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Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Community straddlers and innovation: asking right questions about communities of practice
George Por about community straddlers and innovation (better read the whole post)
...for radical innovation to fly, KM, innovation management, and R&D, they all need to perform foreground/background shift in their thinking about communities of practice. Picture the CPs of your organization as a parallel structure, a network of nodes with strong or weak links or no links between them, Corporate CP-support teams are typically focused in helping individual CPs getting off the ground or unstuck, or providing ongoing facilitation in some cases. For enabling CPs to foster radical innovation somebody has to focus not on the nodes but the links between them. That somebody has also to perceive and assess how well the pattern of those links is aligned with the organization’s innovation strategy.
For me George contributes to answering not an easy question from practice "how can we support a community of practice in moving from problem-solving to innovation". The question is not correct: this is not about a community, this is about an ecosystem of communities.
Who can be that “somebody”? Anyone who cares enough about the organization to dramatically increase its value to all stakeholders, its customers and members alike. The more, the merrier.
I know, what I’m saying in this blog entry is easier said than done. I do hope raising more questions than answering. I believe this is a ground-breaking inquiry, and would welcome your comments and questions to further it together. So, if you feel an urge to jump in, don’t restrain yourself J , don't hesitate to click on the "Comment" link below. If you have authoring access to this blog, post a new entry and select “Innovating with CPs” for one of the categories, under which you list it.
There’s more background to my thinking about "radical innovation with CPs" in my whitepaper of the same title.
Why weblogs are rarely used to document research (2)
Research Blogging? by Sven-S. Porst
Lilia Efimova wonders Why weblogs are rarely used to document research. This question came to my attention recently as well and my best guesses were:
Better quesses than my own :) I think that audience is important: if I know that people interested in my research are reading my weblog then I'm more likely to overcome "writing lazyness". And after that I can enjoy all the fruits of articulation...
- Nobody wants to read it: Research work tends to be too specific and technical to document it to the public. I guess it wouldn’t appeal to the average reader - rather scare them away.
- Writing things down properly takes a lot of effort and time. This somehow contradicts that I’m blogging mostly to relax and in my spare time
- I don’t (yet) understand many of the things I’m looking at well enough to write about them as clearly as I would like to.
I like the idea of having research weblogs:
- Pro: It would be a way to document what you’re doing and enable you to go over things again after having erased them from the blackboard.
- Contra: Writing things down would be quite a large overhead.
- Pro: It’s easier to stay in touch with what your friends/colleagues/tutors/students are doing.
- Contra: It’s not quite as easy as walking over to their office and seeing them face-to-face.
- Pro: It would enable you to have better contact to people in the same research area living elsewhere in the world.
- Contra: Actually turning this into something useful requires technology to be present for everyone and everyone being willing and able to put in the extra work.
Thus, I think the benefits from having research weblogs could be great. In fact they are as is apparent for anyone who ever bumped into John Baez’s This Week’s Findings in Mathematical Physics. It can be helpful for the reader looking something up, the reader following his work and probably himself for having to clarify everything to himself before writing it up.
Some of the Contras can probably resolved, e.g. providing your students and employees with easy access to weblogging tools (how much does it add to the IT budget?). And while at that the topic of what happens to your blog once you leave your university should be addressed as well. Others, like the fact that writing things down may be a lot of effort, could be harder to overcome. Also, the feasibility of blogging your research probably depends on the area you’re in.
Why weblogs are rarely used to document research?
Follow-up thinking about why I don't use my blog to document my PhD research.
I know that many people in my subscription list do research (as part of their job), but I don’t see many of them explicitly blogging about it. Reading their blogs I get a feeling of a situation similar to my own. I’m blogging bits and pieces only loosely connected to my main “research job” and you probably can’t explain what I’m doing in my PhD from reading my weblog. I wonder why it works like that.
Two ideas for now:
- I’m not so passionate about my PhD as about my blogging topics. – This is not true: I had a chance to define my PhD questions myself and I want to do it.
- There is something else… I don’t know yet… Only guessing.
Putting things in context: why I blog by Dave Pollard
Dave Pollard in Putting things in context: why I blog [via Blogging from the Barrio]
One of the great challenges in knowledge sharing, and in asynchronous communication, is to provide your audience with enough context to understand where your message 'comes from' -- what mental models, preconceptions, hidden agendas, historical baggage and motivations filter and taint what you say. Conveying this context makes it easier for the recipient of your message to internalize what you're saying more accurately and fully. It can also prevent misconceptions that lead to argument or disparagement of your point of view. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to let you know not only who I am (in the sidebar About the Author ), but also why I blog -- what motivates me, on top of a heavy business workload, to spend at least 25 hours a week reading blogs and other resources, and writing my own blog posts. So here goes:
I do this for three equally important (to me) reasons:
- Improve My Writing Skills: [...]
