January 2005 Archives

Five Best Online KM Discussion

How to read a business book

I frequently fall asleep reading, so I really liked the pictures in this post. The advice presented is good, especially how to note and remember the most important ideas in the book.
Solid advice from Brendon on how to get the most out of any non-fiction book. Some tips and tricks I will want to incorporate into my habits.

How to read a business book. I'll be honest here, this isn't just for reading business books. What I'm going to cover ought to suffice for pretty much any physical text from which you wish to squeeze maximum value. This isn't a how-to on studying though...there... [Slacker Manager]

UPDATE: Through a cut and paste error (mine) the original title on this made no sense - so I fixed it

[McGee's Musings]

List of KM journals

Knowledgeboard has pulled together a list of recommended KM journals. To quote:

Welcome to our featured recommended journals section. This provides links to some journals that we would like to recommend to our community. All recommended journals have been kind enough to allow us to host a number of their papers in our library.

[Column Two]

I am getting bored with my news feeds!

Every so often, I throw out all my newsfeeds and start again.  Lately, I have not been finding items that I want to comment on.  For some reason, technology, elearning, and KM content does not seem very original lately. I am not getting the same sense of constant questioning and assertions of new answers.  I have, however, enjoyed the conversations about "folksonomies" which I have noted in this blog.  Coming from  background in which controlled vocabularies were required,I have found the ideas harder than usual to accept, but I am coming around.  I think that wehn there is a graphical interface showing the most used terms, folksonomies can work.  If I want my content about ireland to be found, I can tag the items or photos with the commonly used terms.  I think the laizze fair approach has a lot of merit and it works.

Lately, each night I read my newsfeeds and end up deleting the majority without even following up.  Maybe by redoing my list I can become reenergized with the content flowing into my inbox.

I am in the midst of writing an article about collaboration and teamwork. I have lots of experience working with global teams, so I thought that I would share some of my insight.  I'd love to get feedback and suggestions, so I am putting a bit of my work in process out for comments, if you wish:

Global competition requires the use of web-based collaboration tools to coordinate the work of distributed teams. Because work gets done at different times, in different places, it needs to be coordinated via tools that easily facilitate the presentation of work in process and promotes the visibility of issues. Working virtually with a team that you rarely, if ever see, is becoming much more common in knowledge-based businesses. Even co-located teams find that shared document libraries, threaded discussions, shared calendars, task lists and archived company communications makes working together on a team more productive.

Despite the obstacles of distance and time, there are techniques that teams can use that make them more productive. There are five technologies that make teams more productive in today's information intensive, computer enabled environment.

  • The telephone
  • Email
  • An electronic workspace designed for collaboration
  • Instant Messaging
  • Web conferencing

Here is the list of best practices that I have discovered for managing a virtual team. Technology is required for communication, but each the seven practices focuses more on people than on technology.

  1. Set clear objectives and communicate the objectives to the entire team. Communicate verbally, with powerpoint slides, let the team ask questions and push back on the assumptions and the objectives. Have a note taker record as much of the meeting as possible, noting objections and points that are not clear or require more research. Post all materials discussed in the meeting to a shared workspace. Prepare a list of assignments with a description of the problem that need to be solved. Set a specific date for a follow-up discussion.
  2. Agree on a set of group norms in a facilitated session. Everyone needs to express how they feel about working electronically. During each meeting there needs to be a process check about how the team is doing using this new mode of work. At the end of every meeting,make a point of asking each individual if they thought the time was productive and if they have any improvement ideas.  Each person must respond with feedback.
  3. Be patient with people who don't speak English. Make sure that all points are understood. Ask people on the team to summarize what they think they have heard so that you can check for misunderstandings and clarify points immediately. Make it a norm that people can stop and ask for clarification.
  4. Communicate much more frequently to a virtual team than to a co-located team. At a minimum, schedule one long meeting each week, where each individual can talk about their work and can ask questions. Team members need to be prepared for meetings and submit their status reports or work summaries on time. This meeting happens no matter what. If one person can't attend they can send a proxy, but everyone is always represented. You must be very direct on this point. Do process checks to make sure that everyone is listening and onboard.
  5. Do fun things that help the team learn about each other. One time at the start of a virtual team project. Each location introduced themselves and their office mates via video. They also took pictures out their window and discussed their work life. One of the team members did a simple editing job to combine all the taped interviews. It was shown at each locations team meeting during a predetermined week. Everyone felt very good about meeting their team members around the world.
  6. Plan developmental activities. Invite a senior executive to the meeting to give their perspective on the business and allow your team to ask them questions. Work on a specific skill set, like negotiation, with the team, give a short presentation and ask for feedback.
  7. Relationships are so important that scheduling a one on one conversation with each team member once per week is important. It is very easy for people to disconnect from each other when they are physically distant. Communicate often with the team, communicate more frequently with individuals. If there is nothing to talk about, say hi, agree there is no need to talk today and confirm the time for the next scheduled talk.

These are some of my best practices, please comment.

30 Day Challenge

I am taking the 30 day challenge at Baptiste Yoga in Boston. The studio will make a donation to the Cam Neeley Foundation for Cancer Care with the proceeds collected from each class, so my money is going to a good cause.

I am finding it quite hard to maintain my momentum, doing yoga everyday, in a hot room takes some disapline, but I am doing it.  Today will be my tenth day.

The biggest challenge I am having is staying hydrated, since I lose so much water in the hot room during the class.  You really do have to drink a lot of water to stay healthy!  The process, however, is allowing me to take on even bigger challenges, like more ambitious writing projects. I'll report on  what happens.

Red Hot and Wired

I am a frequent reader of Robin Good's newsletter and website.  Today he noted that he has a new colleague contributing to Kolabora.com who has a blog called Red Hot and Wired.  If you follow the web, audio, and video conferencing world this is a good resource to link too.  Hopefully we will be hearing more from Chris Duncan, the author, now that he has linked up with Robin.

My experience is the this does not work well. Lots of intermingled vocabularies get mixed up and precise searching becomes impossible.

Peterme points to a terrific essay by Adam Mathes titled "Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata" and sparks a discussion of whether "folksonomy" is a good or right term for the sort of thing that del.icio.us does. I happen to think it's a keeper, but I also like Kirk Scott's "tagsonomy."

[Joho the Blog]

Happy New Year!

What a beautiful day it was here in Boston; over 60 degrees all day, sunny and clear.  2004 was a great year for me.  My new business, Coherence Group, did very well and I have enough business to keep me going in 2005.  Not bad, for a single person consulting firm!  In the new year, I will be blogging and writing a new book on globalization in the knowledge economy.  I will keep everyone up to date on my progress. I also look forward to getting back to my Wine Wiki, a project that I have let atrophy for a while.  December was a hugely busy month for me, with two trips back and forth to London and Cambridge England.

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