Posted by James Mullan in Running on Monday, 20 May 2013
A couple of weekends ago I took part in the Larkfield 10k. This was my first race since the Brighton Marathon so I wasn't expecting to set any PB's. I had in my mind a time of under 50 minutes and would have been happy if I'd have run 49:59.
As it was I ran a bit faster then that, but before I tell you my time a bit about the race itself. This is the fourth time I've run this race having run it in 2009 when I completed a slightly different course in 45:38, 2011 when they changed the course and I ran a time of 48:23 and last year when I completed the 10k in 44:58 (only the second time I've ever run a sub 45 minute 10k). The race starts at the East Malling Research centre, the course then winds it way quite nicely through some of the outlining villages before finishing in the Research Centre.
So back to this years race, first off I made the mistake of wearing a long sleeved top, thinking that it looked a bit chilly. It wasn't once we got started, I also think I started too slowly completing the first 5k in 24:44, but then magically I managed to run a negative second 1/2 of the race coming in at 48:44 and exactly 24 minutes for the second 5k.
I was quite pleased with that result given that it was only 3 weeks since the Brighton Marathon. I definitely need to work on my speed though so will be incorporating some speed sessions into my training from this point forward.
One final thing, what is it with runners who sprint for about 30 seconds and then slow right down again, there were several of these types of runners at Larkfield and I'm not sure what it achieves? Especially as I passed all of them during the course of the 10k route.
Last year I was lucky enough to attend the PLC Knowledge Management forum for free, this year my firm was happy to pay for me to attend as there were some useful sounding sessions. I found the event last year really interesting and was looking forward to a similar event this year especially as they had retained the services of Katharine Ward of Vodafone as Chair of the event.
The day itself was divided into a series of themes with a mixture of plenary (everyone attended) and interactive sessions. Before our first themed session we had a very interesting presentation from Carol Aldridge of Burges Salmon. Carol looked at the future of Knowledge Management and what it would look like in 2020. There were 3 main takeaways from her presentation, which were:
- We need to be enhancing how lawyers can deliver more for less
- We to make more effective use of collaborative tools in our new technological age
- We need to ensure that we gain buy in from senior management. This ensures that we remain relevant
After Carol's opening presentation we moved on to the first theme of the day, which was Technology. Now I was quite excited about the first presentation of this theme which was called "Managing media channels to deliver content: capture knowledge and absorb and distribute" Sadly I was going to be disappointed, although now the event is over looking at the presentation title I can see what they were trying to achieve.
The session started with an introduction to some of the formal and informal social media tools we currently use and then asked the question how do we share knowledge with clients using these types of tools. Now it would have been really interesting to have heard some ideas about how we could do this. Unfortunately we were then shown a series of what I'm going to call "portals" built using software from the search engine giant Autonomy and populated with RSS feeds and other content. Now 10 years ago this might have been groundbreaking but to me it just looked like a web page with RSS content on it supported by a very good search engine. I think I said on Twitter that social media sessions can be quite difficult to get right and sadly this one didn't quite cut it.
The next session definitely didn't disappoint and again it was on a subject I'm quite interested in, the Cloud. In the session Mark Collins "Expertise Enablement Officer" (you have to love that job title) at Zurich provided a really useful introduction to what the Cloud is, the different types of Cloud and some of the benefits of using the Cloud. I think most Law Firms are aware of what the Cloud is, but it seems that it has only been in recent years that they've become more positive about the potential uses for the cloud. Perhaps the most interesting part of Mark's presentation was around some of the issues associated with the Cloud and how these can be mitigated. These risks include Data Protection including issues with data centres being situated outside of the EU; security, specifically ISO 27001, which is an information security management systems standard and perhaps most significantly a lack of understanding around what some of the issues are. Of course there are ways to mitigate the risks with using the cloud, these include picking your cloud model and supplier carefully. Out of all the sessions delivered during the day this was certainly the most practical and Mark delivered what is quite a technical subject in a very engaging manner.