- Institute Weblogs in Business: As Chief Knowledge Officer of a large professional services company, I've been grappling with two major cultural obstacles to knowledge sharing - employees' reluctance to contribute their knowledge, and the absence of context sufficient to make knowledge that is contributed easy to assess, internalize and re-use. I think employee weblogs might solve both problems.
- Environmental Activism: [...] ...I'm hoping that by blogging environmental manifestos like How to Save the World and The Third Way, SETI-like, I will be able to find like minds with whom I can work to drive a powerful, effective, broad-based environmental movement.
For those that have read my posts before, is this helpful? Should we make it part of the blogger culture that each of us provide some context for our writing with both a bio and a 'why I blog' summary?
I'm thinking about another research idea - collecting and analysing "why I blog" posts from different weblogs :)
Knowledge management, weblogs and action research (2)
I decided to make two posts instead of one long... From the AREOL course - Approaching an action research thesis: an overview
For thesis purposes, you will also find it desirable to ensure that you document your procedures as you go. In particular, you will want to keep a record of:
- the emerging interpretations, and any changes in these
- the changing methods, any refinements in them, and any conclusions you can therefore draw about them
- the literature you access, and any confirming or disconfirming information you obtain from it
- quotes from raw information which capture well the interpretations you are developing.
Without adequate documentation, it will be very difficult to reconstruct this when you prepare the eventual thesis. It is much easier to keep good, if selective, records as you proceed.
After reading it I quickly realise that it's very close to what I do working on the BlogTalk paper - I use my blog to document the process.
Now I have to think hard why I don't do that for my PhD research. First reasons seem to be:
- confidentiality - many things in the project require formal agreement to go public and sometimes it's safer to keep silence instead of trying to draw the line between confidential and open
- complexity - I don't know where to start documenting it
- lack of shared context - with the BlogTalk paper I don't have to explain much, but there is a long story behind my PhD ideas
I guess it's time to start internal weblog. I'm ready, my colleagues are ready (at least for my weblog ;), so it's just a matter of finding time. I hope I do it after all April's deadlines are passed. I really feel loosing something from my PhD work because of not blogging it. (Is this a sign of addiction? :)
Knowledge management, weblogs and action research
Jim McGee: Knowledge management and weblogs
Knowledge management has been premised on the notion that the knowledge to be managed already exists and simply needs to be collected and organized to obtain the promised benefits.
One reason that so many of us find weblogs exciting in the realm of knowledge management is that weblogs reveal that the most important knowledge needs to be created before it can be collected and organized.
This is similar to the argument about the important split between tacit and explicit knowledge but much simpler. There is a category of knowledge that lies between explicit and tacit--what a colleague of mine, Jeanie Egmon, labels as "implicit." This is knowledge that is actually fairly simple to write down once you decide that it's worth doing so and once you have tools that make it easy to do so. It's the knowledge of context and the whys behind the whats. It's the knowledge that's obvious at the time and on site, but mysterious even to its creators six months and six hundred miles later.
In the knowledge economy that we all live in, even if we keep trying to stay comfortably ensconced in the industrial economy that used to make so much sense, we need to reflect on and learn from experience on a daily basis in order to maintain any sort of edge. That reflection and learning depends on having high quality raw material to work with. That's what weblogs provide.
It is called Praxis, which deals with the construction of knowledge in the here and now. That cyclical endeavor of making sense of our endeavors in light of new insights and information. It is lifelong learning in the concrete. If anything, this is the stuff that we need to be passing on to our students. We need to model this behavior. As a faculty, we need to practice this behavior as a group. If a faculty is not about focusing on practice and refining it, then there is no praxis on an organizational level, and most likely lacking at the classroom level. That is why I think that weblogs may be one tool to expose our practice.
A good part of the potential benefits of personal Webpublishing lies in the somewhat self-referential loop that is supported by this emerging practice.
The number one readers of my published items is me, myself, and I.
Of course, this is an exaggeration, but it points to the immediate benefit that a continued collection and publication of experiential "raw material"holds for the author. Loads of it would normally slip out of consciousness and memory in a matter of hours or days.
I wouldn't say that the mere collection of this material already ensures reflection, elaboration, and deep, personal learning. But sifting through my self-created content becomes and increasingly important activity within my own learning projects.
For a last few days I kept thinking about another parallel - weblogs and action research. I participate in AREOL distance course on action research (actually I don't do it properly as it is not visible in my weblog, but I hope to write about it later :)
In my interpretation action research is about regular and well-thought reflection on your practice. Looking at examples of reflective activities I that see many of them are about note-taking, diaries, debriefing, reviewing... So close to my blogging experiences...
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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.
This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.