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From Conversational Blogging to Jazz Communities

Nowhere is it more apparent to me than in the KM field that "Conversational Blogging" is still looking for some solutions. It also left we with questions the last time I was exploring it . I know the IT guys have done the collaborative dance, played jazz and scored more than ideas that began with weblog posts. Look carefully and you can see the collaborative exchanges taking place. However this isn't limited to blogs. Blogs are just one part of an accelerative learning program that is primarily focused on people.

A Little Background.
Ton Ziljstra made a post on "Making Actionable Sense" + follow-up. It began (I think by) Lilia Effimova "loose ends", Dina Mehta, John Moore (improv) and Gary M whose excellent post spurred me to start writing or trying to share something. That's when it usually get complex.

  • Where to start?
  • What to link to?
  • Hmm... What is my point of view?
  • If I start with a ramble... can I finish succinctly?

    Just looking at the names above and I know many more who are equally interested in emergent blogging - collaboration spaces the key element comes back to a business model. For talking is not action. Action implies that there is enough learning and knowledge to believe that "blogging can pay" for the independent blogger. So far the deliverables for independents are mostly intangible, hard to monetize, with no depth of collective identity. That's not to suggest that no value has been created, just that independently without more structured collaboration there is little chance of it all coming together until someone waves the magic dollar sign.

    From Conversational Blogging to Jazz Communities
    Our Challenge is to link blogs in a way that retains independent thought while creating a jazz community. A blog based info accelerator helps us engage with information, conferences, CoP's in a different way. We can being to face up to the 365/7/24/60/60 world. Our connections help us do it. They are skill that are worth passing along and providing to others.

    Let's consider creating an environment for "paid" membership with a BAND of people that enables them to become better connected, build new relationships and stay on the leading edge of learning even when they simply don't have the time. Blogging is a natural for the "listening post", the early warning radar, and for scanning upstream. I've been able to identify for some time an emergent blogging community that could do this in the KM area. Sales and Marketing topics are less clear, while in the last few weeks I've finally found some additional "futures" blogs.

    A possible solution for enabling an environment in which we can work together is to show "members" or "sponsors" how they can learn faster than traditional companies. It's not the resource rich / big dollar learning journeys of the past, the huge number of conferences, or "guru" answers, it's more pragmatic, more personal and directed at helping executive ask smarter questions. It's also more open space in nature.

    P2P music experiences revealed how communities of customers can learn faster than traditional companies. So as a leader you want to remain ahead of the competition. You know the surprises come from the fringe, and edge of the network. The deep answers seldom come from inside the organization and almost never from where you are today. It's not what's on your agenda that will kill you. It's what's not!

    This type of community is like a great jazz club. Infectious, Ingenious, Interactive, and Integrative, playing in an information rich world that demands elegance, simplicity, transparency and clear notes on the solutions employed. We accept in joining that 'all of us' are better than any one of us in creating new sources of value. Band members would be here to collectively harness our intelligence, collaborate and have some serious fun while doing it.

    This means that no one can grab it, no one person can put their arms around and everyone must nurture it. That makes it Chaordic. You can empathize with us, and appreciate the collective intelligence within. It's collaborative, emergent, with enough structure to encourage self organization but not enough to signal a fixed agenda, or the next topic. We know where we are starting but not where it might lead us. It's about connecting, It is about flows. It is about curiosity. Ultimately it is about better questions and learning faster. Our tools will be conversations and dialogues. …. We begin with a small group, and begin building on it with a global perspective.

    It takes Paying Partners.
    The question here is not the technology, or even the team, it is the willing partners we need to make the above a reality. Who is that audience that wants to harness a network that is proving it 'learns faster" and helps creat better understanding around issues of uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity.

    This will take a team that has taken the time to understand the needs of the audience and their participation style. It doesn't necessarily require blogs. Although I believe that blogs are a criteria for membership. (Blog for a year... then come and talk to us!) In fact the telephone, the odd live meeting and even e-mail could be engaged. The real challenge is to create the introductions, context and encounters for useful conversations to take place. That means a variety of people. It also requires a network. Blogs help the transparency around that. It might just make it easier to find out where "we" collectively are not looking.

    Who Would We Be?
    At the core is a band that believes they can "connect", "synthesize" and harness the "flow" better than the traditional organizations and structures. In common english that is "learn". I for one know it is possible. In the short term a groups like these are potential insurance policies. What's the cost of a wrong decision when it can cost you millions. The experience you might have once gone to a conference for, or hired in an expert to talk for a day, now is on call, when you want it adapting to your needs and curiosity. If you are a company what is it worth to have this collective thought engine available? I've also posted on Innovation Panels. I believe a bloggers panel around KM would be a great place to start.

