Last fall I called Doris Pulsifer after reading “A Case for Knowledge Management in the A/E Industry,” a viewpoint article which Doris wrote for the October, 2008 issue of AECBytes. In the article, Doris comprehensively outlined the state of Knowledge Management (KM) in our industry, addressed the definition and history of Knowledge Management, listed common techniques and systems for managing knowledge, and shared insights into her approach as the leader of the Knowledge Management Department at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP. (You can read the article here.) Doris and I discussed the need for a Knowledge Management community in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry and I agreed that I would look into the next steps of getting one started.
Over the years, I have had similar conversations with others who were equally interested in the idea of starting an AEC Knowledge Management community. We all agreed that while Knowledge Management tends to appear on the agendas of various AEC roundtables and conferences, we could all benefit from a community and/or conference exclusively dedicated to the advancement of the practice.
At the same time I was having these conversations, I began watching TED. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Education, and Design. (Hence the name.) Over the years it has grown incredibly and become an international institution. However, the TED Conference still remains at the core of the organization, and even though TED does have a membership model, videos from the annual conference are released weekly to the public. In my “list of organizations I want to emulate,” (yes, I actually have one written down) TED is right up there at the top.
In March of this year I came across the TED talk “Seth Godin on the tribes we lead” which is embedded above. The first time I watched it, inspiration struck:
“I’m going to create an AEC Knowledge Management Tribe.”
I watched the video several times and sent it to my friends and colleagues. I committed to myself that I would bring the tribe into the world and that I would do it within a year.
KA Connect 2010 – Chicago – April 8-9, 2010
While there are still many details to be worked out, I am happy to announce that the first KA Connect Conference will be held in Chicago on April 8-9, 2010. (The KA stands for Knowledge Architecture, the founding sponsor of the event.)
I chose Chicago as the hometown for KA Connect for three reasons: Chicago’s convenient, centralized location should ensure high attendance, long history of architectural significance, and I met my wife in Chicago and I look for any excuse I can find to travel there.
Here are the “guiding principles” for the KA Connect Conference:
- Connect existing islands. The Knowledge Management community in the AEC is disconnected but has a yearning to come together to share, collaborate, and learn.
- Provide a platform for Thought Leaders. Firm leaders, industry analysts, management consultants and software vendors will share best practices, case studies, new technology, and innovative processes.
- Host at alternative venue. Natural light. Breakout rooms. Informal setting.
- Create a hybrid program. No presentation longer than TED’s 18-minute limit. Clusters of quick, 6 minute, 40 second Pecha Kucha presentations. Use “unconference” techniques popularized by groups such as Mashup Camp.
- Highly engage vendors. Software and consulting practices participate in the conference like everybody else. The flipside – no direct selling or product evangelism allowed.
- Leverage video. Film the talks given at the conference and distribute video through the KA Connect website to the public.
- Build a community. Much like TED, the KA Connect Conference will be the heart and soul of KA Connect. But membership in KA Connect will include access to exclusive resources such as forums, wikis, and webinars to keep the conversation going.
How to Connect with Us
Doris Pulsifer is currently working with me to help plan KA Connect 2010. More information on the schedule, speakers, venue, and conference fees will be announced over the next several months.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in speaking, attending and/or sponsoring KA Connect 2010.
Hope to see you there,