KCUK09 - conference blog 2

June 10, 2009

I’m a bit behind (well ten days to be accurate) with tidying up the final set of notes I took during the above conference. Final days of our Children of the World pilot and I’ve been living off 4 hours sleep a night. However its been worth it, fascinating stuff and I spent a lot of last weekend in tears at some of the stories coming in from refugee camps in Pakistan. Children have a remarkable ethical resilience that we need to draw on. More of that another day, but I should be back to the normal daily post. I’m also at a conference in Aberdeen for the next few days so expect a flurry of blogs if the content is interesting. In the meantime back to KCUK09, and yes I did cheat and changed the date on this entry.

The highlight of day two for me (ignoring my keynote on which I am not qualified to make a judgement) was this wonderful statement about a Sharepoint implementation from a speaker who will, for the sake of his career remain nameless: It matches the aspirations of our chief executive who doesn’t want people messing about with face book. I tweeted that at the time and it spread like wildfire. Sharepoint came in for a fair amount of criticism which doesn’t surprise me, its far too structured for KM. Nice to see practice validating theory here!

One of the sessions was a panel of three speakers talking about their experience. This is where the Sharepoint issue came up. BT were open about using it for a short term out of the box collaboration tool, but for anything long term they shifted to other tools including their own wiki. Pfizer had set up a successful WIki then had to face an IT department who thought they could do everything with Sharepoint! That story set up a ditting session, another neat example was one person wanted to introuce a wiki but was banned as it would compete with the intranet. Pfizer found a way round that, the wiki was started on a box under a scientsts desk You don’t need an IT department to set it up. It grew and by the time IT became aware of it, but they couldnt say no as it was already delivering business value.

Another good answer, asked by the floor for a recipe the response was: I don’t really know we left it with the commnunity that needed it we changed tools and technology three times. That’s a great example of safe-fail evolution rather than the over designed linear systems we see all the time. It’s all about what people have chosen to do, not what they have been told to do. Pragmatic cynicism rules OK! All in all a good session, more like this would be useful.

I then missed a session for a meeting but came in on the end of a more conventional presentation where storytelling consultants were helping managers explain and justify their KPIs (I always get depressed about that). Then we got another vendor presentation, well it came across like that. All the slides were about the wonders of Sharepoint, with boxes, arrows, the the commentary was a lot better (one official one real). That was when we heard about the CEO who didn’t like Facebook. Another lovely Sharepoint description: Ugly duckling or beuatiful swan I don;t know its certainly expensive. Shortly followed by This thing is a monster, difficult to deal with until we had reachitected it

Overall however it was a presentation about what they hope will happen in the future rather than what they had done. I’ve seen too many early days presentations in over a decade of KM conferences to take anything like that seriously. We got compensation next with Bonnie talking about her work at ERM. A very flattering comment linking me with Brenda Dervin which left a warm glow for the rest of the day. Bonnie (she hasn’t updated her practitioner page, so I have linked to shame her into doing so) has used Sharepoint, but realised its restrictions. Got the basics up and running and now moving on to seeing knowledge as a flow. I was impressed with the way that she had got partners to engage with employees within the system and also with client stories. All good stuff. I stayed to the end and then made a dash for the station, but missed the train by three minutes so had a hour in Paddington which is not the best end to a day!

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