Originally published May 14, 2019

Basics

  • SIKM Leaders is a global community of knowledge management practitioners, open to everyone with a legitimate interest in the field.
  • The goal is to share experiences and insights on implementing knowledge management.
  • As of June 1, 2021, the community had 978 members and had held 189 monthly calls.

How to Join

  • To join the community, go to its Groups.io page and request membership.
  • When requesting membership, please provide your name, location, organization, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  • I review and approve all requests to join. If you don’t provide your actual name, your request will not be approved until you do so.
  • It’s recommended that that for the Delivery option, you choose either Daily Digest or Individual Emails. This will allow you to pay attention to the community’s discussions and receive reminders about the monthly calls.

Origin of the Name

The SIKM Leaders Community was given its name by Raj Datta. It is sometimes pronounced as “sic-em” and sometimes, misspelled as “SKIM.” It originally stood for “Systems Integration Knowledge Management.” It no longer has that meaning, so now it is just the community name, similar to APQC, which originally stood for “American Productivity & Quality Center.”

Origin of the Community

In 2005, I presented at my first knowledge management conference, APQC’s 10th Knowledge Management Conference, held May 5–6, 2005 in St. Louis. All speakers were asked if they would host a birds-of-a-feather lunch session, and I agreed to do so. I put a sign at my table saying “Consulting & Systems Integration KM” and invited conference attendees from that industry to join me. We had a full table of 10 people, and when lunch was over, I asked them if they wanted to continue the discussion. They agreed, so I collected their business cards, and when I returned home, I launched the community. I contacted others I thought would be interested in joining, and membership began growing.

The group site was created by Raj Datta on July 19, 2005. It hosts the conversations, files, attachments, schedule of upcoming monthly calls, archives of previous monthly calls, and membership directory.

Activities

The community’s main activities are:

  1. Online threaded discussions — discussions on the field of knowledge management, questions and answers, and links to job postings.
  2. Monthly calls — presentations by members and invited speakers.
  3. Annual dinner — a gathering of members and other KMers held during the annual KMWorld Conference in Washington, DC. Sue Hanley has organized it for 9 of its 11 years, and Arno Boersma and Neesham Spitzberg handled it in 2015 and 2019.

There is also a local chapter called SIKM Boston that meets regularly.

Monthly Calls

  1. Held on the third Tuesday of each month at 11 am Eastern Time.
  2. Slides
  3. Twitter chat transcripts
  4. Online Twitter Chat (#KMers hashtag) or FreeConferenceCall.com group chat
  5. Dial-in numbers: (712) 770–4035 (US and Canada) Passcode 178302 — International Dial-in Numbers
  6. Online connection using FreeConferenceCall.com
  7. Calls are recorded so that those who are unable to attend can listen later.

Policy

  1. This is a global community of knowledge management (KM) practitioners. It is open to everyone with an interest in KM.
  2. Our goals are to share experiences and insights on implementing knowledge management and to provide answers to all questions in a helpful and timely manner.
  3. No anonymous or ambiguous members are allowed, and only one membership per individual is allowed.
  4. To make a new post, click on New Topic in the left menu. When replying to an existing post, don’t change the topic. Start a new one instead.
  5. Try to keep posts short, to the point, and as practical as possible. Posts should be about knowledge management, not political or religious opinions.
  6. Diverse opinions are welcomed if expressed in a respectful and collaborative manner. Instead of saying “You’re wrong” or similar words, say “I have a different view.”
  7. Be aware of your tone, don’t mansplain, try not to be condescending, and avoid acting like a know-it-all. Use the same tone you would use when talking to your manager or a client.
  8. Members are encouraged to share KM-related job openings and details on their own availability for employment in the field.
  9. Posts should be personal, relevant, and not advertisements or spam. Rather than suggesting private calls or sending content via personal email, share directly in the community.
  10. Members should not send messages that are duplicates of those distributed through other channels, or regular blog posts. Instead, post one-time invitations to join or subscribe.

Community Culture

Most discussions are very cordial. Occasionally they may heat up a little, but haven’t ever crossed the line into personal attacks.

I have only had to intervene twice based on posts in the discussion board:

  • A new member posted multiple times to promote his own community and events. I sent him a private email to remind him that members should not send messages which are duplicates of those distributed through other channels, and to post one-time invitations to join other lists instead. When he persisted, I removed him as a member. That was the only time I had to do so. He sent me a blistering attack in an email, which I ignored. When I later compared notes with other community managers, they told me that they had to do the same with this person.
  • Another new member replied to a couple of posts with harshly-worded criticisms. I sent him a private email to suggest that he take a more congenial approach to commenting. He replied to acknowledge my point, and shortly after, left the community voluntarily.

