Roddy Doyle Launching New Book


Roddy Doyle
will be launching Robert Brennan‘s book
in Wexford on 22nd March.

Ireland Standing Firm
and
Eamonn de Valera, a memoir

by Robert Brennan.
Editor Richard Rupp.

Published by UCD (University College Dublin Press) Dublin.

It is available for order via Amazon.co.uk.

Synopsis (from the amazon.co.uk site)
“Two memoirs written in the late 1950s by Robert Brennan, a republican activist in the early years of the twentieth century, journalist and close associate of Eamon de Valera. “Ireland Standing Firm” is a frank and pungent account of Robert Brennan’s time as Irish Minister (in effect Irish Ambassador) in Washington immediately before and during the World War II. Brennan provides an account of his efforts in defending Irish neutrality and his meetings with leading American officials and politicians, including Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the second memoir, Brennan describes his close association with Eamon de Valera from their first meeting in prison in 1917 until de Valera’s retirement as Taoiseach in 1959.”

Scout Sunday, 2002

Today is “Scout Sunday” at our church, a day on which we recognise the church’s support of the scouting units they charter. We also show off a little, to help remind the members of the church that the scouting movement’s alive and well in their community and is serving them (as well as providing a good program to the boys). We wear our uniforms to Mass (this is a Roman Catholic church) and I gave a short talk. I’m recording it here for any other scout leaders to use as a basis for a similar speech if they’d like. All I ask is that you drop me an email letting me know: email me


Good morning. My name is Steven Vore, I am a member of the Boy Scouts of America, Atlanta Area Council’s North Fulton district, and I am a member of St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas church sponsors Cub Scout Pack 69 and Boy Scout Troop 841, and for that we thank Father Al, all the priests, and the church leadership.

For over 90 years no, the Boy Scouts of America has taught young men to be first class citizins and has trained them to become leaders in all parts of our society. They have done this by teaching young men to “…do their best to do their duty to God and Country.” Please note that duty to God is the first goal in the Scout Oath. This is because we, as scouts, recognize that none of us can grow into the best kind of citizin without recognizing our obligation to God.

The scouting program here at St. Thomas Aquinas is a full one, with outings, camping, fun and adventure. The scouts also serve the parish. Last monday, the Cub Scout delivered over 700 items of food – that they collected themselves – to the St. Vincent dePaul society. Scouts can be seen as alter servers, in the choir groups, and in other parish programs. The new benches in the outdoor play area were constructed by scouts as part of an Eagle Scout project. And as you sing with our choir, the hymnals you hold in your hands are this year’s edition because scouts were here on Thanksgiving weekend, switching out the old books for new ones.

I could give you numbers and statistics about the influence of the Boy Scout movement on our society – the high percentage of government, military, and business leaders who have been Boy Scouts, and how many have earned the Eagle Scout rank – Boy Scouting’s highest award. I could tell you interesting facts; every man who’s walked on the moon was a Boy Scout.

But instead I’d like to show the influence of scouting right here, and recognize those of you who are now or have been at some time committed to Boy Scouting.

Would all those who have earned the Eagle Scout Rank – Boy Scouting’s highest award, please stand and remain standing.

(applause)

On the 23rd we will be celebrating the accomplishments of four new Eagles right here in our own parish.

Would all current Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scout leaders and Boy Scout leaders please stand?

(applause)

And would all those who have in the past been Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, and all those who were parents of Cub and Boy Scouts please stand.

(applause. at this point over half of the congregation was on their feet.)

You can see that the impact Scouting has on our community is widespread.

Thank you all.

(they sit)

Again I wish to express the troop’s and pack’s appreciation to the congregation for their support of scouting, and we look forward to future years of service to this church and our community. Thank You.

Steven Vore, 3-Feb-2002

Thanks to Peter Voorhees, author of a similar talk in a previous year, for allowing me to use his as a basis for mine.

Measuring Knowledge Workers

Last week I mentioned the importance of good “metrics” when managing Knowledge Workers. This week that came home to roost, as I had to provide input for yearly performance reviews on individuals, managers, and groups.

