welcome to AcKnowledge Consulting

This is the blog site of AcKnowledge Consulting and Keith De La Rue.

Main focus: Optimising Sales Force efficiency by effectively managing and delivering the knowledge required to meet customer demands.
How this is done: By building a managed knowledge transfer toolkit.

Picture the Future: Australia

Keith March 23rd, 2010

Yesterday, on World Water Day, Siemens delivered a presentation outlining their technology blueprint for a cleaner, greener Australia.  Using Siemens technologies in the fields of water and energy, they have put together a “technology blueprint for energy and water sustainability in Australia by 2030.” Impressive stuff.  Most impressively, they claim that even: “current available technology, with some fuel switching, could reduce the emissions from the electricity sector by up to 30 percent”.  Over the period 2000 to 2050, Australia’s population is expected to grow by 75%. The challenge is to reduce emissions over the same time period by 60%. Siemens claim that this can be done with the right mix of technologies, and without purchasing CO2 certificates from offshore.

Now if we could only get governments to pay some real attention to this…

Footprints

The issues

There are four Mega-trends in the world at the moment: Climate change, Demographic change, Urbanisation and Globalisation.  Energy is linked to all four, and water plays a role in two of the four.

Although we definitely have a number of crises on our hands in Australia, we sometimes forget that we are amazingly well-off compared to many parts of the world – for now.  We have plenty of water in Australia; it’s just not all in the right places.  We have excellent access to all known forms of energy; we are currently relying too much on coal & oil, the sources with the highest per capita emissions.  Our immediate survival is not under threat.  However, the time to act is now – before things get worse.  The “do nothing” option means that we can expect an increase in emissions of 50% over the same 50 year period.

We also often tend to see only the costs of the solutions. We need to remember that new technologies also create more jobs. There are sound economic reasons for changing the game. However, “changing our view of the future can be unsettling”. It would be much better for our economy to invest in technology rather than buying in offshore CO2 certificates!

What kind of future do you want?

Siemens have applied their “Picture the Future” innovation approach to these issues; this approach is:

Concept > Research > Scenario >Validation >Picture

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Engage, Energise, Empower

Keith March 15th, 2010

For some time I have been working with a team of highly-skilled consultants in a business consultancy group called “The 3e Factor”.  A new website for the group has just gone live. 

The 3e Factor is an innovative management consultancy specialising in business transformation, leadership development, and recruitment services, with its head office in Melbourne, Australia. Our focus is: Transforming Strategic Thinking into Reality by Developing Corporate Capability.

Have a look at the site, and browse the capabilities of the consultants working with the group.

Please feel free to contact me or The 3e Factor  if you would like to know more.

The Business Adventure

Keith March 9th, 2010

Adventures are not adventures if there isn’t a degree of danger and uncertainty about them. – Ewan McGregor

Adventure

While in Blackwood this weekend, we drove into Trentham for a visit.

There was a group of motorcyclists in town, and I struck up a conversation with one (who was riding a very nice touring BMW). He was preparing to take part in the “2010 Long Ride”, an event to raise funds for prostate cancer research in Australia, in which he and others will be riding from Melbourne to Darwin via New South Wales and Queensland – a distance of over 4,000 km.

I talked about my 1980 trip across the Nullarbor from Melbourne to Karratha, WA. On this trip, I travelled 5,000 km in six days on a GSX 750 Suzuki (and home again at a slightly slower rate).

Crossing the Nullarbor

This put me in mind of “Long Way Round” – Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s epic 2004 motorcycle ride across Europe, Russia and North America. I have recently watched this on DVD, and have now just started reading the book. Inspiring stuff!

Thinking about this on the way home, I also thought about some of the other things I had heard about adventuring from Nick Farr at a recent CPX meeting.

Climbing Everest is pretty serious stuff. Here are some of the thoughts that I tweeted from Nick’s presentation:

  • The number of deaths on Everest is 8% of the number of summiteers.
  • A dream becomes a goal when you start actively planning it.
  • Success requires taking risks.
  • Failure teaches that taking risks is crucial.
  • Failure provides an experience you can’t buy.

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Who are you?

Keith February 23rd, 2010

There was some recent discussion at actKM about automated online profiling systems.  These systems trawl the net collecting information on people by name, and put together a “profile” of the person.  This can have interesting results.  A single person can end up with multiple disconnected profiles; or many people with similar names may find themselves merged into a single profile.

