Keine Angst vor der Digitalisierung- Mütter, sie ist Eure Chance!

Das Schreckgespenst der Digitalisierung geht um! Und ein kürzlich rumgereichter Artikel will uns weissmachen, dass es gerade die Frauen sind, die unter der digitalen Transformation leiden werden. Was für ein Blödsinn! Noch nie waren die Möglichkeiten und Chancen für Familienfrauen so vielfältig und gut wie gerade jetzt. Man muss sie nur erkennen und sich zu Nutze machen.

Im Zuge der Digitalisierung wird von Automatisierung und Verlust von Arbeitsplätzen gesprochen. Von der Wichtigkeit der MINT Fächer (in denen wir Frauen untervertreten sind), von Blockchain, künstlicher Intelligenz und virtueller Realität. Also von Technologie. Dabei geht unter, dass die digitale Transformation noch viele andere Gesichter hat. Dass es zum Beispiel dank digitalen Angeboten noch nie so einfach war, sich weiterzubilden. Dass man sich online eine eigene Präsenz aufbauen kann, die aussagekräftiger ist als jeder CV. Dass die virtuelle Welt ganz neue Möglichkeiten bietet, sich Netzwerke aufzubauen. Oder dass die digitale Transformation neue Berufsbilder mit sich bringt, die man sich selbst erarbeiten kann. Und das alles zeit- und ortsunabhängig, von zuhause aus, abends, während der Spielgruppe des Kleinsten. Also ideal für uns Mütter! Wie das geht? Zum Beispiel so wie bei mir:

Weiterbildung, Weiterbildung, Weiterbildung

Ich wusste eigentlich schon vor der Geburt des ersten Kindes, dass eine Rückkehr in meinen angestammten Beruf nicht möglich sein würde. Umorientierung, Weiterbildung war also angesagt. Genau zu diesem Zeitpunkt startete Coursera seine ersten MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses, Kurz-Weiterbildungen übers Internet, die gratis sind und an denen viele, ja sehr viele Menschen gleichzeitig teilnehmen. Der erste Kurs war eine Offenbahrung. Da konnte ich lernen, was mich interessierte, wann ich Zeit hatte, und in dem Tempo, das gerade passte. Perfekt für eine Mutter mit Kleinkindern! Das war vor rund 5 Jahren. Bis heute habe ich rund 7 Online Kurse besucht, teils MOOCs zu so unterschiedlichen Themen wie Project Management und Storytelling. Teils Kurse mit offiziellem Abschluss wie ein Online CAS eines Schweizer Bildungsanbieters. Dass ich neben dem eigentlichen Inhalt auch gleich noch mitbekommen habe, wie online Didaktik und virtuelle Zusammenarbeit funktioniert, war dabei ein willkommener Nebeneffekt. Heute ist das online Bildungsangebot riesig-von der Migros Klubschule über die AKAD bis zur Fernfachhochschule gibt es Ausbildungsgänge, und dass nur schon in der Schweiz! Dank Digitalisierung ist es möglich, Weiterbildung schon während der Kinderpause anzugehen. Was für eine Chance!

Fast gleichzeitig begann ich, mit WordPress rumzuspielen. Zuerst ein Blog- inhaltlich eher banal- mit dem ich die Software kennenlernen konnte. Dann die erste Webseite. Dann eine anspruchsvollere Webseite. Und dann eine noch anspruchsvollere Webseite. Einfach für mich, weil ich neugierig war, was sich da alles rausholen liess, und weil es Spass machte. Es gab Leute, die wussten davon. Und schauten sich an, was ich da so machte. Und kamen irgendwann auf mich zu- ob ich dies auch für sie machen würde? Gegen Bezahlung selbstverständlich? Und so wurde die Erstellung von Webseiten zum ersten geldbringenden Zweig in meiner langsam wachsenden Selbstständigkeit. Eine neue Tätigkeit, nur weil ich neugierig war und mir die digitale Welt die Möglichkeit bot, mir Wissen anzueignen, das andere nicht hatten!

