Characteristics of a wiki champion

This is a good post on the characteristics of a wiki champion
To complete a succesfull implementation of a wiki in an organization, one needs these characteristics :

  1. Be a Clear Communicator: It is important to keep things simple …

  2. Be A Coach: You will need to coach some of the early users …

  3. Be Patient: Be patient with your early adopters …

  4. Be Enthusiastic: People will react to your enthusiasm …

  5. Be Engaging: Be available to discuss or help …

  6. Have Fun!: This is one of the most important characteristics …


It is a great set of characteristics.  Not only applicable for a wiki implementation, but for any KM project … or even any change project for that matter.

Read the full post !!

Why starting with knowledge management

A friend asked me the other day why he should look into knowledge management for his company.

This is the answer I distilled :

All knowledge management initiatives should focus on any or all to these issues :

– reinventing the wheel

A group is trying to solve a problem which has already been solved by another team.
Makes you lose money and time.

In a company this can be the innovation and corporate support groups, solving solved problems.

-> It is like buying a CD you already own … costs money but does not add to your musical experience

knowledge walking out of the door

Every employee who retires takes his personal knowledge and experience home.
Everything not shared, documented or handed over; actually leaves the company on his last working day.

But not only the retiring work force, also the young people, being more flexible than ever before, not looking for lifelong employment in the same company.

-> Imagine your friends taking home one of your CD’s every time they pay you a visit

the great unknown

This is the “if we only knew what we know” – complaint.

A lot of knowledge is isolated, forgotten, not used; because it is not documented, not shared, not available

Often, a lot of the corporate experts are disconnected from the business, both in time and in subject.  But also personally we forget a lot of things … ever tried to recover an e-mail from more than a year ago ??

-> These are all the CD’s you never listen to, because you actually forgot you once bought them, and now they sit in your collection, … silently.


On each of these areas, specific actions can be taken to overcome the issues.  What and how is influenced by your priorities, culture, focus, strategy, people.

An engineers view on knowledge management

Earlier this week,I attended a workshop on knowledge management, organised by the Flemish Engineers.  Most people in the audience were new to knowledge management, or looking to start up a project.  But all were interested and wanted to learn more.  In small groups, we were asked to discuss about knowledge management : what knowledge is around in a department, is it available, how can it be shared, …

Our group came up with this (the intention was to create  a mind map, but we were more creative) :




We identified four areas :

Information and information systems : libraries, procedures, repositories, taxonomies, …
     This is the domain of explicit knowledge, with formal structures to organise it.

Knowledge : experience, insight, …
    This is the domain of tacit knowledge.

Culture and processes : knowledge transfer, communities of practice, coaching, meetings, …
     Processes can become part of an organisation’s culture when they happen naturally and unconsciously.

Governance : knowledge matrix, CV of a company, …
     This is a holistic view on the knowledge management efforts, including strategy and helicopter view.


We did not go into all the details, but some of the intersections are interesting.  I like to put ‘rules of thumb’ in the intersection explicit-tacit.  One can codify a rule of thumb in a formula, but it should always be used by an experienced person only.

Networking was not on the radar screen, but it belongs in the ‘Culture and Processes’ bucket.  It can be a company culture when networking is natural, or it can be stimulated and organised as a process.  A simple ‘Who is who’ – directory can be a good starting point.  My preference is to use a social networking tool like LinkedIn where all team members can keep an updated profile.  A big advantage of using an external tool is that this network survives company reorganisations and personal career moves.

PS : I made the picture with my new tool (toy).

A new office ?

What will Web2.0 and Enterprise2.0 look like ?

Look at this amazing video, introducing Sun’s virtual workplace.

Here you can meet your virtual team members in a virtual environment.  Talk, chat, discuss and work together (collaborate) on a presentation.


It looks a lot like Second Life and similar virtual worlds, but what is wrong with using fun-entertainment tools in one’s serious-professional life ?

Is there a future for scientific journals and publications ?

In my previous job, I also covered library services.  This included online searches, notifications on scientific data sources;  and journal subscriptions.  Several known KM journals were on my list. 

Since I am home, I haven’t read a single journal … and I don’t feel I miss something.  Currently, I read blogs and I find this a much better way to keep informed.  My blog list (with 95 blogs) acts as my social filter with people I know / trust. 

In Google Reader, there is a search function which searches all the blogs I subscribe to.  Now my blog list has become a very powerful personal knowledge management tool. 

Why should I pay for a journal subscription ??

The CoP toolkit : People – Place – Paper

Let’s have a look now at the three other axis of the toolkit for analyzing Communities of Practice :

People, surely the most debated topic when it comes to communities of practice, and probably the most important too.

