Before Knowledge Management and Working Out Loud

The Practice of Civility

If you ask 100 Knowledge Management experts how to effectively implement and practice KM, you really do get close to 100 different answers.  I believe this is because there isn’t one right answer.   I believe that we should consider that before we go into looking at maturity models and k-strategies that we must attend to and address how people in our organization feel and how we engage with each other.   A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting John Stepper.   John has written about ways to help people work and share knowledge by helping us understand that we each have a personal responsibility to help each other.    At the core of John’s message lives a theme around choice.   We have a choice on how we behave and respond to others.   We have a choice to help others and share our knowledge.    Here is a link to John’s blog

So now, when someone asks me “What’s Working Out Loud”?, here’s what I say:

“Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities.”

  • Making your work visible: As Bryce described, this is indeed the fundamental starting point for working out loud.
  • Making work better: One of the main reasons for openly narrating your work is to find ways to improve it. You’re publishing so other people will see it, including some who can provide useful feedback, connections, or other things that will make your work better.
  • Leading with generosity: By framing your posts as contributions – as opposed to, say, efforts at self-promotion or personal branding – you’re more likely to engage other people. You’re not just looking for help but offering to help others, too. As Keith Ferrazzi said, “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”
  • Building a social network: As you work out loud over time, you’ll be interacting with a broader range of people. The further you develop relationships with people in your network, the more likely it will be that you’ll collaborate with them and that they’ll be willing help you in other ways.
  • Making it all purposeful: Finally, since there’s an infinite amount of  contributing and connecting you can do, you need to make it purposeful in order to be effective. (Goals might be as simple as “I want more recognition in my firm.” or “I’d like to explore opportunities in another industry or location.”) You can still have plenty of room for serendipity, but having a goal in mind focuses your learning, your publishing, and your connections.

Starting with Respect

Author: Barbara Richman
Organization: HR Mpact states

If each employee develops an awareness of respectful behaviors and necessary skills, it is anticipated that employees will serve as role models and that these behaviors will spread in the workplace and beyond.  The following are ten tips to assist you in accomplishing this objective:

  • Before acting, consider the impact of your words and actions on others.
  • Create an inclusive work environment.  Only by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities can your organization fully realize its potential.
  • Self-monitor the respect that you display in all areas of your communications, including verbal, body language, and listening.
  • Understand your triggers or “hot buttons.”  Knowing what makes you angry and frustrated enables you to manage your reactions and respond in a more appropriate manner.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and practice self-restraint and anger management skills in responding to potential conflicts.
  • Adopt a positive and solution-driven approach in resolving conflicts.
  • Rely on facts rather than assumptions.  Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on  assumptions that can damage relationships.
  • Include others in your focus by considering their needs and avoiding the perception that you view yourself as the “center of the universe.”
  • View today’s difficult situations from a broader (big picture) and more realistic perspective by considering what they mean in the overall scheme of things.
  • “Each one influence one” by becoming a bridge builder and role model for civility and respect. Act in a manner whereby you respect yourself, demonstrate respect for others, and take advantage of every opportunity to be proactive in promoting civility and respect in your workplace.

Here are some slides from JHU on Civility that you can use 

 Practically Civil

There is a saying that we only have one chance for a first impression.   I believe this is true but I don’t think it stops there.   Even if we made a good first impression, our relationship and interaction depends on what we do next.   All of the listed behaviors above can only be effective if we make a choice.    Choosing to behave as indicated takes a lot of energy.    In order to practically apply these behaviors, we must first realize that there is a cost upfront.   I haven’t read anywhere about this but I have experienced it.    Just because you make a choice to be civil doesn’t mean that people around you will make the same choice.   I have found in my own experience that have to spend time explaining to people why I am choosing to behave or respond to them in a certain way.   It does amaze me sometimes that it appears we have lost something of ourselves due to different forms of psychological distance 

Our relationships have become more abstract and how we interact with others is less personal and more disconnected.   If we look at each other through the lens of an Iphone or email, we as people become something less than a person.   As we continue to move in the next generation of electronic connectedness, we are allowing our human connectedness to slip away. One example may be the commodity based or flexible workforce.   Why do I want or need to know Howie if he will only be here for a short time?    Another aspect is that we as workers have a clear affirmation that we are only a line item on a spreadsheet.

The Connection

If we are simply a line item on a spreadsheet why does any of this matter?