Von der Online Präsenz bis zur Selbstvermarktung

Ich begann zudem, meine Online Präsenz weiter auszubauen. LinkedIn, Xing, ein Twitter Account. Mit dem ich zu Beginn nicht so viel anzufangen wusste. Bis da diese Konferenz kam, an der ich gerne teilgenommen hätte. Aber eben, ich habe ja 3 Kinder… Da lernte ich, dass an gewissen Veranstaltungen über den Inhalt getwittert wird. Ich schaute mir das an und merkte- da liegt noch viel mehr drin, in dieser virtuellen Welt! Als ich dann noch über Persönliches Wissensmanagement stolperte, war mir klar- was ich bis jetzt als Lernen und Online Präsenz ansah, war nichts, wirklich nichts!

Persönliches Wissensmanagement: Suche- mache Sinn daraus- Teile. Suche Quellen zu den Themen, die Dich interessieren. Nicht Bücher, sondern Personen! Die junge Dame, die so kreative Tortenrezepte bloggt. Der Herr, der auf Pinterest botanische Zeichnungen sammelt. Die Frau, die Videos über sketchnoting auf YouTube veröffentlicht. Kaum ein Thema, mit dem sich nicht andere beschäftigen und ihre Arbeiten im Internet teilen. Ich fing an, mir solche Quellen zusammenzusuchen und lernte eine ganz neue Art des Lernens und Weiterbildens kennen. Persönlich, erfahrungsbasiert, auf mein Themengebiet spezialisiert.

Doch was machen, mit all dem Gelernten? Sinn daraus machen und teilen. Ich begann, wieder einen Blog zu schreiben, diesmal gehaltvoll. Manchmal empfahl ich nur einen anderen Artikel, manchmal schrieb ich selbst, was mir so auf dem Herzen lag zum Thema, häufig inspiriert durch etwas, dass ich gelesen hatte. Ich machte Sinn aus dem Gelernten, in dem ich es aus meiner Perspektive weitererzählte. Und ich teilte es mit meinem wachsenden Netzwerk, welches mir dazu wiederum Feedback gab oder mir weitere Quellen zukommen liess.

Nach und nach begann so, meine Online Präsenz zu wachsen. Nicht nur pure Fakten, wie in einem Profil auf LinkedIn, sondern ich zeigte, von was ich etwas verstand und was mich interessierte. Kompetenzen, die ein CV nicht unbedingt widerspiegelt, die ich aber dank Link zu meinem Blog in diesen aufnehmen konnte. Ohne dies bewusst angegangen zu sein, hatte ich einen neuen Weg zur Selbstvermarktung eingeschlagen.

Virtueller Netzwerkaufbau- teilen und lernen

Dies funktionierte aber nur, weil ich das zugehörige virtuelle Netzwerk hatte. Leute, die lasen, was ich schrieb, es kommentierten und “liked”en und so sowohl meine Arbeit als auch meine Reichweite verbesserten. Die mich schlussendlich bekannt machten und mich ein Experte auf meinem Gebiet werden liessen. Ich entdeckte die Möglichkeiten der sozialen Netze.

Facebook war der Anfang, da war ich ja bereits zuhause. Doch nicht so viele meiner Freunde dort teilten meine Interessen. Auf LinkedIn kamen da ein paar mehr zusammen. Doch so richtig fand ich meine “peers” dann auf Twitter. Dank mehrerer glücklicher Zufälle lernte ich, wie man sich auf Twitter ein Lernnetzwerk aufbaut. Wie man die Personen findet, die gleiche Interessen haben, wie man mit ihnen interagiert, wie man wertvolle Beziehungen aufbaut. Nach knapp einem Jahr hatte ich bereits 200 Leute, die mir folgten, sich für meine Arbeit interessierten, sie zitierten. Ich hatte erste Blog Posts mit rund 200 Besuchen. Und es kamen die ersten Telefonanrufe. Ob ich an diesem Seminar einen Workshop moderieren könnte. Ob ich hier einen Artikel verfassen möchte. Ob ich an einer Zusammenarbeit interessiert wäre. Mein Netzwerk hatte mich in den entsprechenden Kreisen bekannt gemacht und verschaffte mir erste bezahlte Aufträge! Und gleichzeitig viele neue Ideen.

