This is the 97th article in the Profiles in Knowledge series featuring thought leaders in knowledge management. Bill passed away on October 11, 2023. He was one of the earliest and most prolific bloggers writing about knowledge management, Web 2.0, and social media every weekday. On the weekends, he wrote about food, music, and art. Bill specialized in business uses of Enterprise 2.0 tools, knowledge management, employee portals, performance support, learning, workforce performance strategy, and social business.
I first connected with Bill through his blog, which he started in 2004, two years before I started mine. We met at KMWorld in 2006 and became friends. He attended SIKM KMWorld dinners, both the big ones organized by Sue Hanley and smaller informal ones that he arranged. We shared a love of KM, writing, dining, and live music.
Bill Ives was a consultant and writer covering knowledge management, learning, blogs, and other emerging web 2.0 technologies. He filled several roles, including partner at the Merced group, team member at Darwin Ecosystem, and contributor to the AppGap blog. Bill wrote one of the first books on business applications of blogs and RSS in 2005. He wrote two chapters in WebEx book on SaaS. For over 25 years, he served in leadership roles in several consulting organizations. From 2001to 2004, Bill led Accenture’s Knowledge Management/ Portals Practice.
He published over 100 articles on business uses of the internet and intranets, portals, knowledge management, learning, and psychology and often spoke at professional conferences. Prior to consulting, Bill conducted post-doctoral research at Harvard University on the effects of media on cognition.
Bill Ives grew up in New Orleans and then spent most of his adult life in the Boston area with short stints in Toronto, London and New York. Bill sold and led both large and small-scale consulting engagements in a variety of industries and locations within the US and across Europe. He provided enterprise collaboration and social media consulting. Bill was a frequent speaker at conferences and webinars, and he created white papers and guest blog posts covering enterprise 2.0 and related topics.
He drew on more than 25 years of experience as a consultant in business uses of emerging technologies, including knowledge management and learning, and more than five years’ experience in business uses in new social media, both inside the enterprise and on the Web.
Bill led the Accenture Knowledge Management and Enterprise Portals Client Practice within the Human Performance Service Line, developing many large-scale projects including industry award-winning implementations for innovation and effective knowledge sharing. At the Renaissance Strategy Group and Spectrum Interactive, he developed knowledge management, performance support, and multimedia learning systems. At both Accenture and Renaissance, he developed methodologies for firm-wide use in knowledge management engagements.
Bill held a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Toronto, an Ed.M. in human development from Harvard University, and a B.A. in sociology from Tufts University.
Bill Ives began his career as a research psychologist at the Harvard Ed. School looking at the effects of media on cognition. He then spent over 25 years in business consulting covering learning, knowledge management, and portals. He was the Knowledge Management Practice Lead for Accenture from 2000 to 2004.
The combination of accessibility, transparency, and archiving that blogs provide has the potential to enrich and transform business communication inside and outside the firewall. This session aimed to engage in a conversation about the many possibilities blogs offer from effective personal knowledge management, efficient project management and communication, increased “weak ties” that lead to new ideas and connections, and enhanced customer community building.
Me in Three
Currently the SVP marketing at Darwin Ecosystem, a technology start up offering the Awareness Engine,™ a content visualization tool. Served for over 25 years in leadership positions as a consultant in learning, knowledge management, other business applications of emerging technologies, and most recently is helping firms with social media such as blogs and Twitter. Prior to these current roles, led the Accenture Knowledge Management/Portals client practice within the Human Performance Service line.
My first job after college was a windmill operator on Cape Cod, then I ran focus groups for geriatric psychotics at a Boston mental hospital before working in citizen participation in urban renewal projects in NYC. Went back to grad school to become an art teacher but got interested in the cognitive aspects of artistic development and went on to a Ph.D. This led to the career described above.
I returned to painting in 2006 and continue it as work allows. I am also passionate about cooking (and eating). I am currently working on a series of paintings of my favorite foods as encountered on recent trips: onion rings on Cape Cod, prawns and chips in South Africa, and a shrimp po-boy in New Orleans.
I blog in two ways, as a professional during the week and, on the weekends, as someone who just enjoys stuff, like music, art, and food and does not pretend to be an expert in any of these three topics. During the work week, Monday through Friday, I see my blog as an extension of my former academic and business writing. As an academic psychologist, I did research on the effects of media on cognition. This continues to influence how I look at things and focuses some of my interests. I am excited about blogs as a new medium and interested in how they change cognition and communication. After writing a lot of academic stuff, I transitioned to business and served as a consultant for over twenty years.
