Being a Knowledge Manager for a few years in an [...]
Being a Knowledge Manager for a few years in an IT environment, got me working with different kinds of technology-open source as well as the state of the art kind of technology. Moreover, being in an IT environment taught me how besotted and clouded one can become – thinking that technology can drive and solve all Knowledge Management problems.
The only thing I realized that can drive and sustain (not solve) Knowledge Management in any organization, was people! If people had it in them to share, to question, to discuss, technology can only help drive it, but not motivate the way knowledge is too be managed, especially in a large organization. Given most companies with a strength of 1000+ are hierarchically based, there are limitations – after all such companies are driven by profits at the end of the day. Moreover, motivation using the stick and carrot for employees to go beyond their “working schedule” and deliver not only work but also their expertise, formulate problems, share what they read, does not really turn the “culture” of a company. Nor should a company expect results within 2-3 years! Culture is not a magical formula!
Building the culture of an organization/company, is not the sole “duty” of the Knowledge Manager. This role is just a facilitator’s profile. The support should come from all units that go towards making the organization run- from the CEO, HR, CTO, Business Development, Product Development, Process Department, Administration, etc- every single department is as responsible as the KM manager to facilitate the pure and simple art of sharing!
Yes, today Sharing is an art that needs to be learned. It can be learned by imitation, if not already inherent. (However on googling just, The Art of Sharing, the only link that sent an impulse to click was The Art of Sharing on Facebook!) Another “interesting” link was to teach kids the art of Sharing! But on googling Knowledge Management and Sharing, I got an even longer list, and one that got to the point was the 3Cs of KM – Culture, Co-opetition and Commitment. But given a changing environment in an organization, sustaining all the above is not as easy as it is written about. Hence, Commitment is the most essential of all ingredients, for a long lasting evolution of organizational culture- given that culture is never static (only heritage is) and keeps evolving and changing.
Knowledge Management, a buzz word, is pure and simple – getting people to discuss the problems without having ego issues, and those who know the answers or probable solutions to share without feeling all that important! Simple, but not so in the competitive world that we live in- where knowledge is power! Now we just turn around and say, ” if you share knowledge you get popular, and that earns you brownie points!” Why can’t we teach our children the joy of sharing for its pure unadulterated pleasure that it can give oneself! In selfishness (to feel the pleasure), there is sharing and pleasure without external gratification. Try it!
Humans shared the idea of the wheel, of course those who had it first were able to survive over their counterparts. Today, Ideas via technology go viral within a few seconds! And in a way Technology has helped humans share much more than ever before. But then why doesn’t this work in a work environment? Facebook works because we share our personal lives. But may not always work inside an organization, as its being watched by eyes other than people we know? or could it be that work thoughts are not meant to be shared? Do we live to work or do we work to live? Once that dilemma is solved, sharing in an organization will be as easy as sharing a sandwich (even that sometimes is seen as suspicious when traveling in unknown terrain for fear of being robbed).
Changing Times sure calls for interesting solutions to solve the simple art of sharing. Do you have a simple solution that doesn’t involve the carrot and stick for an individual to learn the Art of Sharing?
Ah this is the fourth and last of the series, “Do I have what it takes to be a Thought Leader?“. Finally I shall focus on the Way to get there. So far we have seen, the basic characteristics, the why, and the how of Thought leadership.
There is no single path to get to being a Thought Leader. There are many! One of the first things that you need to remember is that, you can be a Thought Leader, and it is solely up to you! There is no right way or wrong way – but it should never be by hook or crook!
When you study the way a Bamboo Grows, it teaches you a lot more than just the way to being a Thought Leader.
The Way Forward:
Keep a Multi Disciplinary Outlook: Be an expert in your field, simultaneously understand and build your knowledge base with regards to other related fields of your discipline. Specialization is fine. But, having a wholesome understanding of your field as well related fields gives you a better advantage when it comes to problem solving, and arrive at creative solutions
Be the Focus: Thought Leaders do not always grow vertically, they are usually the focus, the center point around which not just a circle, but interlocking circles grow. This does not mean that you become the focus, but, be like a magnet and draw the attention of people in your field. Let it come naturally. Let them rally around you, turn to you for solutions.
Maintain Ethical and Moral Behavior: Never ever promote a solution or idea as your own, if it is not original. Always acknowledge and credit the originator who laid the seed of the idea from which a solution has been arrived at. Humility is always respected among great leaders. Once in the eye of followers, you need to maintain your credibility with behavior that is acceptable.
Self Reflect: At every stage in your life, self reflection is a must. Keep in mind You are not indispensable! Knowledge is changing every minute, and you may not always be able to deliver every time. Your quest to serve others should take precedence over one’s own desire for power or maintaining status quo.