The next session was delivered by Katharine Ward and whilst it was interesting it was a bit of a rehash of the presentation she delivered at last years forum so I'm not going to write anything further about it. As you can read my notes from last years Knowledge Management Forum. Following Katharine we heard from Helen Barker (Professional Support Lawyer at BAE Systems PLC) who described some of the knowledge systems they used at BAE Systems. These systems include a virtual information system called Ivis and a lot of examples of how BAE had used webinar technologies. These were described as a key resource for lawyers, especially where they sit in different jurisdictions/time zones. Helen also described how Knowledge Sharing across BAE Systems wasn't uniform, with different initiatives happening in different offices. However what Helen did say was that no matter what the jurisdiction Knowledge Management objectives take time to achieve and this is a key consideration.
The next session was the first interactive session and was one I'd been looking forward to as it was a panel session involving Ruth Ward of Allen & Overy and Oz Benamram of White & Case. The session was called "Using portals and search to surface and share legal knowledge" and was a whistlestop tour of some of the tools we now have available to share legal knowledge. However before the "tour" Ruth and Oz outlined the challenge that we as Knowledge Managers and Information Professionals face compared to 10 years ago. So 10 years ago the biggest challenge was providing access to information. Now one of the biggest challenges we face is not providing access to information, but how we shift through the information that we have. Ruth described this as a move from access to information to attention management and cited Linex as a good example of how personalisation is useful in attention management.
We were then taken on a tour of some of the tools available to Knowledge Managers and our starting point was a subject close to my heart; social intranets/internal collaboration tools. Ruth and Oz described how intranets will continue to see lots of development, with a continued shift from traditional to more interesting and social ways of presenting information. They also described how collaboration tools would continue their move from the consumer world to behind the firewall. Behind the firewall they're continuing to be used as dynamic organic resources for sharing knowledge and collaborating with colleagues. Ruth and Oz then looked at two more concepts, which were Document and Matter Management and the role of search. I'm very interested in how search tools can be used so it was interesting to hear how Linklaters were using Autonomy as a search tool, but with a customised interface. We also saw some examples of how White & Case were using DecisivSearch to display experience and manage matters and I have to say it looked impressive.
The final session of the day was a really interesting talk from Jane Keen of Intel Corporation. Jane, who it should be noted had literally just flown back from San Francisco, told the forum a story about how KM has and is still being implemented within the Intel Corporation. This was full of some really interesting observations on how KM can and cant work. For example she told a really interesting story about how they had rolled out a wiki tool for some of their lawyers and whilst it was well populated initially when it come to editing the wiki individuals were less positive about doing this. This was a really interesting final session and Jane delivered it with real enthusiasm and it was a very positive and fun way to end the day.
So overall another excellent day, my one comment would be that it was noticeable how few Law Librarians there were attending this year. I think that has something to do with the cost, also a significant part of the forum was aimed squarely at Professional Support Lawyers and Knowledge Managers rather then Law Librarians.
I'm a big fan of the the work the Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF) does, although sadly the organisation I work for isn't large enough to become a member. Anyway the latest posting on their blog is about something very close to my heart, which is the very tricky subject of intranet quick links and the best way to do them.
- The list is too long - The worst possible thing you can do is present a list of useful and essential links to a user and for them to see that it's 4 pages long :-(
- The links aren't quick - Quick link would indicate that when someone clicks on it they go there "quickly". If the link goes to another page where another link has to be clicked then it's not a quick link.
- The link is ambiguous - If it isn't obvious what is going to open/display when the link is clicked on then the link is a failure. The label attached to a link should be clear and make it obvious what is going to happen (as with all other links)
- Links are unpredictable - To cut a long story short, don't chop and change what your quick link points to, this will just confuse your users.
- They're quick, but are they useful - If you have to add a new quick link to your intranet, check that it's actually going to be used. If it's only used once in a blue moon by less then a 1/4 of the organisation then it probably shouldn'y be in a quick link list.