In general, the community is positive, helpful, and insightful. If it sounds good to you, you are welcome to join and participate.

Lessons Learned

  • Requests to join must be approved by me, but i approve most applicants if I know their identity and they appear to practice or have a sincere interest in knowledge management. We don’t permit anonymous members so that the identify of all people posting is known, and the community builds trust among the members.
  • Most types of posts are allowed within a few common-sense limits as noted in the policy listed above.
  • The community focuses on what is valuable to the members, e.g., job search, job openings, links to articles and posts relevant to the community topic, queries, and requests for help.
  • When people ask me questions about knowledge management via private email, LinkedIn message, or Twitter direct message, I ask them to join the community and post there. If I can answer, I will do so in the community, and so will other members. This benefits the person asking the question by allowing additional answers, and the other members by allowing them to see the discussion.
  • There may be quiet periods followed by spurts of activity, and that’s fine. The volume of posts is seldom overwhelming, and this makes it more likely that members can pay attention to discussions.
  • Queries and requests for help usually receive prompt, helpful replies from multiple members. If not, I follow up as needed to ask others to reply, both within the discussion and via private email.
  • The tone is generally civil, friendly, and supportive. New members feel welcome and are able to post without negative consequences.

Running Successful Monthly Calls

I line up speakers by personally asking people individually to present, and by posting a call for future speakers in the threaded discussion. I try to have speakers lined up for the next year. If someone needs to reschedule a presentation, I ask the other scheduled speakers if they are willing to swap dates. This has always worked.

I use a low-tech approach to running the calls to prevent most of the potential problems that arise when using virtual collaboration tools. Using a combination of slides posted to SlideShare, a free conference call line which includes a simple recording process, Twitter or group chat for online Q&A, and a threaded discussion board with email capability, our calls are held with a minimum of problems. No one needs to ask if the slides will be available, because they already have them in advance of the call. And technical problems are rare due to using simple tools such as the phone, SlideShare, and Twitter. I recommend using screenshots instead of live screen sharing to avoid any technical problems using webinar software.

Despite the fact that FreeConferenceCall.com allows video cameras and screen sharing, I ask participants to keep their cameras off. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Video camera use increases the size of the recording ten times.
  2. There is research showing that video conferencing can actually reduce collective intelligence.

Before each call:

  • One week before each all, I send a reminder to the upcoming speaker. I ask the presenter to post the slides in SlideShare and send me the link, or send me the slides, no later than one day before the call.
  • Using the SIKM SlideShare account, I post the slides (if not already posted by the presenter) in SlideShare. I use SlideShare’s Like function to like the presentation so that all slides are easily available in one place.
  • The day before each call, I send out a reminder message to all participants using our Groups.io group. It has the conference call details and a link to the slides. I also post a link to this in Twitter and Linkedin.

During each call:

  • For online interactions, Q&A, and note taking, we used tchat.io, which uses Twitter and a unique hashtag #KMers to connect participants. Now we use group chat in FreeConferenceCall.com.
  • I turn on the recording and introduce the speaker.
  • I monitor the background noise and mute any noisy lines using the conference call leader web interface.
  • I ask the presenter to mention the number of the slide they are currently presenting so that participants can follow along.
  • If there are few or no questions or comments from the participants, I am ready with questions to get the conversation going. I let others go first, but if there is silence during Q&A time, I wait a moment and then speak up.

After each call:

  • If there was a Twitter chat, I used Wakelet to create a transcript, with all tweets in chronological order, oldest first. Now I copy the group chat from FreeConferenceCall.com.
  • I confirm that the recording came out successfully.
  • I send out a summary message to all participants with links to the slides, recording, and chat transcript. I encourage follow-on discussion by replying to the same thread.
  • I send a reminder message to the speaker for the next month’s call.

SIKM Hall of Fame

The following people have presented three or more times on the monthly calls:

  1. 9 Kate Pugh
  2. 6 Steve Wieneke
  3. 5 Al Simard
  4. 5 John Hovell
  5. 5 Arthur Shelley
  6. 4 Steve Denning
  7. 4 Nancy Dixon
  8. 4 Bill Kaplan
  9. 4 Karla Phlypo
  10. 3 Curtis Conley
  11. 3 Kent Greenes
  12. 3 Doug Madgic
  13. 3 Andrew Gent
  14. 3 Larry Prusak
  15. 3 Lee Romero

Past and Future Monthly Calls (requires membership to access)

If you would like to be added to the schedule of upcoming speakers, contact me directly.

See also 10 years of SIKM.

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

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