2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
June 2013 - Magazine No. 165
June 2013 - Magazine No. 165
Review: On Writing
Written By Michal Blumenfeld

For whom am I writing?

If those writing here on a regular basis ask themselves: who am I writing to? They will probably discover that the deepest, most honest answer is: to myself. Writing is a method of self expression and enables connecting to an inner chord, to raise thoughts that dwell on a deep level, maybe even a hidden one that are difficult to hear when immersed in the flow of daily routines and tasks. Many writers tell of a high connection that takes place during the writing, as if a channel in them has opened, a channel connecting them to a place normally not accessible. This channel has an almost meditative quality to it and reveals to it things of which we were unaware. Writing is a powerful tool of self-discovery. Every publishing writer started out with writing for him or herself. Likewise, any writer can start publishing. Many writers realize that this internal dialogue is insufficient, as we are social animals and as such crave a dialogue with others.


So, for whom am I really writing to?

As soon as we succeed in creating something real, touching and valuable to us it will usually be valued by others as well. Thus communication is created and we discover the power in our writing.


Communicating does not mean to ingratiate oneself. From my experience, when we try to endear ourselves to others we force something unnatural upon the writing, which as a result suffers from a touch of superficiality. When we write from our inner self we are honest and true. This truth and honesty generates identification on other's behalf. People are generally similar and if we succeed to describe something real in our experience or phrase our unique perception we will be surprised how much others will identify. If what we write is more professional and less personal, it's important to know who are our potential reader is, yet also in this case it is recommended to refrain from attempting to endear ourselves to the reader(s). This will keep your writing authentic and effective. In writing, like in life, the most important thing is to keep it real.


Who's scared of the subconscious?

Writing is a gentle waltz between the conscious and subconscious. Sometimes, the idea reaches us subconsciously and sometimes we predetermine what to write about and when we begin to write unexpected ideas begin to flow in. We want our subconscious to come into the picture, because that's when the magic happens. In order to let this magic happen, we need to let ourselves lose some control. This means that if we were assigned to write a blog about cats and when writing we find ourselves musing about our aunt's house, that's fine. Even if we have seemingly diverted from the subject, our subconscious has chosen to lead us there intentionally and has message for us. How do we receive this message? We need to let go, not be scared and let our subconscious to lead the way. We can later try and organize our thoughts and formulate the text.

In the 20th century, the stream of consciousness school of writers emerged with great writers such as James Joyce. This free association style enriches our writing. There is usually something very real about something written this way. Following this, we can organize the text and allow the 'adult in charge' i.e. our conscious to edit it. Generally speaking, it is recommended to stabilize the skeleton, trace the structure and only then delve into the details and nuances.


Criticism: a love-hate relationship

Great, amazing, stupendous. We all like compliments. During the initiative steps of a publishing writer's path, compliments are vital and assist the writer in building up his/her self esteem. Careless negative criticism can lead to the writer retreating to his private quarters eternally. It's unpleasant to receive negative criticism in any field, but when what we wrote is criticized we perceive this as a personal criticism of ourselves. Every criticism we receive enfolds a personal element (you didn't like my suggestion? My pasta isn't El Dante?) Yet other fields also involve an element of skill and experience, if a teacher teaches a class and receives less-than-perfect feedback, the worst case scenario is that he/she might say to her/himself: I guess I'm not a good teacher. When you share personal experiences and are told they are not good, one must be cautious not to decide: I guess I'm not good.

Compliments are tricky as well. An experienced writer enjoys compliments yet knows that they will not take him anywhere. A writer wishing to evolve learns to value constructive criticism. When we are offered to change something we wrote and improve it, most of us defend each word as if our life depends on each coma. With time, we learn not to fall in love with our own words and to let go of them: the final result is what's important, not any specific word or phrasing.

An experienced writer learns from personal experience that less is more. If we say more in less words, the text's sophistication and power are increased.

Constructive criticism is important and in order for us to make the most of it is recommended to internalize the following rule: during the writing process, don’t think about the critics or the readers. At this point, only I exist in the world and I mend the text only according to my own opinion regarding my work. Thinking of external criticism at this stage can only paralyze the writer or make the writer attempt to please others, causing his writing appear unauthentic.

When what we wrote is eventually published and we need to deal with criticism, the second phase begins. In order to pass this phase unharmed, it is recommended to go through a process of 'disconnecting' from my words, i.e. view them from the eyes of a reader. This might be 'my baby' but as soon as it was 'birthed' it is better to let go. Instead of reacting defensively to critics, try listening. This will help us as writers. Be cautious and do not identify what critics say of the text as something said about you. (They said the text was infantile and unfunny? I'm mature and very funny!).