I am now a Partner at the Merced Group. The Merced Group provides business strategy, program design, and implementation services to companies and organizations on social business efforts. The services we offer include online communities, enterprise collaboration, social media marketing, as well as product marketing and management. I am also a team member at Darwin Ecosystem, a content awareness and discovery engine. I will write about it on occasion on this blog. I am also an independent consultant, writer, and speaker.
When I first started my blog, I was primarily writing about knowledge management, as this was my prior field and base of expertise, hence the name Portals and KM. I soon got more excited about blogs and have primarily written about them as a new form of business communication. Like many bloggers, my blog serves as a staging ground for writing in other channels. While my blog is certainly more informal than my print writing, when I am writing from this professional perspective: I try to impose a partial “neutral point of view” and attempt to stay on topic.
On the weekend, I shed my professional role and simply write about what interests me, usually music and food, but not limited to these topics. Art and literature are others. I sometimes experiment with creative writing. So my blogging is very different on the weekend in both topics and style. I get real pleasure in meeting people through my blog who share my interests in both sets of topics. Some people have asked why I don’t just have two blogs. Often the advice for bloggers is to pick a focus.
I keep writing about a variety of topics on this blog for several reasons. My blog is about me, and, like most people, I have several sides, work and play. Also, I do not want to write about professional stuff on the weekend and I try to stay on topic during the week. I certainly do not want to have a blog that I only post on weekends and another that I only post on during the week. With one main blog, people can see the more complete person. But I make it clear when I am doing what, so it is not simply a jumble of stuff. I also find that some people come to my blog because of food and music and stay to look at the business stuff, and the reverse. Why split yourself in half? I am not suggesting everyone do this. Blogs are personal. This is just my personal approach. I encourage everyone who blogs to develop some sort of policy and make it public.
I did start three other blogs on specific topics, the arts and family history, in part, to experiment with techniques for starting a blog, since that option was not available in this long running blog. The experience provided some valuable ideas for my business blog consulting experience and introduced me to new people with shared interests. I have published all the material I have for family history blogs but I am keeping them up as a record to share and I continue to have new visitors and new comments. Since I have started painting more recently, the art blog continues to offer new content.
I am not generally paid to write my blog. There have been a few exceptions when I covered events, and this is done with full disclosure. I still had total editorial freedom. I do have some ads for event tickets as well as Google Ads, but these ads have no effect on what I write. I occasionally do reviews of books that people have provided to me free for review purposes and I always note that in my review. I also recommend many blogs and other things, and many come from my friends. I usually note that, but then I am also more likely to like things that are done by people I already like.
- University of Toronto — Ph.D., Educational Psychology, 1973–1976
- Harvard Graduate School of Education — Ed.M., Human development, 1972–1973
- Tufts University — B.A., Sociology, 1964–1970
- Partner — Merced Group, 2012–2014
- Senior VP Marketing — Darwin Ecosystem — 2008–2011
- Writer — Corante, 2007–2010
- Blogger — FastForward blog, 2007–2009
- Lead, Knowledge Management Practice — Accenture, 1996–2004
- Managing Consultant — Renaissance Strategy Group, 1993–1996
- Director — Spectrum Interactive, 1981–1993
- Post-Doctoral Research Associate — Harvard University, 1976–1981
Sumner William (Bill) Ives, communications expert, artist, community leader, and activist, died peacefully at his home in New Orleans on October 11, 2023, due to complications of ALS.
Bill was born on April 21, 1946, in Oklahoma City to Sumner Albert Ives and Ruth Fleming Ives. While Bill spent much of his adult life in the northeast (his ancestor was one of the founders of New Haven, Connecticut), his early years were in New Orleans when his dad was at Tulane. He had fond memories of living here.
Bill earned a B.A. at Tufts University, an M.Ed. at Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Toronto. He became an early expert in digital media and knowledge management, working at Softjoe Collaborative, Spectrum Training, and Darwin Ecosystem. He worked and consulted with corporations around the world to improve their collaboration and connections with customers. His long-running blog, “Portal and KM” is still available.
In 2012, Bill retired and returned to the city he loved, New Orleans. One Sunday afternoon, he went to Tipitina’s Cajun Dance and met Cindy Morse. To everyone’s delight, they married in 2015, calling each other “the love of their life.” Throughout their time together, they shared New Orleans people, music, food, and parades as well as wonderful travels in the US, Europe, and Greece. So many of these adventures were documented with Bill’s consistently fabulous Facebook posts, which they put together into annual journals.
Each year they traveled to see their children and grandchildren. Bill had great pride in his two daughters, both writers, mountaineer Katie Ives and anthropologist Sarah Ives (Mike Montgomery), as well as his two stepsons, Brent Morse (Katerina) and Nelson (Kate) Morse. Together, he and Cindy had six grandchildren: James, Katherine, Isobel, Madeleine, Patrick, and Alex.
