Originally published on January 8, 2018

Fourth in the Profiles in Knowledge series

I worked at Deloitte from 2008 to 2016, leading the communities program from 2008 to 2012 and the Yammer program from 2012 to 2016. My role was Community Evangelist.


Section 1: Key KM Contributors

1. Lee Romero

Lee has been at Deloitte since 2009, specializing in portals, taxonomy, and enterprise search. I didn’t know Lee until Lauren Klein told me that he would be a good addition to the Midwest KM Community. I recruited him to join the community, and then to join Deloitte. We became good friends, have worked together on a number of efforts, and continue to meet regularly as KM colleagues.


Quoted in


1. SlideShare

2. 2017 Midwest KM Symposium — Enterprise Search at Deloitte

3. 2005 AIIM Conference — Evolving a Content Management Practice

4. 2013 APQC

5. Enterprise Search & Discovery (formerly Enterprise Search Summit)

6. Taxonomy Boot Camp

7. KMWorld 2005Novell’s Enterprise Search: A Real-World Perspective of How Search Works Within a Large Organization

8. SIKM Leaders Community


Retiring A Community and Capturing its Knowledge

There was a discussion on the com-Prac list about the “death of a community” and a follow-up discussion about what or how CoPs should capture discussion-produced knowledge.

I found these to be very interesting and thought-provoking discussions. In this post, I will write about two aspects of these discussions — the retiring of a community and also a case study in how a community centered around a mailing list meets the challenge of knowledge capture.

Before getting into the details — I wanted to (re-)state that I recognize that a community is (much) more than a mailing list — community members interact in many ways, some online, some in “real space”. That being said, I also know that for many communities the tool of choice for group communication is a mailing list, so in this post, I will write about issues related to the use of mailing lists, though the ideas can be transferred to other means of electronic exchange. As John D. Smith notes in the second thread:

“All of the discussion about summarization so far assumes that a community almost exclusively lives on one platform. As Nancy alluded to, I think the reality is quite a bit more messy. Note the private emails between Eric and Miguel that were mentioned in this thread. We ourselves interact in LOTS of different locations.”

In other words, even if you could solve the knowledge capture challenge for one mode of discussion (mailing lists) you are still likely missing out on a lot of the learning and knowledge sharing going on in the community. Keep that in mind!

Retiring a Community, or at least a community’s mailing list

As I’ve written about before, within the context of my employer’s community program, mailing lists, and their related archives are an important part of our community of practice initiative (and, by extension our KM program). We have not developed a formal means to retire (or “execute” in the terms used in the first thread mentioned above) a community, but we do have a formal process for retiring mailing lists. While the following is about mailing lists, I think the concepts can scale up to any community — though it might require aggregating similar insights about other channels used by the community.

Within our infrastructure, many of the existing mailing lists are associated with one (or more) communities and we provide a simple means for anyone to request a new mailing list. There is a very light review process, primarily focused on ensuring that the requested list is different enough from existing lists and also doesn’t have such a small topic space that it will likely be very under-utilized), which means that over time we can end up with a lot of mailing lists. Without some regular house-cleaning, this situation can have a very negative impact on how a user’s discovery process — hundreds and hundreds of mailing lists means a lot of confusion.

One way we grapple with this is to use the communities as a categorization of mailing lists. Instead of leaving a user with hundreds of mailing lists to wade through, we encourage them to look for a community in which they’re interested and, through that community, find associated mailing lists. This normally reduces the number of mailing lists to consider down to a small handful.

However, we still have needed a house-cleaning process, so several years ago, this is what we set up:

In our environment, doing this once a year typically reduces the count of lists by about 10% — though the count of lists has remained remarkably stable over time, which would say that we then have that same kind of growth over the next year. On the other hand, if we did not proactively review and retire lists like this, we would be seeing an ever-growing list of mailing lists, making it harder for everyone to find the lists that are engendering valuable discussions.

Knowledge Capture

Or… How to lift knowledge out of the on-going discussion of a community into a better form of reusability.

