Everything here is within the context of getting the most value from the knowledge residing in the networks and communities in and around organisations. This includes (but is not limited to) helping:
- individuals to share and create stuff with eachother
- individuals to build groups to advocate for themselves
- organisations to host effective interfaces with their memberships and volunteers
- organisations to establish pragmatic information systems and membership engagement frameworks for sustainable organisational learning and group change
All this stuff is is rooted in a blend of practical and academic Knowledge and Information Management practices from live research, very real experience on projects, and a human approach to people, communities and the organisational context.
There are three key streams to my work:
1. Strategy work
Approach the project from its root. Assess the purpose, the people and the processes. Balance the ‘engagement’ aspirations of the sponsor with the reality of the organisational systems and social models of the people. Collaboratively pilot, test and roll-out flexible and sustainable knowledge and information frameworks to facilitate useful, purposeful, timely knowledge exchange between system actors.
Ed is a joy to work with, blending energy and enthusiasm with the ability to be challenging. He maintains project focus but with a readiness to listen, adapt and adjust to meet emerging organisational priorities. CILIP has undergone internal review during the lifetime of this project and this has been accommodated, and incorporated into plans. Ed’s adaptability and willingness to let go are valuable skills, which have helped guide the Communities Team during the project.
(Lyndsay Rees-Jones, CILIP, 2007)
2. Facilitation and moderation
Help groups achieve their purpose with minimal waste (emotional, financial, systemic) and maximum usefulness. Understand the group’s model and its purpose. Co-design, or work with a given framework (social and/or technical) to assist all participants to achieve their goals (personal and communal) in line with the purpose of the group.
Different facilitation techniques live in a larger engagement, consultation or membership framework, and are suited to different requirements in the two domains (virtual and physical); most groups meet in both domains so it is also vital to understand how to balance activities in each to maximise the potential of the group.
“Ed was the community editor (i.e. the boss of a lot of volunteers and the man in charge of the keys of the machine) during the best times of the KnowledgeBoard. He succeeded in pushing through an agenda of activities and in herding a lot of proud troublesome cats to write, moderate, and generally produce an award-winning knowledge-sharing community. He supported, prodded and encouraged us all (editors and members), got the most out of a difficult corporate and infrastructure situation, and was key to getting us all to give our best. Hats off for an impressive work and a person that can do it.”
(Miguel Cornejo Castro, Macuarium, 2007)
3. Making sense of technology
Is the plethora of new technology offerings more than a bit confusing? How can you integrate all this new stuff into a sustainable and coherent strategy? Which widget does what and how will it relate to the people and system you are trying to support? Do not panic! Sense is close…
One of my family dictums is that anything can be explained; people who say that things are too complicated to explain, or too complicated for you to have a say in them, are either not telling you the whole truth, or can’t be bothered.
We can better bridge the gap between technology offerings and people’s needs; part of a consultant, or agency’s role is to educate their clients in order to make better decisions. Too often we choose stuff without thinking carefully about what we need and whether that choice is suitable, now and in the future. Communications and collaboration technology are now so widely distributed and used that the ICT mystery is unveiled and we can practically map our requirements to a range of different tools, instead of looking at the tools and wondering if we can work around them.
This goes for individuals as well as groups!
Spend 15 minutes in a juice bar with Ed on a wet Thursday afternoon and you’ll walk away with a barrowload of strategies, concept improvements, assumption challenges and health warnings. Ed’s no consultant. They’re the people who borrow your watch to tell you what time it is, then walk off with your watch. Ed’s a thinking partner with a big brain, overflowing with experience, an even bigger heart.
(Jack Martin Leith, Deliverance Work Conferences, 2007)
How do you do it?
Workshops, Mentoring, Pro-active facilitation. A dedicated practice of encouraging clients to learn and share, and thus gain domain knowledge, confidence, networks, and independence in their decision making.
A flexible roadmap taking all the subsystem elements into account for the big job (People, Organisation, Social models, Technology). It’s a process, but that word is rubbish because every job is different and processes are for people to hide behind, so try to think of it as a series of questions to facilitate suitable decision making as you bring about change in your organisation.