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Wisdom in the KM Equation April 7, 2010

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Stewardship, Wisdom.
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We sometimes confuse knowledge for wisdom by using the terms interchangably. A good way to distinguish the terms is to consider knowledge as insight and context into a specific topic. And wisdom is applying understanding and judgement in the application of knowledge. With that distinction, what it means to “manage knowledge” can be viewed with better clarity. Knowledge management becomes an attention to stewardship of our insight – so that it can be applied with sufficient understanding and judgement.

Can Social Media be Managed? September 28, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Information Policy, Knowledge Management, Stewardship.

Imagine that you have a culture where markings of authority is essential to knowledge pedigree and that pedigree knowledge can only be delivered as part of a carefully orchestrated multi-level consensus campaign.  Does not sound like a very good fit for social media technology.  However, it may indeed be a good home, with some tuning of the technology.

When you get your social media collection out of the box and lay out the parts you notice a “blog” (like WordPress), a “wiki” (like MediaWiki), a “tagspace” (like del.icio.us), a “web cms” (Joomla, Drupal, etc.), a “media repository” (like Dspace), a “discussion system” (like phpBB), a “social profile system” (like facebook), a “microblog” (like twitter), and maybe a few other parts.  All of these components are ready to use in a highly collaborative Web 2.0 environment.

How does that square with a culture that needs to see a completed artifact before it can be “reviewed”.  A culture that by process of review has a give and take between concepts and key points, thereby refining the artifact.  A culture where the “author” is not a group, but a recognized authority and others are providing peer review editorial on the artifact. A culture where the step-by-step uplift of the artifact through levels of management establishes the actual pedigree of that artifact.  A culture where upon establishing sufficient management endorsement (pedigree) the artifact can now serve as a key position.

Now that we have that key position, we can construct a campaign of consensus around the position that the artifact represents.  That consensus builds as a this position is delivered to multiple levels of the customer organization.  A consensus that respects and considers that clarifying the position requires unique communications at each level of the customer organization.

Is such an environment a place to plug-in social media as an out-of-the-box solution?  In a word – No!

Social media in this environment requires conforming of the social media components to the perscriptive business process of peer-review, pedigree forming and consensus forming.  At a simple brush, that requires that some of the general purpose aspects of the out-of-the-box social media stack need to be tuned a bit.  Where is the “version-lock” feature in the wiki?  Where is the private channel page collection within the blog and wiki space?  Where are the explicit “workflow” features that can be process-wise associated to artifact forming, review, and endorsement?  It’s not there in our out-of-the-box experience.  So do we “modify” what’s there, look for an alternative, or wait?  If you have the talented staff in place, then a modify is probably a good alternative.  Waiting works if you don’t have cash and the need is not urgent, and looking for an alternative?  We are always on the lookout for the new new thing!

Knowledge Management & Information Technology July 19, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Stewardship.
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How can improvements to organizational knowledge management be realized most efficiently:

  1. By integrating the available information technology services made available by the enterprise?
  2. By representing the requirements of new information technology services and designing these services?
  3. By coordinating the priority of specific information technology services via organizational governance?
  4. By overseeing the implementation and project management of information technology services?
  5. By taking an active role in the daily operations of information technology services?

This may be a rhetorical question for some and for others it may be the critical question that establishes balance to their knowledge management program.  Within every organization, the staff coordinating knowledge management may find a slightly different home base. The typical locations for where to host the knowledge management function vary across industries and across different organizations within those industries.  Here are some typical host locations for the knowledge management function and the general emphasis when they have that hosting organization:

  • Human Resources – focus is on organizational development and human capital management
  • Engineering – focus is on improving sharing and stewardship of explicit technical knowledge
  • Administration – focus is on performance of knowledge sharing across the enterprise
  • Information Technology – focus is on the technical service or solution that improves staff collaboration
  • Standalone – focus is toward improving organizational performance through knowledge sharing

Each hosting location provides a different organizational emphasis and all have some relationship toward information technology. Only one has a specific focus on improvement of IT services.  The other hosting locations for KM have a relationship with IT but it is not the primary focus.  Which location can provide the most effective home for KM?  That depends it seems on the performance of the IT organization.  If the IT organization has the capability to deliver innovative solutions with great efficiency, then there is the potential for a great partnership between KM and IT without KM being directly nested within the IT organization.  If however, the IT organization struggles to deliver capabilities that are essential for efficient knowledge capture and knowledge sharing, then another arrangement may be necessary.

Consider the questions on how to improve KM within the culture of your organization and comment on where you think it has the most effective influence and the most effective hosting location to deliver that influence.