April 27, 2007

I just got done reading Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. A fantastic read on how to make the most of email. I, like most of you have used email for a long time, though I don’t think I ever went through some sort of formal class or training on how to write email. In school we learn about spelling, grammar, how to write an essay, research papers, how to footnote, reference and all manner of rules and styles around formal writing. But email it seems we take for granted.

Its assumed that everyone knows the rules for using email and how to use it effectively. When was the last time you saw a class at your university or provided through your employer on writing effective email? It seems odd, because in today’s high tech world we spend large volumes of time in front of the computer writing email, using IM and texting.

The authors of Send, David and Will, are editors for the NY Times and Hyperion Books respectively. Their book provides lots of insight and is written in a very easy to understand and humorous tone.

One of the things I never used except on rare occasions was the Exclamation Point ‘!’. I always felt it tended to overstate things. However the authors think that because conveying affect in email is difficult, an exclamation point can help to make your email more human. For example ‘Thanks’ vs ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Hooray’ vs ‘Hooray!’. Without the exclamation point each word sounds kinda flat and almost sarcastic.

There are lots of other such examples and tips in the book, so I highly recommend you read it if you use email for work, or for general correspondence with friends and family.


Analogies for Knowledge Management

April 17, 2007

Knowledge Management is a very broad subject. Lots of ideas, concepts and pre-conceived notions (right and wrong) exist about it. How do you cut through the baggage and half truths that your company’s management may have about KM. How do you correctly explain and convince your management and your customers that your KM objectives are worthwhile and attainable?

Perhaps, one way would be the use of story telling or using analogies to equate the broad field of KM into an easily understandable story. I would be interested in any stories you have used to successful communicate the goals of a KM program.

I’ve recently seen a lot of buzz around Corporate Storytelling. In fact there’s even a conference on it, called Golden Fleece. The Smithsonian is also having a one day conference on it. I wonder if the use of Web 2.0 tools can aid the story telling process thru podcasts, blogs and wikis. Incidently, the Web 2.0 Expo was this week. Jeremiah has been live streaming from the event.

    Measuring Knowledge Management

    April 5, 2007

    So now that my company has decided to embark on a Knowledge Management (KM) path the inevitable question is: How do you measure success of the KM program? From the research I have done there seems to be no easy answers. The main issues are:

    1. KM is a soft subject, it enables many different activities within a Professional Services organization but is not directly responsible for these activities.
    2. Direct impact of KM on hard metrics such as Profitability, Resource Utilization, Resource Productivity, Margin etc are hard to attribute directly to KM, as any number of factors can influence these areas.
    3. Collection of metrics can prove to be just as difficult as determining the appropriate metrics.

    From the research I’ve done and conversations with my Board and other individuals I’ve come up with a categorized system of metrics.

    • Indirect: These are metrics that KM has some degree of impact on but cannot be directly and solely attributed to KM activities. Such metrics include, Year over Year or Quarter over Quarter increase in:
      • Profitability
      • Margin
      • Overall Revenue
      • Other metrics that are measurable at a business unit level
      • Revenue from partners
    • Direct: These are metrics that KM has a direct impact on and can be recognized as having contributed to. Capture of these metrics may require specialized tools or surveys. Metrics can include:
      • Employee satisfaction with finding information
      • Enhanced Customer & Employee collaboration
      • Enhanced Employee & Employee collaboration
      • Reduced ramp up time for new employees/partners
    • Program: These are metrics about the KM program itself, in my case the Professional Services KM program.
      • Increase in the number of Project Reviews
      • Number of Knowledge assets grows
      • Increase in the number Communities of Practice
      • Number of hours spent by consultants on KM capture, update and use

    While this is certainly not a complete list, I am sure there are more metrics. What other metrics do you use, and why?