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Managing engagement

Ewen Le Borgne has an entertaining post on Communication, KM, monitoring, learning – The happy families of engagement. This humourous look at the various parties that try to support engagement in the organization is well worth the read. He discusses the three main branches of the family: Communication, Knowledge Management, and Monitoring & Evaluation. There’s even good old PKM:

The little brother PKM (personal knowledge management) was not taken seriously for a long time but he is really a whiz kid and has given a lot of people confidence that perhaps his branch of the family is better off betting on him, at least partly. He says that everyone of us can do much to improve the way we keep our expertise sharp and connect with akin spirits. To persuade his peeps, PKM often calls upon on his friends from social media and social networks (though these fellas are in demand by most family members mentioned above).

What all of these family members (disciplines) have in common is they are focused on some aspect of communicating, connecting and collaborating and they all think they have a unique perspective. But they share another commonality. They are all blind, as in the story of the blind men and the elephant.

“In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.”

You see, the elephant in the room is the Network. We are all examining how best to get work done in a networked economy, because the Internet has changed everything. This is most evident today in publishing and increasingly so in how we manage work without geographical boundaries. We are all learning how to work anew.

In a lot of cases, knowledge workers now own what these specialties used to provide. Individuals are becoming their own information curators and sharing widely, self-managed communities constantly spring up, and social media are breaking marketing channels. Perhaps the age of specialization is over in the Network Era.  As I’ve said before: Knowledge workers of the world, Collaborate, You have nothing to lose but your Managers! With efficient networks and powerful cognitive support tools, the Engagement Family may have to rethink its structure and hierarchy. You cannot manage engagement if no one needs to be managed.

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