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Content strategy is a plan

From Kristiana Halvorson:

“The most important thing to understand is this: Content strategy isn’t a bunch of tactics. It’s a plan.”
“It’s a well-founded plan, fueled by your business objectives and user goals. An achievable plan, created with your current business reality, content assets, and limited resources in mind. A future plan, for what’s going to happen to your content once you send it off into the world. And, most importantly, a profitable plan, where your measures of success ultimately have impact on your organization’s bottom line.”

Better User Experience With Storytelling – Part One

A good read on how storytelling can unite the different aspects of the user experience such as brining different perspectives together, defining the goal or defining the user (personas). However, there is another benefit that the article briefly touches upon and that is defining the journey (scenarios). It’s one thing to define a user, but a whole different perspective when you chart out the journey of this user accomplishing goals and tasks.

Lessig Calls Google Book Settlement A “Path To Insanity”

Interesting post on Lawrence Lessig’s views on the Google book deal.

“By breaking up books into different licensable parts, Lessig fears that we are going to encounter the same problem with books that we do today with film. He gives the example of documentary films which are sometimes nearly impossible to restore or preserve in digital form because the rights to every song and clip of archive footage need to be cleared again. This is an artifact of the types of licensing contracts that became the norm for film, where each constituent part of a work carries its own copyrights into perpetuity, making it more difficult down the road to update into digital form or pass along as a piece of shared culture. Up until now, books for the most part are treated as one single work.”

A Better Way to Manage Knowledge

John Hagel and John Seely Brown talk about Creation Spaces - “places where individuals and teams interact and collaborate within a broader learning ecology so that performance accelerates.” They go on to discuss how these spaces are different from the traditional KM systems: “Knowledge management traditionally has focused on capturing knowledge that already exists within the firm — its systems rarely extend beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. Creation spaces instead focus on mobilizing and focusing participants across all institutional boundaries.”

Fantastic Information Architecture and Data Visualization Resources

From Noupe. Good starting points to get more on IA and infographics. (via Infodesign)

Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

When will this infection catch on worldwide? These are the small pockets of hope that we have left. Brilliant stuff Kiran!

Use Better Tools to Be a Better Student in 2010

A wonderful list of shortcuts and techniques to help out with common tasks.

Web project team roles

Kristina Halvorson has put up an interesting diagram that shows how the different roles in a we project team relate to one another.

Atul Gawande’s ‘Checklist’ For Surgery Success

Brilliant article by NPR on Atul Gawande’s new book, The Checklist Manifesto. Gawande has written an entire book on how checklist and other reminders help in complex situations. Here is a good quote:

There was about 80 percent who thought that this was something they wanted to continue to use. But 20 percent remained strongly against it. They said, ‘This is a waste of my time, I don’t think it makes any difference.’ And then we asked them, ‘If you were to have an operation, would you want the checklist?’ Ninety-four percent wanted the checklist.”

I’m waiting to read Gawande’s new book but right now I’m in the middle of another book that talks about the same checklist culture from a very different angle. This book titled Streetlights and Shadows and is written by the brilliant Gary Klein. Both Klein and Gawande are my favourite authors. I’ve read all their previous books. So, this is interesting for me to see how their worlds collide. In his book, Klein spends an entire chapter debunking the use of checklists in complex scenarios. His idea is that checklists are wonderful in well-structured and predictive environments and do not work that well in ill-structured and unpredictable environments.

Here’s the question I want answered when I start reading Gawande’s book: are the checklists just for mechanical tasks or are they for complex procedures? The surgical safety checklist mentioned in the article looks quite general. Maybe that is the point: even the ‘general’ stuff in surgery can lead to a life or death situation.

The culture of collaboration and what it means for your intranet

I’ve written a new article at PebbleRoad, The culture of collaboration and what it means for your intranet.

Here’s my punch line: the adoption or participation you’re going to get on your intranet is directly related to the culture of collaboration that exists in the organisation. Having the right collaboration technology does play a part, but only as a sidekick to the culture of collaboration.

2-5-1 Storytelling

Robert Swanwick writes about Lt Col Karuna Ramanathan of the Singapore Armed Forces and his 2-5-1 strategy of storytelling and conducting an after-action-review.


5 fingers


via @DavidGurteen

Working less

Nicely said by Mark Shead:

We can be much more productive by focusing on doing the right things instead of focusing on doing more things.  What this means, exactly, is very dependent on your particular set of circumstances, your personality, and what you are trying to accomplish, but many people will benefit by trying to spend less time doing and more time thinking.

[Via Michael Sampson]

Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at Booz Allen: Part One Overview of Business Drivers and Components

Bill Ives: This is the first in a six part series on Booz Allen’s award winning implementation of Enterprise 2.0.

