Friday, November 30, 2007

Google's Intranet

Some time ago I asked here and here how Google manages it's own information internally. I didn't get any answers (yet).
However now part of my question has been answered. John Batelle and ReadWriteWeb point to a Blogoscoped post on Google's Intranet! There you'll find a lengthy description of what it looks like, with lots of screenshots.

I found this quote about organizational transparency most interesting:
Ex-employee Doug Edwards mentioned how he came to take for granted everything was available on the intranet, "from the status of products in development to the number of employees at any point in the company’s history." He adds that the transparency was also a motivator, as "Your failures are also visible to everyone in the company, which provides an even greater motivator to continuously improve performance in the areas for which you are responsible." These days however, as Doug writes, Google "clamped down on who had access the complete state of the business."
Interesting. I was wondering if this Intranet is truly global (multi-site). E.g. does Google Zurich also use this Intranet? Furthermore, is this Intranet also the portal to their work documents. In other words, is Moma als their document/information management system?

By the way, in one of the comments on this post, Andy Baio of points to what he says are "recent intranet screenshots for Yahoo! and Microsoft". You can find them here: ... ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Enterprise 2.0 Market Map

FirstPartner is:
...a fast growing strategic marketing and research agency focused on IT, telecommunications and Media sectors.
Not too long ago they released an insightful "Enterprise 2.0 Market Map". You can download it for free. The overview it gives is nice. I also like the fact that it incorporate the "1.0" tools.

What I question though is mixing up "collaboration tools" and "document and records management tools". Actually, "collaboration tools" are not mentioned. For instance, Sharepoint is labelled a "document management tool". I would say Sharepoint (and IBM Workplace to mention another one) is about supporting (document) collaboration. It can only be used for light-weight document and records management.
Furthermore, an important category is also missing. CM, CRM and ERP are mentioned. But tools to support Product Data/Lifecycle Management aren't (e.g. Siemens UGS).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The New Semantic Web wave (3)

Interesting interview with Nova Spivack, founder of Radar Networks, on Twine, by the Downloadsquad.

Twine is about sharing, finding and organizing personal information in one place in a new way. This app addresses information overload most knowledge workers experience. (Yes, there's money to be made here!, as Phil Windley says.) Spivack says Twine is the next step in knowledge management and communities of practice. All your personal information is tied together in one place. It's something in between Google and Facebook. Using natural language processing they can find places, people and things in your information.
You can search in your Twine network for relatedness. The search is based on a user-driven crawler.
Later on they will support importing all your information. Money will (possibly) be made using ads.
They are slowly letting people use Twine (I'm still waiting…).
Twine is about "knowledge networking" as opposed to "social networking".

I'm wondering what they will do with my paper documents… But I'll get into that in a later post.

In my next posts on this topic I want to comment on the interesting posts by Alex Iskold on the Semantic Web on ReadWriteWeb. One about the classic approach to Semantic Web and the other about the new approach. In those posts I'll give my opinion on this new semantic wave.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Slides on Technology/Internet Trends

This is kind of old, but interesting anyway.

At the Web 2.0 Summit, on October 18, 2007 Mary Meeker (from Morgan Stanley Global Technology Team) gave their yearly presentation on ‘Technology/Internet Trends’. This presentation is packed with interesting data, analysis, etc. You can find a post on this presentation and the slide at ReadWriteWeb.

Some of my highlights from the presentation:

Sheet 3: 3 Decades of Tech - Now = 2 Cycles
We’ve moved from Desktop > LAN > Internet > Cloud (broadband + wireless).

Sheet 6: Consumer Demand for New Internet-Enabled Services/Products is Strong
- Technology is evolving faster than most enterprises’ ability to deploy new products/services.

Sheet 12: Web 2.0 Driving Enterprise Growth?
- Next wave of corporate productivity gains should be paced by Web 2.0 driven collaboration tools that use the network as the platform to enable users to connect ‘any device to any content over any combination of networks’ (John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems, 5/22/2007)

Sheet 17: Internet trends
- Ongoing share gains to online from offline - large markets to tap
- High level Web 2.0 trends are compelling

Sheet 30:
Web 2.0 metrics are strong. Compared to 2005, social networking is really climbing the ranks.

Sheet 40:
2% of Public Tech Companies Create 100% of Wealth

Sheet 41 Summary:
- Personalization continues to ramp - Google/…
- Emerging markets (especially Asia) surprising on upside

Sheet 44 2006 TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) Update
They ranked the market sizing of global TMT products and services. The Netherlands is in 13th place!

Friday, November 23, 2007

McAfee and Davenport debate on Enterprise 2.0

Really interesting debate between Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport on whether Web 2.0 adoption will really change organizations. Davenport thinks they won't, McAfee says they will. Davenport asks, for instance: Is Sharepoint really different from Web 2.0 tools? Are these tools really new?

