The talks from KA Connect 2015 are now available online.
The talks from KA Connect 2015 are now available online.
Synthesis 5 is the latest release of our social intranet for architects and engineers.
We redesigned Search, renovated Profiles, and enhanced the Stream.
Take a look.
Our new Share Extension makes it easy to share photos and links on Synthesis Mobile from common iPhone apps like Camera and Safari.
This video provides step-by-step instructions for enabling the Share Extension as well as examples of using it to post a photo and share a link.
The Synthesis Mobile Share Extension is available in Synthesis Mobile 3.1 (the version currently in the App Store) and requires iOS 8.1 or higher.
With Synthesis Mobile 3 you can use the stream to stay connected with your firm’s news, updates, and ideas, compose and comment on posts, and share photos and links—all from the convenience of your iPhone.
In addition, Synthesis Mobile 3 aggregates the most important information about employees, contacts, projects, companies, and opportunities from Deltek Vision, Axomic OpenAsset, and Newforma Project Center.
Sound like a great way for your firm to start the new year?
Contact us to learn more about Synthesis, Knowledge Architecture’s social intranet for architecture and engineering firms.
Social Learning as a Transformative Strategy
Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner are world-renowned social learning theorists and practitioners. Etienne has authored and co-authored seminal books on social learning, including Cultivating Communities of Practice and Situated Learning, where the term “communities of practice” was coined. Beverly’s expertise is in the design and facilitation of learning in international contexts, including communities, networks, activities, and the use of technology.
Taking Knowledge to Market
Katrina (Kate) Pugh is Academic Director of the Columbia University Information and Knowledge Strategy program and president of AlignConsulting, specializing in business planning and knowledge-based transformation. Kate is general editor and co-author of Smarter Innovation and author of Sharing Hidden Know-How. She consults and lectures widely, and is a lead benchmarker with the Digital Workplace Group (formerly Intranet Benchmarking Forum).
Senior and emerging leaders from top AEC firms will share case studies, lessons learned, and inspiration on topics such as:
KA Connect 2015 will take place at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on May 5th and 6th, 2015. We’ll be announcing speakers and program details over the next several months.
Take advantage of Early Registration Pricing while we plan.
Photo by Guy Mendes
I’ve just finished reading “What Are People For?”, a collection of essays by Wendell Berry. I don’t always agree with everything Wendell Berry has to say, but I certainly feel like a wiser and better person for having reflected on his point of view.
One of my favorite essays in the book was “The Work of Local Culture”. There were two quotes in the essay about the responsibilities of a community which I thought were worth sharing with all of you, who are helping to build communities in your firms.
The first is about building a shared memory. The second is about building trust. And as you’ll see, the two are related.
“However small a landmark the old bucket is, it is not trivial. It is one of the signs by which I know my country and myself. And to me it is irresistibly suggestive in the way it collects leaves and other woodland shed dings as they fall through time. It collects stories, too, as they fall through time. It is irresistibly metaphorical. It is doing in a passive way what a human community must do actively and thoughtfully. A human community, too, must collect leaves and stories, and turn them to account. It must build soil, and build that memory of itself—in lore and story and song—that will be its culture. These two kinds of accumulations, of local soil and culture, are intimately related.”
“For example, when a community loses its memory, its members no longer know one another. How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they don’t know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help one another, and moreover they fear one another.”
Sometimes I think it is easy to get lost in engagement tactics and product features (how to build communities) and lose sight of the big picture (why communities matter).
Building shared memory and trust so that community members will help one another is a pretty good answer to the question of “Why do communities matter?” in my book.
It’s a great question, and not just for marketing directors and intranet managers. Most of the senior leaders of architecture and engineering firms we talk to at Knowledge Architecture want to share their knowledge on LinkedIn, the company blog, and intranet. However, they have two very valid concerns which need to be addressed:
1) How do I know what knowledge of mine is valuable?
2) Where will I find the time?
I gave a talk called “Short Passes: 5 Ways to Beat Content Anxiety” at KA Connect 2014 this past June.
One of the tips I shared came from Andy Ernsting, Brand Communications Leader at DLR Group. Andy shared the story of driving early adoption of SquareOne (their new intranet) at one of our client workshops last fall.
Andy’s tip speaks right to the heart of the two questions above—”what knowledge should I share?” and “where will I find the time?”
In the clip above I paraphrased what Andy told the participants in our workshop. Here’s the key part:
“We’re just asking you to comment. Once a week. We’re not necessarily asking you to write long posts. We’re not asking you to bare your soul, or at least not at first.
But what we want you to do, once a week, is just comment on something. Ask a pertinent question. Answer somebody’s question. Thank somebody for sharing what they’ve shared.”
First, asking a leader to comment once a week is totally achievable. You are giving them a specific and easy way to add value, something a time-pressed senior leader can surely appreciate.
