Friday, January 4, 2008

KM will Happen ... KM or no KM

I have been thinking about this for some time ... and then, I came across this post by Luis Suarez. What got me thinking about this is the back-to-basics kind of thought process that Luis seems to be coming up with. Luis also refers to a post by Dave Pollard which I think I will take some time to read, and digest. Something to nibble on, and digest in a leisurely manner, I would say.

To bring in my perspective ... Over a period of time, I have been meeting folks practising KM in some form or the other ... and, coming up with an interesting conclusion. Something that I have summed up in the title of the post ... KM will happen ... KM or not KM. Even if there is no formalized KM mechanism, KM does happen. Take an example ... I was talking with some folks from the metals industry ... They have been fostering KM in a largely offline mode. Social computing somehow becomes more of the social rather than the computing part. Which got me thinking ... Back in the 90s, with the emphasis on TQM, the whole idea of Quality Circles was much the rage ... And, I am now trying to figure out ... How were these different from communities? There have been a number of replies I have got, but bottomline ... These are a group of people interested in a particular topic, coming together, with an aim in mind, to share their thoughts.

Which is something that happens even without formal KM ... And, has been happening for quite some time now ... a few centuries, maybe? People come together, communities are created without giving them the name ... And, there is quite a healthy exchange of thoughts. More and more, communities are becoming transient ... People come together, perform some things, and the community disappears ... But, this is to be expected, considering the changing nature of human interactions.

So, where am I headed? Simple ... I am talking about bringing the human aspect of KM more into the focus ... Somewhere along the way, KM became more and more about technology ... Actually, it started that way, and just that the nature of the technology changed over a period of time, from databases to web 2.0 ... But, the focus has to be on the people ... A lot of people have said it, but not many who have followed. Which is where the entire conundrum of adoption comes in. Any KM initiative is as effective as its adoption by people. Something I have written about earlier ... And, something which needs to be pushed ... As you would find in the writings of a lot of thinkers of KM, its about how many folks are actually going to use it.

Particular State of Reality ...

This might sound like a cliched one, and quite a few would think I am jumping to conclusions ... Take this as science fiction ... Maybe it is, but then, maybe it isnt ... I came across this article which talks in a simple way about parallel universes. Quite an interesting read ...

Now, I am not the types who has Quantum Mechanics equations for Breakfast ... Which is why this article kind of was readable ... Especially the last part ...

According to quantum mechanics, unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options.

Hmmmmm ... What this implies in simpler language (one which even I can understand ...), is that there are multiple probable current states of things. So, if I am sitting, thats only one possible state ... Another could be that I am jogging (horror of horrors!), or having a vacation by the beach at Gopalpur! :-) Or, maybe at Banaras! OK ... So, I got that pic from an Australian website, but then, Australia is the flavour of the winter, while Banaras is the eternal flavour!

But, we wander ... The point is, what I can conclude from here ... Does this mean there is nothing unique about reality? That what we see is only one possible state? That there are, simultaneously, other states which occur from the same event. The implication ... everything is transient. Everything an illusion! You catch an electron today, it has an "up" spin, you catch it tomorrow, it has a "down"spin ... So, wheres the guy spinning? Hmmmmm ... Interesting!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Storytelling ...

The ToI ran an interview with Yasuno Yuushi ... A quick search on google turns up photo results. The topic is Kamishibai ... the Japanese art of story-telling. And, how the advent of television led to the decline of the art ...

Kamishibai is the art of story-telling ... story-tellers would typically roam from one town to another on bicycles, and tell stories anchored by pictures ... These stories run in episodes ... Today, you hav e an episode which follows from the previous one ... much like the television serials. Similar art forms are to be found n India as well ... Whether it be the Ram Lila that is performed in Delhi ... in the walled city of Delhi ... where the Ramlila is performed in the form of episodes. You can find a sample program here. Or, whether it be the Nautanki.

The point I am trying to make here ... there are usually important lessons that comefrom these stories ... the way these stories are performed (not told, but rather, performed, which gets the audience to connect at multiple levels with the story being told, the most valuable being the emotional connection), lends to them an aura of reality, which enables people to connect with them.

Should this be something the art of story-telling in the organization adopt? We know there are story-telling gurus, and there are concerted efforts at knowledge-sharing using story-telling. What I am trying to understand here is how we can incorporate the human touch to stories. This, at times, seems to be missing ... and, folk art forms may contain some answers.

At another level, the art of story-telling can have huge implications for training as well ... in a lot of scenarios, training is conducted using ppt (pictures?), but the fun of the story is missing. And, this is the one major disconnect between the way stories are told, and the way the connect is missing in trainings.

Parallel Universes ...

This is an interesting one ... More and people are coming up with the idea that there are, pribably, a number of parallel universes, which are replicating each other. They are telling us, that just as I am writing this at this moment, similarly my replica (alter-ego) is also writing something on similar lines ... or, just as you are reading this, your alter-ego is doing the same. The ToI ran a story on this ... Wikipedia has a number of entries on parallel universes.

Not going into the Mathematics of Many World Interpretations (MWI) for the simple reason that I couldnt understand any of them ... One statement caught my eye ... since every possible outcome to every event defines or exists in its own history or world.

From me understanding of the English language, this sounds like this ... the outcome of an event exists in the event itself. Which means that here we have scientific proof of the "reap as you sow" saying. The only thing that makes me uncomfortable about this is the assumed linear cause-effect relationship. While linear relationships gel well with the western world-view, i believe they are quite contrary to the eastern world-view ... to us, the world is more a cycle, a web of things and events, rather than a straight line. I am not quite sure how this pans out, so you can expect more on this to follow ...

In the meantime, interesting to note ... something which was considered absurd science fiction less than a century back, is now mainstream science, with scientists talking about the possibility ... Which is why I would say ... Lets keep an open mind ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

Its been a while, but here I am ... wish you a very Happy New Year ...

There ... Thats done. Now, to what I was writing about ... Andrew McAfee has written a nice one about Getting Facebook Ready for Work ... Quite an interesting read. And, this talks about an interesting piece ... Facebook for the enterprise. Something I have commented about earlier.

This was something which was waiting to happen, and I would think it was a matter of time before it happened. And, something which opens huge vistas for the adoption of social computing in the enterprise. This could bring the entire idea of social networking within the enterprise, though of course, there would still be the security concerns. But, security concerns notwithstanding, this, I would think, would be something thats here to stay. After all, these security concerns havent stopped organizations from hooking onto the network.

And, as we have seen to a certain extent ... this has the potential of moving the entire idea of sharing a few ntches up the corporate ladder, bringing it more into the centrestage.