Neue Berufsbilder- was immer Du sein willst.

Ich verfasste einen gratis Online-Mini-Kurs, wie man sich mit Twitter ein Netzwerk aufbaut. Gerade jetzt konzipiere ich einen Kurs über WordPress und was man damit so alles anstellen kann. Und der nächste Kurs zu Persönlichem Wissensmanagement steht auch schon auf der Liste. Ich bin Online Dozentin geworden, fast ohne dazugehörige Ausbildung, dafür mit ganz viel praktischer Erfahrung. Ich wurde Working Out Loud Ambassadorin, Moderatorin und Workshop-Leiterin. Working Out Loud, eine neue und aktuelle Methode, wie man sich in der virtuellen Welt ein Netzwerk aufbaut, welches einem hilft, ein bestimmtes Ziel zu erreichen. Auch dies dank meinem Interesse und meiner Erfahrung, ohne einen formalen Abschluss, ohne spezifisches Training. Und nächstens plane ich, Coach und Mentorin für Frauen zu werden, die sich in die digitale Welt vorwagen möchten. Um sich dort einen Platz zu schaffen, auf dem sie ihre Interessen verfolgen, sich als Expertin positionieren, und sich damit ihren eigenen Beruf erschaffen können. Und danach kommt die nächste Idee, inspiriert durch die Möglichkeiten der virtuellen Welt.

Und da soll mal noch jemand sagen, die Digitalisierung sei schlecht für die Frau. Im Gegenteil! Nutzt die Chancen, die sich dank den neuen virtuellen Möglichkeiten bieten. Bringt Euch ein, macht Euch bekannt, verkauft Euch und Euer Können online. Sei es Euer Wissen (welches viel grosser ist, als Ihr meint!) oder Eure Produkte oder Eure Dienstleistungen. Ihr braucht nu rein wenig Zeit, Geduld und Neugier und Offenheit. Also nicht wirklich viel- oder?

A very brief introduction to Personal Knowledge Management

Ottobock, this weeks company in the #cl2025 Moocathon (see https://colearn.de), asks people to think about their own learning strategies. In this context, PKM came up very quickly. As some people where wondering what PKM means, I decided to post this text of mine, which originally was an assignment in a MOOC, asking for examples of Collaborative Intelligence. 

At first sight, it does not seem that Personal Knowledge Management has a lot to do with Collaborative intelligence or Social learning. But actually, it has a lot to do with it!

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is a way of personal learning and advancing in a highly connected world. Harold Jarche, one of the leaders of PKM, sums it up as SEEK, SENSE, SHARE.

Seek for good, valuable sources. This does not mean static sources as e.g. text books, but humans- leaders and experts in the field your interested in. They may publish blogs, newsletters, articles in magazines, or Tweets you can read and learn from. They are the sources of collaborative intelligence you can reach for and use.

Sense what you learned. Just reading something does not have the same level of impact than trying to make sense of it by putting it into your context, your problem, your expertise. Reflect on what you read and draw your own conclusions.

Share your thoughts with others. Publish what you reflected on or what conclusions you draw. This can be done by commenting on other peoples blog posts or articles (and not just “well done”!) or by publishing your own thoughts in posts or articles, referencing your sources or inspirations.

By doing so, you do your part in Social Learning, you give something back to the community you learned from and you contribute to the Collaborative Intelligence.

So how to start?

One point is to find the right sources. Normally you already stumble upon quiet some sources just by searching the Internet. It is valuable to find sources that deliver continuously interesting content. This may require some time and effort.

The other point is to find the right medium. Maybe you like blogs and therefore a RSS feed reader. Or you like Facebook. Or you like (like me) Twitter.

