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April 20, 2010


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Bertrand Duperrin

I totally agree.

Last month I found myself very uncomfortable when preparing my workshop for the E 2.0 forum in Paris. I was supposed to make some things about "best practices" and I realized the how the woerd seemed irrelevant to me.
Then I decided to say "things that work"...but I was not quite satisfied with that. So I chose "Things to be aware of to find what will work for you".

Best practices have to be replaced with context awareness...what seems much more relevant in our contexts.

Jordan Frank

I'll agree in principal - A best practice in E2.0 or KM is as elusive as a best business model - the "Walmart model" (locate big stores away from huge urban centers where KMart and similar were entrenched) has a lot to teach but, in principal, can only work once: for Walmart.

A best practice as a map for how to approach a particular process or problem is not necessarily reproducible. I'm involved in 5-10 different e2.0 deployments in any given week and its a rare day when someone asks me a "how" question and I can give a definitive answer.

Part of the problem is uniqueness of each environment and, somewhere at play is a "not invented here" situation where, despite all logic, any set of people are more comfortable with a process or practice if it emerges from their own thinking.

What consultants, vendors and thought leaders of any stripe may repeatably bring to the table is strategic thinking and framework approaches which tend to support the thinking process. Key starting points are strategies and frameworks for naming spaces or defining Tags in a KM or E2.0 system.

For example: when setting up a system, do you organize spaces by Business unit or by Market? If you are in Pharma, is each Market space as narrow as a disease (Psoriasis) or as wide as a therapeutic area (Dermatology, in general)? Simple choices can have a large impact on outcomes. I can't make these decisions for a customer. Rather, I can guide them through scenarios and help them come to their own insight on the right "practice."

I've done a series of talks on tagging strategies, the latest being this one at KMWorld's Taxonomy Boot Camp. The PDF of the presentation is provided by link at the end of this entry:


Hi –

I was roundly criticized and lambasted for flatly rejecting 'best practices' for KM in the 1990s at HP and other companies. It is why I conceived the notion of “Next Practices.” Its why we lead the global Next Practices Network for KM.

Next practices are KM methods, techniques, services and technologies applied in highly contextualized and future-focused settings to achieve the most favorable outcomes. Next practices are people focused, emergent and depend on variation, mutation, evolution and complexity to achieve stunning business results and breakthough innovation.

For E20 deployment it is futile and ludicrous to attempt deployments without a solid foundation of the social network structures that underlie and comprise all enterprise 2.0 activities. (Yeah, go ahead, deride and laugh now, just like you all did in the 1995, but mark my words, your will all starting projects with detailed network analysis very soon.)

Network analytics are the predominate Next Practices for KM and will be years to come.

Remember, the KM mantra – “It’s about connection not collection!” Or, if you prefer, the James Carville version, “It’s the network, stupid.”

Here are Next Practices Action/Research Clusters for KM.


bill  Ives

Thanks Bertrand, Jordan, and John for your extensive and thoughtful comments.


Hi BillIves,

Thanks a lot for the post, it is very informative and useful. But what do you think that make pest practise does not work with KM and it is deferent from other filed like software engineering. Thanks again for this wonderful blog.




It seems that people, especially those with either limited time or limited resources, which I guess is most managers these days, want to speed up the change management process a bit.

Well, social systems are very complex and require research, time, and most importantly understanding. Best practices, a term which I usually equate to large firms wishing to brand their research as somehow, well, "best," fail to take into account the uniqueness of each client.

True, there are good ways to do things from the experiences and trials of many organizations, but as you point out, it is necessary to think about this adoption trend.

I think we are at a pivotal time right now, with E2.0 adoption and geniune potential of changing the way organizations "do" collaboration, learning, and innovation. My hope is that the large firms recognize that they are only studying a certain aspect of the debate, and need to broaden understanding before prematurely calling their work "Best Practices." I would like to see more partnerships and collaborations between research outfits that have strengths in certain areas. What we need is a better model, and I am not sure anyone has the best approach out there...

I am actually trying to study some of this right now at E2.0 Pros, and would love to access those of which Forrester (or others) has researched. I want to refine the discussion a bit and get more qualitative understanding about company uniqueness and trials from which they learned.

Very best,

Jeff Wilfong

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