March 21, 2009

Out of The Box - Week Ending 03/20

I tell you, I feel so much better when I get to blog regularly. It really is therapeutic - not quite as much as cooking is, but being able to focus on things that matter to me, brain dump my thoughts, and perhaps engage in conversations with other like-minded folks is a huge honkin' stress reliever for me.

So, I'm dedicating this weekend to catching up on all of my neglected writing projects, beginning with this blog and I've just spent the last 2 1/2 hours sifting through some very cool articles, enough for at least 2 OOTB posts :) (so no excuses for not having a post next week).

Oy, where to start??

  • Marketing Sherpa (faithfully) offers up advice to assist with your KM Branding efforts. Check out their site and sign up for the weekly newsletter which gives you a full week to access and review articles before they get locked down to subscribers

  • Luxe Item of the Week: Honestly, it's a tie between Angelo Araneta's Diamond-studded chocolate cake and Diadema Diamante...personlly, I think the two go well together.

  • KM Crush Patrick Lambe posits an interesting question in his post on the Black Knowledge Economy (which, btw, is neither - sadly - influenced by my increasing self-importance in the world of KM or the election of President Obama).

  • Facebook Users Hate Redesign - Planning a redesign of your knowledgebase or Content management system? Read this article and this one too.

  • Celebrity Trend of the Week: Celebrity Theft - a recession tragedy!

  • Have an amazing marketing or advertising idea that could've changed the world, but went unappreciated an ignored? Submit it to Blurb’s Killed Ideas and share your brillance!

  • I don't know her personally, but Anne Mulcahy (Xerox Chairwoman and CEO) seems like my kinda least in this article.

March 17, 2009

Quick & Dirty: Retail Therapy

So, this weekend I was out and about enjoying some much needed retail therapy and doing my part to improve the economy....okay, maybe not so much because I'm a thrifty bastard who will avoid paying full price like the plague (although at this point I would pay top dollar to find a shoe store in Charleston that sells a pair of K-Swiss Classic Tennis shoes). But, this is okay because, as I eventually surmised, the economy is doing just fine.

At least, that's the opinion I formed from shopping at stores that are either supremely confident that U.S. consumers are going to spend massive amounts of money on their mostly non-essential luxury items or clearly didn't feel the need to (re-)develop better business plans.

Off the top of my head, I'm not sure at what point a Knowledge Manager might be engaged to improve a businesses economic outlook, but this Knowledge Manager has a few ideas on how retailers might make some gains (or, at least, shake me down for a few more coins):

  1. Check your prices. Established businesses are working the sales like crazy (partly to move inventory, but also to minimize losses and maintain a steady flow of customers). However, new businesses opening in this economy (particularly small businesses) should re-think high price points if they are going to stay afloat in a difficult economy selling items that you can find at your competitor across the road. If high prices are necessary to break-even in your first few months, either consider pushing back the Grand Opening or finding less expensive retail space to reduce overhead. Or, you could just ignore this advice and crash and burn in month two - I bet I'll be able to get everything I wanted for a song. Everything? E-v-e-r-ything!

  2. Re-invest in sales.Personally, I don't credit JT with bringin' sexy back, but I'd sure like to know who the hell you've gotta call to bring salesmanship back.Just like big manufacturers discovered the missing value of in-house call centers in the '90s, it's high time that retailers rediscovered the lost art of sales. Not just pimpin' out some cheap hired help to ring up a purchase, but utilizing your salesforce to both move product and get the kind of one-on-one feedback that most non-retail businesses would kill to have in order to understand what customers are looking for. There's KM for ya! Knowing what your customers want and are willing to pay for, directly from their own mouth, will help businesses to stock moveable merchandise and build that oh-so-critical customer loyalty

  3. Revolutionize the mall.If there's one thing I think major retail outlets could do to single-handedly improve the U.S. economy it would be to revolutionize the shopping mall. These days shopping malls are the retail equivalent of the cookie cutter suburban housing development - uniformly pretty, convenient, bland as all-get-out. Because of the high cost of retail space in most successful malls, the barrier to entry is ridiculous leaving consumers with a directory of stores no different from any other mall. And, when businesses fail and must vacate, the effect on the mall is similar to that of a residential neighborhood - an unattractive, depressed, financially devalued community on the road towards mall death.

    Imagine if, from the onset, malls set aside a slect amount of space specifically priced and marketed towards small, locally owned businesses, perhaps connecting with area university business and/or fashion programs and helping to establish budding entrepreneurs and designers; anchored stores could even be asked to help subsidize this program (particiulalry since their investment is the largest). In this way, each mall is differentiating themselves, attracting a more consistent flow of consumers, and more firmly investing in the local economy.

Out of The Box - Week Ending 03/13

So, some of these reads have been on my "to post" list for a hot minute, but I've been busy enjoying the lush life. By the way, happy belated St. Paddy's Day y'all!!!! I celebrated with the usual family tradition of corned beef, cabbage, and boiled potatoes...and Guinness, of course, duh!

It's always nice when there are interesting and thought provoking articles to read and share - even if I don't always have the time to read or share them right away.

March 10, 2009

Reflections of a Knowledge Manager - YEAR 6

So, I'm just a few days away from the six-year anniversary of my first post-university KM gig (which, coincidentally, is only a couple of days before my b-day) and I had a nice little surprise while I was googling position descriptions for "knowledge manager".

