Monday Maxims (posted on Google+)
I was asked for what advice I would give seniors in college and graduate student about work. Here is how I responded.
- Follow your passions – play to your strengths
- Treat others with respect – and earn theirs
- Never give up – keep on striving
- Be true to your word – do what you say you will
- Stay positive – have fun in what you do
- Expect a lot of yourself – and of others
- Challenge conventional wisdom – think for yourself
- Ask not what others can do for you – ask what you can do for them
- Leave the world a better place – make a contribution
- Put a little love into everything you do – it is always possible
- Practice and reward caring, sharing, and daring – caring for others, sharing what you know, and daring to try new ideas
- Insist on trust, truth, and transparency in all dealings – earn and respect the trust of others, communicate truthfully and openly, and demonstrate and expect accountability
- Look for opportunities to help, thank, and praise others
- Eliminate criticism, blame, and ridicule in all interactions with others
The Right Stuff
- Do what is right – logically, financially, morally, ethically, and environmentally – with decency, integrity, and fairness
- Do it the right way – honestly, accurately, correctly, and completely – with good effort, resulting in high quality, and meeting all commitments
- Do it right away – don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or avoid what is unpleasant – the sooner you start, the better
- We are stuck with "knowledge management" as a recognized term, but we can use better terms when we communicate, such as "knowledge sharing and re-use."
- Place more emphasis on connecting people than on collecting documents.
- Despite the oft-stated goal of learning from past mistakes, we keep repeating them. To prevent this, work out loud, ask if anyone has done something similar before, and search for reusable materials and experience before starting a new effort.
- The sooner you can try out an idea, the better. A prototype or pilot can be useful immediately, and you can learn how to improve it from the users. Prolonged study and planning cycles are not as useful as rapid prototyping and frequent incremental improvements.
- Be as inclusive as possible in community membership, rather than restrictive. What’s the harm of an outsider joining? Maybe they will learn something, share useful information, or be able to answer a question. So don't keep out potential members - welcome them in!
- Take some time to stimulate community conversations
- Enable posting and replying by email to the community discussion board, and suggest that all members subscribe to email notifications
- If a member posts a question, make sure that it gets a response
- If your community has a regular call, leverage the discussion board as a means of continuing the conversation, or providing resources covered on the call
- Set a calendar reminder to post every week, if there has not already been a post
- If questions are asked or information is shared outside the community, redirect or copy to the community discussion board
- Face-to-face knowledge sharing is not a luxury. It is essential to building and sustaining trust. From "Ten Things I’ve Learned About Knowledge Management" by Bruce Karney
- Find a killer application for social networking within your organization, analogous to external ones such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Commercial software options include Chatter, IBM Connections, Jive, Sitrion, Socialcast, Tibbr, and Yammer. A killer app will get people to voluntarily sign up and maintain their personal information and networks. Link your key knowledge initiatives to this killer app (e.g., sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning).
- Leaders should be open, honest, authentic, accessible, and responsive. People want to follow good leaders who are inspirational, straightforward, and fair. Bad leaders eventually get what they deserve, although it often appears to take too long for this to happen.
- Set no more than three goals, and keep them simple and easy to remember. For more on this, see Set Goals, Establish Promotion Requirements, and Recognize and Reward.
- You can't make yourself a leader by proclaiming that you are in charge. You must command respect through your words and deeds, leading by example, and serving others.
- Good communication matters. Use language carefully, correctly, and clearly. Avoid buzzwords, confusing jargon, and corporate speak.
- Tell the truth. People can tell when you are lying.
- Most community members, meeting attendees, and conference call participants are reluctant to speak up. They are glad to lurk and listen, but they prefer that others lead discussions. People are more willing to enter questions and comments electronically during a conference call than to speak up and ask a question on the phone. So provide a way for them to do so, anonymously if possible.
- People are more willing to talk about a success story than they are to fill in and submit a form to report on it, even if filling in the form takes less time. So find ways to get them to talk about their successes, and fill in the forms or write up the stories for them.
- People jump on bandwagons, follow fads, and use the latest buzzwords. How about you? Do you follow the crowd? Do you take quizzes to find out what kind of person you are? Do you "reach out" to "amazing" people with an "ask?"
- If you send out a legitimate message to a large distribution list requesting input, you will receive a limited number of replies. If you send out a message perceived as spam and include the distribution list in the TO or CC fields, many people will reply to all asking to be removed from the list, asking others to stop replying to all, or saying "me, too." This is what I call an email storm, and it may not subside for hours or days.
- Don't hide – engage. Take a risk, get outside your comfort zone, and challenge yourself to try something new. Introduce yourself to someone you don't know, and connect to them in LinkedIn. Ask or answer a question in a community, on a call, or at a meeting. Participate in or lead a discussion. Submit an abstract for a presentation at a conference. Write an article and send it to a publication. Tweet, post to G+, or blog. You will be rewarded by the results.
- Try out tools and processes yourself. Learn first-hand what works well and what does not. You will be able to empathize with other users, learn useful techniques, and become recognized as an expert. Be hands-on, use the tools of the trade, and practice what you preach.