Keep Ears and Eyes Grounded: Never put yourself too high, so that you become unreachable. Great kings have always moved among their citizens, learning the problems and finding ways to solve them. No problem brought to you should be too small to solve.
The Middle Path: Thought Leaders often find themselves at crossroads and that is the most crucial test for them. Many lose their way to egoism or external gratification. Thought Leaders need to know when to bow down, and when to stand tall- like the spirit of a bamboo.
People may prescribe many ways to get to being a Thought Leader. But do realize this, that if it is in you, and you passionately serve the needs of others, share, and keep your horizons in check, self reflect, and be humble – the path towards being a Thought Leader has already been laid. You need to strive towards it, and it will gradually build around you. And always pay heed to people around you. It is in keeping true to yourself that you maintain credibility and earn your stars as a Thought Leader!
An adage we are often familiar with and relevant to a medical situation, “Prevention is better [...]
An adage we are often familiar with and relevant to a medical situation, “Prevention is better than cure”! Since the time of, let’s say, Adam and Eve as we know it, humans (thanks to their curiosity and ingenuity) have hardly heeded the above and gone ahead with the risks. And, so you think that, when humans designed a machine and a network that would help communicate, you think they would have learned a lesson or two from history? Hmmm.. as usual we never learned nor do we still learn (of course, we are of the opinion that science teaches us all there is to know, and history be dammed!).
In the early 1980′s the Internet was as such born to help communicate information, oops sorry not communicate but time share. And all this was churning in the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks (Arpanet), and it was not for military purposes but for the advancement of science! So you expect that when they decided to Time Share, they would take some precaution- knowing that when humans from different areas came into contact with each other, a lot is exchanged! (Well a sneeze can travel a thousand miles!). And as you all know, the snake in the garden caused Adam and Eve to commit the original sin, and so to with the Time Sharing of information, the Morris Worm was the “snake” that ruined the Garden of Technology (we are still paying the price)! (However, viruses were already know to exist) And thus, along with good came some bad and then came the precaution!
So what does the history of the Firewall really tell us? Are Firewalls really protectors of systems built by humans? Humans used Fire to protect themselves against wild animals and cold. But it also was known to destroy large swathes of land and kills many species of the animal kingdom, and still does in many parts of the world. The pessimist in me – The more of technology that we build, the more its advantages, the more its disadvantages also seem to grow. The more complex we build the networks, the more protective we get by putting up defenses, the more closed we get and more vulnerable we end up being!
Yes, I turn to history more often than not to understand how this works - how the “remains of history” that we see around us everyday, is so much present in the field of technology, albeit in a different form and matter (history does repeat itself!!). Take Forts for instance, a group of people come together, start living, building, and soon realize that they could be the envy of their neighbors. Or they live in areas that could be prone to natural disasters, So what do they do? Build Fortification walls! Some stand up to the attacks, some crumble on impact. Often, a bribe has got an army through. Vulnerability has been an inherent factor in everything that we have built since time immemorial! If we as humans are vulnerable to ever changing infections, then how can we ever guarantee that the machines or software that we humans build can never be tampered with or attacked?
Therein lies the never ending cycle of Life, and the economics of what makes the world of technology go round and round! We truly imitate our ancestors, except the materials we use are different, else all ideas and actions and process are still the same!
So this was the second bit of interesting history of the computing field that I thought I could share along with what I related to.
If you think of similar analogies between Present Technology and the past, please do share. I love the parallels of Changing Times we live in!
A Divergence from Economics to Philosophy, yet held by a silken thread [...]
A Divergence from Economics to Philosophy, yet held by a silken thread invisible to the naked eye, can be found in E F Schumacher’s book, “A Guide for the Perplexed“. Here he questions the very purpose of existensialism. Why are we here? Where on the Map of Life do we exist? Taking a look at the four elements – matter, life, consciousness and self awareness, he tries to reason out the hierarchical relationship to each other, the dependency if it exists and where does it lead to? So too, when one tries to Map their own Life! Through school, college, work and retirement. Here I can draw parallels to the old Ashrama system in India, so too with the Dashavatara - which is often cited as describing the evolution of human beings – from the base of performing certain actions to the intellectual being.
Today we have plenty of mind mapping tools, as earlier mentioned in one of our earlier blogs, to help us figure out how to get from A to B and help visualize our ideas and manage our everyday actions. They work really well. Just try blasting out an idea on paper, and it can be a joy to see how your ideas can be broken into units that can then be dealt with very simply. Using color, helps present an even more visual and graphical simplicity to the problem. So basically you are drawing out a map that represents your thought process.