    I think this blog community would also become very comment centric. As it is a private members club we will need some numbers to really get it going. In fact it will have to have both public and private aspects. Even the members... can get up and jazz blog, nothing is stopping them. I expect that may just take some time. However other "sharing" mechanisms will be built in and I'd not the more they are integrated with current work patterns the greater the chance of success.

    The core team of band members will make the introductions and provide context for useful conversations and encounters with leading thinkers in a variety of fields. For time compressed people this is the conference and the breaks... year round at your fingertips.

    Input Please!
    Be great to have a a set of core members that are KM leaders in their respective organizations. "Building Jazz Communities"

    It's time to make the Elevator pitch! Comments? Suggestions? Let me know if you are interested in playing.

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    Comments (6)


    Count me in, and if you wish, we can use the collaborative tools inherent in my now aimless www.teledyn.com to host the work, but I still believe that the necessity is the pre-requisite to cause the action to gel.

    What we need is the killer app of blogdom. Journalism was a first guess, and not a bad guess, but journalists have turfs to fight due to that need to attract eyeballs to advertisers. Collaboration is not a game they want to play. So who's left?

    What we need is a real commercial goal. For an early experiment in a kind of social computing, Silicon Graphics pointed at the engineering success of the Boeing 777 as the first aircraft to use a total-process engineering system where a problem discovered on the shop floor would be entered into the design and percolate immediately to the aircraft design team. The whole process moved in consort, no surprises, no loss of communications. It was billed as an industrial process, but it was intrinsically a social-software process.

    When I was working with Industry Canada on the "spontaneous business webs" idea to bind edu-tainment producers, the Bank of Montreal offered us the gel project to outfit their Toronto learning centre; we failed to get any momentum due to other constraints, but a part of the failure was also because social software per se was alien to the participating companies. A chicken and egg problem.

    We have fragments, findings that highly suggest we're on a right track, but we need more than the dating sites to show some real tangible result. We need to articulate a process, but it has to be a process that scratches some itch sufficiently that someone will give us their itch to scratch, and thus I think we should begin our sweep-out radar project pitch by identifying who it is we need to ask who might have such an itch and back that offer with a budget and a deadline, and we must ask that question of "Who is it?" first, before the elevator door even closes.

    Given the who and their why, I think the how and what will follow quite naturally.

    Count me in but I don't have much money!

    Stuart, interesting post, I'm certainly keen to support this kind of collaboration but getting the dreaded business model right is going to be tough. The challenge is that blogger thrives on open sharing, and most business plans effectively impose tolls on the highway.

    My own thinking on this at the moment is that the money will come from the consulting work that is generated by the community, not from access to the community itself.

    Hi Stuart,

    Good posting, thanks. Will comment and blog more later. The business model is the direct concern, and as Gary says needs to be underpinned by an identifieable need and itch to make it stick.

    Currently I think very much along the lines John, does where hiring one independent actually means hiring the community and thus money will flow from the individual consulting jobs to the community. In recent e-mail conversations with Lilia Efimova and Martin Roell I formulated it that it would be like having part-time colleagues, i.e. on certain topics with certain clients, the community gelling around specific themes and points in time.


    I'd like to play...when do I get a team sweater ?

    I think John's points are on target in today's environment, which is cautious, tangibility-focused, ROI-obsessed and anxious to make the last X millions of IT infrastructure spend actually pay for itself.

    If we step back from all that, it seems obvious that the combo of blogging and IM is about as close to mirroring online the way humans actually engage in and carry out purposeful activity. But, hey, since when is common sense the stock in trade. IMO lots doesn't change because - consciously or not - the major consulting firms that are implementers are still wringing the last few smidgens of efficiency out of the old industrail engineering models of business process and structure....which mitigate against higher-order human activity connected by, contained in, and carried out using "conversation".

    For me when thinking about biz models, I usually go to a question like...will some form of the dynamics we all observe and describe be an ubiquitous and present aspect of the organization/business process/workplace (i.e. will the customer and employee actually be invited into the warp and woof of a company' purpose and processes? If so...is there time and space to experiment with new tools, new business logic, less structured but more rhythmic processes? If not, consult and give 'em what they want, wait and watch, start experiments anyway and go to the "warm spots".

    or will these tools and processes also be bent to the will of a small group of individuals at the closed-door top of the organization(s)? If so.... (for me) start some new kind of career, like bookbinding, or being a crossing-guard, or getting into real practical helping people stuff like working at Home Depot in the sections I know something about

    count me in as well... dina and i discussed something like this when we visited in philadelphia... have you started on a business plan? elevator pitches and business plans - i have done a few in the last few years.

    My Furl


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