Twitter for me is the most valuable tool for PKM. By following people and reading their re-tweets, you find other valuable people in the field and can expand your network. By reading articles or blog posts they wrote (and tweeted), you learn new stuff. And by reading articles or blog posts of other people they liked and therefore tweeted, you get to content already reviewed. In addition, it is a medium that can be easily used in short time- while waiting for the bus or pick up your kids at school.

Another plus for twitter is the immediate feedback you’re getting, which leads to a unique collaborative learning dynamics with a sense of community (also through the network building aspect of PKM in general) and motivation to contribute by sharing and reviewing.

But you may still need a tool for sense-making. For me, that’s my blog. This blog is primarily for me to „digest“ what I learned, but still I publish publicly and also share my posts on Twitter and other social networks (and get a few views each time ;-)). I combine it with a mind-map to keep track of what I read and how it is connected and influences. Other tools may include wikis, Evernote, or special platforms with forums or project-pages. Some sources: https://legacy.ici-berlin.org/library/research-toolkit/personal-knowledge-management-tools/

Harold Jarche has several workshop he offers where one can learn how to build up an own PKM strategy. Another valuable person to follow is Jane Hart. She is the Queen of social learning at the workpace (and highly interacting with Harold Jarche) and also yearly publishes a huge survey about Tools for Learning. On Twitter you can find them here and here, and me you can find as mcschlatter.

Other sources about PKM:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/personal-knowledge-management-how-do-25-resources-10-books-garfield

http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/Personal-toolkit-A-framework-for-personal-knowledge-management-tools-9416.aspx

Picture: http://jarche.com/2015/05/social-learning-is-personal/

Visualize your knowledge!

Currently I am working on a project that includes visualisation of information and knowledge, respectively. Visualisations can help to clarify information, to compress large amounts of information, to transfer knowledge, to trigger insights in the viewer, and to support the creation of new knowledge by stimulating imaginary. So visualisations influence most of the traditional building blocks of knowledge management.

visualizations_probst2

More than text, visualization can also provoke emotional reactions, both positively (improving our understanding) and negatively (manipulating and distortion), thereby motivating the viewer to contribute and/or create.

more…

Technology, Organization, Humans

Humans, Organisation and Technology are considered the three cornerstones of KM.

Technology is the easy one. Design and implementation of information and communication infrastructures and tools. Progress in technology has lead to a development of KM, and although there was a period (or maybe there still is this period) when technology was taking over KM, being the central focus and alleged solution for all problems, technology is a very important aspect and enabler of KM. The main task here may be to identify the right tool to be implemented at the right time and the right place. Ideally, the used tools seamlessly integrate in the normal workflow of the people– which often asks for less than tech-lovers would like to see.

Organisation is more complicated. Because it does not deal with tools and technique, but with hierarchies, culture, environment, frameworks. In order to implement a successful KM strategy, there needs to be a knowledge- and learning friendly atmosphere, a social component smoothing the way for effective exchange. Creating such an environment often requires structural and mental changes within an organization, which in turn asks for open minds and participation- if not even courage to leave old paths and structures. An open minded leadership that not only supports those changes but also exemplifies them is essential for success. But even when this support is available- considering the many factors that form an organisations culture, one can truly ask if it is even possible as an „outsider“ (which consultants normally are) to grasp them, to disassemble them and even more to change some of them. In any way, a close interaction with key members of the organisation and a serious effort include the organisation aspect in the KM strategy is inevitable.

And then there are humans. Humans, as the carriers of most of the relevant knowledge within an organization, are naturally the core of every KM strategy. But unlike a database, humans need to be willing to share this knowledge and to acquire new knowledge, they need to see a sense in what they are doing, a profit in participating. They need to be social and interactive to exchange knowledge. People share because they want to, people participate because they are motivated. Both, sharing and motivation can never be enforced. Therefore it is the key of every strategy to consider peoples needs, wishes, goals, constraints, feelings, fears, skills, social competencies, expectations. Sounds like one first has to do a master in psychology, but asking the right questions, listening well, taking people and their feelings seriously, and being transparent may already be a good start. And engaging people already in the design process and asking regularly for feedback further improves acceptance and motivation. Which is clearly inevitable for every KM strategy to be successful.

