Archive for the ‘ Knowledge Management ’ Category

Knowledge Capital vs Organizational Memory

Knowledge Capital is the set of intangible assets acquired through knowledge creation, extraction, sharing and learning processes performed either in isolation by a knowledge worker or collaboratively in groups to determine insights which are more robust to risk, and assumingly lead to better decision making.

Only a part of the Knowledge Capital is in Knowledge bases (explicit knowledge), the other is the sum total of managed expertise, where managed expertise is the talent pool whose value is correctly identified, whose expertise is regularly extracted and put to good use in a timely fashion across the organization.

Knowledge Capital is useable knowledge and hence knowledge workers who can tap into other experts to carry out their own activities in a ‘better’ way are treating these experts as an asset.

Knowledge Capital can be however, acquired over a time period by estbalishing certain structures and adopting certain practices or it can also be purchased as part of M&As.

Organizational Memory on the other hand, although might appear similar to Knowledge Capital. It is the art and science to institutionalize knowledge from experts and knowledge bases into the organizational culture. And this art and science cannot be acquired through M&As but has to be organically developed. This requires setting up the right environment where knowledge capital is acquired. This also includes setting up the right incentives and rewards for experts to directly contribute to the knowledge capital. It includes the motivation and mandate to utilize the knowledge capital and treat it as a critical asset in carrying out activities. It includes fostering a knowledge intensive culture where knowledge sharing is merit over credentials. Organizational Memory is sticky, hard to lose even when experts leave the organization, others can come in and easily be ramped up to replace the previous ones. That is, Organizational Memory directly contributes to the organization’s brand. The art and science of organizational Memories is often lost in M&As and what corporationns acquire is only the Knowledge Capital without the Memory, the soul.

This is why, many times, the acquired corporate loses its mojo, innovation drops, and the phrase big fish eats little fish (only to kill it) seems more appropriate regardless of the intentions of the M&A.

The art and science of Organizatonal Memories is where cultural and change management initiatives operate on and are the most critical processes and activities towards business improvement.

In Summary, Knowledge Capital is managed by Organizational Memory.

Changing a Practice through Experience Capitalization

Change is everywhere and happens all the time…well except for corporations, where changing a practice, procedure, process is a rare phenomenon and there is no consensus on how to bring about it. Too many variables, too many factors since change always rattles the culture which is hard to define, let alone adapt.

Among many techniques for change, including management controls, dictatorship, incentivization, germination and gamification, one instrument is Experience Capitalization.

A technique from Knowledge Management which enables Knowledge Capture, Transfer and Utilization all in one with defined outcomes leading to Lessons Learned and ‘Good Practices’ with the stakeholders ready to buy-in and adapt for change.

Doesn’t that just sound great! Well, that’s the target anyways….

The essence to enable change, one has to institutionalize shared knowledge among the stakeholders based on their experiences and consensus.

We know that Knowledge Transfer is a core function of successful innovative companies. The “Flow” enables us to co-create, institutionalize knowledge and get a real feel of knowledge worthiness.

Knowledge Transfer takes place for a host of reasons like succession planning, product training, new employee ramp up, brewing up best practices, abandoning bad practices but when knowledge is systematically converted into capital to enable process improvement and structural change, it is often called ‘Experience Capitalization’.

Although ‘Experience’ is known to be the least effective knowledge acquisition tool since it carries a high risk of not learning anything further, or of carrying the ‘wrong’ experience, one which is made due to bad habits of short term quick and dirty fixes but here the term ‘Experience Capitalization’ refers to collective, institutional learning which overcomes such ‘Competency Traps’. In most if not all cases, Organizational Learning is a better critical success factor. Here Experience Capitalization focuses on Organizational Learning.

The philosophy is that by capitalizing on (latent) experiences, changes can be brought about since it is the (latent) experiences which are ignored and sidelined without this process, blocking the impetus to change.

Experience capitalization is a learning process but differs from personal learning in that the expereince is summarized and belongs to the whole group, reached through a concensus and thus reducing the resistence to change. Another fundamental difference from other forms of Organizational Learning is that experience capitalization usually focuses on the experiences of the stakeholders only without involving third parties. This ensures that the summation of the experiences are ‘local’ to the stakeholders who have to undergo change. Experience Capitalization cannot be delegated but third parties can be invoked only as facilitators.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Coperation defines it as:

Experience capitalization refers to the transformation of (individual and institutional) knowledge into capital by those directly involved in order to change a collective, institutional practice. It aims at changing one’s own practices or structures.

