"…Let us not think that because we are less brutal, less violent, less inhuman than our opponents we will carry the day. Brutality, violence and inhumanity have an immense prestige that schoolbooks hide from children, that grown men do not admit, but that everyone bows before. For the opposite virtues to have as much prestige, they must be actively and constantly put into practice. Anyone who is merely incapable of being as brutal, as violent, and as inhuman as someone else but who does not practice the opposite virtues, is inferior to that person in both inner strength and prestige, and he will not hold out in such a confrontation."

— Simone Weil, a fragment written after September 1939. Compiled in a collection called Formative Writings, 1929-1941, DT Macfarland and W. Van Ness (Editors and Translators). Routledge Revivals, Abington, Oxon UK. p. 200. (via a commenter at Bruce MacEwen’s blog.


Book of Bad Arguments

KM is “Management with a Knowledge focus”.

Secondly, it’s all about people, but in what way? In a 2012 blog post I argued that Knowledge Management is about people in the collective, rather than about individuals, in that KM treats knowledge as collective property rather than individual property. That’s what differentiates KM and OL from Learning and Development.

Thirdly, once we come down to the things that drive Knowledge Management, and enable it to succeed, KM is actually about FOUR things.

1. It’s about people with roles and people with accountabilities; being clear on what these are and ensuring that people know what they are supposed to

2. It’s about Knowledge Management processes, embedded in the routine of day to day work, which enable people to create, seek, find, discuss, identify and share knowledge

3. It’s about simple pervasive Knowledge Management technologies to support those roles and processes

4. It’s about the elements that influence and drive behaviours and culture - what we call Knowledge management governance - elements such as strategy, clarity of expectation, the reward system, and the support system

We know it’s about four things, because if any one of these is missing from your KM Framework, Knowledge Management fails.


Knoco stories: If KM is all about people, why all the pictures of software?

Nick Milton’s succinct expression of management with a knowledge focus is a compelling one.

"To unleash the latent potential of our people requires that we give them responsibility. The untapped resources of the North Sea are as nothing compared to the untapped resources of our people, I am convinced that the great mass of our people go through life without even a glimmer of what they could have contributed to their fellow human beings. This is a personal tragedy. It’s a social crime. The flowering of each individual’s personality and talents is the pre-condition for everyone’s development."

Scottish Left Review - Jimmy Reid Rectorial Address

Thanks yet again to Anne Marie McEwan for reminding me of the justified power of Jimmy Reid’s rhetoric, 43 years on.

"The implication of my news consumption being dominated by the tall skinny part of the power curve is that those who can regularly appear there – the best of the best – are going to win the zero sum game for my attention. And, for that, they will be justly rewarded. What then, though, of the tens of thousands of journalists who formerly filled the middle of the bell curve? More broadly – and this is the central challenge to society presented by the Internet – what then of the millions of others in all the other industries touched by the Internet who are perfectly average and thus, in an age where the best is only a click away, are simply not needed?"

FiveThirtyEight and the End of Average | stratēchery by Ben Thompson

Bob Lefsetz has been saying for some time that average is no longer enough for success in the music industry. Now Ben Thompson has come to the same conclusion about news, and by extension any industry touched by the internet. Whither the average law firm?


Thoughts about Radical Transparency

(Prompted by the reliably thoughtful Shift podcast by Euan Semple and Megan Murray)

The most recent episode of the podcast covered ‘Radical Transparency’. Lots of good things, but there was something missing (or at least, skated over): the impact of authenticity on others.

When we worry about what people are saying to us (whether those are our friends on Twitter or Facebook, or our organisational leaders and managers), our focus is naturally on the relationship we have with them. If they hold something back from us, we see that as a fault in that bilateral relationship. If they appear to be inauthentic in their communications, we might ascribe that to mendacity.

But (as Diana, Princess of Wales, put it so succinctly) there are often three (or more) people in our relationships. When a business fails to announce who has been laid off, except by deleting their names from the corporate phonebook, that isn’t necessarily because they are trying to hide something. At the very least, respect for those who are leaving through no fault of their own demands that we comply with their wishes about whether their departure is trumpeted. In extremis, there may be legal reasons why such an announcement is impossible.

Similar considerations apply at a personal level. Being transparent about the things that happen around us can affect the people we talk about. This is not new. Euan mentioned a book he was reading about the writing of memoirs. I would be interested to know if it covers the problem of considering other people’s perspectives on events (and the consequences of not doing that well).

Authenticity and transparency cannot meant just broadcasting thoughts as they occur to us. There may be value in doing so for our own personal development or stress-reduction. There may be an audience for what we have to say (and that audience’s interest might even be more than just nosiness). Either reason could justify speaking rather than staying silent. But, even if both those things are true, we should be reluctant to speak when someone else could be affected.

When we publish our thoughts, we wield a small amount of power. The wider the audience, the more power we have. Anyone with power has a responsibility to consider how its use affects others. Those who are used to being in authority know this. Some of those who are new to it are still learning.


A walk, not more than a mile
along the barricade of land
between the ocean and the grey lagoon.
Six of us, hand in hand,

connected by blood. Underfoot
a billion stones and pebbles -
new potatoes, mint imperials,
the eggs of birds -

each rock more infinitely formed
than anything we own.
Spoilt for choice - which one to throw,
which to pocket and take home.


The Stone Beach by Simon Armitage | Books | The Guardian

"Where do you get your inspiration? What sorts of things do you fill your head with? What do you read? Do you subscribe to anything? What sites do you visit on the Internet? What music do you listen to? What movies do you see? Do you look at art? What do you collect? What’s inside your scrapbook? What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk? What do you stick on your refrigerator? Who’s done work that you admire? Who do you steal ideas from? Do you have any heroes? Who do you follow online? Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field? Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do."

10 Ways To Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered — Show Your Work! — Medium

These are ten great tips, but this one struck a chord. Not everyone is confident about what they produce (or they may be unable to share it for other good reasons). Inspirations are inspiring though; just as interested people are interesting.

"Knowledge is not a dead pile of facts, but on the contrary, the outcome of a dynamic interaction with the world at large, and most importantly, with the other people in it."

- Stowe Boyd

(via stoweboyd)

"Athletes don’t necessarily want to understand what’s going on, they want to think the kinds of thought that allow them to succeed – and there’s a big difference between the two."

Benjamin Markovits · Success: What It Takes to Win at Sport · LRB 7 November 2013

I wonder if this is true of other success-focused activities. Do hedge-fund managers focus more on playing the game than theorising about it? Do lawyers too?