Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leadership 2.0 in ACTION: A journey from knowledge management to “Knowledging”

Here is an abstract and link to a full paper which I co-authored with Dr Brenda Dervin. Cheuk, B. & Dervin, B. (2011). Leadership 2.0 in Action: a Journey from Knowledge Management to "Knowledging“. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal (KM&EL), Vol 3, No 2 (2011). http://kmel-journal.org/ojs/index.php/online-publication/article/view/107/87 Leadership 2.0 is a set of alternative management values and practices driven by a set of coherent assumptions about the nature of human communication. In this paper, the authors argue that Leadership 2.0 is critical to make Web2.0 work. This paper is informed by Dervin’s Sense-Making Methodology (SMM) as an approach to design knowledge sharing platform incorporating Web2.0 features which allow user-generated content and have a stronger emphasis on collaboration and interaction amongst users. SMM is a philosophically derived approach which allows knowledge management (KM) researchers and practitioners to more fully understand and listen to user’s needs so as to inform the design of dialogic KM practices and systems to promote knowledge sharing. This paper presents a “Safety Moment” project to illustrate how SMM has been applied to inform the design of a Web2.0 enabled ‘knowledging’ application in Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the world’s largest all-environmental consulting firm. The project discussed has been implemented since January 2008 as part of ERM’s commitment to improve Health & Safety Performance to ensure all ERM employees, contractors and clients are safe at work. The use of SMM informed Web2.0 application has correlated with increased staff satisfaction, increased company reputation and reduced risks. If you have the chance to read this paper, I like to invite you to share your comments with me and the blog readers. Do you share my experiences? Do you have different experiences to share? How do what we have shared in this paper connect with your work, your life, your organization?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Social business in the enterprise: two stories

There has been a lot of interests introducing social platform within enterprise to improve knowledge sharing and business interaction. Putting in place the tools are relatively easy, identifying the opportunity to use interactive 2.0 tools to add value to the business is an art (as it requires good understanding of business needs and organisation culture), ensuring the online interaction/conversation is authentic, meaningful, genuine and deep is the hardest.

Here are two stories to get me/you recognise the challenges in using 2.0 tools to flatten hierarchy:

1. A senior executive is hosting an online discussion with his global team. He invites everyone to ask questions and leave comments relating to a strategic topic. One staff has a question, but instead of posting on the forum, the staff feels more comfortable sending the question to his line manager, asks his line manage to review and edit the question before he posts it up to the forum. What intrigue me is that on one hand the senior executive wants to break down hierarch using the forum, on the other hand, the hierarchical structure continues to reinforce the norm to seek line manager's approval before one can speak, and even so, what he posts up is not his authentic voice. Does the discussion forum achieve the purpose of supporting 2-way dialogue to break down hierarchy?

2. A blogger posts a blog post with a controversial title which gives the impression that he does not agree with a senior executive's judgement. Within 24 hours after the blog post went up, the blogger receives a call from someone working in senior executive office sharing the feedback that blog post may give the wrong impression to other readers and suggests the blogger to edit the blog title. What intrigue me is that many enterprise wants to promote blogging to improve knowledge sharing, but on the other hand are not ready to tolerate diverse views and perspectives. What is the point of blogging when blog posts can only agree with the status quo?

It is a long journey for business to go social within the enterprise (Euan Semple asks us to be patient in his recent blog), because it is not system implementation, it is not even cultural change, it is a fundamental change in how the hierarchy works and how every individual interact with one another and establishing new norms. And when we get there, it is going to be satisfying to look back and realize so much has evolved and everyone has changed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Reflection on the Asia Pacific Online Information Conference 2011

I had the opportunity to attend and present in the first Asia Pacific Online Information Conference 2011. After 2 intensive days, I finally got a chance to sit back and reflect on what I have learnt from this event. However, I have to admit that I have procrastinated in publishing this post until today.

1. Robert Hillbard talked about information-driven business. Diane Cmor talked about information literacy as a practice and mindset to effective seek and use information. What strike me is that information is generally recognized as a strategic asset, to turn this recognition into action, information professionals working in different settings can play a strategic role to (a) help identify what information is critical to deliver preferred business/organization outcomes; (b) evaluate how accesible is this critical information; and (c) present/visualize the value of making the critical information available. If one can grab senior executives' attention to invest in making the critical information flow, and result in investment in appropriate programs to make it happen, we can truly show the value information professionals can add to business, society or institutions.