Bill believed in community and lived that belief, through his efforts and generosity. In his longtime role as Vice President of the Carrollton Riverbend Neighborhood Board, he was thoughtful, opinionated, collegial, and because of his integrity, a great advisor. He and Michael Nius successfully led a strong community effort to “Save the Fly,” carefully negotiating with Ron Forman and the Audubon Institute to keep the very special green space open for everyone. He was a very involved board member and taught painting at the Community Commitment Education Center. He and Cindy painted rain barrels and sponsored interns for Greenlight New Orleans. He worked with Community Visions to have two utility boxes painted to reflect the history of our neighbors. He also supported Ubuntu Village, the Innocence Project, and the Arts Council and was an active member of ERACE.
Bill was an artist and taught painting throughout his years. His paintings of everyday objects like tomatoes, garlic, coffee cups, and flowers are bold and colorful as are his portraits of many New Orleans musicians. They captured the many places he visited. He never stopped learning and was grateful for the several years he spent with Phil Sandusky’s art classes. He studied mindfulness and said that practice proved to be a support in his last weeks.
Bill is survived by his dear wife, Cindy Morse, his beloved children and stepchildren, grandchildren, cousins, and many friends who are grateful for his life and richer for knowing him.
Catherine Shinners: Bill Ives passed away in New Orleans on Tuesday, October 17, 2023. He had been ill for a few weeks. Many of you may have known Bill, as he was a longtime KM professional, based in the Boston area, and a regular attendee at Enterprise 2.0 and KM World conferences. I first became a colleague of Bill’s 15+ years ago, and for a short time we were business partners. He retired to New Orleans, and met his wife, Cindy, there. If you were friends with him on Facebook, you saw that they traveled extensively over the past few years until the pandemic struck. It was after Bill moved to New Orleans that we discovered that we both spent part of our childhoods in New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s. Bill was several years older than I, but we shared some unique memories of NOLA of that time. Bill was an esteemed KM colleague, generous mentor, and dear friend. He possessed a zest for life, and in his retirement years, savored his home in New Orleans where he often did his oil painting in the French Quarter. I took this photo at the New Orleans Blues Festival on October 17, 2015, a few days before he and Cindy were married.
Adriaan Jooste: Bill was a great friend and colleague. He was such a wonderful presence and I remember fondly the dinners Peter Gloor, Bill and I had in Cambridge periodically.
Kate Pugh: Bill was one of the first members of the SIKM Boston community, and he inspired us all to venture into this new thing called “social media” (!) He was the first person I knew to be a blogger and taught us the ins and outs of writing grabbing, pointed, authentic prose. It was quite refreshing for us stodgy KMers.
Portals and KM — This blog initially shared ideas and generated discussion on social business, knowledge management, and emerging technologies. It later covered New Orleans, Bill’s painting, and his travels.
- Portals and KM: Knowledge Management
- Portals and KM: Enterprise 2.0
- Is KM the Killer App for Portals? — First post on May 2, 2004
- Portals and KM: Portals and KM: Third Anniversary
- Social Media and the Fortune 500 2014 from Nora Gamin Barnes — Last social media post on October 20, 2014
- KMWorld 2014: Some Useful Sessions — Last KM post on October 17, 2014
- History of Knowledge Management in Six Parts
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Early Days
- Part 3: Emergence of Media, Devices and Techniques
- Part 4: Print Changes Everything
- Part 5: Print Has Its Limits
- Part 6: Digital Age Offers Scalability with New Possibilities for Dialogue
- Portals and KM: Darwin related posts
- Darwin Blog 2012
- Darwin Blog 2013
- Managing Information Overload: 5 Reasons a Chief Content Officer Can Help
- Portals and KM: OutStart related posts
- OutStart Knowledge Solutions Blog
- Andy McAfee on the Fifth Year of Enterprise 2.0
- Setting the Conditions for Social Learning
- Expanding the Scope of Learning in the Connected Enterprise
- Charles Jennings on the 70:20:10 Model for Learning within the Enterprise
McKinsey: Social Business Software Continues to Improve Organizational Performance
McKinsey recently released their fifth annual survey on the way organizations use social business software. It is titled, adoption. social technologies are extending the organization, and was written by Jacques Bughin, Angela Hung Byers, and Michael Chui. They asked more than 4,200 global executives how organizations deploy social business software and the benefits they receive from this adoption
Their research found that social business software continues to enter into many organizations, “transforming business processes and raising performance.” Another key finding is that “companies are improving their mastery of social technologies, using them to enhance operations and exploit new market opportunities.”
They also note that, “when adopted at scale across an emerging type of networked enterprise and integrated into the work processes of employees, social technologies can boost a company’s financial performance and market share.” The new findings support last year’s results that I commented on in: McKinsey: Social Business Software Leads to Many Business Benefits.