Picture taken from Course script „CAS Knowledge Management“ by IKF, copyright A. Bellinger

This service has shut down

So it’s this time of the year when Jane Hart compiles her Top 200 Tools for Learning. It’s her 10th list of tools that help people in professional and personal learning, workplace learning, and education, and it’s based on votings by learning professionals worldwide. Some of the tools are (very) widely known and well established, like YouTube (this years’s No 1) and Twitter, Moodle, a bunch of Webinar services, presentation tools from PowerPoint to Prezi to Slideshare, and so on- check it out yourself.

But then there are all those other tools. New tools. The list used to be a Top 100 list, now it’s a Top 200 list. Which already says a lot. New on the list this year are e.g. Flipbuilder, which „provides Flash and HTML 5 flip book design software to build 3D flip-page effect e-books from PDF, images and Office files“. Or Curatr, „a social learning platform from HT2 which enables rapid delivery of gamified courses“. And many more.

Although I like to see new tools appearing, I immediately have to ask myself- how long will this service be alive? And what do you do if it’s discontinued??

Webtools4U2Use is a Wiki by K-12 school library media specialists, and on their Finding the Right Tool site, which is very rich too, they include an interesting blog post by Greg Garner dealing with those questions:

But there’s an ugly side to all these free web-based tools that have spawned dozens of conference presentations with cleverly-worded titles: sometimes they fail. I’m talking about the big fail: shutting down the service.

He advices 3 things:

  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. The web has conditioned us to believe that everything should be free. Except that nothing is free. If you like a service, pay for it. If there isn’t currently an option to pay, email the creator/developer and beg to send them money. (Seriously.)
  • Think About Ideas, Not Tools. Always ask yourself what you’re hoping your students will learn before you select your tool. (Don’t use the tool for the tool’s sake)
  • Think Categorically. Think about the various roles that each of your tools fill. Know what kinds of technology (not which tool) would best augment student learning

Read more at: What To Do When Your Favorite Tech Tool Calls it Quits

I completely agree, especially with No 1. That’s why I pay for most of the tools I use- normally there is a basic plan which is low-cost. I just subscribed to a resource planning tool for $2.50 per month. I guess that’s affordable, not?

Beside that, I always consider two other things:

  • Is this new tool really more functional than what I used so far? Or does it just look shinier than my old, established one?
  • Do I trust the developer enough to (already) implement the tool into my workflow? Or is it better just to play around with it with unimportant data and wait?

Most of the time I decide to wait. I do use it, I play with it, and if I like it, I buy the Pro version and hope many other people will do the same. But to include a tool into my personal Top Tool list, it definitevely has to prove to be long-lived. And up to that point, I only feed it with data or information I do not grieve for when it disappears.

One of the tools I just discovered and I am testing now is list.ly. You can check it out here:

Picture from macrumors.com

Are you connected to me on LinkedIn? Find your dot!

I recently stumbled upon Socilab, a very neat web service that enables you to visualize your LinkedIn Network. Socilab is open source, and its idea is

to educate people about their social network data and to make analysis more accessible for everday users

It not only provides you with many connected dots, but also with some metrics. What for, you may ask. Well, first it’s just fun to see your connections flying around you as colored dots. Second, visualizations help people to understand complex things and may inspire them. Visualizing your network can lead to the discovery of (unexpected) connections, clusters, and holes. This again may just be a fun insight. Or, more rationally, may make you think about how to enlarge, diversify, and strengthen your network. Because your network is your main source for learning, inspiration, and development.

Following other peoples thoughts, opinions, insights, and developments lets you constantly learn new things, get new perspectives on old things, and grow. In order to let this happen, your network has to be diverse. You don’t learn too much from the fellows you shared your whole professional pathway with. Who inspires you are those people at the edge of your network, those who share some but not all of your interests.