2. In my own keynote presentation, I emphazied that to make Enterprise 2.0 work, we need Leadership 2.0. Preparing this talk makes me thinking deeper about Leadership 2.0, which I have been advocating for a number of years that it requires leaders to open up the communication space, to value diverse views and ready to be surprised. In my view, they are important but they are not enough to take E2.0 to the next level. Open up the space does not necessarily lead to good conversation. Good conversation has to be well facilitated to allow diverse voice to emerge, allow the participants to connect with one another's ideas as well as to self reflect. Good conversation goes beyond spontaneous dialogue. This is easier said than done online for 3 reasons: (1) most people think 2.0 is easy and intuitive, having faciltiated or structured online dialogue does not seem to align with the idea that 2.0 conversation is easy; (2) designing and facilitating good online conversation requires preparation and investment (which 2.0 team may not have considered nor budgeted for); and (3) good conversation can be intense and result in deep learning and change in awareness, it is valuable but the learning experience for the participants can be demanding.

Overall, I really enjoy meeting old friends from Singapore and meeting information professionals in hong kong and get to spend time with other keynote speakers to exchange ideas. What we all share is a passion that information is a strategic asset for organisations, and that we can play a part to bring this asset to the forefront.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Social media challenges for leaders

My experience working with many senior executives leading government departments, professional consultancies and banks tell me that as more and more communciation channels / social media emerge, the leaders face challenges on multilevel. First, they need to develop an awareness of what's new and figure out what it is. Then, they need to think strategically about the potential to introduce new communication channels in the organization context to add real value and achieve top line and bottom line outcomes. And once a decision is made to embrace these new channels, the implementation can be a challenge too for early adopters as you don't have examples to follow. New technologies open up new possibitilies and very often challenge existing leadership model, current business processes and resulting in greater organization change than one anticipate. Turning a concept from napkin paper to reality requires putting the righ team, having the strategic focus and persistence to get there. I know of many companies who are struggling to figure out how to use twitter-like or facebook-like applications within the enterprise setting. It is this part of innovation that excites me personally.
The leaders also face a number of dilemna when introducing new communication channels. Typical questions include: Should I open up more channels and encourage more conversation from all staff members versus should I focus on facilitating quality and purposeful conversation? Should I promote nice conversation to create a happy-clappy team cultue versus should I ritualize dissent, surface diverse voice, promote debate so that difficult and controversal ideas and topics emerge and can be dealt with earlier? How much can I (or should I) control and moderate the conversation? Bottomline, these new technologies are asking leaders to go back to the basic, and think deeper about what it means to have two-way genuine dialogue with your staff and with your clients.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Information Literacy in the Workplace Context

A friend who is passionate about "information literacy" in the education context recently asked me "Do you have any view on the impact of information literacy or is being addressed in the corporate/business world?"

My interest in information literacy started in mid-1990s when I was exploring my PhD research topic, eventually I specialize in knowledge management (or I prefer to call it knowledge sharing) and focus on helping workers within companies to share and use information effectively . His question made me think more about information literacy in the workplace context.

My response is yes, information literacy is very important and has high impact in the corporate/business world. Knowledge workers interact with information all the time. Information is exchange in business conversation as well. Information literacy can improve knowledge workers' work productivity. On a more strategic level, management team which invest in building a company's capability to share, organize and disseminate information drive innovation, expedite learning, avoid repeating mistakes can result in competitive advantage and reap tangible benefits.

However, the phrase "information literacy" which library and information professionals tend to use is disguised under many different names (e.g. understanding of information use policies/legal and compliance guidelines, awareness of information resources, research and information organizing skills, writing reports, visualizing data/findings, knowledge management, collaboration, marketing and business intelligence scanning, communication and presenation skills, and more recently social media awareness and understanding the implication of its use). I can add more to this list.... but you get what I mean. Some of these information literacy skills are required more in certain role than the others, but no matter what you do, they are required at different times.

How "information literacy" is being addressed in the workplace, I have not heard of any "information literacy" curriculum that companies run for staff , and I don't think it is the right approach either. Information literacy is so embedded in our day to day work that it cannot be separated as something different. The challenge for educators is: how can you prepare students with information literacy skills/mindset so that they can be effective in the workplace context (and in their day-to-day lives). Information literacy education really need to be embedded seamlessly in the whole education curriculum.

I wonder what do you think? I love to hear your views to refine my thinking.