Read more about Experience Capitalization at their website.

Our Approach to KM

Intro to Knowledge Management

What I learnt from the ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’

Scott Berkun has written an excellent, witty and comical book about Public Speaking which does not take the traditional what to do on stage approach. It is filled with little gems of do’s and don’t all based out of personal experiences. confessions-of-a-public-speaker

My Pointers:

  • All speakers, even the best of them make mistakes, their written scripts and orations don’t match.
  • The unexpected will strike! Don’t Panic, many unlikely, unexpected circumstances will come, the beauty is how to give a winning reaction.
  • Presentations and speeches never go according to plan!
  • Embrace the Butterflies: Fear will be there, even for seasoned speakers, don’t deny it, don’t dodge it, learn to bare it.
  • Know what to say: Always create an outline of what to speak
  • Learn by Doing: Practice makes perfect and look into the mirror
  • Do a Sound check: Before starting, always check the high and the low so you don’t bore the audience or scare the audience.
  • Create a sense of control: if you feel in control, you will be better equipped to take care of hecklers, or uncertainties.
  • Sleep Well: If you sleep well, you speak well and vice versa.
  • Bring them closer: if you have an empty hall, ask the few people attending, to come closer, then imagine a smaller room.
  • Imagine yourself the mood of the audience and that it will be.
  • If a crowd is hostile, you react by showing more excitement.
  • Always do your homework, if you are not willing to put in 5 to 6  hours to prepare for a one hour speech with 100 members, you are actually
  • Quite egoistic to claim superiority of your 5 to 6 hours over 100s of hours of others.
  • Audiences are very forgiving. Collectively, they want you to deliver them a good speech
  • Eating the microphone is a term used among public speaker to represent absent mindedness during your speech. you lose track of what you are
  • Supposed to talk and do.
  • Customize your speech based on your audience. never deliver canned speeches.
  • Don’t bore the audience. seek attention, then utilize the attention well, else lose the crowd.
  • Set the pace; keep it moving steadily forward.
  • Direct the attention: throw in the attention grabbers every now and then.
  • Play the part, you are the star: Give a better presentation than what people expect from you.
  • Know what happens next: your next points should be in your mind as you speak.
  • Tension and release: a speech should be composed of a series of tension and release cycle. a cycle is about defining the problem and then the resolution or point of view.
  • Keep it live: involve the audience, let them be part of the experience.
  • Always end early: don’t stretch it beyond what the audience can bear.
  • Cherish the feedback: take audience feedback both during the speech and afterwards, consider it as a step forward in the art of speaking. But do take the feedback with a pinch of salt, audiences don’t like to be too true…
  • Relate to the audience: it is vital to deliver a speech which is of interest to the audience. choosing the right topic for the right audience is half the battle won
  • Learn by doing: practice, practice, practice. I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand
  • Adapt to the response: you can know during your speech whether it is going downhill or to the skies, adapt to improve or at least reduce the damage.
  • Words of Wisdom: If you want to know how good a speaker is, watch him/her give the same speech twice

Public Speaking as a Knowledge Creation Tool

In the web2.0 era, we are engulfed with technology driven collaboration. Data driven societies are emerging and it is the rise of the business analytics which deliver insight and drive companies forward. The medium of communication is highly diversified, greatly expanded in scope and reach and information is accessible to levels not imagined before.

However, concepts are changed, paradigms shifted, motivations rise, focus reigns only when leaders put context to information. This concept is what Japanese philosophers called the ‘Ba’.

Concept of ‘Ba’

Nonaka, who coined the SECI model of knowledge creation redefines ‘Ba’ as the shared space and time when individuals cease to just interact but create valuable knowledge. Individuals, groups and groups of groups can also share common goals, ideals and mindsets besides space and time.

‘Ba’ represents a shared space where human interaction takes place for knowledge creation. This space can be physical (meeting room), virtual (webex, twitter etc) or conceptual (shared ideals, experiences).

In other words, ‘Ba’ gives context and meaning. Its the place where individuals start feeling to be a part of the whole, and blend into their environment for a common goal.

“Ba is the platform for the resource concentration of the organization’s knowledge assets and the intellectualizing capabilities within the knowledge creation processes.”

According to the SECI model, knowledge creation is an infinite, iterative spiral between Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization. Further detail is given here.