Have you ever used  I went to the library a few months ago and looked up people from my family history.   The only thing I could find was their names on a list.  It was a handwritten list from the census.  I could barely read the handwriting but I could see the names of my great grandparents or so I thought.   The generations that came before me are not even known to me and the people who are closest in terms of generation are just names on a list.   At the end of the day,  we are really names on a list.  If we allow that to rule over us and govern our behavior, we close the door to our experiences in the moment.

The connection is that we have a choice and it goes back to John Stepper.   We can choose to keep information to ourselves hoping that hoarding will help us personally or we can recognize that we are part of something bigger.  We are part of a network and we are connected to each other in ways that we can only discover through sharing and openness.  Our knowledge strategies must include an understanding and practice in sharing behaviors.   Our underlying objective should be that we become so good at sharing that there is no need for people to help facilitate sharing activities in that it happens naturally.   At the end of the day we all share a common end but we have a choice on how we behave and how we feel along the way.

Final Thought

A recent PBS documentary called talks about happiness.   Something to consider based on the research is that approximately 50% of our happiness comes from our genetics, 10% comes from environment and 40% comes from choice.   What this means to me is that if we choose to respect each other and we choose to be kind and we choose to share and we choose to be happy, the moments of our lives will be rich and overall more pleasurable and full.

Before you go … please take a look at this (Happy)

Sickness Connected

The Cancer of Everything 

We lost a friend this week to cancer.   My feelings about cancer over the years have shifted from frustration and anger towards the disease to intense anger at our society for our lack of focus on finding a cure. Additionally, we are making it worse by making new technologies that kill us quietly.    We have technologists today creating paint that can sense room temperature but we can’t cure a common cold.   We can point a camera at a food source and determine what is in the food but we can’t figure out even how to predict what the best treatments for cancer are based on a person’s condition and profile.  We can find oil and gas by simply using analytics.  We are close to having machines that think for themselves.  On cancer and other illness we have done some things and made some strides but the statistics are on the side of sickness.   Here is the interesting part, if we look at cancer statistics overall in terms of survival they look like this

Number of Cancer Survivors

  • As of January 2014, it is estimated that there are 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. This represents over 4% of the population.1  View graph
  • The number of cancer survivors is projected to increase by 31%, to almost 19 million, by 2024, which represents an increase of more than 4 million survivors in 10 years.1 View graph

Looking at the numbers, there is a projected increase in survival that looks like a gradual slope.    I think that is bologna.  If we look here

we can see that the line is more jagged and in the case of breast cancer pretty consistent.

If my own personal experience is worth anything, most of the people around me that had cancer are dead.   I don’t need the statistics to know that my experience with losing loved ones to cancer hasn’t changed for my entire life.   When my grandmother passed away, my memory of that experience was a young doctor that barely spoke english telling us “What are we to do? She is old.”    Last year my father in law passed away from cancer and I am convinced that the treatment was worse than the cancer itself.

Cancer is still one of the top three killers, only second to  heart disease.   Not only are we as a global society failing to change this statistic, we are increasing our cancer numbers by claiming ignorance on what our technologies are doing to us.    Last week Berkeley released a study that indicated mobile phones can cause tumors

Here is the most interesting part of this study released in 2015.   When Blackberry released their cell devices well over a decade ago, they placed a sticker warning about radiation.

What we are doing as a society is making ourselves sicker and we don’t have the tools to counter our technologies ill health effects.    It always amazed me that our government makes us wear seatbelts in the car.   Think about it, you can wear a seatbelt and smoke a cigarette.  So the government is worried about your immediate demise upon impact in a crash over your long term suffering and likely painful death associated with smoking.   There is a chance that you won’t ever get cancer or any of the related smoking illness but there is also a good chance that you won’t hit something with your car or be hit.   It is all nonsense.   Both wearing seatbelts and smoking is good for reeling in money.   As soon as big government starts to get momentum around smoking weed that will become legal across the US as well.  Why?  Because the big claims around health impacts are squashed by the desire for cash.

Until we wake up from our ignorant slumber on how we are destroying everything and everyone around us in the name of being connected and knowing stuff, we are potentially doomed in our time.    As long as someone else is dying, we don’t worry about anything.

It will be enough when it is too late.   Here is a nice little picture of the radiation in our ocean from our friends in Japan.

Oil spill from BP

World map of cancer..

**Rant Over**  Thinking of you today Dan ..

Specific Acts of Kindness

Non Random Act

Kindness is not a payment.  Kindness shouldn’t be considered as paying it forward.  Kindness should expect no result.