Surprising fact: McAfee says he doesn't read a single blog! Wow!

Also be sure to check out Luis Suarez's comments on the debate.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Productivity sessions

Joost pointed me to this interesting post on wiki sessions on the Workplace Blog. What are these sessions for?
The goal of the meeting was to educate peers about wikis and then talk specifically about the Avenue A | Razorfish wiki.
This is interesting and it triggered me. Wouldn't it be nice to set up "productivity sessions" in companies? (Or do you already have them? Please share your!) In these sessions employees can share their ways of working, their way to be productive. For instance, how do you organize your email, your paper, your blog posts, etc.? At the company I work for we have done this by setting up a workshop on coping with information overload. But this was a one-time-thing.

I write for geniuses...

A colleague of mine poked me and asked me to write for 'regular people' instead of "geniuses"... Thanks, Harold. ;-) It's not my intention to write for them, I'm don't see myself as one either. But anyway, here's the proof:

cash advance

The New Semantic Web wave (2)

Anyway, let’s get back to the new apps. I collected all kinds of information on these tools. Lots of insightful articles have been written on them too. Here’s an overview of the posts:

About Twine:
Really short video about Twine.
Presentation on the Semantic Web and Twine.

Techcrunch review of Twine.
RoughType review of Twine.
O’Reilly Review of Twine.
ReadWriteWeb review of Twine.

About Powerset:
Not too much posts about them lately. Wrote about them before here and here (and pointed to other posts on them). I’ll be posting again about Powerset soon!

About TrueKnowledge:
ReadWriteWeb review of TrueKnowledge

Also check out this panel discussion on the Semantic Web at the Web 2.0 summit titled ‘The Semantic Edge’ with demo’s (although you can’t see them…) of Radar Networks (Twine), Powerset and Metaweb (Freebase).

Metaweb kicks of with a demo of Freebase. It’s about opening up the silo’s of data. And creating interconnections between them. We want to be able to operate over multiple systems. Freebase is a database with all kinds of data in it with an api that can be used to for lots of different applications. The data is put in their socially, shared, and is corrected socially. This data is open and can be used for whatever application you can come up with.

Powerset is a search engine based on natural language technology. This technology has only become possible in the last few years. Both technologically and computationally. Powerset uses Freebase, they imported it. The more knowledge there is the better the system gets. They’re building on the fact that information and data is becoming ever more connected.

The Radar Network’s presented Twine. We have a problem with information, managing information. This can result in information overload. But even if you don’t experience this, it’s hard to manage your information that spread out all over the place. Twine is built by 27 people.

Twine is about knowledge networking. As you work in Twine, it learns, it builds a profile of the user and your relations. It results in a unified view of your information.

When you put (you can drag-and-drop) information in it analyzes it and adds semantic tags too it. This data can also be exported in RDF format. When you add a URL is goes an mines that site and looks for new inferences.

You can share your Twined information with others (friends, teams, groups, etc.).

When you search using Twine, you can use the semantic tags. It’s a new kind of social social search. It’s based on your information, your data, your social contacts, your interests, etc.

In the discussion a remark was made by Metaweb saying ‘Semantic Web’ stands for something in the past that was tried (standards etc), but failed. What’s happening now is new.

Tim O’Reilly sees them all as ‘platform players’, offering reusable semantically annotated data. O’Reilly asked a good question: where does the one end and the other begin? We didn’t get a real answer to that question.

So what is this new movement all about? Spivack says: “It’s the wisdom of crowds and the wisdoms of computers working together.”

ReadWriteWeb also blogged this session here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The New Semantic Web wave (1)

There’s (been) a lot of buzz about new Semantic Web and natural language tools the last couple of months (sometimes called 'web 3.0'...). News about Radar Network’s Twine, Metaweb’s Freebase, TrueKnowledge and Powerset. (I got my invite to Powerset the other day!)

This is very interesting. And I’m really curious whether these new apps will take us further than all the Semantic Web and natural language processing promises that were made in the nineties. Then semantic search was promoted and question answering, automatic summarization, etc. Semantic Web, language and speech technology was also hyped by companies like Lernout and Hauspie. After L&H came crashing down it seemed that natural language and speech technology turned quiet, was licking it’s wounds and looking for new approaches.

With this in mind I was surprised by the fact that there are several companies attempting to address this market again. And practically at the same time. I’m always curious how this can be. How is it possible that several companies in the world that are focusing on practically the same markets, all launch at practically the same time?

I’m preparing a couple of posts on this ‘new semantic wave’. I’m curious what it’s implication can be for our personal and business lives!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Podcasts about Web 2.0 and nakedness

Listened to some more podcasts on the We are Smarter website.

