Letting Facets Fly
In her novel The Four Gated City, Doris Lessing recounts a story about the Mullah Nasruddin, who bought a hawk in the marketplace, his only previous experience of birds being sparrows. When he got home, he became dissatisfied with the look of the bird, and trimmed its beak, talons and feathers. “That’s better; now you look more like a bird” he said.
We have that problem in taxonomy and information architecture work all the time. We design a faceted taxonomy and metadata framework to meet user and organisational sharing needs, we build information architecture specifications, and hand them over to the systems integrator (SI), who immediately trims them back to what they are familiar with – single hierarchy document library/ folder structures – especially frustrating when we know that the systems they use are capable of exploiting our designs. The systems can’t fly as designed, so they hop along disappointingly, objectives are not met, and all the work has gone to waste. Limited mental models in the people you rely on for implementation can be powerful obstacles.
We are evolving a few ways of dealing with this. Eg, we are getting much more closely involved in the specification of the systems, helping our clients evaluate vendor proposals (we are fiercely vendor neutral), working alongside the SIs in the implementation, and evaluating the implementation.
Taxonomy and Knowledge Audit Workshops in Canberra!
I’m excited to be going back to Canberra after a few years, to run our Taxonomy and Knowledge Audit workshops this coming October, organised by actKM. Will be great to catch up with old friends!
We’re also running the same workshops in the UK in November, by the way!
Call for KM Standards Development Volunteers
The Association for Information and Image Management has issued a call for volunteers to develop three Knowledge Management Standards – for individual competencies, for organisational capabilities, and for KM education programmes. I like the structure. It’s a very tricky (=political) area, but one best tackled by institutions rather than small partisan groups, so I wish it well!
Some months back a LinkedIn group started to try to address this, but as far as I can tell it fizzled out in the usual way (put five knowledge managers in a room and they will argue for ten conflicting directions). Small groups tend to get hijacked by special interests. Institutions have employees, infrastructure, governance and process, which may help!
UK Workshops in November
We’re taking our Knowledge Audit and Taxonomy Development workshops to the UK in November! Details below. There’s an early bird discount for registrations received by 15 September, and further discounts if you belong to a professional IM/KM association or community – drop us an email (enquiries-at-straitsknowledge.com) to find out more.
Just to make sure we keep both ends of the globe covered, we’re also exploring running the same workshops in Canberra in October – more news as we get it.
Workshop 1: Taxonomy Development
Venue: Birmingham, UK
Dates: 19-20 November 2013 (2 days)
Price: GBP845 (Early Bird till 15 Sept)
Price: GBP895 (Normal price after 15 Sept)
More details: http://store.straitsknowledge.com/prod.aspx?id=38
Workshop 2: Knowledge Audit
Venue: Birmingham, UK
Dates: Nov 21-22, 2013 (1.5 days)
Price: GBP640 (Early Bird till Sept 15)
Price: GBP675 (Normal price after Sept 15)
More details: http://store.straitsknowledge.com/prod.aspx?id=39
Breaking the Curse of Automagical Search
Our friend Maish Nichani has done it again with this elegantly stated piece on breaking the curse of “automagical” search. It contains my quote of the week: “When thinking about search, it is better to think of ROI not as return-on-investment but return-on-information.”
The piece reminded me of a video podcast Matt Moore and I did a while back on “taxonomy fairy tales” – since then, Google (one of our targets) has come out of the taxonomy closet – however much of what we said then remains true. Maish’s piece does a nice job of pointing to the practical steps to get beyond the curse of magical thinking among executives.
Knowledge, Story, Insight
Back in September 2011 we organised a workshop in Singapore on the relationship between Insight and Storytelling, with luminaries Gary Klein and Shawn Callahan. Gary’s new book on Insight has just come out (a riveting read, and incorporating material from the workshop) and Shawn has just done a nice blog post on the workshop with some of the graphic recordings done by the wonderful Wendy Wong. Don’t miss Shawn’s upcoming Storytelling for Leaders workshop in Singapore.
New Overseer for the National Archives of Singapore
With this Bill, the National Archives of Singapore is now officially transferred from the National Heritage Board (NHB) to the National Library Board (NLB). I’ll be waiting to see what new energy this new arrangement will bring.
Arshad Ahmed on Retention of Critical Knowledge
From our Knowledge Retention Roundtable last week, a short summary of top tips from Arshad Ahmed.
Shaharudin Mohd Ishak on Retention of Critical Knowledge
From our Knowledge Retention Roundtable last week, a short summary of top tips from Shaharudin Mohd Ishak.
Carla Newman on Retention of Critical Knowledge
From our Knowledge Retention Roundtable last week, a short summary of top tips from Carla Sapsford Newman.