26 February 2012

TFPL Connect: KIM for social responsibility

TFPL Connect is one of those events that I am always quick to book. It may be more uneven in quality than LIKE but it is never poor, there are only a few each year, they are always oversubscribed and I always enjoy them.

One of the things that I like about TFPL Connect is that the sessions usually look at business issues and how Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) can help to address those, i.e. they are looking for solutions to problems, whereas a lot of the KIM debate is based on techniques and technologies, i.e. solutions looking for a problem to solve.

And that was the case this time where we looked at the needs of companies that want to take a social perspective of what they do.

First up was Stuart Jackson, Actis, a private equity fund with the mantra "The Positive Power of Capital" (PPC).

Broadly speaking this means that they try to do social good with the investments they make, as well as turning a profit.

Actis use their intranet to explain PPC to their employees.

TED-like videos have proven to be the most effective for delivering education content.

Getting people to blog has been difficult (an experience that I've shared at Logica) due to the cultural change required, sharing is not just OK it is expected.

There has been good use of Speed Dating to match employees with skills to offer with to social organisations looking for help. This enables the people to match their attitudes and aspirations too.

Our second speaker was Nick Temple of Social Enterprise UK who gave us insights in to how social businesses operate.

These are for-profit organisations (i.e. not charities) but they serve a social purpose and direct their profits to this.

They get their income from trade rather than donations. Big Issue is probably the most obvious example.

Social Enterprises tend to be small and local and networking with similar organisations is an intrinsic part of the way that they operate, either to work together on specific projects or to take learning from one project to another.

After a brief Q&A session we were asked to consider the question "what is the question?" on our tables. I'm not sure that everybody understood the subtleties of that question (i.e. they did not agree with me on it!)  but the questions that came from our table were, What can we do to help (e.g. what useful skills do we have)?, What help is needed? and Who defines what a social objective is?

After the main session was the equally important networking that effortlessly filled the next hour and a half or so during which bodies are kept going with wine and peanuts.

KM is all about conversations and the room was full of them. I had many with lots of different people as we all moved professionally around the room.

Gradually the people drifted away with me one of the very last to leave, as usual, due to having an easy journey home.

This journey was made even easier by the re-opening that day of Blackfriars tube station that had been closed for a couple of years for substantial rebuilding. The news did not seem to have spread very far and the station was almost empty. A refreshingly quiet end to stimulating evening.

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