Being Open

This is an often touched thread in my field of work; the thread of transparency in organizations.

When we deploy closed systems people ask questions around

How can I make this system open to a large number of people so knowledge sharing/discussion can happen?

When we deploy open systems people ask questions around

How can I make this system closed to a limited number of people so we can have our relevant (read private) conversations?

The platform/system will depend on the current popularity and someplace where they have no presence usually. Features, need for user functionality discussions tend to take back seat while we finish conclusively on the open/closed argument (mostly never happens in a single sitting mind you, as people want to bounce ideas internally “closed”).

Just because I CAN be more open does not mean I will be open. Why do people tend to have this warped reasoning when it comes to open information has always intrigued me, here are some

1. Fear of being misunderstood by a large number of unknown people

This fear is real, I have tried convincing people to write about a specific viewpoint that they so clearly articulate in 1 on 1 meetings, but they never had the courage to put it down on paper. This could also be a problem of language (in articulation and being unambiguous)

2. Fear of hijack of a personal idea by anyone of the large number of unknown people

If I am about to mobilize resources on an idea, I have to convey the idea as clearly as possible and if I am in a leverage mode I will have to leave room for idea building, trimming, refinement or even a change in direction. If I am that possessive about the private idea, I will cut a cd, open a bank locker and put it in, possibly throw the key in deep sea. No need to discuss further and selection of platform does not arise.

3. Hesitation to deal with the plausibly large amount of feedback that can come

Let us get real, any open information system is rampant with lurkers, 1 in 100 comment and take conversations further. This is a one reason why non-text entry user actions like “like”, “RT”, “Share” have come up.

If someone had to say something meaningful on a thread, I am all ears, I should probably bring him on board because he cared to respond.

4. Confidence/Arrogance that ideas from the select group is the best possible (both in time (best ever) and space (best on earth))

No need to discuss further and selection of platform does not arise here as well.

May be I am oversimplifying openness/transparency, what do you think? Think openly please.


Using Expertise Survey

I have recently participated in a survey on how expertise is leveraged and managed in organisations. This is part of an open research project where the results of the research are made available to the KM community as they are finalised. The project blog is at, and there is also a wiki showing the outcomes of project workshops at

If you have time to complete the survey as well, please do add your perspective. The survey is at, and when you have completed it, you will see the results of the survey collected so far.


Idea Selection

When I met with a customer exhibiting innovation capacities, she had this interesting perspective, I am quoting

“The power of an idea when run through our well oiled, efficient, process oriented delivery line, loses its potency and sometimes even its own relevance.How can we reduce the probability of this happening? Would it be possible to provide advisory services on developing an approach that will address this issue? Additionally can we develop convergence criteria for the ideas”

 This brings forth several different points,

one – when people talk about innovation it is mostly incremental in nature and the metaphor of the assembly line is prevalent even in the cutting edge financial services companies (case in point) If the process of development is that efficient you don’t need humans anymore.

 two – while the so called innovation facilitators (including yours truly) are great in coming out with numerous ideas within a short span of time, I am not clear about the convergence methods or idea selection itself.

 That said I have had some success in designing people centric short listing (facilitation methods post ideation) but the fundamental problem still remains.

 How does open innovation where ideas are even larger in number address this?

 Convergence criteria as I see a trend today is mostly directed from business who seek specific ROI proof, worked elsewhere type of inputs based on which they EVALUATE to pick ideas than really build on a crazy idea that will possibly be the next BIG thing this is not incremental this is breakthrough.

 Your ideas though in plenty and free solicited…