Ever tried drawing out a map that represents your Life so far and where what can or will take you further? We all have goals in mind- but how long term are they? We plan out our financial life into various policies- retirement, medical, life insurance, etc. But have we ever thought of planning and mapping our Life?
Schumacher, in his Epilogue states that, “The art of Living is always to make a good thing out of a bad thing“. Only when we know and have actually been there and seen that, can we be become aware to really take action and do the right thing. He also touches upon education and the mentors who can help guide us to doing the right things the right way given their experience. The debate and dialogue (let me put it this way) between “Science” and “A Higher Being” are also very well deduced in the pages of this book. However, economics is not to far from his heart and he comes to the conclusion that the ” economic problem has been solved”. He basis this on the knowledge that we now know what needs to be done and have the capabilities and technologies available to do that, and know what can be avoided. But what we now need to focus is on the moral problem. And the only way to do that is, “get down to work”.
So when we get down to mapping our Life, that may not be so difficult. But can we collectively try and Map the Knowledge of Life itself? What has it taught us so far, have we learned anything from our past mistakes, can we highlight those in red, do we see repetitions of them on the human time scale? Wars after wars? Can we get down and Map the Positive aspects and use that to take us out of the moral dilemmas that we constantly face? We do find Maps that chart what is happening to the world at large based on past data. Can we do the same for ourselves? Will that help guide us to take the right decisions for the coming years?
Right on! I have lifted this title straight from E F Schumacher’s [...]
Right on! I have lifted this title straight from E F Schumacher’s book, “small is beautiful“, chapter 10. This book written in the 70s, is a must read for anyone interested in technology, politics and yes, economics.
A very interesting statement by Schumacher in his book (remember he wrote this in the 70′s), “Today, the main content of politics is economics, and the main content of economics is technology. If politics cannot be left to experts, neither can economics and technology“. Ponder on this a while, if you please.
All he asks, is for you dear reader, to wonder and think that although technology has helped in many ways, yet the underlying factors of alleviation of poverty and unemployment have not been solved by technology at all. It is but a short lived illusory success. Instead of which people have often fallen back on traditional methods and knowledge. The tractor has helped handle large swathes of land, but has it helped feed the millions? Yes, we can blame the politics and economics of a rich country that has kept that surplus from reaching the starving people of a poor country. But technology has been a factor here that has created that surplus that really cannot be of help. In natural disasters or man made disasters, technology has not been able to either predict or even help save lives. It is the human hand that helps dig through and pull out people very often.
Lets take medical machines that are supposedly created to help save lives. Whose lives do they save- only those who can afford, or those who really need it (a very small percentage)?
Schumacher never says that technology in itself is bad. But, he urges us to utilize the scientific techniques, that helps us get to the truth of the matter and increase our knowledge, to focus on technology that does not lead to giantism, speed, or violence and destruction of human-work enjoyment. What he instead asks us is to recapture simplicity in all that we do so as to produce a self-balancing system of nature.
Ah yes, a small and beautiful thought that Schumacher gives us to think about is what he terms intermediate technology- “production by the masses, rather than mass productions”
Schumacher again, “The primary task of technology, it would seem, is to lighten the burden of work man has to carry in order to stay alive and develop his potential” (the bold highlight is my action). And technology that lightens our burden, would help give us better time to relax and do what we would like, increase our creativity, work things with our hands that give us joy. But now we have to pay someone else to help us communicate better, develop our creativity, and pay for our own happiness!
This brings to mind the Vaccum Cleaner that adds more work than lessens it! Yes the Washing machine certainly lessens the work, but then again we go off to the gym to exercise our muscles paying a huge amount when it can be so easily dealt with by washing and scrubbing and rinsing! An image that has often come to my mind – when people employ the cycle in a gym, that motion generates power, which can then be used to move gears in a tub to wash clothes ( in another room). What a novel idea and thus save electrical energy and lessen carbon footprints!
And I would like you dear reader to take a look at Rube Goldenberg’s cartoons, where the promise and pitfalls of modern technology have been the guiding spirit of engineers across the globe. And hope the next time you design something- hardware or software, you will think of simplicity rather than complexity, and remember that it will be a human who will use!
And soon to follow, in my next thought for the week, is Schumacher’s book on,”Guide to the Perplexed”.
This will definitely not read like a How-To manual or a DIY kit! It will definitely give you food for thought and action. Mike Volpe, CMO at HubSport —an online marketing and content management site, has focused on 3 key areas and an interesting word that he employs needs stressing here – “consistency“, besides hard work and risks.