So, where does it come form, the inspiration?

Every writer knows the question: where do you get ideas? And the answer is: where not? Anything can inspire us. The world is full of stories and ideas just waiting for us. Sometimes a new perception on known things generates inspiration. The muse is elusive and is hard to seduce. She does not tell us when she plans to arrive, so you need to patiently wait for her. Writers develop with time another channel, an open sensor that views the world alertly awaiting something to occur. If we decided, for example, to write a blog about a certain subject, we will suddenly discover that many things that relate to the subject simply happen to us. It can be an interesting character at a café, a funny sentence someone said or even an annoying incident at the line to government office can arouse creativity (bureaucracy inspired Kafka to write masterpieces).

Writing is great fun as well as hard work. Sometimes, writing is an ongoing frustration. You just sit there and don't give up. You can write and erase, write and discard and right when you're ready to give up, it comes to you. The muse has arrived. The magic happens.


There is no writing without writer's block

What happens when the magic doesn't happen? Yes, this is a possible scenario. When does temporary despair become writer's block, and how do we deal with one? The first step is to understand that writer's block is an integral part of the writing process. There is no need to panic and most importantly: don't give up.

Try discovering what helps you write. A certain view from the window? The sounds of a café? Music? Absolute silence? And what about time? When do you write best? Is it 3 AM when everyone is sleeping (if we wake up at night with an idea, we better have a notebook beside our bed, since ideas don't stay till the morning) or is 5 AM, waking up before everyone? Even when we discovered these optimal settings, writer's block will still happen as it is an integral part of the process. We are not writing workers, we are writers. So, what can we do?

Sometimes, we're simply too close. Like a writer that needs to take three steps back in order to see how the brushstrokes become a picture. Sometimes we understand that we are simply going the wrong direction. Do not fear rethinking the whole thing over. A writer is first and foremost someone who knows to discard. If the writer's block commences, it is wise to distance yourself from the writing for a while. Do something else. The conscious will let go, yet the subconscious will keep on working and will provide us with the breakthrough. Another route to take is persisting while changing an atmosphere. Try relocating your writing process to a park or beach. Sometimes the idea comes with the people who pass by. There is also value to printing the material. A printed page enables seeing things unseen on screen. I don't have a logical explanation for the last statement, except that the muses are here with us since ancient Greece-so they might not be big fans of technology… 

Profile: Business Analyst
Written By Moran Maravi


A business analyst is the mediating factor between the organization and the IT department. His main role is to analyze the current state of the organization and plan, based on this analysis, Information systems, objectives, strategy etc. In the following section of the article I will discuss the question: what does a business analyst contribute to the organization and how is this contribution manifested. This question is important since for many years organizations have gotten along just fine without business analysts.


The business analyst's contribution to an organization

Generally speaking, the objective of a business analysis is to identify changes in the organization's needs and its conduct. The role of a business analyst in this context is to characterize a change process suitable for the organization and to manage it so that it is actualized and assimilated optimally for all relevant interested parties.

The business analyst's work can affect both on the level of the organization's units (It department, business units, change management departments) and on the level of the essence of the change and process-defining strategy, changing organizational structure, setting goals for projects and supporting the improvement of processes and technologies.

In addition to his/her direct contribution in this position, the business analyst serves as an agent of change and business analysis is a discipline to instill and manage change in the organization.


Why is it so important to integrate a business analyst in addition to a systems analyst?

Systems analysts are aimed at one target, which is the product intended for the organization's development teams. This product is manifested in the writing of work documents, system characterization and architectural drafts intended for the development personnel. Therefore, the 'language' the systems analyst will mainly use is the 'language' of development, which is spoken by both the analyst and the development department. This means that the systems analyst usually 'speaks' a language foreign to most of his customers (management, business units, etc). A business analyst, on the other hand, is by definition aimed at the organization and its members. The analyst deals with comprehending and analyzing the organization's needs and designing the organizational conduct. The product of this work is meant for the organization and as such is written in the organization's language.

And indeed, many organizations worldwide have begun to understand in the last few years that a systems analyst does not provide the organization with a sufficient solution and the situation requires the integration of a business analyst. These organizations understood that analyzing a knowledge system has substantial financial implications and that a business analyst is vital in managing a process and adapting it to the organization (and not only development units). And so little by little business analysis is becoming an integral and important profession in organizations. In some cases, integrating business analysts will be done via integrating knowledge workers or by assigning designated position holders to the subject.


In conclusion

A business analyst is an important factor for an organization facing meaningful changes of any sort. Her/his objective is to mediate and organize the assigned fields in the organization, to learn the organization's structure, its policy and actions and recommend different business solutions (whether technological solutions or organizational changes) that enable the organization to achieve its objectives. The analyst also deals with instilling into the organization changes that are not necessarily technology oriented into the organization. This, I believe, is its edge over the systems analyst.