The first one is an interview with Ross Mayfield, “prominent blogger, co-founder and CEO of Socialtext”.

He made an interesting remark about “the overall pattern in Web 2.0”. It’s: Share the control to create value.

He pointed to two general best practices in this area:

  1. Refer to ‘customer stories’ on the Socialtext website for examples.
  2. And the wikinomics website on which everyone could collaborate to write the last chapter of the book. This is planned to be published soon!

Later on he explained the ‘Inside-out approach’. There is a company that was using a wiki for internal product management and as a knowledge base for their callcenter. As they were developing, they asked why this information shouldn’t be accessible for the rest of the company, and even make it public. So they went on to open this wiki up. In this way all company employees can look in the database and help solve problems. Even customers that have problems can look for problem solvers, but also contribute to solving other’s problems.

The other podcast was an interesting interview with Barry Libert (co-author of ‘We are Smarter than Me’) about “the naked organization” (as opposed to the secret organisation). The naked organization is about being open to customers to get them to collaborate with you. Tapping into ‘the wisdom of the crowds’. The Internet is driving this trend.

What are tools and tactics for companies to be more naked? It’s easiest for small and mid-sized companies to be more open. But, whether a companies small or large, start small. Start trying. Use Facebook internally, for instance. After you have enough experience, turn it externally.

Killer Innovations podcast on 'Innovation champions'

Dennis McDonald posted another five of his favorite podcasts. (Thanks for sharing!) One of them sounded interesting: Killer Innovations by Phil McKinney.

So, I listened to one of the recent podcasts about ‘innovation champions’. It’s about three questions: Who are the innovation champions? What to find them? And how to keep them? I’ll give you a short summary.

Innovation champions are the really passionate and fanatic people in your organization.

To find them: ask employees what they are working on and what they find exciting.

Make sure you offer innovator protection. Give them the authority to decide. This doesn’t imply that they have to lead the project, although sometimes they could. Also give them resources to realize their passion. But work with ‘constraint-based innovation’, which means: don’t give them 100% of the resources to help them focus.

Phil also gives an interesting creativity exercise. And you can join the Facebook group “Killer innovations”.

I subscribed to Phil’s blog and podcast. His podcast is now one of my favorites too.

The First International Conference on Information Management

How could I have missed this?! I thought I had all my information flows well organized... Next week Friday, the 23rd of November, the First International Conference on Information Management will be held in Amsterdam! They have an absolutely wonderful program with great speakers. The conference theme is 'Business Information Management. Is information management in need of a new identity?'.

If you are going, please let me know. I'd like to get a copy of your notes/blog posts.

An interesting fact for Océ (the company I work for) is the documentary that will presented to the public. It's titled: The CIO as strategic partner. And our CIO Peter Hagedoorn figures in this documentary. You can get a sneak preview here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Google Tech Talk by Alex Wright

Just started reading Alex Wright's book, Glut. Mastering Information through the Ages. It's really interesting and gives a wonderful overview of the history of 'information management'.
Alex also just gave a Google Tech Talk on his book. It's not a substitute for the book, but it's worth your time anyway.

Interesting fact: Xerox PARC coined the term "information architecture". (35:00) There mission was: "The Architecture of Information".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Future of Work according to Manpower

Really interesting and nice video on 'the future of work' according to Manpower. Thanks for sharing, Brain Magierski!

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (12)

Daan Andriessen (Kenniskring Intellectual Capital, Hogeschool INHOLLAND): Metaphors for knowledge

Daan started out by say we used 159 metaphors for knowledge during this meeting. Examples are: knowledge sharing, flows, etc.! Daan is inspired by the “Conceptual Metaphor Theory” of Lakoff & Johnson. The use of metaphors is largely unconscious and they direct our thinking. Knowledge as abstract concept is primarily conceptualized by metaphor. It’s the only way we can talk about knowledge.

When comparing the used of metaphors in knowledge management literature they found that:
- in the Western world (e.g. work by Davenport and Prusak) knowledge is used as an object, as a resource.
- On the other hand, in the Eastern/Asian world (e.g. work by Nonaka & Takeuchi) knowledge is used as thoughts or feelings, as an organism.

So they wondered: What is the effect of metaphors on the discourse about knowledge management in organizations? Based on a workshop with managers and one with employees, they could analyze its differences and similarities.

Conclusions based on these workshops are:
- The choice of the metaphor strongly directs the conversation about KM.
- ‘Thingification’ of knowledge provides handles for controlling it and is in the interest of managers.
- Those that determine the metaphors have the power and they can use it for their means.

- KM literature should adopt alternative metaphors to humanize and ‘decontrolize’ organization.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (11)

Ruud Janssen (Telematica Instituut): Coping with information overload

Information overload is a popular subject. And for good reasons. Lots of media comes at use via lots of different ways. However we can only process a certain amount of information at a certain speed in a certain amount of time. This can stress people, which, in short, we call ‘information overload’. Refer to NRC article, Nov. 8, 2007: "Inbox overflow leads to less colleague contact".

