Independent thought

Stock Photos
Shine on

This post by Seth Godin made me think.

People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: “If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I’m safe.”

Whenever you are working with people, how many times have you had to think for everyone else? Everything looks hunky-dory and people seem to be listening to you. But do you know why they are listening? Because that way, they do not have to think, because then they are not responsible. When sh!t hits the ceiling, it will be most likely you who would be doing the clean up.

Try what Seth says, the guru is right. Refrain from telling them what needs to be done. Let your team struggle, let the people take up the mantle. Some of them will start liking being independent. Foster and nurture these pieces of independent thought, and you have a sustainable knowledge practice up and running.

A lamp in pure darkness is bright, but its not as bright as a lamp and 3-4 flickering sparks.

Godfather: A Collaborative framework

image If you have read Mario Puzo’s Godfather, then there is a lesson to be learnt on Knowledge Management. Don Corleone knew the best methods of collaboration. One of the first scenes in the book is when a pall bearer comes to the Don with his problem. The Don welcomes him with open arms, and listens to his problems. Then he chides him about not coming earlier and most importantly not recognizing Don as his friend. He accuses the man of becoming the Don’s friend only in the time of need. Then he solves that man’s problem. The same guy comes to the Don’s use when his own son (Sonny) needs a proper funeral. But that’s not the point of this post, is it.

Successful collaboration between multiple people requires – co-operation amongst the people who have proper skillsets. Don Corleone knew whom to choose for which task, and how to get it done.

Wiki as a KM Tool

In my past 3 months at Illumine (which is a Knowledge Lab), one of the first thing that struck me was their emphasis on models. More importantly knowledge models … instead of focusing on how the knowledge flowing in the system (which what most of the KM tools focus on), the company focused on the model in which that knowledge was generated, distributed and improved. Interestingly, the organization themselves have a very loose KM in place. Right now it is basically a samba share of different folders. It’s that simple.

In an attempt to make sense out of the zillions of files on my current project, I decided to explore some interesting ways to ingest this content into a system. Immediately, Mediawiki came to mind. This is what Wikipedia is made out of.

The How

Installation was easy, you download the tarball from here. You extract it into your hosting space, and follow the simple and easy-to-use instructions in the setup wizard. Voila!! You will have a working wiki!

But that is the easy part,

The Cons

  1. Structuring the Wiki becomes ARPITA (A-Real-Pain-In-The-Ass) ps – on a side note, I feel sad for all the Arpitas in the world
  2. Writing and creating the wiki content is also difficult since you have to stick to the wiki syntax
  3. It is not as free fall a structure as you can think it to be
  4. n00bs do not want to contribute to the Wiki, they only want information, which means that you are writing wiki content all the time

Despite these issues, I still liked the idea of a wiki and am currently having my own personal wiki, because of

The Pros

  1. A personal wiki becomes a KM meme, where you just ingest content and the sense and navigation emerges after a period of time
  2. The final product looks smashing, helps me sort through the content
  3. This becomes a documentation and KT process for me as well (not that I am looking for replacements!!)
  4. The wiki can be scaled to my team members using the Discussion spaces, and it will also then clarify my knowledge meme

What do you think?