Reflective Journal after attending the sharing by Bill Proudfit

Thanks for Bill’s sharing on 12 December 2015, titled as ‘Taxonomies & KM Asia 2015’.


Within 2 hours, Bill kicked off the event by the meaningful event of memorizing numbers and characters, then followed by the group cohesion and evolutionary behaviour in managing information (See, Classify and Communicate). Then a stunning figure was mentioned where 60% of IT project failed due to the poor management of taxonomy. In retrospect, the taxonomy should be created based on business needs and reviewed regularly. Taxonomy varied in different formats, including Lists, Trees, Hierarchy and etc. Finally books and CoP were recommended for further study.

If the reader would like the read the details of Bill’s sharing, please refer to the handouts and notes that have been already shared in


One of most memorable items is the Dunbar number. It indicates that 150 is the maximum number of strong and closed bonding we can manage. This number is proposed by anthropologies Robin Dunbar. It implies the importance of storytelling.

About 10,000 years ago, we can grow crops and tame livestock. Without hunting and searching food for livelihood, we can stay in a place and reproduce. Therefore, the number of Homo-Sapiens, the scientific name of humankind, increases exponentially. The lead of a tribe will be suffered from the surging population in knowing each other that previously it doesn’t exist. It is even worse in terms of cooperation when the operation of the tribe is more complicated, e.g. division of labor, knowledge transfer, tool research and etc. Would Dunbar number be the curse of growing our tribe?

NO. Throughout the storytelling, we can create and share the unique norm or identity for uniting the tribe. Without knowing who he is, we can work and communicate with each other with the correct expectation of how he behaves. Rules and regulations definitely can help in managing the society, but something subtle and contextual will require stories.  Stories could guide us what and how to do when we are in the chaos without any procedure or passed experience to follow. Storytelling seems critical but our ability to narrate is to be questioned. From the evolutionary perspective, storytelling should have been our gifted ability. The fact is Homo-Sapiens are getting too well in communicating the conceptual things.

Stories should inspire us and audience’s eyebrow should be curved and high. To achieve the result, we should break the schema of the audience, which is the usual message pattern or the reasonable expectation. For instance, wouldn’t you be attracted by the dance of the cabin crew whom shows you the instruction of wearing the seat belt? Cebu airline did it. Wouldn’t you be stunned if a clothing store iron the shirt for you? Nordstrom did it. Therefore, be sure to make your audience unexpected.


Concrete language helps novices to understand your concept while abstraction is the luxury for the expert. The concrete details will play the role of being the hooks, so that the audience can cling to your message. I will perceive the meaning by concrete as something you can see, you can hear and you can feel. That is the reason why expert sometimes cannot communicate with novices, since the concrete details perceived by expert is symbol of pattern, instead of nothing else by the novices.


We are still far away from knowing how to narrate a story. Interested party can read the book authored by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is called ‘Made to Stick’, which will tell you the principles in making your message sticky enough. To the person who is interested in our history or something related to anthropology, I will recommend you to read the book named ‘The brief history of humankind’, which is written by Yuval Noah Harari. They are funny enough to give you a great pleasure in reading!!


Should you need further information regarding this Reflective Journal, please do not hesitate to contact Don Chan via Thanks for your time!


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