Archive for Dreams

Reaction: Alex Woo ~ Story is King

Alex Woo is a story artist at Pixar Animation Studios. He is originally from Hong Kong and studied film at NYU. He gave a talk on ‘Story is King’ on 4 January at 633 King’s Road, sponsored by the the HKPolyU M-Lab and HKCommons, an incubator company running a few share office sites in Hong Kong. The event was originally to be held at HKPolyU but massive over-subscription had it moved to the Island Evangelical Church at 633 King Street in Quarry Bay. Holding it at a ‘church’ seems to have gotten up the nose of some of the black-clad budding film writers in the audience. The room and set-up were good, lots of food and beer (even in church it seems here in Hong Kong this is fine) and Alex launched into his talk.

I twitted throughout the talk with my new iPhone 4S and tagged them all as #HKcommons. I’ll reproduce those tweets here as I tweeted them and add some explanation:

Asians & pseudo-asians is a bit racists since 1/3 of the audience is pink 😏
Hmmm, Jong Lee was making a joke about Asians and Jews but really I don’t think these sorts of jokes work very well. The audience was 2/3 Asian and 1/3 Other. There were a lot of people who I classify as once upon a time from Hong Kong.

Jong Lee wants to work the story angle as part of his incubation
This is a good point that if you want to be an entrepreneur you need to create your own story. Jong Lee is talking about the HK story of entrepreneurial spirit. There isn’t enough done in HK to make people remember that once upon a time we didn’t all want to be investment bankers, IT geeks or accountants.

Alex Woo now starts with a simple animation about Back to the Future & Howard the Duck, The little mermaid … Power of fantasy
Alex is talking about puppy love as a boy and showing some simple drawings. He is making the point that when the story was good he feel in love but when the story was bad he quickly wasn’t so interested.

story as sexual fantasy for 13 year old boy
He would pray every night that one day he would meet his true love from one of these films. He didn’t quite understand what these feelings were but they were real for him and his brother.

good story is what makes a great film – character goal conflict journey
The classic story line and one that is repeated all the time.

what is king? Of the elements of film STORY is first always
The STORY must come first. There are other important elements but if the STORY isn’t always first then most likely the film will be a dud. He had examples of films with great art direction but no story that were very painful to sit through.

Art direction special fx acting … All are secondary to STORY
Making this point more emphatically. There were a lot of other elements but I didn’t catch all of them. He was saying that these elements were very important but they always needed to support the STORY development. This makes sense but in the real world it can be very easy to focus on special fx (effects) or beautiful scenes and costumes (I think this is art direction) or great directing and the STORY is left behind in the cold. Alex didn’t talk about this but there are famous stories about writers going to Hollywood to write scripts and being completely ignored, see Raymond Chandler’s 1945 article in the Atlantic about working in Hollywood as a writer here.

Story Process – Director + Story Supervisor + Story Artists (those who do it)
He is talking about the 3 levels involved in the story process at Pixar. It is a traditional hierarchy with a lot of the normal tensions in a smallish group working situation.

Story Artist has to sell what he has done to the Director who may or may not like it many iterations
Alex is a Story Artist and he has to sell his ideas to the Director (and the Director’s team). There is a lot of back and forth and more frequently than Alex would like he is re-working and changing his ideas. This is OK and all of these iterations make the final STORY much better. The Pixar story process is a group process.

Like building a house where someone throws a grenade into every 6 weeks – making a STORY
Someone said this to Alex, maybe it was a director he was working with, and it describes perfectly the STORY building process. You can see that this process is not for someone who doesn’t want to change or doesn’t like critical comments. Keeping an open mind and being receptive to suggestions is a real asset in this sort of work situation.

gag sessions – brainstorming snippets for animation in Ratatoiille
These are brainstorming sessions between Story Artists on ideas for what may be used to move the story along. For example, how a rat will use a cheese grater, use tongs, wash-themselves up in the dishwasher. I’m wondering if Pixar uses any formal facilitation methodologies and tools for these sorts of sessions. Alex didn’t mention anything beyond ‘brainstorming’.