If a community uses a tool like a mailing list to engender discussion and knowledge sharing — how does a community capture “nuggets” of knowledge from the discussion into a more easily digestible form? Does the community need to (perhaps not given a sophisticated enough means to find information in the archives)?

I have no magic solution to this problem but I did find another comment to be very illustrative of one aspect of the original discussion — who “owns” the archives of a community’s discussion and what is the value of those archives? Even in their raw form, why do those archives have value? As Nancy White notes:

“I suspect that only a small percentage of the members (over time) would actually use the archives. But because they hold the words of members, there may be both individual and collective sense of ownership that have little to do with “utility.””

The rest of this post will be a brief description of a knowledge capture process I’m very familiar with — though I’m not sure if it will transfer well into other domains. For this description, I’m going completely outside of the enterprise and to a community of which I’m a member that revolves around a table-top fantasy war game named Warhammer.

One particular Warhammer-related community of which I’m a member — the Direwolf (DW) community — has established a pretty well defined means to gather these FAQs and publish them back to the Warhammer community at large. A brief overview of the process:

Netting it out: A community-selected subset of the community monitors the community for questions in their area of expertise, vettes an answer with the rest of the FAQ council, and then the FAQ documentation is updated as appropriate.

This is pretty straightforward, but the value of this effort is reflected in the fact that the game publisher now very commonly uses input from the Direwolf FAQ council in considering their own responses to FAQs and also in the fact that many players from around the world use the Direwolf FAQ to ensure a consistent interpretation of those “fuzzy” areas of the game. A true value add for the Warhammer community at large.

That being said, this process does take quite a bit of energy and commitment, especially on the part of the “keeper” of the documentation, to keep things up to date. In this case, I believe that the value-add for members of the council is knowing that they are contributing to the Warhammer community at large and also knowing that they are helping themselves in their own engagement of playing the game.

How does this translate into a community of practice within an enterprise?

2. Curtis Conley

Curtis worked at Deloitte from 2008 to 2012 as collaboration analyst and community coordinator. I knew of him through his blog and web site before we became colleagues. In the community coordinator role, he was a valuable member of the communities team that I led. He has been active in KM Chicago, helped facilitate the Midwest KM Symposium, and recorded calls for the SIKM Leaders Community.



1. SlideShare

2. KM Chicago

3. SIKM Leaders Community

Quoted in


Personal Information Ecosystem

How do you describe all of the areas that you receive information from? How does what information you consume impact your future consumption habits?? How does this impact your professional life?

I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe this concept. At this point I believe that “Personal Information Ecosystem” is a good fit for what I’m trying to describe. Although I thought I was clever and thought of this term first I see a couple others (1) (2) have gotten there before me — although their focus seems to be primarily on personal device synchronization/management. When I say Personal Information Ecosystem (PIE), the idea I’m trying to summarize is the following:

Elements within any ecosystem interact with one another, changing or sometimes totally transforming the landscape of an ecosystem. The Personal Information Ecosystem of each person is no different. As elements within the ecosystem interact and new ones are introduced, each person’s information ecosystem adapts and evolves, over time transforming ecosystem.

Instinctively, I think that most changes to your PIE happen on a micro level, but the possibility for bigger change is certainly there. Take blogs for example — most of the posts that show up in my feed reader are good food for thought, some are insightful and, although rare, every now and then one shows up that challenges my thinking or provides an ‘ah-ha’ moment that provides deeper understanding and a true insight on an issue or concept. How I change based on what I consume in my PIE is what I’m most interested in with this concept. How does each individual’s PIE influence their professional or even personal life?

In this post I’d like to tackle the following areas:

Information Elements in my PIE:

I’m sure I’ve missed some in here, and please feel free to share information elements that I haven’t listed that you find valuable as well. Information elements in my own Personal Information Ecosystem consist of the following:

Example: A Changing Ecosystem

A personal example of this is when I first began to incorporate RSS feeds and blogs into my daily reading and PIE. When I set up my first feed reader there were roughly 20 feeds I added to it. After time, this began to grow (and grow, and grow, and grow…) — primarily due to references from the authors showing up in my feed reader. I also began to learn of new journals and online communities that also became incorporated into my PIE. While my PIE had a heavy KM focus, the breadth and depth of it is now is much greater than it was even just a year ago. But more than that, the new information elements that I’ve started incorporating into my PIE have also shifted my information ecosystem because I’ve been introduced to new topics, or had other topics presented in a new light. These new and/or clarified concepts have not only shifted what information elements I consume, but they have also crept into my dissertation and my daily work in KM.