- Choose links by popularity
- Link directly to applications and forms
- Let users add their own links (if your CMS allows it)
- Provide roll over explanations
I think we're going to hear a lot about the new version of SharePoint now that more organisations are looking at SharePoint 2013. So I was intrigued to find out more about some of the new features and whether they're actually that good.
If you're wondering what I used to find out more about the Pros & Cons of SharePoint 2013, then look no further then the slides I've linked below from Toby Ward of Prescient Digital Media and Tamer El Shazli of Social Business Interactive.
You can of course look through the entire slide pack, but to save you doing that to some extent I've outlined some of the major Pros and Cons below.
- SP2013 comes with improved branding and customisation options. Whilst this is much improved from 2010, it's still not as good as it could be.
- The user interface is now independent from Silverlight. Which if you know what Silverlight is, great fortunately I don't!
- SP2013 now includes app stores. Whilst the new custom apps concept makes SharePoint customisation a lot easier the apps are still very clunky and rudimentary.
- The office apps in SP2013 are however very impressive.
- SP2013 includes enhanced social features, which I'm sure many organisations and individuals will be pleased about. For example the newsfeed is now much more like Twitter. However the social features sitll have their limitations and issues. You also have to think that Yammer will have an impact on SP2013, it may either complete the social features of augment them, either way it's bound to have an impact.
- SP2013 includes an enhanced mobile experience. Whilst this experience is better then previous version it's still not idea.
- Finally SP2013 offers an improved cloud experience, with the introduction of SkyDrive.
Those were the major Pros and Cons I noted. For more on the Pros and Cons of SharePoint 2013 the slides are embedded below.
Posted by James Mullan in Running on Saturday, 20 April 2013
|A medal well worth the 26. 2 miles|
What to say about the day, aside from it was an emotional, exhausting, but ultimately amazing experience! I thing the first thing to say is that the support on the day was amazing from the Alzheimer's Society that I was running for to the thousands of individuals lining the route shouting my name the encouragement was fantastic and it certainly helped towards the end of the race.
As to the run itself I made two schoolboy errors, the first was to not apply any suntan lotion, which meant that at the end of the day I looked very much like a boiled lobster. I also felt quite dizzy at the end, but 10 minutes in the shade sorted me out. I was quite fortunate in this respect as several runners collapsed both on the course and after they finished. There was also the tragic news that a 26 year old runner suffered a cardiac arrest on the course and died later in hospital. My other schoolboy error was to not check my equipment properly. So despite my sports belt fitting properly when I was walking around with it, when I went to run it immediately fell off. Instead of stopping and adjusting it so that it did fit properly I decided to sling it around my neck and spend the next 26.2 miles looking like I was carrying a bandolier!
Once I'd got over the fact I was going to be carrying my sports belt for 26.2 miles I managed to focus on the course itself and to be honest ran a pretty good first 13.2 miles. The first 10k was completed in 55:35 and I reached halfway (13.2 miles) in 1:57:17. I was quite pleased with this and felt although I wasn't aiming to run sub 4 hours, that this was just about on sub 4 hour pace. My target was to run 4:£0 and I was pretty much on this pace the entire way round. Then unfortunately I had a few bad miles especially 15-17 where I noticed a lot of people were passing me. I think this probably conincided with the temperature rising substantially. As it was I reached 30km (18.6 miles) in approximately 3 hours. Then followed a rather tortuous 1:20 where I made my round the desolation that is the Shoreham Power station before looping back, past the fantastic Alzheimer's supporters on to the sea front and finally Madeira Drive and the very emotional finish!
Overall a fantastic day, amazing atmosphere and support from the crowds, a great medal and winners top and a feeling of euphoria having completed the 26.2 miles! Would I do again...absolutely.
So I know it has been a while, but I've got lots of exciting things to talk about, however if you're expecting me to talk about intranets and social media I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. At least for a short while.
