Knowledge Energies – actKM Talk Follow-up and Recap

October 29, 2006

A few people have asked how the talk went at the 2006 actKM conference last week in Canberra. 

First off, it was a thrill to be standing next to my wife on stage presenting.  If someone had have said that I would be doing that 5 or 10 years ago, I would have got them to have had their head read.  We had not rehearsed the talk perhaps enough, with each of us wanting to go on their various tangents.  But overall it went well.

Some comments back were:  that was novel, or brave, or interesting.  It certainly was something quite different.  One termed it knowledge reiki – perhaps that might be another blog post sometime.  Some key points that I would like to re-emphasise from the talk are:

  • Impacts on our own energy systems precede impacts on our physical systems.  Being aware of what happens in our energy space could be read as a weak signal of future change in the physical space.
  • Knowledge is not just an intangible asset (objectivist view) or something that is solely intellectual.  It has many other aspects (see here) and knowledge managers should explore the world through the ontology of different perspectives rather than as simply different objects.
  • That the Chinese concept of ch’i as energy flowing through our bodies and in our environment has strong linkages with other descriptions of energy flows; ki in Japan, prana in India, microvita of Sarkar and Inayatullah, Sheldrake’s morphic fields, etc.  These energy fields are real and connect us beyond our five senses.
  • The disruptive flows of negative energy can be overcome through integrity, moral courage, and the protection of your own energy fields.
  • That complex systems placed in a flow of energy can achieve higher order structures (such as a pot of water placed on a stove generates convective flows when it heats).
  • That placing ourselves and our organisations in a flow of energy  can result in the emergence of higher order structures such as syncronicity (ex-Jung, meaningful coincidences that are unexpected, symbolic and defy causation and which are often denied in the Western mechanistic worldview).  Other higher order emergent structures include creativity and innovation, laughter and humour, insight and intuition.
  • That realising the KM vision will only occur when we are fully committed (physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually) to the organisation.  Do people in your organisation live their vision and values or are these just meaningless and manipulative platitudes?
  • Out of stillness comes movement.  Sometimes, it is necessary to take time out to reflect on what is happening, take stock, chill and get back in touch with your own inner self to work out what you want to really be doing.

The talk would be better off as a workshop – perhaps that is for next time! Maybe 2007 atKM conference or elsewhere beforehand.

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Comparing Cynefin and Presence

October 26, 2006

As part of a series of workshops that we are trialing, we ran a Cynefin exercise last week on issues management within our department.  Viv Read from SOLA was our facilitator and she did a great job.  I asked her of the relationship between SOLA and SOL and in particular, her emphasis on the Cynefin model versus SOL’s emphasis on Presence / Theory U.  We had a great dicussion which on reflection, I thought I could simply summarise with the following. 

The great beauty of the Cynefin model is for sense-making and to differentiate between complex and ordered environments.  Its application is highly contextual and emergent.  On the other hand, the application of Presence is more to do with transformation which requires meaning to be broken down to allow for alternative conceptualisations to come through.  Cynefin does not need transformation but is a model that helps understanding of the context and the dynamics of issues over time.

Both models are useful but as with all models, only partial.  They are only a map, not the territory.


Knowledge Laundering

October 26, 2006

At the actKM conference this week, one of the speakers was reading from some notes on a flip chart and mentioned the term “knowledge laundering”.  What as written was actually knowledge hoarding.  However, this set up a running gag about knowledge laundering which created some humour for the rest of the conference.  David Williams said that he would be writing a joint paper on the topic.  Below are some initial thoughts about where the paper could go.

A quick google search reveals that the term knowledge laundering has been used before.  It refers to the act of “laundering” information and knowledge that has been acquired through illegal means (such as reverse engineering or underground research) into what looks like legit results.  I think that there is a bit more to it than that.  In its broadest sense, it may not mean just illegally gained knowledge, but any knowledge that you don’t want to be linked with you – especially important for politicians.  What is required (just like money laundering) is to clean, strip or disconnect that knowledge from yourself.  There is a set process to do that:

  1. Remove all tags and labels from the knowledge to be laundered.  Just in case there are any identifying marks there or stains that could have come from organised grime.
  2. Mix your knowledge with others; one has to confuse the situation – or in this case of knowledge laundering, muddy the waters.
  3. While some people will attempt to clean the knowledge and separate your knowledge from others,  repeated spin cycles (or spin doctoring cycles) should help to deny/disguise/confuse your knowledge from other knowledge objects.  It is extremely important in this cycle not to interrupt this process as the laundering could become unbalanced which would then require some personal intervention to restart the whole laundering cycle.
  4. Finally, if the laundering process has not succeeded and there is still some knowledge that has not quite been stripped of its essential meaning, you can always hang it out to dry.  Most people in power are highly adept at hanging things out to dry.  Even though their knowledge is exposed for the world to see, they still coming through relatively unscathed because they don’t get close to the knowledge throughout this process.  