You are what you eat, and I suppose it isn’t any different when it comes to the information elements consumed either.

Reflections on this Subject

This is a concept that has really just been kicking around in my head and this was my first attempt at making it explicit. I still feel as if I haven’t totally been able to describe what I’m thinking, but any thoughts you have on this would be great. What other information elements am I missing? Are there any publications or research in this area that I haven’t stumbled upon yet? How might this, if at all, fit in with PKM?

Still thinking…

3. Ray Sims

Ray worked as a knowledge manager at Deloitte from 2008 to 2018. He had previously been director of knowledge management at Novell, where Lee Romero worked for him.


Quoted in


KM and Web 2.0 — A User’s Perspective

Knowledge Management Definitions


For many years I’ve been saying that I didn’t like the term “knowledge management” as (a) it was fundamentally an oxymoron, (b) there was no consensus within the industry as to what the term meant, and (c) in many companies the term carries negative connotations due to a perceived lack of value from earlier so-called knowledge management efforts and/or belief that knowledge management was a fad that we have moved on past or has been absorbed into other disciplines. On top of this add claims by many writers that the term has been hijacked by technology vendors, management consultants, or academics.

Now, with my imminent return to professionally holding a “knowledge management” title, I felt compelled to confront this definitional issue — not to somehow come away with the (at least in my own mind) enduring definition, but rather to acquire a deeper understanding of the range of opinion and make some further sense out of the mess. If I am going to carry a business card that says “knowledge management,” then I feel I have a responsibility to at least grapple with this. So grapple I shall…in this and follow-on posts.

This grappling was further motivated by spending some time with Joseph Firestone’s writing these past few weeks; including at the actKM discussion list, Key Issues in Knowledge Management (which includes a critique of several knowledge management definitions), the web site All Life is Problem Solving, and his recently published paper On Doing Knowledge Management where he wrote:

What we should not do is to force researchers and practitioners to agree on a definition of KM through premature efforts at standardization. While this might bring about the consensus we need in order to do evaluations of ‘KM’s’ track record, any consensus forged in the political atmosphere of standards organizations may well be a consensus constructed around a compromise that has no conceptual unity, and which results in a version of ‘KM’ that is bound to fail.

Another thing we should not do is to evaluate KM projects without benefit of an effort at explicit definition or specification of what we mean by KM. It’s surprising how frequently one sees this happening in practitioner circles, and how damaging it can be.

[Side note: In 2005 Jack Vinson, also in the KM blogosphere, reviewed an earlier paper by Firestone and McElroy.]

My motivation and approach is then further informed by the following from Arian Ward:

I would like to challenge the concept of needing to define something. I find definitions to be extremely limiting. They become permanent representations of the thing being defined and leave no room for interpretation, adaptation, or evolution over time. Instead I like to think about the distinctions of something. This is an evolving description — a running list of the manifestations and characteristics of the thing. Distinctions allow something to take on different guises in different contexts. They allow you to accumulate a list of those manifestations and characteristics over time. They also allow you to include what something is not in addition to what it is, to set boundaries around the thing being described. They provide people with a much richer sense of meaning and understanding. In short, something moves from being a dead set of words to being alive in the mind of the receiver. Including different people’s definitions of intellectual capital or knowledge in a book or article is a method of beginning to list their distinctions.

Sample Definitions

So, to begin, I decided to pull together a cross-section of existing knowledge management definitions. In assembling the definitions, I cast my net widely as I was not only interested in what the credible peer-reviewed published works might say; but also what the The Wisdom[?] of Crowds said. See Knowledge Management Definitions.

4. Gloria Burke

Gloria joined Deloitte in 2016, after serving as Chief Knowledge Officer at Unisys. I invited her to present at a Deloitte KM meeting in Dallas in 2015, and this eventually led to her accepting a KM position in Global Risk Advisory.


