February 28, 2010

The Dog of War: Reflections on the Journey of a Future Knowledge Manager

I've been mad, crazy busy wrapping up the last few details of the Winter Mixed ALTA season (let's just say we'll remember the fun more than the losses), gearing up for the Spring Men's ALTA season (testosterone city, here I come) and prepping for the Golden Racquet Tournament (there can be only one...wining team, that is).

I thought I'd find some time to finish up my KM3.0 post (finally) but no such luck. Plus, I'm sure it didn't help that I went out to support my little brother's metal band, Machina Caelestis at their first show. As I tweeted all night, the space (Legends on Ralph David Abernathy) was amazing (I'm sure I'll rent it out for a future party) and the other bands had moments of goodness. I just wish my brother's band didn't get ripped off by the promoter, but these are the things you learn when you're barely out of high school trying to get your start in the music industry and I'll see to it that he does...learn from the experience.

Anywho, I was digging through my box of old school papers looking for an article on the Breakpoint model of change as part of some KM ROI research I'm doing when I came across one of the two "Reflections of a Future Knowledge Manager" critical reflections I wrote in grad school that inspired me to start this blog. As luck would have it, the folder with school papers is one of two that didn't synch up from my old harddrive so I'm busy trying to find a trained professional who can extract my cherished courework. In the meantime, I went ahead and re-typed it (which gave me a good excuse to clean up my horrible grammar...how did I get into grad school?).

Reading it again, after all these years, made me smile. I think the green is evident, but so is the passion.

I wonder, if I knew that I could be a millionaire by having a baby by 'fitty' would I have stayed on this path? Mmmmh, yeah. Having a rapper's kid has got to be a pain, just ask Kelis.
knocking around this stupid drive to get it to spin

February 22, 2010

Out of The Box - Week Ending 02/19

I've been enjoying a "Lifetime" kinda Sunday which, usually, involves laying in bed, watching whichever string of Valerie Bertinelli, Tori Spelling, or ex-Charlie's Angel made-for-TV movies are on and eating whatever leftovers can be nuked during commercials (at which time you're also making quick runs to go potty). But, today I was a little more mobile, taking advantage of great weather to enjoy a variety of recent cinematic pleasures from Leap Year (whose only redeeming qualities are my current female silver screen crush, Amy Adams, and its Irish setting) to Chris Rock's psuedo-mentary, Good Hair, which tried to be both informative and funny and totally missed the boat on both counts.

Anywho, after an amazing meal of rack of lamb and a side of Olympics (thanks Em!) and a quick nap on Em's Lifetime-Sunday-facilitatin' couch (it's that cozy...and, totally TMI, but if you lay just right it'll even cradle your bladder so you can go for hours without having to get up to pee), I started combing through last weeks latest and greatest blog posts and articles.
  • Wirearchist (or is it wirearchitect?), Jon Husband, re-presents his amazing insights into Today's Interconnected Environment and reinforces my vision of the future of KM as a field that creates meaning out of available information and knowledge and feeds it back back to its end-users.
  • I'm on the verge of making Nancy White my first KM crush of 2010. Like Nancy, I love things you can touch and play with during collaborative strategy sessions (get your mind out of the gutter) and I totally appreciate this post on card decks used in facilitations.
  • I'm not known for putting my faith in B-School programs to improve the world of business, but this Knowledge@Wharton article emphasizing the role of collaborating "across the aisle" as an aid in the cycle of innovation doesn't completely suck, lol.
  • A great article supporting personalized strategies (as needed) over (hard-core) formalized strategies. ('Cause, you know, it's all about balance, bay-bay.) In the end it all comes down to "insight, accountability, and culture"...who knew?!?!
  • KM Opportunity: Don't just nix the sucky ideas floating around your organization...percolate 'em! Or, rather, incubate 'em; maybe tossing them around a bit will make them less sucky and more brilliant.
  • Question of the Week: Is your organization spending tons of money on contractors and outsourcing? Two BusinessWeek articles (here and here) on 'buying local' suggest an interesting approach for KM (most likely in conjunction with HR) to influence development of internal resources.
  • Google's interest in buying and selling energy represents yet another interesting development from Google Labs. See what happens when you start leveraging the power of knowledge and information? See?!?!

February 20, 2010

Lil Jackie’s Elements of a KM Service Portfolio

Well, I was going to start off whining about how tired I was following my mad crazy Valentine's Day weekend, but after a 60 second re-introduction to Shear Genius' beautiful but vacuous hostess, Camila Alves, I am reminded of what tired looks like. (Heidi Klum she ain't! Whoever made the decision to let Jaclyn Smith go should be fired.)

Plus, I just spent an hour researching dim sum recipes (which makes me wish Canton House still stayed open 'til 2am) and 45 minutes rummaging through a box of old school papers (which affirmed for me how great it is to be doing exactly what I'd hoped to be doing when I was in college). So, I'm actually 5x5 right now.

'Aboot' two years ago (sorry, I've been watching the Winter Olympics), I read this strategy+business 'Launch and Learn' article on the integration of innovation portfolios as a means of consistently turning out profitable new offerings. I am forever looking for new ways to enhance the awareness of KM and demonstrate its value and this article had me considering the role KM could play in developing strategic solutions that focused on integrating the various corporate activities to which it refers. And, not just those related to product creation (although, clearly, activities that impact cost savings and revenue generation provide KM with the best visibility, recognition and subsequent latitude to explore more people-centric activities).