Second, when you step back and think about knowledge sharing, a lot of times, the value is in the comments. Someone is asking for help because they don’t have an answer. A lot of your senior leaders have that knowledge and they want to share it—they’re just not quite sure how to get started.
Finally, once your leaders start sharing their knowledge in comments and see how easy and rewarding it is, many of them will go on to write the LinkedIn, blog, and intranet posts you wanted them to write in the first place.
Visit the KA Connect website to watch more talks, connect with our community, and learn more about our annual conference on knowledge management in the AEC industry.
We asked the panelists in the Trends in Web Communications Panel Discussion at KA Connect 2014 to describe the biggest myths about content marketing in AEC firms. Here’s what they had to say.
“The time it takes to get from committing yourself to offering original content and trying to make that content become meaningful and valuable to the time you’re going to see substantial business outcomes from it can be quite long.
Usually we tell clients it is a three-year window before you start to see the types of business outcomes that you really would like to get from a [content marketing] effort. You’re building something that’s long term and sustainable. I think that sometimes clients are looking for a quick win that’s somehow going to replace their trade show effort or something. They’re expecting that same kind of short-term marketing model, short-term outcome, and it’s just not really the way it works.”
Jason Mlicki, Rattleback
“I would say another major myth is about quality [of content]. In certain industries, AEC, probably law firms, the myth is that it’s got to be perfect, excellent quality and you can’t release it until it is.
And then in other industries, consumer products and other things, it can just be anything. ‘Just throw some content out there! It’ll get shared! It’ll go viral! Yaaah!’
So the myth is on both ends of the spectrum, but it’s about the quality of the content. The nature of your industry is going to dictate whether your myth is on one end or the other, but the reality is somewhere in the middle.
It should be of good quality, obviously, excellent quality, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be exactly probably what you’re thinking it needs to be.”
Bill Shander, Beehive Media
“I think it’s important that you don’t think of [content marketing] as sales. The more information you can give out to the community, the more you can share—that’s where the value is. You don’t want it to be too salesy.”
Jaron Rubenstein, Rubenstein Technology Group
“A couple of years ago, I put together a survey of firms that were marketing with content and the prerequisite was that they were actually using that model and were funding it and we were looking at outcomes.
The firm that was the most successful out of the entire audience was a firm whose core web objective was educating and informing. Their entire objective for their website was to educate and inform the clients they want to do business with.
The firms that were focused on generating leads (which in my mind is just the outcome and yield of quality content) had worse performance. It kind of comes down to your fundamental objective needs to be about this kind of open authenticity of, ‘We’re just trying to help.’
As long as you’re just trying to help, at some point, client activities start to happen. But the moment you start trying to accomplish some tangible business objective—you want leads, you want opportunities, you want revenue—the whole thing kind of just doesn’t work as well as it could.”
Jason Mlicki, Rattleback
Watch individual talks from our panelists and the full panel discussion on the KA Connect website:
One of the audience members at KA Connect 2014 asked the following question of the Orchestrating Digital Communities session panel:
“Would you define an intranet as a community? And if not, can you migrate an intranet to a community?”
After agreeing that that “Not all intranets are communities and not all communities are intranets,” the panel discussed the differences between analog communities, digital communities, and intranets.
One interesting outcome of the discussion was two ways to tell if intranets are communities or simply information repositories.
“You tap into existing groups that are already sharing knowledge, they’re already coming together, and you just give them digital tools. But they still keep meeting face-to-face.”
Christopher Parsons, Knowledge Architecture
“I put the definition of community slide up [above] in my presentation, so as long as you’re sort of satisfying those [criteria] in some form or fashion, I think one can sort of fashion a level of activity around that. But if it’s [simply] an intranet space to just post information—you have an HR site that lays out all the policies or whatever, that’s an informational repository as opposed to a community.”
Robert Yori, SOM
“People come for content and stay for community” was one of the five secrets Vanessa DiMauro of Leader Networks shared with us in her KA Connect 2014 talk, “Secrets of Great Communities and Community Managers.”
So what makes great online community content great?
Here are three key points from the clip above:
“The greatest way to get people to join the community is by having a knowledge asset, something that they really want to be the inspiration for why they join, why they say, ‘Hey, I’m going to check this out and I’m going to commit some time. I’m going to fill out that profile.’ ”
“The content in the community needs to be unique, something they can’t get elsewhere.”
“Most importantly, the best content for knowledge communities are those that are derivative of the user’s experiences. They’re there because they want to hear what their peers and experts have to say on a topic. Using the power to convene and creating those knowledge assets, as the derivative of their experience is very, very powerful.”
Watch Vanessa DiMauro’s full KA Connect 2014 Talk “Secrets of Great Communities and Community Managers” and/or the full panel discussion on “Orchestrating Digital Communities”.