Rising Adoption Rates for Social Business Software
Diving into the details we see rising adoption rates. There is a steady increase year over year in the use of enterprise social networking, blogs, video sharing, and micro-blogging. For example, in the past four years, the percentage of organizations surveyed using social networking has risen as follows: 2008–23%, 2009–28%, 2010–40%, and 2011–50%. Blogs are now used in 41% of the organization surveyed, video sharing is at 38% and micro-blogging is now at 23%.
Adoption is fairly consistent across industries with 86% of high tech and telecommunications using at least one social business software tool as the high end and the energy sector having an adoption rate of 62% on the same issue as the low end.
Social Business Software Benefits Continue to be Strong
The benefits reported last year have held. The three major measurable benefits from the use of social business software within the enterprise are:
- Increased speed to access knowledge reported by 74% of firms
- Reduced communication costs reported by 58% of firms
- Increase speed to access internal; experts reported by 51% of firms
These benefits appear to translate to bottom line impacts as self-reported operating-margin improvements and market share leadership, “correlated positively with the reported percentage of employees whose use of social technologies was integrated into their day-to-day work.” In addition, where social business software is used to help project leaders identify employees with the most appropriate skills and to assign those selected to projects best suited for their skills, the organizations report market share gains.
Opportunities Lie Ahead to Transform Businesses
Executives said that their companies are using social business software to increase their agility and to manage organizational complexity. Many of them believe that if organizational barriers to the use of social technologies diminish, these tools could form the core of entirely new business processes that may radically improve performance. For such situations, 60% said that there would be more new than old processes in place for finding new ideas and another 30% said it would be an equal mix of old and new process. For managing projects, 47% said that there would be more new than old processes in place and another 39% said it would be an equal mix of old and new process.
Looking ahead the McKinsey report recommends that senior executives should think strategically about how social business software can better support business processes. Integrating these tools into the daily work has already demonstrated benefits and greater integration will extend these proven benefits. They urged all companies to do to extend their use of these social tools, as their competitors will likely increase their adoption of social business software.
It is great to see this continued documentation of the business benefits of social technologies. McKinsey is providing the industry will a real service by continuing this research on an annual basis.
Checklist Manifesto: Great Ideas in Their Simplicity
Clark Quinn has provided a nice review of a very interesting book, Checklist Manifesto. I have been a user of checklists for as long as I can remember. I use them for business and personal tasks. If it gets on the checklist, it generally gets done. If it fails to make it, the task is often forgotten. This applies to simple to-do lists and more complicated versions such as the preflight checklists of a pilot or the service person that prepares and certifies the plane is ready for takeoff. Even highly experienced pilots and service personnel use these lists. In fact, it is likely that the more experienced ones are most likely to use them. Put the things you need to do on a list and then you can better execute whatever complexity is behind them as your mind is freed from simple rote memory.
The rise of mobile communications has greatly increased the reach and opportunity that checklists can provide. They offer an excellent format for performance support. Now with mobile you can take the checklist to the job in your pocket. But there is more when we look into the types of checklists that Gawande proposes.
As Clark notes, Gawande offers two types of checklists, ones that help us properly execute the rote steps that are critical to success, and another that helps connect us at critical times. The first appears process oriented and the second appears more people oriented. In a performance support capacity these two actually work well together.
For example, a property casualty insurance company supported the claims adjustment process by a checklist of key steps to consider. This checklist had been developed by an expert claims adjuster to make sure less experienced claims adjusters would consider the right issues. Even experienced claims adjusters would be reminded of what to do, as well as the latest company policies. Implementing this checklist led to a significant improvement in claims results.
In addition, there was list of key experts to call for specific types of claims challenges (e.g., movie theaters, laundries, and race cars) when you needed more than simply what issues to consider but you needed access into the best thinking needed for this step. A mobile platform provides an efficient way to offer both types as you can instantly move from the process checklist to the people checklist on the same device regardless of where you are located. The right person can be contacted either directly through voice or text or asynchronously through email or a social business software platform.
I would add that while a simple checklist can cover the rote steps that are critical to success, you need a combination of these two types to handle complex tasks. When you need to go beyond the information given, you need access to others who have been there before. A comprehensive collaboration platform should contain both access to experts and access to performance support guidance. Adding social business software to the effort also allows you to monitor usage, task progress and performance. Combing the social with mobile becomes a game changer.
Clark raises another point from the book, When you are developing these checklists as he notes that, “you’re not going to get it right the first time, and you need to trial, iterate, and refine again.” Agreed and another reason for mobile communication as folks can always readily access the most current version.
