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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, November 28, 2003

Blogs - turning ideas into action

Saw this post from Ton in my news aggregator - and i felt i must comment right away - unpacking can wait :). 

Making Actionable Sense

Lilia Efimova writes about how her blog mercilessly exposes to her the loose ends and ideas she had over time, and did not find opportunities to do anything with. In the comments Denham Grey says that Wikis help solve this problem because revisiting items is easy and you can let the corpus grow on each iteration or passing by, thus incrementally adding to what you already have.

This is a recognisable thing, how to make sense of all these ideas. Or better: how to make actionable sense of them.

In philosophical technology assessment usually 4 steps are made. First a round of diagnosis and inventory, then analysis, a second round of diagnosis, and then consequences for action. It seems as if most of our blog conversations only cover the first two steps: we diagnose a problem, or come up with an idea, and do some analysing around it. I'm not so sure if Wikis take it any further, because I haven't got enough experience with Wikis to be able to judge that.

What is left out also contains the sifting of those ideas: which ones are the better ideas. A blog invites you to have lots of ideas, and that is the key to having good ideas. But we're not good yet I think at taking the gems from that and turn them into action.

In my earlier posting about Networking Fatigue I talked about how after a long period of exploration and discovery (blogging) you need time to digest and broaden the base you work from.

The problem I think is that for both those steps, digesting the results of exploration, and making actionable sense of them, we should bring our co-discoverers, i.e. the bloggers, along for the ride, but by and large still fail to do so.
We together came up with the idea, so why should we not together turn it into action? Current reality is that we try to feed the ideas into our regular workflow, and try to bring our colleagues into it. Most of our organisations however will not yet be layed out for the types of things we come up with here.

So, why not form ad-hoc (virtual) organisations, and create our own value adding networks. Bloggers together putting in proposals for conferences, defining projects etc. I'm not saying this is not being done already by some on some projects, but I am saying that we could be doing it a lot more. We feel like a community, so why not act like one. I think blogging is my first internet experience where there is a real bridge between my internet activities and my life off the net. Let's broaden that bridge, blur the lines some more. Turn our loosely coupled blogging-get-togethers into small enterprising networks.

And then blog it, so we can see what takes place.  [Ton's Interdependent Thoughts]

I have to say that i couldn't agree with you more Ton ... and that i would love to see it happen.

I had the very same feeling this evening - amazing synchronicity ! I've only just returned from a meeting with a company that is more 'open' than many others to the idea of using social software tools like blogs, both in their intranet and externally. And as i was driving back - i was thinking that how wonderful it would be to be able to brainstorm with other bloggers interested in this area on some of the barriers or stumbling blocks - and work out possible solutions or directions forward. There is much that i can already tap into in terms of the technology involved - but very little that makes me confident about really 'motivating' them to start. 

Next week - when my life gets back to equilibrium, i'm thinking of starting a series of blog posts - on addressing barriers to blogging and on raising motivation - the attempt will be to make this series into an interactive one- with a request for brainstorming around this aspect of getting enterprises to blog. 

I feel lots of really great material is already available in the area of software and features that can be used - the trick to adoption really lies in HOW TO PACKAGE IT AND MARKET IT / SELL IT .  A demo is a neat way to start - not only does it show the tools being used, and demonstrates ease of use, but can really bring alive the blogging culture - a culture of collective and collaborative 'serious play' and innovation.

Yet, it still left the CEO i met today with two key issues :

  • employees wont have/make the time to blog  
  • how will it affect my bottom-line positively

Related to the above two - perhaps even underlying them is the basic issue of motivation.  Of 'selling' the value of working together in groups that foster the harnessing of collective intelligence within and outside the group in trusted environments. Or believing in a system that helps users experience, welcome, and embed, within themselves or their organisations, flow.  

And i need to get back next week to him with a proposal.  Any thoughts on making actionable sense of this ?

UPDATE : Read Gary's eloquent response to Ton's post - i quickly quote two paragraphs - but do read the full post - he offers a different point of view .... 

"...... Knowledge is only additive, you cannot remove knowledge, you can only add to it. We read each other's stories and make an implicit actionable sense in that we are confrontied with a need to assimmilate what they've said, or to accommodate it into our world model (which may mean to dismiss it), but we're still taking a mental action that changes the way we've previously thought about the issue."

"..... For me, it's the loose ends offer that a sense of the possible, a landscape that can go anywhere, a sense of adventure. I wouldn't want them tidied up in a tight focused bundle because I know, philosophically, to do so would require closing off many of these possibilities, discarding the undiscovered. It's an ongoing story, a story of ideas, a story of what's needed, what's possible, a story of senses where there's no way to end the plotline, no way to limit the cast and no way to cut it off in time for the capping colophon. Unhemmed as it is uneven."


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