Story Problem Solving – bringing in real life experience – Do not return to earth – WallE
This was interesting and insightful. Alex is talking about when there are problems with what to do in a story it is almost always best to use real-life experience to solve the problem. His example is from when he was growing up in HK and playing basketball on McDonnell Road in the mid-levels he talked to his best-friend about what would he do it he could choose to life forever. He didn’t want to live forever if it meant all his friends and family died because then he would be on his own. Alex brought this into the discussion at a problem solving session for WallE about how to deal with the ‘return to earth’ problem. I’ve heard this adice about story-telling in the KM world all the time. The STORY must be real and not a manufactured made-up story. This is why so many uses of story-telling in a business sense seem forced and insincere.

Why is Story King? Abstract values need to be present to impart wisdom. Sharing gives us the framework to understand.
Alex is wrapping it up here. If the STORY doesn’t have values it won’t have any larger meaning or what he is calling wisdom. At least this is what I think he was saying. The STORY is the way we share our wisdom which is a classic knowledge management concept. This seems true to me; a completely concrete and real STORY is very boring but when a STORY has something less real if becomes more real for the reader or watcher. We relate better to the abstract because we can apply it to our own lives and the situations in our lives.

You can become the storyteller, have empathy for others, give people some concrete meaning
The STORY for Alex is why people come to see the Pixar films. It isn’t the great animation; it is the meaning they get from the film. I have to agree that every time I watch ‘Finding Nemo’ with a group of children it is the meaning of the story they want to talk about and not the pictures.

finished now questions Alex Woo film school – awards – Lucas Films 1 year – joined Pixar – he wants parameters – lots of practice
His personal story. He made a well received animated film in 2004, Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher, that won Director’s Guild of America Student Filmmaker Award and top gold prize in the Student Academy Awards animation category. He likes the structure of working at the studio on a film. Someone mentioned Gladwell’s 10k hours and he agreed that it was critical to just do it until you got good at it.

What pulls the story apart? Keep focusing on the story reels and the story process
Alex is saying that it can be easy to lose focus on the STORY. Going back to the making of story reels, smaller sets of action from the STORY, and keep talking to the Director will maintain the focus. A Pixar film takes typically 4 years to make so this is a long time to remain focused on a single STORY.

Why r Hollywood films all the same? The structure is from The Golden Bough (he doesn’t say this)
Are they really all the same? All narrative is basically the same, going back to the the beginning of the “character goal conflict journey”. Alex didn’t mention The Golden Bough. He is describing the Hero, the Obstacle, the Road, the Prize which may be better described in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Why are the values so simplistic? Because this is as much as people can process …
This is why myths, fables and stories from across cultures are always so familiar. Alex is saying that people need simplicity so they can make the STORY their own story.

His favorite film Back to the Future
Alex is describing why he thinks this film is so good. It has abstract values that transcend time. There are dilemmas that people will always have to face about free-will and choice.

Pixar wants the film to come from the directors heart – so story/directors are popular at Pixar
Genuine stories are important at Pixar so the combination of a story-teller and director is popular. Maybe it is easier to do this with animated films. However, even life-action film makers must be good story-tellers but they don’t have the luxury of working and re-working the story with story boards and story writers as they do at Pixar with an animated film. Some of the best story-telling in a life-action film happens on-set and is done by the actors.

about 80% of the time they don’t know if the film will be a sucess
Nothing is sure thing and there are failures at Pixar. Rushing the process is not a good idea.

There can be a lot conflict and a lot of hurt feelings when working on these films
Like any workplace it isn’t always fun and games.