I recently attended the 2011 KM World in Washington DC. This was the fifteenth year. I went to the first three and the last six. You could see the continued migration of mainstream knowledge management from standalone libraries to putting knowledge where the work is and the greater use of social business software to enable this transformation. The term “knowledge action” was used by Jeremiah Owyang in the opening keynote. I like this as I never liked the management part of KM and action is a better objective.
The term is also more aligned with our knowledge solutions approach. As we wrote traditional knowledge management has been a document centric approach to addressing certain business problems. The problem here is three fold. First, insights are generated by people, not by documents. If you are simply managing documents then you have the burden of getting these insights into documents.
This brings up the second problem. Knowledge management repositories are generally disconnected from work processes. You have to step out of the moment to go find the right stuff. You have to go to it. Moreover, this disconnection means that the knowledge might likely be out.
This theme of making knowledge actionable and part of work continued through out the conference. As Carla O’Dell said in the second keynote, If knowledge flows, miracles happen. Carla said that the rise of social computing helps with participation in this knowledge sharing. This was the message of Oscar Berg we covered in an earlier post (see Social Business Software’s Contributions to Enterprise Collaboration). Carla showed the relationship between participation and the implementation of lessons learned within an organization. The number of lessons learned then correlated with a reduction in defects. This shows the power of social computing to effect business outcomes and is consistent with the findings from McKinsey on the connected enterprise.
In the closing keynote, Verna Allee said that early focus of knowledge management was on databases but that has changed. We have moved from top down databases to more diffuse knowledge sharing through social tools and search and the cloud. The focus is less on storage and more on sharing. There is more of a focus on collaboration and how people are sharing knowledge. We are also rediscovering learning that was part of early KM.
Bob Buckman picked up on Verna in the same session and added while the early focus was on explicit knowledge and databases, the largest knowledge base is in the minds of employees. So the challenge is how to bring this tacit knowledge to play at the right points in the organization.
It is great to see this transfer in thinking and it is why we use the term, Knowledge Solutions. These Knowledge Solutions are more people oriented and enable delivering content, often in real time, which is contributed and shared by experts and peers, supporting learning and increasing productivity anytime, anywhere through mobile devices. Knowledge Solutions are not contained in a repository, they are out and available where the work is being done to share the insights of others and capture the emerging insights as they occur.
I also provided notes on this blog on three individual sessions as shown below:
- KM World Session Notes: Digital Workplace Trends
- KM World Session Notes: What Knowledge Workers Want
- KM World Session Notes: Engaging Community With Intranets & Social Media
- Portals and KM: FastForward Posts
- The FASTForward Blog 2007
- The FASTForward Blog — Bill Ives: 2008
- The FASTForward Blog — Bill Ives: 2009
- The FASTForward Blog — Bill Ives: 2010
- The FASTForward Blog — Bill Ives: 2011
- The FASTForward Blog — Bill Ives: 2012
- The FASTForward Blog — Charlene Li on Social Technologies
- Social Media Today
- The New Enterprise Literacy
- Knowledge Management: An Emerging Discipline with a Long History with Ben Torrey, Cindy Gordon
- Viewpoint: Maximizing the Movement
- Big-Time Blogging
- Liberating Emerging Knowledge: Overthrowing the Pre-determiners with Thierry Hubert
- Integrating learning through knowledge (&skills) management with Tony Gifford and Dale Hankins
- Using Blogs for Personal KM and Community Building — Blogs are the next “big idea” in the business press, receiving plaudits from Fortune, Business Week and in recent months, Harvard Business Review. But what do blogs offer KM specialists? Here William Ives and Amanda Watlington discuss how blogs can aid communities of practice, collaboration and team learning.
- Frontline blogging and KM at The Advocacy Project — describes a KM initiative using blogs to better connect human rights groups in the field.
- New tools to link the changing workforce: Engaging generations with Web logs and social networking — There’s no avoiding it. The mass retirement of baby boomers, today’s largest workforce, is looming. And to properly estimate the challenges this unique demographic poses, we need to understand the characteristics of each current workforce generation, the nature of work and knowledge transfer in today’s economy, and the new collaborative tools available to meet these challenges.
- Building a foundation for innovation at Sainsbury’s — In 2000, Sainsbury’s launched a business transformation program to move the supermarket chain toward a “faster, simpler, and together” approach to customer service. In this article, a team from Sainsbury’s and Accenture describe how Sainsbury’s has used knowledge management and a new portal, Connect, to reduce the time to market for new products, help employees discover new possibilities for collaboration, and allow staff to respond more flexibly to customer needs.
- Mastering enterprise knowledge management — Although grassroots efforts are popular these days for KM because of shrinking budgets and competing priorities, many organizations are realizing the benefits of cross-company KM efforts. These are far easier said than done, however. Here, Kasper De Boer and William Ives explain how to get the most out of taking your KM efforts global.
