KM is Not a Tech Solution

Posted: April 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Knowledge Management | No Comments »

How could one concisely explain the concept of ‘KM is not a software issue’ to a manager that has just engaged you to ‘do KM’ for his/her organization and is keen on pushing for a tech solution?

This is a digest of a discussion I had on LinkedIn a few years back. I’m sure those from a tech background usually find themselves in a position where their manager or client is asking for a silver-bullet tech solution to KM. Here’s what some industry leading thinkers have to say about the topic:

Wade Becnel -> “Use an indirect approach.”
“Demonstrating a reasoned and holistic approach to problem solving can show that cognition and collaboration are the true cornerstones of k-sharing which can be enhanced by technology. ”
“[Don't use technology as] a quick answer without having to be accountable.”
“Modern day tribal lore: ‘If all you understand is technology, then your only solution is technology.’”

Rebecca Gebhardt Brizi -> “[Ask the right questions and] work your way backwards to the real starting point: the problem.”

Alan O’Neill -> “IT is just the delivery.”

Hemangi Vyas -> “IT systems are just enablers.”

Mark Ellsworth -> “KM is about people, processes, and technology. Technology is typically 20% of the total.”

Andre Pulido -> “Leadership and culture are important. Both of which I know do not come in a box. KM does not come out of a box.”

Stephen Dale -> “The difference between Information Management (systems, process, standards) and KM (people)”
“Information Management is about organising stuff… KM isn’t!”

Jerry Marino -> “It is important not to confuse document management with knowledge management.”

Jeff Oxenford -> “Failed technology applications come when people and processes are not considered and you jump right to the technology solution.”

Nick Milton -> “When looking for an answer to a work problem [is it usual practice to] go to software, or look for someone to ask? Research shows that >80% of people go to someone else to ask for help and advice.”
“I have seen KM work without any technology more sophisticated than paper and filing cabinets. It depends on the need and the situation.”
“The best technology for k-sharing has always been dialogue.”

Md Santo -> “Use a weighted score.”

Neil Olonoff -> “KM is software – just a very sophisticated form of it [which encompasses human culture as part of that software].”

Ray Adams -> “Try and obtain a balance between customizing the KM solution and modifying the supporting processes while at the same time training your people to create structured content.”

Alan O’Neill -> “KM is clearly more deployable and accessible with an integrated IT Solution, but KM can be achieved without IT/Technology.”
“Knowledge has been passed on by Indigenous tribes around the globe, via Dance, Cave Paintings, Songs, Discussions and Demonstrations, for millions of years [without technology].”

David Pender -> “Avoid building ‘data junkyards’ [as a way of 'solving' KM issues].”

Lawrence Hiner III -> “Given the vast digital repositories of [data]., it is virtually (pun absolutely intended) impossible to ‘manage’ knowledge in a 21st century organization *without* it.”
“Next time I need to ‘share’ some vital knowledge, I’ll ‘dance’ it for you, ok?”

Mary Arnold -> “I’d highly recommend the book “Influencer” by Patterson, Grenny, et al. It explains how to break the problem down into stages & provide a framework.”

Douglas Weidner -> “While KM stands on shoulders of technology (hardware and software), it alone focuses on knowledge/brains (wetware).”

Jeff Johnson -> “KM is not software, but software makes KM easier.”

Eli Miron -> “Musical instruments (technology) are an absolute necessity in order to give a concert, but the music (information/knowledge,) performers (knowledge workers) and coordinated playing (collaboration) determine the outcome.”

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Move over BRICS, Here Come the CIVETS

Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: CIVETS | No Comments »

In the last 10 years, lets say the 2000′s, the BRICS were the hot topic on every investor’s mind. Emerging markets with medium-risk, high gain. As we enter the 2010′s (?), a new club of emerging markets have started to rise. Enter the CIVETS. The acronym shares the name of the Civet cat, the producer of the world’s most expensive coffee, that is chiefly made and exported from the largest of the CIVET countries, Indonesia.

Coined by Robert Ward, global forecasting director for the EIU, the CIVETS consists of the following countries:

C: Colombia. The oldest democracy in South America. The capital, Bogota, is home to 7 million urbanites. Bogota’s status as an intellectual agora was boosted by UNESCO declaring it the ‘World Book Capital.’ We can expect some great innovations and high growth opportunities for investment in Colombia in the next few years.

