Best wishes for the Festive Season

December 26, 2006

To all in the blog reading world out there – my best festive season wishes and I hope that you have a wonderful 2007. 

For myself, it’s been quite a hectic 2006.  Highlights include the 15 day holiday through Malaysia with the family, speaking engagements at KM Australia, AGLIN, a futures workshop in Canberra for the APSC with Tess and Bron,  KMLF workshop, actKM with my wife Lyn  Also work highlights include coordination for PAEC Hearings and the Election (not sure if I could really call them highlights!), speech writing for the Secretary, completing various strategy documents and facilitating planning days.  And of course setting up this blog at long last, initially just to coin the term infoluenza but since then to put some other views out there and enter the Web 2.0 era.

2007 looks like being seriously busy as well.  I have been given the OK to conduct some futures work within Justice which I am rapt about.  I now have some space and resourcing to do this which is even better and should be able to leverage off the workshops that Richard Slaughter recently conducted for many Justice staff.  Outside of work, we are looking to move Lyn’s work into a bigger and better premises which will require a lot of planning and cash!

Have a great 2007.


Future Empires

December 21, 2006

Good article by Niall Ferguson in the Review section of the Fin last week (15 Dec).  He talks about the limits of imperial power and how more recent empires (eg Russian, German) are lasting less time than previous ones (Roman, Ottoman, etc).  He makes the point that empires emerge as world powers because of the economies of scale they make possible.  They can build bigger armies, tax more subjects, provide more public goods.  They endure so long as the benefits of exerting power over others exceed the costs of doing so and that resistance is outweighed by the benefits of being dominated.

He cites three reasons why the current US imperial ambitions will be short-lived.  These are troop deficits (which has long been a sore point for military commanders on the ground), the budget deficit (which is reducing the capacity to fund Iraqi reconstruction), and the American attention deficit with the lack of public support for this foreign war. 

This reminds me of the excellent polemic book by Zia Sardar and Merryl Wynn Davies American Dream: Global Nightmare.  The book explores the mythology of America and finds that Americans believe that they have a right to be imperial, that cinema is the engine of this empire with celebrity its common currency and that war is a necessity.  To combat this mythology, the authors state that America must rejoin the human community through dispelling the notion that America is the lone conscience of the world and then join human history through self-reflection on the perils of what happened to the Roman empire that had a powerful Executive, an irrelevant legislature and a content and distracted populace.

Of course, this does not mean that empires are history.  The Ferguson article concludes with the premise that as population increases and natural resources (like oil and water) become more scarce, imperialism can easily resurface.  The Chinese links to resource rich countries is just one example of this resurfacing.

Find the deeper knowledge by searching elsewhere

December 17, 2006

Something I came across some time ago – I’ve lost the source of the original quote but it still makes sense to me.  It’s about finding truth, not be staring harder, but by looking off to the side.  

“Gödel didn’t believe that truth would elude us. He proved it would. He didn’t invent a myth to conform to his prejudice of the world at least not when it came to mathematics. He discovered his theorem as surely as if it was a rock he had dug up from the ground. He could pass it around the table and it would be as real as that rock. If anyone cared to, they could dig it up where he buried it and find it just the same. Look for it and you’ll find it where he said it is, just off center from where you’re staring. There are faint stars in the night sky that you can see but only if you look to the side of where they shine. They burn too weakly or are too far to be seen directly, even if you stare. But you can see them out of the corner of your eye because the cells on the periphery of your retina are more sensitive to light. Maybe truth is just like that. You can see it, but only out of the corner of your eye.”

I think there are some great parallels here with knowledge management and other forms of depth studies.  Look for things in the tried and true manner and you will find what you are looking for but you will only ever find what you are looking for. And even if you stare at it harder, you still won’t be able to see it. But if you look a little to the side (bringing in other perspectives), you can gain greater clarity and insight and find a deeper sense of knowledge uncovering a deeper sense of meaning.