Years ago, I worked for a school division.  It was one of the best job experiences I ever had.  I was a Software Configuration Specialist.  My job was to configure computers for large deployments in the school division.   I had to work with teachers, technicians, instructional technology experts and even students.   Prior to working for the school division, I worked for Gateway as it was on its way from being “a friend in the business” to “Shuddup and buy my junk.”   In my Gateway job I would help people on the sneak.  I bet that somewhere right now Jeff Weitzen former CEO of Gateway is shaking his fists in the air.. saying “COHEN!!!!”  Well, of course not but it is fun to think that I helped people by doing what was right over the funny business that actively put the company in a bad place.   So, I go from the Gateway job (which I left because I couldn’t take their behavior) to no job.    I get the job at the school division and it was amazing.   The teachers had passion and purpose.  These people loved their work.  There were always funny stories about going for a drink after a hard day in the classroom but when I think about it, they were mostly happy.

What a thankless job so it seems.  The kids don’t listen, the hours are long, the work is tedious, they have a lot of requirements to meet and there is always pressure.   Kids have only one shot at being 8, 9, 10, 11 and beyond. These teachers don’t think about failure, they think about differentiation and ultimately success.

I have been away from the school division for many years but over time I have reflected about how and why the teachers were so great and why the school division was / is one of the best places to work.

I have no idea of how other school divisions behave or if there is some kind of school division culture that is pervasive across the world.  My experience in the 18+ schools was that each school had some pretty clear differences but there was one thing that I could pinpoint that was the same.

There were non random acts of kindness.  All of the staff seemed focused on education but education included a natural practice of kindness.  My technical partners had assigned schools that they would go to for service.  Chris would make his rounds to the schools that he knew would have “the goods” in the teachers break room early.  In every school and office there was someone that brought in something to eat.  It was hard to keep the weight off.   There was a lot of food in all the kitchen areas and there was always someone offering.

Beyond food there was a spirit of volunteerism.  Teachers and staff always seemed to volunteer for work even with a full plate.  Interestingly enough, parents joined in to volunteer.   The school didn’t have enough money to buy electronic tests, someone would chip in and buy them.  The school couldn’t afford a piece of technology, someone dropped the thing the school needed off.  The schools would get donations and give donations all the time.   These were all non random acts of kindness.  Teachers always pulled money out of their own pockets to pay for what they needed and help others.

Through all of the stress of being a teacher or administrator, they still found ways to be kind to each other, the students and parents.  Where else could you go to work and get the responsibility for a product that you couldn’t possibly really be responsible for, get held accountable for that product, get yelled at by everyone involved?   It isn’t that teaching isn’t a thankless job.  It is that teaching is a hard job and that the spirit of kindness was at least in my case always present.

Years later I worked for the Department of Defense and believe it or not, I found non random acts of kindness were key to keeping people together through tough challenges.  These acts also inspired people to be better and to work harder.  It was passion and purposeful work.

The Choice in The Moment

I am sitting in the airport today coming home from a really interesting conference on one of my favorite subjects Knowledge Management.   A woman sat down behind me totally drunk.  She placed her head on my shoulder and was telling me her life story in the language of whatever drinks she consumed.   People are looking at her.   We have many choices in our lives and they are all in a moment in time.   We can choose to do something kind and of course we can do something else.  I know she is going to Seattle and that her troubles paved an easy path to some toxic behavior.   She apologized for using me as “pillow” but she didn’t move and I didn’t make her.   She stopped talking and fell asleep.   I will wake her up when the plane is boarding.   I believe we have an opportunity in every choice to be kind.  I don’t have an expectation of anything but good things seem to happen.

Earlier today I was getting on the bus coming back from the car rental place.  The bus drivers name is Keith.  A man cut me off and got on the bus.   I stepped back and let him go.  Keith held is hand up and said “no more folks can get on here”  I waved and said “alright.”   So, you may wonder how I know Keith’s name.

The man who cut me off had a friend that was behind me that also could not get on the bus.  When Keith told me that I couldn’t get on, it also meant that the other guy couldn’t get on.  That being the case, the first man got off the bus.  Keith pulled his sunglasses down a bit, leaned forward smiling and waved me on.   When I got on the bus he said that he sees a lot of people in a day.  He sees good and bad things all the time but he chooses to be helpful to everyone.   He said ” You stepped back sir, you see it all works out, right?”   I spent the rest of the ride listening to him and thanking him for his kindness.

It was a choice in the moment and we can choose to be kind.  I wonder if you would consider taking a kindness challenge. When you are in a moment that you can identify that you have a choice and you could slow down time just enough to choose kindness, see what happens.   I don’t have any expectations but I believe that your kindness will manifest good things in ways that we couldn’t know.

Good Luck !