It also had me thinking ‘aboot’ (still funny) the value in developing KM portfolios.

Among my (many) peeves are organizations that have a titled KM function (meaning, someone is walking around with the title of Knowledge Manager) and yet few, if any, within that organization have a clue 'aboot' what KM is or what the KM function (and the Knowledge Manager) actually does. Even worse is when folks working in KM (titled or not) are incapable of providing user-friendly, on-the-spot explanations of what KM is and examples of how it benefits their specific organizations. (Just like an aspiring singer, you never know who you're going to meet and when and you should always be ready to demo exactly what makes you a star.) I get that some job titles (and their respective responsibilities) are more familiar than others, but if you can’t succinctly sum up what you do and be prepared to shine on a dime, then you’re a moron. Really.

Last year, I began the process of fleshing out a list of KM service offerings and a few months later I was in a meeting where one of my process-oriented KM colleagues suggested the development of a KM Service Catalog to organize and promote current and future offerings (shout out to Roger!).

You can check out the wiki page for the full deets, but the quick and dirty on service catalogs is that they provide a listing of services offered by a particular program, department, function, etc. While the primary value is self-evident (or should be), service catalogs also support the development of an overall value proposition for KM. And, if you don't have one, 2010 should be all 'aboot' building your KM value proposition.

Anywho, as is clearly my burden in life, after my colleague suggested the idea, I set out to research how one actually creates a service catalog. It took a few months (what with all of my other duties) and despite the more "academic" literature giving the illusion that the process is a complicated pain in the ass, it turned out to be a lot less confusing to just see what other folks out there are doing and employ a little "reverse engineering".

As you'll see (by clicking on the following link) I was particularly fond of the online service catalogue created and maintained by Australia's Griffith University. (And a quick nod to Dublin City University's less pretty, though equally effective offering.

A few points to consider:
  1. It's important to note that each service offering should provide only summative information and avoid lots of heavy, process-oriented detail. Depending on the offering, you might want to have those processes detailed somewhere (so as to be able to provide that information when enquiries are made) but for your portfolio (or catalog), a concise, informative description is sufficient.
  2. Keep information current! The cool thing 'aboot' a service portfolio is that you can add or remove offerings depending upon the availability of resources (human, financial, or technological). You can also modify the terms of offerings as necessary, for example, passing off the cost of a service offering to the requestor when budge restrictions arise. Just be sure that if an offering is included in your portfolio that you honor the terms as described, otherwise you risk damaging your respect and credibility
  3. Enquiries and requests into service offerings are a great metric to capture. They also provide insight into areas of opportunity for KM.
  4. It's not enough just to have a portfolio, you need to be proactive about promoting it!  Support the awareness of service offerings with plenty of marketing and education on what each offers and involves. Don't assume that just because you whip up a portfolio and slap it online that your audience will hunt you down, you still need to seek them out, but now you'll be ready to meet them.
As usual, Lil Jackie and I are open to praise, criticisms and feedback on how these elements can be improved.

February 6, 2010

Out of The Box - Week Ending 02/05

See, this is what happens when tennis is your religion...you neglect your blog, the maintenance of your hair, the search for an inexpensive body butter to replace the exceptional one you used to get for a buck at the Dollar Tree (I have eczema and, yes, it was exceptional)...all so you can stay up day and night to watch the Australian Open. Thankfully, Serena and Fed didn't disappoint in their respective Singles Finals and the Williams sisters had some amazing points in their doubles match againt the frighteningly phenomenal Cara Black and Liezel Huber.

The downside this past week was the announcement of Ugly Betty's impending cancellation (though I've been too busy sucking at Mario Kart and getting hooked on Caprica to do more than worry about where I'll get my weekly dose of Vanessa Williams), but the upside has been an interesting and entertaining mix of articles that have generated some great ideas on KM...well, for me at least, that's why this stuff is out of the box.
  • In a nod to avoiding the obvious pathways of strategy success, Pepsi eschews multimillion dollar Super Bowl ads in favor of "two-way dialogue" with customers in order to make brand a movement.
  • Davos seemed like the place to be for Knowledge Managers this week, curious to know how many KM professionals were in attendance at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF). Can we get this kind of conversation going at future KM conferences?
  • Having been roundly chastized for working like a dog to keep the momentum going on KM efforts (which, as it turns out was was more of a political maneuver to "keep-me-in-my-place"), I can totally appreciate Erica Olsen's tips on maintaining the momentum of strategic planning
  • Epiphany of the Week: Forget Goldman Sachs janky bonus practices, after reading about how JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, scored a $16M bonus, I finally understand all of these sketchy fees Chase has been hitting me with over the last month. Remember the days when banks charged fees as a penalty and not a dubious revenue generating practice? I do. Here's wishing you lots of karma Jamie!
  • Simple, but great advice (the best usually is) on winning new business (or support) whether you're an independent KM consultant or operating an internal KM function.
  • How To of the Week: Some timely advice on managing anxiety in the workplace.
  • Fantabulous response to a WSJ article on the loss of favor of strategic plans. This is always a point I try to underscore in my KM engagements.
  • Question of the Week: Is "heritage" just a fashion trend or something your KM branding efforts can benefit from?
  • KM Opportunity: The problem is not digitizing electronic health records, it's improving the accessbility and functionality of these systems (making them user friendly) and getting healthcare professionals up to speed on how to use them without interfering with their ability to do their primary work of saving lives. Anyone know of a group of professionals equipped to make this happen? Ooh, ooh, I do, I do.