So how to find these people? One way is rational: Analyze your social network, find „loose dots“, expand from there. Actively search for connections in areas you’re not connected with already. Ask people to introduce you to their network.

But then there is also serendipity.

Serendipity has helped me discover a world that I would have never known before. The foreign places-foreign in the sense I have never been there–are where I have the greatest leaps in understanding and grasping of the potential. I cannot imagine not knowing what I have learned in serendipitous encounters.

writes Anne Adrian about her experiences with blogging and online engagement. Serendipity, that’s the fortunate encounter happening by chance. That’s reading an article, following a link in it, following a second link, and suddenly bumping into something new and wonderful. Serendipity just happens, it cannot be planned or aligned with goals. But by being open-minded in a well-connected time, and by allowing time spent with „just browsing around“ or „just talking and connecting to people for no reason“, chances for serendipity to happen rise. Don’t miss this opportunity!

But back to you, my dots. What did I learn from the analysis of my LinkedIn network?

monika_linkedin_network_analyzed

Not very surprisingly, I am well connected to Academia (purple dots) and the health care industry/ the medical sector (yellow dots), and those people are also well connected among each other. Interestingly, some people I do know from those fields stay very low connected on LinkedIn (some of the scattered dots), so the network may strengthen by introducing them to each other. Still, it is not the most diverse knot in my network- many people share education and/or professional milestones with each other. But then those are the peers who know, understand, and support you.

The most colorful spot is at the bottom: people I know from my private life, and people I met during a stay abroad. They do have immense diverse background and therefore are valuable inputs for further learning and development. Keep an eye on them!

But clearly there is one very weak area: The area I am just entering, the field of Knowledge Management. So although I strongly believe in serendipity and its great value, I learned from my analysis that I should start to also rationally connect to people who can help and support me to enter this new field and to connect me to more peers and mentors in KM.

Curios about your network? Check it out at Socilab!

Enabling the human factor in knowledge management: Web 2.0 and Social Media

While for a long time KM was very technology-driven, and while this happened in a period technology just started to evolve and mainly delivered tools like databases or first platforms, KM got to something that resembled more information management and was focused on how to transfer this information from one to the other. This approach neglected the fact that knowledge is human bound. Knowledge is a sum of information, context, human experience, and personal views and is always connected to a person, the expert knowledge worker.

Therefore, KM has to do a shift from the know-what to the know-who-knows. It gets less important to know something than to know who to contact, who to ask, who to connect to. Based on those interactions, one is then enabled to develop one’s own skills, to implement others experiences and knowledge into one’s own setting or context, and thereby to develop new knowledge that can be given to others.

In this approach, people are central. Knowledge is shifting from information to human mind. Management has to change focus from designing environments to enabling human interaction and networks. And the new tools of Web 2.0 and Social Media are very important enablers of this new approach, maybe even the one stimulus it needs for the shift.

Over the last years, people from all ages and with diverse backgrounds started to use social media- Facebook for personal use, a blog they follow, or forums to search for information on very specific topics or problems. They discovered that the world is full of experts, of people sharing their experiences and giving advices. Googling a solution for a problem got more common than asking people around you. Concomitantly, people started to share their own knowledge, to contribute to discussions, to give insights. Communities formed, and social media got an important place in peoples everyday life.

Now this new form of interaction and sharing is coming to business life. Slowly, people start to adapt what they experience in private to their business environment. They connect to each other inside and outside an organization, they seek, they sense, and they share what they know, using the tools or practices they know from private life. This is totally changing the way information was distributed within organizations so far. Now information is beginning to be really shared, and it’s done bottom-up, agile, and participatory.

