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Monday, February 26, 2007

On Oscar Night - moving from pod to vod

It has been noticeable over the last few months how some people have embraced podcasting in the legal profession - mostly to do with their marketing.

As podcasting is becoming more and more ubiquitous (It would be interesting to see how many people in this firm have a MP3 player such as an iPod) - I have wondered whether at some stage legal training might be offered via a podcast done by a PSL.

Less well known is on the newer iPods, there is the ability to use video and sound and this has led to people developing the vodcast which is a video podcast

Well it has made the legal profession. In todays Lawyer (26/02/07) Linklaters Banking team have started to do vodcasts to inform lawyers in their team as to updates in the law with a link to the various notes/judgements on the issue.

It will be interesting to see if more firms undertake this option and start buying video enabled MP3 players so that people can use them for training if for some reason they are unable to attend a training session or just want a reminder.

It will be interesting to see if this is a technology that people start to utilise and who is the first legal star on a vodcast.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did the Godfather have it right? - or the Mafia's way to share knowledge….

I was having a chat with an old colleague over lunch yesterday (slight aside but still sharing knowledge Chez Jules just off New Street does a nice lunch set menu for £7.90 per person and the food is bistroey but good).

The colleague was telling me about a colleague at the firm who had taken a long time over a deal and had really got stressed out about. Being the naive person I am I asked why they had not asked for help from a colleague and got the reply that they hadn’t wanted to look bad and had suffered agonies until forced to ask for assistance through the clients badgering as to why action hadn’t been taken.

Most of us know that in some organisations asking for help has a negative connotation as it shows that the person is exhibiting a sense of incapability.

We (and I include myself here) - are afraid sometimes of saying ‘I don’t have an answer here’ to a situation

Many people in organisations go through this beating ourselves up by trying to figure out everything by ourselves. Is this really still required. There are many people within your teams who have the answer that you might be seeking to solve a problem or to open a new opportunity for you.

This is where the Mafia connection arrives on the scene.

In Godfather 1 - one of the opening scenes is on the Don’s daughters wedding day and people come to ask Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) for favours. The favour is granted (excluding murder) on the understanding that one day, the Don may ask the person that he has provided the favour for to provide him with a service.

Therefore the pre requisite, is that when somebody provides you with help then you should be ready to give when you are called upon when it is your turn. (You don’t have to kiss the persons hand though.)

Looking at a lot of firms underpinning behaviours running through it, is that, as in business and in life - You have to ask and only then will you receive.

Why not make it a point to ask someone for help on a problem this week rather than suffering in silence.

You don’t know where it will lead to and helps both of you to learn a little bit more.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By popular request-A tale of a Polish sausage.

There has been a lot of talk recently about how the UK is adapting to the influx of Polish workers and other immigrants.

As a bit of a foodie, I like to find new sources of food eating experiences and in Birmingham that isn’t difficult because of the diversity of people who live in the city.

I love the diversity of people in Birmingham and watching them all in the melting pot that this city is with diverse experiences that we can all benefit from.

Birmingham really is one of the best cities for assimilating new waves of immigrant populations who want to improve themselves because we have been so open to it.

Well I was driving back home over the weekend and suddenly pulled over because a new deli had opened up in Acocks Green.

This was a Polish deli and so had pierogi which are polish dumplings and all sorts of pickled cabbage and especially Polish Kabanos sausage. My fiancee Sandy laughed and said that I was the only person that she knew that could spot a new deli whilst driving at 40 mph down a road.

The important thing apart from the food to remember is that diversity of thought is also important when considering knowledge management and that we should all be inquiring about our surroundings and questioning them.

Some organisations treat external thought sometimes as a dangerous virus to be innoculated against. However open organisations allow evolutionary knowledge to help them develop better organisations and people. This enables them to meet the changes in the external business market which blow through the legal market in the UK which enables them to survive at the start of the change and then prosper as less open organisations fail.

Following on from two posts ago it is another reason why people should ask “What if?” ”What’s Next” and ”Why” on a daily basis in order to challenge our surroundings and become agents for change.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I did say in my Valentines Post that I would post the comments made by Tim Sanders on why Love conquers all in terms of business on the 15th - sorry I totally forgot but anyway better late than never.

Sanders said the following:

It’s risky to talk about love in business, especially in these turbulent times.

Here are five tough-minded reasons why generosity is the best strategy for individual and corporate prosperity.

  1. You’ll build an outstanding brand. By becoming a knowledge guru, sharing your network, and being a compassionate partner, you’ll differentiate yourself. You’ll be useful, memorable — special.

