Anecdote News – October 2007

Posted by  Daryl Cook —October 12, 2007
Filed in News

Welcome to the October 2007 edition of the Anecdote newsletter. In this edition we have:

  • Book review: Wikinomics
  • Technique: Most Significant Change
  • What we’re up to: Our engagements and upcoming events
  • Productivity Tip: Rough sketching
  • Breaking News: Steve Denning book launch

We hope you really enjoy reading it. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your comments, insights or feedback and feel free to pass this email on to your colleagues.

Regards — the Anecdote team

Books we’re reading…wikinomics

Wikinomics How mass collaboration changes everything.

by Donald Tapscott and Anthony Williams

— Review by Robyn Ciuro

I recently listened to a recorded version of ‘Wikinomics’ while I was travelling about in my car. Listening is probably not the best way to ‘read’ a work of this length. For one thing, it’s really hard to take good notes while you’ve got both hands on the steering wheel. But you can get a reasonable overview of what the authors are trying to say.

I had previously listened to Thomas Friedman’s book – ‘The World is Flat’, which I believe provided a deeper analysis of the issues and was a little stronger on theory. Indeed, I reached Wikinomics Disc Four of Ten before I began to feel I was getting some content of value.

The early reading was almost over the top in its unbridled enthusiasm for collaborative ways of working and the rise of social networking tools in a global market.

“ … this may be the birth of a new era, perhaps even a golden one, on par with the Italian renaissance, or the rise of Athenian democracy.”

Tapscott and Wiliams identify and develop four major trends at work in the 21st century.

  1. Openness
  2. Peer Production (think Linux and Wikipedia)
  3. Sharing
  4. Acting globally

To work in this environment means that not only is top-down management giving way to horizontal collaboration but traditional boundaries impacting secrecy and patents are also disappearing. I particularly liked the discussion about websites versus vibrant communities.

” … 2006 was the year when the programmable web eclipsed the static web every time: Flickr beat Webshots; Wikipedia beat Britannica; Blogger beat CNN; Epinions beat Consumer-reports; Upcoming beat Evite; Google Maps beat MapQuest; MySpace beat Friendster; and Craigslist beat Monster.”

“What was different? The losers launched web sites, the winners launched vibrant communities. The losers built walled gardens. The winners build public squares. The losers innovated internally. The winners innovated with their users. The losers jealously guarded their data and software interfaces. The winners shared them with everyone.”

There’s room for debate there but there is no denying the point Tapscott and Williams are trying to make. Engage your users or lose out.

Wikinomics is a good place to begin building an understanding of the technological changes driving today’s economy. It does present a somewhat oversimplified and not particularly critical view of the wonders of globalisation. And if you don’t know what people are talking about when Web 2.0 enters the conversation then this is a good start.

The best value came in the final disc where the authors discuss the challenge of introducing collaborative, dynamic ways of doing things into workplaces so that open collaboration can flourish.

And in the spirit of practising what they preach the authors end with an invitation for readers (and listeners) to participate in editing the book via their wiki at

Techniques we’re using …

Most Significant Change

Most Significant Change (MSC) is useful for assessing the impact of hard to measure initiatives such as culture change, leadership training, aspects of change management, learning intiatives and management development. Anecdote has used this technique in these areas for IBM Australia, AstraZeneca and ANZ Bank.

”Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

When Einstein uttered these words little did he know that he was stating the case for techniques like Most Significant Change.

MSC is a simple process for helping senior decision-makers develop a gut feel for what an initiative has achieved. It’s not a replacement for gathering and analysing the numbers. Rather is a supplemental evaluation that helps to systematically develop decision-makers intuitive knowledge. And research shows that many of the decisions we make are based on our judgements and intuitive, so it’s a part of our knowledge we mustn’t ignore.

There is a brief explanation about how MSC works on our blog.

Are you interested in learning the technique and are in a position, and have a need, to practice MSC? That is, you are often called on to evaluate programs and initiatives? Anecdote can help you. We’ve developed a unique service to run a one-week MSC pilot project in your organisation. After a full week of instruction, mentoring and feedback, you will have the confidence and knowledge to apply this powerful technique. If you would like to know more about running an MSC Pilot, please send an email to:

What we’re up to …

Consulting Engagements and Projects:

  • Knowledge strategy program and regional deployment for government authority
  • Establishing communities of practice within a global defence and aerospace company
  • Ongoing leadership program for a multinational pharmaceuticals company
  • Leadership development for defence organisation
  • Fostering communities of practice within a global engineering company

Upcoming Events that we’re running or attending:

16-18 October – Intelligence 2007, Hobart. Shawn presenting on knowledge retention

22 October – Knowledge strategy summit, Canberra

23-24 October – ActKM Conference, Canberra. Shawn presenting the after dinner speech

25 October – Seminar with visiting guest speaker Patrick Lambe. Open invite here.

30 October – Seminar for the Victorian State Library – Practical business narrative by Shawn

01-02 November – Australian Corporate Lawyers Association conference, Shawn is a guest speaker talking about CoP

Productivity tips …

Partly because we’re busy, but also as part of our quest for continuous learning and improvement, here at Anecdote, we’re always looking for ways to improve our own personal productivity. We thought that we’d share a few tips and tricks …

The power of the rough sketch is a great service for making rough sketches and recording your voice over explaining the sketch as you draw it.

Here are a couple we’ve done.

Breaking News …

We wanted to alert you to an fabulous new book by Stephen Denning. It’s called The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative. It’s published by Jossey-Bass.

The book has already received great reviews for several prominent people including Reed Hastings (CEO of NetFlix), from best selling leadership author, Jim Kouzes. The Financial Times said in its review (August 29): “If business leaders do not immediately grasp the vital insights offered by this book, both they and their organisations are doomed.”

Shawn’s read the first chapter and loves what he read.

To celebrate the launch, we’ve joined with Stephen and his colleagues, including Larry Prusak, Chip Heath, Jim Kouzes, Rob Cross, Seth Kahan, Richard Stone, Dave Zinger, Annette Simmons, Katalina Groh, Madelyn Blair, Katharine Hansen, Svend-Erik Engh, Randy Dipner, Daniele Chauvel, Connie Ingram and Stan Garfield – in offering to purchasers of the book dozens of free tools, papers, videos and other bonus items on leadership, storytelling and knowledge management at no additional cost to you. is offering. They will be distributed from his web-site beginning 12.01am GMT Monday October 15:

Some of the gifts are in limited quantities. Get them while they last.


About  Daryl Cook

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