Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Network of Networks

There has been some chatter in some KM circles about emerging trends. The focus is usually around new tools or processes. But the most interesting trends are those that affect behaviour. That is why I need to share Perry Kinkaide's journey into building a network of networks. For those familiar with the concept of Communities of Practice, Perry takes that idea to a whole other level.

Perry is a retiree who couldn't retire. So he decided to become an angel investor to technology start-ups. In the process of trying to decide which start-ups merited funding, Perry reached out for advice from experts he trusted. As the group of advisors grew, the start-ups realized they were getting valuable advice during their funding presentations; the advisors realized they were learning too and the group started to meet because of the knowledge sharing.

The ev
olution of the Kinkaide Enterprises Inc. Network into the Alberta Council of Technologies (ABCtech) is detailed in "The Origins of ABCtech". In short, as the network outgrew Edmonton, Perry realized that by connecting with other networks, ABCtech could foster emerging technologies in Alberta.

ABCtech began to run half day events to explore the interest in an emerging technology. If enough interest emerged, then ABCtech would hold larger events where the recognized experts in the technology would demystify what was really going on. The emerging community of start-ups, local experts and investors would begin the dialogue about how to build capacity.

ABCtech worked behind the scenes to build an alliance to connect the existing networks within the technology space. Once an alliance was formed, ABCtech supported the alliance through its early days until the alliance was self supporting.

All of this was done by volunteers. The only funding came from workshop and conference revenues.

How transformative has ABCtech been? There is now an alliance in Alberta of the disparate industries that form Clean Technologies, from biogas, solar to wind power to green buildings (LEED). The Alberta Clean Tech Industry Alliance (ACTia) launched its website in May. The Alberta Cell Therapy Alliance concluded a series of workshops in Edmonton and Calgary in May. Five years ago, there was not even awareness of Alberta's capabilities in these technologies.

Driven by Perry's vision of a network of networks, ABCtech is a new model of knowledge sharing, collaboration and capacity building.

So can you take the concepts of Communities of Practice and drive innovation and economic development at the community scale and beyond? Yes, you can.

If you want to experience what ABCtech is about, "Twilight in the Meadows" takes place, Thursday, June 23, 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM in the Edmonton river valley. Peter Hall, V.P., Export Development Canada is the keynote speaker. Register Here for the event,

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