Citizen Journalism In India

CNN-IBN & IDEA Cellular have joined hands to start a Citizen Journalism initiative. CNN-IBN is emerging to be one of India’s popular English news channels. Quoting from the article:

People can now report news items of importance from various parts of the country by sending in an SMS, MMS (CJ to 2622) or simply calling in a story, which will be verified by the editorial team at the editorial team at CNN IBN and aired in the form of Breaking News.
Citizen Journalists may also post their stories by mail on
Editor-n-Chief, CNN-IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai said on the association with IDEA, “Citizen Journalism is an idea whose time has come. It’s CNN-IBN’s way of engaging the viewer, of making him an active participant in the process of news-gathering, of making television news truly interactive. The big idea is to build a citizenary that is engaged with public life. On behalf of CNN-IBN, I would like to thank IDEA for supporting this idea.”
CEO, Idea Cellular Ltd, Vikram Mehmi echoes this sentiment

Indian Television networks have been trying various ways of increasing user interactivity. SMS integration with popular shows and SMS contests are pretty hot. A recent Lehman Brother’s report estimates the Indian Mobile Data Market to grow to $10 billion by 2010. More on that here.


Enterprise 2.0 – Impact On Employee Engagement

A lot has been written about using blogs and wikis for internal communications. Groups that create policies within enterprises stand to gain from continuous employee feedback – Blogs and Wikis could enable this. Typically as soon as policy decisions are published on the intranet(say a new compensation policy) the buzz begins. Employees start speaking about it – on email and IM and face-to-face. There is positive and negative word-of-mouth. This buzz is a gold mine waiting to be tapped. It presents the organization with an opportunity to gauge employee sentiment in real time.
It is difficult to draft a policy that is 100% bullet-proof no matter how rigorous your due-diligence is. Blogs are a great way to listen and in the process tame the grapevine. There is a need to fine tune policies as we move along and for this to happen there is a need to engage employees in the process – Call it the “Participatory Enterprise” or “Enterprise 2.0” or whatever. While doing an Employee Satisfaction Survey once a year maybe a good idea, usually it turns out that the interventions are too little and too late. The grapevine would have choked the enterprise by then – it would have become a part of the folklore in the organization. It is not sufficient to put a on your policy page. It is not enough to have a telephone number. There is a need to engage large sections of employees in the design, fine-tuning and implementation of policies. Get real time feedback that is visible to everyone in the organization, challenge assumptions that employees may have(which could be the root cause of negative word-of-mouth) and clarify expectations. Blogs and Wikis are good tools to do this. The benefits are obvious.

Co-creating Experience

Two iconic brands, Apple and Nike have announced a partnership that would take the experience of “working out” to a new level. A press release on Apple’s site says:

“The new Nike+ Air Zoom Moire is the first footwear designed to talk to iPod. Nike plans to make many of its leading footwear styles Nike+ ready, connecting millions of consumers to the Nike+iPod experience. With the Nike+ footwear connected to iPod nano through the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, information on time, distance, calories burned and pace is stored on iPod and displayed on the screen; real-time audible feedback also is provided through headphones. The kit includes an in-shoe sensor and a receiver that attaches to iPod. A new Nike Sport Music section on the iTunes® Music Store and a new personal service site help maximize the Nike+iPod experience.”

This is exactly what the authors of “The Future Of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value With Customers” wrote about. Value is not the product or the service per se but the co-creation of experiences – in this case the joy of working out !! It would be interesting to watch if the site can morph itself into a free-form customer community where customer-customer interaction brings in more value to the whole experience.

Traditional KM Systems Compared To Print

A recent post by Jeff Jarvis titled “The Book Is Dead.Long Live The Book.” reminds me of the shortcomings of Enterprise 1.0 systems for managing knowledge. Centralized, monolithic KM systems have failed and will continue to fail for some of the same reasons as print. Documents that go in and come out of Enterprise KM systems are similar to pages in a physical book. I am using “Enterprise CMS” interchangebly with KM systems in this post (which I hate to do usually). Here are a few quotes from Jeff Jarvis’ post on Books and my comments on how they map to KM systems in vogue.

