in interactive design, whether it is for irrigation systems, bridges or toolsets. But I am always surprised that the designers makes certain decisions without really discussing them with the future users of the system they are designing. And often they don't even know they are making those assumptions!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Beth's vlogging resource
Christian Kreutz and myself are currently working on a blog widget guide as a blogpost. Maybe we should rather develop a blog widget guide in a wiki?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Introductions and requests improve likelihood of responses in an online community
Library Clips refered to it and wrote about the blogosphere as a distributed social network. "To make this type of network explicit you would have to get all these people to join the same network eg. MyBlogLog (blogs), FeedEachOther (RSS Readers), Ziki (Lifestreams). I’ve posted in the past and recently on how much benefit we could get out of blogs we read and interact with if we were directly connected in a social network." He (or she?) lists what you can do with your blog in terms of widgets to make this kind of networking more explicit.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Communities of practice at Rabobank New Zealand and Australia
He explains that knowledge and information transfer have become important ingredients for an organization's competitive advantage. Learning organizations look at enabling and encouraging knowledge (creation) and its use throughout the organization. Communities of practice can be an important component of a knowledge management strategy. People in communities share their experiences and knowledge in a free-flowing, creative way.
The Rabobank Australia and New Zealand wanted to leverage the knowledge of the rural account managers and financial officers, with better information provision and business solutions to clients as the desired outcome. They started communities of practice under the name 'pubs'. The pubs are dairy product based eg. beef, cotton, dairy, oilseeds etc. The first pub was created opportunistically, after a Roundtable event. Unfortunately the pub was not successful because there was insufficient input into its development.
Then more research was undertaken into the knowledge management and communities of practice literature and also into the information use patterns of the relationship managers. Preferred communication methods were interpersonal, and e-mail.
A group e-mail system was then chosen over more sophisticated technological options because of its ease of use and familiarity to facilitate early adoption and activity. Some key success factors included personal visits to explain the concept of communities of practice. The name pub generated also a lot of interest. The 'pubs' now provide a vehicle for ideas and discussions that can lead to innovation and improved work performance. Benefits have been helping staff to work smarter, encourage thought and put that into action by helping clients.
I liked the approach of going for simple technology. That's what I usually do too, a short inventory of what people use and then choose the best, most familiar option. What I noticed though is that when organizations have invested in an online forum, the urge to use that forum is quite big, and group e-mail is no longer an option. Maybe this is an option to bring back into focus, even when there is a 'more sophisticated' forum? And how to combine a toolset? And how to stimulate people who are used to other forums and may feel the simple technology is not appealing? I would be interested to know more about the facilitation of the later pubs. Brad states that the first failed because of little facilitation, but what kind of facilitation was offered to the later pubs?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Aid is a knowledge industry?
practitioners in the required strategic conversation."
Let me finish by trying to formulate my opinion about the statement made by the article: I think the development sector can indeed benefit from improved knowledge management interventions. Nevertheless, I think I disagree that knowledge was never a concern. Lots of organizations started out with 'knowledge transfer' strategies. For instance, it is a sector where evaluation is really institutionalized and embedded.
It would be good to see a better knowledge systems analysis of the development sector and where knowledge creation and innovate is hampered. I see the gap mainly in separate learning circles in the south and in the north that do not sufficiently merge. And Dick Stenmark gives a hint to why this gap may exist: 'only individuals who have a requisite level of shared background can truly exchange knowledge. Tradition, profession and organizational belonging all carry their own assumptions. The more overlapping these tacit assumptions and experiences the better (eg. if all three realms overlap likelihood of understanding will increase.'
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Mail is for the elderly
So why don't they use mail? Mail is old-fashioned and slow. Writing mail ressembles work.
I must say I recognise the way mail for me is the baseline, if a forum doesn't have alert, at times I forget to check it. I participate in Facebook through mails. Our babysit (17 years) complained once her friends don't reply to her mails frequently (this article explains why!). That shows that even amongst the youngsters, there are huge differences.
Conclusion: communication is getting easier, and getting harder.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Free online Forums
For email-based discussion forums there is yahoo groups en google groups, but there you have to follow all messages or nothing (not completely true, you can follow it by RSS too, but you can't ignore certain threads)...
I am quite a big fan of NING, but I think it might seem chaotic for some. The advantage is the flexibility (you can insert element, or leave out elements) and the option to insert RSS feeds.
So far I've come across the following alternative: collectivex. Josien pointed to Bryght and Barnraiser. Oscar mentioned Goingon, Mugshot and Peopleaggregator. In my delicious I further have Razoo, Grou.ps and Onlinegroups. And there is the alternative of starting a group on a site where people are already active, eg. facebook.
On what basis should you choose one or the other? Is there a way to avoid that the preference of the initiator is the only factor guiding the choose of a certain platform?