Mittwoch, 29. Juni 2011


 Recently I came across this piece of innovation that has the potential to change all our lives!
We all have the light bulb moments. My idea about Storytelling, Myths & KM was brilliant- but was it my idea in the first place, or just an unconscious compilation of things devoured on Twitter and in blogs?
I hope, I could make some interesting connections to the mind, but on Storytelling itself has been written the amount of quite some wheels.
But I am going to write this post anyway, because I am getting paid for it in a way, yes, but also for good reasons: With Social Media we live in times, where a probalistic approach helps to cope with information overload (so take this post simply as a retweet of good stuff by others) and it seems that the memory horizon in KM is frustatingly poor (JKM, homepage of author) Our own medicines tastes too bitter to us?
So I can pick the cherries, and I do so from Telling Tales by Stephen Denning (HBR).
At a time when corporate survival often requires disruptive change, leadership involves inspiring people to act in unfamiliar, and often unwelcome, ways. Mind-numbing cascades of number or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even the most logical arguments usually won’t do the trick. But effective stroytelling often does.  Which reminded me on one of my failures: KM on slides has no value.
Is this new in Ericsson? Actually not, I see the relation towards Use-Case production.
Cite's Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine: "the best way to get humans to venture into unknown terrain is to make that terrain familar and desirable by taking them there first in their imagination." Rembember Cognitive Load Theory? Imagination!His (Dave Snowden's) hypothesis was that you could attach a positive story to a negative one in order to defuse it, as an antibody would neutralize an antigen.
Dave had found purely positive stories to be problematic. ... listeners would respond to such rosy tales by conjuring up negative "antistories" about what must have actually happened.
These are only some gold nuggets from the recommended article, perhaps the biggest one:
Do I have to start running around telling and digging for stories everywhere now? Why not start lean, before going in tough next time, with all argumentational and numerical guns blazing, start off with a story making you point – for sure better than saving the reference cases till the end, when the real story is that everyone just wants to break away anyway.


Montag, 27. Juni 2011

KM has put the cart before the horse

Imagine the CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known for its gigantic particle accelarator of several kilometer size, would set their particles on each other without a clue what to expect for an outcome, without any idea what to verify or falsify. And only afterwards the physicists would begin thinking whether their experiment was able to tell them anything.
Indeed absurd, however this is the situation, in which Knowledge Management these days
operates. KM is conducted in the retrospective device of black-and-white movies.

The project is executed, and only afterwards KM activities are deployed.
A zealous zoo of problems is fed by this approach.
Capacity: Never have I seen a hot shot idling when a project is coming to an end and there is hope in resource manager’s eyes that the hot shot is almost free for allocation. KM is the first to be sacrifized.
Motivation: The project is history, the overtime account simply bursts, and the hot shots look forward into the future of a new challenge, what is the movitivation to put retrospective efforts into the bin of a database?
Timing: And even – just imagine the rare case that capacity lies with motivation, the value of the knowledge assets is already in decline: What is the FOA Knowledge Asset worth, when already several projects are in execution. What’s the benefit of lessons learnt in a sales engagement, when several more poor contracts are done deal?
Learning: According to Brinkerhoff most learning activities do not fail in the course of teaching, but in preparation and follow-up of the learning activity. In order to understand a project as a course of teaching, it is essential to prepare in the KM activity for the learning event, if this part is missing, failure is almost inevitable.
Re-use 1: Focussed exclusively on the project success everything is tailored towards this purpose, the mental equivalent of spaghetti-code. Spaghetti is eaten hot, or cut to pieces to mix into cold salat.
Re-use 2: Without a helicopter view involved on the re-use potential, any re-use remains accidential, and you can use the literal apes for Knowledge Managers.
In short, KM has put the cart before the horse.
In the next post we look whether there is a better order of sequence to organize for knowledge.


Mittwoch, 15. Juni 2011

The Knowledge Mechanism

Very recently I was asked whether I was taking courses in psychology, as some of the last blog posts (Long-term memory, Cognitive Load Theory, their relation to learning) became very heavy on this topic. The micro-blog answer on this is: No, would love to, so damn "importresting" for KM.
Let's compare the use of schemata with the Knowledge Mechanism (as I had written it down 2 years ago, when I had no clue about schemata):

The Knowledge Mechanism identifies three phases: The creation of a knowledge asset, the creation of a super knowledge assets from many knowledge assets by refinement and the hardening of a super knowledge assets into a process, the industrialization.

The creation of a knowledge asset* is an interplay between the individual contributor and the collective feedback, it comprises the initial creation of the knowledge asset by the indiviual and the revision of the knowledge asset via  the following steps: Problem formulation (hypothesis) (individual), Verification / falsification (collective), Case solution documentation (individual), Feedback (collective), Solution revision (individual).
Interesting to note that the creation of a Knowledge Assets is not an individual contribution, but a interplay of individual and collective contributions. In the early days of KM (too) much focus was on the individual contribution, which resulted in rubish data bins and no collective contribution. The mind just forgets about these contributions.
The refinement comprises the collection of several knowledge assets on a knowledge topic and the aggregation of the essence of the knowledge assets into a super knowledge asset**.
For these super knowledge assets all of the discussion on Best vs Good Practices apply. In psychology this is called a "schema".
The industrialization is formalizing the super knowledge asset into a process, comprissing estabishment, communication and life cycle management.
This is where the effeciency gain materializes, but also here effectiveness must avoid blind copy/paste and crucify innovation.
*The concept of a knowledge asset materializes in Ericsson in a KO (knowledge object)
**examples of super knowledge assets are a KO that refines a forum thread, or a Best Practice might also been seen as a super knowledge asset.