Where do people at Pixar get their values? Are people there religious? Are we being brainwashed? Yes you r and u don’t notice
Someone was asking about if people are religious at Pixar. Alex thought some people were but he didn’t think it was too polite to ask. See The Wisdom of Pixar here

Can a good story teller fix a crappy story – maybe but it won’t stick with you like a Story is King
A journalist from India was asking within the context of terrible Bollywood story lines if a crappy story could be saved. Alex is saying that sometimes a crappy story is still a success but you won’t remember is for very long. Good marketing can save a film but it won’t make a great STORY.

There is so much talk about creating a story in business, advertising, personal growth that is was refreshing to listen to Alex talk about creating STORY for a creative purpose. The problems are much the same wether it is for a Pixar film or creating a story to market a product, sell an idea or sell yourself. Take a look at this recent interview with Alex to listen to him yourself.


Leave a Comment

Teaching old dogs new tricks: a cautionary tale

I went to an Education & IT Conference on 29 April here in Hong Kong. It was for the full-day and there was cross-section of education researchers from universities around Hong Kong, heads of IT Services for universities, colleges and K-12 international schools and a few others such as the CIO for the International Baccalaureate program. The focus was on how to use technology in schools and what works and what doesn’t work. There was a lot of discussion on the disconnect between what technology skills and equipment students bring with them into the classroom versus what technology a school and/or teacher can reasonably be expected to provide. The word ‘digital native’ popped up many times with various feelings on if they exist and what they may or may not be able to do with technology. Clearly the feeling was that young people are frustrated with ‘how they learn’ and they ‘want to be more engaged’. There were many examples of students using video and audio to create content for assignments collaboratively. There was a need to change the physical setting of the classroom to make it easier for students to interact and collaborate. Many times it was mentioned that teachers needed to learn how to teach using more collaborative processes and not be intimidated by technology. The process of getting teachers to learn more collaboratively among themselves was a theme repeated over and over.

My perspective on learning and teaching is that in the past 5 years I’ve been in student in 3 different full-time learning programmes. I think this is a bit unusual for someone my age. I got the typical mid-career corporate lay-off in 2007 and at the age of 51 I decided I would re-train and do something new. This is a cautionary tale on teaching old dogs new tricks.

I was an unqualified English teacher in at the Beijing Second Foreign Language Institute, 1988-1989, and in Hong Kong at the Sear Rogers International School, 1989-1990, and I rather enjoyed it although I had no idea what I was doing in the classroom. So, in 2007 I enrolled in the Hong Kong British Council Certificate in English Language Training for Young Learners offered jointly with Cambridge University. There were 9 students and 2 teachers. We had a few weeks of lectures and then we started actually observing and teaching. During the lectures we sat at 2 round tables in well-appointed rooms with very fancy ‘interactive white-boards’ which integrated with presentation software, video and audio files. The teachers were sort of OK with using it but frequently complained on ‘how hard it was to use’. We did some observations of real classes at the British Council and they all used the ‘interactive white-boards’. Teachers had a wide range of user skills and techniques. Recently I’ve done some research of the British Council and I notice there is a thread these ‘interactive white-boards’ were expensive and not that well taken up in many cases. I finished the programme and got my certificate and in no-way felt qualified to go-out and teach anyone English. I was mostly just shell-shocked and exhausted. Almost 4 years later I can say that I’ve not made any significant use of my English language teacher training as a teacher. I tutored a few Japanese students the next year when living in Japan but nothing since then. However, this experience gave me many insights into the learning process. Sitting and working collaboratively was very useful for the course whereas the fancy ‘interactive white-boards’ were not that critical to the learning process.

