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  • Zack Adams 2:54 pm on March 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: internet, knowledge management,   

    A Brief Update 

    My internship at SFCG continues without earth-shattering developments (though I get to use my boss’ office while she’s in Armenia: fast computer and a window over Dupont Circle!).  The Knowledge Management project is proving even more difficult than I first imagined.  As I mentioned in previous posts, KM tries to deal with implicit and explicit knowledge.  Explicit knowledge is supposed to be the easy one to collect and disseminate.  While it is certainly easier, I am discovering that the great global equalizer of the internet is not quite as ubiquitous as I’d thought.  My director recently returned from Sierra Leone to  report on the utter snailpace bandwidth available at country offices in sub-Saharan Africa (where most SFCG country offices are located).  Since my thinking had been that the internet was the tool to address at least some of our KM issues, this makes me take a step back and reevaluate my assumptions about access.  It seems that we can purchase greater bandwidth, but the next greater speed comes at four times the cost.  As a cash-strapped NGO, can we justify this extra expense?  Will it improve our efficiency or outcomes enough to offset the cost?  These are, of course, salient and persistent questions for any organization’s (for-profit or not) decision-making bodies.  In the meantime, I will do some brainstorming and see what ideas I can generate…

    • fblume 4:25 pm on March 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      What’s the status with mobile phones? I know in some places where broadband is prohibitive, they use smart phones.

  • Zack Adams 6:01 pm on February 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: knowledge management, lingua franca, wiki   


    As the weeks have continued on at SFCG, I have become more aware of my broken language skills in (what another intern termed) “organizationspeak.” This is a made up phrase, I think, but it captures well the phenomenon. I hope it doesn’t hearken too literally to Orwell’s Brave New World. When sitting in meetings with my colleagues, I found initially that the plethora of English words carried little meaning to me. Part of it is my nascent familiarity with the organizational concept on which I’m working: knowledge management. That phrase alone carried almost no meaning to me initially. From what I gather, however, it is about trying to nurture the enumeration and sharing of knowledge across the organization. But even this carries little weight with me. What knowledge? I struggle to link the rhetoric to the real world.

    With a rudimentary notion of the task at hand, I dived into the meeting with a suggestion for a real end product of the whole knowledge management project. I was proud of my gumption. On the “action plan,” someone had typed “wiki.” I drew everyone’s attention to it. Developing a wiki for the organization would be a simple, relatively cheap task that allows for tagging and cross-referencing articles on information from anyone. It’s decentralized and simple to use so the headquarters personnel are not the only ones with the keys to it. It’s adaptable and can incorporate multimedia aspects if necessary. I pointed all these aspects out as necessary components of a knowledge management plan. Maybe, I said, a wiki is not the answer to all the problems, but it could be a major component of an end product. The silence and stares caused a bead of sweat to form across my brow.

    I’m not entirely sure if I did something wrong, or if I completely misinterpreted the project or problem. It was awkward though. I tried. Perhaps it has something to do with my use of normal English, rather than organizationspeak.

    • Marie SPaulding 6:23 pm on February 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply


      Keep using that normal English! Someone needs to protect our common language!


    • FB 3:13 pm on February 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think they were speechless because you had a great insight. Or, you stated the obvious (to them). But I’ll bet it’s the former rather than the latter. And remember, it’s good to be bilingual!

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