Recent experience in a large professional services firm has confirmed a number of my expectations about difficulties in facilitating knowledge-sharing in such an environment. In no particular order:
- Dear old Sharepoint both enables and inhibits, in roughly equal measure. Yes it's got lots of features, but many of them are mediocre and it's a clunky, unintuitive piece of kit to build anything with.
- Security concerns, standardisation of builds, etc inevitably mean what's available to the staff behind the firewall is disappointing compared with the burgeoning Web 2.0 world at large on the Web.
- The email habit runs very deep, and won't be shifted easily.
I'm still optimistic that we can make a go of this KM initiative, though. Why? Because there is strong business need and because senior people are behind it. Essential, though often lacking in KM-related work. What's more, there's an understanding that there needs to be a move from email silos to open, web-based discussion and document sharing. It's 'just' a question of changing habits. And on that note I've discovered than those of us who've been using the web for years need to remember that not everyone understands how to copy a URL and paste it into an email. In fact, 'basic training' might be one of the key requirements for success.