Monday, August 3, 2009

The Dark Matter of the Business Universe

To become or stay successful, businesses need to be able to see, understand, and nurture the conversations, transactions and relations they engage in - and how these interplay.

Businesses obviously record transactions today, and most businesses try to learn from them in order to find ways to improve how they manage and operate their business. But how much does the average business really know about the conversations taking place?

Most business conversations are transcient and passes by without a notice, only touching a those individuals who participate in the conversation. Why? Because the vast majority of business conversations either take place over phone or face-to-face. Most of the conversations that are captured are typically buried in email inboxes and almost impossible to access, analyze and learn anything from.

In a way, most business conversations are like dark matter. We know it must be there, but we can't see it and don't know what it is.

What is strange is that we seem comfortable with the fact that most business conversations are invisible and inaccessible to us (well, many people in middle management have build their positions on this fact). At least we have not reflected much over it, probably because it has always been like that. Until now.

Social software and the use of tools such as wikis, blogs and micro-blogs in a business context help to make potentially important business conversations visible and thereby possible to analyze and learn from. Social networks does the same thing with informal networks. The informal networks which are so important for most business can now be charted and analyzed. It is a can't-miss opportunity for organizations that want to know their business better and improve how it is managed and operated.

(This post was written and sent via my smartphone from the sun deck on the ferry from Swedish island Gotland to the Swedish mainland)


  1. Is there a friendfeed style CRM that integrates with corporate email?

  2. I think Knowledge Architecture Transformation could be a word for this, i.e. the change from a more rigid knowledge structure to a more agile, based on social networks - the gravity of the nodes rather than the formal work descriptions.

    Here's an inspiring link

  3. This is a fantastic description of what I call tacit knowledge in the organization. The key is to capture work as it happens, not as a seperate activity. SM captures tidbits and relationships - and people are very good at interpreting those, and hence it works much better than "knowledge management" of the past. Of course, I know the product that solves all these prblems too :-)

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. Thanks.

    I agree that conversations (which can contain knowledge or be used to build knowledge) need to be captured in the flow, not above.

    We should focus on making knowledge exchange between individuals easy as possible (including easy to structure and describe/tag) and then try to capture what is exchanged as it is exchanged.

    This contrasts with traditional KM where knowledge capture is a separate act and thus requires extra effort for all parties involved in the knowledge capture.