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Re: [cp] Forums & KM: What CoP's Should Do to Manage Discussion-Produced Knowledge

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  • Amy
    John, I really like the Q&A idea (and I ll group FAQ s with this too). One of the topics that comes up again and again is how to get people to read the manual
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 30, 2009
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      John,

      I really like the Q&A idea (and I'll group FAQ's with this too). One
      of the topics that comes up again and again is how to get people to
      read the manual (the "RTFM" file for you MIT grads out there). But
      people don't read manuals to solve a problem (unless desperate); they
      ask a question. If you look at the online resources available from
      companies like Microsoft, it's easy to see that this structure is
      viable and useful for people. I think that MS (and others) do invest
      time in cleaning up the responses and ensuring their accuracy.

      As for all of those archives - it's just frightening how much we
      accumulate. At least with paper, one is motivated to sort through and
      reduce the volume when it threatens to collapse on your work area or
      when you have to walk around the stack. Not so with e-files however.
      Moving platforms and doing backups are about the only time I
      personally pay attention to this. This is particularly bad for
      communities, where there are many contributors but no "owners" for the
      info.

      There is a discipline needed at the time of creation and/or use. Just
      like it's necessary to put the dirty dishes in the sink and wash them,
      so must we be motivated to refine the knowledge at the time of
      creation/use and add it to a knowledge store in a reusable, accessible
      format.

      More comments are always welcome!

      Cheers, Amy P.


      --- In com-prac@yahoogroups.com, "John D. Smith" <john.smith@...> wrote:
      >
      > Re amy's comments about the archives...
      >
      > There's a chapter by Finholdt, T. A., Sproull, L., and Kiesler, S.,
      > "Outsiders on the Inside: Sharing Know-How Across Space and Time,"
      in Hinds,
      > Pamela J. and Sara Kiesler (eds), Distributed Work. (Cambridge, MA: MIT
      > Press, 2002), pp. 357-380.
      >
      > It's "old" but argues that the narrative style of a Q&A database
      were more
      > frequently consulted because they had situated cues that users
      (especially
      > remote ones) found helpful in interpreting technical knowledge that
      had been
      > shared. The Q&A form was MORE useful and MORE USED than the
      summarized and
      > cleaned up stuff provided by the same company in the same general
      technical
      > area (this is all from memory and I tend to simplfy stuff, so you
      might go
      > read it).
      >
      > The other source arguing for the long-term utility of list archives
      (like
      > trdev) is Peter G. Kilner PhD Dissertation 2006 "The effects of socially
      > relevant representations in content on members' identities of
      participation
      > and willingness to contribute in distributed communities of practice".
      > Again, based on his presentation in CPsquare, people will situate
      tips and
      > suggestions IN PRACTICE, suggest who they are, what level they're
      working
      > on, etc. (and they often can be coaxed to do a better job of it).
      >
      > Bottom line: it's a BAD idea to throw away archives.
      >
      > ON THE OTHER HAND: CPsquare discussions have been kept for years and
      years
      > and so when new poeple join I shake my head and worry that they'll
      > absolutely CHOKE at the volume and complexity. Just don't know.
      >
      > John
      > *
      > * John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
      > * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net
      > * "Your responsibility does not end with complaining. Suggest something
      > better!" — Esther Dyson
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: com-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:com-prac@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf
      > Of Amy
      > Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 7:13 AM
      > To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [cp] Forums & KM: What CoP's Should Do to Manage
      > Discussion-Produced Knowledge
      >
      > The discussion about the closing of a forum has triggered me
      > thinking on the KM aspects. Just stopping a forum doesn't have to
      > stop a community - the same group of people could start up again
      > elsewhere (just move the tent to another location). However the
      > archives are indeed lost with the move.
      >
      > This brings up an issue I've been grappling with recently: the
      > discussion group/KM conundrum. Having worked in this domain for many
      > years, I'm of the opinion that the majority of what is said in
      > discussion forums should be deleted periodically, and that it's up
      > to the forum community to capture the important info (know-how and
      > know-who) in another form for ready reference by all members.
      >
      > But that doesn't seem to be the situation with the aforementioned
      > community, and it's certainly not evolved beyond discussion in the
      > groups I work with (in fact, members publish complete solutions out
      > to the forums with attachments).
      >
      > Email archiving policies (deletion after X number of years) may be
      > creating a 'burning platform' to cause companies to look more
      > closely at this issue.
      >
      > So my questions are:
      >
      > -- How do we make the leap from forums to preserving the good bits
      > of knowledge they produce?
      > -- Do we need better tools, practice/process or both, and if so,
      > what?
      > -- What has worked for people on these boards?
      >
      > Web 2.0 seemed to be getting us to a place where some of this would
      > be possible, but I'm afraid that proliferating forums will result in
      > bigger dumpsters. I'm ok for occasional dumpster diving but I don't
      > want to make a career out of it. And I don't believe that Search
      > will ever be good enough to solve this issue.
      >
      > Inputs are most welcome. (I'll document the good stuff at the end of
      > the discussion.)
      >
      > Cheers, Amy P.
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > *-- The email forum on communities of practice --*Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
    • Steve Glovinsky
      Done - I ve posted four examples from the four countries we are working in so far. I set them up as pdf files on our site at
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 30, 2009
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        Done - I've posted four examples from the four countries we are working in
        so far. I set them up as pdf files on our site at
        www.solex-un.net/operations/comms_material/solution_exchange-un_consolidated
        _reply_examples.zip.
        Think franchise, and you will get the idea.

