Thursday, 28 August 2008

'Knowledge management' again

In a Google group related to content management I saw a post today about KM. Someone had been tasked with setting up a KM system but didn't know how to go about it. This prompted me to comment along the following lines.

It's possible to argue endlessly about what 'knowledge
management' means. I think what most organisations want (or should
want) is an information management system which includes not only
formal-ish documents like reports, but conversations. The latter is
where blogs come in. Old-style KM tried to make people enter
'knowledge' into separate systems - they didn't want to and didn't
have the time. A better approach is to have them write in blogs,
discussion groups and wikis as part of their work, so that the
information is captured and is accessible to all. This is in stark
contrast to information that resides on shared drives and email. You
can give it structure through tagging, enabling the creation of a
folksonomy. This is an ad hoc taxonomy, less controlled (and a bit
more hit-and-miss) but still useful and better than free-text
searching alone. Pop in an RSS feed and people can subscribe to the
subject areas or authors they are interested in. The hard bit is
weaning people off the tools they are used to - email, Word documents
and Powerpoints on shared drives. Old habits die hard.


Do you agree?

1 comment:

Ralph Poole said...

Hi Simon,
I do agree with your comment, however, documents and presentations are one way that people make their tacit knowledge explicit and usually with much more care than in an email. So, documents should be collected and made searchable making the insights visible. As you said, knowledge sharing also requires an infrastructure for conversation via blogs, discussion groups, and wikis. This type of interaction is more ad-hoc but can be extremely valuable. Tagging makes finding content more precise and therefor adds precision to search and browsing. Search engines are getting more powerful, so it is hard to hide content in shared drives and inaccessible emails. I do think that it is search the pulls all these disparate content sources together and it is the job of knowledge managers or information architects to build the frameworks which can make the content "findable".