I first became a fan of Paula Scher when I saw her speak at SFMOMA in 2006. Since then I have seen her in multiple interviews and featured in the movie Helvetica. I admire her single-minded focus on doing exceptional work, both inside and outside of Pentagram. Mostly, it is always striking to me how much fun she seemed to be having making mischievous jokes and getting away with it.
What I did not understand about Paula Scher (until I watched the TED talk above) is that she often feels stifled by her own success. Her talk is built around “Why being serious is hard,” an essay by Russell Baker, formerly of the New York Times. In fact, she believes that she has only had four moments of being child-like in her work, attacking projects with the zeal of adolescence. This is what she defines as her serious work.
She identifies the balance of her career as periods of solemnity. During her solemn periods she produced quality work which was absent the playful, rebellious, and gambling spirit that marked her serious times.
Which begs the question about your work right now – Are you being serious or solemn?
The last six months of founding Knowledge Architecture have been a serious period for me. Moving from an internal leadership role inside a firm to building a consulting practice is forcing me to re-examine much which made me successful in the past. Instead of having the luxury of time to prove ideas, I have to communicate powerfully and succinctly. I don’t get to do the work I love if I cannot get a potential client or partner to quickly understand what I can see so clearly in my head. Put quite simply, building a website, writing contracts, and giving presentations sometimes four or five times a day has forced me to definitively answer the question – “what exactly is it that I do and why should anyone else care?”
Perhaps the most important lesson that I have extracted is that too often we (yes, I’m going to hide behind the collective we) have spent the last several years designing, implementing, and integrating systems without paying attention to the bigger questions. How do we build? How do we learn? How do we practice?
Over the next six months I’m going to be engaging as many people as possible in building an AEC knowledge management tribe. I hope that we can collectively begin to answer some of the questions above. I believe that we’ll have to ask more questions. Do you want to get serious with me? Here are some ways that you can:
#1 – Attend an “Knowledge-Driven Architecture” event
Between now and the new year I’ll be giving a talk called “Knowledge-Driven Architecture” in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. Not all locations and dates are finalized, so make sure to sign up for our mailing list or visit our website to stay informed of upcoming events.
#2 – Follow our upcoming series of posts on applied knowledge management
The first third of “Knowledge –Driven Architecture” is essentially knowledge management theory 101. The second two-thirds is a walk through a series of proven, actionable knowledge management strategies which you can use in your firm. Thanks to Ian for helping me frame this as “applied knowledge management.”
Over the next six months I’ll be blogging about a new applied knowledge management strategy roughly every other week. Subscribe using a RSS aggregator like Google Reader so that you don’t miss a post.
#3 – Write a guest post for the Knowledge Architecture blog
Last month Chris Marolf wrote our inaugural guest post on the tangible benefits of knowledge management in the AEC industry.
Later this month, Ian Howell of Newforma and I will begin a blog-to-blog dialog around how project information management fits into the larger context of knowledge management. It should be a great conversation. In the meantime, go check out the Newforma blog and Ian’s series on IPD.
If you have ideas for a guest post or series please contact me.
#4 – Attend, speak and/or sponsor the KA Connect 2010 conference
Knowledge Architecture will be hosting KA Connect™ 2010, a knowledge management conference for the AEC Industry, in Chicago at the end of March, 2010.
Thought leaders from firms of all sizes, software companies, and management consultancies will come together over two days to share best practices, case studies, new technology, and innovative processes regarding knowledge management.
You can learn more about the conference by reading “KA Connect – The time has come for a Knowledge Management Tribe in the AEC Industry” on our blog. We will be launching a conference website in early November, 2009 with program, speaker, sponsor, venue, and attendee details.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in speaking, attending and/or sponsoring KA Connect 2010.