Following interviews and workshops, e-mail is usually seen as the culprit (ambiguous e-mails, e-mail avalanches, number of e-mails, etc.). They also found that some managers suffer more from information overload than others. This seems to result from the way they handle information overload. In other words: the way one handles information overload relates to how much you suffer from it.

Furthermore information overload is not always experienced, but in periods of time.

They focused on information overload coping strategies for e-mail. Some good and bad examples of strategies that were mentioned are:
- when an ambiguous mail is received, send an email back to sender that this irritates you
- be selective and delete non-relevant mail right away
- be a good example
- process e-mail in evening hours

Information overload usually traps employees, they can’t get out of the never-ending circle. (Refer to: Edward Hallowell, Overloaded circuits; why smart people underperform, HBR 2005.)

So started out to help employees cope with e-mail information overload. Some ideas are:
- use an e-mail code of conduct (defined by the employees in a workshop)
- use an e-mail coach that helps you write and send more effective e-mails
- use an e-mail analyzer or inbox prioritizer (based on social network analysis of your e-mail behavior)
- give tips for efficient task management
- conduct self-tests to help you understand your e-mail use and how you can change your way of working

They asked employees to apply these strategies. The results were promising. E.g. the e-mail code of conduct was the employee’s favorite (- to their surprise).

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (10)

Hendrik Kupper (Wageningen University): Knowledge policy in the sector Agriculture, Nature and Food quality

The sector ‘Agriculture, Food and Nature’ has always been characterized as an excellent knowledge infrastructure and showed passionate use of knowledge by farmers and gardeners.

However this has changed in the last ten years, initiated by the privatization of the knowledge institutes of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Now a new knowledge system is growing. All sorts of collaboration between knowledge institutes, companies, community organization, education and government is developing.

The model of knowledge management in the sector looked like this:

Know why > know that > know how - which relates to:

Understand > control > do - which relates to:

Create > exchange > utilize - which relates to:

Fundamental knowledge (laws, theories) > technological knowledge (control/influence matter, people, organizations) > technical knowledge (recipes, etc.)

In the past knowledge flows through this diagram in a linear way, now in a more circular way. Three types of knowledge sharing can now be distinguished: knowledge flow, circulation and co-creation. These flows are called ‘knowledge arrangements’. A Knowledge Arrangement is an ensemble of different types of knowledge, represented by different actors (individuals, organizations, networks and artifacts) who interactively communicate to transfer, circulate or co-create knowledge, resulting in output, outcome and impact, regarding societal questions.
A Cop could be a representation of an arrangement.

Hendrik also made an interesting remark about ‘Knowledge representation’. It can be encoded, embedded, encultured, embrained, embodied.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (9)

Lilia Efimova (Telematica Instituut): Employee weblogs: a knowledge management approach

Lilia is conducting her PhD research on ‘employee blogging’. She’ll present part of her research results here. This part of her research was published in Efimova & Grudin (2007), Crossing Boundaries: A case study of Employee Blogging.

Weblogs are:
- used as a (personal) KM instrument
- passion driven, bottom-up tools in a (non-)business environment
- used as a research tool

Lilia investigated employee blogging at Microsoft (- at that moment 10% of MS employees were blogging).

Why do people at Microsoft use work-related weblogs:
- To communicate directly with others inside and outside of the organization
- To document and organize their own work
- To showing the human side of the company (Within Microsoft employees are not asked to blog about why they’re proud of the company by their managers. They themselves want to write about why they’re proud and why things go the way they’re going. They don’t like to be called ‘evil’.)
- It’s task-related: blogging could accelerate use of MS tools, help them to get feedback on features, provide them relevant external information, advertise events, etc.

What are the effects of blogging?
- it helps finding time for the important
- it helps to document the undocumented
- it accelerates knowledge flows
- reuse of information is supported
- it makes expertise more visible
- unexpected connections emerge
- improved reputation based on what you write
- it helps to get things done
- it can lead to information overload
- power shifts. E.g.: communicate via your public blog gets more done internally, because when it’s public the organization listens quicker.
- lack of control (over reputation and information flows)

What are the implications of weblogs for knowledge management?
- personal passions have a (legitimate) place at work
- microactions aggregate over time
- transparency is here to stay (weblogs open up organizations)
- connections with others are unexpected
- information overload is an issue (due to commenting and feed reading)
- everyday routines to post on your weblog matter (integrating it into your work)
- authority is fluid due to bottom-up nature of weblogs

- controls are shared (relate to ‘lack of control’ above)

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (8)

Jose Kooken, Robert de Hoog, and others (University of Twente, IPIT, Politie Academie): Knowledge Sharing at the Police: Police Knowledge Net (PKN)

PKN is (“push”) system that was implemented for daily use of the whole police organization to support knowledge and information sharing.