“To meet these challenges, Booz Allen developed and implemented Hello, a suite of web-based enterprise tools designed to strengthen collaboration, connectivity, and communication across geographical and cultural barriers. It was created from vision to launch in under 6 months leveraging a blend of Open Source, COTS, and custom-developed products. Since August 2008, more than 80% of the firm has logged into Hello and more than 53% of the firm has contributed original content. There are more than 4,000 individual searches a day.”

Get ready for intranet 3.0! it’s coming, it’s real and it will change the way we work

I like how the intranet conversations are shaping up these days. It’s all about thinking ahead. James started it with this article on future scenarios. Now we have Sarah Bates on Intranet 3.0. I hope this is a start of something new and a push that will take intranets into the next level of business integration.

“If anything, intranets are driving services forward at such a great pace that, post-recession, the organization that emerges will be fitter, leaner and more adaptable. Prior to the downturn, the rate of development was already intense, but market conditions have caused a new wave of intranet acceleration to arrive.”

Ten Commandments of Social Media

These 10 Commandments of Social Media are just brilliant.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Be a Narcissist
  2. Thou Shalt Listen to What Others Are Saying
  3. Thou Shalt Not Spam
  4. Thou Shalt Say Something of Substance
  5. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Thy Neighbour
  6. Thou Shalt Give Credit Where Credit is Due
  7. Thou Shalt Learn How to Spell (or at least use a spell checker)
  8. Thou Shalt Use Real Words
  9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
  10. Thou Shalt Not Be a Friend Whore

Intranet tips by Jane McConnell

I found Jane’s list of things to consider when sorting out global content (common content) and local content (specific content) to be a really useful recap on good intranet practices. It is always an uphill task to convince departments used to working in silos that they have some really useful content that they should be putting up in the common content area.

Here’s an example of Jane’s #2

Think of the global intranet as collection of spaces, with each space having a purpose from the user viewpoint.

Examples of spaces: News, Workplace, Employee Services, About. These spaces will later become the components of the global navigation bar.

Develop several hypotheses, each one with a combination of spaces. You should be able to make a simple statement about each space for each hypothesis: “This space is designed for (user) to (action)”.

Wells Fargo editors’ newsroom model wins Ragan laurels

Interesting write up on how Wells Fargo goes about publishing their corporate newsletter. What amazes me in this story is the discipline that the team of 4 have to create a compelling newsletter over and over again. Now why can’t we follow the same model on our intranets?

Mike Bares, editor, explains how the newsroom atmosphere works: “Sources pitch stories, and we make decisions on which ones to cover,” he says. “We have story-planning sessions and spend a lot of time interviewing sources. It’s intense, as breaking news crosses our desks, but interspersed with periods of calm.”

Intranet Innovation Awards 2009

Here is my review of the Intranet Innovation Awards 2009 report by of Step Two Designs (thank you James for the review copy).

The report has 10 case studies from around the world, each showcasing an idea, an innovation that serves a specific business requirement.

The areas judged cover business solutions, frontline delivery, communication and collaboration and core functionality.

I recommend that you read Alex Manchester’s summary of the award winners to get a glimpse of the detail and richness the report provides.

Given below are the main reasons I find myself carrying the report along when meeting clients or when discussing intranet designs.

If you are an intranet sponsor, intranet manager or intranet consultant, this report will help you get discussions off to a good start. Getting a packaged report like this that includes screenshots and commentary around good solutions is hard to come by. This report fills the gap and is a valuable addition to the literature.

The report is available for online purchase at US$ 189.00 from the Step Two website.

You Can’t Innovate Like Apple

Alain Breillatt summarises why companies will find it hard to innovate like Apple.

First, forget about it unless you are willing to invest significantly and heavily to establish a culture of innovation like Apple’s. Because it’s not just about copying Apple’s approach and procedures. The vast majority of executives who say, “I want to be just like Apple,” have no idea what it really takes to achieve that level of success. What they’re saying is they want to be adored by their customers, they want to launch sexy products that cause the press to fall all over themselves, and they want to experience incredible financial growth. But they generally want to do it on the cheap.

Search User Interfaces - Marti Hearst’s book available online free of charge

Marti Hearst’s new book is now available for reading online - “To make this book available to as many readers as possible, the author, with permission of Cambridge University Press, has placed the full text online free of charge.”

This is a fantastic resource. Thanks Marti. Thanks CUP.

If you want a quick reference of Marti’s book - watch her giving this presentation of her book to Google

iPhone + Book = Phonebook

Now this is interesting. The video does look very impressive.

A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture

Peter Bregman makes a wonderful case of highlighting the need to embed the organisation’s culture with stories of change as a way to bring about the change.

“I told him not to change the performance review system, the rewards packages, the training programs. Don’t change anything. Not yet anyway. For now, just change the stories. For a while there will be a disconnect between the new stories and the entrenched systems promoting the old culture. And that disconnect will create tension. Tension that can be harnessed to create mechanisms to support the new stories.”

