I just went to a great presentation from some local knowledge management folks in Boeing and Microsoft. The presenters gave some very concrete, actionable ways to enable knowledge-sharing in your organization. Many libraries are facing the same issues of aerospace and other technical firms, namely baby boomer retirement and the knowledge gap that will leave. Boeing’s knowledge management program attempts to address this brain drain issue by setting up communities of practice, mentoring programs, a technical expert locater (with facebook-like social features), and other activities that I wasn’t able to capture in my notes. Microsoft rewards knowledge sharing as part of their employee performance reviews, a top-down way of creating a knowledge-sharing culture.
The key activity that enables knowledge sharing? Social connection.
How tired are you of sage-on-the-stage conference presentations? I can absorb a certain amount of one-way information, but after a while, it’s only the chill of the air-conditioning that keeps my eyes open.
Not so with David Gurteen’s presentation on Knowledge Cafes. Once he had defined the form, discussed the dynamics, and enumerated some ground rules, the impromptu knowledge cafe began. Even though we were in a large-ish room with auditorium seating and had to change groupings of 4-5 people three times in 40 minutes, the session was a humming success. Lots of knowledge sharing goin’ on.
“When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts; they transform them” —Theodore Zeldin
You can read more about the knowledge cafe process and even watch a video on Gurteen’s website, but you just have to experience it to really get it.
I was so mad at myself yesterday because I forgot to bring the power cord to my computer, so my original intention of blogging live the conference yesterday was thwarted. It did allow me to enjoy the conference however, without being tethered to a computer, which does have value in and of itself. We’re also fortunate that at almost every session I’ve attended, there has been at least one person twittering. Check out this Summize snapshot of what other SLA attendees are talking about on Twitter.
On Sunday, I attended a session titled “Mapping Knowledge and Knowledge Flows”. The instructor taught some techniques for mapping organizational and social networks. One of my aha moments was that a social network chart that maps communication may look VERY different than your org chart.
So far, the highlights for me have been Dave Snowden’s talk on knowledge sharing. I highly encourage everyone to check out the podcast of his talk when it becomes available on his website, cognitive-edge.com. I know I’ll be listening to it again to capture some of those concepts I missed. One of my takeaways was that knowledge is contextual and humans best share knowledge using narrative (essentially stories). I don’t want to do a disservice to the rich and complex ideas he was talking about so I recommend reading his articles, and listening to his talk.
I also attended a great breakfast session on building partnerships titled “Building Bridges, Creating Partnerships”. Of particular interest for me was the value of virtual teams and partnerships. The slides from the presentation will be available later here: dysartjones.com.
Both Betha and I attended a session about knowledge cafes. We’re trying to learn as much as we can before the WebJunction world cafe at ALA on library 2.0.
“Some people say information is power. Baloney. Information sharing is power!”
So spoke Vint Cerf, “father of the Internet” and keynote speaker at the opening session of SLA 2008. Cerf responded with wit and intellect to perceptive questions from his interviewer Charlie Rose. Given the title of Internet Evangelist at Google, Cerf figured he’d better have a religion, so he calls himself Geek Orthodox.
Future-facing ideas and endeavors:
Just listening to Vint Cerf is a mental exercise—illuminating and exciting.
We’re really looking forward to seeing the diversity of libraries that will be represented at this year’s SLA Annual Conference. And we’re very excited that our lovely Seattle will be hosting. Topics on a wide range of issues will be covered including knowledge management, e-learning, marketing, advocacy, and much more. Vint Cerf and Seth Godin will be keynote speakers and there will be plenty of opportunities for librarians to network and connect with each other at social functions. Betha and Emily will be blogging from the conference. If you see them walking around the conference, be sure to say hello!