NY-Toronto Law Firm KM Summit 2008 in Boston

Doug Cornelius asked me to participate in the NY-Toronto Law Firm KM Summit 2008, which for some reason was held in Boston this year.  This is a group of lawyers (primarily) who are very interested in knowledge management in the legal profession.  There are a number of my friends from KM circles associated with this group, and it was great to reconnect once again.

Unfortunately, I could only stay for the morning.

Does Enterprise 2.0 = Knowledge Management 2.0?

Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen from AIIM kicked off the day, talking about the topic of how KM is growing and changing in response to Enterprise 2.0.

They kicked off their discussion with a wiki window experiment.  Half the room defined knowledge management on post-it notes, and the other half covered Enterprise 2.0.  Interestingly, the general themes that came up in both wiki windows were similar, which was the source for the following conversation:

Knowledge Management Enterprise 2.0
collaboration training, professional development
social networking forms
sharing people
search content organization
virtual organization sharing & gathering
  efficient (something)

Carl talked about the general model for knowledge management, which is the familiar combination of Strategy, People, Process and Technology.  What was new to me (even though I had read Carl's book) was a description of how technology supports knowledge management in enabling the processes of

  • Intermediation
  • Externalization
  • Internalization
  • Cognition

I really like this.  For some reason it's the first I've seen this connection broken down this way.

So what is so different about Enterprise 2.0?  Dan focused on the fact that there really isn't that much different in terms of KM.  It's just that Enterprise 2.0 brings some new technologies and different focus in terms of speed and ease of use.  And these new technologies -- and the way they are implemented -- allow for a number of interesting new behaviors.  One of the big elements is the emergence of knowledge and people that is much easier with E2.0 tools than with email or other traditional tools.

They used an entertaining "evolution" slide to frame out some of this discussion.  It had both the evolution of the technology from 1.0 to 1.5 to 2.0, and various categories of how people work around the tools.  It garnered some laughs.  And I liked the discussion of the cultural aspects of adopting KM or E2.0: if your firm is in the "islands of me" mode, be aware of the distance from there to "islands of we" mode.

Interesting phrase: "controlled transparency" in relation to the capabilities provided by E2.0 tools.

Much of this discussion was based on the AIIM Enterprise 2.0 survey and report.

Blogging as Knowledge Management

This was the panel in which I participated with Bill Ives, Mary Abraham and Doug Cornelius.  "Blogging as knowledge management" isn't a particularly new topic, but it continues to be very interesting as people discover blogging and other social media and the potential impact on personal and group interactions.  We ended up focusing primarily on blogging in general, rather than how to get blogs set up within a business. 

I wasn't able to take extensive notes, since I was up front participating in the dialog.  But the room was quite loud with conversation and back-and-forth between the panel members and the other attendees.

In our pre-conference phone call, we though of several potential topics, many of which we covered in the ensuing discussion:

  • Flogging.  Maybe Dr. David Vaine video on mandatory blogging
  • Blogging policies (internal and external)
  • Blogging as PKM
  • Blogging as KM
  • Marketing as it relates to blogging
  • Devoting time to blogging
  • Blogging as a memory location. Blogging instead of email. 
  • Microblogging (Yammer, Tumblr, Twitter).
  • Blogging as one element of a larger platform.

Along with some of these topics, we also talked about why we blog (note taking; learning; finding people interested in the same topics; connecting; thinking out loud; etc.) 

This led into a discussion of writing and thinking and how "finished" the written word is vs. the spoken word.  In blogging, while the thinking-out-loud element is important, it's also important to realize that the publish button is a publication of sorts.  Even if I acknowledge that the thoughts are incomplete, they are still out there for people to ponder and re-use as they wish.  (If I didn't want that to happen, I'd keep it in my personal notes blog or in my paper notebook.)

Another interesting aspect led to the marketing possibilities of blogging and that many people and companies (outside of law) have had great success with blogs and social media as one element of their marketing effort.  But many firms are very fearful of blogs as marketing to the extent of claiming that blogs won't work for marketing.  I suspect there is a lot of fear and uncertainty as to how to control the beast once it is out in the wilds of the web.  I'll be interested to see how this evolves at my company too.

