That Conversation is Not in My Database

Sagacious -Having or showing an ability to understand difficult ideas and situations and to make good decisions

We are constantly fed misinformation and we are constantly and intentionally lied to.  I am taking a minute off of writing about Knowledge Management and business specifically to make a point about core values.

It isn’t ok for politicians to lie to us.

It isn’t ok for people to hurt each other.

It isn’t ok to walk up to someone in the street and knock them out.

It isn’t ok to step over people who are in the street and need help.

It isn’t ok to treat people in a different way  because of who they are (good or bad).

This is basic stuff that we have forgotten.   I see all the lists and memes on social media but they are meaningless when it comes to real life.

It isn’t ok to call people at home and ask them for money for charity so that you can take it and put it in your own pocket.

It isn’t ok to destroy the planet in order to make money.

I am not sure what happened to us.   I don’t really care about how we got here, looking back in this case won’t help us get to where we need to be.   I think we need to start talking more about the real issues that concern us and not allow the media or politicians speak on our behalf.   The reason why we have the problems that we have today is because too many people are speaking up for us.   It is funny though because they aren’t talking about the things that are important to me.   When I talk to people about what they are worried about, it is a lot different from what I hear or see on television.

Why can’t our children play outside?  Why is the price of everything going up and wages staying the same?  If the lottery was created to help fund schools, how come schools don’t have enough money for the things they need and teachers have to take money out of their own pockets?    Who likes politicians?  Why is politics a full-time job?  Why don’t they work like the rest of us?   How come politicians get treated differently than other Americans?    How is it ok to destroy the planet to create energy?  Why does the government allow for lobbyists?  How come our food is poisoned?  How is that allowed?  Why aren’t drug companies working on solving the problem of bacterial resistant antibiotics?  With all the money spent on cancer, where is the cure?   This list can go on and on.. yet all we see on television and in global discussion is what is important to the media and politicians.

There is a good chance that if you are still reading this,  you may have asked one or more of these questions yourself.    We need to start asking our questions out loud and have discussions that are more meaningful.

We are being divided into groups and we are being separated instead of brought together.   It is healthy to disagree but unhealthy to be positioned for a civil war of blue vs red.

We need to turn this around before it is too late.

Chief Humor Officer and The CKO

Why do you find some comedians funny and others.. well, not so funny?

DBWe see the humor through a common and relatable experience.  When a story is told to us and if we can relate to it, once we learn it our empathy neurons fire up, we experience the story and we laugh. “Laughter is the physiological respo­nse to humor. Laughter consists of two parts — a set of gestures and the production of a sound.”

Humor <—Storytelling

It doesn’t matter who you are or what walk of life you come from, being human means laughter matters.  I have been all around the world and have seen people in tears from relatable sorts of humor.

Humor Management..

Engineering Humor
 I have met people from a cross-cut of cultures and countries and they share the same common understanding of the value and the importance of knowledge management, knowledge transfer, knowledge continuity, personal knowledge management and enterprise knowledge management.  They share similar fears and hopes when it comes to the formalization and rationalization of practice and process to focus on knowledge and information flow relative to their business.  There isn’t one business on this planet that operates without knowledge yet most large organizations don’t appear overly concerned from a leadership perspective about KM.
I have heard “I eat, sleep, and breathe KM” but in the same breath any business strategy to address KM would be trivial and uneventful aka not worth their time.  Somewhere between the business value of the wisdom, knowledge, experience and information ecosystem of an organization and the return on investment or operational resiliency of the business something seems lost.   Knowledge Management for most organizations happens in the background and goes unaddressed until something big happens to bring up the level of awareness.
The facilitation and management of knowledge in context is part of our humanity.  Just as most of us laugh on average of 17 times a day, we need to work with information in context, it is what we do.   We need to laugh and companies spend countless dollars on humor without even knowing it.  There is no (CHO) Chief Humor Officer but I haven’t been to one office on the planet where someone in the office doesn’t have some office comedian or something funny on their desks.  People do what they need to do.  <— Point here.
Here is where humor and knowledge management split.  Unless you are in the humor business, you don’t need to be funny to maintain and grow your organization.  Generally, if you leave your employees to manage their own humor, they will do an outstanding job.   That isn’t the case with knowledge management.
ASIDE—>If you are interested here is a link to “Secrets of Effective Office Humor” It is a Wall Street Journal article.
When organizations treat knowledge management like something that happens naturally, they can still find success but it may take longer and cost more.   The reason why is simple.
Won’t Listen

