Showing posts from 2010

The case of “Need to know” vs. "Need to protect" - How widely should we share information?

When discussing knowledge sharing and exchange of material and documents with professionals in charge of information classification policies and standards, the question is often what the "default mode" for an organization should be. Should unclassified information such as documents, articles etc, be treated as “for internal use only” or as “public” information? I want to use this post to affirm my strong conviction that any international development organization has an overwhelming interest in making unclassified information by default public unless it is specifically designated as internal to a specified group of people only (a small group within an organization, or members of the organization as a whole). And here is why: Being an actor in the knowledge business calls for an information policy that fosters the distribution of knowledge, not prevents it. The paradigm of “need to know” is right for an organization whose main concern is the preservation of what it has. But dev

The Significance of Online Social Networking for Knowledge Management

In the middle of all the enthusiasm about the use of Social Networking and Web 2.0 in knowledge management (in particular in UN organizations), it is of course important to keep in mind that Online Social Networking applications are not the final panacea to all our KM or other problems. Nothing really is. However, it is important to note that Online Social Networking has certainly gone beyond the experimentation stage of IT geeks. And it has proven to do one thing extraordinary well: Connecting people which otherwise would not be connected, and facilitating sharing of exchange which otherwise would not occur. I’m stressing this, because if the KM community learned one thing during the last decade, then it was the insight that Knowledge Management is most of all about people. We learned that knowledge sharing in an organization (whether working development or other things) doesn’t happen when a paper is written or a file is stored in a database, but most of all when people talk to each

It's not about Technology, but about a Culture Change - But which one is driving the other?

In a recent discussion with KM colleagues on KM4Dev whether Facebook could be a useful tool for a professional context, a good friend of mine stated that “we tend focus too much on technology” (even though he happily agrees that he is always fascinated by new technology and trying to find ways to use it, just because he likes it). His view was however that “the primary question is: What is it that we want to achieve and how do we acquire the skills needed to achieve that? Only then the question of the tool arises.” This made me thinking quite a bit. On one hand I agree that tools should never dominate the discussion about KM, and that they should be seen as a means to an end rather than a purpose in itself. However, I’m also skeptic about the absolutistic dogma that we always have to identify the need first before talking about tools. Yes, in general and from an organizational development point of view I believe this is often true. But at the same time we’re losing sight of the fact t

Facilitation overkill: Give me my classroom back!

I’m back from another workshop and I have enough. I’m through with it. Seriously. When did we reach this point where our fancy facilitation techniques turned adult learning into kindergarten settings and our obsession with participation, combined with a wild proliferation of Web 2.0 tools, made workshops the most stressful things ever? When did we lose sight of the simple, yet wonderful purpose of learning: Learning something useful that I didn’t know before? Instead, I’m finding myself again sitting with scissors and pens around the table with people I don’t know, cutting shapes out of colorful sheets of paper and pinning them onto flipcharts. A facilitator is soaring around with a Tibetan singing bowl in his hand encouraging people to be creative and have fun. But it’s not fun. It’s a noisy room full of strangers with whom I have to share thoughts and ideas and interact as if they were long-year colleagues, even though I just met them 30 min ago. I am told to work on some artificial