Quoted in



1. Staying Ahead of the Curve in 2015

2. KMWorld 2016 Keynote Panel: Hacking KM

3. Social Business Interview


5. Marti Heyman

Marti worked at Deloitte from 2000 to 2006 and 2009 to 2011. She was responsible for the initiative to develop, communicate, disseminate and manage global KM business processes, metrics, policies, standards and guidelines.



ROI Analysis for Taxonomy Programs

1. Part 1

2. Part 2

3. Part 3


1. Taxonomy Boot Camp

Section 2: Center for the Edge Leaders

1. John Hagel

John has been Co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge since 2007. At McKinsey & Company from 1984 to 2000, he helped open their first office in Silicon Valley, served as a leader of their Strategy Practice, helped build their Information Technology practice, founded their business process re-engineering practice in 1988, and founded their e-commerce practice in 1993. He is the co-author of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, with John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. I met John when he visited Detroit, and we have kept in touch through social media.



2. John Seely Brown

John has been Independent Co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge since 2007. He was Chief Scientist and Director at Xerox PARC, working at Xerox from 1986 to 2002. His book, The Social Life of Information, co-written with Paul Duguid, shows how a better understanding of the contribution that communities, organizations, and institutions make to learning, working, and innovating can lead to the richest possible use of technology in our work and everyday lives.


Presentations — KMWorld

2017 Keynote Video

3. Pete Williams

Pete has worked at Deloitte since 1993. A retired partner, he is Chief Edge Officer, Centre for the Edge, Deloitte Australia on a part-time basis. I met Pete when I visited Australia in 2010, gaining an appreciation for his distinctive philosophy and approach.



1. Avoiding the innovation killers

2. CXOs Unplugged

3. How to Replicate Deloitte Digital’s Astounding Global Success

4. Interview

5. The DNA of a DO-er

Section 3: Other Thought Leaders

1. Jean Pagani

Jean has worked at Deloitte since 2013, when Monitor was acquired by Deloitte. At Monitor, she was Chief Knowledge Officer from 1995 to 2013. We became chatted about knowledge management and became friends.

2. Chris Heuer

Chris worked as a social business specialist leader at Deloitte from 2011 to 2013. We became friends while working together on promoting Yammer. Chris is well-known and highly respected in the world of social media.

3. Andrew Wright

Andrew worked at Deloitte Australia from 2014 to 2015. He is the founder of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge and is an intranet transformation expert.

4. Robert Hillard

Robert has worked at Deloitte Australia since 2008. He is particularly known for his work in information management as a founding president of The Data Warehousing Institute in Australia, co-founding MIKE2.0 (an industry standard approach to information management), his 2010 book Information-Driven Business and most recently his 2013 collaboration on Information Development using MIKE2.0 written with colleagues from the MIKE2.0 Governance Association.


5. Ido Namir

Ido joined Deloitte Israel in 2015 when the company he founded, Ergo Consulting Group, was acquired by Deloitte. He specializes in development and execution of knowledge management initiatives which include strategy development, business process modeling, system requirements definition, design and implementation, content management strategies, integration, analytics enabled insights, change management, risk management, and mentoring.

6. Symon Garfield

Symon worked for Deloitte UK from 2015 to 2017, advising clients on their internal digital transformation strategies. He is now at Microsoft, where his technology interests include AI and machine learning, Blockchain and distributed ledger systems, the Internet-of-Things, virtual and augmented reality, and the adoption of cloud technologies in financial services.


7. Daniel Lee

Daniel worked at Deloitte Canada from 2015 to 2016. He worked with the Marketing and Sales Support leadership to integrate knowledge management and competitive intelligence to create a single, high-performing team.

8. Chris Fletcher

Chris worked for Deloitte in Australia from 2001–2008. He was Director of Knowledge Management, Asia Pacific region for the Consulting division of Deloitte.



9. Dave Thomas

Dave joined Deloitte in 2005, left to join Amazon in 2014, and returned to Deloitte in 2015. He helped launch the Deloitte Cognitive Center of Excellence.