Some of these systems allow you to take control of your profile, and edit and update it.  The business models used by these sites can also be interesting.  Some are free, and offer premium services for a fee.  Some only allow you to take control of your profile for a certain fee. The information collated on the site may include details that are correct or incorrect; and the information may be current or out of date.

One that I have registered with is ZoomInfo, which allows me to log in and take control of my profile free of charge. I have been able to clean up the information there – although since my first clean-up, a heap more out-of-date info has been added, and a second profile created based on a mere mention of my name on another site with a link to a blog post here.  I have been able to easily merge this in to my existing profile. (Although some of the changes I made today may still take some time to appear on the site!) The site also keeps cached copy of the content that they found my name in – some of which is now up to four years old, and no longer exists at the original site. It seems that although I can edit my profile, I have no control over what out-of-date info they store about me in their cache. 

This has mostly been a positive experience, although I don’t remember seeing a lot of security to stop anyone else (whether of the same name or not) taking control of a profile.

I did once have a similar experience with a site called “Spock”, which seems to now have been subsumed into “Intelius“, purporting to be “The world’s largest and most accurate public record source.”  Although this does still provide links to some relevant sites on the search results, it no longer gives me any control over a profile, and all of the  “more detail” links refer to a name only vaguely like mine, and all results are within the USA. This seems to me to be a rather limited view of “the world” – as I understand it, the USA only accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population (according to the US Census Bureau).  However, for those in the USA, the sort of information stored here can supposedly include criminal records and “background checks”, which you have no apparent control over. 

This trend highlights the great benefit of occasionally searching for your own name on the net – that’s how I found out about ZoomInfo. It’s worth occasionally finding out what others are saying about you online. However, this is easy for someone with a name like mine – a Scottish first name and a French surname. So far as I know, I am still the only “Keith De La Rue” on the net. I pity all the “John Smiths” out there, and those with names of similar popularity of other ethnicities. (The secret is to choose your parents wisely – or change your name!) 

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Expect the unexpected

Keith January 21st, 2010

I was tweeting from a presentation on storytelling on Tuesday.  Shawn Callahan of Anecdote led the session, and listed the key elements of an effective story:

  • Simple – It doesn’t have to be sophisticated – you hear it once and you get it.
  • Unexpected – It throws you a curve ball that you weren’t expecting.
  • Concrete – It has names and actual events.
  • Credible – It sound real.
  • Emotional – It gets you in the gut – impactful stories evoke at least one strong emotion.
  • Transport – It transports you to where the story took place - you can feel the experience.
  • Human – It happens with real people.

I have quoted Charles Savage here before: “Innovation is like humour – it occurs at the intersection of the expected and the unexpected.”  The same principle applies to storytelling. 

One fantastic little story I heard a while ago that embodies these principles is a vignette in Bill Bryson’s book In a Sunburned Country:

In the 1950s a friend of Catherine’s moved with her young family into a house next door to a vacant lot. One day a construction crew turned up to build a house on the lot. Catherine’s friend had a four-year-old daughter who naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door. 

She hung around on the margins and eventually the construction workers adopted her as a kind of mascot. They chatted to her and gave her little jobs to do and at the end of the week presented her with a little pay packet containing a shiny new half crown. 

She took this home to her mother, who made all the appropriate cooings of admiration and suggested that they take it to the bank next morning to deposit it in her account. 

When they went to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she had come by her own pay packet. 

‘I’ve been building a house this week,’ she replied proudly. 

‘Goodness!’ said the teller. ‘And will you be building a house next week too?’ 

The little girl answered: ‘I will; if we ever get the f***ing bricks.’

Realising Our BroadBand Future

Keith December 7th, 2009

Can’t believe I forgot to post to the blog for all of November!  At least I have something new to post now…

The Government is hosting the “Realising Our BroadBand Future” forum on 10 and 11 Dec, to map the applications and business models that will thrive in Australia’s high speed broadband future.

Thanks to John Wells and co at CivicTEC, I am facilitating a parallel session in Melbourne that will generate some contributions to the discussion.  The session is at 8:30 to 12:00 next Thursday 10 Dec. Deloitte are very kindly hosting us at 550 Bourke St. This is a free session, but you must register. See the details, and click through to register here.