This presentation is about how PKN is used and who uses it, why and with what success. What other sources does the police use for acquire knowledge?

They observed police employees in several police units for one hour to define their knowledge need. A ‘knowledge need’ is defined as a need that one has for which he/she searches for and analyzes for longer than 10 minutes.

The highlights of the observation are:
- the use of PKN, as part of all the digital knowledgebases, is approximately 12,5%.
- the most-used knowledge sources are colleagues.
- knowledge use reported in the survey was much higher than seen during actual work.
- 80% of the surveyed employees say they never have a knowledge question.
- the majority of police employees say they have no or little need for knowledge support.

Conclusions of this research w.r.t. the PKN system:
- Knowledge sharing via Intranets usually does not work well.
- Insufficient connection to connect to ‘what is already there’ (amplify instead of replace)
- Insufficient connection to the work practice (subdivision of system is based on ‘theory’ not on what people do)
- Underestimation of the Knowledge need and underestimation of experience and professionalism.
- Idea: PKN is probably to broad, concentrate on ‘high value’ areas?

The research report can be found here.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (7)

Daan van Tienhoven, Ebru Göçmen, Boudewijn Elsenburg (Erasmus University, RSM): The influence of unit performance requirements on knowledge sharing between units

In their daily work they found resistance to share knowledge over business units and wanted to find out why. They investigated the relationship between two constructs:

  1. KPI’s/targets
  2. knowledge sharing

How do the organizational goals influence inter-unit knowledge sharing?

They defined several types of organizational goals:
- Quantitative-qualitative goals
- Learning-outcome - performance goals
They joined these two goals because quality relates to learning and quantity relates to performance. These do split into hard and soft goals. They found that hard goals, such as KPI’s (key performance indicators), tend to obstruct knowledge sharing, soft goals encourage and stimulate it.
- Less strict boundary goals (?? Didn’t quite get this one…) > There were no conclusions on the influence of this goal on knowledge sharing.

- Time horizon (short-/long-term) goals > There were no conclusions here either.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (6)

Kees Vreugdenhil en Marijke Dieleman (Kenniskring Kennisorganisaties en Kennismanagement, Hogeschool Zuyd): Knowledge policy and sustainably continue (Dutch: “duurzaam doorwerken”) working in the mid-sized businesses in Parkcity Limburg

Parkcity Limburg (Limburg is a southern Dutch province, Parkcity is a group of cities in Limburg) is the first region in The Netherlands where ageing (“silver economy”) in the Mid-sized business is clearly hitting home hard. (90% of the employability in Parkcity is in Mid-sized businesses.)

Therefore a project was set up to develop and implement policies to address the loss of knowledge due to retirement, to develop and implement an HR policy to allow employees to continue working if they are able to and would like to. Their preliminary results are presented today.

They mention that what ‘graying’ really means, is not clear; we’re learning on the go. “The key is to use knowledge about age to manage it.” (Prof. Ilmarinen - He defined the 12 pillars describing what is important for employers; health, recognition, financial reward, situation at home, social contacts, etc.)

Two interesting findings from their surveys are:

Their survey results show that 49% of employees find that insufficient investment in knowledge retaining/storage is being done.

They learned that 4% of employees would like to continue working after they turn 65 (regular age of retirement in The Netherlands).

Information on this ongoing project can be found here.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (5)

Marjan Grootveld (Telematica Instituut) & Anja van der Hulst (Cognitive Tools): Knowledge retaining at Thales.

How do you retain critical knowledge in an organization (Thales) with many retiring employees? How do you combine strict need to know policy in practice with knowledge sharing? How can the internal training department and the group that trains customers learn from each other? How do you spread the knowledge retaining effort over the different business units?

50% of employees at Thales are between 46-50 years old. And these people usually are life-long employees. Furthermore, the products (radar systems) Thales sells require 20-30 year maintenance and support.

How to retain knowledge due to reorganization, aging, shorter careers, and outsourcing? They used techniques as interviews, story telling and knowledge mapping to analyze the situation at Thales.

They found that knowledge retaining is really expensive. So, retain only company critical knowledge. ‘Critical’ was defined as being scarce, complex, company specific, with sufficient revenues, number of potential customers. This results in a much shorter list of old systems (products) for which knowledge should be retained.

They built a tool to show what would happen if something is e.g. outsourced. This gave them insight in which people have crucial knowledge, which employees to keep (because they have critical knowledge), and what knowledge they would loose after outsourcing.