Next I moved to Okazaki, Japan to study Japanese full-time at the Aichi Center for Japanese Studies, more commonly known as ‘Yamasa’. I had been studying Japanese with a private tutor for about a year so I had some back-ground. I was in a class of 12 from 9am – 4pm Monday to Thursday and Friday 9am – 2pm. I also had one-on-one private tuition 3 times a weeks. Ten of my classmates were ‘digital natives’ all under 23 years old. There was one woman in her mid-thirties. It was a very international group; UK, USA, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sweden, Portugal, France, Korea. Just some observations: there was hardly any technology used in the classroom although we all had laptops in our rooms and used them for some sort of looking up and memorizing exercises. The physical environment was just a big table we all sat around and were usually cold or hot. The Japanese don’t put a lot of belief in making the physical learning environment comfortable. We all got the impression that learning for the Japanese was like ‘going to war’. Many times students said they wished we could just sit by ourselves at desks. We watched videos on a wheeled in TV on a cart occasionally just like I remembered doing in the 1960’s in south Georgia. We used the classic foreign language acquisition methodology of the teacher only using the target language (all Japanese all the time) and the students did role-plays, scenes, drew pictures, made newspapers, wrote letters to friends (real and imaginary), made videos and went on little trips to the post office, the corner shops, and so on. We should have spoken Japanese to each other all the time but really we only did haltingly and just used English because it was the lingua franca for the group. There were tests at least once a day and every 3 weeks a grueling 3 hours examination to test proficiency on what had been ‘learned’. I never did very well on any of these tests or examinations. My classmates were not very interested in collaborative type activities and preferred to simply study and memorize alone in their rooms and then go to the local bar, get drunk and forget they were in Japan. I stayed there 9 months and then left to return to Hong Kong. I will forever be able to read and write a simple note in Japanese and order food in a noodle shop when I’m in Japan. I can’t understand very well at all when spoken to but people seem to understand when I say something. I still wonder why I did this but I do have a feeling it was useful in an odd abstract sort of way. I put this in the category of ‘learning for learning’s sake’.

Next, I returned to Hong Kong and the winds of the global financial tsunami were in the air. I enrolled into the MSc Knowledge Management Program at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This is a blended learning programme with some face-to-face activities and some online activities. They were using the WEBCT learning managing system (LMS), which I know now to be rather a dinosaur LMS. I liked the WEBCT and it was interesting to read lessons online and then attend the lectures. The course work was frequently group based. The programme was primarily designed for full-time workers to do over a 2 or 3-year period. I did the whole programme in 15 months full-time just because it was impossible to find a job in Hong Kong at that time. Doing group course work required a lot of time to organize physical and virtual meetings, set deadlines and monitor progress. Some of them were very rewarding and some were very frustrating. Simply put, it all depended on the team. I leaned how to use many collaborative online tools that I would never have used otherwise because of the group course work. I did well in the programme and felt that I had really learned quite a lot about knowledge organization approaches and methodologies. I’m using what I learned in the programme everyday now. Learning technology was well-used even if it wasn’t that most up-to-date and sophisticated learning technology available. The emphasis on group learning was far more important and useful than the technology.

The caution is that I really could only learn successfully in a context where it was meaningful for me based on my experience. Using technology was not the significant factor and group collaborative learning was much more important all 3 programmes. Being an English teacher may be useful some day but it wasn’t what I really wanted to do in 2007/2008. Leaning Japanese seemed exotic but the reality was memorizing 3 scripts and hundreds of vocabulary items every week and I couldn’t see any definite end-goal for what I would do with it if and when I learned Japanese. Learning about knowledge management fit into the context of what I had been doing in the records and information management field at New York University, Philip Morris and the HK Chep Lap Kok airport construction project. I learned and could put it into a context of past experience and it made sense to me where I could use this newly acquired knowledge. So if you are going to be an old dog learning something new then I recommend you stay in your field and focus on branching out and widening your horizons in your field. I wouldn’t recommend trying to learn something too radically different because it may not fit in with your view of yourself and you might have a difficult time seeing how you will use this new knowledge.