Key words here are trust and reputation.  The building of trust and reputation between the members of a community is a slow, long process.   Focused expertise exchange sessions and frequent informal communications help to better understand the other person and the world (s)he lives in.

The current social networking tools (Linkedin, Facebook, …) can be a good help here, since they blurred the boundary between professional (serious) and personal (fun) life.

On this axis the number of interactions can be measured.

The place to be is where the community feels at home.  In a broader sense it is the systems and tools a community feels comfortable to use.

In a digital world, on-line work spaces with discussion forums and document libraries are used, maybe video conferencing tools, netmeetings, newsletters, blogs,  …
How comfortable people feel with these tools determines their use and effectiveness.  As such, this is an important parameter to measure the CoP’s health and maturity.

Finally, paper stands for what we do not forget.  It is the common memory of community member generated and valued content, documentation and learning history.

It includes the actual knowledge base of the community’s practices, the knowledge created and shared by the community members.  But also stories (about successes and failures), because they enforce and sustain the community identity and the sense of belonging.

The number of artefacts and the processes in place to manage them can be measured.


Analyzing a community of practice on these five topics (purpose, processes, people, place and paper) is an easy process and quickly provides a community’s fingerprint.

The CoP toolkit : Purpose – Processes

Let’s look at the Purpose and Processes, two axes of the toolkit for analyzing Communities of Practice.

Obviously, purpose is an important starting point.  A community has to define what it wants to achieve.  The purpose may change over time and can even vary for different groups in the community; but clarity and consensus are crucial.

Etienne Wenger (Communities of Practice.  Learning, Meaning and Identity) talks about ‘joint enterprise‘, resulting from a ‘collective process of negotiation‘.

Once it has been agreed what the community wants to achieve, the members have to define how they will achieve this : which processes and practices need to be in place.  How will the communication be organised, how will the knowledge be shared and how will the community members learn from each other.

It is important that the community members realise that the responsibility to be successful is a group responsibility, not the unique responsibility of the community coordinator.  They have to realise they have to make it happen, no one else will.

It is a good practice to create a community charter, preferably in a community launch work shop.  The discussions among the members will create the necessary clarity and alignment in the group.  The charter is the tool by excellence to introduce new members and align them quickly with the "old timers".

I used to make the comparison with a service club.  If the intention is to create job opportunities for young graduates, the processes will be around social networking, probably between industry and schools.  If charity is the main purpose, the processes will probably focus on fundraising. 

In the end, several purposes can be aimed at simultaneously, but only those with the appropriate processes in place will ever be reached.

A toolkit for analyzing Communities of practice

When you are running a CoP it is a good practice (not a best practice !) to regularly measure the heart beat of the community.
For this purpose I developed a simple checklist, organised around 5 axes :

– Purpose (WHY)       … scope, objective, goal, mission
– Processes (HOW)    … practices, procedures, roles
– People (WHO)         … identity, trust, reputation
– Place (WHERE)        … systems, tools, technology
– Paper (WHAT)         … documentation, learning history

In a simple way, you can monitor a community’s status (maturity) on each of these axes. 
It is not rocket science and highly subjective, but it is a good framework to organize the action points around.
Both for starting up new Communities of practice or for doing a check up on an existing one.
The output can be represented in a single (simple again !!) spider chart like this :


Absolute accuracy is not the purpose, but the chart can be a great help to reveal issues and start actions.  In this example, there was not a clear shared goal of the CoP and as a consequence, no clear processes were in place to achieve this.

One major principle to remember is that all ‘P’- principles are equally important. Over-investing in one will not compensate for ignoring another.

In the next posts, I will deal with each of the ‘P’-axes in some more detail.

CM Innovation 2007

I attended the CMS Innovation 2007 conference yesterday, organised by CMS Channel.

These trends struck me most :

– increased power shift from IT to the business users :
     creating new websites, updating content and layout is becoming really really simple

– successfull websites will be about customer interaction (C2C) :
     WCM is not about managing content anymore, but about managing interactions

– content management is going mainstream, not limited anymore to the 10% happy few, due to
     open source
     the seamless combination of web content and document management
     and last but not least the ease of use for business users to manage content

Business cards

I ordered business cards two days ago (vistaprint), which were delivered today by the way.
I know I don’t have a business, but business cards are a step in the right direction I imagine.

On the backside, they have a list of keywords, which should describe who I am and what my interests are :

brewmaster cookbook Community of Practice MES intranet taxonomy NPOs blog SuperCop PAMS Speciale cactus learning connecting

Only 3 are missing on the list : Katrien, Joni, Maxine … my girls.