It’s a bit like the exercise of the unexpected gorilla in the lecture hall where participants are so engrossed in counting the number of passes of the basketball amongst a group of people that they miss seeing a man dressed up in a gorilla walking past.  This also has links to foresight to pick out the weak signals if all we are doing is listening intently to the noise.

Shergold article in today’s Fin Review – Infoluenza strikes again!

December 15, 2006

Always interesting to read the piece by Verona Burgess in Friday’s Australian Financial Review.  Today’s article was the insights from an interview with Peter Shergold, the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

He mentioned that two of the public sector’s biggest challenges will be systemic. The bulk of the article is devoted to embedding the whole of government approach to public administration in middle management and in departmental financial arrangements.  This would increase the focus on citizen-centred service delivery, moving away from strict equitability towards greater tailoring and moving to pooling arrangements for funding allocations.  Interesting stuff and one could possibly expect to see that in state public sectors as well in due course.

The second systemic issues is that of devising better ways to manage the information explosion.  I have canvassed that previously, coining the term infoluenza to describe the unsustainable addiction to incorporating more and more information.  (As an aside, a simple google search on this term now lists a huge variety of sites.)  Shergold comments that we need to improve how to filter all this information, how to turn the information into knowledge and how to identify potential issues for crisis management.  Good environmental scanning and issues management are two ways to help do this by discerning the weak signals from the noise and for dealing with important topical issues as they arise.

Long term energy policies for Australia

December 12, 2006

Last paragraph of today’s article in the Fin Review by the always insightful Allan Fels and Fred Benchley combination stated:

“(Kevin) Rudd is talking about 20 year policies.  If he can shift Australia out of its complacency and short-term policitical vision he will be doing the country a service.  With abundant coal, uranium, gas and enormous potential in renewables, Australia is uniquely placed – with a bit of foresight – to also be a leader in clean-energy technology.”

Short-term policies are often in danger of lacking foresight. Rather than just a bit of foresight, perhaps a lot of foresight could enlighten the direction of industry policy away from complacency and towards proactive engagement with picking potential winners and export earners for the national benefit.  While picking winners is often risky, in this instance, foresight could be used to decrease the risks in order to understand the likely future environment.  Energy policies need long term responses. 

And in all the debate about energy policy, whether Australia should go nuclear or clean carbon, let’s not forget the enormous potential for geothermal as a long term renewable energy source. 

Funny Factoid – Unique Baby Names

December 11, 2006

Sometimes you see something and it is so bizarre that you think it cannot be true – which means that it probably is true.  This from Brainmail.

In 2003, 24 children were named Unique in America but only one was called Xerox.
Ref: Sunday Times (UK). 

A quick Google search also identified that there is an increasing use of brand names as first names – with records showing that in 2000, 49 children were named Canon, followed by 11 Bentleys, and five Jaguars.  There are also Camrys and Timberlands. 

This could be brand-consciousness gone nuts – or a reversion to traditional approaches of naming your child about the events occurring around the birth or conception (as in Two Dogs or Running Bear, etc).

Collective Nouns for Knowledge Managers

December 9, 2006

There was a post on act-km recently about what would be a collective noun for knowledge managers. For a bit of fun, I had a think and considered that the collective noun depends on the type of knowledge managers:

For those who are more technologically inclined, perhaps a pod of knowledge managers (with links here to Arthur Shelley’s organisational zoo characters with the whale being the cool techno-dude, also links here to techos at work in workstation pods).

For those who are more content based – perhaps a catalogue or a page of knowledge managers (or for more librarian based collective nouns, see

For those who are more people and social network based – perhaps a collaboration of knowledge managers

For those who are into stories and narrative – perhaps if it is a storytelling of crows, then maybe it should be a crow of knowledge managers.

And finally, for those who are more philosophical in their orientation to KM – perhaps a ponder of knowledge managers

And when all of these sorts of knowledge managers get together at conferences and meetings, perhaps they form a disconnect of knowledge managers ?????

Patrick Lambe on his blog prefers the collective notion of a clutch of knowledge managers – I think he might be clutching at straws with this one!