Comments (1)

Re-ignite reaction

I went to the Re-ignite conference this past weekend in Hong Kong. This is part of the Hong Kong’s 2nd Asia Consciousness Festival. Gino Yu from HKPolyU’s Design school has been the driving force behind the festival. The theme was ‘rediscover your life’ or ‘rediscover what is possible – personal and organizational transformation’. I arrived on Saturday afternoon around 2 and stayed until end of the day on Sunday. Upon arrival there was a yoga class with Lawrence Milman, who has developed ‘freedom yoga’. More like yoga with a smile and we still did the Om. This was followed by a workshop run by Gino about non-verbal communication; we looked into our partner’s eyes for five minutes. Different types memory recall and memory construction (telling un-truths) can be mapped to eye-movement. At the end of Saturday there was a session of staged talking heads on social entrepreneurship. These were good and thank-fully they only had 18 minutes so there was none of the fatal ‘conference lecture syndrome’. Joy Tang from Taiwan is working on bringing sustainable development to Ghana with the One Village Foundation. This is real knowledge transfer in action between Ghana and Taiwan. Todd Darling from Hong Kong talked about founding and running a organic food distribution company, Home Grown Foods, and involved in a successful sustainable restaurant in HK’s Soho, Posto Pubblico. The rise of sustainability and environmentalism is quite amazing over the past 10 years here in south-east China. John Fitzpatrick talked about starting a furniture design business based on modular bamboo shelving. Todd and John’s stories made me reflect that so many local Chinese HK people have stopped trying to start anything new. I hear so often that it’s impossible to start a business in Hong Kong. I wonder why this has happened? Scot Frank talked about solar cookers for rural communities in the Himalayans. I would have liked to heard more about the the distribution system.

Sunday morning was more talking heads but interesting ones. Jeffrey Martin explained how you need to match your emotional development to the sort of therapy you were going to try. This is quite sensible and helps to explain why one technique works well for some people but fails and even harms others. Stefania Lucchetti talked about time management. Can we ever get beyond email? Stefania has a useful perspective as a working attorney and a new mother.

There was a long coffee break for useful chatting and strawberry cream puffs. Joachim de Posada “the marshmallow man” talked about delaying gratification as a good indicator for future success. Ivy Ning came up and described herself as “in the climate change business”, hmm, I guess it is a business these days. She talked about Spiral Dynamics of Clare Graves ~ a bit towards the L. Ron Hubbard end of the spectrum. A beautiful coloured spiral showing personal evolution. Ivy is about to have a baby so had that wonderful mother-to-be glow.

Three experiential sessions (I had to look this word up) ~ it means learning thru physical activity. The yoga and interactions sessions the day before had also been experiential sessions. I’m learning here. The first was run by Judith Hovetter on Feldenkrais Method stretching. I’ve done some stretching classes before so I now good it can make me feel. Judith made us very slowly make one very long whole body twist and at the end of 30 minutes we all felt completely relaxed. Steven Ng explained and made us do some qi-gong and tai-chi exercises that were effective. If you live in Hong Kong and want to know more about chi and how to hold it then I recommend contacting Steven.

The end of the day were sessions by Rafael Bellavita, Gen Kelsang Tonglam and Gary Hart. I couldn’t really follow what Rafael was talking about ~ the link between investing and spiritual transformation. Where was the link? He made better investment decisions because he meditated. Gen Kelsang Tonglam was inspiring. Undoubtedly being a rock-star handsome Buddhist monk has its advantages (and possibly a few disadvantages). He explained about being ‘of the world’ with the World Peace Cafe in Wan Chai was better than being cloistered. Gary Hart is a scientist who has attained that level of nothingness, living with no thoughts talking constantly to him all the time, which is the goal of so many meditation techniques.

Comments (1)

Quote taken from David Gurteen

I like this and have taken this quote from here

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from the United States

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death – 1 would be near birth

1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education

1 would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.


