CLO Magazine

June 19, 2008

Jeanne Meister at CLO Magazine was looking for experiences on Communities of Practice. Our VP of Academy was nice enough to connect the two of us and the resulting conversation was this article on Communities of Practice in the Workplace.

The article mentions that I’m working on a Community of Practice starter kit. Jeff Maaks now at PragmaticPS and I have been discussing it for some time, so now I guess we have to actually do it!


Boston KM Forum

May 20, 2008

On May 15th, Lynda Moulton of the Boston KM Forum asked me to present on my experiences and journey as I continue to build a KM program at HDS. I focused on how we set about building our first community of practice, a time line for the program and some future goals.

For me, it wasn’t a typical presentation where I speak and there’s no feedback. Since it was a small group and a small room it lead to some great discussion. As I would share my experiences, others would share theirs as well and I took away more as a result!

You can read about what other’s took away:
Knowledge Jolt by Jack Vinson
A Matter of Degree by Sadalit Van Buren
Sims Learning Connection by Ray Sims
I also met David Hobbie author of Caselines, who had some good suggestions for getting funding and support for my KM program.

Many thanks to all who attended and participated in the event, and my apologies for the late start.

Poetry in an MBA Class?

April 18, 2008

Well its been 3 weeks since I started my part-time MBA in the Babson Fast Track program, and so far its been a blast! We’ve started out on two softer subjects around 1) Leadership & Human Behavior and 2) Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. These have been very eye opening. We’ve been reading a lot from the IDEO Innovation books by Tom Kelley. Both have been very interesting reads. Another interesting concept is PO by Edward DeBono. These are things I expected in a well rounded MBA program like Babson. However I was floored when as part of a class wrap-up session our professor quoted this poem.


They may see the good you do
As self serving.
Continue to do good.

They may see your generosity
As grandstanding
Continue to be generous.

They may see your warm and
Caring nature as weakness.
Continue to be warm and caring.

For you see, in the end,
It is between you and God.
It never was between you and
Them anyway.


So what does all this have to do with KM? Well certainly the poem spoke to me about my work with communities of practice and building a KM program at HDS. I often wonder if its just easier to be a little more mean/nasty in trying to overcome roadblocks. I read this poem and it reconfirmed for me that I was taking the right approach. As all KM practitioner’s know (and I’m learning) its hard to understand if you’re making a difference and are being appreciated. You border on frustration, almost ready to give up and then something goes your way and you remember why you wanted to expose others to the benefits of KM. The poem did that for me this week.


January 31, 2008

Knowledge Management practitioners are a very open and welcoming group of folks. I’m not sure if KM attracts a certain type of personality or the nature of KM requires a person to be open to new ideas and actively seek them out. But in the past couple of months I’ve joined a couple communities, so I thought I’d share here.

SIKM Leaders or Systems Integrators Knowledge Management Leaders is a Yahoo Group with monthly community calls with presentations from the community members. Its run by Stan Garfield, KM guru over at HP. If you’re in the system integration space (or something akin to SI) then check out the group. The group is very much focused on direct application of KM practices and less on the theory of KM.

Com-Prac or Communities of Practice is another Yahoo Group, hosted by John Smith at Learning Alliances. This group has definite worldwide participation. You are likely to get an answer from Seattle, or Delhi or London to somewhere in Australia. As the name suggests this group os focused on building, sustaining and studying communities of practice in all their different forms.

Online Facilitation, a Yahoo Group, hosted by Nancy White at Full Circle Associates. The topics here revolve around discussion about the skills, techniques and issues around online facilitation in a variety of Internet online environments and virtual communities.

CPSquare is yet another community (which I wrote about before) with its own web platform and is currently hosting a series of calls focused on ‘Long Live the Platform‘.

Recently I started to attend events put on by the Boston Knowledge Management Forum. Lynda Moulton usually acts as host and facilitator for the monthly meetings held in Waltham, MA and the Friday morning Breakfast Meetings. I’ve made it to a couple afternoon meetings and the members are long time KM practitioners in the Boston area. So far though, the breakfast meetings have eluded me as they are too early in the morning for me. Patti Anklam is also a member who recently authored Net Work.

Since I use SharePoint at work I joined the New England SharePoint User Group (NESPUG). They hold meetings once a month on a variety of SharePoint 2007 related topics.

