Open source blogs and wikis, Words of Wisdom, Leadership Principles, 800 Pound Gorilla, Introduction to social network methods
KM Question of the Week
Q: Giora Hadar (in multiple forums): I need your help identifying free, open source blogs and wikis that could be installed within an intranet.
A: Karen Huffman (in Federal Knowledge Management Working Group):
- Open source wiki: MediaWiki — same application used by the State Department for their eDiplomacy site. You’d have the open source community as your support but not a vendor.
- Vendor-based enterprise wiki: Confluence — I think many of the military groups may use this tool. I think this wiki originally developed out of the open source community but I wouldn’t probably consider it open source now. Have a good security structure/matrix.
- IBM Lotus also has a wiki application called Quickr that has blogs and wikis included.
- WikiMatrix allows you to select several wikis to compare and contrast features and functionality.
- WikiIndex talks about different wikis and which wiki application they use.
- See my Wikis 101 that I built for Special Libraries Association.
A: Stephen Collins (in actKM): If you’re looking for a platform that can be installed inside the wall, most of the mature wiki platforms have that ability. However, your “free, open source” requirement presents a challenge. MediaWiki is probably the only one that I would recommend (as opposed to being the only one altogether) that fits both criteria and has the necessary maturity to suit real enterprise deployment.
MediaWiki still requires users to learn wiki markup to author content. It’s not hard, but does present a barrier to entry. My more frequent recommendation to my clients is to consider one of:
- Atlassian’s Confluence which is definitely enterprise grade and not terribly expensive in the grand scheme of things. It certainly fulfills many of the requirements most orgs have and is very easy to use both from an admin and user standpoint
- Confluence Cloud, everything as above, just hosted
- Socialtext’s commercial product, either appliance or hosted
- PBWorks’s hosted wiki, which is very good
- Socialtext’s open source offering
A: Michael Sebastian in Choosing a blog platform (ragan.com): Here’s a list of four blogging programs — three free, one at a price.
KM Thought Leader of the Week
I was asked by APQC, “If you were invited to give a keynote speech on knowledge management, what words of wisdom or lessons learned would you impart?”
I answered the question as follows:
- Start by defining your most compelling business needs and opportunities, not by selecting technologies. Implement processes and tools which address these. Don’t roll out a tool and try to get it adopted if it does not meet an existing high-priority need that most target users would agree on. Collaborate closely with IT, while ensuring that IT meets the needs of the business, not the other way around.
- Keep people, process, and technology in balance in your KM program. Appoint a leader for each in your core team. Try things out and iterate, rather than taking a long time before implementation. Meet commitments, produce useful deliverables, and solicit feedback for improvements.
- Build a core team of highly-competent, creative, results-oriented, respected thought leaders. Expand the team into a virtual one by inviting KM leads from all key stakeholder organizations. Govern using formal project management. Communicate relentlessly.
I posed this same question to many KM thought leaders. This week’s answer is from Susan Hanley.
“My immediate answer would be is that if I were asked to give a keynote speech on knowledge management I’d probably turn it down! That term has so much baggage and means so many different things to different people, that I’d be sure to not meet someone in the audience’s expectations and I hate to get bad reviews when I give a presentation!
These days, I’m much more interested in giving speeches on topics where I can leave the audience with at least one (hopefully more) very specific takeaway that they can act on immediately. So, when I talk about deploying SharePoint successfully, I toss out as many of the ideas in my ‘bag of tricks’ as I can fit in to the context of the speech and what I can remember to share (it’s not easy to remember all the good stuff unless people ask me lots of questions so I know what they want to hear!).
I don’t like to talk about generic ‘knowledge management’ but rather about ‘Hey, you’re trying to achieve some business objectives with this collaboration technology you’ve already chosen to invest in, and I’ve got some experiences that you may find useful. I’ll tell you what I can in an hour, I’ll give away even more in my book and my blog and my website, and if you want more, I’m available for hire!’ Sure, all your great advice comes in there too, but I try to embed these sometimes ‘squishy’ concepts into practical action steps in the context of a very specific project.
I don’t feel like I’m a big thinker like Larry Prusak or Steve Denning — I’m a little closer to the ‘dirt’ than they are and I try to get my ‘big thoughts,’ assuming I have them, into something much closer to building solutions. That’s why I totally agree with everything that you’ve said and I embed that in techniques and artifacts to actually make these ideas real for project teams who struggle with proving the value of the investments they are making in both the concepts of KM and the tools, technologies, and processes in which they’ve invested to actually do it and get some meaningful results.”
KM Blog of the Week
The principles of managing knowledge do not deviate from the principles of good leadership.
Many organizations (and people) want a quick fix to their KM issues. What the following demonstrates is that without these basic principles, we will fail or at the very least falter, at our efforts in managing knowledge, leading people, and building solid and authentic relationships.
The Leadership Center of Franklin University lists three principles of leadership they think to be critical: Passion, Communication and Integrity. These three principles apply also to Knowledge Management and to those who practice it.
It takes passion for us to identify the opportunities to apply KM, to hold the torch as we facilitate behavioral and organizational change, and to continue onward through long term implementation.
Communication can make or break the effectiveness of KM as we build awareness, drive toward acceptance and finally motivate the organization to take action.
The principle of integrity is what I find most intriguing today. We often don’t discuss integrity as a key component to managing knowledge. Integrity is a key component to all we do, especially as we affect the lives of others. It is integrity, and the consistent practice of it, that allows people the freedom to take what they perceive as professional and personal risks in sharing knowledge, and sharing themselves.
KM Link of the Week
Oh, and have you noticed the 800-pound gorilla in the room? His name is Web 2.0.
You’ve heard of Web 2.0. What you may or may not have gathered is that it isn’t a new generation of technology. It’s a mindset. What it signifies is that the value to the business that your applications generate comes not from the designed-in features, but from the contributions of the end users — especially the content, but to an increasing degree the user-modifiable attributes of the software.
In fact, users are generating some of today’s most interesting software. The Open Source Community, driven by a geeky but grand ethic that software ingenuity is meant to be shared for little or no cost, has spawned thousands of useful applications, including many that look and act a lot like KM systems.
What is a knowledge management tool, really? It has three fundamental components:
- A repository for “solutions” — essentially a document management system;
- A means for retrieving solutions based on specific queries — generally some variant on search; and
- A workflow engine to manage the authoring, review, approval, publishing and eventual retirement of solutions.
KM Book of the Week
Introduction to social network methods by Robert A. Hanneman and Mark Riddle
This on-line textbook introduces many of the basics of formal approaches to the analysis of social networks. The text relies heavily on the work of Freeman, Borgatti, and Everett (the authors of the UCINET software package). The materials here, and their organization, were also very strongly influenced by the text of Wasserman and Faust, and by a graduate seminar conducted by Professor Phillip Bonacich at UCLA. Many other users have also made very helpful comments and suggestions based on the first version. Errors and omissions, of course, are the responsibility of the authors.
You are invited to use and redistribute this text freely — but please acknowledge the source.
Table of contents
- Social network data
- Why formal methods?
- Using graphs to represent social relations
- Working with Netdraw to visualize graphs
- Using matrices to represent social relations
- Working with network data
- Ego networks
- Centrality and power
- Cliques and sub-groups
- Positions and roles: The idea of equivalence
- Measures of similarity and structural equivalence
- Automorphic equivalence
- Regular equivalence
- Multiplex networks
- Two-mode networks
- Some statistical tools