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A story about connections, search and blogging

So I recently met a new colleague who had worked at Merck & Co. and shared his experience with using a expert finding and knowledge sharing platform. He reached out to me to find out if we have a comparable platform, so he could use that to meet his needs.

I was curious which platform he had experienced. But he wasn't sure. So I googled a bit during our call - of course I told him I was googling, I don't want to be rude and divide my attention between him and the web... - and there is was. A clear blogpost from 2009 about Merck's experiences with an internal knowledge sharing platform. It also described the underlying technology.

What's so special about this? Several things:

The power of (Google) search. It still continues to amaze me how easily you can type in a few words in a search engine and find what you're looking for. In this case what I was looking for popped up in the first three results.The power of blogging. I found what I was looking for in a blogpo…

Asking more questions

Why don't we ask more questions? Or maybe you do, but I should ask more questions.
Recently I encountered a problem I couldn't solved. So I reached out to colleagues to understand if they had answers. They didn't.

Then I thought: should I post my question on Yammer or Twitter? Yammer could work but I had basically already asked the relevant experts within the company so I thought that would be a waste of time. Then Twitter maybe? To be honest, I find the engagement on Twitter pretty low. When I started using Twitter asking a question could get you lots of answers. Now Twitter is more of an update platform and less of a question platform. At least that's how I see myself and others using it.

Well, then I thought I'd post my question on Quora. Good 'old' Quora. I've always loved Quora. A very focused and smart platform with lots of people just waiting to answer your question. And Quora suggests potentially relevant people from your network and outside of…

Twitter Lists: the key to using Twitter?

Recently Twitter updated its web and app interface again. Nice and round this time. One thing I was disappointed about is the fact that Twitter did nothing to make Lists more visible and accessible. If you don't know what a List is, you can find more info about them here. I blogged about how I use them several times as well.
Twitter Lists is simply a way to organize all the people you follow into... lists, of course. The way you use a List is up to you. You can put people on a list based on a topic they relate to, their importance, whether you've met them in person, etc. By having Lists you can focus on the people you want to follow, instead of just going through all the updates of all the people you follow. Lists help you follow more people than you can process and focus on the people who you really want to listen to and interact with.

When I tell people about Lists I'm surprised how little people know they exist and use them. On the other hand people that bail out of Tw…

Creating more redundancy

Recently I blogged about redundancy. At the end of the post I mentioned I would share how I try to create redundancy in my life. I think a key way I create redundancy is a good work-life balance. I’m deeply convinced working more that 40-50 hours per week is unhealthy and inefficient. Having time to be with my family in the evening and weekends helps me be creative and efficient during work hours.
Some other ways I do it are: Go out to jog or mountain bikeRead a good bookBlock time in my agenda to think deeply and without interruptionsWork from home (less distractions and traveling)Don’t plan anything, just see what happensGo on vacation – of courseVisit a conference ;-) Do you have others ways to create space in your life? Let’s learn from each other.

The great thing about conferences

I really enjoy going to conference every now and then. I’m at the great SocialNow [link] conference now. I go to conferences to meet people and to learn more about a certain topic. This is key for a conference. I’m not going if the people and the program aren’t interesting. But in my experience the result of a conference is the greatest thing about conference visits – at least mine. I find conference visits always trigger news ideas. Not always because of the speakers at the conference. More often it’s just because of the different environment I’m in. I’ve always found this a weird effect of conferences. The weekends or a nice long walks also have this effect but to a lesser extent. Can you relate to this? Would love to hear what conferences do to you.

More redundancy

Recently I was (re)reading the article "The Knowledge-Creating Company" by Ikujiro Nonaka. It's an old HBR article from 1991, but still a very interesting read. (Later Nonaka expanded the article to a whole book with the same title as the article.) Two sentences from the article have been going around in my head since I read the article. Let me share them with you:
The fundamental principle of organizational design at the Japanese companies I have studied is redundancy - the conscious overlapping of company information, business activities, and managerial responsibilities. And:
Redundancy is important because it encourages frequent dialogue and communication. Nonaka stresses the importance of redundancy in organizations. On the one hand this is obvious. Life is full of redandancy. On the other hand what struck me most is how so much in life and especially work is about getting rid of redunancy. We talk about defining processes, automating work, cutting out inefficiencie…

Getting things done; are you?

How do you get things done? Do you have a method you follow? I’ve written about this before. A lot of times actually. The trigger to write about it again is my continuous surprise how little people have a method to work productively. Actually everybody has a method, at least implicitly, and sometimes it’s pretty OK. But often I see people struggle. Usually this is because they don’t have a productivity approach and/or there are all kinds of loose ends in their method.

I follow the ‘Getting things done’ productivity approach by David Allen. I follow it fairly strictly and revisit the books quite regularly to see if I can do better. I read ‘Getting things done’ for the first time when I was about two years into work life. I was struggling. I had a method, but it wasn’t working. I wasn’t in control and often forgot to do tasks. ‘Getting things done’ was a revelation to me. After reading it I thought: This is it, everybody should read this. This should be a mandatory course at university…