Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Robin Good

Robin Good is in town from Rome. After he videotaped me for his forthcoming movie on blogs, we repaired to C├ęsar and talked about informal learning. Robin spontaneously came up with a number of thoughts.

Architecture. At Microsoft earlier this week, the stark glass buildings offered no space for informal get-togethers. The visiting group complained that Microsoft was not getting its money's worth by providing PowerPoints delivered by VPs with 10-minute breakouts. In the evening, the group went to a restaurant with the developers. Conversation flowed. The developers said they got more ideas than at any previous meeting.

This reminds me of the story of John Akers, in the days that the IBM ship was sinking, chastising a group of engineers huddled around the water cooler, telling them to get back to work -- failing to realize that talk around the cooler was the work.

Collaboration. Corporations are clueless. At the conclusion of the session at Microsoft (on collaboration, no less), the issue of follow-up arose. M'soft suggested text chat once a month. Text? When online meeting tools are available? Once a month? Not as needed? When they do a conference call, they often send Robin a number he cannot dial from Italy.

Governance. IT often holds control of KM and communication. Thus, someone whose only concern is security has the clout to shut down effective collaboration.

Person-to-person. Bonding is important for continued collaboration. At World Bank sessions in the field, Robin would set participants loose to explore the jungle or soak in the pool while contemplating a problem. The group developed a shared passion around the issues. Alumni were motivated to continue working with one another. This doesn't happen by accident.

The beginning middle end model encore.

PowerPoint. The product of a brain-damaged designer. The defaults are wrong. For example, the chart wizard spews out chart junk. Classes teach standards for the number of words in a bullet point when it's more important to find a reinforcing image. Overconfidence in the tool leads amateur Leonardos to produce garbage.

Robin bans the words teacher and student. There are guides, coaches.

Individuals are motivated by curiosity, questioning. Robin takes notes, but rarely looks back at them. Taking the notes plants the subject in his head.

Bubble models guide the day. The larger, the more important. Start in the morning, cross off at the close of the day.

Folksonomies will become very, very important. Flickr, De.licio.us. Populicious and trendsolicisous cherry pick delicious for the new and popular.

Social networking. Better to share preferences than to share contact info.

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