        And yes, John, well qualified, well trained, full-time moderators are a key
        to success. When I present to new groups I am always surprised that so many
        organizations trying to introduce Communities of Practice miss this point.
        With our focus on providing a research service this point may be more
        obvious, and I can see where the more typical discussion groups, not
        designed to "put their communities to work", would not need to be so labor
        intensive. But still, serious professional efforts usually need to be
        professionally managed....

        Steve

        (Could I put in a plug? The "franchise" is in need of funds for start-ups.
        If anyone has or knows of a possible source could they please get in touch?
        Thanks. S)



        -----Original Message-----
        From: com-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:com-prac@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
        Of John D. Smith
        Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 5:53 AM
        To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [cp] Forums & KM: What CoP's Should Do to Manage
        Discussion-Produced Knowledge



        --- In com-prac@yahoogroup <mailto:com-prac%40yahoogroups.com> s.com, "Steve
        Glovinsky"
        <steve.glovinsky@...> wrote:

        <snip>

        > The main product or our research service is the
        > "Consolidated Reply" - a template that synthesizes discussion
        threads in the
        > form of an executive brief and captures the experiences and references
        > offered by participants. Our aim is to get all Solution Exchanges
        using the
        > same template so that they can be indexed in a common repository (we are
        > currently building) and shared across countries.

        <snip>

        Sounds interesting, Steve...

        I wonder if you could point us to an example of either the guidelines
        or their use? A URL or a file you could share in the com-prac "files
        area" would be great: http://groups.
        <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/com-prac/files>
        yahoo.com/group/com-prac/files

        I think you and Nancy have implicitly brought up the importance of
        paid staff for the functioning of a community. Anything you might
        have to say about that would be very interesting, too.

        John
        *
        * John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
        * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learning
        <http://www.learningAlliances.net> Alliances.net
        * "Your responsibility does not end with complaining. Suggest
        something better!" - Esther Dyson







        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • John D. Smith
        Great contribution, Steve! (Here s a tiny URL that s un-folded: http://tinyurl.com/cv4np5 ) Highlights (from the India example) to my eye: * the original (very
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 31, 2009
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          Great contribution, Steve!

          (Here's a tiny URL that's un-folded: http://tinyurl.com/cv4np5 )

          Highlights (from the India example) to my eye:

          * the original (very compelling) question
          * thanks to ALL the contributors
          * Overall summary
          * Detailed recommendations (from experience of responses)
          * Further resources
          * Professional contacts
          * Creative Commons License at the bottom!
          * The india example is NINETEEN PAGES!

          Very rich example.

          I took a shot at tagging it, which might be a case of the "poor man's
          summary": http://delicious.com/smithjd/summaries

          Any other comments about these examples, folks?

          John
          *
          * John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
          * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net
          * "Your responsibility does not end with complaining. Suggest something
          better!" - Esther Dyson
        • joitske
          Hi Steve, Thanks for these examples, having an example gives you more of an insight that when someone just mentions it! I would like to jump on your expression
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 1, 2009
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            Hi Steve,

            Thanks for these examples, having an example gives you more of an
            insight that when someone just mentions it!