This process was complicated because Thales (as all military-related organizations) has a very strict security policy which makes knowledge sharing and retaining very difficult.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (4)

Vanessa Dirksen & Ard Huizing (University van Amsterdam): The Networking Knowledge Worker, Technology Appropriation and the Shaping of Learning Practices

This very interesting presentation reports on “an ethnographic study performed in a large and distributed, knowledge intensive ICT company. It gives an in-depth account of the introduction of virtual communities in this organization and what happened afterwards. When confronted with organizational change ideas such as virtual community, people make sense of and appropriate these ideas to make them ‘their own’.”

Basically they asked: What could or should knowledge management be? Why is the game Warcraft such a success as apposed to corporate Intranet for instance?

They see to main approaches to KM: One from ‘Objectivism’, and the other from ‘subjectivism’.

Objectivism says: Knowledge and information is a thing, product, etc. Objectivism: the philosophical tradition that for knowledge development we should view the world as consisting of distinct, disembodied objects. Economist, technologist, etc. use the objective approach. Information becomes data.

However, knowledge and information is context-dependent, intersubjective meaning, dynamic and tentative meaning, etc. This is the subjectivistic approach. Subjectivism: the philosophical tradition that for knowledge development, we should focus on how people experientially understand their words (which is dependent upon what they find meaningful to their lives etc.) Sociologists, psychologists, etc use the subjective approach.

Objectivism and subjectivism: the same viewed differently. In KM research they hardly ever connect. It’s transaction vs. interaction.

Ard’s thesis is that KM is objectivist by default. However, on it own objectivism does not provide a solid foundation for KM. And subjectivism doesn’t either.

To learn more on this topic the defined ‘Governmentality’ case. Research was done on the roll out of virtual communities in a large multinational ICT company. They looked at the overal reasons for this roll out and its goals. What they learned, among others, was that the experts didn’t participate in the community and go elsewhere (e.g. on Internet). Furthermore, imposed communities create artificial organizational boundaries. They also conducted social network analysis, which resulted in the conclusion that one system for all did not fit the need of the specific groups in the organization. People share knowledge because of affinity or calculation (e.g. “I should publish this post, because then I’ll be more visible to my manager”).

Using these kind of findings they are trying to find a different way of doing knowledge management. They call this ‘Practice based knowledge management’. It’s based on looking closely at what’s really going on in companies and connecting/relating to that.

Their definition of knowledge management is: the theory and practice of shaping informational object-centered sociality, while directing people’s interaction towards organizational or societal goals. Knowledge Management is about information and knowledge, subjective and objective.

So, their domain is: Sociality centered around information objects.

I found this presentation very interesting and am going to search for their papers on this topic.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (3)

Henk Smeijsters, Hans Koolmees & Sylvia Schoenmakers (Kenniskring Kennisorganisaties en Kennismanagement, Hogeschool Zuyd): Practical research and action learning in learning organizations

Encouraged by the government, the Maasland hospital of the Orbical (Dutch: Orbisch) Medical and Care concern is realizing the hospital of the 21st century. Part of this venture is the Patient-focused treatment (PFT), which should help this hospital evolve into a learning organization.

The project developed a mental model of PFT rules of conduct, a PFT training and a method to embed it in their work. This is done in dialogue with the employees, using data collecting techniques, techniques for co-creation and natural inquiry techniques (such as member checking, triangulation, peer debriefing). Embedding in daily work is done using action learning, which is still work-in-progress.

There are hiccups w.r.t. embedding: the employees don’t have much time, limited experience with ICT, big differences in education.

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (2)

Christiaan Stam (Kenniskring Intellectual Capital, Hogeschool INHOLLAND & de Baak – Management Centrum VNO-NCW): Knowledge productivity

This presentation is about designing and testing a method to diagnose knowledge productivity and to subsequently make a knowledge management plan. It will address what we mean by ‘knowledge productivity’, how we can diagnose and improve it.

Christiaan wrote a PhD thesis on this topic and will defend it in December (2007).

Christiaan mentioned that addressing and defining knowledge productivity is a real challenge.

Currently there are two approaches to knowledge productivity:

  1. Knowledge productivity as a process. Focus on knowledge, improvement of process on knowledge creation. (Dutch KM-ers like Weggeman and Kessel represent this group.)
  2. Knowledge productivity as result. Focus on productivity. Measuring knowledge results, insight in knowledge performance. (Sveiby is a representative of this group.)

Christiaan definition of Knowledge Productivity is a combination of both of these approaches. ‘Knowledge productivity’ is the process of knowledge creation that leads to incremental and radical innovations.

Christiaan stated that there is general consensus about the fact that the product of knowledge creation is innovation (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). And there are two types of innovation: incremental and radical innovation (of products, services and processes). (Kessels 1996, Zegveld, 2000)

He developed a Knowledge Productivity-amplifier, which consists of the following:

There is a KM problem that can be split in:

  1. process of knowledge creation
  2. incremental and radical innovation

Both leading to improvements for KM, based on the Danish Guideline for IC-statement (STI, 2003). These improvement resulti in a knowledge productivity-statement.