Unless the level of awareness is raised and there is trust from both the bottom up and the top down, generally people don’t listen.

<– made with (Here are some others I was looking at while blogging)

Humor doesn’t require trust, it requires comprehension.

Blind –> Aware

Potable Water
U.S. Geological Survey that gives us a more accurate view of how much drinking water we have to work with on the Blue Planet. Note that the big bubble is all water on Earth, salt and freshwater, and the tiny bubble of blue represents all fresh water. The tiny spec you can hardly see? That’s the amount of drinking water available to us.

The Truth.

The clarity of my point here is that leadership will ignore the truth.   There may also be some truth in humor.   The truth is that all workers are “knowledge workers” the value of what people as individual performers do is underestimated.   The understanding of how much it costs and how much is lost in an organization goes unrealized.    The only way traditional leadership seems to respond is if they are shocked into seeing the truth.  The next question is once they know, what will they do?   The graphic above is pretty shocking, does it mean that you will change your behavior in the shower or while brushing your teeth or washing your car?

At the end of the day,  it all boils down to WIFM (What’s in it for me)..

<—Not So Funny.. 

As we look forward we need to continue to find ways to gain leadership buy-in.  Maybe we should create the role of CHO!  KMWorld came up with a “Conversation Manifesto”  maybe you can find it useful in your work.

Ten components of knowledge communication

Organizational conversational capacity involves mastering the following 10 components of knowledge communication, which may well be regarded as The Conversation Manifesto in 21st century organizations:

1. Knowing how to ask questions.

2. Willingness to ask for information and assistance.

3. Willingness to give as well as accept knowledge.

4. Expectations of sharing knowledge.

5. Promptness in sharing knowledge and expecting responses within deadlines.

6. Giving feedback on received knowledge.

7. Handling conflicting knowledge responses.

8. Acknowledging, rewarding and acting on knowledge contributions.

9. Existence of conversational capacity at multiple levels within the organization.

10. Extension of conversational capacity externally for engaging other organizations.

Penguin Stickers on Pictures

Grandma MayProse

Years ago while visiting my great-grandmother, she told me about how she had found a love of painting. She went through some of her artwork and pulled it out to show me her portfolio of oil paintings.

I noticed that the paintings had small stickers on them. During our conversation she told me that she had “updated” her work with these stickers. One picture had little birds and another had penguins.

The reason she put stickers on her work was because she felt a need to change and update her painting.   I wonder why would she felt that way?

She gave me one of the oil paintings, that I have posted here. This is a very dark scene in the woods that tells a rustic story of age and simplicity. Notice the blue birds that don’t seem to belong there attached as stickers.


It occurs to me that we (as people) feel forced to update everything.  People take new things and make them look old to update them or old things to make them look new to update them.   It isn’t simply about something being old or outdated, moreover that it isn’t good enough the way it is. You aren’t good enough the way you are either. We constantly need to upgrade ourselves and change and grow etc.

Let me ask you this? What happens when we put a sticker on you? Maybe it is the certification or the degree or something else but what is underneath is you. It isn’t even that you can hide behind it. As much as the painting could hide behind a blue bird or a penguin.