10. Lucas McDonnell

Lucas worked at Deloitte from 2005 to 2006 as a knowledge manager in Deloitte Canada and 2009 to 2012 as global product manager for enterprise search.

11. Adriaan Jooste

Adriaan has been with Deloitte since 1998. He is Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) of Deloitte Advisory, a Director of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP, and CKO for Global Financial Advisory in Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

12. Hank Malik

Hank worked at Deloitte from 2011 to 2013 as the UK Manager of Enterprise Content Management.

13. Others

Section 4: Deloitte KM

1. Redesigning a Knowledge Management System for Usability by Cheryl Carroll

2. Deloitte and Dell: Each Exemplars of Making Global Connections by Seth Kahan

3. Finalist KMWorld 2013 Reality Award: Deloitte

4. Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise

5. Deloitte, Knowledge Management, Artificial Intelligence and the end of human advantage! by David Griffiths

Deloitte posted a picture of “50 brilliant people validating and updating the strategy of Deloitte KM” — all very nice. So, seeing as they were publicizing/celebrating their contribution to KM, I challenged them to change the vector for KM (direction, speed and energy).

Their response demonstrated old wine in new bottles, a love of buzzwords and, frankly contempt for the potential for unintended consequences and the future of human advantage in the workplace.

From Ido Namir of Deloitte: “KM, as we see it, is a blanket term that encompasses more specific terms like AI based search engines and bots, robotics embedded knowledge repositories, social collaboration, mobile, digital workplace and others. Companies want its people to quickly get proficient and productive in new practice areas, whether they are new hires or existing staff moving into new practice disciplines. But classic training methods won’t work neither as a stand alone digital learning solution. The amount of knowledge is too large and is dynamically and rapidly changing. Our goal is to leverage the advanced digital workplace and AI capabilities in order to get the right knowledge to the right employee when needed.

The right knowledge to the right employee, when needed — think about that for a minute. Beyond traditional, antiquated (Lean) KM thinking, I would like you to consider the implications associated with AI governed KM practice; a place where knowledge can be externalized, stored and transported on demand.

The assumption seems to be that Artificial Intelligence will “know” what the “right” knowledge is and can predetermine the outcome of our interaction with the knowledge object it (AI) presents to us. If that is the case, why can AI not make the links and also create the solution? In such an environment, how do we achieve human-led innovation or invention — the notion, in the case of innovation, seemingly being that AI can see the gap and suggest the knowledge required to plug the gap (Hey presto, innovation!), in which case why do we need people in the first place?

Deloitte speaks about human proficiency, which I would argue is outmoded. Proficiency is assessed against benchmarks for quality. However, in the face of accelerating returns, we have to ask how people will outperform technology — in other words, how will we develop and enable the depth, completeness and security of human knowledge, alongside competence (what you know — technical knowledge), competency (ability knowledge — how you do things) and capability (taking what you know and how you do things to be applied in non-routine circumstances)? How will humans compete in a world where they will be asked more-and-more to collaborate with technology? Where is the human captured in Deloitte’s version/vision for KM?

Deloitte seems to be saying that the world is linear and can be constrained in the name of proficiency. This is a mistake of traditional management thinking and is, frankly, disappointing when being communicated by an organisation such as Deloitte.

AI-driven KM suggests a deterministic view of the world, one constrained by those who create the algorithms that serve to ‘control’ people and their agency in the name of pro(e)fficiency. People are an inconvenience in such a constrained view of KM, one where the focus is on engineering the human and our propensity for discovery through error out of the process. To not anticipate the consequences of such actions is short-termist, irresponsible thinking that betrays the need to develop long-term human advantage to outperform technology — a view cemented by the response to my commentary from Deloitte: “I’ll be happy to meet and show you the great ROI we have in our KM projects next time I’m in the U.K.”

ROI. Really? Are Deloitte really that much of a dinosaur? Are they so blinkered by the here-and-now that they are willing to sacrifice people on the altar of ROI? People are the solution, not the problem. You don’t need to engineer people out of the system, you need to develop people to outperform the system — surely, if you are interested in resilience and adaptability, you have to be interested in people!