            I would like to jump on your expression of surprise that
            organisations miss the point for the need of facilitation. I have an
            experience where we facilitated a community of practice for 2 years
            on behalf of two organisations. (you can find the case study here by
            the way: http://www.scribd.com/doc/3404250/From-a-meeting-to-a-
            community-of-practice) After the facilitators stepped down, the
            organisations felt that the community should be able to continue 'on
            its own'. I sometimes get the impression that the name community of
            practice or network has a false connotation of complete self-
            organisation. And self-organisation is fine, but then the value
            remains exactly within the small self-organised group. If you want to
            make that knowledge and the social capital more widely accessible,
            you need the kind of leveraging as you do with the facilitation. So
            in the end, the organisations loose out, as the whole thing becomes
            more invisible.

            I'm very curious to hear other people's experiences how they deal
            with this. If they recognize this too. It's like people don't see the
            downsides of complete self-organisation?

            Cheers, Joitske


            --- In com-prac@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Glovinsky"
            <steve.glovinsky@...> wrote:
            >
            > Done - I've posted four examples from the four countries we are
            working in
            > so far. I set them up as pdf files on our site at
            > www.solex-un.net/operations/comms_material/solution_exchange-
            un_consolidated
            > _reply_examples.zip.
            > Think franchise, and you will get the idea.
            >
            > And yes, John, well qualified, well trained, full-time moderators
            are a key
            > to success. When I present to new groups I am always surprised
            that so many
            > organizations trying to introduce Communities of Practice miss this
            point.
            > With our focus on providing a research service this point may be
            more
            > obvious, and I can see where the more typical discussion groups, not
            > designed to "put their communities to work", would not need to be
            so labor
            > intensive. But still, serious professional efforts usually need to
            be
            > professionally managed....
            >
            > Steve
            >
            > (Could I put in a plug? The "franchise" is in need of funds for
            start-ups.
            > If anyone has or knows of a possible source could they please get
            in touch?
            > Thanks. S)
            >
            >
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: com-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:com-prac@yahoogroups.com] On
            Behalf
            > Of John D. Smith
            > Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 5:53 AM
            > To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: Re: [cp] Forums & KM: What CoP's Should Do to Manage
            > Discussion-Produced Knowledge
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In com-prac@yahoogroup <mailto:com-prac%40yahoogroups.com>
            s.com, "Steve
            > Glovinsky"
            > <steve.glovinsky@> wrote:
            >
            > <snip>
            >
            > > The main product or our research service is the
            > > "Consolidated Reply" - a template that synthesizes discussion
            > threads in the
            > > form of an executive brief and captures the experiences and
            references
            > > offered by participants. Our aim is to get all Solution Exchanges
            > using the
            > > same template so that they can be indexed in a common repository
            (we are
            > > currently building) and shared across countries.
            >
            > <snip>
            >
            > Sounds interesting, Steve...
            >
            > I wonder if you could point us to an example of either the
            guidelines
            > or their use? A URL or a file you could share in the com-prac "files
            > area" would be great: http://groups.
            > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/com-prac/files>
            > yahoo.com/group/com-prac/files
            >
            > I think you and Nancy have implicitly brought up the importance of
            > paid staff for the functioning of a community. Anything you might
            > have to say about that would be very interesting, too.
            >
            > John
            > *
            > * John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
            > * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learning
            > <http://www.learningAlliances.net> Alliances.net
            > * "Your responsibility does not end with complaining. Suggest
            > something better!" - Esther Dyson
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • John D. Smith
            This whole discussion could be summarized here: http://cpsquare.org/wiki/index.php?title=Text_Discussions_with_Wikis (We re trying to consolidate a lot of
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 1, 2009
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              This whole discussion could be summarized here:

              http://cpsquare.org/wiki/index.php?title=Text_Discussions_with_Wikis

              (We're trying to consolidate a lot of resources about CoPs from
              various locations into one public wiki. ALL com-prac members are
              invited to sign-up. Because of the amount of SPAM on an earlier
              effort, I'm controlling access in advance: passers-by can't edit, but,
              like com-prac, once you've said something useful, you're welcome to
              speak up. So, do request an account:

              http://cpsquare.org/wiki/index.php?title=Special:RequestAccount

              And other useful discussions here on com-prac could be gathered
              together there.

              John
              *
              * John D. Smith ~ Voice: 503.963.8229 ~ Skype: smithjd
              * Portland, Oregon, USA http://www.learningAlliances.net
              * "Your responsibility does not end with complaining. Suggest
              something better!" — Esther Dyson
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