Finally, my favourite: Only the complete knowledge mechanism qualifies a learning organization.
You decide for your organization, how far you have come.

Dienstag, 14. Juni 2011

The mind, the knowledge and learning

Did you ever suffer from a bad presentation?
(If you had got your first pay check, this was a rhetorical question)
Too much information on the slides (even with eagle eyes)? Or the presenter was reading the slides? Or it seems the wrong slide pack for the speech?
Cognitivie Load Theory reasons, we perceive bad presentation as bad, because of the limited capacity of our Working Memory (see Cognitive Load Theory – post reloaded).
On the other hand, I claimed my lithmus theme “knowledge = information + context”, is reflected in the structure of the Long-Term Memory.
Schema is the concept that puts the lose ends together.
Violating all technicalities, I re-use (Learning & Teaching):
 Working Memory = Short-Term Memory + rehearsal + retrieved Long-Term Memory
And retrieved Long-Term Memory refers to the concept of Schema, already indicating that Schemata are built via experiences in the episodic memory and finally stored in the Semantic Memory. Their purpose is to interact with new situations in three ways: remember (recognition), understanding and prediction.
If Schema reminds you of the Good / Best Practices way of working in KM, you probably look forward to a future post on the knowledge mechanism.
There are quite a few (we have defined 6) business reasons for KM, but What’s In It For Me?
To put it short, and to leave out academic hesitation and accuracy:
Schema builds knowledge, and KM builds schema.
As J. Sweller outlines building a schema can be supported by imagination. Like a Formula One pilot imagines the course in order to build a course schema before actually going on course. And the imagination becomes tangible by externalization, or less academic:
Formulating and writing down knowledge, enhances understanding.

via stockxchng, InnerPeace by tung072, ~ imagination, just liked it too much

It very often happens to me: I am of the firm opinion, I am on top of a thought, but then in the attempt to formulate it, I realize, I fail to bring it across. Only then by imagination of a mind map and e.g. an outline of a blog post, the thought becomes crisp and only when I hands-on write it down, two phrases down black and white, one word whitened and deleted again, only then it becomes tangible. But then, I am capable of delivering the idea to the point, in army-style, 3 am in the middle of a night.
Creating a Knowledge Object and formulating a solution and its context, strikes back on the creator by enhanced understanding. By sharing knowledge we get more knowledgable.
Back to the bad presentations, preparing a slide pack – a good one – can help you to sharpen your thought and externalize your idea. And if you have really done your homework, you even wouldn’t need the slide pack. If on the other hand you are dependent on a slide pack, you are not mastering the topic and Powerpoint will steer you into another bad presentation.


Dienstag, 7. Juni 2011

Cognitive Load Theory, post reloaded

This is a blog post, I have written about two years ago, but now seeing the relation between the Long-Term Memory and Knowledge Managenent, it is well worth publishing it (as intermediate step towards Storytelling as well as Knowledge Mechanism - thanks for your coment, Ewen).
I came across a very interesting article (actually a whole field of research: Cognitive load theory): J. Sweller "Visualisation and Instructional Design". You can read the article from the presentaton skill perspective and it is rewarding, however (you may call it a professional disfunction) I discovered there a lot of insights for KM also: 2 key words are here refinement and reward for contribution.

I recommend to read the article, but as an "imagination" I try to bring it across in a nutshell:
Our brain, the cognitive architecture has two parts: working memory and long-term memory. The working memory, the processing engine, is highly limited in capacity and duration. Due to the limitations the working memory has problems with complex problems (high element interactivity material) and needs long-term and learning mechanisms. Knowledge is stored in the long-term memory in schematic form (semantic memory) and schema theory describes a major learning mechanism. Schemas allow elements of information to be categorized according to the manner in which they will be used. Schema theory assumes that skill in any area is dependent on the acquisition of specific schemas stored in the long-term memory. (Just think of KM databases as long-term memory and schemas as refined knowledge to get the translation into KM). Automation: High element interactivity material that has been incorporated into an automated schema after extensive learning episodes can be easily manipulated in working memoy to solve problems and engage in other complex activities. In order to support automation you can attempt to imagine the procedures that have been learned (the contribution and formulation of a knowledge asset). Imagining requires the learner (that becomes by expressedly in the KM database imagining a teacher) to mentally "run trough" or visualize the procedure in the working memory. For complex problems that will only work when schemas have been acquired, thus supports automation.


Montag, 6. Juni 2011

Web World War I yet to come (overdramatized!)

I hope, Berthold Brecht was wrong saying: those are doomed, who live in interesting times.