- Realizing the promise of portals — Companies have long looked for ways to increase the amount and quality of information flow to improve employee performance. Certain technologies, including intranets and portals, have enabled that flow. But the concept of workspace portals takes the idea of an interface one step further — that is using workspace portals to bring about workforce transformation. Here, Peter Cheese and William Ives explain the possibilities and give you a concrete plan for how to derive value from portals and improve employee decision — making. Includes a sample workspace portal for a call center and a diagram of a framework for implementing portals.
- Book Reviews
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking — Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Blink, may change the way we think about decisions.
- The Executive’s Role in Knowledge Management — Carla O’Dell has been a leader in knowledge management throughout its life cycle and I have enjoyed her previous books. This book continues her practice of writing extremely useful practical guides. In this case the primary intended readers are senior managers who want their investments in knowledge management to be successful and provide real business value.
- Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce — David DeLong makes an impressive case for the high cost of losing intellectual capital in his new book. Thankfully, he follows it with a comprehensive set of chapters on how to design, evaluate and implement an array of knowledge retention strategies.
- What’s the Big Idea? Creating and Capitalizing on the Best of Management Thinking — This latest book by Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak provides some very practical advice and useful case examples on putting ideas to work. The central theme is the symbiotic relationship of the gurus, who generate ideas, and the idea practitioners, who enable sustained business impact from ideas.
- Frank Leistner’s Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow: A Review
As Quoted by Me
Q: If you were invited to give a keynote speech on knowledge management, what words of wisdom or lessons learned would you impart?
A: I would say that some principles still hold. Align your KM efforts with business processes and measure them by the impact on these processes. Do not create disconnected document libraries. I would add now to explore the opportunities that social software brings to the table. There is the potential for creating searchable knowledge bases as a byproduct of working in the new transparency offered by these tools.
However, I would not abandon the first two principles as you explore these tools. Some of the newest generation tools for business use behind the firewall have gone beyond blogs and wikis to create workflow applications that incorporate this new transparency. This allows for better teamwork AND a searchable, archived window into to what the organization is doing for all who need to know, should know, and can benefit from this knowledge.
Now, when I say workflow or work process, I do not mean the static inflexible workflow of old-style content management or project management tools. The advantage of these new tools is that they allow work processes that are more organic and dynamic. They allow the users to control the workflow or process, build it up from tasks and make changes as needed. And, to repeat, they allow for transparency and archiving, and thus KM, to be a byproduct of work, rather than an added requirement.
KM has potential to become a core value driver within the connected enterprise.
- 1982–38% of enterprise value is within intangible assets.
- 1999–84% of enterprise value is within intangible assets.
- 2006 — McKinsey writes that the main value in enterprises lies within interactions, not transactions, but IT investment goes in the opposite direction.
- 2010–2011 — McKinsey reports that within the connected enterprise, 77% found increased speed of access to knowledge assets, 60% found reduced communication costs, 44% reduced travel costs, and 40% had increased employee satisfaction.
- 2012 — McKinsey estimates over a trillion dollars a year in benefits from social business, where KM in some form needs to be a foundation. Gains include enhanced internal communication and collaboration, searching for and gathering information, and increased productivity in role specific tasks.
- 2012 — McKinsey writes, “Businesses have only just begun to understand how to create value with these new tools.” McKinsey notes that the potential is almost limitless as “almost any human interaction that can be conducted electronically can be made social, but only a fraction of the potential uses have been developed.” This is where KM can play a leadership role.
- 2012 and beyond — KM needs to be integrated into task-oriented social functions to realize the value that McKinsey projects.
Using Blogs for Personal KM with Amanda Watlington
Personal KM is an increasingly important aspect of KM. Productivity tools designed to make life easier often have the opposite effect. Blogs can offer a simple means to create a contextualized personal archive. Many bloggers, including the authors of this article, have come to rely on their blog as their back-up brain. Whether one is writing a book, learning about new technology or simply working in a digitally connected age, it results in a huge volume of often disconnected information. All of this information can be neatly codified into a personal blog. With the blog, it is possible to include commentary and context for each piece of information retained.
- is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser
- supports hyperlinks and uses a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly
- is unusual among group communication tools since you can edit both the organization of contributions, as well as the content itself
- allows all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors
- is particularly useful for brainstorming sessions since by definition, these sessions are a group activity
- is very useful for consensus building such as agreeing on meeting minutes.
