We can and should make tacit knowledge explicit with collaboration technologies

Cross posted from scriptogr.am

KM Australia

Today, I’m part of a panel debate at KM Australia. I have 3-4 minutes to present my argument that we can and should make tacit knowledge explicit with collaboration technologies.

I’ll be using two images to explain my argument, both created by Dave Gray as part of his Connected Company series.

The problem of scale

The problem of scale

Think at the level of the street

Think at the level of the street

So, what’s the story behind picking these diagrams to make my argument?

More later…

Image credit: Dave Gray CC-BY

KM Australia this week

Cross posted from scriptogr.am.

I’m at KM Australia for the next few days – you can follow on Twitter, using the #kmaus hashtag.

Clearly, knowledge management isn’t dead. But the name of the event is actually a little misleading, as the agenda is broader than simply what most people would classically identify as ‘knowledge management’. It has a positively social business design flavour to it, with presentations such as Building social value in LEGO brick by brick with Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at LEGO Group – you can read an interview with Silberbauer on April Allen’s blog. I also noticed that Helen Mitchell from KPMG is presenting, so I hope we might hear a little more about how KPMG is using tibbr to support its KM goals.

On day two I’m participating in a debate about making tacit knowledge explicit with collaborative technologies, with Aaron Everingham, Shawn Callahan and Dr Vincent Ribiere. Brad Hinton wrote a great post to help kick start the debate.

I’m also looking forward to hearing Felicity McNish from Woods Bagot present on mobile knowledge management. Wood Bagot was also a case study in my recently publised mobile apps report. Incidentally I wrote about mobile KM back in 2005 for IDM magazine in an article titled, In the Know and on the Move.

If you are attending KM Australia, please come say hello. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll be tweeting and maybe blogging over the next few days from the conference.

BTW If your organisation uses or is interested in using Jive, there is a user group meeting in Sydney this Thursday afternoon (after the main conference days at KM Australia).

Social Collaboration at Bayer with IBM Connections

Kurt De Ruwe is CIO of Bayer MaterialScience and he explains in this video how they are using IBM Connections to be more social internally. Earlier in June, he tweeted that:

Today I have 4 of our 9 board members writing 1 to 2 microblogs per week on our internal ‪#IBMConnections‬ platform. Just 5 more to onboard

You can read more about the Bayer story in this Forbes article by Mark Fidelman:

De Ruwe’s has been able to get 66% of Bayer Material Science employees using the whole platform on a regular basis. He’s quite pleased with that. “Sometimes if people ask me to quantify in Euros or dollars what the platform has delivered to us – I tell them to look at the change of mindset, the open information sharing, and how quickly information passes around Bayer. Things that otherwise may have taken two or three weeks to uncover, now take hours.”


John Stepper explains “Working out loud”


A great explanation from John Stepper about how we use social business platforms for “working out loud”, “observable work” and “narrating your work” in the workplace. These are simple but powerful ideas that underpin the value of social intranets and enterprise social networks.

He writes in his introduction (emphasis added):

Two of the most common objections I hear are “I don’t have enough time” and “I don’t know what to post.” That’s because people often think of using a collaboration platform as an extra thing to do. An additional way to communicate.

And people at work are already overloaded: email, phone, voice mail, mobile phone, mobile phone voice mail, instant messenger, group chat, desktop video, desktop video messages.

The last thing anyone wants is Yet Another Communications Channel.

So, instead of focusing on communicating in new ways, it’s important that collaboration and contribution is in line with the work people do every day.

And no, its not about describing what you are having for lunch, although certainly even social business tools should also be used to let people socialise. After all, that’s how people build social capital when they work face-to-face. Working out load and observable work can also be created from activity in systems, not just posting a statement about what you are working on.

Probably the only other concepts I’d highlight as part of this is the shift from open by exception to open by default or alternatively, from gather then share to share then gather.

Laurence Lock Lee asks, is there something missing from the business analysts’ toolkit?

I did walk through our ‘bottom up’ method of stakeholder engagement using value network analysis techniques. My point wasn’t so much that we should abandon ‘Top Down’ analysis, but that we should be open to injecting some ‘bottom up’ analysis to ensure ourselves that we are getting a more holistic picture of the business.

I agree with Laurie – its top down and bottom up. Its also about design thinking and the techniques he talks about can add to building a better understanding of complex social contexts (organisational or otherwise) that we might otherwise over rely on intuition for in the design process.

Iain Couzin on collective behaviour in animals (and humans)

An amazing talk at MIT’s Collective Intelligence 2012 conference by behavioral biologist, Iain Couzin. This is the abstract:


Conflicting interests among group members are common when making collective decisions, yet failure to achieve consensus can be costly. Under these circumstances individuals may be susceptible to manipulation by a strongly opinionated, or extremist, minority. It has previously been argued, for humans and animals, that social groups containing individuals who are uninformed, or exhibit weak preferences, are particularly vulnerable to such manipulative agents. I will present work in which we use theory and experiment to demonstrate that, for a wide range of conditions, a strongly opinionated minority can dictate group choice, but the presence of uninformed individuals spontaneously inhibits this process, returning control to the numerical majority. Our results emphasize the role of uninformed individuals in achieving democratic consensus amid internal group conflict and informational constraints.

There are more videos I’ve yet to explore from the conference too.