We need to start thinking about who we are and what we are in terms of our true nature and stop the nonsense of old is new and update and upgrade and trying to cover up the beauty that lies beneath. It is a false requirement to dress up ourselves and our work as something other than what it is. In the case of my great-grandmother, part of her painting was damaged when some of the stickers fell off. It is ironic that she meant to update her work so that it would be of interest and live on and that because of what she did it is essentially ruined and un-presentable. I am concerned that we could share the same fate as her painting, if we allow or believe that we aren’t already good enough the way we are.

Bound by Innovation

Bound by Innovatoin

Leader Dan decided it would be smarter to replace his horses with people, he is innovating.

A Ranting Essay: Evidence of Decline, Opportunities for Rebirth

Who is the monster at the end of the book?

Spoonboy Chronicles

Remember “The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street)”? In the book, Grover warns the reader that a monster is at the end of the book, and thus not to read on to the next page, lest we bring ourselves faster to imminent doom at the book’s end. Its endearing and a wonderful story I read as a child and that I have read with my own. And its almost emblematic of our times today.

Think about today’s media. So-called ‘pundits’ (a euphemism, I think for ‘hatemongers’), spend all hours of the day disparaging behaviors they simply do not like. And  mindless, dutifully, at every opportunity, ‘regular folk’ seem to parrot those sentiments with no real interest in stimulating conversation. They speak ‘truth’ with such absolutism it leaves no room for alternative perspectives. It drives us apart in a downward spiral that seems irreversible…as if devotion to belief regardless…

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Water, Air, Knowledge.. You need this .. remember?

5 Generations Mixer

Organizations throughout the world are now challenged to maintain business continuity by transferring knowledge from the older generations to the younger. According to some studies there will be 5 generations in the workforce all at the same time.

Gaps and Seems Less Seems…

There are a variety of reasons why people in the older generations have to work but more over there are fundamental business challenges due to this situation. Many organizations are having problems in estimating or planning for people to retire.
They are engaging older workers often too late for effective knowledge transfer. They may be unable to gauge what the real business value of a person relative to their functional capabilities are in a position. When companies or organizations focus on process and methods over people, they find that their bus-ability is literally walking out the door.
What is worse than this reality is that organizational transformation is not occurring as fast as needed to accommodate the younger generations.
Younger workers have a dramatically different view of work than older generations. This is directly impacting an organizations ability to build, maintain, grow and stabilize the workforce.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of issues organizations have now in terms of workforce stability are things they bring on themselves by treating employees like expendable trash.

Paying Attention

This is a narrative that really needs more attention. Organizations large and small aren’t going to necessarily go out of business because of knowledge transfer and knowledge management issues but it will cost them a lot of money. I can also think of some conditions where it can cause more serious concerns.

 Gen X Reflection

When I was a child, I thought that once you have a job it was what you did for the rest of your life. I think that my generation was a witness to the end of a sort of this renaissance of labor. I watched my father work as a pharmacist my entire life which in turn meant that he would be a pharmacist for most of his life. He could tell you about the interactions between two or more drugs, foods or other things you consume in less time than a google search. He didn’t need google, he is still around today and I would venture to say that for his area of work, he still probably depends much more on his tacit knowledge over his need to search something out.

Knowledge is fluid and changes constantly but time of exposure to information and knowledge creates wisdom. Wisdom isn’t just about information and knowledge itself it is married up with the experience over time of a person and the conditions in which the person lives and has lived. All of the factors and facets of a person come together in a point of convergence in a split second to form that point in which a person chooses left or right, up or down, in or out, etc.

What is different today is that we know less and depend more on the explicit query.

The discovery of information from an inherently explicit source that positions us to make a decision. It is a decline in specific experience and wisdom. They are replacing the pharmacist with automation. Automation doesn’t and won’t pull out tacit information from a patient, only a human would. Click click .. medicine dispensed and the young pharmacist walks up to the machine and validates the label, the canister and the pills themselves. She takes the bottle and places in a paper bag and hands it to another young lady to ring the customer up. On the side of the bottle,it says “do not consume this medication with grapefruit” The young lady goes as far as telling the customer not to consume the medicine with grapefruit. What she doesn’t know is Mrs. Miller (the customer). She doesn’t know anything about her and she doesn’t know that Mrs. Miller was a Russian immigrant that doesn’t read english well or understand what she is saying. She doesn’t know that she is nodding her head in acknowledgment out of courtesy. No one taught the pharmacist or the young tech how to interact with the customer and how to question a customer. How to elicit important responses and how to dig for answers.