Blogs vs. wikis
- Wiki content is ego-less, time-less, and never finished — e.g. Wikipedia or project meeting notes kept in a wiki
- Blog content is written in the personal voice and is author(s)-centric with responding comments, all content remains in searchable archive
- Both defining features are derivative of the technology and not required by the tool
Much has been written about the “debate” between Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee on the role of enterprise 2.0 in changing the enterprise. Many, if not all, of you are aware of this but it has generated many interesting side conversations. Being part of the Fast Forward Enterprise 2.0 blog I seem to have only heard the views supporting the McAfee position or deconstructing the conversation to debunk connected myths.
Here is a recent useful example, More on corporate hierarchy and the organization of work, from Tom Mandel. He picks three myths around the debate and goes into them in detail.
Here is a post I finally did on the controversy, Managing Personal Knowledge: Setting a Foundation for Transformation? Here I tried to provide a more optimist interpretation of what Tom wrote. As I said, “I look at what Tom actually wrote and I think he nicely captures some of the organizational obstacles that will have to be overcome for organizations to effectively use enterprise 2.0 tools.”
Posts by Bill Mentioning Me
- Enterprise 2.0 Black Belt Workshop — Afternoon Part One — Enterprise 2.0 Conference Notes
- My KM World 2010 and Enterprise Search Summit 2010 Notes: Stan Garfield on Communities of Practice
- Keeping Track of Discussions at Hewlett Packard
- Top 100 2013 Knowledge Management Influencers on the Twitter Hashtag #KM
- Stan Garfield’s Google Home Page — Great KM Resource
Posts About Food and Music
- Food posts from Bill Ives
- Updated Index to Cities and Towns with Restaurant Picks
- BBQ tour of the US South: Complete Listings
- The Original Newport Jazz Festival: 1969–1971
Posts by Others
- Jack Vinson
- Luis Suarez
- Potentiation: Neurology and Knowledge Management by Nancy Dixon
- Summary of KM Storytelling Posts by Richard MacManus
What’s your history with knowledge management?
I didn’t even know the word. In 1992, I was doing consulting for a large casualty insurance company. They were hemorrhaging money because they didn’t know how to underwrite. They laid off a lot of middle management, which was where the wisdom was stored. For every $1 they collected, they paid $1.60. We came in to try to change that around.
The underwriting process is very knowledge-intensive. How you underwrite a movie theatre is different from a racetrack or Laundromat. We created a system that virtually defined how it should be done. They were pricing, not underwriting — they were getting the bad risks and losing the good ones. We created a process for people to do the steps and share expertise. What are the critical issues around underwriting a Laundromat? We provided knowledge in transaction software for that step. We also provided access to experts in that particular topic, so someone could call and get the expert on Laundromats. We were mimicking Lotus Notes, which was in its early stages then. The word “knowledge management” came out and we said, “Oh, that’s what we’re doing.”
Where do you see knowledge management going?
Knowledge management is giving people the knowledge/information/wisdom/content/whatever that they need to do their job, and giving it to them while they’re doing their job. Training is what you do before you start your job; knowledge management is what supports you while you’re doing your job. It’s a very simple distinction. It’s archiving and creating this information in an accessible way so everyone else can benefit. Knowledge is one of the assets of a company that gets better, instead of declines, the more you use it.
It also needs to be process-aligned. But it’s always needed to be process-aligned. It needs to be part of workflow. It should be captured without workers having to do much more. When it’s a separate thing, a collaboration space, a portal, or whatever, it’s not going to work. The hard part is integrating it into work processes.
Knowledge management can play a leadership role in social business. If you don’t capture content, you’re losing half the value of the system, with archiving and the ability to search for things. It’s critical that knowledge management remain an active player. McKinsey projected a trillion dollars in business for the connected enterprise, and there are documented, significant quantitative benefits for companies that have successfully created this connection.
Some people say it’s not about the technology, but about the people. It is about the people, but that’s a dangerous oversimplification. Technology is in some ways even more important. When it’s standalone, it has to have all the features and capabilities. You really need technology integration, with systems of engagement and systems of transactions. If you just focus on people and adoption and business process management, and don’t deal with technical integration issues, you’re not going to be successful. If you forget the technical piece of it, you’re not going to be successful. Just like if you forget the people, you’re not going to be successful.
