Conversations: the gaps between “real work” tasks?

Shawn, over at anecdote, has an interesting item about conversations. He mentions a new book on the topic and some “stinging” critisim from Steve Denning. In part of his post, Shawn states that:

I would also say that I have noticed that people in organisation rarely seem to have (or make) the time for conversation. Most talking is done to achieve a task which must reduce the ability for people to explore new ideas, innovate and revitalise their thinking.

I agree with Shawn’s observation but my feeling is that conversations in corporations/organisations are not entirely absent. But, to me, they seem to occur in the gaps between “real work” in the form of corridor chats, coffee engagements, friday night drinks, and even at the social events included as part of a work or professional conference. I think that last example is the best I can come up with in terms of organisations formally acknowledging and encouraging the value of conversations.

Do you have an examples of a corporation or organisation encouraging conversations?


We’ll miss you Euan

So Euan has had enough of act-km's discussion list moderation policies. I understand his points and share some of his perspective. However, I know that the people who run act-km are doing a good job in difficult circumstances. It's difficult because the group has such a wide variety and levels of interest and expertise (all somehow vaguely related to broad church that is KM) the that one set of 'rules' does not suit all.

Are you into smif?

smif = social media inside the firewall

This is my main area of interest at the moment. I’ll be going back and retagging some of my old posts and links. You will see the results here and here.

Are you into smif too? Use smif and we’ll find more cool stuff.

Social software inside the firewall (Melbourne lunch)

Our lunch went off very well with Matt Moore, James Farmer, Michael Spect, and Shawn Callahan and Andrew Rixon attending while Cameron Reily could not make it.

It’s always great to meet interesting people – some of them for the first time. As usual there were multiple conversations going on. Here’s some of what I remember (in no particular order):

  • The NSW KM Forum will have Karl-Erik Sveiby and Ewen Semple at an event on 7th March. Not to be missed!
  • James pointed me towards some interesting research on the use of discussion boards compared to blogs in an educational context. Blogs win, hands down.
  • Some interesting discussion of what is / is not “social software”. I think we agreed that a primary differentiator is the conversational nature. Is Writely “social software”? Yes.
  • Some unhappiness with tagging. Too limited when trying to find specific content. (But that’s not the point of tagging, is it?)
  • There seems to be a derth of people doing anything meaningful with social software inside organisations. Lots of experimentation but nothing substantial. Speculation that the tools are too counter-culture. Shawn: Can you imagine setting up a prediction market and the first bet is on when the CEO will be sacked?
  • Scoble posts too much. James says he reads the people who read Scoble. The blogsphere is full of people who add value by filtering what they read. I’m sure this is a meme that I’ve picked up on many times.
  • Someone (sorry, can’t recall who) mentioned the odd feelings generated when meeting someone who already knows you through your blog, but you don’t know them at all. [Obviously this was someone with a more popular blog than mine!]

Most exciting outcome is shared a desire to organise a social software (un-)conference in Melbourne. We’d like to get 50 or 60 people together.

Is there enough interest? What would you like to see in such an event?

How to get response in online forums

Jack Vinson post that information acquisition needs context.

This reminds me about some simple rules I throught about some years ago to get the most out of participation in online forums. This was a time before blogs.  And most of the online forums I participated in were for resolution of technical problems:

  1. Be polite. Most people appreciate a “please” and “thank you”.
  2. Be concise. Get to the point, don’t waffle.
  3. Be thorough. State all relevant information such as the steps you’ve taken to resolve your problem.
  4. Respond.

What other guidelines would you adopt?