Alice MacGillivray

Supporting Leadership & Knowledge Work Across Boundaries

Archive for January, 2009

Continuity Alchemy

Good knowledge management efforts often flounder because senior champions move on. I am thinking about what sorts of positions and structures can provide effective, high level continuity–or the appearance of high level continuity–during periods of disruption.

Horizontal & Vertical Collide

As I was fine-tuning my dissertation about how respected leaders work in horizontal, boundary spanning environments, I read a story in the Washington Post.

In Staff Finds White House in the Technological Dark Ages, Kornblut writes “Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.” (A March ’09 update appears here:

This brought to mind so many stories from my research participants about the challenges of bringing innovations from the horizontal into the vertical, as well as stories about the tensions between knowledge management and information technology shops.¬† I’ve added a postscript in the dissertation about watching the strategies Obama and his staff use to integrate two very different ways of thinking and working.

The Scope of a Blog

I hear¬†colleagues talk about the importance of scope decisions in a blog. Some create separate blogs–or separate twitter identities–for different topics. Others write about a wide range of professional and personal interests in the same forum. I assume these decisions involve several elements:

  • What is my identity as a writer, communicator or blogger?
  • What do [I think] others want to hear?
  • What am I trying to achieve?

I hope to connect with thoughtful people who share some of my interests. Although other parts of this site focus on my professional life, I intend to share eclectic interests and questions in my posts. As a systems thinker, it would be hypocritical to have separate blogs for–let’s say–knowledge management, complexity thinking, leadership and work with boundaries.\