I: Indonesia. Indonesia is the most interesting emerging economy in South East Asia right now. With the world’s third largest population and its rapidly rising mobile and internet access and usage Indonesia is a strong bet.

V: Vietnam. Leveraging on the rise of Asia and strategically positioned, Vietnam boasts an increasingly educated workforce and the number highly skilled mobile app developers is increasing.

E: Egypt. Egypt has a population of about 80 million hardworking people. The revolution in 2011 and new constitution signed, means that Egypt can now start afresh and go forwards with their development.

T: Turkey. Turkey continues to build up their infrastructure and manufacturing capability in the East of the country. As a gateway between Europe and the Middle East. Turkey may grow to be a strong influencer.

S: South Africa. Showcased at the football world cup in 2010, South Africa has come a long way in the last 10 years.

I’ll be trying to explore emerging technologies coming from the CIVETS on my IP Blog over at IP Insiders. The technology coming from emerging markets in the next 10 years is going to be exciting.

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When you’ve soaked up all the information you can hold..

Posted: October 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Double Loop Learning, Philosophy | No Comments »

Foochow teaching

When you’ve soaked up all the information you can hold, you will have to forget half of it before you will be any real use.

If there’s anything worse than knowing too little, it is knowing too much.

Education will broaden a narrow mind, but there’s no known cure for a big head.

Poverty never spoils a good man, but prosperity often does.

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The Division of Knowledge Work

Posted: January 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Knowledge, Philosophy | No Comments »

Most managers and owners of manufacturing plants and labor driven workforces might be familiar with the principles discussed in the ‘division of labour’ chapter of Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations.’ Just to remind ourselves, it reads a little something like this:

1. A pin maker, unknowing of the concepts of division of labour can very best make one pin per day by themselves.

2. Dividing the labor of making a pin involves a system where:

“One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head. To make the head requires two or three distinct operations… etc etc etc.”

3. “In some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.”

4. Employing this division of labour, a team of 10 pin makers can make up to 4800 pins per day.

Now let’s take this concept and bring it into our modern industry, where each of us is applying our knowledge to perform our job and this knowledge is exploited to produce wealth for our given nation. Should we divide our knowledge based work? Should we be fearful of knowledge workers from lower cost countries taking our jobs? Or do we learn to adapt and become orchestrators of low-cost (but still good quality) knowledge? Let’s think about it.

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Are you drunk at work?

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Knowledge Assets | 1 Comment »

Are you drunk at work?

What? You? Never?

You’re the most diligent, responsible and hard working employee/boss/business owner in the entire company. You’d never think of turning up to work drunk! That’s unfathomable!

Think again.

According to the National Institute of Health (US), sleep depravation can have the same effect as intoxication.

Most of all, this is such old news; yet there are still people around who use lack of sleep as a badge of honor to display on their sleeve with pride. Ever heard people brag about their three or four hours sleep the night before? I certainly have. If you work in the software industry it is probably even more likely you’ve come across such braggers. Those same braggers usually spend the first half of the day fixing the problems and software bugs they caused the night before when they were being a hero and working late.


Think again. Are you drunk at work?

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Your Creative Autobiography. Twyla Tharp – The Creative Habit.

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Creativity | 2 Comments »

Even if you are not in the fields traditionally thought of as the creative arts such as drama, cinema, photography, design, dance, etc. there is still likely to be a large element of creativity in the job that you do. (See The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida).

Yesterday, in a book by Twyla Tharp entitled ‘The Creative Habit‘ I came across a great checklist of questions to ask yourself when working. These are the type of questions we should all be asking ourselves if we want to introspect and improve:

1. What is the first creative moment you remember?

2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had?

4. What made it great in your mind?

5. What is the dumbest idea?

6. What made it stupid?

7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?

8. What is your creative ambition?

9. What are the obstacles to this ambition?

10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?

11. How do you begin your day?

12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?

13. Describe your first successful creative act.

14. Describe your second successful creative act.

15. Compare them.

16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?