Funny: Bill joked at Mary's expense that "You can be a guy and talk about the 'people element' too."  Mary is known as the "it's not about technology" person in the group.  Just check the name of her blog.

Pretty much all the 50 attendees read blogs on a regular basis.  (One person came up after and told me they were one of the few who didn't raise their hand.)  And about a dozen people have their own blogs, easily half of whom I know.

The only problem with this panel was that Doug didn't give us enough time.  We should have had at least two hours, as the discussion throughout the room was great.

Wikis

I have noticed lately that wikis seem like a much better technology for internal projects.  Many of the internal wikis aren't known as "wiki" and a some of the vendors have eschewed that term in favor of things like "next generation web" or the like.  They are replacing the entire corporate intranet with these next generation tools, creating an entirely writable internal web.  I heard something very similar with the MITRE talk on social tagging within the enterprise.

"There is a tension between freedom and structure." Particularly in relation to wanting to use mashups that require some base level of structure to enable the mashup to work over time.

Bill Ives was writing about this discussion in more detail.  I assume it will be blogged shortly.

References

I mentioned the MITRE discussion at KM Forum a few times.  I wrote that up.

Carl & Dan recommended having a look at Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson in terms of understanding the importance of Enterprise 2.0 tools and the growth of emergent knowledge.

I met several people in the room at the ARC legal KM in the Modern Law Firm event back in 2006, which I wrote about on day 1 and day 2.  I sat on a panel on a very similar topic then, and today's seemed to have a very different tone.

I mentioned a recent post from a product management blogger talking about using social media to find new customers.  That was The next frontier of finding prospects by Paul Young on Product Beautiful.

3 Comment(s)

Great recap, Jack. Thanks.

I am surprised by the doubt of the use of blogs as marketing tools for law firms. Maybe it depends on what firms mean when they ask whether blogs "work" for marketing. Must a blog have been the direct cause of new business to have "worked" as a marketing tool? In my opinion, no. There is something to be said about brand recognition. Jordan Furlong wrote a nice piece about the importance of law firm brands in his Law21 blog today http://bit.ly/3v4Xx6

Kevin O'Keefe (Real Lawyers Have Blogs http://kevin.lexblog.com/ ) would probably have something to say about whether they "work."

Since I'm a KM (rather than marketing) guy, I am more interested in blogging inside the law firm. I am a big proponent of that: http://bit.ly/1duzH5

What was the consensus about microblogging inside law firms? Did it come up?

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

Patrick- Too bad you couldn't join us... You were the subject of some offline conversations associated with how anonymous one keeps their blog.

I think the nature of the marketing conversation was really that the _marketing_ department just didn't get it. The marketing dept at my company are just now thinking about doing something about social media. (We do happen to have RSS feeds for events/news, but most of my colleagues have no idea what they are.)

We didn't manage to get to microblogging. Or to Flogging. And we only briefly touched on the idea of the larger impact of social media.

p.s. Frappaolo has posted his slides to SlideShare

John Tropea said:

Hey Jack,

I posted on a similar thing the other day http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2008/10/02/the-km-core-sample-in-relation-to-im-km-10-social-computing-and-km-20/

My musing was that KM 2.0 is social computing, but with an overlay of facilitating and (as Snowden says) lightly constraining (governance)...as the reality is that social computing exists within a management framework.
http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2008/07/18/seven-ways-enterprise-20-differs-from-web-20/

In the end it has to add value, to both the individual and the enterprise.
http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2008/08/29/roi-for-the-knowledge-worker-is-roi-for-all-and-how-km-took-an-ironic-approach/

Sorry, I'm not promoting my posts, I'm just saving space, as my blog has already spoken ;)

My notion is that blogs and networks assimilate offline interactions ie. conversational with people on your wavelength...so it's like the spoken word, yet it's written down (as Olivier from Headshift says, the re-materialisation of tacit knowledge is finally here)

Your post has just inspired me to post about blogs and the word "published"
http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2008/10/06/is-publish-a-dirty-word-in-enterprise-20/

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