Since the beginning of our KM journey, we’ve been talking about the behaviors we want to encourage. Sharing of knowledge (creating solutions). Reusing others’ solutions. Updating existing solutions. In the western statistics-driven society, the question becomes how to best do that without doing more harm than good.

If you reward sharing by counting the number of solutions created, then people will just create lots – and we’ve found time and time again that results in “a big pile of useless junk” and a knowledgebase full of duplicate solutions. It didn’t matter that the answer was already there; folks felt they had to create their own copy. Needless to say, this makes updating information an impossible task.

If you just measure the number of times that employees reuse an existing solution (provided that your tools allow you to do so), they’ll be tempted to just click the button to get points… even if that solution didn’t help them. If they know the answer but don’t see it quickly enough in a knowledgebase, they’ll click anyway.

If editing of existing solutions becomes the primary metric then folks will be tempted to edit just for editing’s sake, to get into “a style contest.” We’ve seen cases where someone claimed that everything in the knowledge base was wrong – absolutely wrong. What he really meant, when we got down to it, was that the solutions weren’t written the way he would have written them.

We’ve settled on using a percentage, attempting to measure how often our knowledge workers use the knowledge effectively. We divide the number of times that any of the above activities are performed by the number of problems they solve. In a perfect world, every problem would either be in the knowledge base already (reuse it), be there but not quite be complete (update it), or be brand new (create a solution).

This week, as I said, we “ran the numbers” for the past few weeks and months on all the individuals. We also looked at groups as a whole and at their managers and coaches. How did they fare? As with anything done by humans, of course, there was a variety in the level of performance. I was pleased to see, though, that there were very few individuals who over-did one aspect of the job – in other words our lack of emphasis on any one of the above three areas worked.

By the way, please don’t think I’m saying that these numbers are the be-all and end-all of the yearly evaluation. They are just one part of our input to the managers; we also discuss attitude, non-measurable contributions, and other topics.

As I mentioned, we don’t just measure individuals, we look at groups as a whole and the managers & coaches. I’ll talk more about that in my next article.


* – We refer to the items of knowledge that are shared as
“solutions.” You might call them articles, documents, weblog posts, or something else entirely, it doesn’t really matter too much.

Knowledge Management Metrics

…plans to implement knowledge management often require prior exercises in changing corporate culture, moving employees from a gatekeeper culture, where knowledge is kept hidden and produced only when it can enhance the employee’s value, to a sharing culture, where knowledge sharing is encouraged and rewarded.
[A.Wohl]

This is absolutely true, without a doubt. The other half of my job (when I’m not being a Perl programmer) is bringing teams in my company into the Knowledge-Centered world. Over and over we see groups – managers of groups, really – take the “tool” approach. “It’s just a tool, we can give 20 minutes of training and they’ll be ready.”

Bzzzt. Wrong answer.

Just as installing Excel won’t make me an accountant, installing a KM application won’t give me the skills and culture that are needed to truely share knowledge. Neither will simply handing them a weblogging tool, I’m afraid.

For employees to really share their knowledge requires some “cultural” properties not present in most companies:

  • Everyone needs to realize that sharing of knowledge is not only of value for the company but also to themselves, and that sharing what you know is more important than the knowledge itself. In most situations, we’re valued for what we have and what we know. If you want to know how to work the frumple machine, you need to come ask me. That makes me feel important, valued. And I know that I won’t be fired because of that knowledge – if you let me go then the frumple will never work properly again.
  • They need to be recognized for the contribution their sharing makes. If I share some knowledge about frumpling with you, then you get a bonus because you’re more productive… I’m never going to share with you again. You got the brownie for my effort and I’m not gonna let myself get burnt by that twice.This almost always means that “metrics” need to change. If you’re in a helpdesk or call center, for example, and you’re measuring your people on the number of calls they’re taking, that’s what they’re going to do – take calls. If you want them to share what they’re learning from those calls, you need to find a way to measure them on it. Don’t, though, just fall into the trap of measuring them on the numer of “solutions” they capture. That’s a great way to fill a database with useless information. Defining metrics is one of the most difficult parts of the whole task.

More on this later. (Later came on 2002-01-26)

aside: J.Robb refers to the use of weblogging software for Knowledge Management as K-Logs.