Comments (2)

Future Centres

I went to a half-day seminar at the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park about Future Centres.  Four main presenters, Prof. W.B. Lee from HKPolyU, Mr. Hank Kune from the Netherlands and associated with the Dutch Future Centre network, Dr. Ron Dvir from Sweden and associated with Innovation Ecology and Prof. Leif Edvinsson founder of the Skandia Futures Centre and well-known for his work on intellectual capital.  This was prelude for the Knowledge Cities Summit starting tomorrow in Shenzhen, just across the boarder in China.  The summit will go on for 2 days and now I’m sorry I will miss it but I must concentrate on my school work.  Back to the future centres.  The HKSTP is very impressive; built on the waterfront of Tolo Harbour, a collection of about a dozen low by HK standard glass and steel towers on a green campus.   Its been a work in progress for years and rumor has it that it is having a hard time getting tenants.   There were quite a lot of people around at lunch but many of the towers looked rather empty.  It is a bit difficult to actually get to but by bus, train and bus I was there in just at an hour.  This is not bad considering I’m coming from Discovery Bay on Lantau Island which is about as far away as one can get in Hong Kong.

So what is a Futures Centre?  It seems to be a physical place which is outside of normal experience.  Hank Kune said “it is a place you can think outside of your normal mental patterns.”  It is not just meeting rooms but really different physical places, with unusual colours, unusual furniture – just generally unusual – sometimes quite jarring.  The concept is that by putting people in a new, different and unusual environment they will think about the future more easily.  Well ok, I guess this may be true.  The analogy is that most inspiration happens when people are doing something like hiking, going to the theatre, taking a shower and so on.  Somewhere it was decided that Future Centre meant Innovation Centre.  I’m not too sure when that happened but it was never questioned by the group.  Can we re-create and facilitate this sort of spontaneous innovation space and call it a Future Centre?  From the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Finland and the UK they gave us examples of Future Centres.  Typically associated with government bureaus and departments but there were a few examples from banks and the like.  Places where people could have the time to think about what may happen.  There were some impressive results – start-up companies formed, conflicts eased between bureaucrats and   construction industry , faster and more consolidated public service and so on.

Dr. Ron Dvir talked abou the Operating System for Future Centres and what that OS is made up of.  You can find a short list on his website here.   He came up with a much longer list so I’ll list them all again here.  Think how all of these can come together to create a space where people while embrace the future – lots of Nonaka’s ば, ba, here.

  • Value proposition
  • What are future centres
  • Building blocks
  • Models
  • Metaphors
  • Future centre as BA – ば
  • Organizational perspectives
  • Methodological perspectives
  • Physical perspectives
  • Technological perspectives
  • People
  • Results & Impact
  • Lifecycle
  • Business models
  • Permanence management
  • Visit
  • Play
  • Meet
  • Watch
  • Prototype
  • Innovate
  • Futurize

Prof. Edvinsson asked what would be the opportunity cost of not doing a Future Centre.  DaVinci entertained his patrons with his games, puzzles and ideas and used that income to fund his serious work.  It seems as reasonable as any other explanation, although I do think DaVinci made some money in building war machines for some Italian princes.   Prof. Edvinsson left us with a new word ‘actuality’ defined as what will happen in 0-12 seconds – apparently this is via Prof. Nonaka.

We toured the HKSTP briefly and saw some very well-kitted out rooms with science museum like games and activities.   A brain-storming center with a dozen laptops and a 4 huge screen overheard where participants could ‘brainstorm’ quickly and efficiently.  I don’t think my comment that 2.5 million HK dollars (my quick mental arithmetic on the kit) was needed to build something that could be done with post-it notes and a white board was well-received.   It was impressive and it would give almost perfect anonymity to the brain-storming participants.  Some of the other kit, like the brain wave game, was purely fun.  Are these rooms a Future Centre?  Most people agreed that the rooms were not the critical factor but rather the facilitation of using the rooms is what would make them become a Future Centre.  Now they are just rooms with fancy kit.

I spoke to a senior manager at the HKSTP at the end and it was revealing that  most of the 300 or so companies in the complex do not have any explicit knowledge management role in their organizational structure.  The HKSTP doesn’t have any group who facilitate knowledge management for the complex as a whole.   This is disappointing because the HKSTP is one of the most knowledge using intensive places in Hong Kong.  Maybe it will change in the future.

