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Knowledge Management & Information Technology July 19, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Stewardship.
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How can improvements to organizational knowledge management be realized most efficiently:

  1. By integrating the available information technology services made available by the enterprise?
  2. By representing the requirements of new information technology services and designing these services?
  3. By coordinating the priority of specific information technology services via organizational governance?
  4. By overseeing the implementation and project management of information technology services?
  5. By taking an active role in the daily operations of information technology services?

This may be a rhetorical question for some and for others it may be the critical question that establishes balance to their knowledge management program.  Within every organization, the staff coordinating knowledge management may find a slightly different home base. The typical locations for where to host the knowledge management function vary across industries and across different organizations within those industries.  Here are some typical host locations for the knowledge management function and the general emphasis when they have that hosting organization:

  • Human Resources – focus is on organizational development and human capital management
  • Engineering – focus is on improving sharing and stewardship of explicit technical knowledge
  • Administration – focus is on performance of knowledge sharing across the enterprise
  • Information Technology – focus is on the technical service or solution that improves staff collaboration
  • Standalone – focus is toward improving organizational performance through knowledge sharing

Each hosting location provides a different organizational emphasis and all have some relationship toward information technology. Only one has a specific focus on improvement of IT services.  The other hosting locations for KM have a relationship with IT but it is not the primary focus.  Which location can provide the most effective home for KM?  That depends it seems on the performance of the IT organization.  If the IT organization has the capability to deliver innovative solutions with great efficiency, then there is the potential for a great partnership between KM and IT without KM being directly nested within the IT organization.  If however, the IT organization struggles to deliver capabilities that are essential for efficient knowledge capture and knowledge sharing, then another arrangement may be necessary.

Consider the questions on how to improve KM within the culture of your organization and comment on where you think it has the most effective influence and the most effective hosting location to deliver that influence.

Chickens, Eggs, Faith, and Theological Understanding July 5, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Theology, Wisdom.
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The classic phrase: Which came first; the chicken or the egg? is often used to present a paradox in the order of events.  For many that consider the universe and all that it contains to be a grand cosmic accident, the chicken and egg paradox is truly perplexing.  But there is something else here that can also be compared.  It seems to go against the norms of the 21st century modern society.

In order to improve your understanding, you first need faith.

Now most modern scientists will tell you that they need some evidence to go on before they head down a specific path.  They want some proof.  In matters of religion, the often-used statement is “I want proof before I head down that path of thought…”  That it turns out becomes a stumbling block for those that seek understanding through heading down a specific path because that very path will not be revealed without faith that the path exists.

credo ut intelligam

I believe in order to understand

The phrase credo ut intelligam was first put forth by Augustine, then popularized by Anselm of Canterbury in 1033-1109 AD.  Augustine’s full statement was “I don’t understand so that I might believe, but I believe so that I might understand.”  This idea gives emphasis to the priority and necessity of belief in the Cristian’s intellectual pursuits.  One cannot truly and fully understand spiritual matters unless he or she first believes them to be true.

fides quaerens intellectum

“Faith seeking understanding”

This Latin phrase was coined by Anselm of Canterbury .  This is one of the earliest definitions of theology.  It starts with the assumption that we are believers and as such, we are seeking to understand our beliefs better.

So theology is for everyone.  We all have beliefs.  Even those that profess no beliefs have the belief that nothing matters.  Everyone needs to be a theologian.  In reality everyone is a theologian – of one sort or another.  Charls Ryrie said that “There is nothing wrong with being an amateur theologian or a professional theologian, but there is everything wrong with being an ignorant or sloppy theologian.”

So first have faith, then (secondly) you can seek deeper understanding upon the path that is shown to you.

In Perspective at 4th of July Car Wash July 4, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Community, Humanity, Wisdom.
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Now and then you may be given the opportunity to be a bit reflective on all that is going on around you in a local sense, a regional level, national, and perhaps at a world level.  It seems worthwhile to consider how everything connects.  To that end, let me offer a trivial and insignificant example – yet one that has several connections.  Connections based on decisions.

Our lives are filled with decisions each day.  Do we eat this, or eat that?  What time we wake up?  Do we take a bit longer reading that item, or do we set it down and proceed to the next item on our agenda?  Do we extend our conversation with who we are with, valuing their need for an important dialog, or do we end on time and proceed to the next conversation – assuring it is given appropriate time to mature into a dialog that may have a beneficial outcome.  How do we judge best how to allocate our time to the collective benefit of others?  Is that our primary motivation – the benefit of others – or do we seek personal benefit and gain ahead of that objective?

lexus_gs350There are simple decisions that we make every day.  The decision that begins with noticing that your car is dirty.  Does it need to be washed?  Does having a clean car signify something of value.  Is having a clean car an important life objective?  How clean must your car be?  Between the extreme of washing your car every day (or even multiple times per day) to remove every visible smudge, and going more than a year with an accumulated layer of dirt and grime – there must be an agreed on standard.  Or is there a standard.  If there was a “clean car standard” would that make the decision to wash your car any different?  Maybe if there was a “dirt index” then you could run a scanner over your car and it would register a “wash / no-wash” signal and you would have one less decision to make for that item in your life.

But choosing to wash your car or to not wash your car is an important decision.  All decisions are important decisions.  Choosing to wash your car gets you into the game.  Its an example of choosing “to do“, rather than choosing “not to do“.  If you can string together a series of decisions that seek “to do” and those decisions are largely directed at the benefit of others, then you are probably doing OK.

So I choose to wash my car.  Sometimes I wash it myself.  Other times I choose to bring it to a car wash.  Which of those choices today will have greater benefit for others?  If I wash it on my own, then I may have the option of dialog with my neighbors.  I also feel like I have more control over the outcome of the wash.  I use special soap that really cleans the surface, I use micro-fiber cloths that remove dirt without damaging the surface, and I make sure to dry the surface with special micro-fiber towels that don’t streak or damage the surface.

I feel good about washing the car myself, but sometimes I choose to have others wash it.  By making the choice to have others wash my car, I provide income to the local economy.  Somebody also gets a tip and that helps to meet the needs of those individuals.  Those that wash my car at the car wash always seem to appreciate the opportunity to offer a valuable service in return for a wage.  I feel good about participating in that cycle.  I generally believe that the quality of the car wash is not as good as my hand wash, but it is much faster and there appears to be a distributed economic benefit.  So which is better?  Neither one is better.  Each time we make that decision to wash our car, we are putting our self out there and the act of making that decision is what it’s all about.

So make a decision to decide several times today.  On the 4th of July, there are not quite as many decisions to be made as the rest of the year.  If there were decisions today, many of them were likely made weeks or months ago and they affect the way we move throughout this specific day. However, there are small decisions throughout the day.  To decide to get the tangled brush out of your daughter’s hair that is so embedded you imagine that scissors are your only recourse.  To decide to attend that BBQ event with a number of participants that you don’t really know but it’s a good opportunity for community dialog. To decide to cook dinner for your kids and their friends so that everybody involved has a comfortable location for shared dialog and companionship.  To decide that no matter how clean or dirty your car is, that you will decide how to wash or not wash it – the next time that topic pops into your head.