Be Consistent: What does being consistent mean? It does not mean routine, but being able to be focused on what you do and deliver. Consistently writing or publishing about new ideas, information, directing your colleagues attention to what’s happening in your field or domain. No need to give your opinions here, but just a plain discussion around the cooler or tea time will help. Also, please do not overload others with information. When you notice direction is required step into it with relevant points that can help. This will definitely see you as being one who has something relevant to contribute.
Inspire: This is more difficult when you are taking the baby steps into Thought Leadership. Never fear! Motivating others by example, your own or others, is the best way to inspire colleagues and friends. This positive approach will gain you followers and friends alike. But again, inspire at the right time and place.
Be Generous:Not with your money, but with your ideas and thoughts, with information and knowledge, with solutions to problems. Knowledge is power, only when you share it and not when you hoard it!
Display Credibility: Answer or give solutions, only when you know the answer. If you don’t, say you don’t know. Become the source for trusted information. The gift of the gab is fine in certain situations, but not when you don’t have all the answers. Your credibility will be at stake. Humility is a virtue that can be an underlying factor towards stepping into the shoes of a Thought Leader. Never confuse Humility with Meekness!
Failure and Success : Be bold and dare to talk about the failures you have had. It only makes you human. And, a failure will only display that you have had the courage to overcome the mistakes and go forward. That in itself, is the beacon that brings the moth to the flame. Never be overconfident of your success, and avoid over generalization. What is sauce for the goose is poison for the gander.
You don’t always have to be in the spotlight, but be the person to whom everyone can turn to when they need an answer, need information or help. J V Rensselar, in his blog, not only gives valuable insight into How to become a Thought Leader, but also the mistakes you need to avoid.
The above points along with the the 7 steps towards a Basic Checklist in the first series, will definitely see you questioning yourself, and proving that there is but a little Thought Leader there inside of you. It just needs the right time and place to get you there. And May you find it one day!
The web today is full of information on the etymology of entrepreneur and a timeline of how it got incorporated into the English Language, the theory of entrepreneurship and its evolution, and history’s 10 greatest Entrepreneurs (am sure this is debatable but it makes a good read, the Wikipedia has a listing of Entrepreneurs as far back as the 18th century). So one can guess that the word Entrepreneur originated in France as early as 1828 and since then has been associated with the economics of things! Jean-Baptiste Say, an admirer of Adam Smith, coined the word Entrepreneur and it was often translated as “adventurer”. Closer home on Indian soil, a similar sounding word, the Sanskrit word Antarprerna, is often cited as a possible origin, and it means inspiration from within.
So it all begins from within oneself, a thought, an idea, and this is then translated and expressed through action. For those who want to see if they have it in them should know that Entrepreneurship cannot be taught! It is born purely out of an idea, and with passion it is nurtured to its fruition. Just like a gardener who drops this little seed into the ground, has an idea what it is, but can never say what it will become, given the vagaries of nature that can either help it grow or stunt its growth. The Gardener takes the risk!
We are all entrepreneurs in our own little ways. When I watch the cat, I notice that it too is an Entrepreneur- it weighs the pros and cons, it risks running across the road or jumping up that wall to get what it wants, the only things that distinguishes us from them, is the so called “profit” that can be made out of the venture – entrepreneurs seek out inefficient uses of resources and capital and position them into more productive, higher yield areas (but that’s the way they kill the rat!). So we all have that streak in us, but it is dependent on us to deploy it or not! There may be many factors that holds one back. But pure and unbridled passion can override all the doomsayers, when one wants to do something! And that my friend is what an Entrepreneur is – forget if it will succeed or not, forget if it will make that profit or not, forget if it is a viable idea or not! The first step to Entrepreneurship is Pure self motivation with Passion!
The reasons or excuses to become an entrepreneur, as put by Prof. Nandini Vaidyanathan, ranges from the simple quest of change to the bizarre. But whatever the motive, we all do it at one time or the other, and it could be as simple as being enterprising to solve a problem of a co-passenger on a long train journey.
But before you plunge headlong on this vibrant and exciting journey of self motivation, here is a well meaning and well crafted slideshare on 10 reasons why not to become an entrepreneur! It’s no damp squib, but its good advice to know what you will be heading into – take it with a pinch of salt if the passion overrides, or mull over it and stay in your comfort zone till Time decides otherwise!
Think of the humans who first created fire, the wheel, or those who built the first boats and ships that set sail across the oceans, or the mariners who set forth to discover new lands – it all arose from a need to do something different, the drive to get there, not knowing what lay beyond….Be that Traveller that can chart new pathways for others to trod on.