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‘Ba’ and the SECI Model:

Nonaka’s extension to the philosophy of ‘Ba’ can be found when he related his SECI model and determines what role the ‘Ba’ plays in each role and phase of the project.

seci_and_ba

Public Speaking as Knowledge Creation Tool:

Public speaking is a perfect platform for Zen Learning. The entire audience of individuals come together on a single place, share the same time, and attend the same speech(es). The speakers(s) initializes the ‘Ba’ by setting the tone of the knowledge creation.

Public Speaking, thus, is a fantastic platform to enable knowledge creation as it serves as a very strong ‘Ba’.

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Originating Ba:

According to Nonaka, ‘New knowledge begins from chaos’.

Chaos is the ideals, the thoughts, the concepts a company’s leadership communicates to the people. Usually this message is metaphorical and motivational and it identifies common goals.

Nonaka says it is during socialization where ‘Ba’ originates.

Nonaka argues that ‘Ba’ is the fundamental reason d’etre for Socialization (because) “when knowledge is created, the personnel possessing knowledge and the knowledge base of a company are focused at a defined space and time.”

Love, care, trust and commitment emerges from Originating Ba. This is the phase where public speeches arouse feelings, emotions, experiences and mental models.

Public Speeches arouse knowledge, vision and culture: the fundamentals of Ba.

Interacting Ba:

During the speech, the audience starts forming a group based on fused ideas and points of view on the speaker’s oration. Thus, public speaking entices externalization as well.

Depending on the type of speech, self-transcendence allows the audience to integrate into groups based on the different view points.

One of the factors which enable externalization through speeches is the articulation of Tacit Knowledge. This is where the speaker communicates his tacit knowledge and thus makes it explicit.

Dialogue is key to convert tacit to explicit knowledge in this externalization phase. The use of metaphors is very important and an interactive dialogue helps. Engagement is key to create shared value.

Cyber Ba:

This phase is made up of three primary activities. Public Speaking helps in all three of them.

i. Collection:

Public speeches are (usually) based on prepared, well collected and summarized narratives which represent the intended zeitgeist.

Group knowledge is preserved, well documented usually through multimedia technology and in forms, which are easy to comprehend.

ii. Dissemination:

Speech delivery is direct and has uninterrupted attention of the audience as compared to other forms of communication. The shared ‘Ba’ has the same message and thus focus is intact. Distribution is direct and usually interactive.

iii. Processing

Audiences of public speeches are able to process and deduce their findings based on their personal thoughts and those of the group. These group thoughts are captured through discussions, questions posted to the speaker, applause and other emotional reactions.

Exercising Ba:

Conversion of explicit knowledge back into tacit knowledge through practice and action.

Public speakers understand the concepts only by practicing to communicate the same to others. Through delivery, their externally sapped knowledge becomes internalized as a result of practice.

Focused training with senior mentors and colleagues by allowing for open discussions and participation by the ‘crowd’, each can get a feel of the message imparted through practice.

Conclusion:

Leaders of many companies and other organizations have  kept a direct communication channel with the employees at times and the message is usually quite personal and motivational. Most of the times inspiration can spark the energy in an organization which defy traditional theories of performance management and productivity.Public Speaking is an important tool in Knowledge Creating companies.

To conclude, do watch this:

Re-Structure, Re-engineer Not. Recycle!

I had been getting constant reminders this week to attend a very important meeting arranged by the shareholders of my company. The entire board and staff were invited to attend. Today, amongst all the hype of the meeting, I inquired about the agenda from the office administrator. He doesn’t converse much in english and said the company is going through recycling!

Yep, you’ve heard it, and are probably thinking it as well, he actually meant ‘restructuring’. However, coming to think of it, business should be actually recycling rather than restructuring or re-engineering.

Recycle in webster is defined as:

to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: as

  1. To process (as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use
  2. Recover
  3. To reuse or make (a substance) available for reuse for biological activities through natural processes of biochemical degradation or modification
  4. To adapt to a new use : alter


On the other hand, Change Management is defined as:

“Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It is an organizational process aimed at empowering employees to accept and embrace changes in their current business environment. ” – Wikipedia.

The overly painful and agonizing transition to this desired state with many a casualty, uncertain future, distration from focus, and a sense of panic which has haunted change management initiatives across the world simply misses the important mottos:

  • “To Regain”,
  • “To Adapt”,
  • “Recover”.

Thats the essence of Recycling! Well ofcourse to some degree, Adaptation is implied in Re-Engineering (Process Re-Engineering) activities, it is the explicit nature of subconcious ‘allegations’ that ‘as-is’ is below the required mantle while ‘to-be’ is in all its might, superior than the ‘as-is’, Thats why people in the middle of it despise change. Coming to think of it, the term recycling comes much closer to the point than restructuring for any possitive change management.