In Deloitte’s vision for the world, how will humans outperform technology? For me, such thinking demonstrates a failure to anticipate the consequence of the adoption of AI/Robotics. Furthermore, such a position demonstrates how people and their competitive advantage are being constrained by those motivated by traditional management thinking in a world where management will soon be a robot or an algorithm. Sorry to say, but the consequences for society could be catastrophic.

6. 10 Issues that hold Deloitte Consulting back by Firmsconsulting

7) Deloitte Consulting has a mediocre knowledge management system. Knowledge management is the lifeblood of management consulting. Deloitte Consulting has a mediocre knowledge management system. Forgetting the technical system itself, offices are particularly reluctant to place their best material on a knowledge sharing system which can be accessed by an office in a different partnership, which will use the material to sell work, which will likely exclude the office which produced the material which sold the work.

Therefore, offices hoard work and it is excruciatingly difficult to get the best material.

9) Weak thought leadership. Critical infrastructure such as knowledge management systems, research centers and industry groups are rarely shared. Yes, an effort is made, but these are superficial efforts at best.

7. Knowledge management communities

Communities are groups of people, who, for a specific topic, share one or more:

People join communities in order to:

People deepen their understanding of the topic by:

8. An Interview with Stan Garfield, Community Evangelist, Deloitte by Nancy Davis Kho in EContent Magazine

Job Function

Stan Garfield considers himself a maven, a salesman, and a connector in his role as leader of the collaboration program for Deloitte’s consulting business. “I provide advice and support on communities, enterprise social networking (ESN), and social media, primarily to internal users,” Garfield says. This involves training, monitoring, and encouraging users of Deloitte’s ESN to “narrate their work, or work out loud,” Garfield says, for more efficient communication and knowledge sharing within the organization.

In a Day’s Work

On a typical day, Garfield might find himself serving as an internal subject matter expert on communities, ESN, and collaboration as well as advocating the benefits of global collaboration and communities. “I write FAQs, create presentations, and deliver training,” Garfield says, “as well as post daily in the ESN and encourage groups to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate.” His main task? To lead collaboration by example.

Most Memorable Customer Encounter

“I once received a request to deliver a presentation two days later at a major client event on knowledge retention strategies, a topic on which I had not previously presented. It was tempting to say there wasn’t enough time, but I did it and the attendees were pleased. Sometimes when there’s no time to delay, unexpectedly good things can happen.”

9. Content Management Roundtable: Developing Content Around Stakeholder Needs by APQC

APQC asked a roundtable of KM professionals about how organizations can improve their content management approaches. The roundtable included the following participants: Stan Garfield, community evangelist at Deloitte and Chris Piereman, senior knowledge manager at Deloitte. Below are responses from each participant related to designing around stakeholder needs.

Q: APQC’s research says great content management systems have content developed around stakeholder needs. Why is this not always the case, and what can companies do to make sure it happens?

A1: (from Stan Garfield) Organizations tend to think that their content is of interest to their stakeholders, so they attempt to push it out. Instead, organizations should make content attractive so that people will desire to pull it out. To use pull instead of push, organizations should ask stakeholders what they want and listen carefully to their answers, and then be responsive. Organizations can also review search results, queries, email messages sent to distribution lists and official mailboxes, and requests made to knowledge brokers. Look for patterns of missing or hard-to-find content, and then take steps to provide that content and make it easy to find.

A2: (from Chris Piereman) At Deloitte, we ensure focus on stakeholder needs by keenly focusing on our business customers’ products, services, methods, and tools. We align ourselves to Deloitte’s client service delivery functions, as well as the overall member firm client and market structure. We create tailored content domains that are directly tied to our client service delivery activities as a professional services firm. This, by and large, precludes us from straying too far from the intent of the business and stakeholder need.

10. KM Maturity: A Panel Presentation and Discussion at the 2011 APQC KM Conference — Deloitte Global Consulting Knowledge Management: Our journey to maturity

11. Other APQC Content from Deloitte

12. Other KMWorld Presentations by Deloitte

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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