Friday, March 16, 2007

re: the re: to my blog about blogs

BRILLIANT! (I feel like those guys in the beer commercial)

The latest advice for making this blog useful includes more dialog, more publicity of our capabilities, and more frequency. Okay, got it. Taking them in order, if a blog becomes valuable when a discussion breaks out, what makes that different than a discussion forum? I don’t think it’s a matter of semantics, so I want to understand how blogs are different than discussion forums. And, if they’re not, what’s all the buzz about? Discussion forums have been around for a long time, and IMHO the killer app for communities of practice. So I do like the idea of the exchange! If I now start calling discussion forums blogs, will that change the dynamics of them?

On to the matter of publicizing our smarts… Good idea if I want to push our products and services, but I’m not a particularly good salesman, and this model feels very salesy. In fact, it feels like if all I do is to extol our virtues, pretty soon I’m going to want to apply to our sales and marketing department. I can do this bit of shameless promotion though—here’s our website URL: www.apqc.org. Note that we’re a “.org” and that we do lots of cool stuff, especially in the area of knowledge management, where our president Carla O’Dell is one of the true thought leaders in the world. Whew! That was a lot for me—more promotion next time.

More frequency? I’ve posted 4-5 times in this one week alone! I’m tired. This is hard work for me, especially when I’m trying to keep my attention focused on client needs. Now in fairness, I still only care about internal knowledge sharing, so this externally facing blog doesn’t answer the WIIFM, but I am still responsible for it. So—a tidbit of external knowledge sharing? How about this? Stan Garfield runs a really cool community where there are discussions about KM related issues; in the community’s discussion forum.

Okay, enough of running down my own blog. Here’s something that is important and that needs more attention: knowledge retention and transfer. I just finished a two-day workshop with an industry group whose main concern is the impending implosion of the industry from the rash of retirements expected in the next five years or so. This is an industry-wide problem, so not only is it an issue at one organization, it creates a poaching problem for all the organizations in the industry. And don't think you don't have to worry about "their" problem. This industry is necessary for every one of us in the U.S. every single day, 24/7/365. If anything, you should be glad that these folks are as far ahead of the curve as they are with this issue--your life may literally depend upon it.

More broadly, many organizations from many industries are also worried about the issue (as evidenced by our study that currently includes 31 sponsoring companies and another half dozen or so best practice partners). So what is your organization doing about this potential meltdown of institutional knowledge? By the way, at this workshop I just attended, a term was used that I had never heard previously—“Y2Gray.” Meaning that perhaps the sky isn’t falling and that the hype of loss of institutional knowledge is just that—similar to the Y2K non-problem of a few years ago. So which is it?

3 comments:

Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon said...

Jim,

Brilliant blog posting frequency this week! Better than me anyway, I manage only a couple a week.

OK, I got another 'blog as a marketing device' question for you: What's the APQC blog's 'mission statement'? If it's a business tool, then it would have a business objective. You describe the blog as something you've been asked to do for APQC . . . is it your blog, about you? Is it APQC's blog, and if so what is it intended to achieve for APQC? What's its mission statement?

It sounds a little like someone at APQC decided it would be a good idea to have a blog, because blogs are 'in' knowledge management things so it would be good for APQC to have one, and your number came up to run it. So, APQC has a blog, and it's whatever you choose to blog about . . . perhaps with no clearly defined business objective. On what definite basis would you say the blog is successful in terms of business objectives (e.g. number of readers, raising brand awareness of APQC, driving more people to the website, etc)?

Now, you're doing great at running your blog (hey, I'm following it!) but I raise all this only because you talk about the business value of blogs and whether they're ready for prime time.

I think it's a bit like the business value of a website. It's not enough just to have one, it's a communication tool interfacing to a target audience. An organisation has to put a bit of thought into it to get full business value from it as a business tool. It wouldn't be enough just to put up any old website and conclude they don't work.

So, my question du jour is: what is the mission statement for the blog?

I think that question will help us answer what the anticipated value from the blog is, and in turn whether that value is being realised. :)

I will try to get my act together this weekend to post on the topic over at my blog as well.

Regards

Lauchlan Mackinnon

Stan said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jim. Here is a link to the SIKM Leaders Community.

Regards,
Stan

Dale Arseneault said...

Jim.. I think you've hit on a bit of "blurry-ness" between blogs and discussion groups, where, other than a few extra features in today's tools, perhaps, the key difference is a content leadership/ownership perspective.

(by the way, collaboration/ CofP tools will leap light years ahead of what's available today as soon as they add the functions based on group techniques available in tools like www.groupsystems.com)

Jim.. drawing on Dr. Mackinnon's comments about business value, I think the business value of your blog (maybe it could be a group blog with Carla/Cindy to share the work) is it humanizes / personalizes, to a certain degree validates, and even presents new content. It moves a bit towards the type of narrative / storytelling that Snowden talks about as being the key approach to transferring knowledge in organizations.