The goal for any organization to employ any change management initiative should to be

  1. To conserve its morale (or improve it), as it is the fundamental energy,
  2. To reuse this energy and materials, thats the lessons learned, the knowledge and the ‘what works’ in an organization using its existing people
  3. And finally it is to ‘Recover’ whats lost…, corporate focus! (The enthusiasim and drive which was once set long ago in entreprenueral utopia.)

Go Green, dont restructure or re-engineer but recycle your business!

LBDN – The Look Busy Do Nothing Attitude

We all go to work, 9-5, 8-6 or in some cases 9 to “as long as the boss is around”. Whatever!

We all apparently sweat in the efforts, commitments are made, and lets face it, besides the couple of genuine losers around, everybody really likes to do well for himself/herself or for his/her

company. Its an achievement motivated, hope oriented and energy creating concept we all have to embrace to make ends meet.

Nevertheless, not all companies and not all people achieve success or accomplish many goals. Besides general bad luck, stiff competition, inappropriate environment yadda yadda is what I call the LBDN factor.

Look Busy – Do Nothing, its an attitude….voluntary and involuntary.

We have many faces of LBDN:

1. Lets Do Meetings Folks:

Whether you admit it or not, meetings are actually one of the factors for underachievement for many teams which are result oriented and are usually on strict deadlines.

Too many people, or rather too many nonparticipative people fight their way for a divine time slot which provides the ultimate meetings with all faces present.

However, there is no direct relationship between decisions being reached and number of meetings or even better, better decisions being made to number of meetings. Decision Theory puts a lot of emphasis on analysis prior to meetings and having the right tools and information in the hands of a properly defined decision maker to produce better decisions.

Value chains are more important than organizational hierarchies and meetings are usually overwhelmed by the latter.

2. Lets Arrange Appointments:
This is a common problem with teams like Sales and Pre-Sales, without really having a sense of the situation, people fall in the trap in executing a strictly predefined process from sales generation to sales closure. This is common in many industries where typically the products are services sold require advanced skill sets and niche focus. Here the Sales or Pre-Sales tend to disfranchise themselves from the actual products and services and invest their efforts in the process only.

Sales team meets potential client, potential client out of courtesy says “good presentation”, sales team is overjoyed, creates unnecessary hype, CRM systems are updated, and a chain of meetings,

presentations, demos, POCs and followups proceed before finally realizing the deal wasn’t there, the client was least interested in real economic terms.

Sometimes you have to hold your ear from the other hand to bring business!

3. Lets Take Printouts:
Ah, one of the most conventional LBDN activities, the guy who parades around the corporate printer for his documents, gets the stapler in hand to save some seconds once the printouts are ready, scratches his head, appears extremely concerned about the ink quantity and puts a very serious face. Makes the rest of the employees passing by realize how important his/her printouts are!

This person usually has a very cluttered desk,the person is difficult to grab for an appointment and has a mysterious awe about him/her.

C’mon seriously, who are you kidding?

4. The RWA guy/gal (Voluntary):

RWA is what I call, “Responsibility Without Authority”. Although this subject is pretty vast in itself, just a quick reference to it that it can be both Voluntary or involuntary. Many organizations fall in the trap of giving away responsibilities to employees for decision making but fail to provide them the necessary authority to execute and drive their responsibilities. This happens usually in orgs. where there is no clearly defined separation of roles, or orgs with a highly bureaucratic org. charts without defined KRAs (Key Result Areas).

The RWA guy/gal – voluntary is one who actually does not really understand what he is doing in the team or company. He/She does not have a clearly defined KRA and his management at times seek activities not under his job description. This person seeks out to take initiatives on his/her own without any visibility or recognition or even authority to do so. The initiatives are usually misaligned with the corporate strategies or are totally redundant. The person does not realize that all the efforst he/she is putting is going to waste since its a dead end, yes folks a DEAD END!

5. “You Know what Happened” Gossips:

Its good to develop good healthy relationships between coworkers but what really happens at coffee corners or around the water dispenser are company gossips. Really, Grow up People and get back to work! It distracts people from their own work/relationships with the company, distracts focus, create false impressions about others and breaks teams apart. Here is where Geeks reign supreme, they hardly do people talk, most of the time, gossips is related to whats hot and whats not in the market, or discussion a really cool solution to a very difficult problem.

