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


Beware of false infographics

We’re floating in data. Our phones, computers and devices are spinning off more data than anyone knows what to do with. At the same time, however, we’re living in an attention economy where eyeballs are a currency, and enticing people to click on links or forward content through their social networks is the key to success. The result is an endless stream of half-baked infographics from marketers who could care less about the art and the science behind true data visualization.

Can these competing forces continue to coexist?

This has been the subject of a long running discussion on Dachis Group’s own internal microblogging network. Lets call a spade a spade: if it doesn’t meet the criteria of an infographic, then don’t claim it is one.

Hat tip Mark Owen.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.

McGilchrist explains that its not really about the idea of the left and right sides of the brain, rather about how we understand the relationship between rational and intuitive mind.

Visual thinking our way to a social workplace


Today I presented at #intranets2011, on Strategies for Creating a Social Workplace with your Intranet. Rather than focusing on specific technologies or checklist approaches, I wanted to help bring a different perspective to looking at why social technologies were important in a broader context of social business (i.e. creating social workplaces to deal with real business themes). In other words, its not just about switching on comments on your intranet or replacing your intranet with CMS with a wiki because these are the latest ‘must have’ features.

However, after sitting and listening to the presentations and conversations during day 1, I decided to tweak my presentation to include some visual brainstorming activities (see Gamestorming and also Xplane | Dachis Group), including a variation of head, heart and hand. The idea was to help make the concepts I was describing more tangible by getting people to think about:

  • What their CxO or senior management might be thinking about ‘social’ (social workplace, social intranets, social media etc) right now;
  • What changes in their organisational environment they needed to deal with (to link in with the car metaphor I used in the presentation, I drew a twisting road) – this was about understanding unavoidable business drivers for change; and
  • We also captured ‘buzz words’ from my presentation to review at the end (due to time, I just picked a selection for the stack) – I put these on the horizon, at the end of the journey.

Luckily I have a pack of equipment ready to roll for this situation and just needed to borrow some flipchart paper from the hotel to set things up before hand! I think this approach worked, based on the feedback. And it was a lot of fun too!

BTW You can also see my slides here and Michael also captured some of the detail.

XPLANE’s Dave Gray on Visual Thinking in Management

Dave Gray from XPLANE | Dachis Group will be presenting at this year’s Social Business Summit in Sydney. If you haven’t heard of XPLANE before (where have you been?) or are thinking, what’s the point of visual thinking to my job? Then let Dave explain its bottom line value to management.

You might also enjoy this other recording of Dave at UX Week 2010, where he talks about Gamestorming (see my book review).

Book Review: Gamestorming


Gamestorming is a playbook of games for helping people to deal with achieving fuzzy goals. These are mostly workshop techniques, although some of the games in the playbook can be used by individuals. You could certainly use the core theories behind Game Storming to help bring some creativity and innovation to your own thought process.

So what makes Game Storming different from any other workshop facilitator’s guide?

The authors, Dave Gray and James Macanufo, who are from from XPLANE (Dave is the founder and chairman of the company, which is now part of the Dachis Group family along with Headshift), and Sunni Brown are all what might be described as visual thinkers. There is a strong emphasis on employing visual language and ‘sketching’ is one of their ten essentials of gamestorming. I would actually say it is a central theme and the other essentials really hang off it or provide context for employing visual thinking.

To this end, ten pages of the book in chapter 3 are devoted to specifically encouraging you to pick up a pen and paper. Personally, I think its all about confidence – a client recently commissioned a graphic designer to convert a one page sketch I made to explain a complex idea into a graphic to explain their vision. So if you don’t consider yourself much of an artist or a visual thinker, don’t be put off. In the end its less about artistic skill and more about getting out from behind PowerPoint and using simple tools like pens, paper, dot stickers, and post notes to encourage engagement and creativity.

Gamestorming comes in two parts – theory and the playbook of over 80 games that you can game storm with. The theory part is covered in the first three chapters and the final chapter (a case study). Next comes the playbook itself, but I strongly suggest you hold off diving into that detail until you have read the first three chapters. The reason I say this, is that on a face of it – when you look at the individual games – is that its unlikely you will appreciate why a particular game has been selected for a particular chapter in the playbook.

So while I’ve talked about the importance of visual thinking, the point that games and play are not the the same is something that is also addressed at the beginning of the book. The authors explain these basic components that separate games from play:

  1. Game space.
  2. Boundaries.
  3. Rules for interaction.
  4. Artefacts.
  5. Goal.

Understanding these components we can then understand the importance of game design and fitting activities into a open, explore and close model. If you still has questions about the putting these concepts into practice, then the case study in the final chapter helps to pull all this theory together. This approach probably isn’t a new to some trainers and workshop facilitators, however while the book avoids getting into academic theory it still manages to explain the logic behind the approach so you can appreciate why this structure is important.

This is a really smart book. Buy it and it will come in handy for that next workshop you need to run. Just don’t forget to leave PowerPoint behind and bring pens and paper instead!

BTW There is a Website to support the book and the concept of gamestorming, at www.gogamestorm.com. You might also like to look at Change By Design, which I reviewed back in June.