KMaus09:Day two practitioner Dale Chatwin

August 6, 2009

Dale is Director, ABS Knowledge Management (Australian Bureau of Statistics) and starts by telling us its a story of failure! Attention increases in the audience. They had one of the early, and sophisticated Lotus Notes systems. Side bar here, Notes was a great KM system, a poor email system, but the idiots trying to compete with Microsoft on email rather than playing to the products strengths. Back to the keynote, promising honesty! The initiative was mandated top down for the IT people (around 400) following a consultancy recommendation to senior management (there in lies many a story of failure). It had CoPs, CoI and a PPP (professional practice place which was a wiki). 15 CoP and 13 CoI for only 400 people, several didn’t even have members (laughter). A couple have succeeded, software testing for example has got activity. Argues its being embraced because it was mandated, but in consequence they have the wrong sort of participation (rather like the wrong sort of leaves for British readers).

Making the very important point that far too many people assume that things which work on the internet with millions of participants cannot be moved in house to a community of four hundred people. They have been through three different wiki software packages in a year! Notes loyalists continue to challenge it. Survey they ran showed that the PPP idea was not seen as useful for practice, lots of disillusion with the whole process. Interestingly 80% of staff came to a showcase, but participation on line was very low.

Says he was not originally consulted in the set up (for the eighth time and I don’t blame him), but when he was involved went out to check likely participation, and got a 20% figure which was less than their Notes participation rate.


  • amazed at their resilience
  • believe we dissipated/split our effor rather than harnessed more productivity
  • PPP certainly has help us better conclude work
  • Participation rates mirror those listed in research on closed communities on the internet

Finishes with a note from a participant indicated the confused aspects of what was happening, and the issues about authority. Lovely line here the balance of CoPs to Coffee is way off. A great argument against over formalism, professionalism should be through cultural shift not rules.

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