Any other suggestions that could expand on this notion of knowledge laundering would be appreciated.  Just add a comment …


Malaysia – Useful Tips for Holidays

October 17, 2006

This post is not on the subject of knowledge management or futures.  Rather it is a bit of a travelogue on our recent family holiday to Malaysia.  We went to Langkawi, KL, Taman Negara, Kota Bahru and the Perhentian Islands.

Langkawi – thoroughly recommend as preferred destination to Penang.  We stayed at the Mutiara Burau Bay which had a decent pool for the kids, good TV for the kids and was in the midst of lots of rainforest with monkeys and squirrels and birds for Luke.  Rates are a bit on the expensive side though and I’d much prefer to go back to Perhentian for clearer water and the beach scene than here (which is bigger and has greater cultural activities and waterfalls, etc)

Kuala Lumpur – shopping is much better in China than Malaysia.  KL is OK but after a day we wanted to get out into the country.

Taman Negara National Park – about four hours drive east of KL – an area of pristine lowland rainforest.  Always wanted to go there.  The place to stay is Travellers Home.  It’s a Swiss style B&B, Hamid and Rebecca and the crew are extremely friendly hosts and they have great knowledge of the local wildlife. A true home away from home and really quiet away from the resort life. 

Perhentian Islands off the north-east coast – we stayed at Tuna Bay Resort.  Step out of your room, walk 5 metres to the sand, walk another 10 metres to the water, don snorkel and mask and swim in with the tropical fish.  Beer available for when you come out from the water.  A wonderful end to the holiday.

Now – back to work Luke!


Futures – The Science of Vaticination

October 15, 2006

Just been answering a questionnaire from Stephen McGrail for the upcoming Foresight Conference about the role of the futures field and how its perception can be enhanced. 

This reminded me of a book that I reviewed during my foresight studies at Swinburne by a remote viewer of his views of the future.  Remote viewing is the accessing of information via psychic means; information that is normally unavailable through ordinary means. Its been used by the US Government for the collection of intelligence information through their Stargate project. Remote viewing uses prescribed scientific protocols to ensure that the information is psychically obtained.

The book by Joseph McMoneagle predicts that the future will see the development of a science of futures studies. “The scientists who specialise in it will be called ‘vaticinationists.’ Their primary concern will centre on the evaluation of the impact of current-day conceptualising and how it might affect the future.  The science will not gain sufficient prominence or have a broad effect on world decisions until after 2028.  By then, it will be apparent that changes in one aspect of social behaviour have decisive effects on unrelated fields of endeavour.” I particularly like this description of vaticinationists – it closely describes my perspective on the field of futures studies.  I concluded my essay with the line that:

While current students of futures studies can see this today, it may be that the paradigmatic strength of the current worldview requires time, and possible disruptive crises, for society to collectively listen and respond to current learned ‘vaticinationist’ viewpoints.

When someone asks me what I do, sometimes I tell them that I am a vaticinationist.  It normally starts a good conversation!!


Nancy White Workshop – Melbourne 11 October – Report

October 12, 2006

Yesterday, I attended a workshop conducted by Nancy White and assisted by Shawn Callahan here at work coordinated by VPSCIN.  Nancy is a specialist in online interaction and distributed communities of practice.

Some of main points from the workshop included:

  • That communities at their core work improvisationally
  • That communities drive the use of technology and technology drives the formation of online communities – it works both ways symbiotically
  • Australians naturally understand issues of distance better than Americans
  • That collaborative technologies upset established power bases (must be why I like using them so much!) but that some technologies can amplify existing community power relationships (hub and spoke models as an example)

Nancy talked about four tensions that need to be lived with (and importantly not resolved) when working with communities.  These tensions exist in both online and offline communities and different communities at various stages of their lifecycle will be at different points along the continuum of these tensions.

  1. Individual versus the Group – communities are designed for the group but experienced by the individual
  2. Participation versus Reification – belonging and acting and conversation in the group’s relationships versus the artifacts and trails that get left behind from the group’s activities
  3. Togetherness versus Separation in Time and Space – what is the minimum amount of togetherness required to generate community yet at times people will want to do their own thing
  4. Control versus Emergence – which cuts across all three preceding tensions.

Another tension that I thought about was similarity versus difference.  At times some communities might want to exclude differences to forge a common identity while at other times that might want to incorporate difference and expand their points of view. 

A critical aspect is the notion of identity in communities.  Each individual could have a different type of identity in various communities (active/passive) while also, communities themselves might have their identity change over time.


Malaysia – The Blog is On Holiday

October 1, 2006

Some of you might have noticed that the blog has been fairly quiet of late.  I am currently in Malaysia on holiday taking a break.

It’s beautiful over here – warm, balmy, lots of greenery away from the cities. 

More posts in a few days when I return.