Still, it is way too early to celebrate a new area of knowledge management. Although a participatory and de-centralized approach is very likely to be way more accepted by users, there are many hurdles to overcome. Even when management supports knowledge sharing within a company, they may be suspicious to implement “leisure tools” into their business environment- maybe their employees are more chatting about sports results than business projects? Employees may be hesitant too. Not everybody is using social media in private life, not everybody likes technology-based tools, not everybody is open to try something new. There may be disagreement about the tools used: Is microblogging or a blog with comment function better for us? The preferences may be very personal. And last but not least: Can we really benefit from social media if in the business settings, contributions are similar than outside: 1% of regular contributors, 10% of from-time-to-time contributors, and the rest is just reading?

So it’s not time to open this bottle of champagne yet. But it’s definitively time to put it into the fridge and get the glasses ready!

Picture from pixabay

Help needed: Where do you share your hack?

I’m sure you’re a hacker. Yes, you. I am sure you already hacked something at least once in your life. You don’t believe me?

Remember when you were on a picknick without your pocket knife and used a long toothed key to cut your tomato? Remember when you …..

Sometimes, such hacks are not only moment-savers, but they lead to something new, something improved, something cost-saving. Something that may help other people too.  Or something that is just funny. So why not sharing?

Indeed, you find quiet a bunch of platforms on the internet where people share their hacks. Like Ikea Hacks, Mom (and Dad) Hacks, Lego HacksLawn Mower Hacks, or MacGyverismsBut what about hacks from and for work?

During my PhD I was known as the person who hacks Western Blotting protocols, cutting the running time to half. I taught some other people how to achieve this face-to-face, but as human interactions normally are limited, it did not spread widely. As many other good-to-brilliant ideas by many other creative people did too.

I remembered this when I recently read an article: Cooking, Nursing and Making: Harnessing Tacit Knowledge for Discovery and Innovation. It talks about a platform for nurses sharing their hacks.

Now, as then, nurses are loaded with this kind of tacit knowledge and insight – hard-won observations from the trenches about what is needed and useful. Every day, working outside the limelight of the “professional” innovation discussion, they are quietly fabricating solutions to many challenges on the front lines of patient care.

The question is how to channel and amplify all of that latent creativity to best effect. That’s just what MIT researchers Jose Gomez Marquez and Anna Young, at the Little Devices Lab are attempting to do with MakerNurse – a project that brings together nurses with the right support and tools to unlock their tacit insights and give expression to their creative solutions.

So I got curious: Do other professionals share their hacks too? I am not talking about Best Practices or Standard Procedures or list of resources, I am talking about how to do it, how to improve it, how to hack it. Tacit knowledge.

I started with the field I am familiar with: Bio lab work. That’s what I found:

  • 25 real lab hacks on a biotechnology company website (and they’re good)
  • Some conversation on reddit about hacks but difficult to read
  • A platform claiming to share wisdom on lab issues (some good articles but most of it are basic explanations, not hacks)
  • The Biohacking Laboratory (2013-2014) of the Medical Museum in Copenhagen (check out their self-made centrifuge :-))
  • And a handful of blog posts with some tips.

That’s all? Really? Please tell me that’s not true. Please help me- do you know platforms on the internet enabling people to share their work-related hacks, their experiences, their tacit knowledge? Do YOU share knowledge, and where?

Picture taken from Medical Museum

Dead or alive? Act agile!

When I tell people I am dealing with Knowledge Management, I normally get one of these three reactions:

Wide eyes: What the hell are you talking about?
Appalled eyes: How the hell can you work voluntarily on this?
Pitiful eyes: Why the hell do you join a sinking ship?

While Nr 1 and 2 are easy to deal with (they either never got in contact with KM- or in a way one shouldn’t get in contact with it), Nr 3 is a more difficult one. Because it is justified to ask if KM isn’t dead already.

There was the time when everybody had to do KM. Which in most cases meant document management (please tag your documents according to this taxonomy here and store it in the folder according to these rules here and be sure the document has the structure given here) or implementation of After Action Reviews or World Cafes (please block two of your precious working hours to sit with us discussing what may be useful one day after you left the company or are retired). Accordingly, and that’s where reaction 2 occurs, people got very bored by those consultants learning their organization how to improve. And management did not see the effects expected. So KM faded….