Several versions of this Amplifier were tested in mid-sized companies (50-250 employees).

We’ll round up with one of Christiaan’s thesis: The word ‘productivity’ related to the process of knowledge creation should be avoided.

Do you agree?

National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland" (1)

Ton Zijlstra (Proven Partners): Knowledge management scans

Since 2000 Proven Partners collects the results of 4 knowledge management scans, using an online benchmark engine.

The scans are about the following themes:
1) How important is knowledge in our organization?
2) How clear is our future direction?
3) How good are we at knowledge management?
4) Is our company organized in a knowledge sensitive way?

These scans are based on the Knowledge Value Chain (Weggeman, 1997) and filled in by a broad selection of Dutch organizations.

In this presentation Ton looks back and gives an analysis of seven years of data collecting.

Impressions from the surveys:
- the survey consists of 600 questions of which 151 are taken from standard scans. Weggeman helped define the questions.
- there is a big gap between KM ambition level of companies and what they are doing in practice.
- Companies find it hard to define knowledge goals and strategy.
- Most companies do not find it difficult to get an overview of ‘Knowing what we know’.
- The survey results say the problem in KM is not people and management, but systems and structures. “We need to change, but I don’t.”
- Consequently translating knowledge goals to practice is difficult.
- Work experience plays an important role in the perception of KM. Young employees believe in perfect systems (solving all KM problems). Experienced employees see important knowledge leave the organization.

The survey results don’t give a complete picture. Only ‘conscious incompetent’ organizations/individuals use this scan.

Ton told us they are tweaking the benchmark tool based on:
- requests to tailor the questions (to their specific needs)
- efforts/interventions more central
- more pattern recognition on results (e.g. ‘islands’ of knowledge)
- the aspect of work environment on KM
- perception of ‘the other’ in knowledge sharing/exchange
- information handling in daily work

Ton asks us what would you like to get from this tool?

I’m interested in multi-site knowledge management (relating to the above-mentioned ‘islands’). In this connected world, working virtualy with colleagues and externals around the world is becoming ever more easy. But how are companies coping with this trend and organizing themselves to facilitate it?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Live blogging the National Knowledge Management Research meeting "Made in Holland"

Tomorrow I’ll be at the National Knowledge Management Research meeting “Made in Holland” in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). I’ll be live blogging (most of) the sessions.

Here’s the program:

Theme ‘Valuing Knowledge’

- Ton Zijlstra (Proven Partners): Kennismanagement scans

- Christiaan Stam (Kenniskring Intellectual Capital, Hogeschool INHOLLAND & de Baak – Management Centrum VNO-NCW): Knowledge productivity

Theme ‘Knowledge creation’

- Henk Smeijsters, Hans Koolmees & Sylvia Schoenmakers (Kenniskring Kennisorganisaties en Kennismanagement, Hogeschool Zuyd): Practical research and action learning in learning organisations

- Vanessa Dirksen & Ard Huizing (University van Amsterdam): The Networking Knowledge Worker, Technology Appropriation and the Shaping of LearningPractices

Theme ‘Knowledge retention’

- Marian Grootveld (Telematica Instituut) & Anja van der Hulst (Cognitive Tools): Kennisbehoud bij Thales.

- Kees Vreugdenhil en Marijke Dieleman (Kenniskring Kennisorganisaties en Kennismanagement, Hogeschool Zuyd): Knowledge policy and sustainably continuing working in the mid-sized businesses in Parkcity Limburg

Theme ‘Knowledge sharing’

- Daan van Tienhoven, Ebru Göçmen, Boudewijn Elsenburg (Erasmus University, RSM): The influence of unit performance requirements on knowledge sharing between units.

- Jose Kooken e.a. (University of Twente, IPIT, Politie Academie): Knowledge Sharing at the Police: Police Knowledge Net (PKN)

- Lilia Efimova (Telematica Instituut): Employee weblogs: a knowledge management approach

- Hendrik Kupper (Wageningen University): Knowledge policy in the sector Agriculture, Nature and Food quality

Theme ‘Applying knowledge’

- Ruud Janssen (Telematica Instituut): Coping with information overload

- Tom Mom, Frans van den Bosch & Henk Volberda (Erasmus University): Investigating managers’ exploration and exploitation activities: the influence of top-down, bottom-up and horizontal knowledge inflows.

