24 October 2007

actKM 2007 - Day 1

I just came back from the conference dinner (congratulations to the winners of the Gold Cultural Award), and have hurriedly collected my thoughts enough to write a little about my experiences of day one.

The presentations are available on the actKM website. Click here to go straight to the table of presentations.

It would be very easy - and I have to entertain the possibility that it might also be correct - to write off my enthusiasm and enjoyment of Day 1 as being biased on account of my involvement with actKM. But I think that I'm being fairly objective when I say that Day 1 was great. It started off with some controversy - though I agreed with the concept behind the proposition - and provided a good mix of presentations versus activities.
I really think that the mix was right for this approach, and that the number of participants is really conducive to making this work. Less, and you wouldn't be able to generate the interactivity, and more would stifle it in some quarters. If even I feel that I networked my arse off, there must be something right about the way things are being done!

Presentation 1 - Patrick Lambe
Interesting first presentation from Patrick Lambe, on why knowledge managers should be sued. My take home message from it was that basically, knowledge managers need to be doing their job like their life - literally - depended on it. There were a few challenges from the audience, which was good, but I certainly thought Patrick presented a few arguments worth considering.He also presented some figures in response to a survey he was doing that suggested that - as bad as I think my involvement in the KM world is - perhaps I shouldn't complain, since the situation in Australia on average is even worse. Still, I like to complain, and since things should be better, I think I'll stick to it.

A very good start to the conference.

Presentation 2 - Dave Gurteen
This was great, as I finally got to participate in a knowledge cafe. To me, the novelty of the cafe as opposed to standard workshopping, is the definition of a successful outcome. Dave focused on this in his presentation on how cafes work - that the real value for the individual lies in the conversations, not in presenting a summary to the group that goes on a piece of butchers paper and hangs on a wall, to be later transcribed and distributed to the participants, at which point its value has been mostly lost.

The cafe itself was great - my initial feeling was that this was because I was at a good table - but then we had a larger conversation with all the tables, and I quickly realised that the entire group of attendees was good. My suspicion in the end is that - if you pose the right question - that the conversation will be of value almost irrespective of the participants, because you would have the freedom to direct conversation to the area of interest to you.

Presentation 3 - Luke Naismith and Richard Vines
After months of reading about Karl Popper and his 3 worlds, but not really understanding it, I'll be forever grateful to Luke and Richard for finally presenting this ... welterschleng? - in a way I (think) I could understand. The emphasis of this presentation was to populate a biological view of knowledge using Popper's worlds to tie together personal knowledge, organisational knowledge and the interactions in between. Some of the concepts expressed are still beyond me, I must admit, but since I came out of this presentation understanding more than I went in - and that understanding was of something I had been trying to wrap my head around for months, I'll take the small epiphany facilitated by this presentation as being well worth it.

Presentation 4 - Laurie Lock Lee
I'm still actually processing some of Laurie's presentation/activity, so it’s difficult to evaluate it just yet. Even so, this was one of 2 presentations that left me thinking that there was work for me to do away from the conference, both in terms of learning to be done, and tips to take on board. A lot of the presentation was focused on social network analysis, which I never really cottoned on to, not because I don't think its valuable, but I could never really see a way it was valuable to me. Laurie may not have changed my mind on this, but his presentation has me questioning my assumptions, and left me wanting to do a bit of personal exploration. Perhaps not the intention, but very valuable nonetheless.

Watch this space as I re-develop my thinking in this area - I'm certain I'll return to this topic again soon.

Presentation 5 - Troy Mallie
I think I speak for a fair majority of the attendees when I say "wow"! While enjoyed all the presentations today, this one had me the most emotionally involved by far. A real contrast to Patrick's assertion that knowledge managers aren't doing as well as they should be, Troy may very well be the exception that proves the rule. The work that is being done on Indigenous knowledge has been of interest me for several years, since I was first made aware of the Indigenous Knowledge Centres, but to see the power that can be derived from doing knowledge right was just amazing.

I think the conference really demonstrated its value here. I'm just not sure that this presentation would be accepted to a large KM conference, and that is a disturbing thought when you consider how important it is to see KM being done right.

Presentation 6 - Arthur Shelley and Patrick Lambe
I had fun with this. After getting ideas for short, fun knowledge sharing activities, we then put a few into practice. Not being the best networker in the world, I was a bit hesitant about the speed dating, but - for me - I did pretty well, and had some interesting conversations. There were some really fun ideas from this, I hope that I'll have the opportunity to share some of the, by putting them up on the actKM Knowledgebase.

18 October 2007

Back to School

I recently posted to actKM about my slightly insane (given my checkered academic history) desire to do a post-graduate course in knowledge management. I'm still pulling all my options together, so if anyone can recommend a good program, let me know!

In terms of my post, I received a number of very kind and helpful responses, including a link to quite a useful resource, courtesy of Boris Jaeger: the KM Education Wiki. This is a wiki listing KM courses around the globe, broken down by country - you can even do visual search via Google Maps - how cool is that!?! Well worth looking at for anyone thinking about studying KM. Thanks again to Boris for putting me on to this.

12 October 2007

actKM Conference 2007

Just a quick plug/reminder that the actKM Conference is being held in Canberra, in just over a week from now. This year, the conference also has a number of un-conference activities, as a way of providing some hands-on experience for practitioners in the workings of some cutting-edge methodologies. My experience of previous conferences is that it is a lot less formal than other KM conferences, and provides a lot of opportunities to meet and talk with other practitioners.

6 October 2007

Anecdotal Record?

I was confronted with an interesting assertion while watching an interview with the NSW Health Minister the other night. The interviewer was talking about evidence of mismanagement in NSW hospitals, and that this evidence was "what is on the anecdotal record of various sources". This then lead to a discussion around my dinner table about whether this was a contradiction in terms. This discussion questioned whether or not anecdotal evidence is considered "on the record". My position was that it can be, but there was some compelling argument that - in a bureaucratic structure particularly - the system rejects "anecdotal evidence" on the basis of it being off the record, as it is not verifiable and repeatable. Each anecdote is a different story, and in this context, is not being introduced to the system in a way it can recognise. It re-enforces to me the need to promote the work of people like those at Anecdote, building systems to deliver anecdotal evidence in a form that can be considered on the record.