Lastly, I’ve been participating in the TPSA Community of Interest in Services Engineering. My KM activities take place within our professional services organization and this group sometimes has useful discussion around KM topics as they relate to professional services environment. Much more is discussed that is pertinent to services engineering that may not directly relate to my job at hand but is nonetheless very interesting. Unfortunately, membership is only open to TPSA member companies.

So there you have it seven groups that I’ve come across that I’ve found useful in different ways. If you know of another group I might be interested in, please let me know.

Update on Communities of Practice

October 26, 2007

Our first community of practice is now about 10 months old and has about 65 listed members. Our monthly virtual meetings on Webex and conference call average about 20 members and there is a core of 4 members that help to make it work. This CoP is made up of members from Europe, Australia, Asia and North America and from functional groups like Professional Services, Product Management, Product Support, Marketing, Pre-Sales Support and Advanced Consulting. As a group they produce a small amount of IP that can be directly associated with the CoP, averaging a quality IP asset once every two months.

My second CoP is five months old and has 36 listed members, of which an average of 12 attend the monthly Webex and conference calls. This CoP is unique in that 3 employees of a partner company participate regularly to share information. There is a core group of three members that work to make the meetings interesting and lively. This CoP also has regular participation from our Training / Academy group. IP asset output has been limited in this group, averaging about a quality document every three months.

The third CoP is also five months old and has 38 listed members. Attendance at the monthly meetings for this group has been the lowest of the three at 8-10 members per call. Getting attendance from the various functional groups has been a challenge. Though the meetings have had surprisingly detailed and open discussions, more so than the other two CoPs. IP asset output is also a quality document every three months.

Lastly the SharePoint User Group (4th CoP) lists 52 members. This is an entirely virtual group with only an email d-list as the means of communication. I intend to move this to a Forum style group once I am able to secure the right platform. Questions posted to the group usually are answered in less than 30 mins if someone knows the answer. The issue here is SharePoint is new to almost everyone, so there are few true gurus in the group. Membership is also across functional groups and geographies. Once I get enough time and learn more about each member I intend to host a quarterly or bi-monthly user group call. We will be using SharePoint 2007 in the upcoming months and I’m sure that will spur a lot of questions, without immediate answers.

I am reminded about my earlier analogy that CoPs are like snow flakes, no two are alike. Here at HDS we have three CoPs aligned to strategic company goals and one aligned to internal support. Each consists of members in similar functional groups, have similar job descriptions and similar goals, but the “personality” of each CoP is quite different. Feedback on the CoPs from the members and their managers has been positive. There is still much more I think we can accomplish in each group, I am just out of bandwidth to drive more output. Though I’ve found in general that quality output takes time regardless of CoP. CoP participation and contribution must compete with other priorities of its members so I’ve found that it takes three months for any worthwhile guide or content to be completed.

Community Council

September 28, 2007

Its a lot of work pulling together a community of practice. Lots of time is spent communicating with the community members to get them excited about the CoP and contributing to it. Also you have to spend some time tracking some basic metrics on the CoP, keeping up with membership and setting the topics for our monthly meetings.

For my most mature CoP I have decided to implement a Community Council to help bring together the various pieces of the community. The council consists of 4 current CoP members who have been very active in the community. My initial take on the responsibilities for the council are:

1. Actively getting the word out and inviting new members
2. Setting of the monthly meeting agenda
3. Host a meeting from time to time
4. Help with maintaining the CoP SharePoint site
5. Set direction and goals for the CoP
6. 6-month commitment as a council member

I am curious if any of you use or have used in the past a similar structure to help build a CoP.

Using YouTube for sharing knowledge

August 21, 2007

YouTube is the poster child for much of the Web 2.0 hype. For me it seemed to be a platform for only entertainment and commercials (viral or otherwise). However, Shawn Callahan of Anecdote provided a presentation to the Systems Integrators KM Leaders group via YouTube. He’s in Australia and the timezone difference would have made a presentation hard to do. So Shawn’s presentation on “Business narrative experiences at Anecdote” is available for all to see and learn from. So intrigued by the possibility, I did searches on ‘knowledge management‘ and ‘story telling‘ and found there was some content out there (though I didn’t watch them). Shawn’s presentation is not a video of him presenting but a recording of him with a couple of slides. The effort translates well to YouTube, though a couple of the slides were hard to read.

Here is the first of the five videos, each about 8 minutes long.

And the links to all five: