Updated: 13/10/2002; 15:34:05.
Bob Andrew's Radio Weblog

13 October 2002


I was fascinated to read that a BIG problem with many e-Learning Courses is that they lack content.http://www.elearningmag.com/elearning/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=34616&;pmsid=968141

Is this also not a problem with many KM initiatives? It's a bit like having a gourmet kitchen but not having any food to cook!



3:34:04 PM    comment []

05 October 2002


There has been much debate in the past over the differences between Management and Leadership. To me it doesn't matter very much as there will always be overlaps but, simply put, it seems that management is about keeping stability and leadership about encouraging change.If this is true, why then do we have Knowledge Management and not Knowledge Leadership? Perhaps it is because many see KM as providing a stable and controlled environment where knowledge is gathered and hoarded, with all sorts of conditions like who gets to know what and where the knowledge is stored. This is the environment that gives rise to the saying that 'Knowledge is Power". The alternative view, and one that I certainly subscribe to, is that knowledge creates change through innovative action and adds value by the free sharing of gained knowledge. For this reason, from now on, I am going to talk about Knowledge Leadership and not Knowledge Management.

4:21:26 PM    comment []

29 September 2002

Using Email as a Management Tool

Many people are finding that they cannot cope with emails. It just takes too much time to handle everything. While I think that this a more of a time management issue, I do become concerned when people use email as a management tool. You may be familiar with "Why did you not do such and such a thing. I told you you do it in my email to you"

Kaitlin Duch Sherwood has a very nice article, with lots of references and guidelines on using email in http://www.webfoot.com/advice/email.top.html

5:20:56 PM    comment []

04 August 2002


I have just completed reading a lovely little book entitled The Tyranny of Numbers by David Boyle (Flamingo, London, 2001). In this book, Boyle provides a history of numbers, counting and how statistics began to rule our lives. All of this made me think how readily we resort to counting something if we don't trust that thing. This has been the basis for auditors, work study practioners, time clocking machines, etc and etc. It got me to thinking about how easy it is to count (measure) information but how difficult it is to count (measure) knowledge. If we are to be true to the ideals of knowledge management, value-adding, innovation, development of people, etc.,we need to think carefully how to really measure knowledge. Knowledge management should not be about counting or measuring information, which unfortunately it often tends to be, but about extracting knowledge from people. Counting and measuring are not the most appropriate tools for this as they ignore emotional aspects and, my view, they destroy trust. Rather tools like conversation, interactive story telling and participation in communities are far better suited for this purpose. 

11:16:22 AM    comment []

08 July 2002




In biology, knowing what the individual cells in an organism are made of does little to explain how the organism works. We need to know how the cells join together to form large and stable structures. Many scientists believe that cells combine to form living organisms in a way very similar to the construction of man-made geodesic domes. These structures, which are extremely stable because tensional and compressive forces are equally distributed, are based on tensegrity (derived from 'tensional integrity'). Tensegrity structures commonly have a large number of relatively light solid components, separated from one another but linked together by a network of cables. Their stability is derived from the equal distribution of stresses not by the strength of individual members.


Tensegrity structures are usually very light, very strong, and very efficient. They do, however, come in very complex shapes. Because of this complexity, it is often difficult to predict or design the exact form a tensegrity structure will take. In our design conscious world this is something of a problem: imagine not knowing what shape of house you are having built. Fortunately, nature sees this as a bonus and uses it to create diversity. Many of these structures are easily collapsible and thus readily deployable in other shapes for other uses. Their variable shapes and flexibility of purpose are probably their greatest assets.


 The key to tensegrity is the network that links together individual structural members. The network provides stability by balancing the stresses imposed on, or generated by, individual components. Balancing also provides the necessary flexibility to change the shape and nature of the overall structure. Most companies use electronic networks for information transmittal. For company tensegrity, the network must also provide balance. This can be achieved by using the network to share knowledge to inspire personal empowerment and collaboration with others.


An important characteristic of a tensegrity structure is that the loads are distributed throughout the structure: there is no one main load-bearing member. Similarly, in a tensegrity company, there is no single location for the business: there is no 'headquarters' and no 'top floor'. Responsibility, accountability, skills, information and knowledge are distributed but linked together. This also means that there is no centralised control; no single component 'runs' the organisation, all the components do


 Companies develop through complex interactions involving their employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders, each with their own particular form and structure. Combining them in a structure, which is balanced and distributed, will allow them to move, grow and to change shape without affecting the stability of the company. In this way unpredictable properties and opportunities will emerge which may be better adapted to constantly changing environments.


