What do business schools undervalue?

November 24, 2008

At the Presidential Inaguration of Babson’s new president Leonard (Len) Schlesinger, Jack Welch gave the guest speech. Jack and Len worked together at GE as part of the GE Path Forward re-engineering of GE. Jack gave a short speech on the current economic crisis and then took a couple questions. One question (I’m paraphrasing here): What do businesses need, yet business schools undervalue?

Jack’s answer (again paraphrasing): Business schools do not emphasize enough of the soft skills needed to succeed. Organizational Development, Human Resources and Communication are the areas businesses desperately need competent and qualified candidates.

Coincidentally the professor, who was asked to welcome our new President, was the department lead in Organizational Development.

You can read more about the inauguration here.


Mashup (KM + LD + HR + SN) = Culture 2.0

November 15, 2008

Mashups are generally used in discussion of Web 2.0 sites such as http://www.housingmaps.com/, a combination of Google Maps and property listings on Craigslist. Mashup is also a musical term where two or more songs are mashed together to create an entirely new song. Check out: http://www.djearworm.com/ for some good examples. In each case two stand alone and complete works are mashed together to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

This week I came across a third mashup: combining Knowledge Management, Learning and Development, Human Resources and Social Networks. I’m not sure if there is a name for this, perhaps Talent Management or Organizational Development but these are still too limiting. For now let’s call this mashup Culture 2.0. If you have a name suggestion let me know.

By mashing traditional Knowledge Management ideas such as:
• Knowledge Repositories
• Communities of Practice
• Knowledge Capture, Sharing & Reuse
• Content Management

With Learning and Development techniques such as:
• 70:20:10 rule
• Mobile & Online Learning
• Skill Development

With Human Resource support structure around:
• Recognition Programs
• Job Descriptions, Job Families, Competencies
• Measured Business Objectives
• Career Path Opportunities

And leveraging Social Network & Web 2.0 tools:
• Facebook & LinkedIn functionality
• Instant communication (IM, Skype)
• Expertise Location / Employee Histories
• Forums, Wikis, Blogs, Global Search, Tags, etc

By taking a strategic look at combining and reinforcing the efforts in these areas I think one could have a positive impact on the company culture, how it innovates and improve overall collaboration. This is not an easy task. Individually each area has a large degree of focus and bringing together the right team and setting the right priorities would dictate the degree of success.

Individually each area is traditionally seen as a cost for the business, continually having to justify budget and staff. Mashed together and taken as a whole, suddenly Culture 2.0 defines how successful your business can be. I’d be interested if you have seen companies take such a mashed-up approach.


November 4, 2008

I recently attended the Learning Innovation Network conference in New York city. The conference is a joint venture between Jeanne Meister and the folks over at the Human Capital Institute. The event was hosted by Merrill Lynch.

I was invited to present on my experiences with Communities of Practice at HDS as part of a panel with Tracy Dodd from CA. Together we talked about our experiences with communities and the tools we use to support them. I noted that the folks at CA are using SharePoint 2007 to connect their communities.

The coolest part of the conference was the demo of how Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) uses mobile learning. Merrill Lynch’s application MoBull (great name!) pushes content to their employee’s Blackberries. Read more about the application at CLO Magazine.

Overall I learned a lot. Having never attended a ‘learning and development’ event it was interesting to see how companies can focus on developing their people. I was even more struck by the 70:20:10 rule. I’ll be posting more on that soon.

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.

First Day of School

March 25, 2008

This past week I began a two year part time MBA program at Babson College. The Fast Track program is designed for the busy professional who doesn’t want to give up his/her day job to become a full time student. It includes both distance / e-learning and face to face classes.

Our kick-off week entailed about 55 hours of classroom discussion, learning our way around the IT infrastructure supporting the classes and meeting our new classmates. Our 2010 class has about 95 students, broken into two sections. From here on out its mainly online with a couple weekends of face to face time.

It was great to meet all the new students, everyone was excited to begin their new MBA classes. Never having been a fan of school, it was refreshing to attend classes with students actively participating and really adding valuable insights based on past experience to some of our discussions. Perhaps this is the difference between undergrad and graduate courses. The average work experience for a student was 13 years! So its great to be able to absorb and learn from such a deep pool of knowledge.

It should be a very interesting experience, and I hope to apply all of what I learn to furthering my personal KM objectives as well as those at work.