Re: Knowledge Databases LO1961

Carol Anne Ogdin (
6 Jul 95 8:31:27 EDT

Michael McMaster, replying to LO1888 in LO1933, wrote--

> Carol Anne - thanks for the great stories. I know that there are
> successes - really wonderful successes - and I also know of great
> waste. The stories you shared point at some of the pathways to
> success. Sorry you don't like theory - or is it just mine?

Actually, I love's just that I'm so under-educated
that it is a stretch for me ("My brain's full...can I go home now?").
So, I have a preference for the practical. However, I can say from
my heart, much of what you post makes me stop and re-evaluate and
reconsider from another perspective...and for that I thank you.
So, recognizing that we come from opposite poles of experience
actually serves to help dislodge me from my "Well of Certainty."

> How I interpret your last statement - that all these are accomplished
> using Lotus Notes - is I think the key to what I am getting at. It's
> not the respository nor the content but the process. Groupware is
> going to sweep this field for a significant while because, it seems
> to me, it puts knowledge into a dynamic process rather than focussing
> on a database.

Now, having said that I respect our polar experiences, I find myself
compelled to confess perfect agreement! That's why I started Deep
Woods Technology three years ago. It's half "Group" and half "ware"
(although the industry seems to focus all its efforts on selling the
wares, the benefits are in the group). Management likes to think
they control *events*, but wise people know that events are merely
milestones in larger *processes.* "Roll out a new computer technology"
in an event; "Do what we have to, every day, to maximize the knowledge
transfer among employees" is a process. (There I go, getting practical
again! Sorry...I just can't curb the habit! :-) )

> And, even better, using groupware both demands that we work
> differently and provides the means for working differently. I think
> there's more gold in these hills for corporate culture change than
> most of our other development efforts.

Actually, I've just been putting finishing touches on the manuscript
we'll be using to give a tutorial on this subject at GroupWare '95 in
San Jose, California, in August. We'll be addressing an audience of
people who've adopted groupware, but don't quite know what to do with
it. They're largely technologists, and the technology-driven deploy-
ments of groupware have about a 50-50 chance of success. And the O.D.
folk, who might be expected to appreciate what you just said, are so
terrified of technology they're staying away in droves. So, our view
is we have to change the mind-set of the technologists to encompass
the cultural change need so they seek out competent help.

One of the projects we'll report on is the formation of a joint
venture within a client between HR/OD and MIS/IT. That new business
unit is called "Revolutionary Work Methods," and combines the requi-
site skills to achieve transformational results, supported where
appropriate with technology. Unfortunately, they've succumbed to the
usual politics and wrangling (shoemaker's children that they are),
and the new venture is dying for lack of successes they can point to
(they spent too much time "evaluating technologies" instead of solving
real business problems).

The Return on Investment study of Lotus Notes completed early this year
by IDG points out that Lotus Notes is successful when applied to a
specific business need, is only marginally successful when distributed
across-the-board in the organization, and is phenomenonally successful
when used to change the entire way the organization does business.
And the emergence of Microsoft's Exchange, and other major products
in the next year will make this a major tool of change agents for the
coming decade, at least.

Carol Anne Ogdin                "Great minds discuss ideas,
Deep Woods Technology            average minds discuss events,            small minds discuss people."
                                    --Adm. Hyman G. Rickover