11:48:01 AM    comment []

04 July 2002


Based on his theory, Charles Darwin recognised two forms of ‘struggle’ for perpetuating any species: the ‘struggle for existence’ and the ‘survival of the fittest’. Some species have another type of ‘struggle’. They want to advance and not just exist. One wouldn’t exactly call bacteria advanced although they have been here since life began. Insects appear to be quite happy with their lot; they have changed very little over hundreds of thousands of years. Obviously some species want to advance, others do not.

It may come as something of a surprise to learn that most evolutionists believe that birds are probably the most developed species, after man and perhaps some other primates. Like humans, birds are relative newcomers, believed to have evolved out of the reptile and dinosaur family. It is thought that gliding (perhaps falling) down from trees was their first taste of free flight and they liked it!

Humans and birds must then have a desire to advance. Nobody knows why and nobody knows whereto. But what talents do they have in common that has allowed them to do so? Biologists believe that innovation (the ability to invent new behaviour); communication and social propagation (to transfer skills among the species) and mobility (moving around in flocks) are the talents which birds have in common with humans. These talents are the vehicles for them to realise their potential.  We can’t really talk for birds, but are we using our talents to advance and unlike birds, do we know to where we want to advance?

2:26:40 PM    comment []

03 July 2002



A company's knowledge base is a bit like a gene pool: it is continually used to advance the company but needs to be continuously added to. Its environment also influences it.  Like a gene pool, knowledge is the accumulation of all the instructions required for individuals and organisations to adapt to changing environments. These instructions are not fixed in one place but are divided up and scattered about among the individuals in the population or the company. In nature, the individuals must be reproductively competent to add to the gene pool. In a company, the individuals must be empowered and enabled to use and add to the company's knowledge base.


Genetic instructions are given to an individual organism at birth and are expressed during a process of development as the organism matures to adulthood. At this stage, it may (or may not) enter into reproduction and return its genes to the gene pool. Despite being able to add to it on reproduction, the organism itself is forever cut off from the gene pool. It has to make do with a fixed set of instructions that cannot be altered. It cannot dip back into the gene pool to augment those instructions if it finds they are not good enough.


Fortunately, this is not the case with a company's knowledge. An individual can continually strengthen its own knowledge by using the accumulated knowledge gained by the company as a whole. It can then strengthen the knowledge base of the company by sharing attained knowledge with others.


Provided the company allows competent individuals to act upon knowledge they have gained, the knowledge base can be immediately added to. Even if the knowledge is not correctly acted upon and mistakes occur, the knowledge base is still strengthened. Unlike nature, there does not have to be a 'maturity' delay before our knowledge can be expanded.


The reproductive delay before an individual organism can add to a gene pool has been called the 'generational deadtime'. It is simply the time between receiving a set of genetic instructions at birth and the time at which those instructions are added to the gene pool by reproduction. In many species an inordinately long 'deadtime', in a rapidly changing environment, has led to the ultimate extinction of the species. If the world has changed in this time, and changed in ways that are significant for the organism, then the instructions received at birth may be out of date and no longer relevant at reproduction. As time goes by, no new appropriate genes are added and the entire species slowly dies. 98% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct as a consequence of an inappropriately slow generational deadtime.


Many companies are vulnerable to their own form of generational deadtime. Lengthy and rigid procedures and processes often have to be rigorously completed before an exciting new product, innovation or opportunity can be acted upon. This may be fine if the outside world is changing slowly but disastrous if rapid change is taking place. In our present world of the Internet and electronic markets, where deals take place at the speed of light, opportunities must be seized upon very quickly if they are to be at all beneficial. A long deadtime will kill any opportunity in this environment.


As nature has done, companies need to see knowledge as adaptation and to recognise that all adaptations are knowledge. An adaptation is an attribute that helps an organism reproduce or a company act. The water-conserving ability of a cactus in a dry environment and the effective management of knowledge in a company are examples of adaptation. Adaptation requires acceptance of change and a willingness to experiment. It also requires a willingness to learn from both the external environment (e.g. existing or past customers and suppliers) and the internal environment (employees).



7:25:02 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2002 Bob Andrew.
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