Thema ‘Conceptualization of Knowledge’

- Daan Andriessen (Kenniskring Intellectual Capital, Hogeschool INHOLLAND): Metaphors for knowledge

Friday, November 9, 2007

Inbox overflow leads to less colleague contact

In my newspaper the NRC I read an interesting article about our always overflowing inbox’s and its implications for our contacts with colleagues. Douwe Egbert coffee systems saw that less and less colleagues meet at the coffee corner for a talk and a cup of coffee. Contact with colleagues, even if their just around the corner, is often done by email. So, they asked a bureau to investigate this. They found that more than 50% of Dutch employees says that personal contact has decreased because of email. They would like to be able to talk (live) with their colleagues.

For this reason companies, such as U.S. Cellular, Deloitte and Intel have a ‘no e-mail Friday’. This does not seem to be a structural solution, others say, because now everyone sending more e-mail on Monday to Thursday. Anyway it’s a good signal to the employees.

Others say there should be an e-mail code of conduct. (Within R&D 20 colleagues defined such a code of conduct in a workshop some time ago.)

What do you think? Is this article also representative for your company too? Are you too longing for more live contact with colleagues? Do you have experience with a ‘no e-mail Friday’ or a code of conduct? Do they work?

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Some time ago I commented on an essay by Larry Sanger titled "Who says we know". In short the essay:

... questions the "epistemic egalitarianism" adagium of Wikipedia. Simply stated: everybody is equal, an expert is not more (knowledgable) than a non-expert, together we define what is true.
I went on to say:
I understand the point he's making. And, though I too am enthralled by the success of Wikipedia, I also wonder how Wikipedia will solve, for instance, the "edit wars", that Sanger also mentions. Don't we need a mediator/expert to end those wars? Or can we simply allow two definitions to one entry?
Another solution could be to get in between Sanger and Wikipedia. Every now and then we would let experts in Wikipedia and have them correct, extend, etc. the entries. After they've come in, we let "the rest of the world" in, etc. In this way we have expert and non-expert "waves".
Well, it seems Veropedia comes close to my solution and what Sanger is looking for. Veropedia is very comparable to Wikipedia. Everyone can write articles. However, before they are published, a panel of experts checks the articles and, if needed, corrects them.
I'm curious if this is the solution and if people will accept this model and submit their entries to this platform. And will they send them to Wikipedia and Veropedia at once? Or will the crowd move from Wikipedia to Veropedia because it's more "reliable"? We'll see!

Anyway, I'd like to hear what you predict!

Update Aug 5 2011: Also refer to Macrowikinomics, p. 362 about collectivism.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Future of Printing (2)

Some time ago I posted about the 'future of printing' and 'printing the web'. ReadWriteWeb has an interesting post today on this topic. It says:

HP acquired Tabblo with the aim of making printing from the Web easier. For example, webpages are sometimes difficult to print (R/WW is guilty on that count!). In terms of the big picture, Antonio explained to me that the print business is huge, but that HP is starting to think in terms of digital devices now - rather than the old model of [paper] pages. So in terms of products, HP's Print 2.0 strategy is about delivering products and services such as the Tabblo Print Toolkit - which enables publishers to provide template-based PDFs of their webpages for easy printing.

HP also wants to get into the on-demand printing business, where it will face competition from the likes of and Antonio told me that the vision is for a self-serving site to create books. However he said that there are practical issues holding this up, such as DRM.

There are also partnership deals. At Web 2.0 Summit HP announce that its Print 2.0 technology has been integrated into Flickr, allowing Flickr users to easily print their photos. HP did a deal too with Disney, allowing users to combine professional Disney content with their own personal content - and print it out. The Graffiti Application for Facebook, where users can draw on their friends profiles, was also print-enabled by Tabblo.

Ultimately HP wants to make printing a service - I suppose much like Microsoft wants to make its software into services. HP wants to make printing more personal and social; which brings us back to Tabblo's legacy. It did precisely that, make printing personal and social. But HP wants to do it on a much larger scale. This is why big companies build startups of course!

What do you think of HP's Print 2.0? Does it make more sense now that you know the Tabblo story?

This is an interesting development for a commodity business! HP is looking for ways to offer added-value services. And this is a good shot! It's close to consumers and it's consumer-focused. In this industry you can see others doing the same as well. I'm really looking forward to see where this will bring us as users.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How many blogs do you have?

Nice (old) cartoon about blogging! I have two blogs (internal and external)... One too many.

Context Organiser

Talking about 'context', tools like Context Organizer are trying to offer context to knowledge workers. I was asked to evaluate Context Organizer for the Web the other day. (They found me using LinkedIn, which was a wonderful first-time experience.)

Context Organizer reminds me of Pertinence and Copernic. The basic idea is they want to help you cope with all the information you get by summarizing the information for you. What struck me was the fact that they really want to integrate their tool in all much-used knowledge worker tools, like Office and browsers. They even have a Firefox addon!
I'll tell you more about this tool in a little while.