There are many forms of LBDN, the idea is to diagnose the symptoms asap. Think about the Agile Manifesto, flat organizational structures, and office collaboration software/social networking to be more pragmatic, proactive and productive.

Enjoy work, work less, get better work results!

BI Competency Centers – A Program Management approach towards delivering excelling BI

I recently came across a client whose need’s where genuinely overwhelmed by a bit of frustration and a lack of solution partners who are not just technology implementers. The company had consolidated a lot of software solutions from various vendors, with overlapping features and functionality and had multiple departments participating in a tug of war for taking their departmental (and individual) BI ventures, enterprise wide. Interestingly, there was the case of an orphaned BI initiative there as well, the sponsors of that project had gone elsewhere!

The company came up with the idea of an excellence center (or a competency center) to try to standardize people, processes and technology. Easier said than done, the whole concept IS highly Utopian and is usually touted as a single solution to this fairly universal problem. But to achieve this”excellence”, a lot of background work is required which besides being costly is also time consuming.

To start with, a vision of an excellence center has to be developed. First of all, what DO THESE TERMS REALLY MEAN? Excellence Centers, Competency Centers, Strategy and Delivery Groups etc.It is one of the curse of hypes but a fairly reasonable mapping exists……”Program Management”

A Business Intelligence Program Management which sees BI implementations not just as a technology with limited business benefits but a business initiated venture with a targeted growth plan providing further services, features, ROI and sanity has a very strong case to sell.

According to Gartner Research, “A BICC is a cross-functional team with specific tasks, roles, responsibilities, and processes for supporting and promoting the effective use of Business Intelligence across the organization.”

BI Projects should be looked as ongoing, cyclical and iterative BI processes providing an improved delivery at each iteration. A Competency Center can provide the framework for measuring BI projects and their implementation, it also lets the company experience the cultural and operational transformations taking place as a result of a systematic and pervasive BI establishment. However, considering the different organizational behavior at different sized companies, operating in various verticals in diverse cultural backgrounds cannot be a single, enlightening offering.

It has to be Tailored for each concern whether a corporate or a department. But in general, a few set of services are considered core to the BI concerns in a company, namely,

  1. The Periodic Assessment of ROI and Cost vs Benefits.
  2. The standardization of processes and technology, whcih includes an enterprise level integration infrastructure again for both business and technology.
  3. A well defined and controlled Risk Management perspective on the BI space.
  4. A carefully crafted Knowledge Management initiative including organizational change.
  5. A focused and prioritized agenda on Business User “Buy-In” into the BI environment.

Several companies provide their BICC setup and operations competencies and consultancies these days.  However, there aren’t many best practices or guidelines in choosing the right partner for establishing one. Minimum requirements could be the ability of execute BI projects and programs, strong Human Resources, Business Processes and Systems Integration skills etc.

Although BICCs are ongoing programs, they should be highly target oriented. These milestones and performance targets are based on various assessment calculators which usually come as part of a BICC setup.

A very creative way to visualize the progress and understand the whole philosophy behind the BICCs is wonderful BI Maturity Model for demonstrating the characteristics of a BI program or project, developed by TDWI.

There is also a fairly detailed book on the topic of establishing and developing a BICC, published from SAS and Wiley and Co, Titled:

“Business Intelligence Competency Centers: A Team Approach to Maximizing Competitive Advantage (Wiley and SAS Business Series) by Gloria J. Miller, Dagmar Brautigam, Stefanie V. Gerlach

Although the book is written by one of the BICC consultancy firms, the ideas presented are applicable universally. Their interpretation of the core services offered (or should be) by a BICC have been widely adopted by both the industry and the academia.

Source: Business Intelligence Competency Centers, a Team Approach to Maximize Competitive Advantage" SAS and Wiley Co.

Source: Business Intelligence Competency Centers, a Team Approach to Maximize Competitive Advantage" SAS and Wiley Co.

All of these services are interrelated and each serves as an input to others. Each service also serves more than one goal of the BICC.

For example, the Advanced Analytics service besides providing a greater usability of BI and its infrastructure also increases the ROI. It also presents a strong case for evangelizing BI. It gives the business users an insight on what CAN happen from your BI environment. For organizations not having a sound infrastructure in place, an aggressively advertised advanced analytics service can form the motive to invest in a holistic enterprise information architecture, for example.