  2. You’ll create an experience. Business is not just about what you know — it’s about whether you can break through the clutter and information overload. When you represent knowledge, opportunity, selflessness, and intimacy, you are not just a smart colleague; you are fun, interesting, and valuable.

  3. You’ll get access to people’s attention. The scarcest resource in business is attention. How do you convince people to really pay attention to what you’re saying or to give you advice that you need? People with outstanding brands and people whom others are eager to deal with attract undivided attention. This produces results.

  4. You’ll harness the power of positive presumption. Making progress means making change. One of the biggest obstacles to change is getting people to trust you. Businesspeople embrace the power of building relationships with a deep level of trust. Your colleagues will presume that your arguments hold water, that your recommendations are solid, and that your referrals are valuable. They’ll presume that you have their best interests at heart (which you do). This is a powerful advantage.

  5. You’ll receive exceptional feedback. There’s one last tough-minded reason to share what you know: You’ll learn whether your knowledge has value. If you are eager to offer people knowledge, they will be eager to give you helpful feedback in return. They’ll tell you which ideas worked out well and which didn’t work out so well. They’ll tell you which contacts were helpful and which weren’t. They’ll keep talking to you. And you’ll keep learning from them. It’s a loop.
I’d welcome comments as to this in terms of knowledge management and whether it answers the ‘What’s in it for me’ question when it comes to professionals sharing knowledge.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Curiosity companion wanted

I was talking to my parents over the weekend about the usual family things that one does, as well as my impending marriage in August.

My mother said that one of the things that she liked about my fiancee Sandy was that she was curious and looking to learn. Then she came out with a good line that got me thinking again - she said that finally I’d found someone that was my curiosity companion and that we could both talk about things that interest us and new ideas.

Mothers as they are prone to do know their children well and reminded me that like my father I was always asking What if and What’s next. Sandy started to laugh as she has noticed this trait in me.

I then got to wondering - how many good ideas might be lost in an organisation because people don’t have a curiosity companion who you can bounce an idea that might sound wacky or left field before proclaiming it to the world to an organisations ideas forum.

People do tend to be a little shy about coming up with ideas in public and do like to talk to a person they trust as most people tend to be afraid of exhibiting new ideas to the world - if they think that it will damage them in the view of their peers.

Maybe we need to have a collection of curiosity companions to spend a little time with and sharing each others ideas in addition to an ideas forum.

By finding a like minded group, we can share a little bit more knowledge and also help us to develop new outlooks and put together disconnected ideas from other people that we can use in our work or come up with something innovative that changes our work. You don’t need a formal meeting - usually 5 minutes over a coffee helps - but it could make a difference and help develop your creativity virus.

Friday, February 16, 2007

We are what we do - and Knowledge Management

I was at an event last night hosted by Birmingham Forward and Thrive and acted as one of the facilitators to a group meeting for about 20 minutes. I’ve been involved in WAWWD for about 2 years now having met one of the founders at an event 2 years ago. For more details about this, then click on the link in the title

What from a knowledge management point of view I was interested in was how people once they have heard a talk on a subject went away and in 20 minutes of chatting came up with a series of interesting, innovative and implementable ideas. What was also interesting was the look of contentment on peoples faces and these were some of the leading businessmen in Brum, that for twenty minutes they were doing something of real interest to them.

This to me is the benefit of small groups that are keen on a subject, that their interest leads them to come up with small improvements that might make a big difference. Can you imagine small informal groups in your team covering an interesting part of the law, or an area of commerciality sharing knowledge and experiences amongst them selves over a cup of coffee and making a real difference to themselves and by sharing it with other colleagues.

We all know people who are interested in subjects and they know others too - so my challenge is is to find and develop these groups to tap in to this wisdom - nothing formal - but so so powerful and something that will drive knowledge sharing forward in our organisations by a large factor.

At a recent Xmas dinner a senior manager once mentioned that when everyone in the firm works together on a common purpose then nothing can stop us.

The equation is as follows

Small changes in daily actions X Large Amounts of People = Big Changes.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vaslentines Day KM thought

Is Knowledge Management dependent on love? I remember reading about 5 years ago a quote by Tim Sanders of Yahoo - which said

Love, he wrote, “is the selfless promotion of the growth of the other.” When you help others grow to become the best people that they can be, you are being loving — and as a result, you grow.
Isn’t the sharing of knowledge like that.