Reflections from KM World 09

I had a wonderful 3 days at KM World 09 in San Jose. Much of the enthusiasm was in meeting friends. I’ve known Thomas Vander Wal, for instance, only by his blog and so it was good to put a face to all those entries.

I made some new friends as well. These were the winners at the Intranet Innovation Awards. Thanks to James Robertson for making this happen.

Patrick Lambe, James Robertson, Thomas Vander Wal
(Patrick Lambe, James Robertson, Thomas Vander Wal)

As for the conference sessions themselves there were some good sessions and some not-so-good sessions, as it is to be expected in any conference. Here are my takeaways from the sessions.

I’ve not described much of the other sessions and presentations. The KM blog has got more content in this area. You can also read the tweets on the conference.

Devlearn 09 - Day 3

Day 3 of Devlearn was a short event day, just 1 keynote and 2 breakout sessions. It started off really well with a keynote by Leo Laporte.

Leo is a wonderful storyteller. He told his story as a youngster trying to get into the mass media business. He described the difficulties and bottlenecks that the industry posed to people like him, from the high equipment costs to the very controlled distribution to the impenetrable bureaucracy. Only few people made it through the system, the rest were outliers waiting for their opportunity.

The opportunity came in the form of the microprocessor and the Internet. These two technologies lowered production and distribution costs and enabled mass media to be truly mass media—from many to many. The social media or Web 2.0 tipped this ability over. Nowadays it is easy for anyone to put up a video or talk station and reach out to the masses. Leo described how he started his Internet-based station with just $15k of equipment that reached out to hundreds of thousands of people.

Leo’s main idea is that the Internet and the social tools have lowered the barriers to entry for anyone who wants to work, play or learn on it.

My big takeaway from this conference is that I see the acceptance of a new form of learning, one that is very social and one that is very informal. The orderly well-defined structure of teaching and learning is breaking down and yielding to a more natural way that does not depend on a specific time and place for teaching and learning to happen.

My big fear is that people will take this new form of learning as the only natural way to learn. This is plain wrong. On the contrary this form of learning takes more from the learner, as now he has to analyse and filter from the hundreds of options and opinions that are available to him. The only natural part is that these options and opinions are coming from other people.

I can describe the situation like this: for many problems there is the possibility that the solutions are ‘out there’. Before the Web 2.0 capability came along it was difficult, if not impossible, to surface all of this knowledge from the community. Now with social media we are able to lower the barriers to this hidden knowledge. For example, don’t know how insurgents are using improvised explosives in Iraq? Well, we can ask the soldiers who are coming across this on a day-to-day basis. The New Yorker has a wonderful article on this type of knowledge at work.

But this is not the only way we learn. Sometimes we don’t know the discipline, sometimes there is just too much to be learned, sometimes it is all too complex. In all such cases we require detailed and serious study. It is how we become good at things. Assuming that all learning can take place through social media will do more harm than good. Let’s not forget this when celebrating Learning 2.0.

Devlearn 09 - Day 2

Day 2 of Devlearn was much better for me. But it did not start out that way.

The second day keynote was by Eric Zimmerman, game designer and author of Rules of Play. Now Eric is a very smart chap, but his keynote was a mess. There was no structure in his presentation and his incessant “ahmmm” and “ahhhhs” drove me dizzy. I was not the only one who felt this way apparently. The Tweetboard had many tweets by people having this same feeling. After the dizzy spell, I was behind a couple of people leaving the conference room and this is what I heard: “Did you find it useful?” “Nah! There were both cute and confusing moments but mostly it was distracting”.

Cammy Bean has captured the essence of his keynote if you want to go through it.

Next I attended a very crisp and clear presentation by Dave Ragan who is responsible for training at Taco Bell.  He showed how Taco Bell is using an avatar (from CodeBaby) to present the courses and maintain consistency. He also showed the level of media and interactivity that these coursers have. But more importantly he showed how all of this training is helping Taco Bell meet its business objectives. Not fancy courseware here, just plain and simple—learn it; try it; and then show it to me—type of training.

The highlight of the day however was meeting Mark Oehlert from the Defence Acquisition University. Mark is someone who gets social media. He is using many, many different tools to re-engineer processes to make them more efficient. His focus was on using these Web 2.0 tools in serious applications. The centre of his universe is Twitter and he uses it in many different ways from seeking out options available out there to searching for knowledge from his staff.

They key theme I observed was that all these applications are built on the assumption that there are people who will constantly feed these applications via their tweets, blogs, comments, etc., and there are people who will constantly watch and respond to this stream of information. If there is no ‘social stream’ then it seems we’re talking of the Web 1.0 paradigm. 

To put all of this in perspective, the entire social media thing is working under the assumption that if there is a problem, we can throw the social stream at it and it will somehow get solved. How? Some like Mark seem to have figured it out while others choose to use the word “by emergence” or in simpler words, by magic.

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