A Knowledge directory is a solution intended for workers whose work is mainly characterized by providing service in 'real time', when the client is sitting in front of them or waiting on the line.

The knowledge directory enables the organization to improve its performances and service provided to workers by:

  • Creating uniformity regarding information provided to customers
  • Reducing the time spent on answering customers
  • Improving the workers' professionalism (a correct, updated answer)

The required improvement is manifested through:

  • Organizing and structuring the content
  • Adapting content to target audiences
  • Defining the organizational structure and supportive work processes in order to ensure content update

 If we skim through history, the knowledge directory has become an excellent solution for sales and service centers especially in large companies in which the worker turnover is large and new workers must be 'taught' much knowledge in a short amount of time.


What have organizations/units that are not sales and service centers?

They established professional portals.

The professional portal is a platform for presenting business knowledge and information that enables sharing, presentation and performing activities in a manner that supports making business decisions. The professional portal enables the user to get a wide, inclusive in-depth picture of the professional world and therefore usually includes sharing professional documents, opinions, insights, tips and professional discussions.


What's happening today?

Today's world is full of information and knowledge; so much that we sometimes feel flooded. Meanwhile, organizations require their workers to become more efficient (perform activities in less time and conserve resources) while maintaining a high professional level. This demand contains an inherent contraction.

The professional portals in their classic form do not fulfill this requirement since professional depth is achieved by investing time and effort.

If a worker is in front of a client must receives updated information in real time, then also the worker not in front of the client doesn't have the time (or privilege) to read a 20 page procedure while he has an endless pile of tasks to perform.


The main differences between a knowledge directory and a professional portal

In a knowledge directory we'll emphasize focused knowledge that allows quick response through creating processed concise knowledge items. In terms of visibility, a typical page in a knowledge directory will include a built in item presented in a single window. In a professional portal, we'll emphasize professional widening and deepening through documents and consulting platforms. In terms of visibility, a typical page in a professional portal will include several items from different types (documents, hyperlinks etc.) presented in multiple windows.


So which solution is better?

Like in every good theoretical dispute- the best answer is a synthesis of both. Both solutions are good yet address different needs. A good combination of both will be the best solution.

If we focus on the worker and analyze his/her knowledge needs for optimal performance we will see that he is "surrounded" by three knowledge circles:

  1. Immediate knowledge: knowledge that the worker requires in real time when in front of the client (for example, call scenarios, concise processed knowledge items)-knowledge directory.
  2. Supportive knowledge and learning knowledge: knowledge that provides the worker with an elaboration in depth view of professional knowledge (for example, procedures, learning material)-professional portal.
  3. Collective envelope- enables the worker to consult with colleagues and share knowledge. Social media solutions provide a solution for the collective envelope-professional portal.


How does one create this combination?

Create a professional portal that includes concise knowledge items and supporting tools (similar to those in a knowledge directory) as well as knowledge items such as learning material, documents and sharing components.


If you already have knowledge directory-it is safe to assume that some of the knowledge in the second circle already exists in the directory. It is recommended to think of integrating social media (circle 3) in a manner that enables their integration in 'real time' instead of acting as 'time consumers' (for example, answering representatives in real time by senior representatives through a forum so that all representatives can gain from this answer.


If you have a professional portal, it is recommended to structure complex procedures/work processes in a simple concise manner and create various supportive tools (calculators, simulators) that will shorten the 'work time'.

Since we are discussing a vast amount of knowledge we usually suggest packing the knowledge in a 'Real Time Knowledge Network". The knowledge network allows the user to navigate between items in the familiar standard way (navigating using menus or search engines) while automatically making related knowledge items accessible. These knowledge items can assist the user without him/her having to invest time in searching and navigating.


It's important to remember that:

  • A solution that works for one organization will not necessarily work for another. Adapt the solution to your organization, to the nature of the units and your different target audiences.
  • Resources: establishing a knowledge directory requires special resources especially human resources for creating content items and ongoing content maintenance. Call centers usually have a designated staff whose only job is to update the system since organizations understand the critical importance of updating the system when there are many workers answering many clients in real time. When not dealing with call centers investing resources in establishing and maintaining is not trivial. Invest only if required.
  • Change management: working with a knowledge directory as a work tool requires a change of the perception and behavior of both workers and management which are accustomed to working differently. It is important to understand that a change of this magnitude does not occur immediately. Sometimes, investing in a knowledge directory is not understood by the workers (and management) since they still don't see its added value. Be determined, patient and resist opposition.


Good Luck.


Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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