When I was writing my Masters thesis, one of the partners in the firm I was studying was pointed out to me as a paragon of knowledge sharing and was highly rated by everyone from the trainee to the senior partner in his firm.

I had to go and have a chat with him and asked him why he was so generous with his knowledge.

He said to me that he gave out his knowledge not because he expected something back - but because he could not stand by and see someone struggling, if he had the knowledge that would help them move forward. If he did that once a day he went home content.

So what one piece of information did you share today to help a colleague forward. Just try it, you never know when someone will provide you with the same service to help you look good in the eyes of your client.

I’ll follow up tomorrow with five reasons why ‘love’ as quoted above conquers all

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A nice analogy

I recently picked a comment up from a blog by Jack Vinson, which may help a busy manager or two better understand about the need for KM.

As I note from reading a few of my reports that I have slipped into car metaphors - I thought that I’d take it for another lap today.

  • If your destination is the customer…
  • The road map, the business strategy…
  • The vehicle, the organization…
  • The champion, the Managing and Senior Partner
  • The engine, the employees…
  • And the wheels, the business processes…
  • What is the fuel that your business runs on?
  • Knowledge!
Does the fuel need to be managed or is it our responsibility to make sure the tank is full (and regularly replenished)?

Knowledge pretty much is the only asset that a firm has - and it is the way that we can distinguish ourselves from our competitors. So does your firm possess the following ability in reference to knowledge management to make sure that the petrol tank is not only full but that it has the right combinations of fuel - or does it have diesel, where it needs unleaded.

Are youan organisation concerned with increasing awareness, fostering learning, speeding collaboration & innovation and exchanging insights through a mixture of people, processes and technology on a daily basis as part of our natural work flows.

Answers on a postcard please

Friday, February 09, 2007

Why use a blog for knowledge sharing?

I thought, that i might like to share some of my thoughts regarding using a blog as a means of jotting down some thoughts - or as a sort of diary of some of my random thoughts.

I believe that people do like to share their knowledge with people for a variety of reasons - some people like to be recognised as being experts in their field - so if you are an expert in aviation agreements why shouldn’t you want to share that information with people.

However, people have highlighted that people share knowledge because of a concept called reciprocal altruism - or to put it more plainly - I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine - maybe not immediately but at some time in the future - and I’ll go into this area at a later stage.

For KM blogs are good tools for communication, personal knowledge management and to enhance your network.

As a communication tool they can be easily searched, and if you find someones writings interesting, you can subscribe to their blog and every time they make a new entry, you are advised.

For myself, I use it a bit like a notebook as it keeps a journal of insights, techniques, pointers or contacts - which I am happy to share with people on an as is basis - so long as they recognise and credit me with the original idea.

Also, you can start to build a network of people who are interested in a number of areas. I link in to a number of people who blog on issues that I’m interested in from cricket to management ideas. I find that reading these gives me new ideas and concepts that I can mull over and use in my day to day work. I also write comments on peoples sites with some ideas of my own - or suggest variations.

So if you can imagine a system like this operating within XXX as a means of placing information in an easy to use location that you could use any time of the day- wherever you are in the world. The range and thoughts of what we could use a blog for are endless.

Perhaps we could have blogs that relate to activities such as

  • Project Websites for dealing with a large transaction.
  • Client Worksites - these are used to talk about a specific client
  • A work site for people to use - these are like internal resumes that show who is working on what
  • Practice Worksites - these are used to communicate amongst a whole team
  • Focus Worksites - the only thing that resembles a consumer blog, these are written by a small group and are like internal e-journals dedicated to specific technical topics.
When a company rolls out a knowledge management strategy and utilises pilots, then a wise knowledge manager can utilise a project work site blog covering the various works in the piloted schemes throughout the firm.

People do say to me some time, but I’m not a writer - well neither am I - but I do try to capture some thoughts as I do them in my notebook, which I will place on to this blog in due course. I find that my random thoughts are quite useful as they trigger things off.

I do think that if people see a good idea then they should capture it - or something that they found useful in their day to day work. All you need to do is to put a thought down on a blog or a link to an article or precedent in work site - which hopefully we will be able to do in due course.

I’d welcome some comments from people as to how they would like blogs to work within their area of their firm.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Back after a gap

Sorry about the absence - but have been very busy, moving house, getting engaged and working on delivering a KM strategy - the first draft of which was handed to my line manager on the 26th January - and I'm waiting for feedback.

Anyway will be trying to blog on a regular basis - every two days or so.