Guess whose blog is the #1 search result?

Considering how little time I've invested in search engine optimization and how slack I feel about my blogging habits, I'm surprised, but also very pleased.

Anywho, I have a birthday tradition of reflecting on past goals and achievements as a way to gain perspective on getting older and helping me to prioritize the things that really matter in my life so that I can do a better job of reaching out towards all of those unfulfilled dreams that tend to get pushed aside in the daily grind of work, bills, tennis, relationship drama, and stressing over work, bills, tennis (yes, even the One True Religion can sometimes involve stress), and relationship drama. So, this year, as I near the celebration of my KM anniversary, I think it's only fitting that I share my reflections on what I've come to learn during my career on my appropriately titled blog.

When I began my KM journey as a college sophomore (following the realization that I would probably never graduate with a degree in Chemistry and study perfumery in Paris) I was confident that my (phenomenally brilliant, IMHO, lol) strategy skills, my butterfly wings (socially speaking), and my penchant for big ideas (I'd have "people" to take care of the details) were all that I needed to be successful. However, as I transitioned from student to young professional it became apparent that there was still much I had to learn about business. I came to the conclusion - very quickly - that one of the primary reasons that organizations experience such tremendous difficulty with KM is that it (1) requires them to acknowledge how much they participate in the culture of fear and greed that permeates too many organizations (behaviors that have the effect of a cold shower on KM, if you catch my meaning) and (2)demands that they let go of these behaviors, no matter how familiar and comfortable they may be, in order to have a shot in hell of achieving the (much desired) full benefit of KM. It's that whole "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" idea.

For those of you who've read my earlier posts (and even those who haven't, because you can't truly do this work and not know where the hell I'm coming from), you know that one of my major pain points is having to deal with being the oft-shot at messenger.

Just a few weeks ago I was totally spanked (verbally, of course, this ain't that type of blog) by a colleague for openly and "irresponsibly" asserting in front of other KM colleagues (and some high ranking muckety-mucks) that *gasp*, *shock*, *awe* - we should vet (review and assess) requests coming into the KM function rather than immediately agreeing to execute and deliver. For my part, I smiled it off and maintained my stance, well aware that the real issue at play is that too many people are more afraid of challenging the status quo (even when it benefits the organization) than they are of doing their jobs well.

(Sidenote: Right now I can't help but think about well-raised, intelligent students who act a fool to look "cool" and maintain mediocre or poor grades so as not to demonstrate their intelligence to peers; adults see this behavior as being ridiculously stupid, but how many adult workers refuse to pursue excellence in their workplace and/or careers for the same or similar reasons? Guess what, it's still ridiculously stupid!)

While I have learned how to "play the game" and navigate very sketchy and treacherous waters, I still resent having to do so. One, because most of the people that I've worked with over the years are fully aware of the counter-productivity of these behaviors and, two, because I'd prefer to demonstrate how much more effective KM strategies can be without all of the BS.

Sighhhh, this is supposed to be a reflection, not a bitch session.

It was a strange combination of ego (building a name for myself by helping to define what I initially - and ignorantly - perceived as a fledgling field) and synchronicity (all of the random events that led to me happening across an interestingly titled job description on at midnight one Friday) that brought me to KM and sometimes - more than I care to admit - I get frustrated with the direction of my career and the sense of non-accomplishment; I jealously read all of the interesting and provocative KM discourse taking place and get pissy about doing mundane (albeit well-paying) grunt work that isn't contributing towards any visionary or innovative KM breakthroughs; I imagine what more I could be doing to achieve some sort of "status" and recognition in KM and then I laugh because I suddenly remember that the other reason I decided to pursue a career in this field is that (unlike writing or cooking) I knew I could walk away from KM, easy-breezy, if it ever got "old" and that if money were not an issue I'd be taking tennis lessons for hours at a time every day when I wasn't farming herbs, making cheese, and trying to get cacao beans to grow in the North Georgia mountains.

And just like that I regain a bit of perspective and I'm able to see that even if I've yet to be tapped to write a monthly column on knowledge management for Fast Company or published a bestselling and critically praised book on KM (which improves KM understanding just by holding it in your hands) I'm not doing too bad.

For starters, I get paid to do work that I'm passionate about. From the time I left grad school until now I've been blessed and fortunate to find one KM job after the other and with each role my understanding has grown and my KM "toolbelt" has expanded. I've had the opportunity to spread my message about the relevance and significance KM and introduce it to people who continue on their own KM journey even in my absence and break it down for people who met me with negativity, resistance, and misinformation. Most importantly, despite the occasional moments of doubt and uncertainty, I'm daily reminded that my insights and intuition about KM have not led me astray and have actually opened up doors (personal and professional relationships, jobs, and other opportunities), that would have, otherwise, remained closed.

Of course, I'm still eager to "make a name for myself", but there will be time for that. After all, if you're good at what you do, people will find you.

And I do have that #1 Google search ranking working for me too, lol.

So, I'm looking forward to the next year and seeing what develops. In the meantime, my goals are just to...
Stay real.
Stay open.
Stay focused.
Stay inspired.
Stay confident.
Stay passionate.