- Expand your personal network. Talk to other people at conferences. Contact other people, including those who don’t know you and those who are famous. You will be surprised at how many people will be glad to interact with you, become part of your network, or join a community that you lead or participate in.
- Share relentlessly. Look at each useful piece of information you receive, read, or create and ask "who else could use this?" If others can benefit from it, share using Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Enterprise Social Networking, or a relevant community site.
- When you contact someone else, even if just sharing a minor piece of information, often it will lead to an unexpected benefit. They will be prompted to ask you question, share an idea, make a suggestion, or schedule a time to catch up, all of which will be helpful.
- Rely on your colleagues. Ask them to review what you are working on, and they will give you good advice. If you do good things for others without concern for what's in it for you, your colleagues will be glad to reciprocate.
- 10 Things Bruce Karney Learned About Knowledge Management – by Bruce Karney
- Connection, not collection, is the essence of knowledge management.
- The most useful definition of knowledge is: “the mental capacity to produce effective results.”
- The word “knowledge” is often misused. If you replace knowledge with experience and the sentence sounds wrong, you’re talking about information, not knowledge.
- The unit of measure of knowledge is answers. KM systems fail if they can’t provide good answers quickly.
- It’s easier and more effective to manage ignorance (by eliminating it) than to manage knowledge.
- Helping people learn what they should pay attention to (a key skill of journalists and good bloggers) is the most overlooked way that KM can contribute to business success.
- It is a dangerous delusion to believe that frequent face-to-face knowledge sharing meetings are a luxury.
- Communities of Passion are what we should really be trying to inspire.
- All the money spent on IT for KM doesn't result in much more capability to effect change than the leader of a Yahoo! Group gets for free.
- Google is the killer app of KM, and it, too, is free.
- +Bruce Karney 10 Rules for Asking Others to Share Knowledge
- Make the subject line very specific; use 5-10 words, not 2-3.
- Identify yourself by name, role and organization.
- Identify the problem briefly and clearly.
- Explain why solving the problem is important to the reader.
- Explain exactly what kind of help you want from them.
- Specify your deadline.
- Tell what you know (and how you learned it), and what you don't know.
- Ask for suggestions about who else to ask and what else to do.
- Tell what you will do to share what you learn more broadly.
- Explain how those who help you will be rewarded or recognized.
- Collect Content & Connect People: Both collection and
connection are valuable, and neither one should be emphasized over the other.
Without context, content is not very useful. But without content which can be
referenced and reused, communities and social networks will continually need to
share information stored on personal hard drives or web sites.
- Try things out by quickly implementing, continuously improving, and iterating Knowledge Management programs and intranet systems often make the same mistakes as software development projects. Lengthy designs or redesigns are followed by big launches and then by users disliking or ignoring the touted offerings. I call this the "big bang" approach, such as when a new or revised web site is unveiled after six months of development, only to miss the mark as judged by its intended audience. What are the users supposed to do during the time prior to launch? It's much better to quickly launch a simple site serving up the most important content (as defined by the users) and then continue to improve the site and add more content on an ongoing basis. This results in a site which is both immediately useful and which is also perceived as being continuously improved.
- Lead by example, practice what you preach, and model desired behaviors Many knowledge management programs and social media initiatives begin as grassroots efforts or skunk works projects, gaining users from the ground up. Others are launched by top executives through formal communications imploring members of the organization to participate. The most successful implementations combine both of these methods, while adding one more: the executives and their staffs not only communicate about the initiative, they actually participate themselves in a visible manner. Employees are used to receiving messages asking them to use some new process or tool. They tend to ignore these requests unless there is some obvious benefit to them, they expect to be directly measured on compliance or punished for non-compliance, or they have a personal interest or emotional connection to the topic. Another way to get the attention of employees is if they see top management directly using the process or tool.
- Monday Maxim: Recognize and Reward for Desired BehaviorsA common concern of knowledge management programs is how to get people to contribute, share, and reuse knowledge. Objections include:- I don't have any time.- I don't know what is expected of me.- What's in it for me?If people won't spend time sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning in the ways promoted by a knowledge management program, it will fail. What can be done to motivate people to act in the desired ways?There are multiple ways to motivate people. One way is through a formal recognition and rewards program. Benefits include:- Making explicit which behaviors are desired.- Demonstrating that the leaders of the organization view the program as being significant.- Providing concrete benefits to those who demonstrate the desired behaviors.Incentives don't have to cost anything to be effective. Just knowing that you have earned the attention, respect, and admiration of others, especially senior leaders, can be very gratifying. And you are more likely to repeat desired behaviors if you know that important people will take notice.Among the ways to provide non-financial recognition are personal notes from leaders who notice contributions, newsletter articles about those who achieve success in using KM processes, success stories posted to web sites, invitations to attend prestigious events hosted by the senior executive, scheduling time with senior technical leaders for exchanges of ideas, and being praised and asked to talk about their efforts in conference calls or meetings.