We’re talking about our connected future. This isn’t about technology, it’s about how we can all use it – to connect communities, build businesses, improve our education and health systems, create and innovate, improve our quality of life for all.  For those of you wishing to come along, please register as quickly as you can, as there are limited places available!  Read more in the Press Release.

I have circulated this to various networks in Melbourne – social media people, creative people, trampoline attendees, geeks, telecoms consultants and knowledge managers.  There should be some diverse points of view.  If you can’t make it, follow us on Twitter at #bbfmel.

Trampoline presentation

Keith October 24th, 2009

I’ll be off to trampoline in just a few hours, with the intention of doing a presentation on “The Idea Monopoly?” I have blogged on this topic before, and you can see the slide pack on SlideShare here.

The topic of organisational change – and getting people more involved in it – is something I have been becoming quite passionate about for a while now.  This presentation at trampoline will be the first time I have presented on the topic. I intend to develop this work, and its linking themes, in time to come.  I am currently playing with a new term for this – “orgsourcing”. You heard it first here!

Going to KM World?

Keith October 6th, 2009

The nice people at KM World offered me a free invitation to attend this year’s conference (17 to 19 November, in San Jose, California) in return for posting here about a discount offer for readers of this blog.  They have very kindly told me that this site is one of : “the top blogs covering knowledge management and knowledge workers”.

Unfortunately, I can’t really take them up on the offer to attend – not unless someone is willing to sponsor me for the travel and accommodation costs, etc – but you, dear reader, can still take advantage of the discount offer.  You get a $200 discount on each full-conference pass, and you can also sign up for a free expo pass, all by clicking through to the discount offer.

They did send me this some time ago, and I am not sure if there is a cut-off date for the discount, so you may need to be quick.

So now you can’t say that I never do anything for you…

:-)

Life Explained

Keith September 30th, 2009

OK, so it’s not original – but I rather like it. Received by email from my son:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village. A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish, and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long.” they answered in unison.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks, and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that, you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends…”

And the moral of this story is: know where you’re going in life – you may already be there!

Creativity and Constraint

Keith September 2nd, 2009

At yesterday’s Creative Performance Exchange meeting, we held an “unconference” session.  People nominated to present twenty minute “mini-sessions” on a range of topics at one of three tables, and the rest of us chose to sit in on whichever topic was of interest.  We cycled through the mini-sessions three times, so there were nine in total.  Great fun, and a great way to spark new ideas and innovation.

One of the sessions I attended was led by Don Miller, of the Melbourne Centre for Ideas. Don briefly spoke about the comparison between western ideas of freedom, and how “total” freedom can actually limit creativity. (My paraphrase.) The point is – when we are given some form of constraint, we can often become more creative.  Some creative fields come with built-in constraints.   For example, an architect will usually be constrained by the available land area, and by design restrictions imposed by materials, technology, planning regulations, etc.  When we start to test imposed limits, we can also frequently break new creative ground.

To my mind, a classic case of this is the design of the Sydney Opera House.  When Jørn Utzon first drafted his designs for the famous “sails”, it was said that it would be impossible to build with the concrete technology available at the time. The design was changed during the development process, yet it is unlikely that the current globally-recognised design would have ever been built if the construction limitations had not been pushed as they were.

Don led us in a brief exercise to illustrate creativity under constraint. We were asked to spend 10 minutes writing – on whatever topic we chose – with the constraint that every word must include the letter ‘e’.  We were also asked to write at least six lines of text. 

Given that ‘e’ is the most common letter in the English language, this is not as severe a constraint as restricting other letters, yet still enough of a constraint to encourage some creativity! For one thing, it completely rules out the conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but’, forcing some creative use of punctuation to replace them.  (Try it for yourself.)

At the end of the session , we all read out our pieces.  The seven or so of us at the table were all able to complete the task, with a very varied set of results.  One was a “meta-text” – a piece about the task itself.  For reference, here’s my piece:

Wearily, Eve went westerly.  She previously called her boyfriend, when her vehicle expired. He delayed. She waited; she waited. Darkness fell. Remoteness, loneliness grew. She called repeatedly – response lacked. Heavily, she trudged ahead, seeking help.

Lightness somewhere, beyond the trees. Her prayers went heavenward; her feet westward.

Where’s Edward?

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