On This Day Testing

On This Day:

9/7/2002: "

Something tells my intuition that we're not framing things correctly when we get wrapped up in discussions of the appropriate reward systems/incentives needed to encourage knowledge sharing. It's encouraging to see the beginnings of some research data, but I remain suspicious. I suspect that we still need to get a more nuanced understanding of knowledge work and knowledge sharing before we can draw any good conclusions. Right now, I think the reports we're getting are the same low quality data we'd get out of focus groups. I'd like to see some data on what people do about knowledge sharing as opposed to what they say.

Are Rewards the Answer?. Ernie and Rick correctly identify the problem within US law firms—the lack of motivation among lawyers to share their knowledge. There are many reasons, monetary and non-monetary, why lawyers are unwilling or reluctant to share their intellectual capital. To understand why this is, I believe you have to look at the intrinsic disincentives within US law firms, before you can even think about ways to incentivize lawyers.

Hazel Hall, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing in Edinburgh, Scotland, has conducted some of the best knowledge sharing studies I've read to date. In Devising Intranet Incentives: Rewards and Conditions for Knowledge Exchange, Hall lists several oft-heard excuses for hoarding knowledge within organizations. Remarkably, they all sound similar to what lawyers say:

My time is better spent generating revenue for the firm
I'm too busy to learn how to use the technology
It's not my job
I'm not rewarded for it
I'm not measured on it
The work is confidential
Why should I willingly hand over my work product
I don't have anything of value to share
I share my knowledge in other ways
I like to work alone
What's in it for me?

In Sharing Capability: the Development of a Framework to Investigate Knowledge Sharing in Distributed Organizations, Hall discusses motivational incentives in the form of rewards (Note: the parenthetical references are mine).

Hard rewards (i.e., money):

financial rewards (salary, bonus, extra vacation days, laptops, Blackberries, etc.)
access to information and knowledge (sharing clients contacts)
career advancement (more interesting work, promotion to partner)

Soft rewards (i.e., ego)

enhanced reputation (being considered an expert in a practice group)
personal satisfaction (altruism, praise, flattery, etc.)

In order to encourage knowledge transfer within a law firm, the disincentives must be eliminated, or at the very least, substituted with some other motivational factor. That motivational factor just may be in the form of rewards.
[excited utterances]


9/7/2002: "Multi-author weblogs and author names.

I'm maintaining a new multi-author weblog, and saw this nifty macro that Userland posted here. It takes the title of the RSS feed and passes that through as a value that you can use in the itemTemplate. The end result is that when it takes Bob Smith's post, you can have it say "Bob Smith" in the post in the multi-author weblog.

So far, so good. Except that my contributors are using Radio categories to route posts to the multi-author weblog. And Radio wants to create category names that include the author name and the category name. The result? The value that the Radio macro identified above uses is "Bob Smith: Category Name".

I know there's a way to strip strings in Radio, but the only references I've seen are to use Radio's string.firstSentence.

What I really want to do is take the string, strip everything after the colon, and use the edited text as the author name. Any ideas?

[tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog]"

9/7/2002: "

KM Wiki maintains an evolving list of information sources on knowledge management. The idea of sorting them "in order of originality, consistency and KM focus" is great. I encourage anyone who puts lists online to order the items. However subjective that order may be, it's still more informative than random order. [Seb's Open Research]

Good set of knowledge management resources. I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the resources listed "qbullet.smiley". Besides they list me as "Tim" not "Jim."

Somebody help my on the etiquette of wikis. Do I edit the page to fix the mistake or do I ping someone who maintains the page?


9/7/2002: "


One of the pleasures of a vacation at the beach is a chance to do some serious reading. Among others, I had a chance to work through a recent book by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity. If you're interested I've posted a brief review.

Their essential argument is that organizations need to become more mindful in two ways. First, they must become better at anticipating the unexpected. Second, they must become more adept at containing the unexpected. Containing might either mean keeping a small error from mushrooming into a disaster or seizing and running with an opportunity before others do.

Their arguments dovetail nicely with the recent discussions around the role of knowledge logs or klogs as a tool for knowledge sharing. The essence of dealing with the unexpected is in separating weak signals from the background noise and then understanding who in the organization has the requisite expertise to deal with the signal. The knowledge sharing enabled by the effective use of k-logs is squarely focused on precisely these two issues.

A loose network of knowledge workers maintaining weblogs represents that early warning system for an organization. Weblogs applied to organizational knowledge problems provide an outlet for picking up early signals of the unexpected and amplifying them so they can be better heard. They also serve as a system for surfacing diverse expertise in the organization that may bear on how to respond effectively to those signals.

More formal and structured knowledge management systems are focused on getting more mileage out of known solutions to known problems. That has a place, particularly in large and dispersed organizations. But all organizations today are also faced with the problem of responding effectively to the unexpected. Weick and Sutcliffe make a compelling case that this is the more important problem for most organizations. And they offer a series of prescriptions for increased mindfulness to respond to that problem. For me, they provide the puzzle piece that links my intuitions that knowledge sharing and k-logs are an essential element of effective knowledge management to the critical items on the strategic agenda.


9/7/2002: "

Laugh-Out-Loud Computer Humor [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

Thank you Dan. A great way to start the morning.