Tom Davenport, one of the „Big Ones“ of KM, lists in his LinkedIn article more reasons for the ship to sink:

  • It was too hard to change behavior
  • Everything devolved to technology
  • The technology that organizations wanted to employ was Microsoft’s SharePoint
  • There was often too much knowledge to sort through
  • Google also helped kill KM
  • KM never incorporated knowledge derived from data and analytics

He concludes: Any chance that this idea (of KM) will come back? I don’t think so.

Kaboom…. Even the gurus don’t believe in it anymore…  But although all those points are relevant, isn’t something else even more blamable?

By looking at KM strategies, we often see big projects, carefully planned, with defined outcomes. Designed within project management tools including process owners, aims, activities. And, I am sure, monthly reports.

But knowledge is human, and it’s management is dependent on human interaction, human needs, human motivation. It is not a process or a production chain.

And- it is AGILE. What you need to know today is not the same you need to know tomorrow. What sounds perfect for one group may not work for the other unit. What started to be useful at one point may not be useful anymore later.

So why not look at software development again? How does this sound:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Want to read more?  Agile Software Development

And want to know how it’s done?

It’s done in a self-organising, trustfulness team. Uuh, sounds familiar, not?
It’s done with face-to-face communication. Heard about this before, not?
And: it is done iterative. Small steps are taken. The product is evaluated frequently, the requirements are re-defined frequently, the customer ( aka the users) are included frequently, and the whole team supports a flexible mindset and planning.

And that’s how management of knowledge should be executed too. Start with something small; talk to people about their needs and about their experiences with what you implemented so far; redesign according to what you heard; let people evaluate again; expand to the next level; talk to people; redesign; evaluate; expand; talk; redesign; evaluate; expand…

So follow Davenport: If another notion that’s related to yours comes along and gains popularity, don’t shun it, embrace it. Implement an agile approach to your knowledge management!

Picture taken from https://pritamsen.wordpress.com/tag/agile-software-development/

Knowing what it is that we know- using storytelling to get to our knowledge

In the management of knowledge, neither the individual nor the community is fully aware of the depth or range of its knowledge. Asking an individual what he knows in isolation from context of knowledge use just does not work. Useful knowledge is triggered by events and circumstances. So one has to re-create the events and circumstances in order to identify knowledge.

Observation of knowledge use in day-to-day business works when business cycles are short. But in long-term settings, other approaches need to be implemented.

Interviews fail as while describing the past, history will be changed to ensure the story of the past meets the requirements of the present (e.g. sale numbers).

But indirect approaches like storytelling provide the needed information. Storytelling as a pervasive technique that triggers the memory of knowledge and triggers a desire to acquire knowledge.

As an example, workshops can be undertaken where teams talk about the former cases of lost and won businesses in a relaxed atmosphere. Teams should be prevented from telling stories in a linear time sequence as their inevitably led to distortion as a pseudo-rational model was imposed on the past. Free flow stories reveal a considerable number of decisions that would not have been revealed through conventional interview, and some material is only triggered to be remembered by a powerful story from another team member.

Observers then note every decision made and consolidate them into simple flow diagrams which are then consolidated by the team members. For each decision point, the participants were asked which knowledge they used there, both explicit and tacit.

The result is an idealised model of the decision process and associated information forms and a consolidated register of knowledge assets used.

Distributing knowledge to a wider community

For effective knowledge transfer, an interaction between trainer and trainees is necessary as knowledge is contextual. By collecting anecdotes, underlying values and rules can be identified. Anecdotes can then be decomposed and reconstructed to stories that include the desired values and rules.

In distant learning, anecdotes told in the non-virtual course can be collected, decomposed and re-written with the main values, rules and characters to guide through the online learning, to create identity and the drive to bond, to entertain and – to motivate!

Based on Storytelling and other organic tools for Chief Knowledge Officers and Chief Learning Officers; David Snowden, Founder of the Cynefin Center