17. Which artists do you admire most?

18. Why are they your role models?

19. What do you and your role models have in common?

20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?

21. Who is your muse?

22. Define muse.

23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?

24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?

25. When faced with the threat of failure, how do you respond?

26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?

27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?

28. What is your ideal creative activity?

29. What is your greatest fear?

30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?

31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?

32. What is your idea of mastery?

33. What is your greatest dream?

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Some thoughts on business cards and LinkedIn

Posted: October 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Knowledge Assets, Social Networking | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I was going through some stacks of business cards received by people I’ve met over the years and thought it would be a great idea to add some of these people to my LinkedIn connections in case I ever needed their expertise in future.

From this I gathered that it is quite important that our business cards these days must really match up with our online presence if we want to stay connected.

So I seem to have learned something from this process which revolves around the information given on business cards. Here they are:

1. Name Consistency.
Having your Chinese/Tamil/Long Form/Etc name on your business card, but your Christian name on your LinkedIn profile doesn’t help me much. (This probably only applies to Singapore and China?)

2. EMail address matching your name.
Similar to point #1. This makes it easier for someone to find you on LinkedIn.

3. Font/Typeface used on the card.
It would be great if it was readable by those automated business card readers. (Although I didn’t use this process).

4. Amount of EMail addresses used.
On some business cards I saw that people can be contacted at six different EMail addresses. I am not sure of the reasoning for that, but it sure doesn’t give me confidence that you’re going to receive my EMail invite.

5. Your proper and full name.
Using your initials on your business card (i.e. M. Ashworth) makes it difficult to tell you apart from all the other Mike, Mark, Martha, Montgomery, Moriarty, Etc. Ashworths out there.

6. Using a free EMail account is not cool for business owners.
If I can’t find you by name, then I’m unlikely to find you by your name + company name if you’re using a free EMail account.

7. Differentiate yourself.
If your parent’s called you Adam Smith, or Mark Ashworth then there’s bound to be lots of other people sharing your name. Filling in more information about yourself, such as your company, location and job title will make it much easier for me to find you.

8. I can’t think of something to put for number 8.
I wanted to make a list of 10 items though. So I will leave this in. I guess this coincides with my learning point #7, which is filling out as much information as possible on your LinkedIn profile so I know who you are and what other skills you may have. Oh yes, and keeping your information up to date is good too.

9. Pictures
It would be great to have a picture on your business card so I can match you up to your profile on LinkedIn. Some faces I might have forgotten from conferences held years ago.

10. Lastly: Have a LinkedIn account!
Seriously, which business owner or marketing professional doesn’t have LinkedIn these days? (Call me a social networking Nazi all you like).

Unless of course, you do not want me to contact you in future. Which in that case, why did you pass me your business card to begin with? (Just tell me you left it at home, or haven’t got them printed yet)

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Jonathan Ive’s Earlier Work

Posted: August 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Intellectual Capital, IP, Patents | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Jony Ive started his career at Apple in 1992, although Steve Jobs only returned to Apple in 1998.

These were patented by Jony before the return of Steve Jobs in 1998:

1. Handheld Computer Housing (D366463). Applied for in 1994.
Most fanboys will recognize what this is:

2. Stylus for a handheld computer (D368079). Applied for in 1994.

3. Cradle for a PDA (D373121). 1994.

4. Computer Printer (D386519). 1996.

5. Computer Display (D372023). 1995.
I hated this something rotten. I hate the white noise it emitted. It turned me off Macs for years to come. Okay, yes I know we can’t blame the casing designer for the internal workings.

6. Another Computer Display (D373120). 1995.
This one sucked too:

7. Computer Enclosure (D368254). 1995.
Another white noise emitting headache inducer:

8. Computer Housing (D372019). 1995.

Then Steve Jobs came back. Jony Ive was inspired. So he designed these… woo:




And thus concludes my current obsessing with Jonathan Ive’s patents.

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English(wo)men in New York (Or wherever)

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: IP, Knowledge Assets, Patents | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

English(wo)men in New York (Or wherever)
(Or whichever part of The USA they may find themselves)

There’s no doubt that Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial design at Apple Inc, is a highly successful designer. Leaving the shores of Jolly Old England was a great idea for him as it led to him being ranked as ranked by The Sunday Times as one of Britain’s most influential expatriates.

