Web Design with Knowledge in Mind


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An introduction to some knowledge concepts to help apply knowledge policy to a web design project.
- Knowledge Flow (Clandestine collaboration)
- Distributed Cognition
- Complexity Theory (with Demonstration)
Given at ARK Group Conference on Web Design, Melbourne Australia. 7-Dec-2009

Published in: Business, Technology
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  • Taking the knowledge view involves a change of perspective rather than simply using a certain technology or technique. To expand my point I want to tell you three stories about collaboration through technology and how it should be approached in a way that handles complexity.
  • Ship story. 1980 USS Pulao – Steam powered Aircraft Carrier. The idea of distributed cognition (shared task solutions)…shows how complex routines need several actors, inanimate tools and an organized mode of cooperation. We learn that often knowledge lies in their overall configuration, an cannot be isolated in anybody’s head. - http://www.michaelkimmel.at/liste.html
  • My research revealed interactions with technology that were both explicit (ie able to be controlled and managed) and tacit (ie more social and complex in nature).
  • Traditional, process based tools empowered business to become more efficient, but it locked them into rigid procedures that stifled innovation, kept power centralised and reduced the organisations ability to respond to change.
  • Ask people to stand on their feet. They then decide to fix on two other people in the group. They keep this decision to themselves. The task for the group is to position themselves equidistant from the two people that they have picked. They have to move around in order to do this. The experience of trying to keep your distance is fun - a bit like herding cats! After a period of time the group will become stationary (at least it has so far every time that I have done this demo...). The seemingly random and difficult to predict moving about of people can be used as an analogy for a complex system. A powerful second step for this demo is then to ask one person only to change their selected 'target-people'. Everyone else remains with their old ones. This person will likely then have to move, which sets a chain reaction of people moving. The impact of one change has a consequence for the whole system.
  • In his book “The world is flat”, Friedman says that the world ahead is complex and requires “explainers” to bridge the gap. He points out that any business that can be process mapped, ie: can plan the future based on the past, will be outsourced to India and the likes. The western world are left with the high value-add opportunities, but that involve thought, changing perspectives and flexible work flows. In these conditions, the road ahead is windy and driving by looking in the rear-view mirror can lead you off a cliff.
  • Safe-Fail: take many small bites at the pie until you get the best solution. Evolution: Death is critical for evolution to work. If the unfit don’t die the fit never get enough resources to thrive. Starting outside the firewall can reduce upfront costs and allow more pilots. Let the users decide: The key is community. Look for examples of debate and resolution. Re-focus IT: Allow IT to retain control of their realm, but ensure that the need to avoid technical complexity doesn’t hinder the users from getting the tools they need.
  • Web Design with Knowledge in Mind

    1. 1. Stuart French Daniels Sharpsmart WEB DESIGN WITH KNOWLEDGE IN MIND
    2. 2. Status: Enterprise 2.0 The mix is moving towards  Blogs, Wiki, RSS & Podcasts The Asia Pacific region showed  the greatest satisfaction in 2008 Successful use of Web 2.0 can  lead to structural and cultural  change dubbed “Enterprise 2.0”
    3. 3. Principle: Taking the Knowledge view doesn’t mean just catering for information transfer It means designing for the complex way humans learn & process knowledge… …together.
    4. 4. In your Face?  or Behind a Curtain? Two ways to Enable Collaboration
    5. 5. In your Face Open source Apache web server Developed with No central ownership  No single Project Manager Out did Sun, Microsoft & IBM
    6. 6. Behind the Curtains Clandestine Collaboration Google Search Amazon Profiles Passive, not active Benefit from others use
    7. 7. Distributed cognition - The power of the group Edwin Hutchins
    8. 8. Breaking the rules to stay on track
    9. 9. Bridge of the USS Palau Capt. (5 stories below) table Helm Flight‐deck Capt. Chart  chair table
    10. 10. Breaking the rules to stay on track
    11. 11. Efficiency or Effectiveness? Let spontaneous participation guide evolution
    12. 12. So what exactly is a complex environment? “In a complex system, you can never fully know the  outcome in advance” – Snowden
    13. 13. A taste of complexity 1. Stand up 2. Secretly choose two other people in the room 3. Keep the decision to yourself 4. Now position yourself equidistant from the  two people you have picked 5. One person change their targets & announce  publicly before rearranging again
    14. 14. A taste of complexity Questions: Could you predict where you needed to stand  beforehand? Could you predict the final shape of the group? How much did knowing everything about one  player’s goals help? How long would it take you to Plan & Lead everybody else to an equidistant position?
    15. 15. Influencing a complex environment Beware 20‐20 Hindsight Retrospective Coherence Develop an environment where people are comfortable  to make decisions without all the information Be slow to judge after the fact Learn how to look forward Rear‐view mirrors only work when the road is straight
    16. 16. Influencing a complex environment Do Safe‐Fail adoptions Let systems evolve and even die out consider starting outside the firewall Let the users decide what is more practical to  achieve their local business goals Have IT simply focus on the provisioning and  security aspects
    17. 17. Influencing a complex environment Don’t Insist on perfection Look for single solutions Try to control instead of encourage participation Rely totally on official modes of communication Expect people to never make a mistake to know everything
    18. 18. Principle: Taking the Knowledge view doesn’t mean just catering for information transfer It means designing for the complex way humans learn & process knowledge… …together.
    19. 19. For more on Culture, Wikis & Enterprise 2.0 Blog:  www.DeltaKnowledge.net Twitter: @DeltaKnowledge Email: sjfrenc@gmail.com
    20. 20. Thanks Google Maps McKinsey Group Flickr:Josh Bock Flickr:MSHennessy Cognition in the Wild – Edwin Hutchins Wiki use in Small to Medium Enterprises – Stuart French