The computer does not convey that experience

and when SmallGreens let go of all their older workforce and had a workforce knowledge continuity practice, they didn’t capture this sort of information from the practicing pharmacists. They just captured the process and maybe things to look for but not the value or importance of caring about every customer individually and looking for ways to find out information that could save your customer’s life or prevent a serious mishap. My uncle who is also a pharmacist told me that some companies value the quick dollars of a flu shot over the overall practice of pharmacists. The reason why this is important is because a young inexperienced person might easily succumb to a corporate short-term win scenario where the experienced professional would follow corporate guidance but take a more balanced approach to short-term thinking.

I talk to Boomers all the time about their lives at work or their experiences including military experience.  A great deal of the time they don’t even realize how much information they know and it is all wrapped in the narrative of their stories. As they are transitioning out of their jobs and they are asked probing questions the stories aren’t coming across. The questions can get to some of the areas but most of the time these sessions are 1.5 hours with some one to one or group mentorship later on. This isn’t enough. Some transfer will occur but there will be gaps that are significant. This could also be good depending on the job as someone might think of a new way to do the job better but unless the older way is known there is no way to measure. This unknown condition introduces risk and a lack of understanding of cost.

The other aspect of this is that some of our young people don’t want to be in one job for their lives and they want to walk into open heart surgery as the practicing surgeon after watching it a few times on you tube.

Kid only missed one You Tube video.. but a friend on glass will help him out.
Kid only missed one You Tube video.. but a friend on glass will help him out.

There is a sense that they lack the patience to learn and experience performing tasks and they are seemingly anxious to be recognized as subject matter experts. This is a pervasive problem that is systemic in our culture and society. It is something that we cannot avoid but we can’t afford to ignore.

Boomer Gen

I met an old warrior Green Beret this past week while on travel. He is a security specialist that looks at various concerns of physical, cyber, port and infrastructure security. He has 28 years of military service and a great deal of time on the ground in the commercial world as an expert. One thing that struck a chord in me was a story he told me about how a young security expert performed an assessment on a client site that took into account only the explicit information of information given to him about identified weaponry that would be a threat. It was as if this “dumb ass” didn’t know the physics of what happens when a weapon goes off or a bomb explodes.
I asked what happened after he read this assessment and he told me that he knew and reached out to one of the world experts on this subject to get this client squared away. You could say a lot about the young security expert in his defense but I would argue that his level of commitment, his heart, the nature of his honor and integrity and his tacit knowledge all come into play.

How many information technologists are out there that are called “system engineers” these people aren’t engineers, they don’t have engineering degrees or carry a card. They can’t engineer themselves out of paper box but they are called engineers and they gladly take on the title because it sounds glamorous.

 What’s next?


As companies are now recognizing these concerns and looking for ways to deal with them, there must be an effort to be realistic and honest about the situation.

Organizational leaders are going to have to set aside resources including labor to deal with these types of challenges.
  • They are also going to have to look at organizational governance to evaluate what changes need to be addressed.
  • They are going to have to face the facts that any efforts in knowledge management, knowledge engineering, and talent management are tied to change management and operational resilience.
  • They are also going to have to spend time thinking about the inside of their organizations as much as they spend thinking about the outside. The unspoken rules of labor don’t apply anymore.
  • The last part of this is that organizations are going to really have to focus on people. Not pay lip service to how they care but really make clear and visible efforts to engage their workforce.

As a senior leader once said “If people don’t like what we do they will show us with their feet.”

This statement is simply true and we have to wonder how much will that show cost!