There is talk about Cybersex and Cyberrevolution, so why shouldn’t I overdramatize to speak about Cyberwar, or better a Social Media war: Web World War I yet to come – but almost at hand, when reading that Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo prepares for going global. And thus challenging Twitter (I am not the only one to overdramatize: no more news, but bloody title as well)
While I had expected the Chinese challenge on mobile operators with China Mobile going large scale beyond borders, now it is Sina Weibo leaking concrete plans to do so.

In short: Sina Weibo is a microblogging platform like Twitter (300+ millions registered users globally), but untill now limited to theChinese market (140+ millions registered users, raised earlier expectations till year end 200+ millions).
As puts it:
It will be interesting how Sina Weibo will apply the mandatory China censorship to other countries, especially ones that are protected by laws on Internet freedom, which require sites to be completely open.
In this context one is incliced also to think of China's Online Blue Army.

Interesting times!


Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011

The Long-Term Memory, Storytelling and Knowledge Management

My mother loves to tell this story again and again:”Gerald,” she told her 3-year old son, “don’t touch the burner, it is very hot!” Several seconds I looked at her with big eyes, then I touched the hot-plate, until a burning pain made her crying son realize what she meant.

Why do we fail conveying abstract concepts and put our code of conduct into bloody stories? Instead of the promised literature lecture, today it is psychochology, no lesser than the Long-Term Memory I have invited for help.
Did you know that within seconds (20-30) the Long-Term Memory takes over - or doesn't? The Long-Term Memory consist of 3 parts:
Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual knowledge) that can be explicitly stated.
Semantic memory,on the other end, is a structured record of facts, concepts and skills that we have acquired.
Semantic and episodic memory together make up the category of declarative memory, which is one of the two major divisions in memory. The counterpart to declarative, or explicit memory, is procedural memory, or implicit memory.
via stockxchgn, brain001 by obscenity

So how can we within this model explain the stickiness of story-telling?
Psychologists (the brain from top to bottom) have identified some factors: …3) Affective values associated with the material to be memorized, and the individual’s mood and intensity of emotion; 4) Location, light, sounds, short, the entire context in which the memorizing takes place is recorded along with the information being memorizes. Our memory systems are thus contextual.

But is a story an “autobiographical event”? According to medicalxpress indeed: Bad news for muggle parents! A new study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo finds that we more or less "become" vampires or wizards just by reading about them.
So story-telling supports the emotional driver for effective memory functions.

The contextual driver is already almost clear, but there is more:
Semantic memory can be regarded as the residue of experiences stored in episodic memory. Semantic memory homes in on common features of various episodes and extracts them from their context. A gradual transition takes place from episodic to semantic memory. In this process, episodic memory reduces its sensitivity to particular events so that the information about them can be generalized.
Conversely, our understanding of our personal experiences is necessarily due to the facts and concepts stored in our semantic memory. Thus, we see that these two types of memory are not isolated entities, but rather interact with each other constantly.
Also, in your brain's memory systems, isolated pieces of information are memorized less effectively than those associated with existing knowledge. The more associations between the new information and things that you already know, the better you will learn it.

I had chosen the model of knowledge = information + context because of its simplicity and explanatory power, now I realize that this model reflects simplistically the structure of the Long-Term Memory in terms of semantic and episodic memory.

By the way, I have never introduced to my kids the concepts of hot plates, my mother has told her grandchildren a story instead.


Freitag, 3. Juni 2011

Eyes and ears - social media value creation of the second kind

You don't know Joanan and Yuriy? But it would be worth it, because they are great examples of real Knowledge Sharers. They live the Knowledge Citizen that we need.

But the more important thing: They know me!  Joanan shared with me a great TED video on losing seperendipity and Yuriy made me aware of the interesting idea of GrexIt (sharing your inbox towards knowledge base).Social networks connects people, who wouldn’t be connected otherwise (I never had worked with Joanan or Yuriy in a project, we never had a common task), and they nevertheless are my eyes and ears – as I am theirs (yes, I am commited to pay back - that is part of the social media deal - please keep in mind "social media" heroes, who follow me, just to try to sell me something!). From here it is the most simple algebra, with them I have more eyes and ears – even if I have to sacrifize my own for their purposes: The power of sharing.

Of course there is the danger of losing serendipity because social networks connect you always with your own crowd, but following other people I am heavily enriching my personal knowledge base. And when you look what is happening on Twitter, this is how Knowarchies come to live, knowledge develops a center of gravity, attracts more knowledge, is thus able to radiate more knowledge, attracts even more knowledge … you got it.
These two occasions among many others recently, when people start to address me, were the second level inflection point. The first inflection point is, when you find something not only interesting, but really valuable in the noise of tweets, value creation of the first kind. This second inflection point, when people start to address you with knowledge that is creating value for you, because people got to know, what might create value for you, is value creation of the second kind (again and again I am coming back on the concept of the personal brand).
When value creation of the second kind appears, the break even of knowledge sharing has been passed, now it is paying off the investments of hard work, efforts and thinking.
Thanks to all the guys and girls, who made it happen for me!