Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Irresitable test - I got 75%
Spot The Fake Smile
Seen on David Buchan's (now sadly defunct) Thought?Horizon blog

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Myth of Training ROI
I stumbled across this by Bob Dust from the 'Training' world, but it could just as easily be KM:

"The biggest problem with the ROI claim is the letter I, which stands for Investment. Contrary to almost all thinking in this profession, training is not an investment it is simply an expense. While investment sounds more important than expense, training is nonetheless, an expense. Investment is a business term that implies the adding of capital to an organization. Unfortunately, human capital does not qualify."

Too right! Its a play on words - we're dealing with lop-sided accounting that wants to call spending investing but can't value an intangible return.

Bob goes on to attack how ROI leads to decisions out of context:

"My college roommate worked at a local deli, one of several in the small town catering to the college students. With so much competition, the delis were price-competitive on their subs and sandwiches, almost to the point of selling them at break-even prices. My roommate told me that the owner didn’t care because he made all of his profit on the soft drinks, tea and coffee. His customers knew the prices of his sandwiches and his competitors’ sandwiches, but never mentioned the price of the drinks. If the owner had done an ROI analysis on his business, he would have eliminated everything but the drinks, and he would have found himself quickly out of business."

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Tacit Knowledge of Team Leadership

Don't let the title of
Towards an Ecological Theory of Sustainable Knowledge Networksby Conklin et al put you off. Its full of insight about project teams (rather than knowledge networks in general). One thing caught my eye:

"The process of team formation is complex. Leaders have tacit knowledge about how to move a team through a process, and they access that knowledge in face to face meetings. When in virtual collaborations, they don't have that, e.g. they may not recognize that they don't have alignment about team goals"

Note that the barrier isn’t lack of knowledge, but the absence of the stimulus needed to retrieve it. The dynamic of the face-to-face interaction is what triggers the intuitive manager to take the right course. He may only sense subliminally the lack of alignment, but he'll intuitively do what it takes to correct that. Few managers would explicitly have a process with a "check alignment" gate, but they all know it must be done. Even bumping into a team member and subsequent chit chat can lead to an explicit awareness that they need information you hadn't thought to pass on.
Face-to-face we react as social animals - we meet, we chat. With email you don't 'meet' and chat is far less common. How often when you meet in person do begin with smalltalk? Whereas in email its acceptable – even encouraged – to get straight to the point. Yet without this social wavelength, few managers can access all the knowledge they need to implement a team formation process.