  1. “They are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected” – This is true of many Enterprise CMS as well. The means to update and correct are there but it is just not straightforward. Wikis make this seamless. Enterprise 2.0 defreezes knowledge.
  2. “They have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources. They create, at best, a one-way relationship with a reader” – In most cases documents in ECM systems are standalones. They may link to other static documents. Very rarely are these documents available with all the context( for example related mails,instant messages etc.,). They don’t allow the user to create his own context-This is crucial for sensemaking to happen. Most of the focus upto this point has been on discoverability of knowledge.Once I have a document of interest what is it that I do? I may want to co-edit it, take notes, annotate it and publish it. It is in this churn that knowledge generation happens. Enterprise 1.0 has ignored this to a large extent. Getting the “document” (akin to a page in a physical book) to the user is not the end of the game. Social Software is needed to create the churn – the ability to bookmark and share,link,annotate,re-purpose,publish and make sense. Permalinks & Blogs,Activity Based Computing(Hannover) and services like Foldera,Google Notebook,Delicious may help. Enterprise 2.0 enables knowledge churn & flow.
  3. “They carry no conversation” – Hugely neglected part of content management systems as well. Conversations are central to Enterprise 2.0 and incidentally knowledge resides in conversations. Conversations will help manage exceptions to processes,get things done,improve productivity and hence positively influence tool adoption.

As Jay Cross points out :

“In the days of solid-state knowledge, authors chose the patterns to present to readers. Now readers assemble their own patterns by plucking snippets of information flotsam and jetsom from the current flowing by. Instead of reading Charles Dickens, people want to dream up their own version of Charles Dickens.” (Thanks to gsiemens for pointing to this)

Jay Cross says we are witnessing a phase change in knowledge from soild-state to liquid. SoSo,IMHO may accelerate this knowledge phase change and also enable its flow across the organization. And the good news is many organizations are sitting on top of mountains of “solid-state” knowledge in KM repositories. Organzations which intelligently marry these with SoSo systems would reap the benefits. KM and Print are both grappling with phase change and SoSo may be the answer.

Value Alignment & KM

Don Cohen of the Working Knowledge Research Center at Babson College had written about how having a higher purpose helps knowledge sharing. Quoting Don:

“Knowledge workers are unlikely to devote time and talent to knowledge management activities if the only articulated purpose for those efforts is to save money for the corporation. The CEO and CFO and major stockholders may be inspired by those dollars, but most employees aren’t. In many cases, though, profit-making companies can also legitimately invoke a higher purpose to support knowledge sharing—perhaps scientific discovery or the public benefits of their products or services or even pride in the quality of work accomplished.”

Organizations that succeed in value alignment are more likely to benefit from the rollout of social software for knowledge sharing. Do your employees understand the vision,mission and values of the organization in letter and in spirit? Answering this question is crucial. Once we get this straight, we need to take stock of all organizational and structural barriers that prevent knowledge sharing. (like salary and bonus structures that encourage knowledge hoarding).
While it is obvious that these barriers need to be dismantled, they are usually ignored.

Dissecting Culture To Drive Change

Martin Dugage who writes Mopsos has written a wonderful entry titled No Pain,NoChange. He writes about the need for crisis situations for change to happen and how they can dissolve barriers between departments. (Which typically act as knowledge silos otherwise). He says:
“This reminds me of what my most admired OB professor Manfred Kets de Vries used to say at Insead

The only drive for change in the business world is pain

Developing a collaborative working environment coming from a rigid bureaucratic hierarchy is probably the biggest change a company can undertake. So unless there is a very good reason to go down that path, it won’t, no matter how hard you try.

That’s something we, collaborative leaders, should meditate more often.”

On similar lines, in Working Knowledge-How Organizations Manage What They Know , the authors recommend instilling a sense of crisis before it exists arguing that “success can lead to an unwillingness to adapt”. This probably points to the fact that crisis situations affect culture. Groups that otherwise would have hoarded knowledge start sharing because their very existence is challenged. Creating artificial crisis situations may be a good idea to generate new knowledge. However, creating sustainable change remains a challenge.

Before sinking a million dollars into deploying a “workflow enabled collaborative KM system” it makes sense to bring in a business anthropologist to identify all cultural enablers and disablers in the organization. This is crucial because while a Social Network Analysis may bring to surface the disconnect between two groups, for any intervention to have a sustainable impact we need to dig deeper and attack the underlying problems. To do this we need a trained anthropologist. Remember the devil is in the details (your complex cultural DNA). The results of doing this cultural audit could go a long way in improving overall organizational effectiveness. For instance, the anthropologist may discover that there is a “blame” culture or there is “fear” or that too many executives wear ambition on their sleeves and so on. These pieces of the cultural DNA need to be repaired. Change & adoption are always going to remain a challenge as long as we keep pretending that the next wave of tools and services will solve all our woes. IMHO, knowledge sharing like many other good things in life needs to be an emergent behavior – driven by positive strands in your cultural DNA.

What do you think are the right ways to create sustainable change?