First up is the latest in the series of Shorne Woods Parkruns. I've been involved with the Shorne Wood
|An alternative way to enjoy Shorne Woods|
Amongst these runners I was especially pleased to see someone from Twitter who I'd been chatting with for a while take on the course and to go round in a very respectable (although they said slow) time of 22 minutes. Despite there only being 16 runners I think everybody enjoyed running today, hopefully as the weather improves we can get more people to attend. If you haven't run a Parkrun before then you should have a look at their website and if you're in the Dartford/Gravesend/Higham/A2 area then you should definitely think about running the Shorne Woods Parkrun.
The next webinar I was lucky enough to listen in to was from Yammer and was called "Driving business value with enterprise social" and included presentations from Charlene Li of Altimeter and Roland Hulme of Tyco.
Charlene began by looking at the evolution of collaboration from Knowledge Management to Collaboration Platforms to where we are now with Enterprise social networks. These enterprise social networks effectively mirror the social networks used in the consumer world.
Charlene then explained that there were four ways in which organisations could drive business value through the use of enterprise social tools. They are by;
- Encouraging sharing
- Capturing knowledge
- Enabling action
- Empowering employees
Charlene then went into some detail about why these elements are so important. So in relation to encouraging sharing, this is important because it creates a two way dialogue, makes business personal and makes people feel closer to leaders by reducing the distance. So if an individual sees a blog post from a CEO or CFO they're likely to feel more connected and closer to them because they can read what they've posted and potentially comment on it.
Next Charlene looked at how it's important to be able to capture knowledge, especially if you're often asked to identify expertise. Capture knowledge effectively will avoid duplication of effort and also means organisations should have more effective coordination, if they can see what other individuals are working on and what expertise they have. Capturing knowledge is also important in sharing best practices to ensure your organisation is working as effectively as it can. However even more important is how your organisation captures tacit knowledge, that is the knowlegde that exists inside someones head and that isn't written down anywhere. This can be the most important knowledge to capture as it will include questions that individuals are asked again and again. Capturing this in an effective and efficient way is a potential role for an enteprse social tool.
Another area where enterprise social tools can help is around solving problems. How well essentially because enterpirise social networks cane help bring outsiders into conversations that might not have otherwise been involved in. Finally enterprise social networks an help empower employees by giving them a voice they might not have had otherwise. Enterprise social networks also allow employees to make meaningful contributions, increase engagement and potentially increase satisfatction and retention of staff. However in order to do this there needs to be engagement by those at the very top of the organisation.
Finally Charlene looked at how organisations could move forward with enterprise social networks. She outlined four areas that form a strrategy for the development of enterprise social tools. They are;
- Objectives, these need to be clear and identify and prioritise the gaps that an enteprise social tool can fill. Organisations should also ensure that they design their long terms goals with a clear purpose in mind.
- Metrics, whilst you might not think metrics would be important at the start of the projetc, it's important to have these in place to measure the success of the project.
- Relationship management, is an important consideration. So this means ensuring that there is an appropriate budget, number of staff and that the project is resouced appropriately. Organisations should also ensure that executives are involved at an early stage.
- Think about the relationships you want to build with enterprise social. This is very important and essentially means looking at what you relationships and conversations you want to encourgae and build your enterprise social tool around this. Not necessarily around features. Once your enteprise social tools is in place then you should think about having simple guidelines and investing in evangelists.
One of the biggest driver for adopting Yammer according to Yammer was that it matched the strategy of the business in that they were looking to make communictation more open, get answers faster, be seen as a unified and reduce IT and other costs. Roland also explained how the did it, which again was quite interesting, although sadly there weren't any screenshots of what I would call traditional intranet content. How they did it, looked like it was very well planned and included an audit of review of all resources.This is something you'd definitely see in a normal intranet project, so it surprised me to see it here!
Finally Roland outlinded the results, which were quite frankly impressive;
- A siginficant increase in enrollment (users)
- A huge increase in the amount of content being created.
What I would say in relation to all these points is that this is what Yammer is designed to do. So it's not really a surprise. Overall a really interesting webinar, which an interesting case study and some great hints and tips from Charlene Li.