Establishing a BICC is a highly subjective matter and varies substantially from case to case. However a template based road map can be followed as one provided in the referred book. Primarily it depends on the existence of a similar setup already in the company, the maturity of the company in terms of its processes and policies for change management and technology, the type of people in terms of domain expertise and skill levels, the budget and time constraints etc.

As part of a general best practice, it is ideal to grow the BICC organically, meaning from bottom up with sponsorship from the top. A departmental wide BICC prototype which is planned for the enterprise but services one smaller concern at a time, like a department and then growing gradually into covering more departments and offering richer services.

Having a centric approach towards managing the concerns of BI is a daunting task but has its dividends promised if done well. The success of BI projects heavily rely on their continuity, reliability, flexibility, visibility and scalabiilty. BICCs offer just that.

Organizing Life 2.0 – A brief comparison

Jittering the Nitty Gritties, the mundane details, the crosses, the hashes, scrapping it and back to the drawing board. This is the usual activities of anyone taking notes and trying to bring structure to chaos. There are several theories and techniques out there to survive life 2.0 and many man hours have been spent by many men trying to figure out the system best for him. For all the sexists, let me be clear, I believe women are better organised and they can manage multiple tasks. But men, have to use one of the many available artificial systems to get back their control on life. I managed to prune down such systems to three, close to nature.

The ThinkingRock software supporting the GTD methodology, the FreeMind software supporting Mindmaps and MS OneNote supporting well…collaborative notes. TaskJuggler came as a close fourth on personal taste but I have the perception of it being too geeky for the general audience to catch the concept. All three of these software alongwith their methodologies have individual strengths and weaknesses and these are subjective based on interests, one’s educational and professional background and capabality of usage. although all three are pretty intuitive and takes no time to get going, there are several opposing communities of users whose preferences of their choices conflict with one another.

Here I will present to you my perspective of how I organise myself better or just perceive to be better organised!

1. FreeMind (Free):

Mindmaps were used by people as early as Aristotle as a way to represent things immediate to mind. Psychologists say that on average, our mind can keep 7+-2 concepts in mind at a particular time, sort of saying our cache can hold that much concepts. Some of us find ourself stressed out by the burden of having more than 9 items simultaneously which results in stress, incorrect judgement and inconsistent decisions. Mindmaps is a simple, intuitive way to organise concepts immediate in our minds in a tree-like structure whose depth can be controlled depending on our context. Here is a typical mindmap made in FreeMind, an opensource tool which provides many rich features than anyother commercial mindmapping tool out in the market.


2. Microsoft OneNote:

Microsoft introduced OneNote as part of their Office Suite since 2003 and while it gained popularity in Office 2007 onwards due to the tighter integration with Outlook and Word and also due to the licensing and distribution changes (now ships with standard Office Suite), it still remains to achieve a regular membership  of the Office family for years to come. The strong point of OneNote is its real time collaborative features which gives it a shared whiteboard feel which can accommodate most media types, text, images, video, audio, Office objects (visio shapes, excel sheets etc), handwriting (for Tablet PC) and a good flexibility for use the writing area like a physical scrap pad. What it lacks though is a systematic structure of representing information which can be good at some scenarios. Unlike FreeMind or ThinkingRock which are backed by particular knowledge representation schemes, OneNote is for the free souls to use as they please.

This approach suits many individually but cant be relied upon in team based project sharing and collaboration. Although OneNote pretends to present well organized templates, it actually does not do much more than enter default bulleted “flat” text.

3. ThinkingRock (Free)

This is a very well made software following the Getting Things Done GTD approach of David Allen whose main mantra is context. Our daily routines see different contexts which includes our location, our moods, our energy to do different type of work at different times of the day. This adds up to the philosophy as used in Mind maps as well that the less thoughts one can have at a particular time, the more creative and productive he/she can become.

ThinkingRock automatically hides all tasks and thoughts not in one’s current context and allows a self-adaptive task priority utility in which least prior activities after some time automatically become activities to complete ASAP. This would let one to eventually complete all tasks regardless of priority and not forget even the smaller things in life.

As a PIM (Perosnal Information Management) tool, ThinkingRock is a clear choice over the other two but as a single point of reference for managing thoughts, scraps, and time, OneNote and FreeMind can be used instead. For teams working on collaborative work, there is no comparision to the features offered by OneNote. In essence, to use the best of breed, one has to use atleast two of these products simultaneously until their intergration is developed. There is already some collaborative features available on FreeMind and the development is very active which is a sign of better things to come. This gives an edge to FreeMind over OneNote, while ThinkingRock can be used solely as a PIM.