This said, it makes me curious about other Brits who’ve dabbled their hands in the American markets and succeeded. So naturally, I did a search for US granted design patents held by British based inventors, and got this list:

1. Martin WF Dean
A designer for Wolverine World Wide. (i.e. the company that makes Hush Puppies, Caterpillar boots and other work-related footwear brands as well as military boots).

2. Sandra Choi
A designer for the renowned (Malaysian Born) British shoe designer Jimmy Choo. Her most cited shoe is the “coupe” she designed in 2004 (D513846) which is also referenced by designers from Stuart Weitzman.

Sandra Choi. Shoe Patent for Jimmy Choo

3. Manon Belley
Another designer for Wolverine World Wide.

4. Grant A Urie
Yet another designer for Wolverine World Wide.

5. James Dyson
A household name in the UK (awful pun intended). Any self respecting product designer in the United Kingdom should be familiar with the works of James Dyson. Most famous for his iconic bag-less cyclonic vacuum cleaners.

Dyson Vacuum Patent

6. Anthony Dalby
Nokia Corporation. Designer of many of Nokia’s many mobile handsets, including the N90 design.


The co-designer that Anthony Dalby has worked the most with is Ingve Holmung.

Anthony Dalby had also designed a futuristic looking design for a street cabinet that houses telecommunications equipment; assigned to Nortel. Figure this one out yourselves:

Anthony Dalby. Norton Patent

7. Deborah H Andersen
Yet YET another designer for Wolverine World Wide. This American company sure uses a lot of designers from the UK.

8. Pape John A
John Pape registered a number of designs related to baby and toddler toys for Hestair Kiddicraft Limited. His most cited design is for a teether/rattle toy for babies he conceptualized way back in 1987. Recognize it?

John Pape Teether Patent

9. Thomson Harry S
Another designer for Hestair Kiddicraft who has worked alongside John Pape.

10. Jonathan Kelsey
Another shoe designer for Jimmy Choo. His most cited design is an open toed shoe (D501709) which has oddly been cited by a Nike design (D544691).
Jonathan Kelsey Shoe Patent

So there they are. Britain’s top 10 US design patent holders, by volume, as of date.

By the way, in case you’re wondering. Jonathan Ive has 327 US design patents, all assigned to “Apple Computer.” I guess with a US$1m a year pay packet he doesn’t really need to work for anyone else.

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iPad Adoption Pattern in Singapore and Technology Diffusion Model

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Paradigm Shifts | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

All this buzz about people buying iPads and queueing up for an iPhone 4 brings me to think of something I often talk about when discussing innovation and technology intelligence. The ‘Technology Diffusion Model’ by Beal, Rogers and Bohlen. It looks something like this:


Just for fun, I imagine how this roughly interprets to Singapore’s iPad adoption:

Innovators. You bought the iPad directly from the USA around the original launch date. People love you and love your technological gadgets. Some even stalk you over it. There’s also a high chance you’re an Asian American who works for a multinational software company in the day and owns a sushi bar by night (and name begins with ‘H’ etc etc).

Early Adopters. This would refer to the hoards of people who queued up in Singapore last week to grab an iPad. This week, you’ll be stocking up on accessories such as little cute bags to protect your precious toy and screen filters because once you got it home you realized how reflective the surface is. You’re probably reading this from Starbucks right now.

Early Majority. Those that missed out on the great iPad grab are probably feeling quite sore right now; but. You’ll pretend that you never get one; but one fine day you’ll let your guard down when one winks at you seductively from a shop window.

Late Majority. (I think I fit here) You’re probably sat cursing that everyone you’ve seen with an iPad this week is a douche, or worse: a douchePad. You’ll be getting one though as soon as 1) the price goes down considerably 2) everyone else has one and you need to share applications/files with them and 3) you can impress people (whose wives won’t let them buy one) in meetings.

Laggards. At some point, you’ve said something like the iPad “it is just a big iPhone/iPod touch.” You’re probably going to get an iPad in a years time or so when they come free with new Singtel Mio/Starhub packages… and you know it.

So which one are you?

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