Communities and Conferences
SIKM Leaders Community
- April 2006 What blogs and wikis bring to business and knowledge management — Slides
- September 2010 Using Chaos Theory to Enable Real Time Awareness with Thierry Hubert — PDF — SlideShare
- 2012 C101: What’s Your KM Vision? with Kent Greenes and Stan Garfield — Slides
- 2010 Facilitating Content Discovery Using Chaos Theory — Slides
- 2009 W4: Business Social Media Best Practices: Blogs & Twitter
- 2006 W8: Wikis & Blogs: New KM Tools with Martin Cleaver
- Using Chaos Theory Principles to Overcome Information Overload within the Enterprise and on the Web
Business Blogs: A Practical Guide with Amanda Watlington
Knowledge Management: Classic and Contemporary Works edited by Daryl Morey, Mark Maybury, and Bhavani Thuraisingham — Chapter 5: Knowledge Sharing Is a Human Behavior with Ben Torrey, and Cindy Gordon
Why Buy the Cow? How the On-Demand Revolution Powers the New Knowledge Economy edited by Subrah S. Iyar and Cindy Gordon
- Part Three: Web 2.0 Building Communities, Holding Conversations
- Chapter 10: Web 2.0 Enabling Collaboration and Building Community within the Enterprise
- Chapter 11: Transforming Customer Connections Through the Web-Touch Model
- Summary Part One: Collaborative On-Demand Business Solutions
- Summary Part Two: On-Demand Leaders: Changing the Way Work is Done
- Summary Part Three: Web 2.0: Building Communities, Holding Conversations
- Summary Part Four: Ongoing Innovation
Review by Paula Thornton
My colleague, Bill Ives, contributed two great chapters, both focused on 2.0 topics, with some stirring of his own. Offering real-world examples, he illustrated simple, successful 2.0 endeavors. Nothing earthshaking — but that’s the point of it all. Earthquakes are powerful and can move a lot of matter in a very short period of time, but they take a long time to build up and the results can be catastrophic.
There’s a time and a place for being treated like royalty, paying $100/person for a dinner. But most of the time, we really just want the price, convenience and the unique features of a really good roadside diner. Bill shares the sights and sounds of the digital Route 66.
High marks to Bill for totally ‘nailing’ the real value and potential of Knowledge Management — by aligning it to a del.icio.us example. That suddenly put to rest for me my distaste for Tom Davenport’s continuous insistence on harkening back to the over-engineered, over-controlled, baron-wielding-devices of the likes of Lotus Notes, as proof that 2.0 offers nothing new. KM isn’t about someone else managing my knowledge — it’s about me managing my own, on my own terms: THAT’s at the heart of the User Revolt (you have to understand the ‘why’ of the revolt if you want to seek ways to either quell or leverage the revolution).
Bill hints at, as I firmly believe, that we haven’t even begun to unleash the undiscovered potential of the next, yet-to-be-named-Wiki-Mash-a-Blog-Tag, that might define the rules of the ‘new’ game to be played in this vast field of dreams. One example he offers is Harvard’s H2O project which puts a different spin on knowledge collections (like del.icio.us), by creating playlists of content [don’t confuse the letter in H2O with the number zero, as in 2.0].
Taking the time to champion once again the beauty of the fundamental doctrine of The Cluetrain Manifesto — Markets are Conversations — Bill offered many great examples of how markets are changed by conversations. While I seem to hear more rumors of corporate leaders getting caught in the backlash of having open conversations via blogs, Bill offers a great list of successes. He also features three case studies, illustrating specific economic capitalization:
- Creating Small Business Communities to Develop Markets — An Oklahoma winery gained its own market attention by drawing upon the collective strengths and energies of other wineries, by creating an online business community.
- Blogging Your Way to Success — A founder of a 2.0 solution gained focus for his offering by gaining attention to his blog.
- Creating Online Connections and Relationships — An on-demand service, filled a market need by facilitating the connection between individual needs and the service offerings of others (need-service matchmaking).
Bill shares a number of other artifacts and examples — thought appetizers. He calls attention to the behaviors of these emergent experiences as they evolve and connect one with another — an amazing element of emergence, unintentional results — often more valuable than the original design/intent.
I saw more evidence of a thread of truth, which we are not fully embracing. Enterprise 2.0 is far more significant than Web 2.0 because unlike the corollary of Web 2.0=internet, Enterprise 2.0>intranet. It fundamentally changes the way we can/should consider doing business, internally or externally, for ALL relationships.
A final Enterprise 2.0 perspective from Bill:
On-demand business solutions are already empowering businesses to interact in a richer and more personalized way with customers [I add here, all other relationships: vendors, dealers, employees, etc.]. In the future, we see a movement toward greater integration of these services, to offer a full spectrum of collaboration options, extending the benefits they offer. Participants will be able to move seamlessly from asynchronous dialogue media like blogs and wikis, into virtual meetings when the conversation calls for real-time exchanges…The availability of this full spectrum of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration technologies will expand the options for connection and further enable community.
So to close the circle on that chapter Bill, it goes back to the opening quotes you provided from The Cluetrain Manifesto, right? To ride the crest of the economic wave of ‘now’, we need to find new ways to enable and facilitate (à la access to facts) continuous conversations — AND participate in them.
I’m waxing my surfboard.