Comments (1)

More on failure, learning and decision making

Dave Snowden makes this point often in presentations, podcasts and publications, “Tolerated failure imprints learning better than success”.

Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said, “Experience is the name that everyone gives to his mistakes.”

The problem is that we have to acknowledge failure before we can learn from it. That acknowledgment is best when it is ‘to yourself’ but it doesn’t hurt for someone to simply say, “this is wrong, a mistake, a disaster”. I’ve been confronted constantly over the years with people who have an obvious failure but just don’t acknowledge it to themselves and no-one will tell them for fear of seeming rude, insensitive, over-bearing and the list can go on and on. Obviously, no effort is then made to try to fix it, try to understand it, etc. This applies to small and huge failures. An example of a small failure are webpages that don’t work but could easily be fixed with a bit of redesign or just simple editing the html code. An example of a big failure are complicated computer systems that don’t work but could be analyzed and assessed before banging in the next big system which is likely to fail for almost the same reason. Failure is fine if we can learn from it but what is all too common is that the failure is ignored, forgotten and repeated. I’ve posted on this earlier about how to make it easier to acknowledge failure here.

Take a look at the video from Daniel Kahneman. The Nobel Laureate says organizations should think of decisions like any other product, and apply quality controls.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Daniel Kahneman on behavioral economi…“, posted with vodpod

Leave a Comment

We have a long way to go on social networking …

From a dear friend in New York City who has made the leap into using pc/mobile/blackberry/fbook/twitter and notices what so many of us won’t say …

“attended a social networking seminar last night . linked in fbook and twitter … hosted by a “search engine optimizer’ . conclusion ? the net is in its’ infancy as a cultural/economic phenomenon . needs diapering .”

There is so much said that this is all so useful when actually some of it, maybe half or more of it, is terribly infantile.  Twitting about the day, the weather, the meal just eaten – Photos shared 3rd hand – Odd names for someone who really is just taking your coat.  The world didn’t start when you all ‘got connected’ it existed a long time before and that world isn’t going away anytime soon.  I read recently that Tom Davenport said, “The absence of participative technologies in the past is not the only reason that organizations and expertise are hierarchical.”  (see Stewart Mader’s blog here) I think this was in the context that social networking tools are going to make hierarchies go away in organizations.  Good for him for saying the obvious – the tools are not going to change much, as those of us know who went from memos on typewriters, newsletters and meetings to email, intranets and networking.  It is what we are doing that will make a big change and what is now done with social networking seems rather thin and vacuous.  Yes, it still needs diapering and probably for quite some time into the future.

Leave a Comment

Another 2×2 Knowledge Box

As has been pointed out by many people, putting everyting in 2×2 boxes is an obsession with management consultants.  I thought I would try my hand at it with the old ‘knowledge’ chestnut.  This helps me notice that ‘technology’ and ‘social networking’ are in the same quadrant.

Leave a Comment

Personal Web-Pages Need Photos

One of the frequent KM dreams is the ‘personal web-page’. An organization builds a portal and gives each employee a page for their photo, name, contact details, skills, experience, interests and so on. These are described as ‘expert locaters’ or ‘expertise directory’. These ‘personal pages’ can promote knowledge sharing if they are well-maintained.

My experience is that people have difficulties in updating and maintaining these ‘personal pages’.  Sometimes it is lack of time and sometimes it is reticence to reveal so much about themselves.  If the ‘personal page’ starts with a photo, name, contact details and place in the organizational hierarchy which is maintained by the Human Resources group there will be a much better chance the ‘personal page’ is kept up-to-date.  This ‘stub’ information gives the organizaiton a core contact directory and the beginning of a way of enticing people to participate.  The photo is the key to fostering further voluntary participation to update the ‘personal web-page’. The photo makes it personal and then a person begins to feel like they need to describe themselves to others.

Comments (1)